Go Dad Go!

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

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Another Paean -- Stages 10 & 11 Recap

Hello Friends,

The last two stages have returned to relative calm, with wet roads and general sense of something like PTSD slowing the pack; on these flat stages the sprinters’ teams have thus been able to regain control, and the Green Jersey competition has heated up. Yesterday we saw Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Andre Greipel eke out a quarter-wheel win over former teammate Mark Cavendish, who was fatigued after Omega’s Gilbert drove the pace over the final climb, apparently hunting for his own win but actually setting up Greipel. Then today Cavendish exacted his own form of revenge, sprinting to victory in a downpour, his leadout train having mostly burned themselves out earlier in the stage.

Blah, blah, blah. Let’s talk about Johnny Hoogerland. This guy is my new favorite; I just added him to my Facebook page’s list of people inspire me (and considered changing my profile picture to the one of his striped butt-cheek). Certainly Flecha fell just as hard, maybe harder (new “Would you Rather” question: …be slammed to the pavement and slide 30 meters, or flip over your handlebars and land on a barbed wire fence?), and finished with similar aplomb, but the Hoogerland story has the little touches: the barbed wire itelf, the butt-cheek photo, the Polka-Dot jersey, his father waiting for him at the finish, and then the tears on the podium. Flecha’s hard-ness is remarkable, but Hoogerland’s is made for TV. Looking at him crying on the podium, it appeared that there was more than even that day’s agony pouring forth; I bet we were seeing years of struggle, all coming to fruition. You know he was a skinny, unathletic kid growing up on the mean streets of Yerseke; the other kids called him “Booger-man,” and he couldn’t play soccer, and his dad was probably a struggling fisherman, and now he’s a superstar, donning the PDJ, receiving kisses from the hottest podium girls I’ve seen since the Tour of the Ukraine, and playing it all just right: demurring to the press, not giving way to all that frustration (and calling out those Yerseke kids, who now sit around hoping to get a bit of trawler work, drinking Heineken and carping about the refs who surely cost the Dutch the World Cup) but instead spending the rest day…wait for it…going for a ride with his father. Are you kidding me? Maybe he just has a really savvy agent; maybe this whole thing was scripted by someone eager to cast cycling and cyclists in a more flattering light – but I’ll take it.

In fact, after writing that, I think I will change that profile photo.

There is much more to write about, of course: Gilbert’s clever tactics yesterday – and then non-appearance at the finish today; Voeckler’s unrelenting class as he continues his attacking ways, not content to play it safe in the Maillot Jaune, even with Bastille Day – and the Pyrenees – looming; Cavendish’s once again proving the critics wrong and starting to look like the real Green deal; and much more.

But all those storylines should change tomorrow when the Tour hits the (really) high mountains with a massive day that will take them over a category 1 climb – and then two hors categorie ascents. Tomorrow will answer many questions – about Andy Schleck’s fitness, and Contador’s knee, and Evans’ legitimacy – but not finally so. The Tour, after all, is only half over.

Our standings will likely change as well, though perhaps not so quickly; Phil’s ridden Cavendish’s wheel to a solid lead, and solid performances by Andy will keep him there. But again, much remains to be determined.

Except for who our new hero is.

A demain –



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