We just want to race…!

20 Jul

Today’s canine intervention on the Tour (the one that brough Gilbert and Menchov down), had me thinking of other four-legged interlopers. I came across this little gem from Criterium International in 1997.

And since Gilbert did look like he wanted to take a swipe at the owner, it made me wonder what the action might have looked like – something like this, maybe?

Anyhow, congrats to Cav, it was a great stage win!

Some Tour thoughts at the half-way point

11 Jul

It’s been a while, but it’s time to get posting again. And since I’ve been enjoying it royally, the Tour de France is the perfect place to start. Some observations just past the half-way point:

It’s not the best year to ride for Garmin

It’s been the Tour de Tarmac so far, with a large number of crashes in the opening week, some of them for seemingly no good reason at all. Not only has there been a large number of casualties, however, but Garmin really did pull the shortest straw. Practically the entire team went down in the mass pile-up on the first Friday, and the team is all but decimated, along with their ambitions. It’s hard not to feel sorry for them.

Having a lead-out train is useful

Being the world’s best sprinter will win you things, but having a world-class lead-out train will ensure you win even more. That would be the lesson for Mark Cavendish, who must wonder if he made the right team choice. With only one designated helper, his stage win was hugely impressive, but he has hardly had the best tour so far. Two crashes and a lack of support has cost him the opportunity to contest stages, and the green jersey is cycling on, out of sight.

It’s possibly not the best year to ride for Sky either, unless you’re Bradley Wiggins.

The walking wounded

No matter how exciting the Tour, what always impresses me the most is the heroics of the riders who press on with dislocated shoulders (Tom Danielson), horrific abrasions (Johan Van Summeren) or stomach viruses (Marcel Kittel). Tony Martin managed a week with a broken wrist. A ruptured spleen and kidney, bruised legs and three broken ribs didn’t stop Woet Poels from carrying on, and it took him ten kilometres to see sense.

Every year there are riders who carry on with injuries most people would see as a marvellous excuse to take a month or three off work. Even if they don’t finish the race, as is the case with all of the above, they still soldier on for longer than any normal person would even dream of. It makes me wonder what cyclists must think of footballers…

Not everyone has pulled out because of injuries, however, which leads us on to:

Drugs

Obviously. It wouldn’t be the Tour if someone didn’t get caught or arrested, thus giving ammunition to cycling’s naysayers. Remy di Gregorio, of Cofidis, is the latest addition to the shame sheet, or at least for now – the larger story is brewing in the background, but I think I will leave that for a longer blog post…

But Wiggo still has a point

Good old Wiggo got rather worked up when someone raised the D word in a press conference the other day, and opined that internet trolls should pipe down and get a life, or something to that effect.

He has a point. Cycling certainly still has its drug issues, but it is also spending a lot of time, energy and money on cleaning up the sport. To accuse all good riders of being drugged up is a bit unwarranted, not to say unfounded, and rather takes the credibility out of the criticism. Even cyclists should be considered innocent till proven guilty.

Besides, being an optimist makes for more pleasant viewing, and people who spew vitriol online behind the protection of pseudonyms are amongst my pet hates anyway. Go Wiggo!

Though please have an off day, Wiggo!

Or somebody else have a particularly good day – much as I want a British winner, some excitement along the way would be nice.

Lastly, thanks to @FrankVanGool for the kick up the backside:) More frequent posting to resume.

Edvald Boasson Hagen – a winner for all the family

8 Jul
Yesterday was surely one of the finest days for Norwegian cycling, with a  stage win for Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Thor Hushovd, the yellow jersey wearer,  finishing third. As there’s only two Norwegians in the race, that’s not bad. And with Contador’s various misfortunes added on, I am having a very good Tour so  far…

Indeed, there have been plenty of discussion points. Alberto Contador is  already over a minute behind the main contenders, which should make for some  explosive mountain stages. Mark Cavendish has continued his incredible winning  streak, this time even more impressively so, as he wasn’t able to rely much on his  lead-out train for his win on stage 5. He has contested the intermediate sprints  too, in a competition which may well have been changed in order to disadvantage  him. And what exactly is Garmin Cervelo’s tactics for the green jersey? Thor  Hushovd is slowly climbing his way up the leader board, even whilst the stated  aim is to win it for Tyler Farrar. I predict a change of approach (though that  might just be my national pride speaking).

Meanwhile, Norwegian papers are now likening Boasson Hagen to Eddy Mercx,  which is only slightly less incredible than the fact that Boasson Hagen had  never heard of the cycling legend before 2008.  He hadn’t been particularly  inspired by Hushovd either, in his formative years, which is also somewhat odd,  as he is the only Norwegian to have one more than one TDF stage, let alone any  jerseys. He’s a fast learner, then. Indeed, he showed his inexperience on stage  5, when he miscalculated the finishing line by several hundred metres, and thus  attacked too early. He joked that the subsequent ribbing he got from the peloton  would now be turned to congratulations, which was reward enough in itself.
But whilst Boasson Hagen’s win generated no end of national pride in the  Norwegian part of the household, there was plenty of merriment in the English  contingent too.

‘Have you see what his father is called?’ Simon asked. ‘Odd Erik!’

And that was the end to all sensible conversation.

Thor Hushovd – pretty boy with pretty wife?

6 Jul

Every so often it’s rather good fun to look at the search terms people have used to find my blog. (I generally have good faith in Google, but I must wonder what possessed it to direct the searcher who typed in ‘sex in Pulloxhill’ here??? And if you have just found me by searching for just that, I must disappoint you. You can stop reading right now.)

Lately, it is Thor Hushovd who is dominating my stats; much as he is putting in some good work in the Tour, he is also working hard for my blog. Specifically, it’s the search term ‘Thor Hushovd wife’, which has accounted for a whopping 50% of my search-based traffic these last few days.

So, if you just found me by searching for ‘Thor Hushovd wife’, I would like to know: are you looking for photos of said wife, or were you hoping there isn’t one? Just wondering…

The Tour de France, the selectiveness of French fans and the dangers of meat

1 Jul

Alberto Contador is having a tough time these days. Not only is he under a cloud of suspicion following a positive doping test at last year’s Tour, he was also jeered by the fans (predominantly French) under the pre-Tour presentation, and now comes the news that he has found it impossible to eat meat since that much-debated test result as well. He ate his last steak on that fateful evening when the disputed Clenbuterol allegedly entered his blood stream, and hasn’t touched any since.

Now this might just be a way of saying ‘see how much I really do blame that blasted piece of meat’, but if he really wants to endear himself to the French fans – and he could do with a bit of that – then forsaking the country’s beloved boeuf is surely not the best way forward. I don’t think his culinary habits will have much sway over WADA or the UCI either, somehow.

Anyhow, the greatest show on sporting earth starts tomorrow. Are you ready? Here’s hoping Andy Schleck is up for the battle!

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