13 July, 2009

SWF Desperately Seeking Hook

Sort of. Leave it to those Examiner correspondents/contributors/whatever to stretch the bounds of tie-ins. This story, by a single examiner, relates to food and love, and unfortunately, cites He's Just Not That In To You. Fortunately, crepes come into the picture as well.

Riis thinks Lance already missed his chance to win the race

From the Plain Dealer: "I'm not going to see him in the yellow jersey. I don't think so. I think it would have been something very special for him to have the yellow jersey, but I think he missed it. He missed the opportunity." Bjarne Riis, former TdF champ and director of Team Saxo Bank.

You don't need to go to the Tour to get your message on the road

Nike has a Chalkbot to do it for you. It's a robot that can write (? stencil? transfer?) messages in chalk on the roads of France. All you have to do is: "You can submit your very own message by texting "LIVESTRONG," followed by your message, to 36453, or by visiting the official site."

I want the thing to pick up swag for me from the caravane and send it home, or maybe there's a swagbot on the job for that.

We're hoping for No Earpieces Tuesday

Race radios have been a fixture in pro racing for the past decade or so. It's an innovation thanks to Motorola's sponsorship of cycling. They started providing radios to the team in 1990 or 1991 and as they got smaller, and the fruits of the change could be seen, more teams wanted it. As an observer, they seem to have changed racing. It's much harder for riders to benefit from confusion. Chase-downs of small breakaways seem to have become more successful. There was always an art to the chase, but now it is really well-defined. Maybe more importantly, stages in the mountains don't break up the same way, and when they do, they can be more decisive.

While the racing is different with the radios, I'm excited about seeing two stages radio-free at the Tour. It allows for riders with race-reading skills to shine.

The team directors are complaining because they claim the radios make racing safer. I'm not sure how true that claim is, but it's a macguffin. The real reason they want the radios is for better control of the racing, for greater assurance that the result is what they want. The Tour has actually met this objection by making a race channel available to all where they can get safety information. Though once they allow this, I would think the riders could secretly tune into their team's channel. Hope the Tour is threatening time penalties to the cheats.

American critics are playing the anti-French card, as the first of the two radio-free days is tomorrow, Bastille Day, and French riders are expected to go all-out to win on Bastille day. They figure attackers will benefit from the ban. I don't know if that many French riders really go for it. Yes, we do typically see long attacks that include French riders on Bastille Day, but then again, we see French riders in long breaks just about every day. I think there are 45 French racers in the Tour, more than any other nationality, so it shouldn't be surprising that we see French riders in just about every move.

No radios on stage 10 could be good because it will be interesting to see how the riders do without their directors yelling in their ears a day after a rest day, on a stage that while not hilly, isn't flat either. The other stage where there are supposed to be no radios, Stage 13, is mountainous, so you have both the hex of 13 and the hard stage to see how well racers think for themselves.

Tour Twitter Fiend Amits Addiction

Didn't think people really paid attention to tweets from the Tour. Thought wrong, as this woman from the Salt Lake Trib details her "problem."

Politics in the Peloton? At The Tour?

Cadel Evans tried to make the Tour interesting on Saturday's Stage Eight. He attacked the peloton and got away on the first climb of the day. It could have been a grand escape that took him to yellow or at least shook up the favorites a bit and made them race on a day they were set to take for granted. That's the kind of surprise that Tour fans love.

Instead, he got chewed out by his colleagues and scorned by team directors. The riders in the break he joined wanted an easy run to the finish without fear of being caught and thought they had the perfect move. Then Evans intruded on their party. What's surprising to me is that both Cancellara and Hincapie seemed opposed though his presence could have been a help to both of them. Cancellara had team leaders Andy and Frank Schleck behind, so he could have sat on, and Astana would have driven the chase and if the move was good, one of the Schlecks could have attacked up to the move on the last climb. Hincapie could have benefitted because Thor Hushovd was also in the move and he was there to take the green jersey from Hincapie's teammate Mark Cavendish. Hincapie would have had another reason to sit on.

Of course Bruyneel was critical. Astana would have had to work. All race favorites ahead of Evans want him to stay down where he is for as long as possible. The longer they wait to ride hard, the better it is for them. And, the less likely it is that Evans can move up far on GC.

While I've been critical of Evans for his seeming preference not to attack, he gets rough treatment from the press and fellow racers regularly. While five-time Tour champ Miguel Indurain pretty much won by amassing leads in time trials than hanging on to the best climbers in the mountains, the tactic isn't so popular when you're a second-place rider trying to win by hanging on in the mountains and then killing in the time trials.