tour de france update

Jul 13, 2006

While the TdF is going on, it’s a little more difficult to keep focused on anything else, like updating a web log. Floyd takes the yellow jersey today, in the first big mountain stage, while all the rest of the American hopefuls go belly-up. Without Lance, Ullrich and Basso in there, it’s any man’s tour, which gives it a different appeal. For the last several years we’ve been saying “How will Lance win?” while now we can finally ask “Who will win?” OLN (soon to be known as Versus) is doing their part to keep up the visibility of the tour, in spite of the lack of Lance, we’ll see how long that keeps up after this year, especially if Floyd doesn’t win.

Even if Landis takes the yellow jersey into Paris, his career may be over, since he needs to have hip replacement surgery after suffering the last two years from vascular necrosis caused by a bad crash during a training ride. This year I haven’t been manically following each stage every evening, some of the flat stages were served just fine by reading the running updates on while it was happening. You miss out on Phil and Paul’s commentary and all those shots of the gorgeous French countryside, but there’s still plenty to go around on the mountain stages. Stage 11 today covered 5 climbs, including some famous Pyrennes like Tourmalet, Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, etc., and so it was on tv before I’d even left for work. With my Blackberry browser I can follow what’s going on through the Velo News updates while I’m in the car, and again from the laptop once I’m in the office, so I didn’t miss much (no morning meetings for once).

I keep saying in spite of the constant chaotic cycling schedule and format on OLN, it’s still a lot better than my first TdF in ’99 when you were confined to half an hour of highlights on ESPN2 at dinner time, hosted by Adrian Karsten. Turns out Karsten was an NU alumni, I had no idea until I read not too long ago that he’d died, come to find out he’d killed himself because he was going to jail for tax evasion (something they failed to mention in the alumni magazine). After one more year of that format (which went at least as far back as the Indurain days), OLN picked it up with live daily coverage with Phil & Paul, hosted by the great Bob Varsha, followed the next two years by Bill Patrick and Kirsten Gum, respectively, before finally spending some money and settling on Al Trautwig, who didn’t know squat about cycling at first, but now in his third year seems to actually be interested in the whole thing. He’s not pretty to look at, but then neither is Bob Roll. Let’s hope he keeps the IRS happy and stays away from the gas pipe.

Eleven days still to go. Hincapie has choked, Leipheimer is probably too far down to make the podium, everyone else but Landis is a non-factor. Go Floyd!

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