Tour De France
Posted 12 July 2004 - 09:28 AM
It's fascinating! My husband got me into watching it and now I am hooked.
Everyone knows that Lance Armstrong is going for his 6th Tour de France win (the first person ever), so that is reason enough to watch. However, what's really interesting is the complex strategies that go into every phase of the race. Many of the riders are specialists (i.e., sprinters, mountains, etc.). Some are there to win the entire race (GC - general competition), while others are there just to win certain stages, or to pick up the "Sprinter's Jersey" or "King of the Mountains" title. Everyone on each team has a role to play -- Lance's entire team of very talented cyclists is basically there to protect him (from crashes and other mishaps) and make sure he has the best chance to win.
Apart from the endless strategy considerations, the riders' athleticism and endurance is amazing to contemplate, the scenery of France is beautiful, and (for those who may be interested) a number of the riders are very nice-looking...
I highly recommed it for a summer diversion!!
Posted 13 July 2004 - 01:56 PM
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:07 PM
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:25 PM
Go Lance !!!!!
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:50 PM
Apparently there is a new book accusing Lance of using performance-enhancing drugs. Lance has denied it and threatened to sue.
This week, several riders have been ousted from the Tour because of drug allegations. The Tour organizers do not want the Tour tainted by drugs at all -- thus, they are ejecting riders if there is any drug-related allegation or investigation (even if there is no definitive proof).
Britain's top cyclist, David Millar, was banned from the Tour earlier this month after drug supplies were found in his apartment.
I read that one former cyclist stated that at least 90% of the top cyclists use performance-enhancing drugs. Some of the drugs of choice are extremely difficult to detect in the blood tests (which, to cycling's credit, are done very frequently). I guess one of the most popular is called EPO (something like that), which actually thickens the blood and enables it to carry more oxygen. Several top cyclists have died of heart attacks in recent years (in their 20's), and the use of this drug is thought to be the cause.
As one cyclist said, the pressure to use drugs is immense because they work -- it is estimated they improve performance by 10-15%, which is probably greater than the margin of victory in most races.
I also read that in Europe, cycling is seen as one of the few working class sports -- a way that relatively disadvantaged people can "make it big" and make a good living for their families. Since cycling is perceived as their one shot to a better life, the young cyclists are willing to try anything, even life-threatening drugs, to try to make it.
It's sad that no sport seems pure anymore.
Posted 13 July 2004 - 03:28 PM
EPO is (or at least was) the drug of choice for pro cyclists. EPO works by increasing the number of red blood cells, and therefore the oxygen-carying capacity of the blood. The problem is that it also thickens the blood, and combined with an extremely low resting heart rates for pro cyclists, can result in a heart attack while sleeping. EPO was also for quite a while undetectable in blood or urine, so the UCI (the international professional cycling body) responded by checking the hematocrit (red blood cell percentage) of riders...any rider with a hematocrit higher than 50% was considered 'unfit to race'. Now a test has been developed for EPO, but you have to wonder what these guys are taking now because they are always one step ahead of the curve.
I would love to believe that Lance (and Tyler, Levi, et al.) are all clean....but as Jacques Anquetil, the first five-time winner of the TdF once said, "You don't win the Tour on mineral water alone".
Sad but true.
Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:14 AM
Two guys, Simione and Lautresse (I'm sure I'm butchering the names) did a breakaway for almost the entire 100 miles of the race (this means they went out ahead of the main pack in hopes of winning the stage). This expends huge amounts of energy, because not only must they go faster than the main pack (the "peloton"), they also must do all the work of cutting through the wind themselves. In the peloton, the riders take turns going first and riding behind each other. It is estimated they save 40% of their effort by drafting behind other riders. So, basically, after this Herculean effort, Simione's and Lautresse's legs are probably shot for the rest of the Tour.
Simione and Lautresse got as much as 10 minutes ahead of the peloton. In the last 1/3 of the race, the peloton rode all out to chase them down.
By the last 100 meters of the race, the peloton was right on their tail, but it still looked like Simione and Lautresse would pull it off. Simione had been riding in front for a few minutes. Who knows if his legs gave out or what, but he motioned for Lautresse to go ahead of him. Lautresse, however, momentarily held back -- he wanted to draft behind Simione until the very last moment so he would have energy for the final sprint across the line.
And... in that strategic miscalculation... the race was lost. The peloton capitalized on the moment's hesitation, with the top sprinters putting on a final burst of acceleration that must be seen to be believed. The sprinters passed Lautresse and Simione just feet before the finish line. The photo finish showed that Lautresse was 10th across the line, with all the sprinters having just nosed ahead.
The commentators said that Lautresse would regret that last bit of gamesmanship for his whole life.
You can't pay for entertainment like this!
Posted 14 July 2004 - 12:24 PM
Landaluze was doing the right thing, when it's mano a mano you don't want to go first and lead out the other rider for an easy win, but these guys cat and moused it a little too much. You've got to know how much of a time gap you have before you start with the tactics. A peloton of 100 riders in the final kilos of a stage is going 35-40 mph, so they make up a lot of time pretty quickly....
If you think the sprint was interesting, watch the match sprints on the velodrome in the Olympics this year. These guys often come to a dead stop on the track, waiting to see who makes the first move...and then go from 0 to 40 in a matter of seconds.
Posted 14 July 2004 - 12:54 PM
Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:09 PM
Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:16 PM
Sounds like you are another fan -- a more knowledgeable fan than I am. Are you a rider?
I'm enjoying your comments and will be looking for them as the Tour progresses!
Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:22 PM
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