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Red, White ‘N Bleu

July 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

Aha; Gotchya! Perhaps? As I’m assuming Y’all are busy in the luster of celebrating some ‘lil Holiday wrapped around FrankenFurters, Baseball, “Chebb Oh-ley’s” and Apple Pie – as after all it’s the Forth ‘O July…

Yet instead of pining on ‘bout the great Americana Baseball game played supposedly by the Boys of Summer, its hard to believe that once again summer has truly begun with the yearly running of the Bulls, Err Cycling’s premiere event, obsentiously the Two Wheeler’s Superbowl and Signature Sport which I sadly now typically denote as the tour de FARCE… Officially known as France’s Tour de France which began this past Saturday, (July 2nd) with a different twist this year – instead of the traditional Day-1 Prologue’s individual Sprint Time Trials, the riders immediately got down to business instead with Stage-1 being a 118-mile pedal from Passage du Gois to Mont Des Alouettes, where the Tour’s two main protagonists and somewhat bitter rivals Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck were both involved in crashes, not of their own doing.

You may recall Contador’s third tour victory last year being somewhat controversial (besides his alleged Doping infraction…) when the Spaniard apparently disregarded protocol by not stopping for his rival – the two-time Tour runner-up Schleck, when the Luxemburg rider’s chain came off prior to mounting a charge upon his rival. It was here that Alberto gained a 39-second advantage, which would become his overall margin of victory.

Thus, in perhaps a precursor of his impending Tour defense? Contador lost over 1-minute 20-seconds when becoming entangled in another riders crash apparently set off when said rider touched elbows with jostling fans and ended up being classified 82nd overall.

But Schleck wasn’t to escape the opening stage unscathed himself as he too was involved in a lesser accident upon his 39th place finish. Yet with event rules dictating all riders of said accident within the finishes final 3-kilometers was allotted the same time as the winner and thus Schleck wound-up 33rd overall at the end of Stage-1.

Yet as always, the Tour will most likely be decided during the races third week in the ‘Uber-greuling Mountain stages of the Pyrénées, although this year’s event features two ‘Mega grinds to the clouds – up the menacing Col du Galibier before finishing a day’s stage at the legendary Alpe d’Huez ski resort, as Stage’s 18 & 19 will be the Tour’s highest ascent ever whilst paying homage to the Tour’s Centennial of riding in the Alps.

And while Contador, Schleck and Australia’s Cattle Evans are some of this year’s biggest names, I’ll be more intrigued with a few riders of lesser known fame, as 39yr old Chris Horner Seeks to become the first ‘Yank to stand on the podium at des Champs-Élysées finish since someone by the name of Lance Armstrong did so upon his return to racing after a three year layoff back in 2009 at the tender age of 37.

Horner, is one of two Pacific Northwest riders contesting this year’s event, as the Bend, Oregon cyclist is joined by Tyler Farrar of Wenatchee, Washington as part of a record tying 10-strong American contingent, as Horner’s tenth place finish was highest for the USA Boyz last year, while Horner had a dominating victory over Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, CA in this year’s Tour of California. As both Horner and Leipheimer ride for Armstrong’s RadioShack Team…

Meanwhile, George Hincapie is set to tie the all time number of Tour de France’s contest during his 16th Tour as the 38yr old resident of South Carolina will tie Joop Zoetemelk’s mark upon completion of the 2,131-mile race on July 24th.

But it’ll be Farrar of nearby Wenatchee I’ll be most interested in – even if the 27yr old Sprinter isn’t a potential Tour victor, the Garmin-Cervelo rider will certainly hope for a celebrated Stage victory…

And whilst the sport seemingly continues it’s never ending passage under dark clouds of countless Doping allegations, as defending Tour winner Contador is riding under the appeal of his testing positive for clenbuterol, which the Spanish cycling authorities overturned – satisfied by Contador’s claims of having accidently consumed tainted beef… Its worth noting that FIFA, the world’s Governing body of Soccer did allow Mexico to replace five players after they two tested positive for the same steroid.

Yet sadly, the sport of cycling seems somewhat in disrepair, with former American winner Floyd Landis having been stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, along with arguably the events greatest winner – Texan Lance Armstrong, the seven times victor being under the microscope of an USDA drug probe – while ironically Roger “The Rocket” Clemens is currently on trial. Not to mention the current all-time Home Runs leader Barry Bonds, whilst I’ve just read that Brazil’s Olympic Gold medal swimmer Cesar Cielo, along with three teammates has just tested positive for a banned diuretic – sound familiar? Can you say the NFL and Minnesota Vikings… As apparently the pressure to win is simply too great for many excellent athletes to overlook…

Meanwhile, on a positive note, Columbian rider Juan Mauricio Solerhas now been awoken from his medically induced coma after suffering brain injury in a nasty fall during the Tour of Switzerland. While in another reminder of just how dangerous the sport of cycling can be; Wouter Weylandt perished during this year’s Giro d’Italia, as the Belgian rider was the event’s first fatality in 25-years…

Tags: Racing

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