Sunday, July 25, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 20

Once again the famed Champs-Elysee greeted the peloton, but more importantly, the 'Gang Going for Green'. And once again, Mark Cavendish made it look like HE was the PRO, and the others should be racing 'REC league'. To beat the best sprinters in the world 15 times over the past 3 years is one thing- to do it by boatloads of bike lengths, puts a whole new dimension on 'domination'.

We'll all have to wait another year to find out if Farrar or Boonen's best can rearrange the cosmos, but for the foreseeable future, when it comes to speed, it's Cav's World. Everyone else is merely along for the ride.

Alberto Contador confirmed his 3rd 'yellow' in as many tries. It remains to be seen whether the Spaniard will soar to higher heights as easily as we once thought, and become the undisputed General of his generation, or whether his duel with Andy Schleck will give Tour fans a Titanic tussle worthy of the legendary rivals of the sport.

21 days. Countless memories along the way. History records the winners, but rarely does it ever do justice to the sacrifice. The Tour has prospered for many reasons, least not of which is, for 198 men a month ago, the 'road' may have been mapped out, but no one ever truly knew where that would lead them. At the Tour, and in life, it's the JOURNEY that is awe-inspiring, and why it's all worthwhile.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 19

It was the ending we had all hoped for and anticipated. The last two men out on the road drew their swords, shouted "Charge", and took on each other and the 32-mile course.

Andy Schleck seized the early advantage, but whether it was the adrenaline wearing off, or fatigue finally taking hold, Alberto Contador would take the upper hand and never look back.

Alberto has now won FIVE consecutive Grand Tours, and within that run, stood on the top step in Paris three times. He is the greatest of his generation, but Andy is nipping at his heels.

Not to be lost in the excitement, Fabian Cancellara wins yet another time trial and now has SIX Tour stage wins in his career. There is NO ONE who can match his maneuvers against the clock.

Tomorrow, Contador is crowned 'King', but the sprinters get one last chance to go for "Green". Petacchi and Cavendish renew their rivalry on the most famous avenue in the world. It will be a dash to determine speed supremacy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 18

The 'greats' make it look oh, so easy. Mark Cavendish continues to amaze with his unmatchable acceleration. He rewarded his teammates for all their hard work by delivering the final blow and taking home his 14th Tour de France victory.

In some ways, Cavendish makes it look like he's taking candy from a baby! This was his most explosive and emphatic win so far. And even though the Green Jersey isn't decided, Cav's focus will be on repeating as stage winner on the Champs-Elysee.

A quiet day for Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck as they prepare for tomorrow's race against the clock. No change in the yellow and white jerseys, but GREEN goes back to Petacchi. He'll have to defend his coveted color a final time in Paris, but it looks like he's booked a place on the top step of the sprinter's podium.

Tomorrow, it's one more chance for Andy Schleck, but the time trial should seal the deal for Alberto.

And a quick "BTW"- you know it's a 'fashionable affair' when Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz stop by to pay their respects to the riders, and honor the Dynamic Duo of Alberto and Andy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 17

Eye to Eye. Heart to Heart. Mano a Mano. What a way to pay homage to the mountain that is the Tourmalet. As predicted, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador were locked in their duel, and are now linked for the ages by their desire.

The scorecard will show a Schleck victory, but it won't bear witness, or do justice, to the magnificent final fight through the mist. This high altitude pass has provided angst and aggression for 100 years, the latest chapter as pivotal for a podium position as we've ever seen. Contador keeps the 'maillot jaune', and should start last in the time trial on Saturday. He proved yet again, Grand Tour climbing is his domain, and his reign could continue for quite awhile.

Behind the Dynamic Duo, Chris Horner's excellence was like a beacon in the fog. Having worked for almost three weeks for Lance and Levi, the Team Radio Shack rider climbed for himself- proving his talent yet again.

The Tour waves good-bye to the Tourmalet and the mountains for another year. What a spectacle we've all witnessed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 16

It was an effort worthy of winning, but Carlos Barredo was caught with 1 KM to go! Amongst the breakaway was the American legend himself, Lance Armstrong. HE did everything he could to stamp a fairy-tale ending on his time in France. But like the 2 1/2 weeks prior, luck was not on his side.

There was a truce in the physical and psychological war for the 'maillot jaune'. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck were content to coexist on some of the most historic climbs the Tour can serve up. They'll rest for 24 hours, then resume the hostilities when they revisit the Tourmalet on Thursday.

While it was a day off for YELLOW, GREEN was on Thor Hushovd's mind. The God of Thunder proved his metal yet again, crushing climbs that make mortals cringe, and winning enough points in the final dash to reclaim the prize he considers his own.

A much needed rest day, then a final 4 day dash into Paris...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 15

This year's Tour is quickly becoming a Pyrenean classic! The French earned back to back wins in the mountains, giving them 5 stages this year.

But the explosive news of the day was the 'mechanical' that cost Andy Schleck his ACCELERATION up the Port de Bales, but more importantly, his YELLOW JERSEY. As opposed to earlier in the Tour, no one was willing to wait for the Maillot Jaune, so Schleck turned himself inside-out to limit his losses, eventually relinquishing the most coveted color in cycling.

The duel will continue, as will the debate- were Contador's actions 'honorable' and is this the way to win the Tour de France? For 2 1/2 weeks, Andy Schleck has been extolling his firm friendship with Alberto, today he made no secret about his resolve for revenge.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 14

The Pyrenees are this year's proving ground. Not only for men to justify why they are here, but for 'super' men to show why THEY deserve to be called 'champions'.

It seems fitting that a Frenchman would win from a breakaway to mark the 100th anniversary of these mountains in the Tour. But behind Christophe Riblon today, the heavyweight title fight looked more like a game of Cat-and-Mouse.

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck renewed their rivalry on both climbs, it was Contador who attacked most often...Schleck always had an answer. Towards the finish, they only had eyes for each other as they marked move after move, losing any chance of winning the stage, but more intent on NOT losing time to their rival.

We promised you a four-course feast here in the Pyrenees, and the appetizer was worthy of any gourmet cycling celebration. By the time we get to dessert, not just the riders, but also the fans, may have run out of energy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Final Thoughts-Stage 13

Alexander Vinokourov felt he missed a golden opportunity yesterday. TODAY, he made sure he was holding the 'golden ticket'.

Throughout the day, the sprinters were licking their chops as they kept contact with the breakaway, but their hopes would be dashed by a bold move off the front.

Alessandro Ballan made the first move on the last climb, but the final blow was delivered by Vino. Officially, it becomes his 4th win at the Tour, but emotionally, it means much more. Finally allowed back into the 'Grand Boucle', he's hoped and dreamed for a win like this.

The first to congratulate him was his teammate, Alberto Contador, who still sits 31 seconds behind Andy Schleck, and his ultimate goal of the yellow jersey. Contador holds most of the cards by virtue of his time-trialing strength, but the Pyrenees will play no favorites. Starting tomorrow, there is no where to hide.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 12

The Montee Laurent Jalabert left it's mark on the 2010 Tour de France. Named after a French cycling legend, it was the current Spanish sensation, Alberto Contador, who helped split the peloton apart with his blistering accelerations.

Today, it was Andy Schleck who was vulnerable, as Contador seized the opportunity to gain precious time. At the finish it would be a total of 10 seconds, leaving Schleck's slim advantage at 31 ticks of the clock.

American Levi Leipheimer did a good job of limiting his losses on the day, keeping Team Radio Shack very much in the discussion of podium placings.

Our 13th day of racing was a bit unlucky for Team Saxo Bank. Despite all their hard work, they face an uphill battle at keeping Andy in yellow. With the Pyrenees 48 hours away, Schleck will have to hope his legs recover.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 11

To say today's last KM was chaotic would be an understatement. The sprinters have been biding their time in the mountains, and even though they are all fatigued, tempers and tactics flared at the finish.

HTC-Columbia closed the door on any hope of the peloton coming over the top, and Mark Cavendish put the exclamation point on the stage. It's his 13th career Tour de France win, and his 3rd straight sprint stage of this year's Tour.

Saxo Bank tried to catch Alberto Contador and the other overall contenders napping with a burst of speed once the peloton hit the crosswinds, but everyone in contention for the crown in Paris was able to keep contact, including Team Radio Shack's Levi Leipheimer.

Tomorrow throws another big 'Question Mark' into the mix- a 'wild card' day unlike any other at this year's race. The last climb could snap the legs of everyone involved.

Rest Day?

Time to bring you up to speed on what’s been a VERY good Tour in terms of my riding. Not sure why, but I think it’s my ‘commitment to fatigue’- in terms of not caring how much SLEEP I am getting, as well as my mantra of ‘I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to ride’.

So, I know it’s backtracking, but I have to tell you about the “REST DAY” ride. Bob and I were lucky enough to stay atop Morzine-Avoriaz after Stage 8. We bunked with Robbie Ventura and Frankie Andreu, and the intention was to ride early in the AM. Robbie and I barely slept four hours that night, mainly due to the Spanish celebrations after their World Cup win (way too many vuvuzelas in town), but also because we were so excited to get to do a ‘big ride’.

After fueling up on ‘pain du chocolat’ and making sure we had enough fuel to last w number of hours, we set off DOWN the Avoriaz climb (knowing that we’d have to ASCEND the beast as the last kicker of our workout. We retraced the course the peloton had done the day before, which meant we did the ‘reverse’ of the Cat 3 “Les Gets” climb, the reverse of the “Col de la Ramaz” climb (absolutely KILLER- for over 20 mins it averaged 12-14%!!- and that was just PART of it!), then we descended the front side of the Col de la Ramaz and turned around and went up it again.

Not much of a big deal, YET. Now we are climbing the RAMAZ the way the peloton did, and in fact, returning to Morzine-Avoriaz on the race route just like the day before. By the end, our ‘totals’ for the day were- 4hrs15min, 3 CAT 1’s, 2 CAT 3’s, 57 miles, almost 9,000ft elevation gain.

Since then, I’ve been able to get early morning rides in at our stops in Gap, and then this morning in Valence. Very happy with the chance to experience these roads and watch the sun rise in so many different parts of this great country. Speaking of 'sun'- had a chance to snap pics at the 'top' (sans sun) and then sun-flowers at the bottom...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 10

On a day reserved for French celebrations, it was a man from Portugal who put the finishing touches on our final day in the Alps. Sergio Paulinho gave Team Radio Shack their first Grand Tour win- proving their investment in the powerhouse group is more than worth it.

Radio Shack will continue to rally around Levi Leipheimer and his aspirations of a Paris podium position, not to mention Lance's declaration that HE will go after a stage win before the Tour is in the books.

It was an uneventful 1st day in 'yellow' for Andy Schleck. Saxo Bank didn't care about the breakaway, so the pace was never too high...until the finish, when the Green Jersey competition burst into play.

A final surge from Hushovd, Petacchi, McEwen and Cavendish to secure the left over points on the stage with Cav taking the sprint between the rivals.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 9

Two days after his worst day at the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong was back in fighting form. Although battered and bruised, his battling mentality served him well up the Col de la Madeleine.

His teammate, Levi Leipheimer was even better on the day, solidifying a spot just outside the overall Top 5.

For the 3rd day in a row, the roads were not kind to the yellow jersey. Cadel Evans was the latest to lose out on the 'maillot jaune', finishing over 8 minutes behind the winner.

The Col de la Madeleine confirmed one thing- in the mountains, it's a two-man race. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador absorbed each other's blows and in the process, left the overall contenders in their wake.

Last year in Paris, Schleck looked at Contador and said, "I want that jersey". He now has it. And now, he'll try to hold onto it all the way to the Champs-Elysees.

Armstong Angst

I, like most cycling fans, was incredibly dismayed to see how Stage 8 unfolded for Lance. As a commentator, i'm never supposed to be a cheerleader, only an objective 'observer', but Lance's story has always been larger than life, so when his quest to win #8 came to an end on Sunday, it was just that much harder to accept. If you have not seen the 'other' video of his "2nd" crash (the one at close to 40mph), go find it online. It was shot by a French fan, and is from a completely different angle than French television's.

Lance not only crashed, he crashed HARD. And this fall absolutely affected how he was able to perform the rest of the stage. As we said in our commentary, you don't get a jersey that looked like his without hitting the deck at 'speed', but to see it is to almost feel the scrapping as he slid out of frame.

It will be interesting to see how he recuperates, and what he can do in the remaining days. Stage win? Levi lieutenant? Millions of fans await the answer.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Final Thoughts-Stage 8

We all witnessed the torch being passed today. Empires aren't built overnight, and no one can rule forever. Lance Armstrong has been synonymous with the Tour de France for over a decade. July 11, 2010 will be remembered as the stage where the great champion could no longer answer the accelerations of the younger generation. Lance knew this was a day where a rider could LOSE the Tour, he just didn't figure it was going to be him. Team Radio Shack now rallies around Levi Leipheimer who showed he CAN and WILL take the mantle of leadership.

Nearly 12 minutes ahead of Lance, Andy Schleck won the 1st Tour stage of his career- in the process proving he is the closest contender to Contador in the ultimate race for Paris.

Almost lost in the excitement, Cadel Evans now dons the 'maillot jaune' for the 2nd time in his career. The current world champion has been a changed man riding with rainbows, we'll see what YELLOW will do.

Ship Shape, the Heavens Open Up, and Just Drive

The excitement of Stage 7 must have set some strange cosmic forces in motion. Early in the day, I ‘hit the deck’ trying to walk down from our second-story studio. If you’ve ever been on a sailboat with very steep, wooden stairs, then you can picture the exact set-up of the avenue from the ‘ground floor’ to our upper-deck. I’m still unsure as to the exact minutia, but the end result was my feet flying out from under me, and hitting my back, head, right side ribs, and right upper arm. Yeah, exactly. All that? In one fall? Go figure. Seems nothing is broken, just bruised and sore. Commentating is NOT supposed to be a ‘contact sport’. Phase One of my ‘strange’ day duly noted.

Fast-forward a few hours. After the riders had crossed the line, and we were wrapping up, someone decided to unleash the heavens and Armageddon arrived. Torrential RAIN, lima bean-sized HAIL, gail-force WINDS, all while we tried to ‘shoot’ and ‘voice’ our final segments. A message was being sent- FINISH your day NOW, or it will be finished FOR YOU. Strange days indeed. Had the riders been caught in the atmospheric explosion, there would have been carnage. The Tour dodged an ice-ball sized bullet. Literally and figuratively.

On to the third ‘issue’ of the day. Station des Rousses had never hosted a stage…EVER. And it showed in the evacuation (the term the Tour uses for the ‘exit’ of each day). After scrambling and racing the elements to the car, we proceeded to sit (as in NOT MOVE) for over an hour. Well, I take that back…in the infinite wisdom of some (who shall go unnamed), I was asked to move my car LATERALLY three separate occasions so other cars could line up next to me. Our Vehicular Fan kept growing, all trying to merge into one narrow mountain road.

Because of the conditions, the ‘auto amnesia’, and the usual insanity of the fans, a commute that should have taken about an hour, took over three. Just another day at “Le Tour”.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 7

French heroics at the Tour de France are often limited to July 14th, Bastille Day, their national holiday. But this year, there has been one man unwilling to wait. Sylvain Chavanel has seized the moment TWICE, and not only won BOTH stages, but the hearts of his countrymen.

His Herculean effort today returns the "Golden Fleece" to his shoulders and restores faith in the French cycling corps that in July, their riders can match up with the best in the world.

On the final climb, the procession of possible Tour winners was a wondrous site. At one point, Armstrong, Contador, Schleck, Evans, Wiggins and Basso were lined up together. Proving that this year, it will take some craftiness and an incredible effort to gain time on anyone.

We serve up the Alps on a silver platter tomorrow. It is time for the men of the mountains to shine and soar.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 6

If you were one of the few people that thought yesterday was a 'fluke', after today, the DOUBTERS have disappeared.

HTC-Columbia completed the run in with precision and PERFECTION was the result. Mark Cavendish went "back to back" choosing to send an emphatic message with his legs and bike.

Fabian Cancellara will enjoy another day in yellow as tomorrow we head East towards the mountains. Eventually he'll concede the coveted color in order to work for his teammate, Andy Schleck.

Lance Armstrong and the rest of the overall contenders spent another day staying calm AND staying cool. The time for their battles to heat up is rapidly approaching.

Beef and Bugs

GREAT ride this AM from the town we spent the night in, Bourbon Lancy, over 65K in around 110 mins...only real issue were all the BUGS in the air...i had to floss them out of my teeth when i returned...lovely,'s some info of the area:

Bourbon-Lancy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgognein eastern France.It is a rural town on the Loire River with a walled medieval area on the dominant hill. It boasts an authentic medieval belfry, wooden frame houses and fortifications which date from 1495. Situated in western Burgundy in the heart of ancient Gaul, the city's history spans well over 2000 years. Bourbon-Lancy is a spa town with thermal springs which have been known since Roman times.

And for my PBR friends- a little reference of the local "charolais" cows:

Charolais cattle are a beef breed of cattle (Bos taurus) which originated in Charolais, around Charolles, in France. They are raised for their meat and are known for their composite qualities when crossed with other breeds, most notably Angus and Hereford cattle. The breed tends to be large muscled, with bulls weighing up to 2,500 pounds (1,100 kilograms) and cows up to 2,000 pounds.

The breed was introduced in the southern US as early as the 1940s. It was the first popular breed after the English breeds and Brahmans. It was known to produce beef animals that had more red meat and less fat. The breed was often crossed with English breeds.

In the 1970s Charolais crossbred steers won a number of prominent steer and carcase shows particularly in Texas. The first Charolais steer to win a carcase show was at the San Antonio Livestock Show in 1971.

This breed has been quite popular in the Top End of Australia where they are used for cross breeding. It has also become popular in the southern United States, where Charolais (often crossed with other breeds) have increasingly replaced Herefords. Despite their relatively northerly origin, Charolais tolerate heat well, and show good weight gains on even mediocre pasturage.

The coat is almost pure white.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 5

EVERYTHING about sprinters happens in a flash! In a few split seconds, all the questions and all the doubts have been laid to rest...Mark Cavendish IS the fastest man yet again. It wasn't the most conventional lead-out in team history, but it got the job done. And it should restore Cav's confidence in the process. He takes the 11th stage win of his young Tour de France career, celebrating emotionally on the podium.

In terms of YELLOW, no change again today. Tomorrow, Cancellara will spend the 21st day of his career in the 'maillot jeune'.

Lance, Alberto, Andy and Cadel survived the heat and the scrum at the finish. They will continue to plot their next move in the chess game that makes up the Race to Paris.

The scorching temperatures out on the road translated to a heated battle for the line- a lot of elbows were thrown in the final stretch, but if you can't stand the heat, you'll end up on the sidelines.


Having lived in Venice, CA and visited Venice, Italy, it seemed appropriate i would gravitate to today's stage finish- Montargis- often referred to as the "Venice of the Gatonais".

With over 130 bridges and walkways, you'd better bring your walking shoes AND your appetite when you visit. Of course, you could bring your BOAT. But that's far too cumbersome for me...i'm more of a 'light' traveler. Le Tour will visit for the 4th time, and while Montargis may not be the most recognizable town on the Tour roster, it has a couple interesting facts to note.

Those of you with a 'sweet tooth' may know that this is where PRALINES (the crunchy confection made from almonds and sugar) were 'invented'. The shop were they were first created (during the reign of King Louis XIII) still sells them.

Political historians may be aware that Deng Xiaoping lived in the Chinese community during the 1920's. The man known as the 'architect' of China's new brand of socialist thinking opened up his country to foreign investment, the global market, and private, albeit limited, competition. He's credited with propelling China into becoming one of the fastest growing global economies in the past 30 years. He worked at the Hutchinson Rubber factory, and yes, cycling fans, it's the SAME factory that makes Hutchinson tires- used by many men of the peloton.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 4

The riders decided to follow the script today. Sprint stage, Sprint Finish. All eyes were on Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Columbia team, but the Italian, Alessandro Petacchi, threw on the afterburners and flew PAST Cavendish and the other contenders.

"Ale-Jet" wins his 2nd stage of this year's Tour and the 6th "July" win of his career.

For Lance Armstrong and the rest of the overall contenders, it was a fairly relaxed few hours- the only drama was to stay safe, but after the first few days, that's easier said then done. By the line, no changes would transpire in the overall, so Fabian Cancellara remains in yellow for another 24 hours.

The coronation of French kings took place here for centuries, today, it's an Italian who wears the crown. At the end, Petacchi popped the cork off another celebratory bottle of champagne- and Reims is the perfect place to do it! The world's top champagne houses call this town home, so let the party begin!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 3

Stage 3 was NOT just another day at the Tour...this was the one every single rider either feared or relished.

Out of the dust rose the God of Thunder- Thor Hushovd has come so close to tasting success at Paris-Roubaix, it seemed only fitting he would caress the cobblestones better than the rest and win the 8th Tour de France stage of his career. The Norseman also donned the Green Jersey for the 1st time in this year's Tour- a color he hopes he carries all the way to Paris.

The cobbles were not kind to Lance Armstrong. A flat tire in the final few kilometers meant he lost close to a minute to Alberto Contador, and even more time to Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans. The Texan's game plan now has to be reshaped if he hopes to contend by the time the 'pave' of Paris and the Champs-Elysee are under his wheels.

Stage 3 became the 'blockbuster' we had hoped. Tomorrow, the sprinters get their shot at the Big Screen yet again. Hushovd has the upper hand, but Cavendish will bring the fight to him every chance he gets.

Craig Keeps from Crashing on the Cobbles...

What a start to my day! Only five hours of sleep, no food, very little way, and a 'general' idea of how to get there was in NO WAY going to keep me from 'trying my hand' (and hopefully not breaking my HANDS in the process) the legendary COBBLES of the Arenberg area. Famous for the "Queen of the Classics" Paris-Roubaix, these roads greeting my producer and i this morning, and the first thing we saw, no lie, was a rooster 'rising with the sun' and making sure others followed his lead.

Charging onto the 'pave', i suddenly realized my wildest dreams and predictions of what this could be like, we NOTHING like what i was experiencing. I have NEVER felt anything like it. Imagine holding onto a jack-hammer, while pedaling a bike, all the while trying to keep your eyes on the road to make sure you select the best line (which really means the least 'cracked, broken, and crumpled' stones in front of you). Throw in the shaking sensation of "Magic Finger Bed" on steroids, and maybe, just maybe, you're close to visualizing what it's like.

MON DIEU! (as the French would say).

I have to tell you, I LOVED IT. You can see how the riders who have a little something extra in 'the caboose' can fly over these sketchy stretches. It allows them to anchor themselves on the bike, and therefore the road, just a little bit more than the climbers who are skin-and-bones.

Today's stage is going to be EPIC. Truely. And now I have some basis on how to quantify what it is they are going through. And for me, that's what my job is all about- finding a way to make the viewer 'feel' (in some small way) what it is the pros are experiencing. I only rode a small sampling of what the true heroes will undertake today, but it was a taste that will last for a long, long time.

Final Thoughts- Stage 2

No one could have predicted the way events unfolded today as the course and the conditions caused chaos once again. Sylvain Chavanel led for all but eight miles, and for his efforts, he was rewarded beyond his wildest dreams.

Not just with his 2nd Tour de France stage win, but also with the grandest prize of all- the ‘maillot jeune’. He’ll stand a little taller, and pedal a fraction faster, with that honor tomorrow.

For the overall contenders, a crash caught out everyone- Armstrong, Contador, and the Schleck brothers- it was Fabian Cancellara who passed up personal glory to make sure the Saxo Bank team lost as little time as possible. He’ll lose the yellow jersey for now, but perhaps his sacrifice will ultimately pay off for his teammates, Frank and Andy.

Two stages, two days filled with scrapped skin, broken bones, and frayed nerves. And TOMORROW is the route everyone was worried about!

Monday, July 5, 2010

h2o007 comes HOME...

Talk about 'returning to the source'!! I've made a career out of excelling in and around water, so it's with great enjoyment that our stage ends today in SPA, Belgium. Here are some facts:

As the famed site of healing hot springs, Spa has been frequented as a watering-place since as early as the 14th century. Though other sources of healing hot mineral springs have become famous throughout the world, it is the town of Spa which has become eponymous with any place having a natural water source that is believed to possess special health-giving properties, as a spa. The place name is from Walloon espa meaning "spring, fountain." In 1918, the German Army established its principal Headquarters in Spa, and it was from here that the delegates set out for the French lines to meet Marshal Foch and sue for peace in the consultations leading up to the Armistice which ended the First World War.

It is also the location of mineral water producer Spa. Spa mineral water has been bottled since the end of the 16th century...Spa mineral water comes from the grounds of the Hautes Fagnes, of which the upper layers exists from heath land and peat. There are several types of Spa mineral water. The several types of Spa mineral water are instantly recognizable by their color of the label. These labels are blue, red or green.

Spa Reine (Spa blue). It contains no carbonation and has a very low amount of minerals.

Spa Barisart (Spa red). It contains few minerals and some carbonation.

Spa Marie-Henriette. It contains natural carbonation.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Final Thoughts- Stage 1

On a day when the sprinter's were to take Center Stage, it was a succession of crashes in the final kilometers that stole the show. Utter CHAOS and carnage reigned supreme as the King of Belgium looked on at the finish line.

Alessandro Petacchi picked his line with precision and timed his final surge to perfection, winning the 5th Tour de France stage of his career, and his first since 2003.

Fabian Cancellara would got caught up in the cluster of bicycles scattered across the street, but emerged unscathed, and wear 'Yellow' for another day.

Lance Armstrong's singular focus to stay safe was rewarded. Team Radio Shack made sure their leader not only survived, but is set to continue his quest for an 8th Tour title.

We expected fireworks on Independence Day- we got the peloton exploding!

Tomorrow we hit our first real elevation of this year's course, and you can bet the excitement level will rise as well.

The Greatest Ever

No, I'm not talking about my wife...but the best bicyclist the world has ever seen- Eddy Merckx. Today, the peloton will roll through the town the "Cannibal" calls home...Meise, will be an inspiration for every one of the 195 riders still left in the race as they pass through the same streets devoured by the five-time Tour de France champion.

There's a famous surfing saying, "Eddie would Go", well in cycling, they used to say "Eddie will Win". He took part in over 1500 races in his career, and won 525. There are baseball players that would beg, borrow, and steal for a 'batting average' of that percentage. Eddie was able to do it time and time again, and when you consider the races he placed on the podium (allowing for 2nd and 3rd), Merckx's percentage is staggering.

He had 80 wins while he was still an amateur! He won every 'classic' aside from Paris-Tour, the Giro d'Italia FIVE times, and the Vuelta a Espana.

A famous quote concerning Eddie was when someone asked if he would win a race, and another competitor replied, "If he WANTS TO, he will"...

These days, Eddie is still quite involved in the world of cycling- his bicycles are used by the Quick Step Pro Tour team, and he is a close friend of 7-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong. He is cycling royalty, and on a day when we await the pros in Brussels in the shadow of the King's Palace, it seems appropriate to honor the greatest 'Patron' the peloton has ever seen.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

FInal Thoughts- Prologue

Another year, but not just another Tour. Lance's Last Stand. It's going to make for a memorable three weeks. Stay tuned...just like last year, i'm going to do my best to give you a 'review/preview' of each day...hope you are some thoughts after yesterday's quick, but clearly meaningful, first five miles of the 2010 "Grand Boucle"...

In the start house today, the time for talk was over. It was up to each man's legs to provide the answers, and Fabian Cancellara's sent a statement! For the 4th time in his career, Cancellara wins on the 1st day of the Tour de France. Now, the question long will he wear YELLOW?

As for the duel between Armstrong and Contador, the prologue lived up to the hype...and if today's any indication, we're in for a "Battle Royale" over the next three weeks.

First Blood has been drawn by Lance. The greatest Tour rider of all time has sent a message to the peloton- his farewell will not be a leisurely stroll through the countryside, he is ready to fight every inch of the way.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's off to the TOUR I go...

All the waiting, the planning, the anticipation, and the preparation is about to pay off. It's TOUR TIME!!

For cycling fans, this is when holidays, birthdays, and 'sports spectaculars' are all rolled into one. BAM!

For the cyclists themselves, "Judgement Day" rapidly approaches. All the training, all the talk, and all the conjecture is about to take a back seat to what they can produce with their legs and their minds over the next 3 weeks.

For those of us 'behind the scenes', it's a frantic (albeit 'controlled') scramble to make sure all elements are in place to PRESENT the spectacle as it deserves to be experienced. TV producers putting last minute touches and tweeks on show elements in order to 'dazzle' the viewer...announcers garnering every bit of information before the prologue in order to 'wow' with their knowledge...event organizers overseeing the infrastructure to contain and showcase the 'stars'...

It is a circus worth experiencing at some point. We are all lucky to be a part of it. I'll do my best to impart what i feel is 'worth' knowing at times, as passionately and professionally as i can. It has the chance, and all the elements, to be one of the most INTERESTING races in years...

The obvious "Alberto vs. Lance" drama, the Green Jersey battle between Cavendish and Farrar, the 1st week's pivotal role in terms of the COBBLES on Stage 3, the 100th anniversary of the Pyrenees, and the critical role they'll play in determining the champion.

It's a jigsaw puzzle of epic proportions. We all have to wait for the final piece to be placed when the inevitable glory will be bestowed on only a select few in Paris on the 25th.

Gentlemen, start your 'engines'...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fruitless Search

Those of you that know me KNOW that i rarely go on a 'rant' least in public. But, i've got to admit, i've 'cracked' over this APPLE iPhone 4 farce. For the moment, the Cupertino company should change their name to "Lemon".

Yes, i know, in the grand scheme of things...the BP fiasco, the Van der Sloot sadness, and the overwhelming myriad of more important issues...a 'phone' (or the inability to get one) should not weigh so heavily on my mind. What irks me the most as an Apple devotee is that THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER THAN THE OTHER GUYS when it comes to glitches and gaffs. How could you not know that your whole phone/internet ordering system would collapse? And if you thought there was even a CHANCE it would, why not advertise that you HAD TO go to a store to place an order. It's tantamount to 'false advertising'. Again, APPLE, you're supposed to let us read about this happening to those other computer companies.

Shipping dates have now been modified, and who knows why they advertised a WHITE can't order it, reserve it, or as far as i know, verify it exists, unless you believe the picture on the website. It's enough to leave a VERY SOUR TASTE in your mouth.

APPLE's lame attempt at an apology seems even less sincere when their press release states how 'happy' they are with 600,000 'pre-orders'...well, guess what, had you not shut your systems down, and made it IMPOSSIBLE for most of the day to place an order, you would have had a lot more, Mr. Jobs. And in today's bottom line, wouldn't that have made your press release even 'tastier'??

Monday, June 14, 2010

OK, you're thinking it, so I'll say it...

Hello, World! It's me. Did you miss me? Something tells me some of you did, some of you didn't, and some could care less. I guess in the grand scheme of things, that's just like life. So i'm moving on, and hopefully you'll come along.

Where have i been? AROUND.


But really, just taking a break from the 'overload' of our digital world. i have to say, for the most part, i am 'over' the need to be Tweeting, Blogging, Poking, and constantly telling the universe what i am up the midst of traveling every week for work, it's become an almost inescapable and unbearable weight to try to keep up with it all. And i don't think i'm alone in this perception.

That said, i do think i'll have some insight and some interesting things to say in the coming stay tuned...I was in Des Moines yesterday to cover the Hy-Vee Triathlon Elite Cup, I'm in Edmonton this coming week for some WEC action, and then it's off to Rotterdam for the start of the 2010 Tour de France.


I can't wait to see the events unfold, and i'll do my best to convey the excitement and importance to those of you who chose to tune in. All the best.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Late Start on 2010

Sorry for the lackadaisical attitude toward 'blogging' to start off the year...the bottom line is i have not felt like i had anything useful to add to all the 'useless' bytes and megabytes floating around cyberspace.

So, for the two of you who read this (yes, Mom, that includes you!), here are my 2010 thoughts as we greet February head-on...

First off, my 13-yr old daughter loves to call me "old" and "behind the times". She is usually right. Case and point- i watched 'Modern Family' for the first time last night (it was the pilot episode) and fell out of my chair. I am not kidding, if you have not watched this show, drop EVERYTHING that you are doing right now, and go to and check it out. Worth dedicating 21 minutes of your life to- seriously.

Second, while on HULU, i decided to check out an SNL clip a friend had recommended. The 'MacGruber' skit with Charles Barkeley. Another instant classic. Sir Charles gets the Emmy for not cracking up the whole time...

There must be some NBC/Universal pixie dust in the air today- so i'm going to stay with that theme...

i'll be starting my Vancouver Olympics assignment in 10 days...manning the 'desk' as the news anchor for NBC's Universal Sports throughout the Games. Should be fun. BEST part is that i get to cover all the winter action without being in WINTER.

The studio is based in Westlake Village, CA, which means i'll be sleeping in my own bed every night. BAM! Hopefully getting some quality riding in before or after work each day.

Speaking of was tough to watch Daron Rhalves go down at Winter X the other day. He was one of the main reasons i was going to tune in to watch Skier X at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Both he and Casey Puckett, in perfect health, would give the U.S. an incredible 1-2 punch. TOUGH is the word i'd use to describe Shaun White after seeing him 'take it on the chin' in the halfpipe during training, then come back and NAIL the jump to win another X Games Gold.

The kid is a freak. If you've never been at the top of one of the sides of the halfpipe, you have no conception of how high, or fast, these guys go. Like any great athlete, they make it look so easy.
If he doesn't win GOLD, again, in Vancouver, there are going to be a lot of people 'eating their hats' and 'losing their lunches'. L-O-C-K.

Hopefully the year has started off well wherever you are. I can't say i'm a big fan of the cooler temps, but out here in Cali, we rarely have to deal, so it's only my travel time, and weekends where i'm affected. And each weekend in JAN, the PBR lived up to its usual hype of bumps, bruises, and big time bulls. FEB looks for more of the same.

If you're a fan of the cowboys, get down to Dallas on Feb 20th. Cowboy Stadium. $260,000 to the winner. One night only. Going to be HUGE. I won't be in attendance due to my Olympic commitments, but i wish i was there, and i'll be paying attention to who claims the prize.

Enjoy your days, weeks, and months ahead. And enjoy every moment along the way.