Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tour de France 2009 - Stage 9

Greetings Readers

Stage 9 – The last day in the Hautes – Pyrenees. There are two major mountains on this stage. The Col d’Aspin at 4,888 ft. that is a category 1 climb (7.5 miles with a grade of 6.6 %) and then the monster Col du Tormalet at 6,939 ft. that is a category HC climb (10.6 miles with a grade of 7.5 %). Today is also the last Mountain stage for a week until the riders reach the Alps.

At the beginning of the stage 9 there are 172 riders that have started the Tour de France and 13 teams that have started with all their riders on the team roster.

Apparently Readers, there is a Versus TV commercial that is advertising “Lance vs. Alberto vs. Levi.” I do not disagree, but I think the order of the names in the commercial is incorrect.

I am happy to report and tell you Readers that “The God of Thunder” is now the overall leader of the Green Jersey competition and is now donning the infamous Green Jersey. “The God of Thunder” was able to obtain the Green Jersey by grabbing two intermediate sprint points (12 points total) during yesterday’s Pyrenees Mountain stage.

As I have stated before, you may be the fastest Sprinter in the world, but if you cannot handle the entire terrain of the Tour de France then you are not going to win the Tour de France as the overall Green Jersey Winner. “The God of Thunder” knows this from experience and knows that in order to secure the win he has to take all the points he can that are available throughout the tour stages, even if he is coming in behind Mark Cavendish at the finish line. As I have seen, so far, Mark Cavendish is unable to ride in the Mountains, where as “The God of Thunder” took two intermediate sprints win points during yesterday’s Tour de France stage. A green jersey rider taking two intermediate sprint points during a mountain stage is pretty remarkable. Or if you Readers are used to Phil saying “Something special” then so be it.

When I say remarkable what I mean is that “The God of Thunder” weighs about 80 kilos whereas the King of the Mountain Riders weighs about 60 kilos. Granted, “The God of Thunder” is not leading the climb up any of mountain category climbs, but for the “The God of Thunder” to be in a breakaway group and keep up (or ahead of the Peloton) is remarkable. Once the breakaway group comes off a mountain summit then that is when “The God of Thunder” has the greatest advantage of all those breakaway riders to win any intermediate sprint points in the middle of a Mountain stage.

Also starting today was a new leader in the King of the Mountain Jersey – Christophe Kern. Nope, I have no clue who this rider is.

I guess to summarize the things that I saw today. Garate looked like a serious mountain climber. Garate had a stone face going up the Mountain climbs while setting the tempo and was on a mission riding up to the summit. Tendam crashed on the Tourmalet. There was a 3 rider breakaway today with Jen Voigt in that breakaway. Unfortunately, Garate was able to ride down Jens with the Peloton behind Garate on one of the Mountain climbs.

I am not sure how much I have written about Jens Voigt, but I guess I better say a bit about him. Jens has ridden in the Tour de France 12 times – a veteran rider you can classify him as. He is a rider that I have cheered for in the past Tour de France races. Jens Voigt’s name comes up more often than not since he gets himself into a breakaway group. I cannot speculate on why Jens name is present in a breakaway group throughout the past years of the Tour de France. When Jens name is in the breakaway group more often than not I am cheering for Jens to be “the man” in that breakaway group. Of course, if there is a rider that I am going to be cheering more for in that breakaway group then I am not going to cheer for Jens Voigt.

Changing topics, Phil has stated that the Tour stage to watch is Stage 17. That prediction is so far out and so much can happen from stage 9 to stage 17. Oh, Phil and Paul both keep referring to other riders that have ridden with L.A. as former teammates of L.A. Why? With so many riders going from one team to another team each year almost every rider has a former rider that he has ridden with or for. I guess Phil and Paul are so hard up to mention L.A.’s name that they have to say his name over and over. L.A. this. L.A. that.

What is also interesting to note that all these former riders to L.A. are now mentioned by their birth name as opposed to “Domestics”, team mate, pacer, tempo rider or rider for L.A. When all these former riders were riding for L.A. they were basically not allowed to ride for themselves nor never really referred to by their birth name. Every once in a while the General Manager, a.k.a. Johan, would give a certain rider freedom on a certain stage when he figured that the overall G.C. was not in jeopardy of big changes on the overall leader board to win that stage, otherwise all team members were required to ride for L.A.

What I do find interesting is that according to everyone there is no leader of Team Astana. However, last year Johan was quoted that Contador was the Team Leader of Astana. Soon after that statement was said L.A. joined the team Astana and then Johan said that the better rider would lead team Astana at the Tour de France.

Yet, let me be frank as I usually am - Contador is the Team Captain/Leader. This supposedly L.A. being team captain now is really all Johan’s fault.

I have said this in the past and will state again for the record - Johan and L.A. are more than just friends. They are “wrapped up” together and when L.A. wanted to race again in the Tour de France there was only one option to get into the Tour de France. And that one way was to seek out Johan, his former friend/General Manager to basically talk and decide when to make the announcement publicly to the world.

Even though last year’s Tour de France was over for about 3 months - teams were already in place for next year Tour de France and I am guessing that all the team’s GC leaders were already chosen. The only choice, and chance, L.A. had was to go to the only person who has some sort of say and closest friend was Johan. Otherwise, all other non-American sole sponsored teams have no interest in having L.A. be on their roster.

And the last thing to add – no radios are allowed on Stage 10. And let me tell you Readers Johan is acting like a baby. “I signed a petition as well as some other teams protesting the banning of radios.” Wow. For Johan to be acting like this is just so… Bottom line, if you do not like rules then you do not have to be in the Tour de France. What is a Tour de France without rules? Either you do or do not. Don’t coerce other teams to your point of view or opinion. Don’t cry, don’t protest, don’t have a tantrum, don’t be angry, and don’t raise a stink. Just take the situation like a man and deal with the banning of radios.

Though, I smiled when I heard that all the French teams (3 total, I think) refused to sign the petition, making the protest not 100%. It is an honor for any Rider / Manager and Team to be in the Tour de France and every Team, Manager and Rider knew beforehand that there were going to be two stages in this year’s Tour de France that will be banning the use of radios. The banning of the use of radios was no secret and with that knowledge you either dealt with that piece of information when announced or you just say, “Fuck it” and elected not to compete in the Tour de France.

Until the next time

Daryl Charley
The Fallen Athlete

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