Of the three things I think I would reasonably blog about, science, cycling and politics only two really work for me. Science and cycling. Politics is being done much better that I ever could in many different places and besides thinking TOO much about politics just makes my head explode. So… cycling and science it is and in particular combining the two if it seems appropriate.
I’m thinking it’s time to start this again….. more to come
Laurent Fingnon succumbed to cancer last night. But I’m sure he didn’t go without a fight. He never went without a fight. He was a two time winner of the Tour De France in 1983 and 1984 and by all accounts he was a fierce competitor on the bike and a gentleman and friend to all off the bike.
My most vivid memory of him is of his pony tail flapping on his back as he time trailed. He was just a machine, his legs powerful, pounding out a rhythm and all the while this little blonde pony tail dancing in the wind on his back behind his head.
He is best known though for losing the Tour in 1989 to Greg Lemond by 8 seconds. He lost the race on the final day, which that year was a time trial into Paris. He began the day with a 50 second advantage over Lemond. Most thought that would hold, but it didn’t. Lemond rode the fastest time trial to date in tour history put 58 seconds into Fignon. I remember both men finishing and literally stopping and falling off their bikes unable to even stand. I remember how incredible it was: Gregg Lemond comes back from a serious gunshot wound that almost killed him to win the tour on the Champs Elysees over a frenchman. It was amazing. Tonight, I find myself wishing the frenchman had won.
God Speed Laurent Fignon.
Tricky tricky stage today. A Category 2 climb a couple of smaller climbs then a category 1 climb before a descent, then a small climb before the finish. The climbs absolutely killed the sprinters, Mark Cavensish a sprinter, and the former leader of the race finished 25 minutes behind the winner. But the big climbs were far enough from the finish that a win by a pure climber seemed unlikely.
So who won? Philippe Gilbert a Belgian and rider who is usually a one day/spring classic rider. (Belgium is a great cycling country and, of course, home to Eddy Mercxk the greatest cyclist ever.) Not only did he win the stage but he won by enough that he’s the overall leader.
None of the contenders for the overall seemed ready to come out and play today. Andy Schleck lost a bunch of time but he’s here to support his brother Frank who is still very much in contention.
Just for fun there was a small crash today caused by a road being slippery because it was next to an olive oil factory. Gotta love European racing.
Tomorrow’s another interesting stage with a HUGE climb right at the beginning followed by quite a few more. It’s a stage where a long solo breakaway could win it.
The Vuelta A Espana got underway yesterday with a team time trial that was unusual in that it was run at night. HTC Columbia won it and Mark Cavendish crossed the line first so he’s wearing the leaders red jersey.
As interesting as that was though today was more interesting. Today was won by Yauheni Hutarovich of the Française des Jeux team. No one expected this. When he crossed the line ahead of Cavendish, Farrar and Petacchi the announcers didn’t quite know who he was (“It’s gonna be . . . a rider from FDJ . . . . Hutarovich ). What’s even more amazing is he ‘freelanced’ his way to the win, that is, he didn’t have a well organized team setting him up for the win.
There is an angle here though. The ‘flat’ stages at the Vuelta aren’t like the flat stages at the Tour. There was a cat 3 climb early in today’s stage and after that the riders were climbing for of good bit of the day before a descent then a wide flat run in into the finish. I have a feeling that that climbing followed by a descent may have taken just enough out of the favorites legs to allow a relative unknown to win. A lot of the ‘flat’ stages this year are like this. It will be interesting to see who the winners are.
Ok Alberto Contador along with a chunk of the Astana team are going to move to the Saxobank team. Meanwhile via Twitter today the Schelck brothers (Frank and Andy) have confirmed that they are on track to ride for a Luxembourg team with an as yet un named sponsors although the nation of Luxembourg will probably be one of them.
This is what cycling’s “off season” looks like. Although the Tour is almost a year away, the contenders are working to position themselves with good sponsorship, good team mates and good support.
Haimar Zubeldia of the Radio Shack team has won the Tour de l’Ain a 4 day stage race in France by less than a second. This race runs through the limestone of the Jura mountains which give the Jurassic period of Geologic time its name. Given the success team Radio Shack has had this year the decision by the Vuelta Espana to not invite them this year is . . . interesting.