Tag Archives: tour de france

Jens Voigt crash in Stage 16 of the Tour de France

You might have heard that Jens Voigt crashed in today’s stage (16) of the Tour de France.  From  “Little Known Facts About Jens Voigt” we know that Jens is as tough as they come, but crashing in a bike race is no fun.

Let’s hope that Jens is OK and has a speedy recovery.

What to do on a Tour de France rest day? How about some bike dancing?

Lovers of the movie Footloose might disagree, but I think this scene from the 1986 classic, Quicksilver, is Bacon’s best on-screen-dance-scene.

Tour de France Report – Monte Carlo

Tour de France Stage 2

Jess and I are back from our European vacation and we had an amazing trip. I won’t talk about our whole trip in this post; instead, I’ll focus on the first two stages of the Tour de France we caught in Monte Carlo.

Stage 1

livestrong crowd

The crowds at the opening time trial were amazing. To our surprise, there was actually a lot of support for Lance. I saw countless French, Italians, etc. wearing Livestrong gear from head-to-toe.

Lance warming up for the TT

Lance wore a Livestrong jersey during his warm-up on course – one of the benefits of racing for free (Lance doesn’t pull a salary from Astana).

We decided to walk to the top of the TT course where the riders do a 180 before the last climb. This was a great spot since we got to see the riders coming looking down the cliff and then could move to the barriers to see them suffering up the climb.

Kevin D from our perch on the TT course

Kevin D from our perch on the TT course

Kevin D and I were constantly trying to predict who was going to end up in the top 5 based on how they looked as we saw them zoom by.

Dave Zabriskie tearing up the TT course

Several riders looked really strong, like Garmin’s Dave Zabriskie (owner of my favorite chamois creme – DZ Nuts) above. However, there was no doubt Cancellara was going to win. He shot passed us on the climb like he was riding a Vespa. Cancellara’s winning time of 19:32 puts his average speed at 29.8 mph – which is mind-boggling after walking the TT course. There was more climbing than you realize on TV and lots of technical turns.  As I said in my Tour of California report, the pros are VERY GOOD.

Stage 2

Columbia bikes

Several different teams were staying in our hotel in Monte Carlo – Columbia/HTC, Quickstep, BBOX Bouygues Telecom, Euskatel-Euskadi, so we got to see the riders prep for Stage 2.

Jess and I with Tom Boonen

Jess and I with Tom Boonen

The riders all seemed pretty relaxed and were great with signing autographs, taking pics, etc.

The stage rolled right past our hotel, so we decided to watch from there. The “caravan” came by and you would swear that we were back home in Louisiana for Mardi Gras.

TDF caravan

The caravan is a 30 minute procession that leads the officials, VIP’s, teams and team cars along the course. It includes over 250 vehicles and has every Tour sponsor, most of whom toss out free swag (thus the Mardi Gras reference). Most of the vehicles have extravagant themes (they look more like parade floats) and feature beautiful women dancing or throwing goodies to European house music. I had seen the caravan on TV before, but seeing it live is a totally different experience. With the speeds the vehicle travel, many of the goodies they toss out the car become lethal projectiles (I was also lobotomized by flying Gendarme key chain).

TT course

Overall, it was an amazing experience. This may have been our first Tour de France, but I can guarantee it won’t be our last.

Tour de France – The Movie or Cycling Separated at Birth

I’m getting very excited about our trip to the Tour de France in a couple weeks, so the video above just further stoked my cycling flame. Some of the comparisons are pretty funny. My favs are:

  • Moby or Michael Stipe as Levi
  • Jon Heder (Napolean Dynomite) as Andy Schleck
  • Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) as Chris Horner.

But the real question is who would play Jens Voigt?

Going to France to see Lance

Lance San Remo

So I eluded to this trip when I compared the greatness of my wife to my bike (which Kevin S. astutely guessed), but Jess and I are going to Europe this summer to catch part of the Tour de France.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

First, a day of catching the sites in London. Then we are going to spend a week in Monte Carlo, Monaco; where we will catch the first two stages the the Tour de France (including the opening prologue, which loops around the city) as well as visit some of the great coastal towns on the Med (Nice, San Remo, etc.).

The village of Varenna on Lake Como, Italy

The village of Varenna on Lake Como, Italy

We will then head east into Italy and spend a few days on Lake Como. From there we will travel to Milan and then back home to Texas.

I must admit that the idea for this trip was really driven by Lance Armstrong’s return to cycling and committment to riding again in the Tour de France. I would be excited to see the Tour in any year, but the energy around this year’s Tour should be amazing.  However, I will also be pulling for Levi Leipheimer (see image on my blog header and here) to get a podium spot – he’s having a huge year. I’m also excited that my buddy Kevin D. and his lovely wife will be joining us in Monte Carlo, so hopefully Kevin and I can squeeze in one day of riding while the wives pamper themselves at the hotel spa.

On a related note, the Lance Amstrong Foundation has a very cool contest  to see Lance and the conclusion of the tour in Paris. But I can’t imagine the contest winner having more fun on this trip then the Coopers ;) – July can’t come soon enough.

UPDATED 7-2-09

We’re leaving for the Tour today. Here are my predictions:

Green Jersey – Mark Cavendish

KOM Jersey – Carlos Sastre

White Jersey – Andy Schleck

Yellow Jersey – Alberto Contador

Rest of the podium – Denis Menchov, Levi Leipheimer

Happy Birthday to Fabian Cancellara

The VeloNews wall calendar in my office told me that today is Fabian Cancellara‘s 28th B-Day. Cancellara is what we call in cycling a “Badass” and is one of my favorite riders. On this special day I thought I’d share the video above from his amazing win during Stage 3 of 2007’s Tour de France (one of the most impressive attacks I’ve ever seen).

Is the Tour de France Cleaner?

Even though I am a huge fan of professional cycling, I don’t often get on my soapbox about drugs/performance enhancers in pro cycling. However, I read a very interesting article in Scientific American that paints an interesting picture. The chart above shows the average speeds for the Tour de France winners over the last 60 years. You’ll notice a huge jump in 1991, the same time that EPO become prominent in professional cycling. You would hope the declines in 2006 and 2007 are due to more racers “riding clean”. However, Carlos Sastre won the Tour this year at an average speed of 25.12 MPH. Hopefully this is indicative of the fact that this was an easier course than in years past.

I’m going to remain optimisitic that this tour, in general, was a clearner tour than years past. You will always have a few bad apples (Ricco), but overall the race just had a “cleaner” or more “human” feel to it. Guys actually looked like they were struggling up the mountains – they looked like suffering human beings instead of piston-pumping-machines. Part of my optimism is due to the great performances by teams that have very thorough anti-doping programs: Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia (the sportswear company, not the country) and CSC-Saxo Bank.

Funny Michael Rasmussen commercial

If you are a fan of professional cycling, you’ll find this commercial pretty funny. If you don’t follow professional cycling, it won’t seem funny at all (especially since it isn’t even in english). You can learn why this commerical featuring Michael Rasmussen is funny here.

Let Levi Ride

LetLeviRide.com 

Most cycling fans know who Levi Leipheimer is, but I’ll give his bio for the benefit of those of you that aren’t cycling enthusiasts. Levi is an American professional road bicycle racer who currently rides for Team Astana (last year Levi rode for the now defunct Discovery Channel team).  He is arguable the greatest American cyclist today with a  1st overall in the 2007 Tour of California (winning the Prologue and Stage 5 time trials), 1st overall in the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré, 1st overall in the 2005 Deutschland Tour, 3rd overall in the 2001 Vuelta a España, and three top-ten finishes in the Tour de France general classification, including 3rd overall in the 2007 race. He is also the reigning USA National Road Race champion, finishing 1:11 seconds ahead of Discovery team mate and defending U.S. champion George Hincapie. However, he is not being allowed to compete in several top races this year – including the Tour de France.

On February 13th, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) barred Team Astana from competing in any race or event organized by the ASO in 2008. The ASO owns premiere cycling events like Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, and the famed Tour de France. The ASO cited the doping scandals of last year’s Tour de France as justification. The politics of professional cycling are confusing (even for those of us that follow it closely), but this decision

Astana is a totally new team in 2008. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the name. The entire organizational structure has been rebuilt under the direction of the team’s new General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, who basically cleaned house (bringing over many former Discovery Channel riders). In addition, Astana has adopted the rigorous doping controls developed by anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, and Astana now spends more money on anti-doping controls than any other team in the pro peloton.

By barring the entire team from competing in ASO events, outstanding athletes like Levi Leipheimer, who was not a member of last year’s Astana team and who has never been implicated in any doping affair, are forced to sit on the sidelines while their life’s work passes them by.

I had the opportunity to have dinner and ride with Levi last year. He is a genuinely nice guy that is totally passionate about cycling. As he talked about the Tour de France, it was clear that he loves the event and would like to have another chance to win it after coming so close. I’d rather not see politics get in the way of him having that chance, so you can support his cause by signing the petition here. I think the Tour de France this year would be a less compelling race without him.