Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lance Armstrong dons yellow jersey #61

I can’t hide it any longer. I must confess. My name is Dianne and I’m a Tour de France fanatic! That said, I’m going to continue with my Tour de France posts. If you’re not yet a Tour fan, what’s wrong with you?? I’m sorry - what I meant to say is that if you’re not yet a Tour fan, don’t worry - Le Tour will be over this Sunday and I'll be back to my usual calm and quiet self.

Last Saturday, on my birthday and as my birthday present, Andy and I went to Ballston Commons movie theater to watch Le Tour on the big screen. It was a hoot. And I mean that literally. The theater was filled with cycling fans and we all hooted and hollered (as I’d hoped) while watching the race coverage. It was a bummer that Tyler Hamilton (whose non-profit foundation put on the big screen viewing), had to pull out of the race that day, but it was for good reason. The poor guy injured his back pretty bad in a crash earlier in the race and was unable to contribute to the team once the race went vertical in the Pyrenees. It was exciting to see Lance win the stage, though, pulling ahead of Ivan Basso at the last moment. Even more thrilling was seeing Thomas Voeckler pedal his big heart out to keep the yellow jersey for another day. He earned the maillot jaune in Stage 5 and worked to keep it each day since then. This guy’s name wouldn’t have even been mentioned in this year’s Tour if it weren’t for his performance in the breakaway group of Stage 5. He’s certainly the underdog hero of 2004 and people the world over are cheering his gusto.

Today finds Armstrong taking the yellow jersey away from Voeckler, but later in the race than expected. Now Voeckler will wear the white jersey as the best “young rider” (under 25) in the overall classification. Go Voeckler! You’ve got the heart and drive of a champion!

Tomorrow is going to be interesting. It will be the first time trial UP L’Alpe d’Huez. Time trials are often on flat or rolling terrain and the riders start at different times. This means that each rider is racing against the clock as fast as possible rather than attempting to race directly against other riders. Time trials are shorter in length and extremely physically demanding. Tomorrow’s will be up a huge mountain that is famous even when it is nestled in the middle of a normal, long stage of the race. Who will blow out too fast and who will leave too much time to make up at the end? We’ll only know as the stage unfolds - all guesses, hypotheses, and other predictions are just that... nobody can say for sure what will happen because we’ve never seen this before. I can’t wait!

And if you're interested in reading some fun stuff about the Tour, check out Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux blog. Her writing is hilarious but she knows a lot about the Tour and its riders, so it's packed full of good info. Enlightening AND entertaining!

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