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

How Many Times Do Phil and Paul Need to Tell you, Alberto? - Stage 1 Results

[We recently completed our annual Tour de France Fantasy Pool, and I want to be sure the writeups live on, so I'm going to post them here.]

One stage down, friends, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Of course, I’m a sucker just for a deep-voiced narrator expansively setting up the race in the pre-stage clip, sonorously describing the race’s protagonists – never uttering their names, of course – as we watch dramatic scenes from Tours past unfold against spectacular Alpine backdrops. I could have turned off the TV after that three-minute segment – but of course I didn’t.*

The Tour last started on the Passage du Gois in 1999, and then, too, a mass crash waylaid some of the favorites, positioning Lance Armstrong for his first Tour win; twelve years ago I remember Phil and Paul remarking that a Yello Jersey contender must keep to the front of the peloton. This year the start along the Passage was wisely kept to a controlled promenade, but the most dangerously encroaching spectator (who was not actually on the road) since a musette-holder on the route to Luz-Ardiden took out Armstrong in 2003 foiled the chances of many key riders, including – wait for it…Alberto Contador.

I typed wait for it because this isn’t the first time Contador’s been caught out when not riding at the front. Certainly he was unlucky, but it had been just moments since P&P had exchanged admiration for Cadel Evans’ BMC squad, shepherding him along at the front of the pack. Hey Alberto: You’re the odds-on favorite to win this Tour. Many are saying that only a crash could diminish your chances. If Bjarne Riis won’t do it, then you shout into that radio and tell Chris Anker Sorensen and Benjamin Noval to pull your skinny ass to the front, where it belongs. Didn’t you learn anything being on the same team as Armstrong?

So Contador goes into tomorrow’s team time trial – where he’s expected to lose more time – 1:14 down on Evans, Schleck, Gesink and virtually every other Maillot Jaune contender. Meanwhile, tonight that maillot is being lovingly, likely fleetingly worn by Philippe Gilbert, who solidified his reputation as The Best Rider in the World at Finishing Uphill. Seriously: the guy is money in the bank on the uphill finishes. He’s like Borg on grass, the Goo Goo Dolls with eminently likeable songs that build to a satisfying crescendo or Obama making a big speech to curtail an issue spinning out of control: utterly reliable.

So we have a big winner and a big loser on the day – but other winners as well, including Cadel Evans, who’s clearly determined to buck conventional wisdom that he’s a boring rider, and who used the same final-500 punch that won him the World Championships in 2009 to take second place today; we know this was a big effort from Cadel’s breathless falsetto during the post-race interview (someone get that guy a voice coach!). And Tyler Farrar won the field sprint for the intermediate points, beating out an unaware Cavendish and throwing down the first green gauntlet.

One final thought, before getting to the highlights from our competition: today we saw that team do matter in the Tour de France. Not only did BMC, Rabobank, Radio Shack and Leopard Trek keep their lead guys protected prior to the crash, but after the pileup they went opportunistic, playing team time trial a day early and thus grabbing time from the favorite. I’ll admit: I loved seeing Hincapie, Bookwalter, Leipheimer and Horner all at the front, hammering away at Contador from a minute up the road.

I’ve pasted the first-stage standings below. Marissa’s “Just Say ‘Merde’” team vaults into the lead – Gilbert-like – nailing a trifecta, getting the points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd and Gilbert’s holding the Yellow Jersey; the only points she didn’t get was the single one won for Joel by Perrig Quemeneur, winner of the day’s Most Aggressive Rider designation. (Marissa, time to introduce yourself to the group!).

Tomorrow’s stage should also impact the final standings – I don’t think we’ll see Gilbert in Yellow tomorrow night – but should be short of today’s, er, fireworks. Here’s hoping an American team takes it (and there are three that have a solid shot at it).

A demain!


P.S. You’ll see a few new teams – four, in fact. Two came in safely before we could draw any conclusions from the stage, so I’m fine with that. And the other two are my college buddies who know very little about cycling and are really just placating me by playing. I picked the teams for them: Phil Delio has the All-Cool-Names team (Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd, Cadel Evans, Roman Kreuziger, Levi Leipheimer, Benat Intxausti Elorriaga and Biel Kadri, and Sky and Leopard Trek) while Bob Burlinson, married to a Flemish woman, has an all-Belgian team.

*Though I’ll admit now to DVR-ing my way through stages now. I justify it this way: I want to patronize the sponsors of the Vs. broadcast so that we can keep watching the Tour every year, but I can’t bear to watch those commercials time after time, so instead I’ve noted whom the sponsors are and plan to buy their wares. Tomorrow I’ll purchase a shirt with an alligator on it and a Cadillac, which I’ll insure through Esurance (or maybe Travelers). Karen and I will drive the new Cadillac to go see Larry Crowne.


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