Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stage 8 - Saturday, July 12: Figeac - Toulouse, 172.5km

If only I'd picked Cavendish for my fantasy team, but no. Not that it matters, because I love watching him win. In a lot of ways, he powers his way to the finish like Boonen, but it's just better watching him. Maybe it's because I stopped liking Boonen, but I don't think that's the main reason. I think that Cavendish is smaller and he just powers in such a way that blows everyone else out of the water (and blows their mind). Plus, he's so damn happy when he wins. I don't care if he comes across as cocky, because when you're winning stages like he is -- you deserve it. And on such a day, the only way it could have been better is if a Garmin-Chipotle rider had won the sprint.

Stage Eight was wild, not like yesterday, but in it's own way. It was bad weather plus fast race + a break and everyone was just biding their time until the catch. At one point, the peloton seemed worried that they were going to catch the break too quickly and they slowed down. Considering the weather, this was probably a good thing. As you see in the video, the riders took the turns up toward the finish quite slow and miraculously, there weren't any crashes. There were a couple on the stage, but nothing so dramatic as the crash into the tree from yesterday.

In addition to all the rain making the roads slippery, it was dark, which made seeing things harder. I am always impressed with stages that take place during poor weather because the riders seem to almost be ethereal, but also because who wants to ride in shit weather? No one really likes it that much (well, almost no one, I think Sylvain once said he liked riding in crappy weather and I know Armstrong used to thrive on it). But the rain gets on the lens of the video cameras and the headlights of the cars and the cyclists seem to glow. I know it's silly, but for those moments you remember just why you love watching the sport, well, I do at least. And with all the BS that's going on with the doping crap, I need to cling to those moments.

And, okay, let's talk about doping. Well, about what happened yesterday and today. Beltran was kicked out of the tour and suspended by Liquigas. Okay, good, they didn't beat around the bush or pretend it didn't happen, which is good. Do I think that they were right to suspend him? Yes. Do I think that they should be kicked out of the tour? No. Because it's not a rule. Do I think that other teams/fans/press/officials should force them (through 'peer' pressure) out? No. The only way I think they should be kicked out of the tour is if ASO or whatever made a one strike rule (one caught doper and you're out of the tour). Not every team is Cofidis or Astana and the ASO/tour folk need to make sure they don't burn their bridges just yet.

As for those other nine riders? I can't even begin to speculate who they are. I will just hope and prey that none of them are riders I like a lot. Back to the stage, though. Where did my boys finish? Sylvain was 115th and Phil was 157th which, I don't know. Though it was a bunch sprint, so the time didn't matter. Their overall positions are, well, not great. Sylvain did move up three places and Phil just keeps going backwards.
90 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 28.29
151 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 46.28
They'll sort things out and maybe next time I'll have pictures of one of them winning a stage. A girl can dream, right?

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