Monday, July 24, 2006

Girls do it, too.

Sports blogging!

Floyd Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday and is only the 3rd American to do so, putting him in a league with Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong. His ride provided plenty of drama from the start. He wasn't even in the start house when it was his turn to begin the prologue as he was dealing with a last minute cut in his tire. He made it off the line about 6 or 7 seconds behind and ended up 9 seconds out of the lead. Later in stage 7 his handlebars broke, and he had to switch bikes in the middle of the stage.

However, in stage 11 he earned the yellow jersey, and hung on to it in stage 12. Although he gave up the maillot jaune in stage 13 to Oscar Pereiro as a tactical move to force another team to take leadership of the race and give Team Phonak a chance to conserve energy for the big climbs.

The strategy paid off as Landis regained the yellow jersey on top of l'Alpe d'Huez at the end of stage 15. This put Landis at a statistical advantage, as 75% percent of riders in the lead on the legendary l'Alpe d'Huez go on to win the race in Paris. (Thanks, Phil Liggett, for that little tidbit.)

Shockingly, Landis "bonked" on the climb to La Toussuire in stage 16. He slipped from 1st to 11th place and lost 8 minutes to the new leader. Pereiro had the yellow jersey back, and there seemed to be no way Landis could regain it.

To everyone's amazement Landis surged ahead on the slopes of stage 17, setting a pace no one could match up inclines as steep as 10%. Landis took the stage nearly 6 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor and only 30 seconds behind Pereiro in the overall standings.

The stage 19 time trial gave Landis an opportunity to use his particular talents as a time-trial specialist, and he clinched the lead, guaranteeing him a victorious finish on the Champs Elysee in Paris.

I'm not particularly a cycling fan, but the super human strength and determination it takes to ride over 2000 miles over 3 weeks through the Pyrenees and the Alps is mind boggling. On my best day of riding ever, after months of training, I barely managed 65 miles through the punishing hills of Oklahoma. I can't think of any other mainstream sporting event that requires the awesome effort put forth by the Tour riders.

Someone at S's work today observed that each American who has won the Tour de France suffered from some serious physical ailment. Greg LeMond won the 1989 Tour with 37 shotgun pellets in his body after a shooting accident. Lance Armstrong was a cancer survivor, and Floyd Landis rode with a necrotic hip bone. The French can't even beat our cripples. How sad.

P.S. The Blogger spell-checker doesn't recognize the word "blogging." Time to update the ol' dictionary, guys.


Dave-o-ramA said...

Well, they'd have to, otherwise guys couldn't do it, except with each other, and some of us aren't into that.

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