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

Pleasant Surprises -- No, not the fact that I'm actually writing an update! (Stages 13, 14 and 15)

Hello friends,

My apologies for the lack of updates! Travel to Southern California, a typically enjoyable family reunion and my wanting to get out on my own bike all conspired to keep me away from my computer. I’m relying on others’ (professional writers’!) recaps, as well as some highlight reels. It just ain’t the same as listening to Phil and Paul’s banter and watching that stage’s story develop, so I won’t try to write a full update.

Instead, I’ll reiterate an earlier point: this is the Tour of pleasant surprises (crashes notwithstanding). When Lance retired – both times – I feared that we were headed for some dark years, Tours de France devoid of compelling winners and entertaining storylines – that we’d be doomed to dark years of wooden or unlikeable personalities like -- apologies to the Spanish – Pereiro/Landis, Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador. (I hear some of you already: that Armstrong was both wooden and unlikeable. I get the point – but maintain that even if you don’t like the guy and felt his racing style was too managed, the story made it all worth following.) I imagined Indurain- or Ullrich-like automatons, never attacking and never sharing anything juicy with the press. And this lack of interesting characters would extend beyond the GC contenders, into the climbers and the sprinters – for once you’ve had Pantani and Cipollini, few others seem terribly colorful.

Consider, then, many of this year’s protagonistes: Gilbert, Cavendish, Hushovd, Voeckler. They attack, they deliver interviews that are at least pleasant and at best eyebrow-raising; they ride with panache. And they each present a highly pleasant surprise. That Gilbert, a classics rider known for single-day successes would be vying for the green jersey, amassing points day after day, is surprising, as is Cavendish’s holding strong in the same competition – though not nearly so much as Hushovd winning a mountain stage, or (most of all) Voeckler holding the Yellow Jersey through the Pyrenees. I follow this stuff pretty closely; while I may not be able to pick a team like Phil, I do know my riders. But I never, ever would have predicted that Hushovd would win a stage that went over the Col d’Aubisque, or that little Tommy Voeckler would hang with Contador, the Schlecks, Evans and Basso up some of this Tour’s toughest climbs.

With a rest day before us, I’ll leave it at that: that I’m pleasantly surprised by this Tour, and having a blast following it (and happy to be back, able to follow it!). As to our game: Phil is padding his lead, and soon his wife may slot in, right on his wheel. Don’s followed the Cavendish-Hushovd one-two into second place for now, as Marissa’s fallen a bit. But we do have another week, mostly in the Alps, including an Homeric day that finishes atop the Tour’s most feared cimb, the Galibier. Hopefully there are more pleasant surprises in store.

A Mardi -



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