Monday, July 26, 2010

My Yearly Tour of France Over

I'm so sad that the Tour de France has ended -- even though it was eating into a lot of my time with its four hours of coverage on Versus every morning.
We started watching the Tour de France to see the beautiful countryside. Then, of course, we got into the competitiveness of it.
So if you didn't see the bicycles zooming around mountain roads without guardrails or the camera panning over castles, I'll give you a brief run down of the highlights that I saw.
Andy Schleck, a lanky 25-year-old from Luxembourg, took the lead in the mountains ahead of Alberto Contador, a 27-year-old Spaniard, who won the tour last year. Contador was on Lance Armstrong's team last year. He always rode for himself instead of the team so he wasn't my favorite.
Biking has some strange rules. It isn't everyone out for himself. They work together as a team. And if someone wrecks or has bike difficulties, the rest of the race will slow down and wait for him. It's kind of bizarre because it isn't cut throat like most sports are here in the U.S.
I was watching on the day that Armstrong crashed three times and found himself unable to win the Tour de France. I felt bad for him.
I was watching during the mountain phases when Contador stayed right on Schleck's tail. Schleck was 31 seconds ahead of Contador and the two of them stayed together, keeping an eye on each other. As Contador followed the wheel of Schleck's bike down a winding mountain, I suggested that Schleck try a "Wronski feint" which is a term from Harry Potter. In Harry Potter, they are on broomsticks and the person dives toward the ground so the other person follows. Then the first person pulls up at the last minute, while the second person crashes. I thought that might work for Schleck if he headed toward the edge then pulled back at the last minute. Contador might go right off the side of the road. But it didn't happen.
The next day in the Pyrenees again, Schleck still in the lead with 31 seconds, he makes a move in the mountains. He starts to take off and Contador starts to follow. Then Schleck hesitates like he can't pedal his bike. The chain comes off. Contador is about 50 feet behind him and he speeds away while Schleck must stop and fix the chain. Schleck rides like mad to catch up but ends up 8 seconds behind Contador.
There was a lot of controversy about this and whether Contador should have "attacked" while Schleck had mechanical difficulties. It wasn't the gentlmanly thing to do.
Photo from www.lexpress.mu
That's Contador in the yellow jersey and Schleck in the white jersey on the right.

The two of them stayed together the rest of the mountain stages and Contador won a time trial by 31 seconds, putting him 39 seconds ahead of Schleck overall.
It still seems like a slightly dirty win.
I loved watching them zip through the streets of Paris around the bend at the top of the Champs Elysees and past the Tuileries, which the British announcers called the Twillery.
My yearly vacation to France through the television is now ended.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I think it is such a great way to see France and what a beautiful country it is. We went once here in Provence to watch the Tour and after waiting for several hours the riders roared by in 30 seconds and then we sat in a traffic jam afterwards to get home. Saw it on the Champs once too but I think the TV coverage is the best.

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