Tour de France

That time of year, when the Tour is on.

The Best Tour de France Moment Ever - NSFW

I noticed this little tableau the other day during the Tour and for my money it is by far the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Working the Tour

While the racers are burying themselves out on the roads of France, their crews are working hard too. Andy from Hed Cycling checked in this morning with a quick report:

This is a very time intensive venture. Much more than I thought. Lots of driving involved - yesterday from Paris to Belgium to get some stuff for the team, and then back down here almost to the Alps. About 1100 KM. Two days ago we finally saw our first racing, at the finish line in Reims. We got there 2 hours before the earliest scheduled finish (the big Tour bible that teams have lists three finish times per day, for regular, slow, and slower ride speed). The closest place we could see from was at 325 to go. We stood for two hours on a protective fence that went around a tree and waited for the finish… And saw the entire publicity caravan. Longest parade I have ever seen. Eventually the race came by, I got some perfect photos of other people getting ready to take photos, and we saw the Columbia train come by with Cav in 3rd wheel. As you know, he got swarmed, but the past two days have had better results for HTC Columbia.
We were invited to eat dinner with the team staff and mechanics last night. About 9:00 the riders came down, and there were several toasts to Renshaw, Cav, et al. SUPER NEAT! The lads were asking the mechanics what cogs they were going to get today for the mountaintop finish. They’ll be on mostly 25s, Cav gets a 27.

Rider Safety and the Tour de France

Following the “carnage” of the last two Tour stages, I asked on Twitter

Wondering what other sport puts their athletes at such risk without innovating safety equipment for them? Shoulder pads, rib protection?

Our followers were wondering the same thing:

  • @rosspdx – there’s plenty of body protection innovation coming out of the downhill mtb companies.

  • @SDVeloSocial – safety equipment exists, downhill Mtb uses it, if the roadies want to wear the restrictive extra weight it’s there.

  • @Chrismurphy101 – Is there any rule against wearing such protection?

  • @bonggg_com – i just thought about that. some sort of protection for collarbone breaks is warranted

  • @bpotstra Rugby? Skeleton/Luge? I dunno… I still can’t believe it wasn’t until 2003 when helmets were mandatory in road cycling!

  • @svdodge Rugby. In any case, your point is very valid. TdF organizers have apparently thought

After two deaths in the past decade, the UCI finally forced helmets and only previously required them on the flat stages. Races would toss them off before the climbs.

The point of my tweet and question is with the sport maturing into good TV and attracting big money, there is tremendous risk and loss for a rider to crash out in a grand Tour. Losing Shleck cost Specialized what in lost marketing dollars? I’m sure more than we’d think. As a bike racer myself, you never want to see racers crash. All that’s between them and the road is lycra, a helmet, gloves, and shoes.

Photo: Leon van Bon

Couldn’t a Formula 1 type R&D effort take existing body armour from mountain biking and modify it for the road? Helmets used to weigh twice as much and not long ago look like you had a ice chest on your head. I don’t think the UCI or race promoters want anyone to crash, but sending Pros onto roads where crashes are expected seems irresponsible at best; especially when you consider what’s a stake.

NASCAR has made considering improvements to safety. Also see the work on Airbags for Alpinestars.

As we wrote earlier, we’re not covering the Tour as much this year – we are discussing it on Twitter with related links and on Facebook.

Photo uploaded by Leon van Bon | more from the Bike Hugger Photostream.

Worst Case Scenario in Le Tour

Frank Steele wrapped up yesterday’s chaotic stage well on the TDF Blog and it was a worst-case scenario: wet, narrow, slippery roads with oil from a crashed motorcycle.

Behind, the descent of the Col de Stockeu looked like the train station scene of “Gone with the Wind,” with riders all over the roadside. Some reporters estimated 70-80 riders went down, and there were reports of soigneurs climbing out of cars to help their riders, then falling down themselves. Some riders (and Eddy Merckx) have suggested there must have been some sort of oil on the road (leading to my favorite tweet of the day), because the road seemed so much more treacherous than when it’s been raced in LBL in the past.

6a00d834533a7a69e20134853a991c970c.jpg

AP Photo via Daylife.

I’ve crashed with a whole peloton before and it is surreal. Our Tuesday Worlds is ran on a car race course with a drag strip. They use detergent to soften the dragster tires for grip at 200 MPH and over the years, a layer of polished rubber has been laid down. Add water to that polished surface and it turns into a well-lubricated skating rink.

Why I Don't Race in the Rain

My injuries weren’t that bad and I didn’t have to get up and ride a stage on the cobbles the next day, but I’ll never forget how that crash happened in slow motion. Racers fell in front and around me, until I went down myself with a thud. As I tweeted earlier when the crashing started, “never want to see racers go down, they’re not surrounded by sheet metal, like in car racing.”

They’re hurting out there today and also worried. Regarding CVV, who seems to crash out of a Grand tour every season, I’ve broken ribs too and that really hurts.

5 stitches and a pimpin' Ryan Air exit row. I am smiling on t... on Twitpic

I Went to The Tour And All I Got Was This Lousy Computer

trs80b.gifI’ve been trying to bring myself to write a post about the upcoming glory and spectacle of the Tour de France, but so far I’ve got bubkis. Nothing. Zero. Why? Well because this year I just don’t give a shit.

It all started last year when Versus went back to saying the name Lance every third word. It’s not that I don’t like Lance, I thought he was dandy back when it was his Tour de france and it wasn’t a big comeback story. Actually maybe that’s part of the problem. It’s not really a comeback story in the sense that a comeback story usually has the returning champion return to glory. Each stage of last year’s Tour Phil and Paul would comment about how it looked like Lance was just about to strike. Only he never did.

Then it was doping. And more doping. And so much more doping that now even bicycles are doing it. Floyd pulled a Greg and now we’re waiting to see if the FBI arrests everyone ever involved in US Cycling for fraud. Ugh.

Then Bicycling magazine came yesterday with a photo of Lance and Alberto on the cover. And a photo of Lance on page 3. And page 5. And in some ads between pages. And in the Tour highlight coverage. And in the bound-in booklet for the Nissan. And in the classified. And in the product reviews. I’m surprised he wasn’t listed on the masthead.

Hey, how about a photo of Alberto in there somewhere guys? You know Alberto, the guy who won the tour recently? The guy who will probably win it again? Should win it again?

I’m so media weary already that I can’t stand to watch the Tour this year. Really, I can’t stand the thought of the Versus intros and outros doing profiles on Radio Shack. I can’t stand the thought of every climb being compared to the one with The Look. I can’t stand the thought of seeing a ton of Radio Shack and Nissan ads.

Really it’s not about Lance for me. It’s about battle fatigue. My sport has been besieged by more marketing campaigns than I can stand. More doping than I can stomach and more potential for the possibility of future cataclysmic fallout from alleged doping I care to think about it.

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