Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stages 6, 7 & 8


In 1998 I rode for Stanford’s cycling team. In the Men’s “B” Road Race in the West Coast Championships, I had broken away with three other riders – one of whom was a teammate – with about 15 kilometers to go. We rode together, plenty of room in front of the pack (from what we could tell; we had neither radios nor blackboard-wielding, Burkina Faso-hailing motorcycle passenger-informers). My teammate in the break was younger – an undergrad – and it was understood that I, the better climber, would ride away on the final hill and take the race. But with about 10K left my teammate jumped, and the two rivals didn’t follow, and I couldn’t; if they managed to latch on to my wheel and I towed them back to my teammate, and then either one outmatched us at the finish, I’d be to blame. So I followed. I all but implored the rivals to ride harder; I wanted to win the race. But my teammate managed to stay away, keeping just enough distance over the final hill that he could then charge down to the finish line alone for the victory. I rode over the hill with one opponent – who then outsprinted me. I took third, and I was pissed.

Imagine if instead of riding for the Men’s “B” race in the West Coast Collegiate Championships I’d been racing for the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.

Such was the scenario in Friday’s Tour stage. Astana, evidently, had a plan – to control the race, to manage their rivals – but Alberto Contador took a flyer with a few klicks to ride on the road to Andorra and, to Lance Armstrong’s chagrin, took charge of this Tour. Of course, inherent in Armstrong’s post-race sentiment (and my analogy) is the suggestion that Armstrong could have stayed with Contador had he determined not to adhere to cycling’s unwritten strategic code. I, for one, am not certain that he could have.

Of course, Contador putting his stamp on this Tour and, my by estimation, all but ending the race was far from the only element of interest over the last three days. Work, play, family and decorum prohibit me from writing exhaustively on all three; I’ll summarize with these bullets instead:

  • Thor Hushovd reminded us all that it takes far more than following a team-train at the end of flat stages to take the Green Jersey in Paris; he now wears Maillot Vert and earned another 1% for Tom, who’s slowly earning his substantial investment back, while Cancellara remained in the Yellow Jersey one more day (and thus earned another 1% for Tom).
  • On Contador’s big day yesterday, an unowned rider – Rinadlo Nocentini – took the Maillot Jaune – and kept it today, so that when an owned rider takes it over (which one will) the owner will take a substantial return. Meanwhile, Brice Feilleu, also unwoned, won in Andorra, so that today’s rider earned double.
  • Karen owns Sanchez, and as both yesterday and today were mountain stages, she wins 1.5% twice! She becomes the second player (after three year-old Suzanna) to earn a positive return on her investment.

Today was the first day I wasn’t able actually to watch a stage, as I’m in Laguna Beach for a family reunion and the hotel doesn’t have Versus(!). But I’ve found a bar in town with many channels – so hopefully that will change tomorrow – another mountain stage, but with the Tourmalet ending long before the stage finish, we won’t likely see much change in the standings. But we should see some exciting charges up the Tour’s most feared climb, as well as some frighteningly fearless descending.




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