July 08, 2006
Zabriskie: "hardest time trial course I've ever ridden"
That's why I love Dave Z: He tells it like it is. He says there were no true flat sections on the course, just false flats, and he had trouble finding his rhythm.
Levi Leipheimer lost over six minutes...heck he must have been listening [to] Celine Dion or something like that. But my boy Floyd mus[t] have been listening to Kid Rock because he came through.
So, now what am I going to do? That's a good question.
Zabriskie is more than a time-trial specialist, so I imagine we'll see him again before the last TT.
June 30, 2006
Julich's ESPN diary launches
CSC's Bobby Julich, who finished 3rd in the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour (not last year as his local paper suggested), is writing a diary for ESPN.com during this year's Tour.
Its first edition is up, and focuses, of course, on Basso's withdrawal and what impact that's going to have on the team.
He says CSC briefly considered pulling out of the race, in the emotion of the moment, but that Special Operations training kicked in: “...it's also a reality, as on the battlefield, that when your leader goes down, you have to still accomplish your objective, that the roles may change but you still have a goal to accomplish.”
Personally, Julich says he believes Basso is innocent, that he's been targeted because of his extraordinary Giro performance, but that he's assumed guilty because of the ProTour and ASO regulations, which allow riders to be suspended if they're even under investigation.
The worst thing for me will be if, three or four days from now, Ivan goes down, gives his DNA, does whatever he needs to do to clear his name, and is cleared, but the Tour has already started without him. That really is the hard part for me.
In my opinion, if there is absolutely indisputable evidence that he's involved, then I'm sorry, but we have to accept that, and that would be the most disappointing thing in my career, that I would have to accept that a guy like Ivan was cheating.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like ESPN is giving Julich a standard URL where you can watch for updates, or even, heavens, a standard weblog with an RSS feed.
June 30, 2005
Christian Vande Velde on the Tour
Christian Vande Velde, not on the CSC Tour squad, offers some insight into what this last week is like for the riders, and what he thinks about Tour handicapping:
What you have done in the spring - even at the Giro - doesn't really mean anything now. You'll see people who couldn't even finish a race in the spring now dropping the same guy who won that very race. At this point, it really doesn't matter what what happened in the Dauphiné or in Switzerland. The Tour is just a different animal. If you bet on Mayo last year after he killed everyone in the Dauphiné, you would've lost some serious dough. Where has Mayo been this year? Nowhere. But maybe we'll see him ride better a better Tour than he did last year. Who knows? That is why the Tour is so great.
October 28, 2004
Leipheimer diary addresses team change
Levi Leipheimer signed with Gerolsteiner, where he says he and Georg Totschnig will be the team's Tour de France GC threats.
I haven't picked a racing schedule for next year yet but the goal still remains the Tour de France. I have done it twice now and finished in the top ten twice. This is my stepping stone for an improvement next year and beyond. I won't be satisfied with the same result. I want to be at least in the top 5 and go for a stage win. I am feeling more confident now and I feel comfortable in my place in the peloton.
July 20, 2004
Christian Vande Velde on his day in the break
American Christian Vande Velde was the best-placed rider on Roberto Heras's Libery Seguros during all the action, but may have pushed the pace a little too hard, as he finished 9:44 back, in 57th overall. Vande Velde writes in his rider's diary at VeloNews that he has trouble staying fed and hydrated in the heat, and only realizes he's nearing the bonk when he starts getting goosebumps.
In the last hour of the race today I started to feel like a goose out there as I became dehydrated and tired from the efforts of the race and challenges of the course.
I began to drift off and tried to ride with Ullrich as he came blasting by. After a while, though, I fell back and soon Lance's group came charging up with Floyd setting a ripping tempo on the climb. He looked over at me and told me to get on his wheel if I didn't want to be dropped. I took his advice and hung on.
The Postal team was impressive once again today, keeping Lance well protected in the front of the race and setting a tempo so strong nobody could attack and if they did try an attack they didn't get far up the road.
July 10, 2004
Magnus on Stage 7
Magnus Backstedt is a weimaraner among the whippets on this year's Tour de France; the Swede riding for Alessio-Bianchi weighs in at 98 kgs, or about 217 pounds.
In his rider's diary at VeloNews, Backstedt offers a good description of yesterday's finish:
Today's finish was a nice change of pace, with rolling hills all the way toward the line. It was quite an interesting finish, really, with those hard little drags over the last five or ten kilometers. A lot of guys were really hurting once it got to a sprint - including me.
It was a nice finish, though, and a real change of pace from the usual. These days you don't see a lot of groups getting away in the last five or ten kilometers like you did today. Usually if things regroup with 10 or 20 kilometers to go, you know it's going to be a bunch kick, but today the guys managed to get away and hold it all the way to the finish. That makes for quite a nice end to the day, really.
Backstedt likes the profile of Tuesday's stage ("maybe that's a day when I can try my hand"), but is not looking forward to the 9 categorized climbs on Wednesday's stage:
The thing is 240k long and there a million bloody climbs in there. It never stops. There will be a lot of people suffering that day. It's going to be awful. Nine categorized climbs.
July 07, 2004
Ars Magnus: Backstedt diary updated
VeloNews | Magnus Opus: Rain, crashes and I'm feeling good
Magnus Backstedt reports he's feeling a little better, especially with some time in the team time trial under his belt:
Team time trials are really what the early part of my racing career was all about. Being taller and stronger on the flats I offer up a pretty good draft, eh?
Alessio-Bianchi led at some of the checkpoints, but lost two riders on a slippery turn, then waited and finally left without them. Magnus himself flatted 15k from the finish and had to pace in on his own.
Still, I have quite a positive frame of mind today. I felt heaps better than I did even yesterday. This really has changed my attitude here. It's hard to approach the Tour with enthusiasm feeling the way I had been. This is a big step up for me.
I don't mean to demean the stars here, but this is what it's like for 150+ of the riders; trying to get recovered so they can do more work tomorrow, usually in service to another rider who gets all the credit. That's why I love the team time trial: When US Postal uses it to put Armstrong in the yellow jersey, there's some more focus on just how hard Hincapie, Ekimov, and the rest are working to make Lance look good.
July 02, 2004
Leipheimer diary updated
It's the calm before the storm, and Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer updated his web diary on the anticipation and pomp surrounding the "Superbowl of biking." Of the "parade lab," where organizers confirm the physical condition of all the riders, he says:
They take our temperature, measure us, weigh us, make sure our hearts are beating and all that stuff. The press film it all so everyone knows we're in perfect health going into the tour. That, and they'll know if we become shorter at any point during the race? So much for my half inch shorter identical twin jumping in for me after week two.
February 23, 2004
US Postal rider diary: Algarve
Michael Barry is one of the few riders still actively maintaining their online diary, and he's updated after the Posties’ win yesterday in the Tour of the Algarve:
Our plan was to set Floyd up for both the stage win and the overall victory. With a strong team and so many riders in the top spots on general classification, controlling the race was fairly straight forward - let a break go near the start that wasn't too big to control (no more than 12 or so riders) and then put a few riders on the front from the team to ride a hard tempo to keep the break at a manageable distance. From the start, Benjamin Noval and George rode on the front and then with 60 km to go I gave them a hand. The final climb to the finish was with 3 km to go and it went straight up.
July 25, 2003
Besides being the big hoss for the US Postal team, George Hincapie likes his gadgets. He's got a weblog over at blogspot, with pictures uploaded from his cameraphone, and he mentions that the Posties' "morale is high and we're all kickin it with our iPods." He posted Tuesday on the rest day:
Anyway, the Tour has been the most exciting tour I've ever done and if Lance wins this one it will for sure be the best victory we have ever had. Lance is really motivated and super psyched to be "back". He came into the bus after the stage yesterday on fire yelling "who's back in the house!!!!". It was a great boost for all of us to see Lance so confident. We've been on pins and needles for the last few weeks. There are still two rolling days which are the hardest for me since I have to ride on the front all day. Then there is the final test for the yellow jersey on Friday [Saturday, of course - Frank]...the final TT.
Thanks to Anil Dash for the pointer.
July 24, 2003
Bradley McGee has updated his rider's diary at cyclingnews.com, to include the last climbs on Stage 16:
Plenty of fog up high in the mountains today, perfect for when you do not really want to see how much more climbing there is to go. However, the ever-present and ever-motivated fans will attempt to provide roadside guidance about the remaining kilometers. I am sure there is a mathematical formula that could be used to change a spectator's length of exaggeration into fact.
"Cinq cent metres les gars, seulment cinq cent metres et c'est fini!" ["Five hundred metres to the top; only five hundred metres and it's over"] And they can be so believable. Belief shrinks into spiteful nastiness when you turn a corner to get the Tour's official sign saying "1km GPM". But, come the descent, I love the spectators again - and all their blatant bullshitting.
July 23, 2003
Aussie Michael Rogers of QuickStep, gives an idea of Col Bargaguy's steepness: He spent almost the entire climb in a 39 x 25. That's lower than the stock gears typically installed on racing bikes, which typically have a 39 x 23 as their lowest gear. Rogers says, "It was the first time this year I have ever used that 25. "
There was a lot of speculation about QuickStep's motivation in chasing Hamilton, when they didn't have a GC competitor to help. Rogers clears up what they were thinking:
And as you may have seen, we didn't waste any time getting involved in the mix once we hit the flat. A few people were asking why we chased Hamilton when Richard Virenque was our best rider overall at 14th place (at 22 minutes).
Actually, we still felt like we could get the stage win. We wanted to get Paolo Bettini up for the win. He has ridden very strongly throughout the Tour and he said he had good legs today. So it was normal that we thought if the bunch could bring Hamilton back, we would have a good chance of seeing Paolo get up for the win today.
Okay, it didn't happen that way. Hamilton stayed away to claim a very popular win. We'll keep trying though.
As it worked out, Luca Paolini was QuickStep's highest placing rider, at 4th in the stage.
Tyler Freaking Hamilton has posted his diary update, post-Stage 16 victory:
Last night [Team CSC directeur sportif] Bjarne pulled everyone together just to remind us that the Tour was not over. He told us to maintain our focus on the race, and to avoid thinking about Paris.
He said there was a stage similar to today's in the '96 Tour. It was one of the last of the most difficult days of that year's race. He noted that some of the guys had started to relax a bit, and on that day missed an opportunity when an important break went up the road. He shared this story with us to remind us that the race was still in full swing, and there were still opportunities to be made or missed... and that none of us should be asleep at the wheel.
The ironic thing was that I almost fell into the very trap Bjarne was warning us about.
Tyler Freaking Hamilton has updated his rider's diary at VeloNews to include comments on Stage 15.
My apologies for the lag in getting an update out. I've been a little tapped the last few nights. This feels like the fifth week of the Tour de France for me, not the third. Most GC riders spend the first week of the race laying low, conserving energy. But I feel like I've been on the rivet since the get-go.
Despite the troubles Hamilton outlines in the diary entry (and it's definitely worth reading it all), as I write this, he's got almost 5 minutes on the field, and has a chance to move as high as 4th place on the overall classification if he can stay away.
Australian Bradley McGee of FDJeux.com struggled through the mountains, but is still riding:
Today will go down as one of the best and most exciting stages the Tour has ever seen. And for once I was able to see it live. No, I was not on a big day tussling with the leaders over the Tourmalet, but instead I managed to stick my head through the window of a trailing team car (I had stoppedfor a toilet break half way up the final climb and was making my way back into the groupetto) and witness the final kilometres on the team car's TV. Here we had a sorry-looking bunch of 50 riders lumbering their way up the 13km climb, and half way, with Armstrong already giving race interviews. We finished a half hour down. For us, the racing begins again Thursday and these days are merely for survival. Survival hurts.
July 21, 2003
Gilberto Simoni's rider's diary at Bicycling magazine has been updated since his victory yesterday:
One day of glory can't change my Tour de France, but it was an amazing experience for me. To hear once again people call my name along the way, to encourage me. They waited for me during my bad times, and they comprehend my results. I won Giro d'Italia, my first task. Again, I tried to be on the top in Tour de France too. It was impossible, this year at least. I'll try again in the future. If I look around me, I don't see any of my challengers from the Giro d'Italia. I mean, it's not so easy to be at your top for such a long period. I'm sure the same would be true for Armstrong, Ullrich and so on, if they tried to face the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same season--even once in their life.
July 19, 2003
VeloNews has a new edition of Michael Rogers' rider diary:
If you were in the bus - the laughing group - like I was today, there was one thing very funny about today's 13th stage: hearing the Italians crying as we tackled the major climbs.
You could hear them. Crying. Why? They just thought we were going to hard up the 15km-long Port de Pailheres and then the final climb to the finish at Ax-3 Domaines.
We had 48 riders in the bus at the finish 33 minutes and 14 seconds behind stage winner Carlos Sastre (CSC) - including six Italians. I won't give away the names of who cried.
July 18, 2003
Michael Rogers wasn't too happy with the riding of Carlos Da Cruz of FDJeux.com and Nicolas Portal of AG2R, who marked him (and Stuart O'Grady) through the long breakaway yesterday:
I couldn't scratch my arse without them bloody getting on my wheel.
When you have two guys like them, who ride as if their lives depend on chasing you back, it's not easy to get away. How they raced today was a disgrace. And what did they gain from it? Fifth and seventh place!
Rogers said getting in the breakaway may affect his TT today:
I've never raced for so many days. And with tomorrow's stage 12 time-trial next up on the menu of pain, I had intended to save myself by hiding in the bunch. But what's done is done, and now all I can do is recover and pray the legs will return for the 47km race of truth in which I had hoped, with a good ride, to finish in the top five.
Rogers recently resigned with QuickStep-Davitamon for two more years.
July 17, 2003
cyclingnews.com rider's diaries update: Landis, Rodriguez
When we were going up the Lauteret [Stage 9], I thought we would just ride up that climb, but people ganged up on us. People had no right to be attacking us, and for that matter, how they were attacking us! Some of those guys were back in the grupetto 15 minutes after they attacked. It just didn't make any sense to me.
I don't know where those cops came from when they removed those protesters...all of a sudden there were 20 cops beating on these guys. They were not being nice; they were kicking them and then picked them up by their legs and dragged them off the road. You wouldn't do that in America.
Yesterday on the stage to Marseille we were hoping for a sprint since I was the designated guy, but a big group went early and we rode in pretty easy considering the sweltering heat. There were plenty of guys who were no threat on gc that wanted to give it shot because they knew that Tuesday was one of the few days they could get away. With Petacchi at home, the big sprint threats are McEwen, Cooke and O'Grady. At this point, Stuey and Erik Zabel should be stronger as the other sprinters have been weakened by the mountains.
Tyler Freaking Hamilton has updated his rider diary at VeloNews, and discusses some back pain that may be resulting from a pinched nerve:
On Tuesday morning, the pain woke me up about an hour ahead of our scheduled wake up call. No one gets up earlier than they have to at the Tour. So this was serious. I couldn't take a deep breath. It was like I got an instant cramp every time I tried to suck in a lot of air. And the pain would dart around my side into my chest. The feeling made me a little more than nervous.
Regarding Monday's stage, the last in the Alps, and the stage where Beloki went down:
I couldn't sprint when guys attacked, but I could ride a pretty steady pace on my own that eventually got me back in contact with powerhouses up front. It was a dangerous ride as well since the tar was soft and pretty slippery in some spots. It was really a shame to see Beloki go down like he did. My read on the crash was that he had hit a slick spot where the tar had melted, had his wheel slip out, then got caught up on dry pavement. The speeds combined with the elements made it impossible for him to control his bike. It was a bad situation. And it could have happened to any one of us.
But how about Armstrong, though? I've never seen anything like what he did. The guy just keeps making bike racing history. We could see him crossing the field as we made our way around the switch back. When he darted back into the road I couldn't believe what I was watching him do.
I instinctively threw out my arm to try and give him a push to help get him up to speed, but then I realized I had reached out with my right arm, which is the side with my collarbone fractures. At the last second, I pulled my hand away. I don't think I would have been much help to him anyway. He seemed to have the situation under control. Although his heart rate must have been over 200 at the time.
July 14, 2003
With this green jersey on my shoulders, the Tour has been a dream so far. We’ve now worn all the jerseys at Fdjeux.com: yellow with Brad McGee, polka dot with Christophe Mengin and I wore white before the team time trial. There has only been one day, stage 6, that not any of us was wearing a specific jersey.
Prologue winner Bradley McGee has been having trouble keeping his energy up; Cooke calls it hypoglycemia, while elsewhere McGee calls them hunger flats or 'the bonk'.