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

Unprecedented? Stage 9 Update, First Week Recap

Amis –

Karen asked me the other day whether this Tour had had more crashes than is typical. I told her I wasn’t sure. We’d had a lot of them, but I can recall a number of articles about the first week always being “twitchy” as riders work out their nerves and sprinters’ teams ride especially aggressively, getting points while there’s still flat ground to cover.

But that was a few days ago, before stages eight and especially nine, which somehow exceeded all previous ones in bones broken (both quantity and quality) and blood spilled.

The two chief wrecks in stage nine (there were others) were markedly different from one another: the cameras missed the first; once they arrived it was like a “discovery” scene from a horror flick, where the characters learn just what awful and gory deeds had been occurring under their noses: Van Den Broeck gasping at the side of the road; Vino emerging from the woods, borne on teammates’ shoulders, something far larger than a tibia clearly broken; other riders writhing on the side of the road, or gingerly testing themselves back on their bikes. In this crash we lost one, maybe two Maillot Jaune contenders, and the Tour seemed to lose a bit of the wind at its back as the jefes of the peloton called a truce as riders caught back on, allowing the breakaway to build an ultimately insurmountable lead.

Good thing, too, for the break had its own, very different crash to deal with, this one caught on video and absolutely spectacular to watch: a TV car, swerving to miss a tree jutting into the road, sideswiped Juan Antonio Flecha, who went down to certain (but not actual) injury, nearly taking out Thomas Voeckler in the process, and actually sending Johnny Hoogerland saddle-over-chamois into a barbed wire fence. In one of the all-time acts of Tour badassery, both riders recovered and finished the stage; both were awarded the day’s Most Aggressive designation, and Hoogerland even wore the Polka-Dot Jersey on the podium that afternoon, having amassed some climbing points while in the break. (Knowing that all turned out alright, you might want to watch this crash – and be sure to listen to the commentators cursing the errant driver, who was ejected from the Tour.)

Driven by Voeckler’s constantly wincing determination, and given more leash than normal by the peloton, the break stayed away, with Luis Leon “I represent Murcia; she was raised in Andalusia” Sanchez taking the victory, while Voeckler emerged, for the first time since 2004, clad in Yellow. He appeared overjoyed, having thoroughly enjoyed that famed run seven years ago, and keen to give it a shot once again (now a more accomplished rider); count on him to put on a show replete with grit and grimaces as he defends it as long as he can, even as the route turns to the big mountains.

After one week, riders tweeted and talked about how happy they were to rest and recover. Some are already back home, or enjoying the pleasures of home while still in France; most are resting or taking shorter-than-usual recovery rides. One, though, is showing everyone else how to take a rest day in style – and rubbing some noses in Yellow while he’s at it:


I love that photo.

Meanwhile, Phil clings to his one-point lead, but far short of doping, he and Marissa are competing wounded, having lost Van Den Broeck. Pete’s within striking distance, but lost Wiggins; a bunch of us sit another ten-or-so back, but hold Contador, who’s nursing a bad knee; you need to plumb pretty far down the list to find a fully healthy team.

We’ll take this rest day to remind you just why we’re spending all this time on this goofy game: to raise money for the Make A Wish foundation. I encourage you to go to www.wish .org and check out some of the stories; they’ll surely jerk some tears, but they’re pretty heartwarming, especially knowing we’re involved in a small way.

In fact, I defy you to watch the ESPN video about Anna visiting the Packers’ practice and not pay your $15! If you haven’t already paid, please send a check to Mike Fee/2600 Camino Lenada/Oakland, CA 94611, or Paypal to mackfee@hotmail.com. On the next rest day I’ll call out individuals.

Finally, do take a quick look at the sheet I’ve attached, find your name and make sure I have your scoring right.

And then…we’ll be back in action once again tomorrow, hopefully safely. Mountain stages to come!




Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home