Sunday, July 27, 2008

2008 Tour de France Time Trial and a late afternoon ride

I was up early on Saturday morning but I was not feeling well (no need to share the details) so I decided I would watch the final Time Trial of the 2008 Tour de France. The Time Trials are kind of hard to watch. All the riders look like they are going the same speed (except of some of the sprinters who look like they are taking a victory lap) and it is only the time clock that tells who is really going fast.

At end of the Time Trial the General Classification turned out almost who I expected with Carlos Sastre of CSC - Saxo Bank in first and Cadel Evans of Silence - Lotto in 2nd. I had Christian Vande Velde of Garmin - Chipolte finishing 3rd but only if he won the time trial. The GC contenders will just ride into Paris together today so there will not be any change in the overall standings. The sprinters will be up today and some of the teams that have had success in years past will be looking to finish the tour with a win.

I went into the Tour this year looking for Cadel Evans to pull out the win. I did not really have any real expectations for either Team Columbia (formerly the German Team T-Mobile) or Garmin - Chipolte. I expected Team Columbia to concentrate on stage wins and not really be that concerned with the General Classification (Kim Kirchen was making me look foolish by wearing the Yellow Jersey in the first week).

My expectation was that Garmin - Chipolte was going to be happy just to be there and may win a stage or two but not really be a threat to the GC. I saw an interview with Mr. Vande Velde in the beginning of the tour and he said that he was going to concentrate on the GC. I was thinking that meant a top 20 spot. Certaintly the 5th place GC finish was an overachievement and might of been even better had he not crashed on the descent of stage 16. It was fun to watch.

Mr. Sastre deserves his win. The CSC - SAXO Bank team was the best team out there and they always had 3 guys (Mr. Sastre and the Schleck Brothers) on every climb. This made it hard for the other GC contenders that had to climb on their own. I was wondering why CSC - Saxo Bank selected Mr. Sastre over Frank Schleck as the main GC contender but it became obvious that Mr. Schleck needs to work on his TT abilities if he wants to contend in the coming years.

As much as I would have liked Cadel Evans to pull out the win I would have been disappointed had he won without winning a single stage. Given Mr. Evans' lack of team support maybe he even overachieved by finishing 2nd. I have heard a rumor that he is moving to Garmin - Chipolte next year but so far I have not heard anything confirming it. If it happens then there is a good chance that Garmin - Chipolte will be able to give CSC - Saxo Bank a run next year. Of course Team Columbia is going to bring a different team as well.

I really did enjoy the Tour this year. The end of the Tour is going to leave a void. I am looking forward to the Olympics since most of the top riders will be in China as well. Unfortunately, in the past TV coverage has been heavy on sports I am not that interested in (gymnastics) and light on sports I am interested in (cycling, wieght lifting).

I was up early this morning and I was watching the local (NYC) newscast and the sportscaster made a smart remark about the Tour and doping. I know that it was an attempt to be funny. It does seem to me that cycling is doing a good job of trying to clean things up. I think few sports would survive the kind of testing that cycling atheletes have to endure. The amount of money involved combined with the intense pressure to win almost ensures that there will be some dopers taking the risk of getting caught but it is no different than the situation in Major League Baseball or the National Football league. The thing is that MLB and the NFL does not really go too far out of its way to catch the "cheaters".

On a personal side I finally felt good enough to get out for a ride around 4 PM. The goal was to get 45 miles in at a good pace. I got some climbs in during beginning and some at the end. The middle was just some of the rolling roads through Marlboro and Colts Neck. I did run into a gentleman riding a Specialized Tarmac SL2. We ended up riding together for a couple of miles. It turns out that the rider Jason Walters is a Cat 1 racer. He also does coaching and bike fitting.

Channel 7 in New York is broadcasting the New York Mini Marathon live this morning. I am waiting for the final stage of the Tour to start on Versus.

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