Saturday, July 26, 2008

TdF Stages 18 & 19 / Back at Nundah

Let me start with the Tour de France this time. We watched two stages highlighted by breakaways and two riders sprinting for the finish in both. That was predictable, by all the Tour experts anyway, but I had hopes that Team CSC-Saxon Bank would come out and do the unpredictable, at least in one of the stages.

That would be getting out there and hammering with all their guns (once again) to try to get a few more seconds for Carlos Sastre and Frank Schleck. Small chances of succeeding, I realise that, but wouldn't tactics of this kind hurt the legs of the "TT specialists" a little?

Perhaps not, but letting Menchov and Cadel have a couple of easy rides before the 53 km ITT on Saturday won't help. Or, have they given up on a Tour win? I hope not because I got addicted to the excitement and hope to see good racing all the way to the finish line in Paris.

Cadel still looks stressed after the easy 165 km ride to Montluçon

Well looked after by his team, Menchov saved his legs for the ITT
Stage 18 - Bourg d'Oisans to Saint Étienne, 196.5km

A great 5 km cat and mouse spectacle by Marcus Burghardt (Team Columbia) and Carlos (another one) Barredo, who was looking for a first 2008 Tour win for QuickStep, highlighted the stage. At some point, I thought those guys were going to do a track-stand. That's how exciting it was!!! Another thing worth mentioning, it was the 5th win for Team Columbia -High Road in this Tour, what a success story that is!!!!

Marcus gets the win, Barredo the trophy for the biggest tantrum of the Tour

Stage Result:

1. Marcus Burghardt (Ger)

2. Carlos Barredo (Spa)

3. Who cares...

Stage 19 - Roanne - Montluçon, 165.5km

This one was a little more exciting for the first 70 km or so... There were a handful of attacks and breakaway attempts. I even spotted Jens Voigt coming to the front trying to organise some kind of move but it seemed like nobody could understand him. It looked so messy that the two riders 200 m ahead decided to make it their day. They were Frenchmen Sylvain Chavanel and Jeremy Roy (never heard of him).

I am glad they made it! A great win for Chavanel, his first Tour victory in 5 or 6 attempts.

The faces of pain as they fight for the last meters of a 120 km breakaway

Great sprint for third

Stage Result:

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)

2. Jeremy Roy (Fra)

3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger)

4. Erik Zabel (Ger) - I had to mention this man, his a legend!!!

Racing at Nundah again - Nundah Criterium

Luckily, stage 19 of the Tour got a little boring last night. Around 11 pm I headed to bed hoping to get a 7 1/2 h sleep before getting up to do my race at Nundah, first race in three weeks. I think I got about 6 hours...

Had a nice warm up on the way there, met the usual familiar faces, pinned the number and went for a couple of laps on the track to relax a bit. HPRH club races are always pleasant, not just because of the regulars, who are a friendly bunch but because everyone that comes along gets also into that mood creating a friendly race atmosphere. It was great been there!

The line-up for A Grade was "friendly" but it looked very competitive this morning. There were 5 or 6 Elite A team riders, a few Elite B, 3 0r 4 Masters A riders, a total of 15, I think. Attacks in the 60 min + 2 x 1.2 km laps, started from the gun. "Great (!?!), I haven't been training, I have been sick and I came here to have fun."

And fun I had. I did race differently this morning, I conserved, I pulled a few turns, I conserved, I chased a couple of riders, I chose wheels, I bridged across a break of six and stayed there for the rest of the race.

It wasn't easy but I kept myself out of the red. I positioned myself well on the bell lap, moved up to a good wheel. One guy got away early and stayed away. A group of six winded up on the straight for second. I had a gear too big for the head wind and couldn't stay on the wheel of the runner up = 5th! But s#%t I had fun!!!

Time: 1:03;

Dist: 43 km;

AvSp: 42 km/h;

MxSp: 55.5 km/h;

AvHr: 155 bpm;

MxHr: 170 bpm.

After that, it was coffee time with friends, home for an afternoon with Sandra and preparation for the TdF Time Trial on TV.

Can't say who I am going for!

Le Tour Toujours!!

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