July 13, 2009
Leader 1: Now you're Bjarne Riis
Over at Wired's Geek Dad weblog, Jonathan Liu, reviews Leader 1, a game published in 2001 that simulates bike racing on a reconfigurable “Game of Life”-style track. The road segments can be rearranged to set up different race courses, including a track finish in a velodrome, with the color beside the road denoting the slope of the that part of the course.
The game puts you in control of up to 3 riders, and you have to use the energy levels of your team to put one of your riders across the line first.
Liu's verdict: “If you’re a cycling fan and you want to play a truly incredible board game about bikes, you should check out Leader 1.”
July 09, 2008
Hinault gets his GT on
This one requires a little bit of setup. One of my favorite web comics is My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable, and its brother series, Get Your War On, which work within the confines of clip art that comes with Microsoft Office.
In honor of le Blaireau's award-winning protester shove, and the brief appearance of a Frenchman in yellow, I thought I would link to Bobke Strut's homage, Get Your Grand Tour On, which likewise restricts itself to Office clipart, with support from two headshots.
July 04, 2008
Google brings Street View to entire Tour route
Google is taking Street View on the road.
The 3D panorama view for Google Maps is already available in dozens of US cities, allowing you to fly through stitched-together photos of San Francisco's Lombard Street, Broadway, or Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami.
Now, Google is taking the tech outside the United States for the first time, offering Street View for not just the cosmopolitan parts of this year's Tour, but the entire route, from start to finish. Combined with a Google Maps .kml file of the route, you can fly through the entire route, viewing photos of any spot on the course at any time.
There's also an official introduction video on YouTube.
April 23, 2008
Featured weblog: Podium In Sight
Lyne Lamoureux is probably a familiar name to folks who follow cycling on the web. She frequently wrote articles for ThePaceline.com, and has gotten bylines on RoadBikeReview.com, VeloNews, and The Daily Peloton. I've rubbed shoulders with her in the post-race mosh pit set up for race photographers, and she's got a healthy collection of racing photo galleries.
This season, Lyne has launched a new weblog, podium in sight, where she provides interviews, race analysis, and photography, but with an NRC/US calendar focus.
In the last week, she's had race coverage and some great photographs from the downhill practice sessions at Sea Otter, analysis of the overall and the 2 stages so far at the Tour de Georgia, and an interview with Toyota-United's Henk Vogels (at right), one of the pro peloton's most experienced and well-traveled riders, on the Art of the Sprint.
Definitely a site to bookmark; RSS/Atom feed available.
July 12, 2007
Bonnie DeSimone weblogging the Tour
Look for her stories starting this weekend as the Tour hits the Alps.
ESPN.com | Bonnie DeSimone RSS feed: Subscribe to DeSimone's stories for ESPN.com (her cycling coverage should start this weekend)
A Feast on Wheels | Atom feed: Subscribe to DeSimone's personal weblog
August 21, 2006
Tour 2006 mashup video on YouTube
YouTube user "monoloque" has posted a mashup video featuring OLN video from the Tour, historic Tour video, still images from the race and news coverage, and music by Kraftwerk into a 6.5-minute video about the 2006 Tour.
I think it's fair to say he's got an opinion on the Landis case. Whether you believe Landis or not, this is a nice collection.
August 15, 2006
“The Flying Scotsman” premieres in Edinburgh
In 1972, the greatest bike racer of all time, Eddy Merckx, improved the record for the most distance covered in an hour on a bicycle to 49.431 kilometers, or almost 30.72 miles, on a velodrome in Mexico City. His hour record stood until 1984, when Francisco Moser, using an early set of aero wheels, pushed the record over 50 kilometers, to 51.151 kms, or about 31.78 miles.
There the record slumbered for nearly 10 years, until a controversial Scotsman stepped forward to push the limits of human performance. Graeme Obree was a strong track and time trial rider, and looked around for ways to streamline the rider position on the bike. Using a position variously called the “egg” or “crouch” position, with the rider's torso nearly horizontal and his arms tucked tight to his chest, Obree thought he could set a new hour mark, and in July 1993, he rode 52.27 kilometers in an hour in Norway.
Obree's efforts ignited an interest in the hour record unmatched since the 1930's. Between July 1993 and September of 1996, the record was extended 5 times. Outdistanced by Britain's Chris Boardman less than a week after setting the record, Obree came back and did 52.71 kilometers in his improved "Superman" position, with the rider's arms stretched out to cut the wind on a plane with his body.
Obree's autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, was well-reviewed, but a film version has had tremendous trouble getting made. Last night, it it finally premiered in Edinburgh.
Early reviews are a little rough.
Naturally, there's a doping angle to the story, as, when he turned pro, Obree says he was sacked by the Le Groupement squad almost immediately for refusing to dope.
With the hour record so hotly contested, Boardman, Miguel Indurain, and Tony Rominger engaged Obree, with Rominger's 55.291 standing for almost 2 years before Boardman, in the Superman position on a custom Eddy Merckx, did an amazing 56.375 kilometers in Manchester, UK, on September 7, 1996.
The UCI wasn't happy to see the record ratcheted up by what it considered to be improved equipment -- the aero frames, wheels, and positions -- rather than stronger riders. So in 2000, they ruled that Boardman's record, and those of Obree, Indurain, and Rominger, were no longer Hour Records, but the “Best Human Effort,” and that Eddy Merckx had ridden the last “pure” hour, and therefore reinstated Merckx's 49.431 as the “Athlete's Hour Record.”
Boardman, confused about the rules, scheduled a session at the Manchester velodrome believing he would automatically set a new hour record by riding a standard frame without aero wheels to any distance, but was informed he had to beat Merckx's distance, which he did, by just 10 meters, at 49.441 kilometers, in October 2000. His record was only beaten last July, by Ondrej Sosenka in Moscow, at 49.700 kilometers.
Obree also took the 1993 and 1995 world title in the pursuit.
August 14, 2006
Bob Roll interview with Utah NPR
Roll talks about OLN's ratings, doping and testing in cycling, and the Floyd Landis case.
Roll says “there's not enough testosterone in the world to triple your testosterone levels in a 24-hour period...I believe Floyd in that.”
He also calls cycling “the cleanest professional sport in the world.”
Note that there are two "listen" widgets on the page -- the first is just a preview; the second is the full 20 minutes of (a pretty subdued, actually) Bobke.
July 27, 2006
Classic Tours slideshow now in English
I linked this awesome slideshow back before the Tour started, but the version I found was in Danish. Here's the version in English, still narrated by Danish filmmaker and Tour commentator Jørgen Leth.
It's photos from the Magnum photo library of Tours from the '30s through about 1990.
A nice respite from the doping news.
July 22, 2006
More Floyd Landis facts
I'm getting a lot of Google referers for Floyd Landis bios, so I wanted to point out my 3 favorites. Two of these are by Daniel Coyle, but one is “BHA” (Before Hip Announcement) and one is AHA. The BHA story includes a couple of great photos, including the Robert Maxwell shot at right.
This is the most recent, and is AHA.
Landis interviewed by sometimes-roomy Dave Zabriskie of CSC.
BHA, with great photos.
Also, Landis was named the “Person of the Week” on ABC's World News Tonight last night. Can't find the video, but that link's a synopsis.
July 21, 2006
Beer: the Tour rider's energy drink
Jason O'Grady's Foaming Rant for this week is a little foamier than usual. He wants to know just what was in the beer that Floyd Landis said Wednesday would help him deal with his 10-minute loss on Stage 16.
Then, at a press conference on Thursday, after Landis chased down an 11-man breakaway, killed them and ate them, built a new bicycle out of their bones, and roared away in a pillar of fire to win the stage to Morzine and jump back to within 30 seconds of the yellow jersey, he mentioned beer once again.
Since we've got to know what wondrous potion could turn us all from Freds to Floyds, O'Grady is undertaking an experiment on our behalf, working his way from Anchor Steam to Zywiec Porter (what, no Abita Ale?) in the name of science.
July 20, 2006
"L'Alpe d'Huez will kill you"
I know I already posted about l'Etape du Tour, the amateur ride that traces one stage o the Tour, this year Stage 15 up l'Alpe d'Huez. Normally, I would just paste this on to the bottom of that story, but I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to spotlight it separately.
It's by Andrew Tilin, who sets off on l'Etape with friend Peter, “a high-level amateur racer.” If you want to find out what this ride is like for someone who rides about as much, maybe a little more, than you do, here's your chance. The author has experience in marathons and long triathlons, but says nothing has left him as “stuporous” as the climb up l'Alpe d'Huez.
July 17, 2006
One former pro rides one Tour stage
Paul Kimmage is probably best known for his 1990 book on his efforts to break into the peloton, A Rough Ride, where he discussed drug use in the field.
This year, he's keeping a diary for The Times of London, and he also rode l'Etape du Tour, the sagged ride for amateurs along the exact course of one Tour stage. This year's l'Etape rode tomorrow's course, to the top of l'Alpe d'Huez.
L'Etape draws some celebrity riders: Formula One driver Alain Prost and former pro rider Stephen Rooks were on this year's ride, and Miguel Indurain rode one recently.
Kimmage still got a buzz from approaching l'Alpe d'Huez:
14:45 I’ve reached the outskirts of Bourg D’Oisans and I’m looking skyward towards the ski resort perched on top of the mountain; L’Alpe D’Huez, the Mecca of cycling. As a boy, on training rides after school to the Hill of Howth, I must have won that stage a million times in my head. As a pro in 1986, it wasn’t quite as much fun struggling to keep pace with Hinault and LeMond, but even when you were on your knees, the sight and sound of that crowd was always a buzz.
A great rest-day read.
Mark Sharon's encyclopedic three-parter for CyclingNews on this year's ride.
Stage 14 crash up on YouTube
Just in case you haven't seen yesterday's crash video enough, it's available (of course) on YouTube. There are 3-4 versions; this one's my favorite because it sounds more violent in
“Tour Fever” photosetgreat photoset from last year's Tour on Flickr. It was posted to support a new book, J.P. Partland's Tour Fever, about the Tour.
The photoset is “A Day on the Tour,” and features pictures of riders, fans, and the caravan.
At left, Michael Albasini stands by the internet kiosk, while Jose Enrique Gutierrez is the Phonak rider with his back to the camera, and big Magnus Backstedt looks toward the camera at right center.
There's also a website and a MySpace weblog to support the book.
July 06, 2006
Novelist Dave Shields on the Tour
Dave Shields, author of bike racing novel The Race in 2004, is the hardest-working man in publishing. With the release in April of The Tour, he's been all over the web and out on the road to promote it. He followed the Tour de Georgia, selling books out of a tent in the Expo. We saw him there at the Expo at the Tour de Georgia near the top of Brasstown Bald in April, on our way to the top.
When we came back down, there was an accident partway down the mountain, which backed up the bus line. Shields came over and was working the bus line, selling those books.
Shields has managed to make his two books on racing topical, almost prophetic; The Race is about a rider from Utah who dreams of the yellow jersey, while The Tour includes a doping scandal that impacts the Tour (okay, you don't have to be Kreskin to come up with that one).
With the Tour underway, Shields did a guest spot with Locutus and Saul Raisin on Daily Peloton's live Stage 2 coverage and is posting regular updates at Elegant Variation, linked above.
July 05, 2006
Welcome RoadCycling.com and BikeHugger.com
I wanted to offer a quick shout-out to two new sponsors.
RoadCycling.com has become an annual sponsor, during each year's Tour. They offer a diary from Julian Dean, so we should see some interesting commentary on today's late-stage wipeout over there. RoadCycling's RSS feed is here.
Bike Hugger, on the other hand, is a new venture I'm working on with DL Byron of Textura Design. It's about bike advocacy, utility cycling, commuting, day touring, bikes as art; whatever will turn the cranks of people who love bikes. You can follow the Hugger in your newsreaders by subscribing to its RSS feed.
July 04, 2006
Tour Salad: Stage 3
On rec.bicycles.racing, Ryan Cousineau is keeping track of the “Millar Line:” since Saunier Duval's David Millar is so loudly proclaiming that he's clean, anyone who finishes before him in a flat stage must therefore be doping, right?
Sprinters are excepted, by decree. There's some very funny stuff in the related threads.
Today, not so good: Millar Line Stage 3: They're all Guilty.
Also from rec.bicycles.racing, here's Bob Martin's summary for Stage 3. Michael Rogers isn't a complete slouch in the mountains. He may make things interesting.Kessler, Boogerd, Boonen, Freire, Bennati, then Totschnig (maybe Wegmann) and Rogers.
PodiumCafe.com offers links to many of the rider diaries from around the web. I try to keep up with these, but it's a low-percentage play -- so many of them get updated before the prologue, and then sit idle for stage after stage. Of the listed diaries, O'Grady's was updated last night (understandable: he has a cracked vertebra), Leipheimer's is post-Prologue, Zabriskie's is from before the Tour, and Backstedt's was written before Stage 2.
Maybe it's a team budget thing, because a notable exception is Discovery Channel, which presumably knows how to run a network: Chris Brewer makes sure they have more than daily updates on their fansite, including daily Liz Kreutz photo galleries (here's today's) at ThePaceline.com (free registration required): Where else can you find out that Discovery sports director Johan Bruyneel got Belgian fritjes (i.e. french fries) delivered to the team car today, Vincent Vega-style.
T-Mobile also has an excellent (and linkable -- not all in Flash) site: Andreas Klöden's Tour diary is fresh, and there's an interview with today's winner Matthias Kessler already up: He says he won today “Vino-style.”
July 03, 2006
Stage 2 by the numbers
One of the most concise daily Tour wrapups is Bob Martin's stage summary, every day on the Usenet newsgroup rec.bicycles.racing.
Martin lists the day's biggest gainers and losers by position and time, and how all the favorites fared by time, by position (up or down), and the current standing of the favorites.
Today, for example, Aitor Hernandez paid for his long breakaway by coming in 13:25 behind McEwen, while only three riders gained time on the general classification — McEwen, Boonen, and Hushovd.
Google Maps + GPS + heart rate data = Ubilabs TdF tracker
Using rider GPS and heart-rate monitor data, Ubilabs has set up a cool Tour tracker that lets you monitor the position of 8 riders: Jens Voigt and Christian Vande Velde of CSC, Filippo Pozzato and Bram Tankink of QuickStep, Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, and Sebastian Lang and Beat Zberg of Gerolsteiner.
It also shows the course with intermediate sprints, king of the mountain lines, and feed zones.
(Via Typolis and Martin - Thanks!.)
June 30, 2006
Web reaction to Black Friday banning
The genius behind the “Jan Ullrich myspace page” says the fun's over, and he's incredibly disappointed that Ullrich, who he loves for his class and humanity, has at the very least lied about his involvement with the Madrid clinic:
This is a disappointment on many levels for me, but it's a slap in the face to everyone who loves the sport, to every CAT racer out there grinding it out in Nowhereland for a place on a rickety plywood podium, and everyone who just gets out and rides.
If I'm going to cheer for anyone, I'm going to cheer for David Millar, who has been brutally honest about what he did, and is now trying to ride the Grand Boucle without anything in his bloodstream, unlike God-knows-how-many other riders in the peloton.
Thanks for reading, let's hope Jan and Ivan get themselves straightened out, and lets hope for the best Tour de France in 20 years.
it is this collection of rights : rights to a presumption of innocence ; right to fair and free access to justice ; right to contradict the organs of state - these rights are being dismembered. By the press, the state, the ASO and UCI.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY - by the members of the public *especially in this forum* who think they have the moral qualifications to intuit truth, form judgments, castigate others, all without having enough knowledge to tie their own shoelaces.
This is turning into an event of mobocracy, with all kinds of actors of all spheres.
My opinion - the dopers (whoever they are) have done less damage to cycling that have all the above. Yeah - I suppose lots of you plan to burn the witches.
June 28, 2006
Dave Zabriskie has a plan
It's ingenious and maybe a little evil, but Dave Zabriskie has a plan for controlling the peloton's Russian contingent.
His regular weblog has gone a little stale, but there's a promise of more at MissingSaddle.com.
June 21, 2006
LeTour Goatse?Tour de France webpage, you're taken to a landing page where you can choose your language.
This year's edition bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the most famous Internet gross-out images of all time, Goatse.cx (Wikipedia link).
June 16, 2006
Annual Palm Tour software available
The last few years, Deepweb has provided a Tour application for Palm and Treo handhelds. This year, it's freeware (2004's was a $4 download), runs on the wide variety of Palm hardware, and gives stage-by-stage profiles, distances, and intermediate features (sprints, king-of-the-mountain lines). Riders and teams are promised soon, and the stages integrate with your Palm's datebook.
Seen at PalmAddicts.
June 09, 2006
Friday afternoon fun: Race2Replace webisodes
Discovery Channel Team Webisodes (Click “Race to Replace,” then “Webisodes”)
I realized last night that the webisodes available on the Race2Replace website are one or two full episodes ahead of those posted on the iTunes Music Store. That means that if you're subscribed to the iTMS podcast feed, you're currently 2 very interesting webisodes behind.
The first, “Johan the Great,” is a profile of Discovery's DS, Johan Bruyneel. The 2nd, “The Showdown at Brasstown,” provides some more fodder for the debate about the Danielson/Floyd Landis showdown on Brasstown Bald.
In it, Bruyneel repeatedly reins in Tom Danielson, pinning him to Landis's wheel like a misbehaving pup. He tries to get Danielson to feign weakness, then makes him save it all for a last-k attack, which, of course, didn't crack Landis.
The production quality on these is terrific, and they provide some fairly intimate background on the riders. Hincapie's wife and rehab featured prominently in a recent episode, while McCartney's desperate need for a bathroom during Stage 2 of the TdG features in the latest. One interesting exclusion is any discussion of the cause of Hincapie's crash at Paris-Roubaix; if this was your first exposure to it, you might think he just flopped off his bike on the slippery cobbles.
June 07, 2006
VeloNews TdF guide released
VeloNews does an annual Tour preview, in conjunction with the Tour's organizers. The 2006 edition should be showing up on newsstands, or in your mailbox if you're a VeloNews subscriber.
This year's edition is the magazine's biggest ever. They're a great resource for keeping track of course profiles, and there are usually some great racing photos of Tour contenders. This year's adds a 20th anniversary look back at Greg LeMond's first Tour win, in 1986.
Of course, with publishing lead times what they are, the guide lacks for timeliness, so you'll have to get rosters and competitive analysis from elsewhere.
May 31, 2006
Time waits for no mag -- I pick VeloNews TdG contest winners
I couldn't wait any longer -- the VeloNews Tour de Georgia photo contest pictures have been posted for about 3 weeks, with no winner announced, and a new weekly gallery has been posted, so I went ahead and picked TdG gallery winners over at my Tour de Georgia weblog.
May 26, 2006
Fly the 2006 Tour route without leaving your computer
Earlier this month, I mentioned that a 2006 Tour route map was underway for Google Earth.
It's done. The entire route of this year's Tour is now available for download. It's an amazing demonstration of what Google Earth can do, as you can tilt and zoom to get an idea of a course's elevation profile, overlay roads to plan a Tour trip, and easily pick out intermediate sprints or mountaintops.
It's both convenient and awesome.
Harry Love, who participated in last year's Google Earth map, has posted a number of suggestions for how people can extend on this year's map, including geotagging photos at sharing sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Google Video, using the "tdf2006" tag, and, for riders and teams, providing data feeds that could integrate with the course map.
Above is a still from Stage 15, which finishes atop Alpe d'Huez.
(Spotted at Bikeforall.net.)
May 15, 2006
Lindsey: Race to Replace has "excellent disaster potential"
Joe Lindsey is afraid that the gimmick casting/reality show that is Discovery Channel's Race to Replace is a bad, bad, idea.
In case you've been under a rock, here's the basic idea: Team Discovery needs to find the next Lance Armstrong to lead the team. Contestants will sign up online, and on August 12th, some group of contestants will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The contest winner will line up with the team at the US Pro Championships in Greenville, SC, in September.
Details at this time are, as they say, sketchy. Is it mass-start or a time trial? Will there be categories? Is it part of any official USA Cycling program? Will pro racers like Danielson, or even USAC-licensed elite amateurs, be allowed to compete?
We don’t know. Here’s what we do know: This has excellent disaster potential.
What if the winner's a Fred, and wipes out half the field? What if he's dropped 500 yards into the race? Lindsey thinks the whole thing belittles the long monastic struggle most riders face before they can line up with the elite pros.
I'm a little more sanguine about the whole thing. The whole idea still isn't fleshed out, but I'll bet there's no intention for somebody with zero pack racing experience to actually race the full pro championships in September. I'm betting the winner will either a) be part of the U23 team Discovery sponsors (or another national-level amateur), or b) some member of Joe Public. If it's “A”, this is a great chance for the Discovery networks to showcase the talented young racers out there. If it's “B”, I imagine he'll get to ride with the pack through the neutral start, then, with loud cheers and plenty of media attention, be escorted off the course.
And it may yet wind up that the contest is only for “team leadership”: The team has promised a series of “webisodes” looking at candidates to replace Armstrong as the leader of Team Discovery starting today. They're pretty much who you would expect: Danielson, Popovych, Hincapie, Ekimov, Rubiera, Savoldelli, and Azevedo. How this “contest” links to the other contest is anybody's guess.
In any case, the ads (featuring personalities from Discovery shows) are cute and memorable, any interest in the contest is a plus for US cycling awareness, and the whole project should help maintain Discovery's image as the leading American cycling team.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Links, Paolo Savoldelli, Television, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 08, 2006
Kristin Armstrong on Oprah; whatever happened to Lance?
Every divorcee's nightmare will come true for Lance Armstrong on Tuesday as his ex-wife Kristin visits the Oprah Winfrey Show and dishes with Oprah about their marriage and “why it ended” (check local listings).
Update: Here's the former Mrs. Armstrong in Glamour's Sex & Love column. Hat tip to my wife (I swear!).
Meanwhile, Armstrong has not settled into a quiet retirement, sitting lazily around the ol' fishing hole. The 7-time Tour winner, whose philanthropic battle with cancer is featured in a cover story in this week's Sports Illustrated (cover), is in Belgium taking in a couple of stages of the Giro this week, then will participate in Livestrong Day May 17. On May 28, he'll strap into a special Corvette Z06 pace car as he paces the Indianapolis 500.
May 07, 2006
Giro 2006 web resource roundup
TV:OLN is repeating their approach from last year, providing a weekly recap show on their Cyclysm Sundays show and live coverage of Monday - Saturday stages through a partnership with Cycling.TV, at $19.99 for the entire Giro. If you already subscribe to Cycling.TV, that's another $19.99 to get the Giro. Mac users note: it works if you've installed Windows Media/Mac and/or Flip4Mac; I had better luck in Firefox and Safari than Camino.
Tickers:Look for live text coverage from VeloNews, cyclingnews.com, and Eurosport, with commentary most days at Daily Peloton.
Online Resources:The official site, in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German.
A team-by-team look at the Giro d'Italia
Riders in the race:
Jason McCartney's Giro Blog
Riders sitting out the Giro:
PezCycling News | Magnus Maximus : Giro Watching
May 06, 2006
2006 Tour emerging on Google Earth Hacks
Over at Google Earth Hacks, “Lucifer” has an exact map of this year's prologue in Strasbourg, and a provisional map for Stage 1, and will be filling in more route details as they become available.
If you're planning on seeing the Tour firsthand, this will be an invaluable resource, since you can “prefly” the route to pick good locations.
May 03, 2006
"I am the Kaiser. I crush the souls of the weak."
Just a taste:
The Jan has just done the finishing of the stage two of the tour of Romandie. Romandie is being the worst country the Jan has ever been to. It is smelling like cabbage, and the all the women are looking like wooly sacks of potatoes. Preferably the Jan must dine on the liver of fourteen virgins every morning to be strong, but there are not being 14 virgins in all of Romandie, the Jan is thinking. So I am not crushing as many souls as I am normally doing.
Seen at Podium Cafe.
July 25, 2005
One last (I hope) clueless sportswriter post for the year
Armstrong @ Tour de Georgia
Photo by Frank Steele
I honestly suspect this guy's just looking for mail, like the columnist I used to work with who once referred to the homeless as "rotting hunks of flesh." Today, we've evolved the word "Troll" to encompass these people.
In short, Bayless says Armstrong isn't the greatest athlete of all time (which I'm okay with), but he says it's because cycling just isn't, well, athletic enough.
Bayless is happy to anoint Armstrong the greatest cyclist of all time, which, of course, most fans of the sport do not (I'm still in the Merckx camp), but that's not the source of my disagreement.
This may just be one of those arguments where you're doomed from the get-go, like discussing Bush's bicycle crash, or the Palestinian question. Maybe you can't compare Jim Thorpe and Lance Armstrong, or Bjorn Dahlie and Dave Mirra. But I'm not going to let that stop me, since we're just looking at Bayless's column.
Here's Skip's nut graf:
Armstrong doesn't qualify as the greatest all-around athlete because cycling doesn't test enough athletic talent or skill. And he doesn't qualify for greatest performer because his sport doesn't have the equivalent of last-second shots or throws or catches, of two-outs-in-the-ninth swings or of final-hole putts. The pressure through 21 Tour stages is constant, but rarely if ever acute.
But his argument in favor of the ball-sports boys seems a little weak. "When has Armstrong ever been tested under huge-moment fire?" he asks. Maybe this guy has never even seen the Tour? When your opponent motors up the road on a finishing climb, that strikes me as, well, a crucial moment. More so than in the ball sports, where you can respond on a later hole, possession, or down to what your opponent does now. If a Tour winner doesn't have the wheels at that moment, he's toast. And there may be 10 of those moments on any given climb.
"Armstrong doesn't have the rare reflexes required to connect with 95-mph fastballs, or to throw baseballs or footballs, or to catch 60-yard passes on the dead run, or to make 25-foot jumpers or spinning, hanging circus shots over leaping giants," says Bayless. Did you see him off-road in the 2003 Tour to avoid Beloki's fall? It was like dancing, but no, it's not as big a part of the sport.
But do any of the ball sports require the physical recovery of cycling? No way. Do any of them require athletes to go anaerobic for more than an instant? Nope. Do any of them require the balance necessary to competitively descend from the mountains? No. And there are only a few other situations that require strategy and tactics on a par with cycling (the batter-pitcher duel, possibly quarterbacks reading defenses).
The ultimate irony in Bayless' piece (and I leave it to the reader to determine exactly what it's a piece of) is this:
Which leads to another key question: While just about every kid in America rides a bike at some age, how many dedicate themselves to winning the Tour de France? Not many. Far more want to be baseball, basketball or football players. Competitive cycling is more popular among kids in other countries, but not in this one.
Yet Armstrong hasn't had to battle the quality or depth of competition in his sport that baseball, basketball or football greats have risen above in theirs.
So Armstrong's achievements are lessened because more people play ball sports than race bikes?
If Bayless had ever left the United States, he might have discovered that baseball and football are not exactly the number 1 sports worldwide. Basketball is more widespread, but as Bayless himself says, just about every kid rides a bike at some age. Bike racing worldwide draws from a huge pool of recreational and transportation cyclists.
So who does Bayless say is the greatest athlete of all time? None other than "Neon" Deion "Prime Time" Sanders, the man for whom one nickname wasn't enough. I saw Deion play for the Falcons, the Braves, and the Reds, and as ball-sports guys go, he was good, but he was two things: fast (no, FAST) and agile. Little power (as a hitter or a tackler), and not great game smarts: He was best as a man-to-man cover man, where he could take any single receiver out of a ballgame.
So anyway, who WAS the greatest athlete of all time? Nominations in the comments, please.
Even my local fishwrap had Armstrong's 7th Tour victory above the fold today, so there are a lot of good Armstrong front pages out there.
Mark Friesen of Newsdesigner.com has put together a collection of some of the best Tour-related front pages from this morning.
And don't despair, Thor Hushovd fans, there's something for you in there, too!
July 24, 2005
Armstrong gets another SI cover
Sports Illustrated will hit newsstands on Wednesday with a cover featuring Lance Armstrong in the yellow jersey riding through amber waves of grain.
As usual, you can click through to a larger version of the image.
Here's a link to all of Armstrong's previous SI covers:
Sports Illustrated now sells prints of their covers at sicovers.com.
July 22, 2005
During Stage 18, took in the noon showing of "Wedding Crashers"
David Letterman revisits Lance Armstrong, with his "Top Ten Signs Lance Armstrong is Getting Cocky".
10. Goodbye Gatorade, hello Colt .45
This isn't the first time around for the topic. There's also:
- 7/22/2004 | Top Ten Signs Lance Armstrong is Getting Cocky
- 7/28/2003 | Top Ten Perks of Winning the Tour de France (including “You get first pick of the stationary bicycles at participating health clubs”)
July 16, 2005
Tour black and white gallery
Velogal's link of the day is to a black and white collection of Tour photography by Tino Pohlmann. She bumped into Pohlmann earlier this week, and he set her up with a copy; it doesn't appear to be available in the US. Selected images are available in the gallery linked above.
There are landscapes, shots of fans, and a few pictures of racers. There are also desktop images available for download, at sizes up to 1600 x 1200.
(Seen at Velogal's Race Blog).
July 14, 2005
View Stage 14 larger than life
As it did last year, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation is sponsoring a nationwide viewing party for one Tour stage, this Saturday's Stage 14.
Hamilton himself will be hosting a fundraiser at one theater in Lakewood, Colorado, where participants will also have a breakfast and bike ride with Tyler Hamilton, believe him or not. At that location, it's $75, or $50 without the bike ride.
Last year, many of the locations sold out, so if it's something you want to do, you should check out the link above to grab your tickets.
Bonus Hamilton content:
July 13, 2005
Sometimes a water bottle is just a water bottle
Fat Cyclist continues a run of very funny Tour posts, many of them linked in my left-hand blogroll.
Today, he looks at how your approach to the Tour illuminates your personality:
Question 6. Who is your favorite Tour de France announcer?
- Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen (Originally I gave these two separate bullets, but the fact is they're not separable): You have a fond memory of your childhood and your father. In general, you're a well-balanced person, though you do have a penchant for wacky idioms and pretending you know what other people are thinking.
- Bob Roll: You are boisterous and wear a lamp shade on your head, even when you are not drunk.
- Al Trautwig: You accept everything anyone says about anything. You laugh at knock-knock jokes. You are not aware you have a comfort zone, because you have never left it. You are a chimpanzee.
Live audio update
Here's one that actually seems to work, even on the Mac.
You have to open Windows Media Player, the choose open URL and paste that text.
It's the British feed with David Duffield and Sean Kelly.
Thanks to Gary Butcher at MovingBrands.
July 12, 2005
Wilcockson interviewed by NPR
On NPR's Day to Day, host Alex Chadwick talks to John Wilcockson of VeloNews about Armstrong's exit from yellow, what Wilcockson made of the Saturday Discovery problems, and the next few days of the Tour.
RealMedia or Windows Media audio file.
July 10, 2005
Bob's Box Scores - Stage 9
Bob Martin has started posting an interesting stage summary on the Usenet newsgroup rec.bicyles.racing. He looks at the stage deltas (changes plus or minus) for all the riders by position and time, and puts them in order.
The biggest gainer in position and time today was, not surprisingly, Michael Rasmussen, who moved from 68th to 4th, and is now 4:22 closer to the race lead.
Biggest losers by position were Discovery's Benjamin Noval and Pavel Padrnos, who handled Discovery's pacemaking before the big mountains, then moved back safely into the grupetto, the sheltering group of sprinters and ne'er-do-wells just trying to survive the day, coming in 19:06 back. Also noteworthy, Fabian Cancellara of Fassa Bortolo lost 15:20 against the race leader.
Some interesting data, shown in a new way.
Flickr-ing the TourFlickr to post their Tour photos.
Unlike most sports events played in controlled access stadiums, the Tour is run on public roads without admission, and the scale of the event, covering more than 100 miles most days makes it hard to be well positioned as a photographer.
Enter social networks: I can't be everywhere, but if 100 people lining the course cooperate, someone could photograph every single mile of most stages.
Unfortunately, through the early stages of the Tour, most of the photos tagged "tourdefrance" were pictures of people's TV sets.
I haven't seen much better at Buzznet, and Velogal seems to have SmugMug all to herself.
Am I missing some somewhere?
Fortunately, Oliver Regelmann has rectified that, going out to document the Tour's visit to Karlsruhe, and the opening miles of Stage 8.
July 09, 2005
Watch those heart rates climb
Cannondale is working with SRM, makers of power meters, 2PEAK training systems, and T-Mobile to display real-time heart rate and power numbers, for two members of the Lampre-Caffita squad, which rides Cannondale frames.
Salvatore Commesso and Gerrit Glomser are the two guinea pigs.
Commesso, in the breakaway, is running at 181 beats/minute, outputting 437 watts, while traveling at 31.1 km/h, up the 2nd Category Col de la Schlucht.
July 08, 2005
A few of us were watching all along...
Over at PopMatters.com, Robert Collins offers a terrific essay on Lance Armstrong's influence on US sports media, and how his success has opened US eyes to bike racing:
Win or lose, Armstrong calling an end to one of cycling's greatest careers marks one of those rare occasions where the sports world, the real sports world, doffs its cap in honour of a true champion. And even on the Champs-Elysees, win or lose, they'll raise a glass to the man who tamed their great race so many times. They'll be there in their hundreds of thousands, all aiming for a last glimpse at the greatest champion since Merckx. "Allez Lance! Allez."
Bonus points for the Lemond story. Bonus bonus points for the Randy Newman reference in the headline. Read it all.
And, looking at it another way:
July 07, 2005
Cycling Revealed July Tour issue posted
CyclingRevealed is a very professional webzine focused on pro cycling.
Their July 2005 edition is online, including a Tour diary (stages 1-5 are online), a cover story on Florennes, a Belgian town that calls itself the "Crucible of Champions” because of 3 Tour winners born there who won 6 Tours between 1913 and 1922, and a slow reveal of their top 20 Tours of all time.
July 06, 2005
First Fred: Bush samples the pavement in Scotland
US President George Bush suffered scrapes when he ran into a British police officer while riding his mountain bike near the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
The president, who was wearing a helmet, slid on the pavement, suffering scrapes on his hands and arms that were bandaged by Tubb.
McClellan declined to speculate about whether anyone was at fault in the crash.
Translating McClellan: It was all the president's fault.
It's always tough when the training wheels first come off.
First Subaru Tour blogger headed to France
Subaru is wrapping up its Race to the Tour contest. The first winner, Ted Darling, is on his way to France, and the 2nd winner should have been drawn last week, and should be announced shortly.
Winners get a Trek Madone and a computer and cellphone to use while they follow the Tour for a week.
Ted's first post is here.
July 05, 2005
BikeHiker launches "TdF for the Rest of Us"
John Hay, who runs BikeHiker, has launched a new weblog focused on this year's Tour. He's promising a continuing glossary of Tour and cycling terms.
Added to my "Tour Weblogs" blogroll at left, since I'm a sucker for products for the rest of us.