Saturday, July 07, 2012

In it to win it

Today was a new day in the Luna Cycles Big Deal Fantasy Tour de France presented by Uncle Chuck's New School Pregreaser. I awoke promptly at 9:30. The large block of ice I had requested from the hotel concierge was in the was in the deep kitchen sink of my modest suite. I ran the water and chipped away at the ice block until I had a sink full of ice water. I plunged my head into the crisp, clear ice water, jolting me out of the journalistic funk I have fallen into. I stood up a new man with only the slightest of champagne hangovers.

Determined to overcome the sins of this past week, I dressed and went down to the hotel lobby to wait for the BMW motorcycle I have rented for the remainder of this year's race. Gone are the days of drinking too much and passing out mid-stage and madly scrambling to find someone to give me a synopsis of the days action. Gone are the days of laying in the ample bed of my modest hotel suite, depleting the well stocked mini bar and watching Eurosport as a substitute for actually covering the race. No dear reader, I mobile and a one man motorcycle journalism machine from this point forward.

I hooked up my iPhone with the earphone/microphone combo under my helmet and set off for the race. Maintaining a constant stream-of-consciousness monologue, I set out to capture every sensation of the day's stage and what a sensational stage it turned out to be.

With just a few kilometers left on the stage, Team Sky set a staggering pace at the front and shattered many, many of the favorites. I captured this shot of pre-race favorite, Frank Schleck as I rocketed past him to stay with the lead group. Schleck must now concede that his dream of a Tour de France victory is over. He and Andy should seriously consider their Hanson Brothers cover band project as more than just a hobby given their results this season.

Christopher Froome (Team Sky) set a dastardly tempo, breaking the legs, minds and spirits of all but Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Cadel Evans (BMC), Vicenzon Nibali (Liquigas), and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis). This photo captures the awesome spectacle of power that he displayed over the final three kilometers. It was all this reporter could do to stay on the gas, take photos, maintain stream of consciousness reporting and keep the powerful BMW motorcycle upright, but it was worth it.

With just 500 meters to go, the road kicked up horribly and a flagging Christopher Froome looked to be overcome by a dig by Cadel Evans in a strong bid to take the stage win. But Froome proved to have just enough left in his legs to respond to Evans' attack, and to ride past him to take a much deserved stage win. Sky are tonight's big winners with a stage win, the yellow jersey on the back of Bradley Wiggins, and a stamp of authority placed on this day's stage by a team that looked to be firing on all cylinders. But have they taken the yellow jersey too soon? With Evans and Nibali now rounding out the top 3 and with just seconds separating these three riders, where will the extra time be gained to give greater separation between the eventual winner and the other top competitors?

A friendly and efficient gendarme pointed me in the correct direction for journalists seeking post race interviews, but by the time I was finished discussing my many adventures covering today's stage with him and several of his colleagues, I was too late to talk to anyone. I take that back- Frank Schleck was oddly hanging out by himself where his team bus had been, looking to get a journalist to interview him about the day and give him a ride back to the team hotel. Since I was on the motorcycle, I just walked by him and tried to avoid I contact. He just looked so eager and helpless...

Little change in the top 3 place of the LCBDFTdFpbUCNSP, with Quint Ervin still in the yellow jersey, Jeff Welch in second, and "Drunkin'" Grant Dunstan in third. Notable too, is the performance of the only two female directeur sportifs of this year's Fantasy Tour. Team Don't Call It A Comeback DS Margi now lies in fourth place and Team Supersonic Pelotonic DS Courtney Morse lies in seventh place overall. Could this be the year that a female directeur sportif wins the Luna Cycles Big Deal Fantasy Tour de France presented by Uncle Chuck's New School Pregreaser?
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