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Archive for the ‘Races, Racing and Racers’ Category

It happened today.  I’ve felt it coming for some time – even thought about why it may be happening.  But there I sat on the edge of my couch.  I’d carefully planned my lunch break (I was working from home) to coincide with the mid-day Versus presentation of the end of Stage 5 of the Tour de France.  It was another flat stage – so all down to the sprinters.  The last few kilometers showed the normal dominance of the HTC Columbia lead out train (more on that choo-choo later)  But wait – Garmin snuck in there.  Things were getting interesting.  It was coming down to the line…  could go any way…

That is when it happend.  That is when I realized that I was not cheering on Tyler Farrar, hoping he could overcome his fractured wrist and take the win.  I wasn’t hoping for Thor Hushovd to win (as he should, if for no other reason than his name is Thor)  What was I hoping to see?  I wanted to see anything but Mark Cavendish riding across the line with his arms raised.  For a large number of reasons, I found myself rooting against someone rather than rooting for someone.

How the hell did that happen?

My wife thinks it is because he always wins.  That may be true.  I’ve definitely got an “always cheer for the underdog” type of mentality.  It is boring to look at the elevation profile for a stage and know “Yup – that’ll be Cav fumbling with his green sunglasses again…” (by the way – can anyone find video of that online?)

Is it because I’m completely sick of hearing the term “Lead Out Train”?  Yea – that might just be it.  Seriously need to call it something different.  It is almost as infuriating as the “Manx Missle” comments.  Makes me want to form my fingers into a gun and shoot them all in the head.

Mostly, I have to be honest and say it is unfair of me.  Sure, the guy is cocky, but all those stage wins gives a person at least some justification for being cocky.  I tried to be really mad at him for the Tour de Suise crash – but I’m still not sure I objectively think he was actually in the wrong there.  From now on maybe I’ll just salute him on every win the way he saluted folks

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This has been a tough start to the Tour for me. First off I spend the first three days without internet access and spotty-at-best cell coverage.  I mean – how in the hell am I supposed to properly enjoy and communicate about the tour without twitter??  Imagine my horror as I look on suffering alone, in isolation, as my pick for the overall win Andy Schleck cradled his arm, looking as if we wouldn’t be able to get back on the bike.  Or waiting on the edge of my seat for a smallest nugget of information out of Phil Liggett regarding the state of Tyler Farrar.  This tour is already started with precious few sprinters to challenge Mark Cavendish.

Then, I get back to the comfort of home, laptop out, Droid phone at my side and remote control in my right hand.  I switched over to channel 966 – that’s Versus HD on my local Comcast.  What did I find?  Ummm – only a 3 minute recap of the highlights where a 2 hour broadcast was advertised.  And about 5 words about Frank Schleck being down – but no details other than a quick video clip of him laying on the ground.  What???

This isn’t the first time that Versus has allowed a total “dumbass” to make programming decisions.

Seriously, folks.  Not showing the programming at the advertised time sucks.  But showing the end of the race at that beginning of the advertised time – thus blowing the excitement of the entire stage before people can wait for the advertised rebroadcast of the stage later that night.  Well, that’s just messed up.

I’ve got to get back to my uber-commute tomorrow anyhow so I won’t have access to the satanic Versus channel anyhow.  Today I’m going in search of internet outlets to fulfill my racing addiction.

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According to an article posted at Wall Street Journal online, Floyd Landis has engaged “in hours of interviews with The Wall Street Journal in May.”  This article is apparently a distilled transcript of those interviews with little to no commentary on any other points of view aside from a couple “no comment” or “I deny everything” quotes.  To be fair to the Wall Street Journal, however, those accused in Landis’s statements have been fairly quite on the issue by choice.

I’ve approached this issue with some skepticism since it first broke.  I’ll agree with other statements that have been made that the credibility of Floyd Landis is somewhat in question.  However, I’m neither a Texas flag waving Armstrongian or a Texas flag burning anti-Armstrongian.  While I would find it very disappointing, I concede the possibility that Lance Armstrong may have a couple of bags of blood hanging in his closet next to whatever skeleton may also be there.  It was with this open mindset that I was actually looking forward to reading this article – hoping journalistic impartiality would prevail at the WSJ and I could get some compelling information.

Instead, I got hundreds of words of direct quotes from Floyd Landis, followed by this gem:

One evening during the camp, a handful of team members piled into a black Chevrolet Suburban for a night on the town, with Mr. Armstrong serving as the master of ceremonies.

Mr. Landis had met Mr. Armstrong briefly in the past, but most of what he knew about the world’s most famous cyclist was what he’d read in Mr. Armstrong’s 2000 memoir, “It’s Not About the Bike.” Mr. Landis had devoured the book, in which Mr. Armstrong chronicled his comeback from testicular cancer and portrayed himself as a modest and devoted family man.

Mr. Armstrong took the wheel of the Suburban and roared off through the streets. Stop signs didn’t rate more than a tap of the brake, Mr. Landis said. Some traffic signals were wholly ignored and speed limits went unheeded. In the middle of the trip, Mr. Landis said, another rider asked, jokingly, “Are there no cops in this town?”

The journey ended at the Yellow Rose, a strip club on the north side of town. Don King, the club’s general manager, said Mr. Armstrong and other cyclists on his teams have been coming to the club for about a decade. The riders were ushered into a booth. They ordered drinks and mingled with the dancers.

Later that night, some of the cyclists drove downtown to the offices of the agency that represents Mr. Armstrong. There, the party accelerated, according to Mr. Landis. Four strippers arrived at the offices with two bouncers and began performing a private show for the cyclists and others, he said. Mr. Landis and another young rider who attended, Walker Ferguson, said some people were snorting what appeared to be cocaine.

It is right here that any hope of honest journalism faded.  Notice it is no longer clear in the article that these allegations are the unsubstantiated words of Floyd Landis.  Instead, reporters Rhaveeed Albergotti And Vanessa O’Connell have shifted to present Landis’s claims as fact.  It was at this point my opinion started to shift towards one side of this debate.  Given that parties, strippers and cocaine actually have nothing to do with doping in pro cycling, this started to take on the odor of a smear campaign from a disgruntled Floyd Landis as some have claimed.  And of the Wall Street Journal realizing the sensational nature of those claims and throwing journalistic due diligence out the window in favor of sensational words.  Shameful.

All of this being said, there is definitely a part of me left with a nagging soundtrack of Perl Jam’s song “Jeremy” ringing in my head as I mull all this over.  “Floyd Landis spoke in… class today.

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Considering the fact that Lance Armstrong has helped to morph Twitter into pro cycling’s apparent news outlet of choice, it seems fitting that he would chose that form to officially confirm that this – the 2010 Tour de France – would be his last.

Note: Armstrong's next tweer read " Doh, sorry, meant 'my' final Tour."

However, somehow I suspect it will not be the last of the biting commentaries on the cycling world as a whole.  Versus channel, I’m looking in your direction:

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There are probably few that would argue against the statement that Floyd Landis is tenacious.    No amount of controversy will seem to keep this guy out of bike races (although it has kept him out of a few teams) – and the recent media swarm is no exception.

True to form, Mr. Landis showed up in the Nevada City Classic.  Joe Lindsey had this to say in the Odds and Ends section of the June 21st Boulder Report:

-Way far away over there on the West Coast, Floyd Landis suited up for the Nevada City Classic. He got fifth [correction] fourth, racing as an independent and wearing – you choose whether it’s irony or not – an “Arrogant Bastard Ale” jersey. [sic]

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Garmin-Transitions announced their 2010 Tour de France roster.

  • Julian Dean
  • Tyler Farrar
  • Ryder Hesjedal
  • Robbie Hunter
  • Martijn Maaskant
  • David Millar
  • Johan Van Summeren
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • David Zabriskie

Tyler Farrar provides a welcome set of sprinting credentials in a field that is becoming thin on short-distance speed freaks.  The absence of Tom Boonen (QuickStep) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) were announced earlier this week – both due to injuries.

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It has been announced that both Frank and Andy Schleck, along with the current Saxo Bank Directerr Sportif Kim Andersen, will be forming a new team at the conclusion of this season.  News of this intended move is nothing new and not surprising.  This represents yet another pivotal change for the current Team Saxo Bank following the announcement of an end of the relationship with the Denmak based financial institution as the title sponsor.

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