Monday, July 27, 2009

Next Year


My back is decidedly hit or miss. Some days it’s great; others not so much. Since a year was the projected recovery time (two for 100% without any missteps) I have to be happy with that and not too impatient about my athletic endeavors, so most of this year’s goals have been rolled over to next. On that note, how about that Tour?

So the Texan got smoked by the young guns. To those in the know it was no surprise. He did, however, look pretty good. He also seems 100% committed to trying again next year. This ensures us of another year of great coverage of bike racing. This short interview sets things up pretty well:

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/video/25072009/58/mixed-feelings-lance.html

When I say great coverage, I mean that as in a lot of coverage. I don’t think the quality of coverage in this year’s Tour can be called great. I like Phil, Paul, and Bob Roll but, Christ, what a load of hyperbole they dish out. All this “Contador is a selfish rider” BS is ridiculous. He’s paid by his team to win the race. When was the last time a Tour leader sacrificed his chances of winning to help a cracked teammate try and hang on to a podium place?

Imagine asking any past Tour champion to do this. LeMond would laugh. Armstrong would sue. Hinault would punch you in the face. Yet Contador, Versus would like us to know, is selfish because he attacked his teammates (never mind that he was trying to put time into his rivals and actually attacking them.) Um, aren’t his teammates there to support him and isn’t their first and foremost goal to win the entire Tour? If someone finds me a sponsor who says they’d rather have the second and third spots on the podium than the first, I’ll give you my R3. Speaking of Cervelo, these guys don’t look particularly happy with second and third (those are not tears of joy, methinks).

http://www.bartape.net/hdvp.aspx?id=12&q=SD720

If you were Contador would you want to roll the dice on your Tour chances in a time trial against Bradley Wiggins? Okay, so he bested Wiggins on that day but not many would have bet on that one, including Alberto himself.

Anyway, it all makes for great drama. Never mind that in the points of the race that showed strength Armstrong finished 6th. Versus says that if he hadn’t played the role of unselfish teammate he might have won. Never mind that Armstrong himself questioned Schleck’s superiority even though Andy pulled, in a headwind, up the entire Ventoux and still dropped Lance at the line. Versus says that if AC hadn’t attacked Astana would have swept the podium. Never mind that Contador is 26, Schleck 24, and that Lance will be surrounding himself with a group of dudes pushing 40. Versus tells us Radio Shack is already the team to beat next year.

And I’m down with all of it. Bring on the hype machine. Lance Chronicles: The Return, “It’s Not About The Bike, well, Okay, Maybe It Is A Little Bit,” “Lance Armstrong’s Revenge”… et al. I’m psyched. Let’s not split hairs; more bike racing coverage = good. And next year is going to be great.

20 comments:

catherine said...

i imagine you didn't go for george's bellyaching either!

Steve Edwards said...

No, I'm a huge fan of controversy and rivalry. I actually didn't hear what George had to say but I can see how he'd be pissed at Garmin. But, hey, Garmin doesn't like High Road so what are you gonna do? I don't feel bad for George. Not like HR didn't get any pr. Astana did the same to Garmin by chasing any breaks with Garmin riders after that ... Read Moreincident. That stuff's all just racing and good clean fun.

I do think it's funny that Versus used to hate Telekom but now loves High Road. I guess Columibia isn't a competitor of AT&T (who owns Versus).

catherine said...

george took issue with ASTANA! that was the part that felt like bratty sour grapes to me. a) they were riding tempo ... not chasing him down and b) it's a BIKE RACE, people. they should have put you in yellow because you're friends? no, they should put you in yellow in order to secure their position.

by versus you mean, lanceTV? i'm with you though ... if it means more coverage i am all for it!

Steve Edwards said...

That's funny. I saw Astana on the front that day with George in the lead and wondered what they were doing there. I missed the end of that stage and the press had said the Garmin had shut it down (along with AG2R, who didn't know why Garmin helped). I had thought Atana must have been blocking. I don't see their angle in shutting down George, since ... Read Morehe and LA are buddies. Maybe Bruyneel has issues with Stapleton as well. Certainly somebody told Astana to ride at the front. They didn't go up there for fun.

catherine said...

the way i saw it, they were riding tempo at the front in the beginning, sort of controlling the field. seemed like they wanted him to get a lead, but only by a certain amount. then, you are right, AG2R and garmin took over (with a vengeance) and shut him down. i didn't see it as a betrayal by astana, but george definitely did.

Steve Edwards said...

I do remember that when they were on the front the gap was going up (why we thought they might be blocking for George). Still seemed strange for them to be there but they weren't exactly chasing, either, and since the gap went out it seems hard from George to complain. Maye it's all an orchestrated show, like WWF...

No, no. I couldn't admit that even if it were true. I love bike racing!

Brent Ware said...

TiVo, bro. Then you still get the race, and no annoying Caddy commercials. Plus the early morning workout. You just can't talk to your friends at lunch.

John Keenan said...

LeMond sacrificed his chances for a win in 85 to help Hinault....he didn't like it but did.Is AC selfish? Yes..most great champions are. Armstrong surely is. I dont mind the coverage so much...I remember the old CBS coverage with John Tesh!Don't know if radioshack will be the team to beat next year but I bet the race will be full of drama. Lance stronger, A. Shleck with a year of TT work, AC still amazing, Wiggo confident...

Steve Edwards said...

The difference is that LeMond had signed up to support Hinault, as did Big Mig with Delgado in 90. AC was signed on as the leader. Plus, he's clearly the strongest guy and they still don't want to support him. LA didn't even go to AC's victory party the night before the final stage. That seems ridiculously petty but should add to the fun next year.

But I didn't say I didn't like the coverage; I said it wasn't great. I still have a copy of the 89 tour to keep it in perspective. I like all the guys (at least the cyclists) in the booth. But I'd much rather have them say whatever they wanted and not echo the concerns of those in the marketing office. At least Al Trautwig isn't there to comment on the German teams as if they were the Nazi empire. The Tour was fun. Next year should be even better.

Btw, not much talk about Liquigas but with the three they had this year and a back-in-form Basso, they should be able to add to the drama as well.

Amber said...

Nice post. I liked it. I enjoyed the tour this year and thought the coverage was good. I didn't get the same gist out of what Versus said as you did, but that's often the case. I am glad that Lance is racing next year because it should mean more coverage and that's always a good thing.

Glad the back is doing better. Mine is tired today from moving a couple tons of tile around yesterday. I'm working on the house all week, so it's not likely to get better, but as long as it doesn't get worse I'm okay.

~R (being forced to post from Amber's account because she's logged in - Doh!)

Steve Edwards said...

Don't envy your housework. Must be nice and warm there. Don't hurt you back. You've got a lot of trailbuilding to do once you get settled in.

I'm probably more critical as to what those guys say but I'm not making it up. Each of those comments listed was uttered by one of the commentators.

I think Catherine nailed it with "Lance TV". In the final TT recap, Lance had, by far, the longest segment. Paul said, "You know who else had a great ride today? Lance Armstrong." He finished 16th, which is probably the lowest TT finish he's had since his pre-cancer days. Lance wasn't even happy, but Versus would find a positive spin even if he got busted for doping.

But, again, all coverage is good coverage. As long as Versus keeps showing the races, they can spin 'em however they want.

bob banks said...

I got a little irritated with all the coverage over a guy who had no chance of winning, but I totally understand why they did it. That said, I was stoked to see an old guy up there in the standings, even if I lost 10 bucks over it...however I am going to be rooting for him to lose badly next year, and I generally don't wish people to lose. His ego and attitude have always been off-putting, but he's gone over the top these last few days as such an arrogant f-ing prick I want to punch him in the nose. It's called taking the high road, but obviously this douchebag has no concept of it.

Heather S said...

DVR is the ticket, watched it every night, fast forward the commercials and Craig Hummer bullshit. So much drama this year, it made for an exciting race.

Ok, first off, no mention of Cav? Holy crap, he crushed them at the Champs. His lead out team was fantastic and consistent throughout the race. Someone needs to give him a heads up on how to talk to the press, he isnt making any friends saying the things he does.

Lance/AC: Contador came to win, he said that was his goal, and he did it. Lance would have done the same. I give Lance credit for walking the team line as he said he would, he didnt have to stay behind with Wiggins but he did. As a Spanish journalist said, you cant have two stallions in the same barn. Having said that, I think AC is going to regret having talked shit about Lance to the press. Not the forum to do it.

Couldnt agree more on the commentators. Regarding Hincapie, Astana was at the front setting the tempo. Garmin came up front later and pushed it. Hincapie was pissed at Astana not Garmin, yet the next evening and day, all mention of Astana was removed by the commentators. All the blame was directed towards Garmin, just found that interesting.

Steve Edwards said...

Cav was awesome, as was his team. That leadout on the Champs was ridiculous, especially the way they squeezed Garmin out of it on the corner. Beautiful.

I should probably have given some kudos to Andreau who was pretty much the hardball interviewer of the Tour, pushing Lance regularly not to beat around the bush and actually getting him to say AC was stronger and that he'd work for him, etc.

I don't know if I'm rooting for LA to lose, exactly, but I love watching the public reaction to it. Oddly, I think the French now like him more. But they're saps for the bridesmaids every time.

Notre Vie Juteuse said...

For me, I just want to see riders attack. Long days of everyone looking at each other, waiting to respond defensively are the bane of modern cycling. Sastre didn't show this year, but his day on Alpe D'Huez last year harkened back to the good old days.
Attack, attack, attack!!!

Heather S said...

Lance isnt an idiot, he is using the media/twitter to his advantage to create the new and approachable Lance although, he did seem pretty relaxed throughout the tour. Allowing Frankie to interview him was a good example of that. I did like his comment, "that was not the plan" regarding AC. No shit, it's a fucking race and Contador wants to kick your ass and get the yellow jersey. You did get on HIS team if you recall, it WAS about him and not you before your comeback dude. No gifts, remember that one? Lance didnt seem to have a problem when he was in the front of the wind break and got time on Alberto early on, didnt take "a rocket scientist to figure that one out" as he said. Good stuff all around.

I found myself irritated at Team Garmin. I really wanted Farrar to win a sprint, mainly, bc Cav was being such an arrogant dick in front of the microphone and Farrar is a fantastic sprinter. Earlier in the race after a few Cav wins, Garmin's lead out response was, "Im not losing any sleep over it, we are doing the best we can..." I call bullshit on that. Columbia owned the lead out. Garmin should have lost sleep over it and figured out a way to own that lead it, disrupt Columbia, gotten their shit together. Columbia won bc they have the best lead out, they owned it, took control, and Cav well, he kicks ass. At the least, Thor was smart enough to know if he just followed Cav's wheel, at some point, he might be able to outsprint him. I did love seeing Thor getting the green jersey and taking the sprint points on his own, calling bullshit to Cav's whiny bitches re the relegation.

Good times.

Steve Edwards said...

The lack of attacks made me miss the EPO days, when guys would start attacking like maniacs at the foot of the climbs, or perhaps (Ulrich one year) not even waiting for the final climb.

Should we start a pro dope movement, or just wait knowing that they'll come up with some new stuff soon enough?

Steve Edwards said...

Speaking of green, Thor's mountain attacks were fantastic. Even Cav told him he'd earned the jersey after that. I think the Cervelo team is a class act. I hope they manage to keep that team going.

Steve Edwards said...

and Garmin, I love 'em! Yeah, they got scuttled in the sprint but they had an awesome race. This was supposed to be a development squad and now they're a power. Their TTT with five guys was fantastic. Millar is kind of a dick, like Lance, and rubs a lot of people the wrong way but it's guys like that who make sports worth watching.

Heather S said...

Id just like to say that any comment or opinion from my camp should have the following disclaimer:

I know little to nothing about professional cycling, have never raced a bike race in my life, and from sitting on the couch with my remote can sound like a real opinionated expert read: asshole.

Thanks for playing.