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July 11, 2003

NYTimes.com | Two Calls as Different as Cycling and Tennis

This one's got people worked up on Usenet: The New York Times Sports Media and Business columnist compares and contrasts OLN's Tour coverage and NBC's Wimbledon coverage.

I'll post more on this later, but it seems like what the reporter wants is drama:

What marked the broadcast was the way Mary Carillo and Ted Robinson never veered from the Serena-Venus psychodrama. Dr. Phil must have been in the family box, providing private counseling to the sisters' mother, Oracene Price, and their older sisters.

They were engaged in an "emotional spin cycle" (Carillo), part of a recent "family reunion" (Robinson) that was "more of an intervention" (Carillo). Their uninspired play meant that "wherever you are, you're having a better time than these two" (Carillo). Serena's weak return to end the first set, which Venus won, was "perplexing" (Robinson), or, for a greater diagnosis, "downright nutty" (Carillo).

But what's more dramatic, an event with two possible outcomes, or one with literally thousands of possible outcomes? Calling a Wimbledon final is comparatively easy, as you've had all the preparatory matches to learn the players, and several days to do your homework on the finalists.

With the Tour, you're watching a great improvisation, like a 198-member jam band boogying down the road. Today, O'Grady and Geslin took the lead part for most of the piece, but the overture was 20 different instruments flailing through the sprint, and the familiar trumpet of Petacchi blasting away the field at the piece's close.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in About the Tour | Permalink | Comments (0)

cyclingnews.com | July 12 roundup

Of particular interest:

McEwen crashes out of green

"Robbie McEwen saw his chances of a stage win today evaporate when he crashed on a corner with around 8 kilometres to go in the stage to Lyon. A battered but relatively unhurt McEwen told Belgian TV after the stage that, 'I don't know what happened. I just fell in the corner. Zabel fell and I fell with him.'

Lotto-Domo's manager Christophe Sercu (Lotto-Domo) later commented that 'Not surprisingly Robbie is in a dark mood. He's losing a lot of points on the Green Jersey. We keep on supporting him though as the Tour doesn't finish today. We are going to look at the classement tonight and see how much Robbie has lost and where his opponents are. Petacchi, but Cooke, Zabel and O'Grady also, because we don't know yet how Petacchi is going to get over the mountains. It's not lost yet. The coming mountain stages are not our specialty here.' "

I think we'll see a very interesting green jersey competition, because I don't think Petacchi will finish the race.


Medical communique

"Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom): Pain in right knee Erik Zabel (Telekom): Cuts and contusions on left elbow, right thigh and right knee Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com): Digestive troubles Remmert Wielinga (Rabobank): Cuts and bruising on left hip Jesus Manzano (Kelme): Left knee pain

Robbie McEwen did not appear to suffer any serious injuries from his crash in the finale of stage 6.

Fabio Baldato abandoned due to injuries from his stage 1 crash. The Alessio rider had a severe cut on his right hand which after surgical examination required seven stitches.

Also, Ivan Parra (Kele) was fined SFR50 for incorrect comportment, as per UCI rule 12.1.040."

Anybody know what that incorrect comportment was? Here are the UCI rules, and here is a link to a PDF version of the chapter in question.

Looks like it could have been for pushing off or slipstreaming a team car, though the fine is the same for "insults, threats, unseemly behavior" or "dangerous throwing of an object."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (2)

VeloNews | Postal confident as race heads for hills

"Armstrong knows that Saturday’s longest Tour stage to Morzine, half a kilometer longer than Friday but a whole lot harder, could be crucial. With attention now turning to the climbers, the big question is whether Armstrong will again stamp his authority on the race over the coming weekend in the Alps.

‘Other favorites are behind us. It’s the first time,’ said Armstrong’s U.S. Postal chief, Johan Bruyneel. ‘Of course, it’s a plus but it’s above all a mental advantage over our rivals.’

Armstrong leads last year’s runner-up Joseba Beloki by 32 seconds and 1997 winner Jan Ullrich by 38 seconds. "

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

VeloNews | Stage 6 Tech Talk: It's all in the placement

"Everyone knows that Petacchi won six stages in this year's Giro d'Italia. Briko executives were thrilled. Briko staff were high-fiving each other seeing one of their sponsored riders getting so much press.

However, a friend and casual fan pointed out to a Briko Hard Goods Production Manager, Charlie Hancock, that unless you were familiar with the shape of a Briko helmet, you could not tell its brand in finish photos.

Sure, everyone saw the logo of clothing sponsor Pearl Izumi. It popped up - and into photographers' view finders - whenever the man from Fassa Bortolo raised his arms (and opened his hands) to celebrate a win.

Sure enough, Hancock looked at the finish-line photos and every one of them was taken from the front. Briko's stickers adorned the sides of the team's helmets.

Needless to say, before the Tour, Hancock applied Briko stickers to the front sides of team Fassa's helmets... just in time for a string of wins that, as of Friday, has reached four. "

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in About the Tour | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

VeloNews: The Guinness of Oz: The newcomers

Australian cycling journalist Rupert Guinness interviews John Henderson of the Denver Post, to get his impression of the Tour, which he's covering for the first time.

In a nutshell: Loves the country, not that wild about the race.

"VN: How do you find the super-stars riders to deal with compared to football and baseball stars.

JH: Baseball and NFL players are much more accessible. I think the access to Lance Armstrong is shameful. I know they are trying to get him to a Tour victory, but if they want to promote the sport and him, he should be able to be available for five minutes a day, after the race, because he is going to be in the lead. We want to know what is happening."

Later, the story refers to "Mark McGuire" being bad with the media. This is why I love VeloNews: It may be the only magazine in America that's so out of touch as to misspell the name of a baseball icon.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in About the Tour | Permalink | Comments (0)

OLN daily reports updated: Stage 6

    Today's highlights:

  • Phil Liggett ("According to a friend of mine who spoke to Stuart later, she said it had not been his intention to attack or go for the stage win, but just to gather a few points for the green jersey. Unfortunately, when you gain 18 minutes, I suspect you have to try!")

  • Paul Sherwen ("I do find it a bit strange though that whenever there is a French team on the attack, it is always the French who want to chase them down. The bulk of the work to chase down O'Grady and Anthony Geslin came from the other French teams in the race. And for what? To get blown away by Alessandro Petacchi at the end in another masterful demonstration.")

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's a 20-stage chess match, at 50 kph

From LanceArmstrong.com:

The Big Question:
Why wouldn’t anyone chase the 2 riders 18 minutes down the road in Stage 6?

Answer: As usual, a couple of reasons - Team USPS had no real incentive to chase - even if they won today, neither Geslin nor O’Grady would be an overall race contender after Saturday. Fassa Bortolo wanted the stage win for sure, but was getting a tad peeved about having to do all the chasing… and the other teams didn’t want to drive the FB boys to the line only to have Petacchi zoom up for the win - but he did anyway…

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

VeloNews | Petacchi surprises himself with fourth win

" 'Today's win was the most unexpected of all,' said Petacchi, who came across the line ahead of up-and-coming Australian Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) and Italian Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi).

Petacchi was so tired, he said, that he signaled to his teammates only 2km before the finish that he was in no shape to contend the mass sprint at the line."

On O'Grady: " 'I didn't know if it was going to happen or not. A day before the mountains I thought I would give it a try. I came so close and feel quite devastated,' said O'Grady, who valiantly tried to join the passing bunch as they overtook him."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NYTimes.com | Along the Tour, a Free Lunch Recalls a Lost Tradition

Samuel Abt provides the best English-language race reports. Here's his wrapup of Stage 6.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

VeloNews: Stage 6 photos

(Click through to the Reuters gallery)

O'Grady and Geslin in their doomed 200-kilometer break.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graham Watson photos | Stage 5

Graham Watson's photos from Stage 5 are on his website.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AP | Petacchi Wins 6th Stage of Tour De France

“Petacchi said he was tired throughout the stage, but his teammates helped shield him from the wind so he could stay with the pack for a sprint finish.

‘My companions have again done an extraordinary job,’ he told France-2 television. ‘They brought me into a front position in the descent from the hills for the sprint — and I thank them.’

With only a few miles left in the stage, German rider Erik Zabel of Telekom and Robbie McEwen of Australia, who rides for Lotto Domo — two of the best sprinters on the Tour — got entangled and briefly fell off their bikes. Neither was hurt and the riders were able to rejoin the race.”

Seen at dangerousmeta!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

cyclingnews.com | Memories of the demigods - Barry Hoban's Tours de France

Barry Hoban rode 12 Tours between 1965 and 1978, finished 11, with 8 career stage wins. Cyclingnews.com correspondent Lucy Power interviewed him on the differences in the Tour from 30 years ago to today, and his days in the peloton.

"The Tour de France is the one where I've always maintained that you could have 100, 250 or 500 riders, whatever; there are still only going to be five riders in with a chance of winning. The prologue isn't really an elimination thing, but the first time trial, or the first mountain stage, is an elimination. It becomes a wearing down process. By the time you get halfway through the Tour, after the Alps and prior to the Pyrenees, you're already down then to six or seven riders who have a chance of winning the Tour. Then there will be a hiccup for someone, a hiccup for someone else, all it needs is one bad day. If you blow on Alpe d'Huez - the difference between a non-climber or someone who's blown to smithereens, and the guys who are purging at the front, is 16 minutes, a minute per kilometre. All you need is some guy to blow completely - they may not lose 16 minutes but they could lose 10. And that's their Tour gone, really. "

Also names his best Tour rider ever, and discusses the psychology that makes Armstrong hard to beat, but paradoxically puts him at risk.

Some good old-time cycling photos, as well.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in About the Tour | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BBC Sport | Petacchi storms through

BBC Sport reports: "The Italian emerged from the peloton on the line after a brave break from Stuart O'Grady and Anthony Geslin fizzled out just one kilometre from the end of the 230km stage. "

Also: BBC Sport: Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 6: What a finish!

Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo took his 4th stage (of 7, and two of those were time trials!), ahead of Australia's Baden Cooke of FDJeux.com. Petacchi will move into the points leader's green jersey, which he and Robbie McEwen had traded on the road at the intermediate sprints.

Stuart O'Grady of Credit Agricole and Anthony Geslin of Brioches La Boulangerie broke away early and were brought back 200 kms (!) later, at the 1 km to ride banner.

Liggett: "How cruel is life as a professional bike rider!"

There were 2 crashes in the last 5 or so kilometers. The first involved Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel, the second riders from AG2R and Alessio. The crashes slowed the pursuit of the break a little, but Fassa Bortolo, Vini Caldirola, and FDJeux.com managed to reel them in.

Top 10:

1) Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
2) Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) same time
3) Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi) s.t.
4) Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.
5) Romans Vainsteins (Vini Caldirola) s.t.
6) Damien Nazon (Brioches) s.t.
7) Sebastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) s.t.
8) Gerrit Glomser (Saeco) s.t.
9) Yuriy Krivtsov (Jean Delatour) s.t.
10) Luca Paolini (QuickStep) s.t.

The climber's jersey goes back to Christophe Mengin, who lost it yesterday, and is likely to lose it again this weekend.

At least 8 of the US Postal riders and Joseba Beloki finished in the same time, so the GC leaderboard should change very little.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tour site headline of the day

From the official Tour website:

16 H 16 -�Yellow Jersey Collecting Drinks...
The work ethic of Victor Hugo Pena is impressive. Despite the fact that he's wearing the prized yellow jersey of race leader, the US Postal rider has dropped back to the team car to collect drinks for his colleagues.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

Baldato, Vicioso out

The official Tour site reports that Fabio Baldato of Alessio retired from the race at the feed zone today, the latest victim of the Stage 1 crash, and that Angel Vicioso of ONCE didn't start this morning, after fracturing a bone in his left wrist in a crash near the end of the stage yesterday.

That leaves 194 riders still racing.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

VeloNews | Who's lined up to challenge Armstrong in the mountains?

John Wilcockson posts his analysis of the race so far, focusing just on those riders with a real chance to compete for a spot on the podium.

According to Wilcockson:

“Here is the virtual top 20:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA), U.S. Postal-Berry Floor
2. Roberto Heras (Sp), U.S. Postal-Berry Floor, at 0:26
3. Joseba Beloki (Sp), ONCE-Eroski, at 0:32
4. Jan Ullrich (G), Bianchi, at 0:38
5. Michael Rogers (Aus), Quick Step-Davitamon, at 1:29
6. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), ibanesto.com, s.t.
7. Santiago Botero (Col), Telekom, at 1:32
8. Tyler Hamilton (USA), CSC, at 1:44
9. Alex Vinokourov (Kaz), Telekom, at 1:48
10. David Millar (GB), Cofidis, at 1:59
11. Stefano Garzelli (I), Vini Caldirola, at 2:02
12. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, at 2:09
13. Ivan Basso (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 2:17
14. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Alessio, at 2:20
15. David Moncoutié (F), Cofidis, at 2:36
16. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saeco, at 3:09
17. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel, at 3:17
18. Brad McGee (Aus), fdjeux.com, at 3:18
19. Iban Mayo (Sp), Euskaltel, at 3:34
20. Jesús Manzano (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 4:02”

It’s worth reading the whole thing, as Wilcockson analyzes all the leaders in some depth.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

CyclingNews.com | Saeco previewing Cannondale CAAD8 frames?

    CyclingNews has a technical roundup of the "2004-model" equipment showing up at the Tour this year, including:

  • Saeco on a new aluminum-and-carbon-fiber frame that may soon be released as the Cannondale CAAD8
  • Team CSC's equipment, including special-edition Speedplay pedals ($270 a pair) and Zipp Z9 ceramic-bearing wheels, to be auctioned on eBay after the Tour, with proceeds to cancer research
  • The IMAX film featuring, um, Tyler Hamilton's brain. "Brain Power" follows Hamilton as he trains for and races the Tour, using computer imaging to demonstrate what, um, brains are good for.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tour Today: Nevers - Lyon

Today and tomorrow are the longest days of the 2003 Tour. Where the climbs so far have been Category 4, today we'll see two Category 3 climbs, at around 150 kilometers and about 200 kilometers into the 230-kilo stage.

There are also 3 intermediate sprints, which may play a role as Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo is now only 1 point behind Robbie McEwen in the competition for the green jersey, and Petacchi has given some indications that, like Mario Cipollini before him, his Tour may not survive the mountains, which begin tomorrow.

There are still 196 riders in the peloton, as no one has withdrawn since the Stage 1 crash that claimed Mark Lotz and Levi Leipheimer of Rabobank.

VeloNews | Stage 6: Nevers - Lyon

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Stage profiles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

VeloNews: Stage 5 photos

VeloNews has posted new photo galleries of Stage 5:

Stage 5 photos from Reuters

Stage 5 photos by Casey Gibson

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2003 in Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack