Saturday, July 01, 2006

Prologue - Saturday, July 1: Strasbourg ITT, 7.1 km

The first stage of the tour should have been focused on Ullrich and Vinokourov and Basso, but instead there were others to take their place. Not to replace them (not on their teams, or even as dominate figures), but to take their place as the names we "need to know" for this years tour. The winner did not come from one of the so called "big names," but instead from a sprinter who I have affection for. The Norwegian Thor Hushovd, of Crédit Agricole, surprised a lot of people (though not OLN's own AL Trautwig).

I was one of the people who expected today's stage to suck. I didn't think that the Tour would be able to pull of an exciting stage, but as I said to my mother during one of our frequent phone calls, it was definitely exiting. I'll post about about non-stage related things in the regular cycling blog, but I just want to say that even though Phil, Paul, & co tend to annoy me, it was nice to hear their voices.

But back to what's important. Today's stage was pretty damn awesome. I really enjoyed it. One of the highlights, aside from the winner, was being able to see a whole lot of Sylvain Chavanel. Chavanel, being France's TT champion, was guaranteed to be on television, but what I didn't know is if I'd get to see him. And I did. And as he rode across the screen, I knew that my love for cycling hadn't flagged. Sure, the doping has had a huge impact (especially since my tour favorite is now out and I've lost two others who have been accused) and yet I am still looking forward to the next three weeks of cycling.

And today increased my excitement. I was yelling at the screen for Chavanel to ride harder. For Savodelli to ride faster. And for Hincapie to just not get there in time. And in the end, I got one of those three things. Hushovd did amazing and I don't know how he won. I'll be honest, I thought that Hincapie had won and I was pretty annoyed (we all know I take sports far too seriously/personally). But then I figured out what really happened, and, well, pure joy.

I know there are a lot of people (especially some over at Podium Cafe) that are unhappy with the result of today's stage. They also see Hincapie's second place as the biggest disappointment of the day. I disagree there, and I disagree with those who are unhappy with David Millar's 17th place. I think that both riders did really well. Hincapie was always a decent TT rider and has been improving, but Thor skipped his national championships in favor of training for today and, well. I think he's shown what he can do. Sure he can't keep the jersey for more than a few days, but still impressive as well.

As for disappointments? I was going to say that Zabriskie's ride was one. But then again, his forte is not short prologues, but longer time trials. If anything, the lack of Brad McGee (and others) is more upsetting than Zabriskie's third place.

Overall, I enjoyed the prologue. I'm the girl who likes every stage (though I am bitter when the boys I want to win don't) from mountains to time trials to sprinters stages. This stage, then, was fantastic and exciting. And for a couple of hours I definitely forgot about all the doping, etc. I cannot wait for the first stage tomorrow.

I am so happy that the Tour is back.

No comments: