June 07, 2006
Tour de France 2006: Will Hincapie Lead Discovery?
Posted by Gordon Smith

VelonewsThe Tour de France is less than a month away, and Team Discovery still hasn't decided who will replace Lance Armstrong as the lead rider. The cover of the newly released VeloNews Official Guide asks, "Can Hincapie Continue Lance's Legacy?" But George Hincapie is playing it cool. This is from a recent interview with Eurosport:

With you, Yaroslav Popovych, Paolo Savoldelli, and Jose Azevedo, the team has four guys capable of high overall performances. Who will be the leader with no Lance around and how is team unity?

Hincapie: I think in principal we'll have more than one leader this year. We always just had Lance and now we have maybe two or three guys that at the start maybe considered the leaders of our team, and I think during the race that will decide who will be the real leader. But the cohesion is great, we all get along really well, and we all have the same goal.

Some people are wondering whether the Tour will be as exciting without Lance, but I think this could be the most suspenseful Tour in several years. Unless Ivan Basso rides away from the field.

Still, amidst all of the uncertainty about this year's Tour, you can count on one thing: the French won't win.

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August 24, 2005
Lance Armstrong & Doping ... Again
Posted by Gordon Smith

Is anyone else as disturbed as I am by the story that Lance Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs? Seriously, six-year-old urine. That's just nasty!

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July 12, 2005
TDF Power Play
Posted by Gordon Smith

Today Team Discovery is answering any questions that were raised by their failure on Saturday. The team is scorching the field in an unprecedented display of power pacing, leaving all but a handful of challengers languishing on the side of a Category 1 climb. Including all three of T-Mobile's supposed contenders. This looks like a defining stage.

UPDATE: I missed this part of the story ...

   They covered the 111-mile 10th stage in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 35 seconds. Because of a protest at the start by farmers angry over wolf attacks on their sheep and cows, organizers shortened the race by more than 9 miles, beginning it after the town of Froges, near the city of Grenoble.

From a distance -- which is the only way I have ever seen them -- French farmers seem like teenagers to me. The world revolves around them.

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July 09, 2005
The Best Cycling Team Ever?
Posted by Gordon Smith


It doesn't get any closer than that! Pieter Weening (59) was declared the winner over Andreas Klöden (14), but this may have been as close to a tie as I have ever seen. (The Eurosport headline is "Weening Pips Klöden"!)

The real story of the day, however, was Lance Armstrong's Discovery team: where were they? The riders tackled their first mountain today, and Lance's team abandoned him. This team was pumped up as the "greatest cycling team every assembled," but if they are AWOL on a Category 2 climb, what's going to happen when they get to the largest mountains?

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July 04, 2005
"I just didn't want to fall ... I didn't do anything wrong"
Posted by Gordon Smith

Robbie McEwen

Well, you be the judge. Eurosport will probably post the video soon. Robbie McEwen was disqualified from today's race for leaning on Stuart O'Grady (two Australians), and this effectively eliminates McEwen from the Green Jersey competition.

David Zabriske will wear the yellow for one more day, but that should be the end of it. If the tour goes according to script, Lance will take over tomorrow in the team time trial.

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July 02, 2005
TDF ... Wow!
Posted by Gordon Smith


I didn't expect a lot of excitement from the Tour de France prologue, and for the most part, I was right. But Lance Armstrong's second place finish on the first day was plenty exciting, even over the internet. (Unfortunately, the TDF is not televised on Swedish Television.) David Zabriske (the non-Mormon from Utah, shown above) posted the best time of the day early on, and no one could catch him.

Perhaps the bigger story, however, was that Armstrong caught and passed Jan Ullrich, who started a minute before Armstrong. That was a statement ride, and I suspect Ullrich heard the message clearly. Note to T-Mobile: have you thought about swtiching your loyalties to Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished third in the time trial? Ullrich seems completely unable to cope with Armstrong.

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July 01, 2005
Le Tour de France
Posted by Gordon Smith

One of my favorite parts of the summer begins tomorrow with the Tour de France Prologue. This year's Prologue will be relatively boring -- a fairly straight course for 19 kilometers -- but think of that as a warmup for the race.

Everyone is anticipating a big battle between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, but there are a lot of other stories that could emerge. I am watching for Ivan Basso of CSC to challenge Armstrong in the mountain stages. And what about Ullrich's T-Mobile teammates, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden? Both have been on the podium in Paris, so T-Mobile looks strong. I am very happy to see Joseba Beloki back in the race after his devastating crash two years ago. For the first time, three Americans are team leaders. In addition to Armstrong, Floyd Landis leads Phonak and Levi Leipheimer leads Gerolsteiner. Both should do well, but I would be shocked to see either of them challenging Armstrong and Ullrich.

Check the official site or the TDF Blog for more information and news.

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March 07, 2005
Lance in the Paris-Nice
Posted by Gordon Smith

The Paris-Nice began Sunday, and Graham Watson has the photos, as usual.

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November 20, 2004
The Tour 2005
Posted by Gordon Smith

letour.gifWhile I was swamped with appointments matters, the route for the 2005 Tour de France was released. Jean-Marie Leblanc offers this assessment of the route:

Firstly, the individual time trial (also the prologue and 19 kilometres in length) on the Island of Noirmoutier on the first day of the race is the only one for the next 19 days, until that of Saint-Etienne on the 20th stage, the day before the finish in Paris. Sprinters, you will have to express your talent in a different way!

Secondly, along with the mythical and superb forays into the Alps and the Pyrénées ... there will be a very convincing and pretty stage in the Vosges after only one week into the race.

One likely gap in next year's race will be the Phonak squad of Tyler Hamilton. TDF Blof is a nice single source for ongoing information about the story. The short version is that Tyler looks to be out. Doping. Stinks.

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September 21, 2004
Tyler Hamilton & Doping
Posted by Gordon Smith

Tyler has been accused of doping and may be stripped of his Olympic gold medal. The claim is that he had a blood transfusion to increase the amount of oxygen-transporting red blood cells in his system. Tyler's response: "I am 100 percent innocent." I can't sort out these claims, and I'm glad that I don't have to, but I sure get tired of hearing them. No, I am not suggesting that they shouldn't be reported, but that cycling somehow needs to clean up its act.

UPDATE: Tyler is off the hook, though not necessarily clean.

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August 28, 2004
Sugar River State Trail
Posted by Gordon Smith

Faced with the sudden realization that only one of my children had plans today, I proposed a spur-of-the-moment family cycling outing on the Sugar River Trail. This is one of Wisconsin's rail-to-trails projects, and the path is mostly flat, covered with limestone. Somehow I managed to convince three of my children and my wife to go along, and we headed south about 30 miles to New Glarus, a quaint little town that bills itself as "America's Little Switzerland." It is also the trailhead for the Sugar River Trail.

Although overcast, it seemed like a great cycling day. The air was cool, but not cold, and we discussed how far we should ride. Unfortunately, the weather made the decision for us as the rain started falling about two miles into the trip. We made it another three miles out before concluding that the rain was getting heavier, not lighter, then we turned back to New Glarus. When we finished, we were splattered with mud from helmet to shoe, though no one seemed overly upset.

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August 18, 2004
Cycling Gold!
Posted by Gordon Smith

Congratulations to Tyler Hamilton, who took home a gold in the Olympic time trial today. Bobby Julich earned the bronze. It's nice to see Tyler have some success after having such a disappointing Tour de France.

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July 28, 2004
TDF: Recap
Posted by Gordon Smith

Although I left off blogging about the Tour after Stage 13, I didn't stop watching, and the remaining seven stages were the most exciting, particularly Lance's win in Stage 17, where he narrowly eclipsed Andreas Klöden of Germany. Lance was completely dominant and took most of the suspense out of the Tour well before Paris, but he still made the individual stages exciting. Here are some concluding thoughts:

* Lance should retire from the Tour de France. I always liked the image of Jim Brown retiring from football at the top of his game. Michael Jordan did it twice! Lance could probably win more Tours, but this would be a nice time to end.

* Perhaps the best thing about this Tour other than Lance winning was the emergence of Ivan Basso and Andreas Klöden as new faces on the podium. Jan Ullrich still finished fourth, and you can't help but wonder "what if" Ullrich had Armstrong's heart.

* The US Postal team is simply awesome. They did not win the overall team title, but they completely dominated the race. Hincapie and Landis were particularly impressive, as was Azevedo on some of the mountain stages. I wonder how many of these guys Discovery will manage to retain.

* It would be nice to have an American to root for, but I didn't see any rising stars in this Tour. Tyler is older than Lance, and he can't seem to stay on his bike. Levi seems like a great guy, but his upside looks pretty limited. I would root for Landis and Hincapie, but I am not sure that they have what it takes to be a contender on their own.

* Biggest disappointment of the Tour: Roberto Heras and Iban Mayo. Ok, that is two disappointments, but both of them dropped out in the mountains! That was where they were supposed to be strongest and really make their moves. Even before they left the race, they looked horrible.

This was my fourth Tour, and it has become a nice diversion each July. My son and I are already planning a trip to France to follow along, though not for a few years. In the meantime, we continue to ride the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin and imagine ourselves riding like Lance (think PowerBar commercial here, for those who watched the Tour on OLN).

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July 17, 2004
Takin' Care of Business ... on a Bicycle
Posted by Gordon Smith

tdf.potty.jpgThis story is for all of those who have wondered: How does Lance Armstrong ride for six hours, drink all that water, and never ... you know? They rarely show this part of the Tour on television, but of course, it is part of the race.

Danny Nelissen, Eurosport's Dutch cycling commentator and a former professional cyclist is quoted as saying: "It takes a lot of practice to pee at 70kph. I couldn't do it. I had to stop."

If that was more than you wanted to know, stop reading. If you are still wondering about other potential problems, this is also from Nelissen: "One year on the Tour, four teams staying at the same hotel -- including Laurent Jalabert's ONCE squad -- got hit by food poisoning. The next day you had half the pack disappearing into the woods. You drop back to your team car and ask for one of those casquettes. You know, one of those hats. The cloth ones. What else are you going to use?"

As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

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TDF: Stage 13
Posted by Gordon Smith

And then there were two. Hamilton is out of the race completely. Ullrich looks horrible. Leipheimer is simply not in the same class. Heras and Mayo? Forget it! Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong are the elite, and they left everyone else in the dust on the way up to Plateau de Beille. Armstrong rode a perfect race (despite a flat early on), and it was nice to see him take the stage.

So who ends up on the podium in Paris? The contestants are narrowing. I think it would be great to see Armstrong, Basso, and Thomas Voeckler, who has won a lot of fans since taking the yellow jersey last week.

By the way, OLN's coverage has been great. I thought this statement by Phil Liggett was funny: "You are watching a commercial-free half hour brought to you by PowerPar." It reminded me of my time in law practice, when we used to write "This page left intentionally blank" in a securities prospectus. One of my colleages once added "(except these words)."

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