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« Stage 20 | Main | Tour Talk »

July 23, 2008

Comments

Matt

Well..it's over. WHEW! And also CRAP! July has once again zoomed by. I woke up with a monster headache this morning...must have been due to how I sat watching the TT last night..my neck feels very sore. I might still get a ride in later, once the motrin kicks in. I was channel surfing on my very limited selection of channels in the hotel and came across a CBS Tour special. Very cool! Summarized the whole thing into about 2 hours. P&P were included..snippets of commentary, mini interviews. Nice! One last thing they showed was interviewing Cadel, and he was asked what was the diff to him between 1st and 2nd place. Anybody else see this? His answer: "Many Many hundreds of thousands of Euros". Hmmmf. That may all be well and true, but NOT the answer I want to hear. Talk to Levi about last year, the diff between 1st and 3rd, and I bet you'll get a totally different answer. Sorry..but his true colors showing thru again. I am SO HAPPY Carlos won! He is such a nice guy! (the special mentioned he's been called 'the nicest guy in the peleton').

I will have to check in on my fantasy tour team and see how we did overall. I did great yesterday, had 2nd thru 7th and 10th place with my guys! And I have Steegmans on my team (in place of Boonen) and had him riding today...so did good there too. I had Voeckler for my KOM guy, and he didn't come thru with ANY points. He has surely been a force in prior tours, but it appears he is also on the downside of his career. I am pretty stoked about how Team CSC did overall. I loved the teamwork, and how can you not love the Schlecks! Andy is going to be a force in coming years, and will SURELY be on my team next year also! I think Frank is more like George H...Cat, you nailed it. Some people just aren't meant to be a GC contender. George is totally in his element being the teacher and the SUPER Domestique! I think Frank falls into that category too (but you NEVER KNOW!) It was great to see VDV break out of that and come into his own as team leader! Very cool to see him make the leap sucessfully! Boy is NEXT YEAR's tour going to be AWESOME!

Matt

And hey..I swooped by Borders on the way home from work yesterday and bought Johan Bruyneel's book "We might as well win". Might dive into that tonight now that I won't have much to do in the evenings. Funny..they only had ONE copy! And there it was in the shelf with the other cycling books. Just waiting for ME! I also brought Bobke's book, which I haven't yet read either. Figure these will help get me thru the cycling doldrums sure to come.

cat

Doesn't it feel like Karma when you go to a bookstore to get a book and there is only one left? I wonder if they do that on purpose. Could be a good marketing tool, keep a bunch in reserve to refill each purchase. I love doing that. I also feel special and more compelled to buy it RIGHT NOW when the shelf is bare and the sales person searches high and low to find me a copy of something I was curious about. It gets me all anticipatory, and then viola!, she produces a copy. The last one. Way more fun than simply walking in and pulling it off the shelf.

I haven't bought any Bobke books since I tried to read the one where he is standing with his thumbs hooked in his jeans and wearing those hot red boots. Remember Camille thought it was a provocative cover and I agreed? I honestly didnt understand most of what he was saying. Even tried to just go with it, and take him as a crazy man, and I still missed a lot of it. So, I didn't finish it...happy to send it to you if you like.

I agree with you about next year, Matt. I think things will still be unsettled enough that another exciting race will ensue. Lots of possibles! Wish I had seen the CBS special you mentioned. Oops, gotta go catch the evening version of stage 21!

Camille

Cat, I think that might have been Susie who thought Bobke looked provocative on that cover -- I've never seen that book. But I was noticing on his bike demonstration the other day -- he looked really slim, much more so than I thought he was from seeing him sitting down.

Y'all, I was just very underwhelmed with the end today. I've tried to write about it two different times today and decided I was just sounding like Debbie Downer so I deleted. But I do really look forward to next year. I'll leave it at that!

Matt

I know what you mean Camille (about today being kind of a let-down)...I seem to recall that it always feels that way. Thats why I was so sad last night...cuz the REAL race was over after the TT. But I was glad to see Carlos make it inside the 3K to go safely...I'd hate to see the unwritten rule about not taking advantage of the yellow jersey for a mechanical in that last few laps...the speed they are going, even a flat tire he might not get back on.

Cat, that is the same Bobke book I brought w/ me...had it since the ToC (when I got it autographed). Still haven't read it..brought it up here for my post-tour depression let-me-down-easy reading. I will prob jump on the Johan book first though...maybe even start it tonight!

My fantasy team came in overall at 318th place...hmmm...I also hope to do better next year. And funny...looking at the top few teams...they aren't a whole lot different. Just one or 2 guys, riding the right stages...and you have WAY more points! I might enter the vuelta...but as that is so NON covered in the US, not sure...will decide as it gets closer. I might just leave my fantasy gaming to the TDF.

And not to beat a dead horse, but on todays show they were talking to Fabian..and it was mentioned that once again Cadel has criticized his team as being weak. I just hate that! they did their best for him...(as far as we know...not sure how hard I'd be working for a guy who keeps badmouthing me).

Viva Le Tour! It's all over but for the crying (and toasting!!)

Camille

Hey Matt, no offense to ya, but it's not helping *my* post-Tour letdown to hear you bashing Cadel, I gotta say. I get it, you don't like him saying why he thinks he lost. Point made, okees? Just enjoy Carlos' win. Cadel's team WAS weak in comparison to CSC. And I'm sure some interviewer pried that comment out of him, as if it weren't already obvious. Okay, I'm zipping my lip now. That's what I was trying to keep to myself earlier. oopsie! :)

Camille

And Matt, no offense intended, okay?

jessica

Oh GEEZZZ - i'm so of two minds today!

On the one hand, that was so bittersweet; I couldn't help but be very happy for all of you who were rooting for Sastre. I don't know, but I could just hear your happy cheers when he won. A win for him was a win for you.

But then, utterly self centered beast that I am today, I grumped around after the morning show and had to re-watch it tonight so I could JUST ONE LAST TIME get those goosebumps from the music & enjoy the montage. Don't think I blinked once.

I rooted for Cadel and can't help but wonder if he's in a hard spot - - maybe he's expected to *lead* but doesn't have the position w/i the power dynamic to demand certain strategies or team hires. Or yes, maybe I'm just 'splainin away a bad choice of phrase on his part!! But I am going to try and see if his first maillot jaune is on youtube. Nice moment.

cat

Hey here's something humorous. Did anyone notice the chin strap tan line on Kohl?? Cracked me up. I don't think I've ever seen such a huuuuuge white line wrapping the neck like a garrote. And can I ask, why did they keep mentioning that he was a chimney sweep before he got into cycling? Was it the oddity, the fact that he had a job, or the class thing? Phil was the one who I remember saying it the most or perhaps at all.

Nice moment: I liked the way Sastre raised the hands of the podium winners together at the end.

Also, The first time I remembered seeing someone speak on the podium was at Lance's 7th. Have they always done that? If not is that a new tradition? Maybe I just missed them all before, but I remember someone on VS remarking at the time about the fact that Lance spoke.

As far as who won, I am just pleased that the wins were fair. No one seemed to gain at the expense of another's misfortune, or misbehavior, or any other mischief. No one seemed to "cheat" (and I don't mean doping). It seemed like a fair competition. Even if one team really supported the leader in a way the another didn't, that in itself shows remarkable training and teamwork. The fact that a leader isn't supported, well, shows bad management and choices on everyone's part.

Perhaps Cadel will have a chance to chose a team better suited for him next year. But he better hurry cause Contador and Levi are comin' up! Cavandish and the Schlecks are right behind them!

janann

Well, I've been out of town for the weekend (though was still able to watch the stages but had no computer). Stayed in the "France" room of a REALLY nice B&B, so we were able to watch the ride into Paris surrounded by all things French this morning -- nice.

I was SOOOOO excited!! I just about bit off all of my fingernails on Saturday watching the TT!!! Carlos and CVV both pulled off the TT of their lives and I couldn't be happier for them both. Wasn't it great to see Stuey, Fabian, Jens, etc riding in at the head of the procession to Paris? Dang. Those guys really deserve the party they surely had tonight. Carlos has been working hard and rising steadily for the past 9 years or so at the Tour. I'm so thrilled for him that he was able to earn the yellow jersey and then defend it against pretty large odds in the TT. Bravo!

Regarding Cadel. Someone (Robbie or Frankie?) on the evening show tonight said that after Cadel's comments regarding his weak team, they had asked Robbie McEwen about it and he was the "voice of reason" (go figure!!) talking about how it was the end of a tough 3-week race and people say things that they don't mean. Let's hope that this was the case and that the team takes it as such. It would be tough to finish 2nd again after you had such high hopes for your performance -- even though two years in 2nd place at the Tour is nothing to be scoffed at. Because Cadel was such a huge favorite in the race, it must be very frustrating for him to deal with all of the reporters asking him about his "failure" when he was SECOND in the biggest race of the year. I was really happy to see him smiling sincerely today on the podium and if he can handle this with professionalism and grace I think he'll rise a bit on my list :) Here's hoping.

Don't want to offend you, Camille, by talking about Cadel when you'd rather not, but I just wanted to say that. I know it grates on your nerves -- just as all of the Cadel cheering and CSC bashing got on mine. Guess we KNOW it was a fantastically exciting Tour when it can bring out such intense emotions, huh? Vive le Tour!! :)

Matt's right. Next year's Tour will be VERY interesting indeed with all of the young talent and the (assumed) return of Astana! Hard to believe that we're thinking of next year's Tour on the very day that this one ended :) Although, in the VS interview CVV said that he is already thinking of next year's Tour too!

janann

Well said, Cat!

And, YES, I noticed that HUGE tan line on Kohl's chin LOL! Difficult to miss, wasn't it? I've never seen that before either.

janann

Oh no.....
Another positive. The rest of the teams have GOT to start doing more about getting their own internal anti-doping programs so these events don't ruin the faith that sponsors have.
http://www.velonews.com/article/80921

Camille

Janann, CSC really was incredible this whole Tour and I didn't realize that it might be hard to hear when I talked about them like I have. It has been so long since I've felt so identified with an athlete that I've forgotten how it feels to get sensitive on their behalf. I try so hard not to get attached or to care so much if they win or not. Anyway, you are so right, it shows what an amazing Tour it was, that we all got so wrapped up in the outcome.

Now that you mention it, that was incredibly classy of Carlos to reach for the 2nd and 3rd place guys' hands and to let them join him in the symbolic group victory. I wouldn't be surprised if that was his idea, he just doesn't seem to have a showboating bone in his body. What I liked so much was seeing that there he was being crowned the winner of the Tour on the Champs Elysees stage, but he kept looking down at his children to see their reactions to the whole thing. A loving dad wins me over every time. It was great to see him smiling that big smile. I AM happy for Carlos and for all the CSC fans. Your guy and your team did an incredible job!!!

susie b

Before I do my next to last Susie Sweetie (I will also do one for the whole Tour as a wrap-up :), I feel the need to rant a bit.

I told myself repeatedly before the Tour started that I would not be as "involved" as years past as I didn't really like any of the projected contenders : Valv-Piti was a SPANISH doper who got away with it while a GERMAN & an ITALIAN were thrown out of the sport; Cadel, a noted wheelsucker who's biggest failing in my eyes was his whining about his team LAST year; Sastre to me has always been The Invisible Man; & Menchov was The Man of Mystery. Taken altogether, I just figured that for the 1st time in 10 YEARS, I would not be dancing around the house in ecstasy on the Final Sunday. The latter part came true, but I was oh-so-wrong about not getting "involved". Partly, it was because of Christian's amazing, fantastic ride & partly it was because I felt shocking sympathy & admiration for a guy I previously didn't like much at all.

I'm hoping that all of you have lives that are so full you didn't have the time or inclination to spend almost every waking minute either watching the Tour, reading about the Tour or watching various behind-the-scene Tour interviews & other videos. As I did. ;) If I hadn't constantly read & tossed into the recycling bin, but instead, stacked up all the articles I printed, it would be almost 4 FEET. I kid you not.

Here's what I know about Cadel. The guy was the overwhelming pre-race favorite going into the race & thus, had a big red bullseye on his back. This is pressure with a capital "P". Also, SLotto has a MUCH, much lower budget than CSC. (I learned that last year from Horner). In fact, I think CSC & some other teams spend 2-3 times as much. And as it is in many sports, you get what you pay for. SLotto put all their puny bucks on ONE guy to help Cadel in the mountains & he was NO WHERE TO BE SEEN. Fact. Popo says his sucko form was due to a week long pre-Tour camp at altitude. Whatever, Cadel was on his own in the mountains, being attacked not just by the THREE HEADED monster that was CSC, but occasionally also by the other contenders. Sure, there were other guys 'alone' too (CVV, Menchov, Kohl), but THEY were not being targeted as the guy to break. And as I mentioned previously, just having another teammate with you is a psychogical boost at the VERY least.

Also, I saw many videos of Cadel being interviewed or just surrounded by the daily ravenous press scrum & read even more written interpretations of these interactions. You know the way words & actions can be twisted but when you SEE it yourself it is always a shock. Example, on Stage 9 where Cadel crashed HARD & was in extreme pain the rest of the way & somehow didn't lose much if any time. When he got off the bike, he was in intense pain & was very scared he wouldn't even be able to continue. On 3 different videos, I saw him be surrounded by the press HORDE & be 'accidently' pushed into as he was trying to make his way to the team van. He made no comment as he just wanted to get to the hospital & be checked out, but at the last minute, he opened the window & gave his cracked helmet to an Aussie journo & said "here's your comment". It was NOT said snottily but polite with a touch of dry 'gallows' humor. Last night, I was reading a Tour wrap-up article & in trying to illustrate HIS point that Cadel was on the verge of emotional breakdown & was a pain in the ass to the press, the writer said Cadel THREW the helmet AT the reporters. DID NOT HAPPEN. I could go on & on & list may other examples, but you get the point.

Anyway, I'd like to see ANYone be asked EVERYDAY about his sucko, weak team by HUNDREDS of print, internet & TV reporters & not get exasperated. For the 1st 11-12 days, he held up to the constant goading/harassment well. And if you watch & read his interviews during those days, he tried to do what Floyd did in 2006 & commend his team for the support they WERE giving him & not what they weren't. But, when he was on his own EVERY time in the mountains as compared to super team CSC, what the hell was he supposed to say on the UMPTEENTH time he's shouted at? NO one else had a team like CSC. To say "oh, no, my team is as great as CSC" would have been freakin ridiculous. The fact is that both Cadel & Robbie were screwed by the cheap budget of their team. That Robbie was Cadel's most helpful teammate pretty much says it all.

Rae

YES, SusieB, I hope that everyone (including Cadel) regains perspective and can realize what an AWESOME achievement his ride in the tour was!

I like listening to P&P, and in the few years that I've been watching I learned a lot from them, but now I feel like their commentary is just a little too superficial--cause for one thing, I never heard them really give the props to Cadel that he deserved with any explanation of why he deserved it. Although I may have missed it--I was ill this past week & kept falling asleep as I tried to watch, every time I tried to watch! Including yesterday, I missed big segments of both the morning and evening shows.

CSC is a super team (has been my favorite amongst favorites since I became aware that cycling was a team sport!)& deserves every bit of praise they get--do we have any other examples of a team where strong riders SO capable of individual wins totally sacrifice for the overall?

Did anyone hear anything regarding that Chris Horner "announcement" that JB referred to?

I am really looking forward to the Vuelta and to enjoying the group discussion that Cathy has proposed! No one in my real life understands how great this sport is!

susie b

And speaking of CSC. I struggle with this team. The fact is I was never a fan of Riis when he was a rider & didn't care for him as a manager really even BEFORE his 'yah,yah, despite lying about it for the past 9 years, I did dope my OWN way around France & into the yellow jersey' confession last year. For the past 3 years, I tried to ignore my discomfort as there were three Americans on the team & so, sue me, but I root for my countrymen. Plus, they had Jens & Fab. I love Jens & Fab! And I've been wearing this damn black HTFU silicon bracelet for the last 11 months, mostly inspired by Stuey. Plus, until this year, they had rockin jerseys! (HATED them this year - even worse than Garmin's!)

But, what has galled me to distraction this year, to the point of TOTAL disgust, is that in the same year that ASO egregiously & outrageously barred Astana, Riis' name is back on the offical Tour book as winner in 1996. The ASO sniffed "they can't rewrite history". Whahhhh?! Then, Riis was not only welcomed back at the race, but had the Super Team & eventually WON it! In the same year that ASTANA could not even start. It makes me freakin SICK.

BTW, if you want to see a hissy fit, see Riis in the 1997 Tour. And according to CFA, Bjarne "Beltran's doping is a 'scandal'" - did this not make ANYONE else throw up?!!!!) Riis may NOT have been so slap-upside-the-head-shocked that Basso was planning to dope his own way around France in 2006....

As for Carlos. It's not that I dislike him & if he'd had been on the podium this year in 2nd or 3rd, I would have been happy for him. But, the problem that many of you have in seeing Cadel as the winner, I now have with Carlos. I just don't see HIM as the winner. He's NOT EVEN THE BEST GUY ON HIS TEAM! He's not the best TTer (Fab), not the best climber (Andy or Frank), & not even the best all around cyclist (Jens). At least when US Postal/Disco was the Super Team, LANCE was the best damn cyclist on it! On the Primetime show last night, someone FINALLY asked the question I've been shouting at the TV for the past week - could Carlos have won if he'd been on Cadel's team (w/o Cadel)? I strongly doubt he'd have even finished in the Top 7.

Despite my crankiness that began to emerge last week, I HAVE tried really hard to be happy for Carlos Sastre, only because I know several of you like him so much & I love knowing my friends are happy. Maybe if Riis was still paying pennance, or if Astana had not been screwed, I would be content as when he FINALLY cracked a smile on the podium Saturday, he seemed sweet. And I have to give him props for Alpe d'Huez & that final TT where he rode better than he even he could have hoped.
AND at least he's not..... Frank. ;) ;) :)

susie b

SUSIE'S SWEETIES - STAGE 21 (Sun, Jul 27)

1) Gert Steegmans. Because the poor guy had been getting harassed by his team, manager, countrymen, & the press the entire Tour for not being Tom 'RipSNORTIN' Boonen & wins the 'Alpe d'Huez' of sprinting stages - on the Champs! Good for him! And he saved Quick Step from hari-kari. ;) And if my pick, Rocket Robbie, couldn't have pulled it off, I was thrilled that Gert did as could ANYbody have been any happier on the podium?!

2) Paul Sherwen. Because I belatedly realized Paul was the only Versus guy I had not elevated to Sweetie status & that was an oversight! I love Paul & hope he finds the fountain of youth so he'll be around covering the Tour for ANOTHER 30 years. :) And you know, listening to Paul & Phil call a Tour stage is like watching a great doubles partnership in tennis. Sure, one may miss a shot occasionally, but the other comes back with an overhead to put the point away. Love. Set. Match.

3) Neal 'Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you' Rogers. But I do have one minor complaint. Would it have killed ya to once, just ONCE appeared on a video so I could have listed you as Neal 'I'm too sexy for my shirt' Rogers? Huh?! HUH?!

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