July 15, 2006

Seattle to Portland on Bike Hugger

9,0000 cyclists of all types will ride 200 miles (almost as long as today's stage) this weekend from Seattle to Portland during the 27th annual Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Bike Hugger will feature posts and more about the ride from our bloggers. When I'm not watching le Tour and wondering why Landis is letting a break get so far ahead, I'll be going for a spin and then racing with the boys in the Skagit Flats.

Posted by Byron on July 15, 2006 in Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2006

Stage 8 photo galleries

Quasi-vintage two-wheelers, Calzati leads the attack group, Phonak show of force by Caroline Yang.

Graham Watson captures the Zabriskie break, "after after a frantic start to the day . . ." here ; and one of his trademark "across a field" shots..

CyclingNews.com Stage 8 photo gallery.

BBC Sport Stage 8 photo gallery.

Posted by Byron on July 9, 2006 in Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

TdFblog GC preview

It's going to be an amazing Tour.

I am obligated, as a writer for a Tour-centric web site, to make some predictions. This year, it is incredibly hard. A lot of riders either have badly screwed up their preparation or haven't shown us what they can do this season (and another, Alexandre Vinokourov, hasn't and may not get the chance to), and we won't find out which it is for a week or 10 days.

Sitting here, three days from Strasbourg, I believe in the two favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. I believe in Francisco Mancebo. Alejandro Valverde may be the future of the sport (depending on what's in those damn bags), and he's at the point in his career to break out some surprises. These guys have all shown they're ready to rock and roll.

For some reason, I don't really believe in Levi Leipheimer. Gorgeous wife, great results, but I have to agree with his DS: Top 10 probably, Top 5 maybe. Floyd Landis and Alexandre Vinokourov both flummoxed me with sub-par Dauphiné results, but I want to believe.

Total wildcards: Denis Menchov, Iban Mayo, Cadel Evans. I think Evans will finish higest of these three, but Mayo could take a spotlight stage, like l'Alpe d'Huez.

I can't read Johan Bruyneel's mind any better than anyone else, but I suspect Popovych and Azevedo will be the two most highly-placed Discovery Channel riders. Savoldelli and Hincapie will be well-placed up to the mountains, then lose time to the better climbers.

Enough procrastination; here's my Top 5:
1) Ivan Basso, CSC
2) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak
4) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel
5) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne

I don't see Ullrich gaining 4 minutes on Basso in the TTs, and here's why: The Stage 7 TT profile. It's long enough, at 52 kilometers, but it's a fairly technical course. Even if it's dry, I could easily see Ullrich overcooking a couple of corners, getting out of his rhythm, and not going as fast as he's capable. If it rains, even worse.

I could also see Basso gaining some time on stages with downhill finishes, like Stage 17, where Basso could go over the top of the Col de Joux-Plane with time in hand and conserve all or most of that lead for the 12 kilometers into Morzine. Ullrich's bike-handling has always scared me.

I'm also discounting the Floyd Landis nay-sayers, who say he's got no team. I think with a race as open as this year's, the team strength matters less. Landis needs to identify the real team leaders fast, then cover moves only by the real GC threats. Remember Armstrong watching Vinokourov go up the road, and waiting for Ullrich and Klöden (T-Mobile's “official” GC threats) to bring him back? Same idea. There are plenty of other strong riders who will be chasing down the pretenders.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 19, 2006

Euskaltel-Euskadi announce Tour riders

CyclingPost.com | Euskaltel-Euskadi ready for the Tour de France

Euskaltel-Euskadi named their final team for the 2006 Tour. They'll be looking for stage wins, especially sweet if they could take Stage 10 or 11 in the Pyrenees, which are likely to be bathed in the orange of their fans.

Iban Mayo won the 2003 Tour's climb to Alpe d'Huez, and Inigo Landaluze won the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré.

    Euskaltel-Euskadi 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Iban Mayo
  • Haimar Zubeldia
  • Inigo Landaluze
  • Unai Etxebarria
  • Iker Camano
  • Aitor Hernandez
  • Inaki Isasi
  • David Lopez
  • Gorka Verdugo

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Iban Mayo, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 07, 2006

VeloNews TdF guide released

VeloNews releases 2006 Official Tour De France Guide

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 7, 2006 in Links, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 04, 2006

BiciRace.com offers Tour preview

BiciRace.com | 2006 Tour de France Favorites

BiciRace.com offers a preview of the placings in this year's Tour, still 4 weeks away. Maybe it's no surprise their Italian pride leads them to go with Basso, then Ullrich. A bigger surprise is the 3rd step, where they choose the World's Fastest Mennonite, Floyd Landis.

I'm not ready to count Ullrich out until we see him do some Tour de Suisse climbs, but Basso's Giro was indeed pretty impressive. As for Landis, I hope the possible exclusion of Botero and Gutierrez doesn't prove too distracting.

BiciRace puts 3 Americans in the Top 8. Click through to see who, and where.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 4, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

Tour de France intro makes Fortune magazine

FORTUNE | Pack mentality

Paul Hochman, familiar to OLN's regular Tour viewers as “that guy with the glasses,” has a Tour preview in the current issue of Fortune magazine, of all places.

In keeping with the neighborhood, he explains the Tour as a commodities marketplace, where the various players buy stage wins at the expense of GC placing, buy TV time for the price of a suicide break, and even dominant champions find themselves allying with opponents when the situation is right.

Hochman quotes Bob Roll, who says it's less corporate than that:

"It's basically a penitentiary," says Bob Roll, a former Tour rider and an anchor for OLN TV. "You've got your walking boss, you've got that sneaky little bastard who was in "The Longest Yard," you have the honorable veterans, and then the guys who are just doing time, which is most of them. Nobody wants to be anybody's boy, but sometimes you have no choice."

If you're a regular, most of this won't be news for you, but it's definitely worth keeping around for friends and coworkers looking for an introduction come Tour time.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2006 in About the Tour, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2006

Petacchi confirms: won't start '06 Tour

Eurosport | Petacchi out of Tour de France

Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi won't start the Tour de France, as he faces surgery for a fractured kneecap.

Petacchi injured his knee yesterday in a fall during Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia.

"Even If I recover from surgery, I will never have time to get fit," Petacchi told French sports daily L'Equipe on Tuesday of his prospects of lining up for the first stage of the Tour de France on July 1.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 9, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2006

2006 Tour emerging on Google Earth Hacks

Google Earth Hacks - File Downloads - Current Events - Tour de France 2006

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Links, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

Fat Cyclist offers Tour '06 pre-pre-preview

Fat Cyclist | How to Root for the Right People in the 2006 Tour de France

Fat Cyclist wins our “Earliest Tour preview” sweepstakes with a quick overview of the contenders for the 2006 race.

Like him, I really discount George Hincapie's chances for the overall win, but Hincapie is still talking about the possibility he could lead Discovery for the Tour.

My favorite analysis:

Alejandro Valverde
Alejandro Valverde is an outstanding young rider with incredible potential, and I would strongly recommend rooting for him, except for one thing. His team’s name is “Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears,” for crying out loud. I have no idea how to even pronounce that, and there’s no chance whatsoever that I would successfully spell it. In fact, it is my understanding that everyone on the team is required to wear extra-large jerseys, just to make room for the team logo.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 10, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, George Hincapie, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack