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2009 Tour de France thread


Chavez
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However, I've pretty much decided that if Armstrong is still in the hunt, then I am going to go--and today's events seemed to advance that possibility.

 

today gives him a slight, but probably meaningless in the final tally, advantage over contador for the time being. gives him a great chance for yellow tomorrow. but friday is the first day the schit hits the fan. that's the day we'll know if lance is really in this race or not.

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I would go a bit out of my way to watch the tour go by on a big climb. but just watching them buzz by on some nondescript flat stage? meh. maybe if your wife was into it and it was 10 miles instead of 100. I'd probably wait for a better opportunity.

Today was a nondescript flat stage. :wacko:

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only watching the little internet updates, but wow, team columbia is kicking ass a couple stages in. just clinically setting up cavendish for the stage win yesterday, and then today leading a big breakaway for another easy cavendish stage win. lance got on to the breakaway...a lot of the other contenders didn't...they picked up 40 seconds on the peloton. I don't have it handy, but how far was he behind his teammates contador, kloden, leipheimer? if it was less than 40 seconds, lance could be pulling on yellow tomorrow after astana dominates the TTT.... :wacko:

 

edit: just checked, and lance was only 20 seconds behind contador after the prologue, less on everyone else on his team. so unless I'm missing something.....if astana does as well as everyone would expect in the team time trial tomorrow, lance armstrong puts on the maillot jaune tomorrow :D:D

 

Astana has to top Saxo for LA to get the yellow. I don't know that that is a slam dunk by any means.

 

I think Cadel Evans and Carlos Sastre are in real trouble right now - they could lose some SERIOUS time tomorrow.

 

Cavendish is a stud. Leaves Tyler Farrar in his dust on stage 2 and smoke the big man Hushovd today. If Boonen ever shakes his buzzard's luck and Cav takes him, he should get a jersey with Robbie McEwen's picture on it or something.

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and unless you were in the last 15k, or on that corner where columbia made their move, all you would've seen is 4 guys you've never heard of go by, and then the peloton whizz by.

Based on what I read on the Velonews live feed during the Giro, the Vuelta is more my speed anyway - The Tour is insane and the Giro is close to it; the Vuelta is less crowded, less press coverage, and a little bit more party-ish.

 

That aside, isn't the entire bike race no matter WHEN you watch it roughly 25-30 guys you've heard of and 160 you haven't whizzing by? :wacko:

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That aside, isn't the entire bike race no matter WHEN you watch it roughly 25-30 guys you've heard of and 160 you haven't whizzing by? :wacko:

 

that's why I said I'd like to watch on a big climb. 'cause then you can dress up like a devil or a viking or in some american flag underwear and run alongside the leaders for 20 or 30 yards :D

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that's why I said I'd like to watch on a big climb. 'cause then you can dress up like a devil or a viking or in some american flag underwear and run alongside the leaders for 20 or 30 yards :wacko:

...or all 3, for that matter. My favorite was when the guy dressed as Borat was running alongside the Astana team....

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bx2f9Ze3CA

 

http://anniefulton.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/dv209432.jpg ....I recall one pic that I can't find right now that REALLY had a good shot of some of the rider's faces. I'm surprised nobody fell off their bicycle.

 

I agree that being on the way up the Alpe d'Huez would be pretty f'in cool.

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spoiler alert....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

doh! lance was 40 seconds behind cancellara, in the TTT his team made up....40 seconds. a virtual tie, but somehow they went back and calculated results and put cancellara ahead by fractions of a second, so he keeps the yellow jersey. cancellara put in a massive pull to end the stage for saxo....for that effort alone, he probably deserves to wear yellow a couple more days.

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What sheik and Opie said

doh! lance was 40 seconds behind cancellara, in the TTT his team made up....40 seconds. a virtual tie, but somehow they went back and calculated results and put cancellara ahead by fractions of a second, so he keeps the yellow jersey. cancellara put in a massive pull to end the stage for saxo....for that effort alone, he probably deserves to wear yellow a couple more days.

I'm curious to see if Saxo really supports Cancellara if he's right there when they hit the mountains. He isn't a stud climber but his form on climbs last year was more than adequate.

 

Cancellara is my favorite rider - when you watch him and Cav, you know you're seeing a specialist at the absolute top of his game. Obviously Cav isn't enough of an all-arounder to win a GC; I don't think Cancellara is either, but he might have it in him.

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What sheik and Opie said

 

I'm curious to see if Saxo really supports Cancellara if he's right there when they hit the mountains. He isn't a stud climber but his form on climbs last year was more than adequate.

 

Cancellara is my favorite rider - when you watch him and Cav, you know you're seeing a specialist at the absolute top of his game. Obviously Cav isn't enough of an all-arounder to win a GC; I don't think Cancellara is either, but he might have it in him.

 

yeah, cancellara is simply without peer where he excels....sorta that short time trial/long sprint niche. and that explosive speed makes any race he's in more exciting. he's not even a little threat to win the yellow jersey, though.

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I'd bet Cav's more likely to b%&ch out in the mountains and abandon than get to Paris.

In interviews, Cav has said he desperately wants to finish the Tour. He regards his abandon last year to concentrate on the Olympics as a major mistake.

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yeah, cancellara is simply without peer where he excels....sorta that short time trial/long sprint niche. and that explosive speed makes any race he's in more exciting. he's not even a little threat to win the yellow jersey, though.

Last year he was OK in the mountains. I don't think he can attack there, though, which really hurts his chances. It would be interesting to see how he did with the protection Saxo gave Sastre in the mountains last year.

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Stage 5 was a little boring, as I expected, but well worth it to watch Voeckler's head-shaking on his way to the finish line.

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Stage 5 was a little boring, as I expected, but well worth it to watch Voeckler's head-shaking on his way to the finish line.

 

it's kinda hard not to like that guy. he looked over his shoulder about 500 times in the last km, like he was certain the sprinting peloton was gonna gulp him up.

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this may have already been discussed, but does anyone really have a clue has this bike race thing works? yellow jersey, peleton, none of it makes any sense to me.

The Reader's Digest version:

 

The Tour is a stage race. Think NASCAR Nextel Cup (or whatever they're calling it) except they race daily instead of weekly.

 

The overall winner is determined by total time. The person leading in total time wears the yellow jersey (aka the "maillot jaune"). The person wearing yellow at the end is the race winner. Riders can also race for sprint points - that's the guy wearing the green jersey. They can also gain points in the mountains, that's the heinous-looking polka dot jersey.

 

The Peloton is the main mass of riders. If you see a small group of guys riding alone and they're talking about the peloton being 4-5 minutes back, that means the leading group is 4-5 minutes ahead the main group of riders.

 

Dunno how much strategy you want to hear about - that's where it really gets interesting but also a bit more involved.

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One really important element that needs to be added to Chavez's breakdown is how the timing thing works. If you arrive at the finish in a pack of riders, you get the same time as every rider in that pack, even if the pack is quite large and the first guy through crosses the line several seconds ahead of the last guy. This is a pretty important element because, as long as none of the race leaders take off in a breakaway, the rest don't care. Thus, many flat stages, like yesterday, are rather uneventful. Some dudes might break away but if they're not considered challengers for the title, the group will let them go. In many cases, the breakaway will be caught by the main group anyway and even if they don't catch them, they won't lose a ton of time to them.

 

Ultimately, the race is settled in the mountains, where guys can really, really put some time between them and the field and where the main group (or peleton) can't just simply decide to go after the attackers. You can either climb that fast or you can't.

 

This is why, in most cases, it doesn't matter at all who is the overall leader at this point in the race, because there haven't been enough challenging stages. That Armstrong is essentially tied for the lead (and thus has a small cushion on his rivals) will only matter if he's still got what it takes to conquer the mountain stages. If he does, then the slim lead he has over the main players may be the difference. If he doesn't, then those that can will devour that slim lead and leave him with the rest.

 

The last thing that merits discussion are time trials. These are stages where riders are started one at a time at set intervals so it's every man for himself (there is one team time trial but that's something else). The important thing about these is that they are among the few stages where a guy can really make up some time because there's no drafting or strategy. Just going all out on your own. There's typically one last time trial among the last stages which can be pretty dramatic if a few guys are close for the overall lead. In a very famous one, Greg Lemond made up nearly a minute (which is an eternity in stage like that) to take the yellow jersey and win the whole thing.

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One really important element that needs to be added to Chavez's breakdown is how the timing thing works. If you arrive at the finish in a pack of riders, you get the same time as every rider in that pack, even if the pack is quite large and the first guy through crosses the line several seconds ahead of the last guy. This is a pretty important element because, as long as none of the race leaders take off in a breakaway, the rest don't care. Thus, many flat stages, like yesterday, are rather uneventful. Some dudes might break away but if they're not considered challengers for the title, the group will let them go. In many cases, the breakaway will be caught by the main group anyway and even if they don't catch them, they won't lose a ton of time to them.

 

Ultimately, the race is settled in the mountains, where guys can really, really put some time between them and the field and where the main group (or peleton) can't just simply decide to go after the attackers. You can either climb that fast or you can't.

 

This is why, in most cases, it doesn't matter at all who is the overall leader at this point in the race, because there haven't been enough challenging stages. That Armstrong is essentially tied for the lead (and thus has a small cushion on his rivals) will only matter if he's still got what it takes to conquer the mountain stages. If he does, then the slim lead he has over the main players may be the difference. If he doesn't, then those that can will devour that slim lead and leave him with the rest.

 

The last thing that merits discussion are time trials. These are stages where riders are started one at a time at set intervals so it's every man for himself (there is one team time trial but that's something else). The important thing about these is that they are among the few stages where a guy can really make up some time because there's no drafting or strategy. Just going all out on your own. There's typically one last time trial among the last stages which can be pretty dramatic if a few guys are close for the overall lead. In a very famous one, Greg Lemond made up nearly a minute (which is an eternity in stage like that) to take the yellow jersey and win the whole thing.

 

That was helpful :wacko: Thanks.

 

One more question. What do the teams have to do with it?

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That was helpful :wacko: Thanks.

 

One more question. What do the teams have to do with it?

Well, there's one stage where it is quite obvious, that being the team time trial. Each team is set off in groups, one team at a time, separated by 3 minutes. The ability of the team to work together (staying in a tight line to reduce wind resistance for everyone but the guy taking his turn at the front) as well as the overall strength of the team really comes into play as everyone on the team gets the same time as the 5th guy from that team to cross the finish. Each team has 9 guys, btw. So, the stronger the team is, the bigger your lead group can be, and the less often each guy has to ride at the front of the group, tiring himself out against the wind. As the time trial goes on, each team inevitably starts losing it's weaker riders off the back. Obviously, the team can only afford to lose 4 of these guys because of the all important 5th rider.

 

It was because of a very strong team time trial ride, that Armstrong nearly took over the race lead the other day. His Astana team won the stage and beat the team with the overall leader by 40 seconds.

 

In the less obvious ways teams matter plays into the subtle strategies. For instance, each team goes into the race with one or maybe two guys who have a realistic chance to win the whole thing. For the most part, it is the job of the others to help that guy. I say, for the most part, because each team may also have specialists, like sprinters who earn the team kudos by winning the final sprints in the non-mountain stages. Like sports we're more familiar with, it never sucks to have the guy crossing the line first wearing your team jersey, even if that guy will never ultimately factor into the final standings.

 

At any rate, the guys on the team who aren't expected to challenge for the final standings are there to help. Sometimes, this means dropping back and leading one of the leaders back into the pack if he's had a fall or flat or something. The lower guy will ride in front the whole way, tiring himself out so the leader can save his energy. This also holds true on attacks. One of the impressive images from Armstrongs winning streak was seeing his Discovery team breaking the will of everyone else. There'd be mountain stages where 5 or six of them would break off the front of the pack. Everyone but Armstrong taking his turn at the front until he exhausted himself and leading Armstrong away from the pack. Then, at the end of the stage, Armstrong would take over and win the stage.

 

There are other ways more subtle than this...

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to expound a little on what det and chavez have added....first thing you have to grasp to really understand bike racing is the fact that, on a flat road, if you are behind someone, in their slipstream, you can go just as fast as they are while burning 30% less energy. that's why the big group (peloton) can always go a lot faster than a few individuals if it wants to. whoever is at the front of the group has to really work....the bigger the group, the more you can rotate guys at the front out, keep everyone fresh, and keep the pace FAST. but sometimes none of the teams are willing to put in the work to keep the peloton fast, which explains why a lot of breakways consisting of guys who aren't big threats aren't reeled in by the peloton -- typically, the guys in these breakaways are usually going for a stage win, or for points in the green (spritner) or polkadot (king of the mountains) jersey competitions. usually, the teams of the best sprinters will do a lot of work to reel in a breakaway to give their sprinter a shot for the stage win. the team of the yellow jersey will often do a lot of work as well, because a big enough breakaway can threaten to take the yellow jersey lead away, even if only temporarily.

 

any rider who goes out on a breakaway is basically committing himself to completely busting ass for that day. the big riders don't usually go out on breakaways, because 1) it would be foolish of them to burn that much energy for one stage (and be wiped the next day) when they are thinking about their overall time, and 2) the other big riders' teams would drive the peloton and not allow them to get away anyway.

 

the 30% less energy and going faster in a group thing becomes almost (but not quite completely) a non-factor on a big climb. that is when the cream rises. if someone attacks on a climb, you, individually, ultimately have to have the goods to match him. you can't rely on the speed of the group to suck him back in. it really helps to have teammates with you help pull back attacks, but it is nothing like riding on the flats.

 

the team aspect is important for several reasons....1) controlling the speed of the peloton, 2) helping get a team leader back into the group if they have a mechanical issue or a crash or something, 3) setting a hard pace early in climbs to help ward off serious attacks against the team leader, 4) when those attacks on climbs DO come, staying on the attacker's wheel to prevent him from escaping from your team leader.

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In the less obvious ways teams matter plays into the subtle strategies. For instance, each team goes into the race with one or maybe two guys who have a realistic chance to win the whole thing. For the most part, it is the job of the others to help that guy. I say, for the most part, because each team may also have specialists, like sprinters who earn the team kudos by winning the final sprints in the non-mountain stages. Like sports we're more familiar with, it never sucks to have the guy crossing the line first wearing your team jersey, even if that guy will never ultimately factor into the final standings.

 

At any rate, the guys on the team who aren't expected to challenge for the final standings are there to help. Sometimes, this means dropping back and leading one of the leaders back into the pack if he's had a fall or flat or something. The lower guy will ride in front the whole way, tiring himself out so the leader can save his energy. This also holds true on attacks. One of the impressive images from Armstrongs winning streak was seeing his Discovery team breaking the will of everyone else. There'd be mountain stages where 5 or six of them would break off the front of the pack. Everyone but Armstrong taking his turn at the front until he exhausted himself and leading Armstrong away from the pack. Then, at the end of the stage, Armstrong would take over and win the stage.

 

Last year, the main reason (IMO) Sastre beat Evans was Saxo was loaded with talent and Silence-Lotto had NO ONE to help Evans.

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