Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Le Tour

It's almost that time again. The 2008 Tour de France. Saturday July 5th to Sunday July 27th 2008, the 95th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.

Not sure what to make of it this year really. Major team shakeups. Discovery was history last year when the Discovery channel walked away... Johan Bruyneel the former director of USPS and Discovery and now GM of Astana Cycling Team is on a book signing tour going into early July (what the hell eh?) because his team has not been allowed to ride in the Tour.

Astana's (and former Discovery rider) Alberto Contador recently won the three week Giro d’Italia - and that was only on seven days notice that they were going to be allowed to ride. Due to Astana's blood doping mess last year and before Johan and the DC boys essentially just rebadged themselves to Astana- the Kahzak team lost its Pro accreditation and only partially has it back. More than a slap on the wrist to say the least.

So riders like
ALBERTO CONTADOR, VLADIMIR GUSEV, CHRIS HORNER, SERGEY IVANOV, ANDREAS KLÖDEN, LEVI LEIPHEIMER, DANIEL NAVARRO, BENJAMIN NOVAL, JOSÉ LUIS RUBIERA won't ride this year. An incredibly strong squad. I read that some people think that its a squabble between the UCI and ASO cycling federations and Astana was caught in the fall out. Banned for an entire year is bull.

And this year has a Stage 17 finish on top of Alpe d'Huez.
That's a 210 kilometre long day that takes in the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix-de-Fer before climbing to the finish at the top of Alpe d'Huez. Watch the video above. Around 3/4 in you will see an undulating stage that goes on forever and finishes on top of that most famous of brutal stages: Average gradient on the climb up Alpe d'Huez: 7.9% (steepest turn is 14%), it's 13.3 kilometres long, has 21 hairpins, and has an elevation of 1860m at the top. Thats after riding 196.7km.

Lance covered that climb in 38mins 1sec in 2001 in the ride that has been known as 'The Look'. Its the stage where he faked out Jan Ullrich - his main rival at the time, and pretended to have an off day. the entire ride to that point he looked like he was struggling. For most of the stage Jan's T Mobile squad set the pace. Then at the bottom of mountain, Lance all of a sudden switched on. He passed Jan and took off up L'Alpe d'Huez, turning to look back over his shoulder for more than a couple of revolutions and into the eyes of Jan who realized he had been fooled. Jan was now himself gassed and couldn't catch the departing Lance. One of the coolest things I ever saw in sports. Well perhaps 7 tour wins was cool to see as well. :)

Hard to beleive that was seven years ago now. No Lance, no USPS, not really any Discovery riders.... So much has changed with me personally in that time too. But I digress. Who the hell do I root for now?
Maybe I will root for George Hincapie. He is pretty much the only former USPS /Lance teammate left riding. And he was there for all 7 of Lance's wins and an 8th after he left. He is on Team High Road (huh?) now - which curiously you can't even find a link to off of his official site.. But you can check out this training facility he is planning in the Blue Ridge mountains. Holy. Can you imagine that place?

And OLN in their craptastic poor sister to Versus (but owned here by TSN) way never show any cycling leading up to the Tour. And TSN NEVER does.... I only hope OLN's coverage this year is complete. As per usual, their page is Stay Tuned when it comes to the schedule. I mean... don't they know?

/end cycling rant. :)


Mike Wood Photography

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