Friday, July 22, 2011

Le Tour de France!

Well, the most grueling sporting event on the planet is coming to an end this weekend. The 98th Tour de France will complete the 21 stage, 3,430.5 kilometers (2,131 miles) race on Sunday on the famed cobble stones of the Champs-Elysees in Paris. On the heels of yet another doping controversy this time dealing with the defending champion Alberto Contendor, the race started with a bit of a cloud over it. Once the riding started, the focused went back on the riders, the teams, and of course the brutal stages.

As in the years past, this year has proven to be very exciting. There have been photo finishes, huge breakaways, brutal climbs and nasty crashes. I don’t remember a year since I have been watching the tour on a daily basis that had more crashes than this year. It has been absolute carnage out on the roads of France. The most amazing crash wasn’t caused by a mental lapse by a rider or a gamble to earn some time, it came when a media vehicle hit a rider in a breakaway while trying to avoid a tree on the side of the road in stage 9. To avoid a tree, the car had to quickly veer into the road and he hit the lead rider of the breakaway and that cause a couple of riders to crash. One of which flipped into a barbed wire fence on the side of the road. He got up and finished the race then went to the hospital to get 36 stitches and multiple bandages. No one can say these guys are tough! Here is a clip of the crash!

Brutal crash!

I am looking forward to the last day in the Alps on Friday and then the individual time trail on Saturday. Unless there is a huge breakaway that gains a large amount of time on Friday, the tour will be decided during the time trail which is the purest form of cycling. Each rider out on the course alone going full speed, it should be another exciting finish! Of course there is one more day on Sunday, but that day is usually the day the sprinters try to get the stage win and the overall leaders try not to get in a crash! This has been a great tour for the American teams but as for an American in the chase for the finial Yellow Jersey, the closest guy we have is in 9th place. It is still good fun to watch! Those guys are amazing athletes!

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