Friday, July 29, 2005

Winding down.

Friday after a long week of recovering from a long week of preparation and work during the sales meeting... and a cold beer hasn't tasted so good in a very long time.

I know I've touched on all the tedious details before, but now that I have finally gone through the process for myself I have a firsthand understanding of those tedious details. Sure, I had a pretty good idea of what the process is like since it isn't really any different from other companies I've been with before. After all, a sales meeting is a sales meeting is a sales meeting...

However, I have to say (and man, this is gonna sound like I'm kissing the collective asses of my bosses) this was the most fun I have had at a sales meeting and all of the stress involved with pulling it off was well worth it in the end. Obviously, I'm in a business that sells fun and exercise, so how bad could it be anyway? Still, this company and the people who are associated with it have a passion and commitment to the brand(s) that is really refreshing to see. I'm not going to pretend that everybody has the same think-about-it-all-night-long-in-their-sleep passion that I do (I have a sickness, I admit it), but the level of professionalism is great to work with.

We're not even close to being out of the woods yet either, since show season is on the way now and we get to roll out new bikes and sales programs and then build advertising and marketing around all of that as well. Really things are just getting started, but the initial momentum generated by the sales meeting really sets the tone for the entire season and I see that much clearer now. Our VP of Sales is a great guy and he was pretty much a full-blown stress monkey heading into last week, but he pulled it off. As he said to me early in the process of building the sales meeting- he's the Executive Producer and the rest of us (product managers, sales managers and marketing manager) are the Directors for our niches. He poured his passion into producing something really cool and providing a stage (quite literally) for us to present our individual passions on. It may sound hokie, but that's the less than glamorous truth.

Honestly, as I've said before, I get the privilege of working in a business where my job is to talk about and sell bicycles. Bicycles I happen to think are really exceptional- and not just because I'm paid to think so. I tried for 3 years to get this job and now I'm pretty much living out a dream. One of my biggest struggles each day is deciding which incredible bike I am going to ride during my lunchtime ride. (And they pay me to do this?)

It's nice to be done with the kickoff and start playing the game. Coach- I'm ready to go in!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Before I forget... again.

Just so I don't get any more disgruntled emails and comments here, I just have to take a moment to go over the incredible accomplishment of Ondrej Sosenka on July 19th in Moscow.

This 29 year old Czech rider broke Chris Boardman's Hour Record by 259 meters (49.70K). Holy Crap! (Or unholy crap, depending on your views.) That's beyond impressive. Hell, I get dizzy and want to puke trying to ride a simple 4K Pursuit. Essentially, Ondrej road 12 Pursuits all at once... and I don't recall reading anywhere that he was crying either.

One of my favorite bits of info from his historic ride is the front wheel; it weighed 3.2kg. This was slower accelerating, but stayed rolling easier and took less energy to maintain momentum. How cool is that?

So, Ondrej- congratulations on an historic ride that should stand for quite a while.


Cool story to share;

Check this article out- it's really cool.

It's about a small and really hip shop in Minnesota that we do business with. You'll notice that the bike pictured in the article is a Masi Speciale Premio- the shop owner's own steed of choice.

Chuck Cowan, the owner, and his wife Stephanie stopped in the booth last Interbike and we hit it off pretty well. They are a cool couple and I am really happy that they did end up bringing Masi into their shop. They're good people and I'm happy to be working with them.

Anyway, read the article. It's a nice view of a little shop making a home for itself in the neighborhood. One of my favorite kinds of stories.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Something worth sharing...

I get lots and lots of tech questions (obviously these people have never read my confessions of mechanical stupidity). I was sent this link to an article on Velonews regarding narrow 10 speed chains. I found it to be very informative and thought I would share it with you all. I myself have had some issues with 10 speed chains... but admittedly, that is mostly an issue of wear and improper installation.

Anyway, I found the information to be worth sharing. It's a good read (compliments to Lennard Zinn- who happens to be a really cool guy).


Here's a cool shot of the storefront of Active Oxford in Oxford, MS. Steve Valliant, the owner, rides a Masi himself (his bike was pictured here yesterday). Notice that beautiful Vincere in the window enticing people into the shop. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tour wrap up.

I know that the Tour has been over for a few days and I am just now getting around to writing my little summary. I'm well aware of the poor timing, but I've been busy... I swear- I can get a note from my Mom.

So Lance wins 7 after all. Who saw that coming? Taking the final TT win to close out on a high note just adds his stamp of authority on the event. What could I possibly say that hasn't already been written about Lance (maybe even better than I could- it's possible)? His 7 wins are not likely to be beaten any time in the near future. With the way the Tour has become such a specialized event with so many riders now basing their seasons on it, it is hard to imagine that any rider will ever be able to match the accomplishment. Believe me, I'm as upset about this as you are, but I don't see the record being broken during my lifetime.

Rasmussen crashes and loses oodles of time and his place on the podium in the final TT. Ullrich rides great and moves up to the final podium spot. Basso hangs on to 2nd and his second consecutive podium at the Tour. Leipheimer rode another solid top 10 and Landis finishes off in 9th, with Julich getting a solid and very respectable 17th. Horner almost steals the show on the final day, until Vinokourov nails it with a perfectly timed attack in the closing kilometers. The last few stages certainly served up an adequate ending to the event and Lance's incredible career.

It has been an incredible seven years for cycling in the US. The industry itself has really benefited from the wins Lance has had. Obviously, those wins have been kindest to the folks in Waterloo, WI, but the rest of us have been able to eat pretty well off the crumbs. Globally, the sport has flourished during these past seven years and the global cycling economy would look to be remaining healthy- even with ups and downs in the marketplace. I have a feeling that the industry will likely go through something of a slump now, with Lance leaving the sport and much of the mass media and public losing interest, but the new lows in the market will still be higher than some of the old highs. It is my belief that the industry is in better shape than it once was, even if so reliant on one pony for all the winnings.

So, Lance, you did what I could never have done. May the rest of your life, outside of competitive cycling, prove to be as rewarding as cycling was. Enjoy your time with your kids now and have one of those Shiner Bocks for me when you get back to Austin.


Coming out of the woods...

It's Tuesday now and I am finally beginning to get out from underneath all the emails, voicemails and various notes left spread all over my desk after being gone for several days. Our National Sales Meeting was a huge success, in my opinion. All of the work that was put into completing the catalogs, coming up with sales programs, building sample bikes, etc, etc. It's a lot of really hard work, much of it extremely tedious, but the payoff in the end is already worth it. I am very excited about things...

The meeting went really, really well. All of our reps and a few International Distributors were there and the response was very positive. The first day was mostly set up and then it was time for an introduction meeting and then dinner. The beer was flowing, as was the wine, and the dinner was great. Afterwards, it was time for more socializing and some fun. Just for the record; never go drinking solo with three Canadians. I think I might have made some predictions about the industry and some riders, but I know I'm going to be in Canada for the ExpoCycle trade show in September... and I'm really looking forward to getting up to Montreal and seeing all of my Canadian friends.

The next day was all about the bikes! All the lines were introduced and explained and the sales force was trained and informed. Standing under the lights at the stage, I was sweating pretty good when it was my turn to talk about MY bikes. I got some compliments afterwards, so I guess I did ok. Nobody could tell I was sweating beer and just trying to make it past my nerves.

After the meeting, I was off on a road ride with my rep from Montana (David Haberkam) and our UK distributor, who is not yet distributing the Masi line, but things look good. I was happy to be on my bike and sweating. Near the end of our 25-30 mile ride, I thought I might have to pull off and take a nap. Thankfully, a great dinner was awaiting us...

Dinner and an awards ceremony at a great restaurant. Not a bad deal. The food was great and it was a lot of fun to recognize the hard work of our sales force. Without sales guys, we'd have no sales...

The last day was review of some more product info and then the details of selling stuff. The usual sales meeting stuff. A lot of details that would bore you beyond belief. Then off to another showroom to showcase product again, like a little miniature trade show. After this, it was time to race... go kart race! What a blast! We hit the track and giggled and screamed like a bunch of school kids... a bunch of overgrown school kids. What fun. Our rep in Texas, Nathan Frazier, proved to be the best driver. That would explain his great sales- I doubt he's ever late or misses an appointment. I pity the fool that gets in his way when he's on the road.

That's it. 3 days of fun and product, with months of build up to make it all happen.

And now we head off into trade show season...


Will Mahler, who is a very, very tall dude sent this in. Will is the Manager and Buyer for the cycling division of Ed's Ski & Cycle in York, PA. That's a nice looking bike, isn't it? Look for him in the shop and on the roads around York. Posted by Picasa
Note; 6' 5" and a 38.5" inseam... he's like a spider!

Owner of Active Oxford in Oxford, MS, Steve Valliant, sent in this picture of his own personal ride. He purchased the frame and built up the bike with his own spec. Nice looking ride! Posted by Picasa

Frame repair question from last week.

I received a frame repair question last week while I was away from any internet service and just wanted to post an answer for the inquirer and for anybody else curious about the issue.

I highly recommend two different people and both are former builders/ painters for Masi California and are in the San Diego County area. Both of these guys do showroom quality restorations that will make your head spin.

Jim Cunningham at CyclArt is considered one of the very finest in the restoration business, as is Brian Baylis at Vintage Cycle Studios. Either of these two places can do anything from a simple paint job to repairing and replacing tubes in the frame. I'd hate to choose between either because they both do work that absolutely blows my mind. The gallery of photos on their sites is totally unreal.

So there's your answer for restoration questions!


This rocks!

Ok, for a moment, let's forget about Lance and all of the well documented and "historic" times he has caught and passed another rider. Let's think about us for a moment instead and the sheer bliss that comes from seeing that other rider in the distance ahead of us and then catching and passing him or her. Sometimes it ends up being that 80 year old Gramma on a trike and the euphoria is somewhat dulled, but then there are the days when all cylinders fire and all lights are green and you catch that guy that you could swear you recently saw on the cover of Velonews. It's a time honored joy to catch and pass that other rider, give a nod of acknowledgement, maybe a little "good day" and roll along your way. Even getting caught and passed can be good and give you that extra motivation to dig deeper and go a little harder.

I can remember many epic rides where I traded passes with another rider on a long and lonely road while training alone. Those are some of the very best rides ever. A long climb, for a non-climber like me, can become much more enjoyable when I have somebody to use to pace myself. I'm competitive enough that I hate to let the gap grow and I will bury myself to stay in contact with another rider. It can make for an excellent day when you have a little company.

Enjoy the link- it made my day!


Monday, July 25, 2005

Coming back to life...

Ok, the Tour is over and so is our sales meeting. Now I can get back into some kind of rhythm and maybe start throwing posts out at you again.

I will be back with a final Tour wrap-up as well as a little recap of the sales meeting. Now I have to get back to all those voice mail messages and emails that have gone unanswered for the past 4 days.

I will be back with lots more, if not today then tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tour report; Stage 17

Just a quick post as it is crazy-busy right this moment...

Way to go Paolo! I've always liked the guy and thought it so odd that he would go to Discovery in the first place and now he was won the Giro and a stage of the Tour. Not a bad year after a couple of years kind of floundering in bad luck and poor form. Now he's decidedly back in action.

The rest of the race just kind of plowed along without too much fanfare and excitement today and the bulk of the race, including the "Yella" jersey, rolled across the line a lazy 22 minutes later. No real changes to speak of, though Andreas Kloden did withdraw due to his injuries from the day before when he crashed. T-Mobile just hasn't been the Uber Team many of us thought they would be... they looked good on paper anyway. Oh well, next year will be easier.

Tomorrow should be another lazy day, but I think the sprinters will be hungry for some points and the race will finish with a sprint. I guess we'll have to wait until then.

(Tomorrow might be postless, and so might the remainder of the week, due to the big meeting happening. But I promise I will try.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tour report; Stage 16

Before I go on to the Tour commentary, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the Australian cycling community who lost a young rider and 5 more were seriously injured. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the woman who was killed and the five others who were injured.

On a less somber note, today's racing was a little like I expected with breakaways trying to capitalize on the two main climbs of the day and trying to fight off the field in the closing kilometers. The break did manage to hold though and Oscar Pereiro got his revenge after losing on Sunday to George Hincapie. I just have to point out the irony of this situation though; Hincapie was criticized by both Pereiro and Phonak team director Lelangue for not doing more work in the break and then sprinting to the win... exactly what Pereiro did, on orders from his director today. I just love professional sports! Good job by Cadel Evans who really lit up things at the front today and showed that his legs are indeed coming good again.

Things further behind were a bit animated from time to time, with T-Mobile and CSC (somewhat meekly) attacking Lance and Rasmussen on the climbs trying to get Tex to crack and the Chicken to slip from the podium. All the effort ended up being too little too late and neither rider lost ground on their respective podium positions. One has to wonder what would have happened if T-Mobile came ready to attack from the beginning.

Personally, for all the stink that has surrounded Lance and his possibly seven straight wins (doping, unfair advantages caused by his cancer treatments, etc), he is going to leave behind the biggest vacuum at the Tour in its history. Even Merckx was beaten during his reign at the Tour and Indurain "only" won five in a row. I think of Merckx as the greatest cyclist ever, but I have to say that Lance has proven to be the best Tour rider ever (so far) and the event has changed with him. When he is gone, many of the same buffoons who talked poorly of his accomplishments will turn around and say the following winners were only able to do so because of his absence. Hey, if you ask me, if only 3 guys show up for the Tour and you win, you are a legitimate champion because of the scale of the event. However, I'm not the "professional cycling press", so my opinions just don't matter. Anyway, I almost hate to admit that I find Lance's accomplishments to be immeasurable. He will now be the yardstick all other Tour riders are measured against. I can just hear the complaining now, "he only won three Tours and Lance won seven". Sadly, much of the American public, mostly those who came into contact with cycling after Lance started winning, will Americanize the whole race and just spout off that nobody but an American could have accomplished the feat in the first place. The American ego can be a nasty thing... but then there is the French ego... Remember when LeMond won his first Tour? The French immediately adopted him as an honorary Frenchman because of the French sounding/ looking last name. If it would have been Smith... he would have been just another ugly American. I'm not French-bashing. I have French friends and coworkers and none of them smell of cheese and red wine. They are perfectly decent people.

So tomorrow brings another day of racing and another step closer to Paris for Lance and the Disco juggernaut. The race itself will likely be fairly anticlimactic. Mostly flat, though rolling through a few good hills and lower mountains, it should yield up a sprint finish since the chase for the Green jersey is very tight and Robbie is hungry for another stage win. I'd expect a suicide break to go up the road and then see Lotto bring it back for a sprint with Robbie. Look out for Stuey though... and then that big, bad Norwegian Thor Hushovd. It should be quite a party at the finish line tomorrow.


Wayne Doran; when asked when all the catalogs copy would be proofed, when the bikes would all be built and when he planned to oversee production overseas.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rest day? What "rest day"?

I'm beat. I'm tired. I'm pooped. At least the riders at the Tour get a day to recover before the final assault on Paris.

The past few weeks have been exceptionally hectic and busy. We are preparing for our National Sales Meeting, which happens this week. Prior to this, and in preparation for it, we also wrapped up all of the items for the catalog- the sample bikes, the photos being taken of bikes and riders, spec and other information being checked for accuracy (a mistake or two is inevitable still) and writing all the copy for the catalog. There have been meetings, emails, phone calls and conversations all about getting to this week. It's a big deal for us, something we take very seriously, and is also my first one with the company. So throw in a little ignorance of what to expect with the desire to do well and you get some pretty good stresses.

The past couple nights and most of today, I have been working on the text for a Power Point presentation to accompany my presentation. I probably spent three hours last night staring at my notepad trying to get some bullet points mapped out. Then I spent most of the day at work concentrating on the same thing. Now tonight I have spent another three hours working on it, but I am now done with the first draft of the entire presentation. Next will be making my notes and checking critical points so that I cover all of the things that I need to. On top of that, I get to give the presentation twice for two groups of people. Don't get me wrong- I'm very excited about all of this, but it is still a challenge. I really want to be able to convey my passion for the brand and the bikes so that all who attend this meeting will be passionate about selling the bikes (and not think I'm a total dumbass as well).

The scarier thought is that after this meeting, we begin to really ramp up for the big shows that take place in September. July is almost over and August will vanish quickly. Between the shows in Milan, Italy and Freidrichshafen, Germany and then Las Vegas, Nevada, almost the entire month of September will be dedicated to trade shows and travel to and fro. Again, don't get me wrong- I love what I do and love working with and talking about bikes. But again, it does end up being rather stressful trying to coordinate so many details in such a small period of time.

All this whining sounds pretty bad. Actually, I have it pretty easy compared to others in the company. I have the smallest line in the Haro family of bikes/ brands. The other poor bastards have it much worse. The BMX guy has to deal with Freestyle, BMX racing, dirt jumping and kids bikes. The Del Sol cruiser guy has a line of something like 1000 bikes! Ok, gross exaggeration, but he does have a ton of bikes in the line (and they are really beautiful too). Then there is our QC Manager... this SOB gets to build, check, confirm, arrange, verify, deny, complain, cry, whimper, moan and overall "handle" all the bikes in all the lines. Poor sot, after this sales meeting is over, he probably gets shipped overseas to oversee production of some bikes as well. Not to name any names, but Wayne Doran is one of the unsung heroes of the company during this time of year. Thanks Wayne... I mean, Mr. Nameless Niceguy.

I appreciate all the great feedback to the Tour Reports. I've been getting lots of comments here and via email. Thanks for the support. I know the updates are far from "timely" some days, but the real duties of the job have to come first. Then there is the intermittnet internet service here at home... let's just say I am less than happy with a certain digital cable/ internet provider, who shall remain nameless (three letter name- first letter is C, last is X, middle letter looks like a zero...). Anyway, I appreciate all of the support. To answer one person's questions; no, I doubt OLN is going to ask me to provide color commentary with Bob Roll next year to replace Al Trautwig. But thanks for thinking of me.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tour report; Stage 15

Bravo George! What can you say about a classics Rouleur who morphs into a Pyrenean climbing stage winner? Laurent Jalabert made a similar change during his career and is considered one of the finest riders of his generation due to that transformation and success. Could George be heading for the same greatness?

Hincapie got himself into the break early in the day and was there to help Lance control things, but once the break had a large enough gap that they were clearly not going to get caught, Discovery gave George the greenlight to go for his first ever individual stage win (he's obviously been part of the team time trial victories). After shepherding Tex to each of his Tour victories, it is quite nice to see George get to claim his own stage victory. To have done it on possibly the hardest stage of the Tour and alone on the line, makes it that much more beautiful. It ain't like I "know" the guy, but I've had the chance to talk to him for a few moments at various bike industry affairs and he's always come off as a decent guy, so it's nice to see him get the glory today. Congrats George- you've really earned it.

Der Kaiser lost more time today to Lance and Basso (who were seen chatting and spending time together in the peloton again today... hmmm...). Not that I believe in saying the race is over before the riders cross the line in Paris, since anything can happen, but it is hard to imagine that Ullrich can find the kind of form to reel in over 5 minutes of deficit. The Fat Lady isn't singing yet, but she's warming up her vocal chords and the orchestra is tuning up.

Basso is now in 2nd and Rasmussen has dropped to 3rd. Ullrich may be able to dislodge Rasmussen, since the Chicken is a poor time trialist. Rasmussen has effectively wrapped up the Climber's jersey and will most likely arrive in Paris with the Polka Dot jersey all his own. A fine Tour for Michael and hopefully just the first time he'll pull the jersey on. It's nice to see a skinny guy finally get some attention in cycling...

Monday is a rest day, the last chance for a little wound-licking before the final assault on the podium places. Lance does look to have a very firm control of the event, even without any big solo wins this year. Finishing his career on top, with another win in the biggest event in the sport, serves as a perfect ending for Hollywood. With Lance being the mega-star that he is now, in more than just the cycling world, his story will likely receive great attention for a few more years at least. Don't expect to hear less about him for awhile still.

Tuesday is the next chance for some fireworks to happen. The Aubisque and Marie-Blanque are both impressive climbs and will leave the door open to some attacks. However, the Aubisque is the final climb and is almost 100K from the finish. Breakaways will have to have a huge cushion coming off the mountain if they are to have a chance to survive. I'm casting my hope that Horner will get his chance to go out again and get the win. Chris, if you're reading this (or one of your "people" is reading this), your friends in San Diego are rooting for you.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tour report; Stage 14

Well, T-Mobile gave it another go today and had Lance relatively separated from the rest of his security guards, but in the end they couldn't crack him and he even put more time into all of the T-Mobile riders. Ullrich cracked last, showing that he really did come prepared for the event, but he still lost another 20 seconds. Michael Rasmussen, who I thought would take the stage, lost time as well today and remains in second but by a minute and 31 seconds now.

Georg Totschnig got a well deserved stage win after a very long day off the front of the race in a breakaway and then solo. Georg is a classy rider who deserves such a win and will likely relish the moment for a long time. He's always been one of the better riders in the big races but never really pulled off the "big win" he's been destined for until now. Nice job Georg!

What else do you say about an epic stage like today? I mean, the race was somewhat subdued with the long breakaway stealing the day and then the "real battle" working itself out on the final slopes. T-Mobile tried in vain to rattle Lance's cage, but it didn't work. Basso even gave it a meek attempt, but it didn't really work. Lance and Basso were seen talking just before Basso made his final move and Lance rode ride up to his wheel... almost as if they were conspiring together... but that wouldn't happen. Basso was third last year and I think he and Lance are working on getting him into second this year. Rasmussen is going to lose some serious time in the final TT, so it is pretty likely Basso will move up a step on the podium this year. It's just a matter of him getting enough time on Ullrich to make sure he stays in second until the final podium. Ivan and Lance have always gotten along well, just look at how last year's Tour went, so it is no surprise that Lance would be willing to work with Ivan to make sure he moves up this year.

The stage profile for tomorrow looks kind of like the side profile of a comb... very spiky. My legs get wobbly just reading about the climbs to be served up. If it weren't on so early in the morning, I'd watch the stage with a beer in hand, but I guess I'll have to have a coffee instead. I'd have picked somebody like Mayo, Heras or some other skinny little Spaniard, but they are nowhere near the front this year. Heck, Heras finished more than 29 minutes down today and Mayo was over 21 minutes down. Too much/ not enough Paella? I don't get it; the Spanish Armada has no balls for their cannons.

We'll see if anybody has the legs to make Lance break a sweat. So far, it looks like the road to Paris is wide open and lined with red carpet and flower petals for him...


Friday, July 15, 2005

Be heard (and hopefully seen too).

Here's a link to a great grassroots Declaration of Independence. Check it out...


Tour report; Stage 13 (unlucky 13)

Dammit! Chris Horner was 150m away from a Tour stage win today, to go with his win at the Tour de Suisse a few weeks earlier. Instead, Rock'em-sock'em Robbie gets his third win of the Tour and Freddy Rodriguez gets third.

Chris was in the thick of things for much of the day and then he and Chavanel spent a little too much time and energy trying to outsmart each other and instead were outsmarted by the chasing peloton. I can't tell you how bummed I am that Chris got that close (still finishing 10th on the day), but came away empty handed. Argh! Well, there are still a few chances for the plucky little fighter to get a win and I hope he gets the chance. Maybe the finale in Paris? Not a bad stage to perform on.

Tomorrow begins the three-day slugfest in the Pyrenees. Many a battered and bruised rider will see their Tour hopes shattered. Poor Alejandro Valverde abandoned early in the stage today, due to tendonitis in his knee. He won't be around the mountains to animate things again. However, there will be plenty of other folks ready to keep things painful. Rasmussen will be hauling his featherweight body up the climbs and giggling like a little school girl as the other riders whimper and moan behind.

Lance will have to get his ass-kicker boots sharpened up so he can kick some hapless souls to the curb... or he'll get kicked himself. Again, I make no claims of being the smartest guy in the world, but if I were in this race I'd be working with every team I could to form a loose alliance to attack Lance and the Disco team the next three days. Lets' face it, if he doesn't lose time in the mountains, he definitely isn't going to in the final time trial. Anybody looking to loosen Tex's stranglehold on the Tour podium better make their claim to the throne in the mountains.

Tomorrow beckons the Battle Royale. Sabers are rattling in the distance and the troops are girding their loins for battle (sounds kind of Hobit-like doesn't it)... so let's see what the next three days serve up.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tour report; Stage 12

How could I have forgotten that today is Bastille Day? The Frenchest of all French days! I feel like such a moron...

If I had remembered my history I would have predicted the type of win we had today by David Moncoutie. With a peloton that could really care less about riding hard, except for all the Franco-cyclists, a break was sure to get away. Moncoutie won a stage before, so he was all revved up to take another.

Boonen's knee injury forced his withdrawal from the race, especially since the World Championships this year would be a good course for him. This now leaves the Points competition a bit more open. Expect to see Thor, Robbie and Stuey really getting tough and fighting for each and every point available for the remainder of the event. Maybe some more headbutting too...

Disco loses Benjamin Noval to a crash today and now they are down a critical climbing specialist before they hit the Pyrenees. Frankly, I think Tex is climbing just fine and he still has a strong juggernaut of professional bitch-slappers to enforce his will on the peloton. Unless Ullrich really gets a bug up his brat-eating rear end, he's unlikely to be a factor in the high mountains. Valverde? Maybe. Basso? Likely. Vino? Oh, he'll try for sure. So really, Lance only has to worry about Rasmussen, since he's only 38 seconds down and is the best climber in the race so far. I'd expect him to try and gain a little more time, since he can't time trial to save his life. A stiff wind will blow him off the road and into the bushes...

Tomorrow will be a lot like today and will be a flat day for the fast guys (or the French riders who want to continue the Bastille Day hangover). Expect McEwen to be hungry now that Boonen is back home having a beer and frites in the pub watching the "telly".


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tour report; Stage 11

Where do I even begin with this one?

Vinokourov wins after being left for dead yesterday. Voigt is eliminated from the race for failing to make the time cut. Roberto Heras, once touted as a major threat to Lance if he ever left Postal, finished over 17 minutes down. Dario Frigo is expelled before the race as he was taken by the police in the morning, after his wife's car was searched and found to contain several vials of performance enhancing drugs. Christophe Moreau continues to ride well and is now in 3rd on GC ahead of Basso.

Vino apparently got some sleep and a good massage last night and came to the race today ready to attack as usual. Like him and his style or not, the guy rides with some amazing passion and his performance today was nothing short of spectacular. Lance and the Disco team claim they were not worried about his move, since he was so far down, but they were chasing pretty hard at the end and he still managed to stay away. Poor Botero. The two riders were once teammates and Vino was well aware of Santi's poor sprinting. Botero was the last winner of this same stage in 2000, so he must have felt like he had a good chance today... but he didn't have the kick in the final.

Jens Voigt reportedly has been feeling ill the past few days... at least if you believe the press from CSC. He got to wear the yellow jersey though, for exactly one day longer than I ever have, so I have to give him credit. Yellow one day, eliminated on time a few days later- that's the Tour for you.

Heras finishes over 17 minutes down? Was he dragging Beloki up the climb in a trailer or something? Holy crap! I think Roberto has suffered the post-Postal curse; leave the team to lead another team and watch your Tour aspirations go straight down the toilet. Maybe there really is something in the water on the Discovery team bus.

Christophe Moreau has been a great revelation in this Tour. It's really nice to see him live up the the press that nearly crushed him with pressure a few years ago. It would be nice to see him on the final podium in Paris.

Dario Frigo... what a moron! Has anybody ever told him about what happened to Raimundas Rumsas? Maybe Dario won't let his wife sit in jail for as long as Rumsas did. Frigo has had "brushes" with the drug police before, so one can only assume (if he is actually in the wrong here and wasn't just carrying drugs for his mother-in-law or terribly sick dog) that his career is effectively over now. What a dope!

Tomorrow, for many folks, will seem like a rest day. Although the stage has a series of climbs, none are too vicious. However, somebody with an axe to grind and good legs could make it into a painful day. With all the fireworks of the past few days, I would expect the stage to go to either one of the sprinters or somebody so far down on the GC that they could be allowed to roll off the front with a wave and a smile from Lance and his rolling goon squad.

We shall see... we shall see...


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

For all you Tour junkies and bike geeks.. like me...

Here's a link to a cool site that has a list of most recent postings regarding the Tour and other bike stuff.

It's pretty cool, so give it a look; Jambango Cycling.

I wholeheartedly endorse this product and/or service...


Tour report; Stage 10

Alternate title for stage report; T who? Mobile what?

Wow, you could hear the "boom" when T-Mobile blew apart all the way over here in Southern California. Ullrich and Kloden both down by 2:14 and Vinokourov over 5 minutes down? Well, it looks like T-Mobile is once again fighting for 2nd and 3rd. Looks like that podium sweep is not going to happen after all.

After 6 years of killing people on the first big mountain stage of the event, you'd think that every team in the race would just sit on Lance's wheel and wait for him to make a move. How he gets away with it once again is completely beyond me.

Alejandro Valverde rode a very impressive race today and confirmed that he has the class to be a player in the future of the race. He's been stuck with the label of "only in Spain" after winning at will in Spain and getting blanked everywhere else. He finally started winning elsewhere this year and picks up a nice win ahead of Lance today. Valverde is a fine sprinter, so it was merely a matter of whether or not he had anything left in the tank to pull off the win today. Clearly, he did.

How about my boy Horner? 20th today and well ahead of some key players in the event. If he maintains this form, he could end up top 20 when he gets to Paris. That'd be mighty cool.

I have to throw a bone to Joseba Beloki today too. 26th on a very tough stage in his first Tour since the horrible crash two years ago. I know it isn't the kind of race he would like to be having, but it has to give him a little hope and confidence.

So now the GC is scrambled and some people are going to be trying to figure out what went wrong. Obviously, Discovery is doing just fine and now T-Mobile is the team that people have to wonder about. CSC looks strong enough to be able to support Basso, who is now 3rd. What about the Chicken, Rasmussen? Could he manage to hold on to a podium spot and his polka dot jersey? If he gains more time on his rivals before the next TT, he may be able to limit his losses enough that he stays in contention for the podium. Go Chicken!

Tomorrow's stage has two Haute Categorie climbs and one Category 1 climb that is likely to rip many a leg to pieces. Anybody who doesn't get a good night's sleep tonight will be hating life tomorrow. Could Lance throw down the official gauntlet and take the stage and put a big enough gap on the other GC hopefuls that he could sip Champagne all the way to Paris? Will Basso come out of his hibernation and really climb? What about T-Mobile? Can they pull it together and put some legs under themselves again, like two stages ago?

Too many possibilities to even try and do the trigonometry on. Needless to say, it will be a very interesting day tomorrow.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Tour report; Stage 9

I'm aware that I am creating this post a day after the fact and that today is the first rest day. Like I said before, my internet service at home is really bad currently.

Who says skinny guys can't climb? The Chicken, Michael Rasmussen, wins the first true climbing stage with the climber's jersey on his back. Way to go Michael! The Pollo Loco rode for Haro (parent company of Masi) the year after he won the mountain bike cross country World Championship, so he's like family here.

What the heck has happened to Christophe Moreau this year? He's been the perennial French hope and has never been able to live up to the hype and expectation. Now he's looking like a real contender for the final podium. He's been riding aggressively and staying upright- both kind of new for him. It's nice to see a guy like Moreau come good finally after all these years of coming up short. Second on the stage puts him second overall right now.

That Voigt guy is looking pretty good too. Now he's in yellow and he gets the pressure of defending. CSC is now in the driver's seat as the race starts to get exciting. I'd look for Discovery to start riding aggressively and attacking with guys like Azevedo, Popovych and Salvodelli to make CSC work and wear themselves out before Lance makes his real assault on the final GC. But hey, I've only been partly right in my predictions thus far.

T-Mobile has 5th, 8th and 11th on GC right now and sits in a pretty good position. If the internal strife in the team doesn't cloud things, they should be the team to beat with three very strong riders within reach of the final podium. How amazing would it be to see a total T-Mobile final podium? I mean, if Tex falters, the Magenta Men could actually sweep the podium.

Today is the first rest day and I bet some people are really happy to have a quiet day riding at their own pace for a while. Now we will move into the part of the race that will really decide the final podium and send the fakers off the back and into the team cars.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Two category 1 climbs to make some people really cry. I'm so glad I don't have to ride those climbs tomorrow (who am I kidding- I'd LOVE to be racing the Tour).


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tour report; Stage 8

(Sorry for the very late post this evening; my home internet provider isn't actually providing much internet lately and so my internet service is what has kept me from posting today.)

Is there a chink in the Discovery armor? Did Lance really have to fight it out on his own in the first mountain stage of the Tour? Was he actually isolated or is Discovery faking it to make the other teams think he's got a weakened team?

Pieter Weening, the 25 year old rider for Rabobank, just squeaked by a rejuvenated (where the hell was he all Spring) Andreas Kloden from T-Mobile. Either rider deserved the win today after the courage they showed. Weening broke away from a small group at the base of the climb and managed to stay away until the final few meters of the climb when Kloden caught up to him after some pretty spectacular fireworks back in the field as Armstrong was getting tested and Discovery was ripping apart at the seams. Lance looked good, even though he says it was hard and he was less than perfect, and fought well to stay in yellow. Tex was being attacked from all angles, as many have said is the only way to beat him. Have the other teams finally caught on to what the rest of the entire world has been suggesting?

Now, being a gamblin' man myself, I'd be willing to predict that Lance is in great form and that the Discovery team is just fine. I'd suggest that they are saving a little energy, bluffing and letting the other teams do some of the work. I predict that Lance will do his usual big attack in the real mountains and send the pretenders packing and bring the real contenders out of hiding.

The Bratwurst King, Ullrich, looked positively comfortable sitting behind Mr. 6-Time. T-Mobile looked to finally be riding an aggressive race with Vino attacking all over the climb to soften the Disco Boys and then Kloden finding his missing legs and riding away from the rest of the field and then holding them off until the finish line. Ullrich sat on Lance and followed him every time he accelerated in response to attacks. Illes Balears even had Valverde making some aggressive moves today.

I'm starting to like this race. Hey, if the Li'l Pardner was riding a Masi, I'd be even more excited. He probably would have had a better day if he were on a Masi, but he'll just have to make due with those other bikes.

Tomorrow offers up several rolling climbs and then hits the first Category 1 climb of the race this year. If Lance really is vulnerable, we might find out tomorrow. Maybe we'll see Tex add to his lead with a well timed "I was just kidding" attack... like always. It should prove to be worth watching.

Ok, gotta' mention two guys today for different reasons;
Zabriskie was in a boatload of pain after his last crash and finished last today, but inside the cutoff. Poor kid. Gutsy ride to not give up when everybody would forgive him.
Chris Horner, finally riding his first Tour, managed to stay in the thick of things today and finished 9th today and sits in 45th. As mentioned before, Chris is a hometown hero here, so his performance today makes us all swell with a bit of pride. Go Chris, go!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Tour Report; Stage 7

Bravo to Robbie McEwen, the Pocket Rocket, for his second stage win. The little speedster from Oz is proving to have the legs to match his mouth, again. Say what you want about the brash talking missile, but the guy can sho-nuff wind up a heck of a sprint.

Better yet, my man Magnus (yes I weigh more then 200 lbs and can still ride a Grand Tour) Backstedt was second in the sprint... ahead of the other sprinters in the group. The guy can win Paris-Roubaix AND carry his gigantic Swedish body up and over the climbs of a 3-week race. He gives guys like me (tall and fat) hope and encouragement to keep on keepin' on.

Has anybody else noticed that professional riders in the Tour seem to crash a lot? Kind of makes me feel a lot less like a dork, since I crash less than they do. 2 crashes today in the last 500 meters. The amazing thing is that so few people actually went down in each of the crashes. Some of the riders anyway have amazingly good handling skills to avoid all the guys sprawled across the road.

I've been asked why there are so many crashes, so here is my take on it, based on what I've read and conversations I've had with riders; the Tour is the biggest event in cycling and the sponsors are MOST interested in the event and what the team does. The whole year for most teams hinges on what happens at the Tour. More importantly to the riders, their careers depend on the Tour. Yesterday's winner, Bernucci, has now sealed his career with that win. He will now be much more valuable to any team he chooses to ride for. The riders are so worried about doing well that things get really nervous in the field. On top of all that nervousness you have GC riders wanting to limit losses and stay out of trouble and they end up getting involved in what happens in the sprints. A little twig like Heras has to stay at the front to avoid crashes at the back, but then finds himself stuck next to a sprinter's leadout train that smells blood in the water as they get closer to the finish line. If elbows start banging, guess who is going to lose that little battle. Yep, Twig Boy.

Tomorrow should see some activity, though my predictions have proven wrong so far (where is CSC when I need them?). The final climb of the day is less than 40k from the finish and it's a good one, but the long twisty decent runs all the way to the finish. If somebody gets away in a small group over the climb, they could stay away to the end. But the sprinters teams are likely going to try and contain things. As big as he is, I have a feeling Maggie Backstedt is going to try to get away on the climb and use his size to fly downhill to the finish.

Heck, I could be right...


Too funny not to share this...

I have no idea who authored this little piece, but it is painfully funny (if you haven't already seen this). So, if I am breaking any copyrights, I apologize. Thanks to Paul Kiehne, my funnier-than-heck sales rep in Arizona for sending this to me!

News Flash: OLN Fires Phil Liggett- Failed to Meet Contractual Obligation to Mention Lance Armstrong Three Times Per Minute, Sources Say. Paris, July 5 (Fat Cyclist News Service)
Outdoor Life Network today severed its contract with Phil Liggett, a perennial favorite cycling announcer both in England and in the United States. A spokesperson for Outdoor Life Network said, "We regret having to let Phil go, but he knew the terms of our agreement when he signed on. Namely, he is required to allude to Lance Armstrong three times per minute, with at least one of those mentions being by name. Most importantly, at no point in time shall forty seconds ever elapse without a mention of Lance Armstrong."

"Today, sadly, Mr. Liggett broke the terms of that agreement. When David Zabriskie had his unfortunate accident today, Phil failed for 40 seconds to put it in the context of whether this would impact Lance Armstrong or whether Lance Armstrong would have fallen, or asking what Lance Armstrong must be thinking about this accident right at that moment." When reached for comment, co-commentator Paul Sherwin said, "I had my 'Lance Stopwatch' going -- it's what we use to help remind us when it's time to mention Lance again." Continued Sherwin, "When Zabriskie fell, Liggett started actually talking about how disastrous it was for the rider, instead of -- as is proper -- talking about how this would affect Lance and how he would no doubt have words of advice on the proper way to ride a bicycle for young Zabriskie. When twenty seconds elapsed, I signaled to the timer. Then thirty seconds elapsed -- still no mention, so I made the sign of the Texas Longhorn, the code we use to signal that we need to immediately divert the conversation toward Armstrong. Still nothing." Visibly shaken, Sherwin finished, "After forty-five seconds, Phil managed to bring the conversation back round to Armstrong, but by then it was too late. OLN Security was knocking at the door, ready to escort Phil from the premises."

Interviewed in his hotel room in Paris, Liggett looked like a man who has lost his best friend. "I'm a huge fan of Armstrong," said Liggett. "I haven't pretended to be impartial for years. But between Bob Roll and that marionette Al Trautwig, our Armstrong-centricism seemed pretty well covered, and I suppose I briefly let my guard down. I wonder what Lance Armstrong thinks about that?" Then, realizing the habit of mentioning Armstrong even when completely irrelevant was still with him, Liggett briefly looked melancholy -- which is the British equivalent of an American having a complete nervous breakdown.

OLN has moved swiftly to replace Liggett, putting former color-commentator Al Trautwig in his spot. Said Trautwig regarding his promotion, "Lance Armstrong. Lance Lance Lance Armstrong. Armstrong Armstrong Lance Lance Lance Lance. Six-time Tour de France winner. Lance Armstrong Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong." "This is going to work out just fine," said the OLN spokesperson.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Trying not to be political;

This is not a political activism blog and I don't have any intention of turning it into one, but I feel like I'd be a fool for not making some mention of the events that took place in London today, especially knowing I have readers there.

My deepest sympathies go out to all who lost loved ones or who were injured. The world has become a scary and confusing place. Not to get too philosophical or sappy, but it is precisely this kind of thing that makes me enjoy riding a bike. Getting away from the world and all of its entanglements gives cycling a value beyond definition.

Our worlds are so very interconnected now and I do truly feel horribly saddened by what happened.


Tour Report; Stage 6- Mengin Mourns Miserable Mishap as Brave Bernucci Blasts by Big Boys!

If you crash 600M from the line, robbing yourself of a Tour stage win you A) cry into your Perrier at the team dinner or B) go to the hotel room and cry all over your brie?

An animated and soggy day turned the almost joy of one poor, hapless French rider on a French team into a bundle of joy for a 25 year old Italian on an Italian team. Without the sprint power of the Ale Jet, Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo has been decidedly outgunned so far this Tour. Little quickster Bernucci turned all of that around today in a sketched-out sprint on wet roads.

The race was punctuated by attacks for much of the day and Mengin got involved early on. With just a little less than 15km remaining, Mengin launched himself out of the fading break and looked to be headed for the podium. With less than 2km remaining Alexander (I can attack all day every day) Vinokourov catapulted out of the front of the field in pursuit of Mengin and the winless-as-a-pro Bernucci tagged along for fun.

Coming into the final turn, with less than 1km remaining, Mengin apparently slipped on the wet paint stripe crossing the road and slid into the barriers. Bernucci slipped past unscathed as Vino put a foot down to remain upright and settled for second and the time bonuses. Poor Mengin, as insult to injury, then got plowed into by the chasing field while he lay on the ground (probably contemplating the Champagne that almost was). Now he gets to look like he was in a bar fight and not a bike race, thanks to the nice black eye he got.

Not much happened to the GC, though Vino moved up to 3rd and Voigt moved down to 4th. Otherwise, things at the top are relatively unchanged.

Tomorrow the race will move into Germany and it is likely to be more of the same bad weather as today. Look for the German teams and riders to put on a show. I still think Voigt is going to throttle it and send people into the gutters... but he's been holding back so far.

Should be another wet and whacky ride tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Have I mentioned it's busy?

The old cliche is that you get into the bike industry so you don't have to actually "work" and just get to ride bikes all the time. Dammit, somebody lied to me!

It's actually quite a bit of work trying to "run" a bike brand. Even with many of the tasks handled by other people, it's a lot of work trying to grow sales, develop sales and marketing strategies, develop bikes, maintain vendor relationships (I'm still waiting for the folks at Campagnolo to send me a Record Carbon group to compliment my Dura Ace group- if anybody's reading this), order bikes, check spec information on the new bikes, write a catalog, get the sample bikes built, do photo shoots (and my publicist was not able to get me my non-fat soy latte the way I like it)... all the "little things" that end up being really big things if they don't get done and done right.

I had a crazy and frantic conversation with a saddle supplier today, confirming a change to a PO and then correcting the change and communicating that info to 3 different countries and contacts involved. Something simple can easily become anything but simple very quickly... and can become an expensive mistake.

If I weren't so freaking busy, I'd offer up more examples, but I have about 100 pages of product spec information to clear up and confirm corrections on. I'm going blind reading all this tiny little print... this is how much I suffer to bring you the best possible bikes. It's all about my love for you; don't you feel special now?


Tour Report; Stage 5- Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! OY!

The pocket rocket gave Boonen a great run today and beat the Belgian Basher to the line. McEwen was humble as ever- "I'm the man. I'm the fastest here". Mr Modesty was a little frustrated by his previous relegation, to say the least, and vindicated himself with a nice sprint, timed to perfection. Boonen stated before the stage today that his legs were a bit tired and he was a little worn down by the pressures of the Green jersey. Still, he launched his move at about 200M to go and came up a few too short with a hard-charging Robbie-the-Rocket on his heels. Big man Thor Hushovd picked up third and some valuable points for the Green jersey. Keep your eyes on the Norwegian national champion, as he could finish the Tour strong enough to wear green on the final podium in Paris.

My predictions of CSC attacking did not come true and now I wonder if Bjarne Riis even bothered to read my blog last night. I spelled it all out for him, so I don't know what went wrong today. Bjarne; go get'em! Show no mercy and put Voigt and Julich in the wind to get that yellow jersey back.

Lance made a nice gesture today by not starting the Tour in the Maillot Jaune, in a nod to the gutsy Dave Zabriskie and his untimely crash yesterday. Tour commissioner LeBlanc is alleged to have said "wear it or walk home" (I'm paraphrasing here people- I don't want any nasty emails). Still, I give LA a thumbs up for being a good guy on this. Showing some compassion in his final Tour is a good way to go out.

Tomorrow could be a good stage for Bjarne's boys to string things out with four categorized climbs. I still think that the race is in the hands of CSC right now and that they will have to ride hard to get a grip on things. Leaving it to the Disco Boys will only make things harder for CSC as the days go by. But hey, I'm an armchair Directeur with no Tour experience, so I should probably just have myself some frites and a nice Trappist Ale (like a Chimay) and sit in front of the TV.

Until later,


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tour Report; Stage 4- Team Time Trial

67.5Km in 1:10:39... that's 57.324Kph (35.541Mph) people. In lay terms; that's freakin' fast!

So my picks for top ten were pretty close, only 2 teams I hadn't picked made it into the group- Fassa Bortolo and Liquigas-Bianchi. I feel terrible for Dave Zabriskie who lost his yellow jersey to a crash in the closing kilometers of the race. Prior to that, it looked like he was on his way to another few days in yellow. From what I saw and from what everybody has had to say about it, Dave's crash is still without a cause. Personally, with the way a TT bike handles and those speeds and the level of fatigue he was experiencing, I have a feeling he either hit a small rock/ pebble or just managed to twitch his arm and down he went.

Now Big Tex is in yellow again and Hincapie is another 55 seconds back in second place. Now, I'm not the smartest fella in the world, but I have a feeling Lance et al at Discovery will work to put George in yellow and keep Lance rested... or maybe even let Jens Voigt move into yellow and let CSC defend the jersey a bit longer. If I had money riding on tomorrow, I'd be thinking that CSC is going to send Voigt and/ or Julich on the attack and try to get them into yellow and Discovery will just barely let them do exactly that. I think the next couple of days are going to provide some pretty cool racing to watch. The sprinter's teams will want their sprinters winning and CSC is going to be hell-bent for leather to get that yellow jersey back on one of their riders.

The German uber-team T-Mobile managed an impressive third and Ulrich is alleged to be feeling much better about life now. Vinokourov is higher placed on the GC still and I would bet he has plenty of motivation to do well. However, from a tactical position, T-Mobile has a great thing going; Vino is way too close to the GC for Discovery to let him get an inch up the road and that is precisely his specialty. This puts the "Disco Boys" (somebody else has been using that nickname, but I like it) in the position of having to chase him down all the time... and leaves Jan in the position of being able to get a free ride and rest for the mountains. Hmm...

Liberty rode a lot better than I thought they would, even with Manolo Saiz as the director of the team (and TTT mastermind), it is still a team largely comprised of little Spanish climbers. Beloki looked like a better rider than he has since his horrible crash.

Phonak? I don't know what happened to them, but I really thought they would do a lot better than they did. Landis has to be a little disappointed after all the work they've done to make this a go-fast team.

Gerolsteiner rode well enough to not get embarrassed, but much slower than I anticipated. Michael Rich is one of the very finest TT riders in the world and Leipheimer ain't bad, but they were still 2:05 down. Levi lives to fight another day, but how he will make up his time deficit remains to be seen with the team Discovery has brought to the race.

Iban Mayo of Euskaltel has to be wondering what the hell he has to do to get a break at the Tour. 3:59 down today... even with that pretty new TT rig he has (would've been faster on a Masi).

Tomorrow is a day for the sprinters... unless CSC really seeks revenge for their misfortune today (and I think they do). I think Bjarne Riis is going to have the CSC team put the hurt on people, especially when they hit the one category 4 climb near the finish. It isn't much of a climb, but it's enough to stretch some people farther than they want to be stretched.

We'll see...


Monday, July 04, 2005

Tour Report; Stage 3

Who is this Boonen kid anyway? Two in a row now and he is making it look a lot like Petacchi did at the Giro a few years ago when he won nearly every stage he wanted. Boonen and Petacchi have claimed the title of Sprint Kings on the road.

Boonen takes a second stage, Peter Wrolich takes second and O'Grady is given third after McEwen is ruled to have impeded him in the final meters. Now Robbie gets relegated to 186th in the final and loses points towards the Green jersey competition- so now he finds himself fighting an uphill battle to win a third Green jersey by Paris. Boonen doesn't really appear to be beatable at the moment, taking both of his wins very convincingly with room to spare.

Tomorrow is the Team Time Trial and the first "big shake-up" of the this year's event should take place. Phonak has made no secret of the fact that they really want to win the TTT, but Discovery and CSC have also laid claim to tomorrow's race. Looking at how things have gone thus far, I'm going to go out on a shaky little limb here and make the following prediction;
1) Discovery
2) Phonak
3) CSC
4) Gerolsteiner
5) T-Mobile
6) Francaise des Jeux
7) Liberty-Seguros
8) Cofidis
9) Illes-Balears
10) Credit Agricole

So I'm sure that order will not be perfect, but it's still my initial guess. I don't know if Zabriskie is going to lose the yellow jersey, since CSC can really TT. But... it's going to be an interesting day tomorrow. Dave Z has been a great Yellow wearer, but the real contenders for the throne are going to be mega motivated to get closer to the crown.

We'll see who has been doing their homework and training correctly. It's always interesting to watch the teams and see who knows how to ride together. A good TTT requires an incredible amount of coordination and communication. Some teams get it right, even if not the fastest, and other teams seem to completely implode. It makes for a mighty stressful day for the teams.

Let's see who gets it right tomorrow.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tour Repor; Stage 2

Has anybody else noticed that Boonen makes winning races look easy? I've tried winning like him, but I keep coming up short. You know, I'd be willing to bet that McEwen could have won that sprint if he'd been riding a Masi (that's one).

Zabriskie, as expected, retains the race lead and the yellow jersey. Boonen slips into green (anybody else seeing an Incredible Hulk reference here?) and now has the rest of the sprinters gunning for him.

Little man Thomas Voeckler, the engine that could from last year's Tour, was in an early break today and I have to admit I wouldn't have been too upset if he'd taken yellow away from Dave. His gutsy battle to defend yellow last year was very cool and he came across as a "real" guy who just happened to be leading the race. I dunno... I kind of like that.

Zabriskie in yellow and Boonen in green; the Tour youth movement is in full swing at the moment. I think the future of the sport is looking pretty good with the crop of young riders in the peloton.

I kind of like this race so far.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

More Stage 1 thoughts;

Ok, Ullrich was off the mark today and obviously not at his best, but he has a long time to try and bring the gap back down and almost always finishes the Tour very strong. Still, VeloNews online had a rather scathing assessment of his chances and his form. Even I felt a little sad for Jan.

Mayo? 175th place? 3:15 down already... and without any crashes on cobblestones to blame it on. Did you see that new TT machine though? Wow, that is a pretty bike- and I know pretty bikes.

Beloki was over 2 minutes down, though he should feel a bit at ease in knowing he didn't lose even more time. Honestly, I wish him the best and would really like to see him be the "Cinderella story" of this Tour. He was always a classy and soft-spoken rider in years past, so it would be nice to see him regain his former ability.

World TT Champ Michael Rogers was almost 2 minutes down. World Champ at the discipline and he was that far off the pace. I don't know, I'd be checking the bike for brake rub or something. There has to be an excuse for it.

My man Horner was just over 2 minutes off the winning mark. He's not a bad TT rider and I held out hope he would surprise everybody and take the win today. Foolish to think maybe, but I just had a feeling he would do it. Oh well, he'll have other chances.

All of these thoughts bring me back to the very same place though; Dave Zabriskie had the ride of a lifetime today. If he'd ridden like this at the World Championship Time Trial, he'd have a rainbow skinsuit to wear. What a day for the talented young man. He's only 26 years old, so you can feel fairly confident that he will have more days like today. Basso is lucky to have such a rider on his team, as the Team Time Trial will be exceptionally crucial.

Are the challengers to Lance's throne out of contention already? I don't think so. I have a feeling that there will be a much more concerted effort by the other teams to work together to bring him down. Surely they recognize that no one team has the power to do it alone.

One stage down and twenty more to go.


Tour Report; Stage 1 (What happened to the Prologue?)

This year's Tour has started with Stage 1, rather than a Prologue. What that means, even though it is the traditional Time Trial, is that the stage was longer than the usual Prologue distance of less than 10 Km. So, even though we are off with a TT again, it's length is what makes it a "stage" rather than a "prologue".

Here ends today's lesson in semantics.

What a race it was, as virtual "upstart" Dave Zabriskie took his third stage win in a major tour and now has one in each of the big 3-week races... and all in less than 12 months time. To top it off, it was the fastest stage in Tour history! AND he gets to wear yellow, likely for a few days too. This kid is good!

That guy from Texas (what's his name again?) was only two seconds off... and then Vinokourov was another 51 seconds back. Crap! That was a fast ride by Zabriskie!

Hincapie was 4th, Landis was 6th, Julich was 11th and Leipheimer was 14th to put 6 American riders in the top 15. WOW!

Jan Ullrich was a very disappointing 12th at 1:08 behind and is already in a position of being behind one of his teammates. T-Mobile is in a weird position already. One has to wonder just how well they can hold things together. Anybody else smell overtones of the '85 Tour battle between Hinault and LeMond with La Vie Claire? They pulled off the win (Hinault's 5th), but the team was permanently altered by the battle of the two teams within a team.

So let's see what happens when the race hits the open roads tomorrow. Likely, Zabriskie will be in yellow for a few days as the sprinter's teams control things until the Team Time Trial in a few days.

Vive la France! Go USA!