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Le Tour!

Yay, the Tour de France starts tomorrow! This is the first time I've had cable in a long time to be able to watch it, and now we have DVR so I can watch the complete stages instead of just the highlights. Tomorrow is the prologue and will actually start in London and head out into Kent with tons of flatlands, so we'll get a good preview of who our sprinters will be. Some highlights I'm looking forward to:

Stage 4: Villers-Cotterets to Joigny will take the Tour through Champagne, with lots of flatlands, easy rollers, gorgeous vinyards and chatteaux. The peloton will have strong legs and good spirits as long as the weather is agreeable so it should prove to be good racing with lush landscapes.

Stage 9: Val d'isere to Briancon will feature a few awesome climbs, notably the Col du Galibier, the third-highest obstacle in Tour de France history. This is a totally epic climb starting out in green alpine meadows and moving into an almost moon-like bleak landscape of rock.

Stage 10: Tallard to Marseille should be a great ride. The climbers and their domestiques will be recovering from the Alps and the sprinters will have the field. There should be tons of breakaways and the finish into Marseille is spectacular. The huge stone castle-like buildings and the sea make for a fantastic ending. The finish in Marseille in 99'(I think) is one of the most memorable tour stages for me.

Stage 14: Mazamet to Plateau de Beille will see the riders head back to the mountains, the Pyrenees this time. The final climb will feature a long, steep and grueling climb to the top, comparable to the Alpe d’Huez

Stage 19: Cognac to Angouleme is the individual time trials. If the yellow jersey is still in contention at this time, this will weed out the champ. Well, usually at least. ;)


I don't know much about the riders since I've been out of the loop for a while. Of course I'll be rooting for Levi Leipheimer, our hometown cycling hero, who won this year's Tour of California, last years Dauphiné Libéré and has placed well in multiple TDFs. With the support of his teammate George Hincapie, he's in prime place to win this year's tour. Hincapie is almost directly responsible for many of Lance Armstrong's multiple TDF wins and definitely a contender for the yellow jersey as well.

Another contender is Christophe Moreau, winner of this year's Dauphiné Libéré. He's an excellent climber and overall rider and has placed well in the Tour as well.

Tom Boonen races like crazy and wins and places well in all sorts of races. He's an awesome sprinter and, with a pretty even balance between mountain and flat stages in this tour could very well make a run for the win this year.

Alexander Vinokourov won last year's Vuelta a Espana and has done very well in past Tours, though he's also had some rocky patches as well. When he performs well, he's a machine. I'm looking forward to see if his team can support him to a good place on this year's tour.

And finally, my wildcard for this race is Iban Mayo. This guy is a monster in the mountains and has beaten, and sometimes crushed, even the likes of Armstrong on epic climbs like Mont Ventoux and the Alpe d'Huez. He was a contender in last year's Tour but ended up dropping out. He's had some rotten luck with injuries and bike failures in the past, but if luck is on his side and he gains enough time in the mountains, he has a chance. I have a soft spot in my heart for climbers. These guys suffer hard in the Tour, so you can't help but pity and admire their courage. I really hope Mayo does well this time around.


Hmm, I guess it's time for a new cycling icon. ;)

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
agreatnotion
Jul. 6th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
My productivity hits zero in July
democritus
Jul. 7th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
Re: My productivity hits zero in July
Haha nice. I'll be up bright and early tomorrow watching the prologue. ;)
woohag
Jul. 7th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
I LOVE THE TDF! I admit, I've been less into it sans-Lance, which I know makes me less of fan to most, but it needs to be said that I have been into it since before Lance was the man as I had a cycling boyfriend back in 1995-96. I get OLN and am up crazy late, so I can watch the full stages at like 1 or 2:00 AM...love that.
democritus
Jul. 7th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Right on! Well let's hope this is an exciting one. It looks like it will be.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )