Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Stage Ten - Day Twelve

Happy Bastille Day! And I'm finally back on track.

Today's stage? It was fabulous. I didn't sleep through the pre-race (although I managed to get mad at Al again, but I can't remember why. I think it had to do with him implying, yet again, that the first few stages of cycling weren't very interesting. Phil called him on it. Thanks, Phil -- saves me from having to send my letter.). It was fun to see Richard Virenque, who has become a favorite of mine, taking those first few climbs (and, eventually, all of them). And then he, and the great Eddy Merckx's son Axel, were pushing up the mountains. I guess they'd talked about what they were going to do (cyclingnews) but Richard just went for the win and tired poor Axel out.

As bad as I feel that Axel didn't get up to fight for the stage, I'm really happy Richard won. I want him to win the KOM jersey and break the record. Hell, I wouldn't mind Erik winning the green for the seventh time, as long as Lance can win the yellow for the sixth (unless Baden can some how come out of nowhere ...). But now I'm totally off topic. Anyway. It was great that a Frenchman won the stage today.


Not everything was great today. T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler had a horrible crash, but somehow managed to complete the race. He was 168th. Liberty Seguros' Angel Vicioso Arcos retired, it was sad to watch. He was barely even riding and I turned to my mother and said "he should just abandon" in a joking voice and then he did. I felt somewhat bad. But he'd fallen a few too many times. I hope he makes the team next year. Poor Roberto, though, losing a rider just when he'll need it the most. I don't know what happened to Saeco's Mirko Celestino, nor did I see Credit Agricole's Sebastien Hinault crash. But I did see the aftermath of Hinault (Kessler and Hinault were involved in a descent crash, but I don't think it was with each other).

For about five minutes no one, not even the race radio, knew who had fallen. I was worried it was a BLB rider or Mattias again. Obviously it wasn't, but that didn't stop the worry. Poor Sebastien was lying in a ditch (similar to a Fassa Bortolo rider -- Marco Velo I believe it was -- who crashed early on). His bike was not in good shape and neither was he. Eventually the race doctors got him onto a stretcher. Cyclingnews reports that "Kessler had cracked a rib while Hinault had a fractured vertebrae."


Sad day all around.

For me, the most impressive (ignoring Richard's 200+ km break and win) part of the day was watching Thomas Voeckler. I know, I probably praise him too often, but I can't help it. He's only about a year younger than I am and he's just doing some great stuff. He made the break with the likes of Lance, Jan and Tyler. And a lot of his team did too (like Sylvain, who spent a bit of time at the back of that leading peloton helping Thomas out), which was great. But the highlight was watching him attack for time bonuses at the end of the stage. He didn't get them, but he came in fifth, right in front of Lance.

After the stage, Frankie interviewed him for OLN. And, in his lovely English, he was quite humble. He thanked his team for doing so well, but he had this slight bittersweet tone in his voice. Either Phil or Paul remarked that he was probably saying good-bye to the jersey in that interview. It was sad, because I was hoping he'd have it for at least one more day. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm not giving up hope, either.

He's done incredibly well so far, it'd be a shame if he lost it before the Pyrenees.



Anonymous said...

I completely agree w/ you about Voeckler. (Well, about everything else, too, but ...) He and his team are so _there_, so present and working to hold the jersey. With the blather of the predictions it seems silly almost that they're defending the jersey, but his team is doing a great job, and w/ the strength he showed in stg. 9, I don't see why he can't hold it for several more days! Or longer? :)


sarah said...

With the blather of the predictions it seems silly almost that they're defending the jerseyThat's one of the things that bothers me. No one (not even Thomas) expects to keep the jersey, yet he still gets it. BLB constantly (and consistently, unlike so many of the other teams) impress me. You're right. There is a strong chance (although I just read somethign where Thomas mentioned that he doesn't know how long they can keep at it because it's *hard* work, defending the jersey) that he can keep it for at least two more days.

And I, for one, will be sad to see him lose it. Even if I do want Lance to win.

Mike said...

the best thing about the TdF is that even if a stage has no real impact on the final outcome, the drama of guys trying to win a stage, or the other jerseys makes it fun - of course, there is also the wonderful scenery...

besides, given the length of the race and how demanding it is, each stage cannot possibly be intense for the favorites...

nice blog, by the way...


sarah said...

the drama of guys trying to win a stage, or the other jerseys makes it fun - of course, there is also the wonderful scenery...Or cows, as in today's stage! And yes, it does make it fun. Not that I'd be overly sad if, by some miracle, Thomas happened to, say, keep the jersey and win. Not that he will, but ... ;)

nice blog, by the way...Thanks. :)

If every stage was intense for the favorites, it'd be Paris-Nice or the Tour de Georgia, not 23 days in July. One of the things I love about the tour is the fact that pretty much everyone can give it a go.