Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Caught on the In Between Playlist 07-14-09
The 96th Tour de France is riding in full force. As anticipated, with all of the past champions riding, it has been amazing thus far. It started off with a short time trial in Monaco, which was the first time we all got a glimpse at Lance back in the saddle in the Tour since 2005. He ended up in 10th place in the time trial, but after 11 stages is sitting in 3rd place just :08 off of leader Rinaldo Nocentini. 2007 champ Alberto Contador is sitting in 2nd place, :06 seconds back. Contador was the favorite to win coming into the race, but you can never count out Lance. Even if they are on the same team...
Team Astana is the heavy team favorite with loads of firepower -- Contador, Lance, Levi Leipheimer (3rd in 2007), Andreas Kloden (2nd in 2004 & 2006), Haimar Zubeldia (5th in 2003 & 2007), Yaroslav Popovych (won White Jersey in 2005 and finished 8th in 2007), and a couple other notable riders. This is arguably the greatest team ever to compete in the Grand Tour. And they are living up to their legend -- 4 of the top 6 riders are from Team Astana.
There are tons of other great riders, as always, in the Tour, but this year there are 3 past champions in Contador, Lance, and last year's winner, Carlos Sastre. Cadel Evans has finished 2nd the last couple years.
I'm a huge Tour nut and love to follow every stage and detail. This year has been great and is the first year that I've had the Versus network so I can watch from home. In the past, I've been "forced" to follow the race from my PC or from the TV at Ski Rack in downtown Burlington. The race is currently on the flat stages between the Pyranees and the Alps. We've already had an individual time trial and a team time trial (dominated, of course, by Astana). The Pyranees were relatively uneventful with the exception of a brief, incredibly powerful attack by Contador to show that he's the best rider in this year's field. They hit some mtns this weekend, have the 2nd rest day on Monday, and then Tuesday through Sunday is when the real action comes:
Tues 7/21 -- Two huge climbs in the Alps (HORS and Cat 1)
Wed 7/22 -- Most mountainous stage of the Tour -- 5 mtn passes (4 are Cat 1 and 1 is Cat 2)
Thurs 7/23 -- Individual Time Trial (with very tired legs). They can't hold back in the Time Trial, but there is a huge mtn stage the next two days so it will be interesting!
Fri 7/24 -- Mild mtn stage.
Sat 7/25 -- The ULTIMATE mtn finish on Mont Ventoux!
I will be glued to any and all media outlets over those 5 days.
The stage up Mont Ventoux will be the most memorable stage of this tour. It's one of the most grueling climbs ever experienced in the tour, but has never been in a stage that is within 24 hrs of the finish in Paris. That alone will make it so entertaining. In the 1967 Tour, Tom Simpson collapsed dead while making the ascent up Mont Ventoux and in 1970, the legendary Eddy Merckx rode himself to the brink of collapse but still ended up winning the Tour after being administered oxygen. This year, the climb up Mont Ventoux could define who wins the tour and if it does come down to this climb, my money is on Contador. But then again, you can never count out Lance. It would be insane if they were in 1st and 2nd and they decided to duel it out. Contador has age on his side, but Lance has mental strength and history on his side.
Whatever happens, this year's Tour has been the most exciting I've seen in years. Get out on your bike no matter what the weather.
1. Lonely Bull -- The Challengers -- Killer Surf!
2. Tengazako -- The Very Best -- The Very Best Mixtape
3. Warm Heart of Africa -- The Very Best -- The Very Best
4. Sugar In My Spoon -- Sean Bones -- Rings
5. Easy Street -- Sean Bones -- Easy Street 7"
6. Born Again -- Cory Chisel -- Death Won't Send A Letter
7. Los Angeles Guitar Dream -- Spanish Prisoners -- Los Angeles Guitar Dream EP
8. Tom Joad (Part 1) -- Woody Guthrie -- Dust Bowl Ballads