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« Quick Thoughts | Main | Stage 18 »

July 23, 2008

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susie b

SUSIE'S SWEETIES - STAGE 17 (Wed, Jul 23)

1) Carlos Sastre. Because not only for a chance to win the Tour but just to stand on the podium, he had to. And he did. And while I strongly doubt he'll be pulling on yellow in Paris, it was great to see him pull it on today after a victory on Alpe d'Huez. And not just ANY victory, as he was not just a nobody let go up the road, but one of the contenders. Truly, that is awesome! And because I know Janann & Matt was/will be thrilled with his ride! :)

2) Cadel Evans. Because unlike many here, I like the Schlecks less & less & Cadel more & more. He took everything, EVERYthing CSC could throw at him for 5.5 mountain stages. And because unless Popo has been sick or injured during the entire Tour, he should refund part of his salary... And unless Sastre is the "new Chicken" or catastrophe occurs (always possible), Cadel will win the Tour. And even though I think Lance is the best cyclist *I* will ever see, I don't remember even LA having to battle 3 guys from the SAME freakin team on every mountain stage, all the way to each finish line, all by himself.

3) Christian Vande Velde. Because not only was I ecstatic that he proved to one & all that YESTERDAY was the 'fluke' & not the first 2 weeks, but because it seems the USA now has TWO Tour contenders for the next 2-3 years. Whooo-hoooooo! And because you just know Versus is ready to give him one on the mouth as he kept the casual American fan interested in this Tour, all the way to Paris, even when doping once again threatened to make all those same fans turn the channel. AND he gave them great access. The bottom line is anytime they can show an American contending, it's golden. And more viewers mean more years on the air, so thanks Christian!

4) Neal 'Hot fun in the summertime' Rogers. Because it was a be-U-ti-ful day to be in the Alps, let alone at the Tour. But you know, any day with a Neal video can't be all bad. :)

Camille

Sara, I totally agree with you that this may be the most exciting end of a Tour I've seen, although there was a different kind of excitement to just *willing* Lance to keep winning, and watching Floyd come back from the dead. But seeing a good six guys all vying in a close race for the yellow jersey and all with a good chance late in the race... this Tour has just been so full of surprises especially here at the end.

Susie, I wholeheartedly concur with your second paragraph about Cadel (big surprise). Do you see anyone bringing him water bottles? I don't how he got them... or extra food or anything. Surely he was powering along while dehydrated. It really helps me see how The Blue Train just mowed everyone down, watching CSC. They are AMAZING!!! As you watch the team listed one by one on the TV screen, it's just one powerhouse after the other. And Cadel was David to their Goliath, just hanging in there. And we have to admit, he DID lead the field there as best he could toward the end. He did what he could to attack but just hanging in there SANS water bottles and support singlehandedly against CSC aka King Kong... astounding.

Stuart O'Grady is right, I think some day Andy Schleck will be The Man.

Okay, just a few other random observations I jotted down -- nothing of huge importance -- at one point I enjoyed hearing Phil have a little British "guilty pleasure" dig at the French when he said "You know, yesterday was only the 20th stage win by the French in the last *10 years*." Ouch!! Get 'em, Phil!! See, even nice people say snarky things sometimes, yes?

Cathy, I can see what you were talking about, about Matt White. If I were a rider I would really appreciate having Matt's voice in my ear; I can see why Christian VDV keeps such a positive, winning attitude. Matt says all the right things and uses great psychology in what he says and when. No panicking or cussing like Vaughters, just a Cool Hand Luke and seems like a brilliant strategist. I really hope Christian will finish as well as he can and next year if he's healthy, he could do great.

But I still want Cadel to win!! Although I was happy for Carlos. It should sure be an exciting time trial Saturday there at the end! But I hope it won't really be the GC leaders racing in Paris, it's just too risky and Lord help them if it rains and they're still racing. Maybe they'll do the Gentlemen's Agreement and not race in Paris, one can hope.

Just one more thing -- I noticed the Schlecks yesterday seemed to introduce a new thing on the podium which is three kisses (right, left, right) for the podium girls instead of either two or four. Cyril Dessel gave them 4 each, but he's French as were the girls. I just have never seen the 3 kisses before. Maybe it's a Luxembourger deal.

One last thing: Michael Douglas on the podium???
huh?

Okay I lide, one very last thing -- Jessica and Theresa, you're right, Phil didn't help environmentalists with what he said about those windmills the other day (yesterday?), but then again, I just hate to complain about Phil. LOVE him! But would he rather see an ocean full of oil slicks and dead marine life? Oh well, Phil rules, otherwise. :)

(Yes, I've had a lot of caffeine today!!) :)

susie b

Hey - good news! American bike company, Scott, said they will step in for the rest of the year to fund the 'Saunier-Duval' team. Which means all those people won't lose their jobs. And hopefully, they'll now put into place the same anti-doping as Garmin or Columbia. Which I think should be mandatory.

Another thing. Does anybody else think Kohl looks like he's having some kind of 'episode' when going up mountains?! How a guy who rides like that can actually be good going uphill is a mystery to me! But apparently, his riding style is matched by his personality. I don't like him much at all. Much less than the Schlecks even.

BTW, my problem with the Schlecks is just personal preference. It's mostly that the more I heard & read Frank's interviews, the less I liked him. As for Andy, it appears he may be a Tour winner one day. Maybe even a multi-winner. In fact, I can't wait to see his battles with Beach Baby for the next 5-8 years. But I think his humility needs work.

But unlike my disgust of Slitherin, which will never change unless he gets a brain & personality transplant, I'll keep an open mind with the Schlecks. And maybe as with MC & Cadel, they're turn me around. :)

And you're right, Camille, I keep meaning to list Matt as a sweetie & even meant to do so today, but plum forgot. He is so calming & positive. Cathy - isn't he really funny too? Didn't he do those 'letters' on the Paceline last year? I've read a couple Tour interviews of him on various sites the past couple weeks & I think he's great. And to be a DS for a Tour GC contender your very 1st year as a DS, well, Wow! Nothing like jumping in the Deep End your 1st time swimming!

And I agree, Camille, I know a lot of cycling fans would love to see the GCers battle it out on Sunday, but I couldn't take it. Besides, I LIKE the casual ride on Sunday, where we get to see the winner drink champagne & shake CP's hand & pedal along with all the other colored jersey winners for the photo op & have all the guys pat him on the back. Plus, I get nervous enough on those Champs circuits, worrying that the guy will flat or crash!

BTW, does anyone know if any of the other riders wait around to watch the final podium ceremony? They never show them, so I've always wondered. Does the guy's TEAM even stick around? I would hope so. Especially since they get the money!

Have a great time on your vacation, Sara!

CMehl

Just time for a quick comment: after the race is finished on Sunday and the podium presentations are done ALL of the teams one-by-one take a parade lap around the Champs. They all stop in front of the Arch and get their photo taken and then ride back to their team buses. They goof off, pop wheelies, sign autographs, smile and wave....in 05 I was right up there to see it and LOVED that part. We even got Thor to stop in front of our area and smile and wave. It's very cool....but not shown on TV.

As for racing on Sunday...not going to happen!

Go Carlos! Go Cadel! Go Menchov! and Go Christian! Any would be worthy winners. And Frank Schleck is a pretty nice guy. He was a live-wire at the DC after-party last year. Tall and skinny as a bean-pole cutting up on the dance floor!

jessica

Is it because of the history of the stage w/ Lance or just because there is something so dramatic about 21 switchbacks? I love it, love the name. =) Foix was my second fave this year.

This year seems exciting because there is a bit less inevitability to it. The spotlight swings to so many riders, for so many reasons. And I kept thinking Energizer Bunny w/ Cadel!

I was a bit snarky yesterday in my post. I think it was, in part, the developing migraine I awoke to this a.m. It felt crummy to be critical of Phil, strange as that may sound. And hammering on about Menchov....sorry.

But....the TT!!! It will probably be a day of Who, what, how?! Can't wait =D

jessica

Sara - you're busting out of the tomb! Have fun and Thank You for keeping the site up this long!

Camille

Jessica, I love what you said about less inevitability making this Tour so exciting. I keep seeing riders I've never seen (like the AG2R guys riding with the bigwigs late today) and it's just so inspiring to see them suddenly show up and then they end up in the Top 10 GC. And I know it's just that basic thing that applies to any sport, where you see someone say "Maybe * I * can be great, too" and then they just turn on their afterburners and believe in themselves and BOOM! They're "contendahs!" It's all so corny and trite when I say it that I'm tempted to delete. But I'll go ahead and send. I think you know what I mean :)

Everybody hurry and watch the stage and get back here and compare notes! dammit! Y'all are too slow!

And Larry, Woofdawg and Yvette, if you're out there and reading, drop a line, huh? And Amy, you sure are quiet this year, who are you pulling for?

Camille, desperately seeking Tour feedback...

cat

Sorry you've been waiting Camille, I went to post a comment after your earlier one (and susie's sweets xox) the d**ned server blocked my comment post!! Don't remember enough of what I wrote to repeat...

but... I do want to know what the HECK was Michael Douglas doing at the Tour today? And on the podium??? I unfortunately had the TV on mute. I had 3, count 'em THREE, interruptions that lasted over an hour. Jees Louise, why didn't I listen to yous guys and get some kinda recorder? I "saw" the stage, but missed most of the commentary. Ah well, life is fleeting and sweet.

Silly question (how unlike me), I keep wondering if there seems to be less suffering this year and last (yes, I am turning French) on the climbs, or am I becoming used to the race? I have these vivid pictures in my head of Jan Ulrich's face, churning those big gears, sweating, in pain, clawing up the alps. (yes, I think I am definitely French)

OK, I know I am not one of the technical contributers, get names wrong, mix up stages and events, mostly contribute the over riding feelings....but this is an exciting Tour (like you didn't already know), really exciting. I love the fact that the guys are riding at their best, not being stupid (for the most part), attacking, mixing it up, working together (for the most part), and CSC has been pretty damned incredible. Plus there hasn't been any pettiness, that I have seen. Everyone seems honestly excited and happy to be there. Even the commentators seem excited. Johann, who can be pretty stoic, has wonderful insights to offer and is smiling, a lot!

Who was the woman sitting next to Matt White? Made me feel right at home. Well, with bigger boobs, maybe.(yay, for middle aged women!)

T, thanks for your comments about CVdV's cough by JV. Doesn't it seem like an allergy/reactive airway deal? Dry, at the end of a string of words, short little bursts of cough, nothing prolonged.... he definitely needs Singular.

I miss my mornings with Phil and Paul....gotta get a tape. Do they sell them?

Off topic: Did anyone get into "Mad Men" this winter? I loved it but then missed a whole slew of episodes. They ran a MM marathon this Sunday in anticipation of the new season opener on the 27th. I watched HOURS of the show. My husband and son thought I had lost my mind. "Tour everyday, then this????" I think I was mourning the end of my vacation, Mom leaving, and having to depart from my parallel-universe-existence of pretending life could be like this everyday. Why can't it?

Matt

Well...it appears my TIVO didn't record the live showing for some reason (I logged into it via the internet when I got up this morning, and it WASN'T recording! Strange...it was all set to go..so I set it up to record the next showing at 9am. Turned out there was once again no overtime today, so went for a nice mt bike after work KNOWING the stage recorded. WRONG! Well, it did record...just missed the first 4 hours of the frakin race is all...it started recording when they were already on the Alp d'Huez climb! For crying out loud..what is going on? (Did Vs have strange start times that didn't match the times listed? For it to mess up BOTH recordings is very odd). Anyway, I now have it set it to record TONIGHT at 9pm (as I still want to see the entire stage) but I did watch the final climb from the recording. WAAAAAAAAYYYYYY TO GO CARLOS! Holy handgrenades Batman! I have hoped to see a stage like this from him for YEARS! (I had picked him on my fantasy team last year and he was just so lackuster that I didn't pick him this year and now I"m kicking myself!)

Anyway...TODAY was the kind of stage I WANT to see from the final WINNER of the TDF! He pulled a FLOYD! well, a partial...he didn't go off alone all day, but he DID pull away on the BIGGEST CLIMB IN CYCLING, and not only got in Yellow (which is AWESOME!!!!) but has a time advantage over Cadel going into the TT on Sat! OK, so I"m happy now! (though I don't yet know how MUCH time..my stupid internet connection died just after the GC'ers crossed the line...and I don't know the status of the GC list yet). Stupid hotel internet!!! anyway...all I can ask for now is for Carlos to do the TT of his LIFE, and make it close! As long as it comes down to the wire, I'll cheer the winner no matter who! (and I hate to admit it, but I personally would LOVE to see 'game on' in Paris, if the top guys were only seperated by a second or 2...THAT would be history!)

the Schlecks..LOVE THEM! And CSC...they are my FAVORITE (overseas) team! Fabian, Jens, the Schleck brothers! I'm only TICKED That I didn't pick Andy as I had originally planned. Next year, for sure! Cycling IS a team sport after all, and this year they are really doing it right!

And Jessica, you said it...the "inevitiblity" of this years race...no pre-ordained winner (not that there was last year, this just seems much more exciting! Though I DO recall a certain TT where a young lad in yellow rode the TT of HIS life to keep it..and no one expected him to do it...so I take it back...THAT was very exciting too!)

Cathy, you have nice memories..I HOPE To see the finish in Paris someday in person (and a stage or 2 along the way!) And of course, I NEED to ride my bike up Alp d'Huez...have to do it! I already have the bike (my Ritchey BreakAway travel bike...always ready to fly!) It's on my list.

OK, hopefully the internet link holds long enough to post..it still won't support my slinbox/Tivo link (full streaming video..guess it puts a dent in the rest of the hotel bandwidth)..hope it's better by tomorrow! And Susie you sure picked a banner day to take off and watch from home! Wish I could have done that. Oh well...and tomorrow is a 'boring' day (sorry to say ...but after the mts...all the rest is just fluff!) So who's gonna win? Stage 18 and we DON'T KNOW! You gotta LOVE IT!

and one final note: My heart goes out to VDV after losing time yesterday but still being so upbeat and gracious...he will SURELY be on my team NEXT YEAR (again)! I hope HE can pull the TT of his life and podium..that would be so very sweet! OK..happy Thursday all! Sara have a great trip!

janann

You're right, Susie, I was jumping up and down this morning for Carlos when he made that gap stick and also for CVV who I was just absolutely WILLING to get away from the double Schleck SWAT team! Well, one out of two worked :) And someone already mentioned this (maybe Matt?), but THIS is the kind of performance I really want to see out of the WINNER! Take the race by the horns in the mountains!

There is something about Carlos that has grown on me (just as Cadel has irritated me) over the past few years. I think its that he just seems so quiet, professional, and dedicated and that his team thinks so highly of him that they will turn themselves inside out to support him. My husband said "yeah, he's a quiet family man with the big brown eyes. You sorta want to pat him on the head like a puppy". Well, whatever it is -- I was SUPER happy for him today!! I hope he has a remarkable time trial on Saturday, but having the yellow after winning Alpe D'Huez is a phenomenal result and certainly justified his team's hard work during this Tour. I also LOVED that Carlos both mentioned his hard-working team AND the Schleck brothers by name, thanking them and crediting them with his win during his post-race interview.

I also thought that Andy seemed like he was the cat playing with the mice on the last climb today. He was at the front, to the back, chasing spectators out of the way, checking on the condition of the other GC riders, back to the front, chasing down EVERY darn breakaway. That's gotta be frustrating for the other guys who look like they're about at their limit to see him bobbing around (seemingly) effortlessly among them.

I've really enjoyed having Johann on the evening show! I really didn't know what to expect, but he jumps right into the conversations and shares some interesting insights. I think that Craig and Bob are REALLY doing a great job, as well. Loving the coverage! Wish we could get even 1/4 of this coverage for some of the other big races!

Jessica, Sara and Camille - I heartily agree that this Tour is "edge of the seat" exciting because of SO many true contenders left this late in the race. LOVE it!

One of the guys tonight (most likely Bobke) said that Kohl's riding reminds them of a shark swimming in the water with that constant side-to-side movement. I had to laugh because it was SO true! He's irritated me this week.

I'm not altogether certain that the race will be boring tomorrow with those climbs thrown in toward the end....

Thanks Cathy. I've always wondered that too about the end of race in Paris.

Have a GREAT vacation, Sara!! Can't wait to hear what your reactions are after you get a chance to see the race conclude!

matt

Jaanan, you said it very nicely (why I like Carlos)...I had almost given up on him until yesterday...it's like he waited YEARS for his moment to break thru and show his stuff...and show it he did! I hope yellow gives him WINGS in the TT and he can pull a Contador and hold it. Nothing against Evans..he sure did some work this week, fighting off the awesome multi-pronged attack of Team CSC. But he just lacks the panache that I want...the solo strike...after being attacked, I want him to counter attack (aka Lance)! I think the team plan all along was for the Schleck bro's to bring so much devastation to the leaders that finally Carlos was able to pull the move he was destined to do. I love it that he pulled away for the solo win yesterday! I can't WAIT to see the entire stage (I checked this morning...my TIVO did indeed record the 9pm show last night...WHEW!!!!)

No idea what will happen today...will CSC continue attacking now that they have Yellow on their true GC man? I think Carlos REALLY needs to finish this year off with the win, as it will prob be his best shot...he might be "in a spot of bother" next year with young Andy coming into age, not to mention Frank...(if he could only TT better!) Andy has been just phenomenal this tour...the ultimate mt goat worker-bee! And if he can keep the white jersey thru Paris, well..that would be quite fitting!

OK..I need to get back to work..this was a rare workday check-in on the happening place on the web.

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