Archive for July, 2010

On Being Fearless

Posted: July 31, 2010 in It's All Important Stuff

Fear is the oddest of emotions.  I am constantly surprised at how it plays into my life, such that overcoming fear has been a prelude to all significant achievement.

Work has been terrible the past few days.  For several weeks my emotions have run out of my normal stoic control.  To a guy who relentlessly tries to control all variables, this is an extremely uncomfortable situation.  Frankly, I have not been crazy about where I found myself with my job and have been anxious about the risk in which this places me.  Ironically, this very fear has put me in a worse situation as it has caused me to behave in a manner which does not lead to success.  Go figure.

I also had a great week.  Thinking through my situation, I evaluated the worst possible outcome, rolling it through my mind until I realized that it just wasn’t that bad.  Then I pictured the best possible outcome and held my focus there.  I entered a tough negotiation and a delicate meeting with my head held high, and with total confidence.

I could picture the ideal state for all.  As such, I calmly laid out this picture for my boss and opened my mind to options beyond my focus.  Ironically, the final outcome was way beyond my best possible envisioned scenario.  Again, go figure.

Being afraid of losing precludes winning.  Visualizing a brilliant outcome and focusing energy there is a much more rational approach to achieving success.

I am going to have to try this in the lake next time I swim.

Sniff, sniff, the 2010 Tour de France is over. Well done to Alberto Contador (Yellow Jersey), Alessandro Petacchi (Green Jersey), Anthony Charteau (King of the Mountains), Andy Schleck (White Jersey), Team Radio Shack (Team Classification) and Sylvain Chavanel (Combative Rider).

These are my favorite moments of the tour this year…

Stage 15 from Pamiers to Bagnères-de-Luchon, the obvious choice as most dramatic. Andy Schleck began the stage in the Yellow Jersey with a 31 second lead over Alberto Contador and ended the day 8 seconds behind Contador . . . a total loss of 39 seconds. Wait a minute, that is significant because it is the exact same time by which he lost the tour. It is also significant because of the circumstances under which Schleck lost the lead to Contador. Clearly they were the class of the field and the only real contenders for the jersey. Armstrong, Evans, Basso and Leipheimer had all cracked at various stages of the race and apart from Schleck and Contador, the only riders who were consistently in the small but elite peleton at the end of the mountain stages were Sammy Sanchez, Denis Menchov, Jurgen van den Broek and Robert Gesink.

About three quarters of the way up the climb, Andy Schleck attacked Alberto Contador and, for the first time in the entire Tour, Contador could not respond. In that moment . . . when Schleck finally had the measure of his great rival, a truly bizarre thing happened, Schleck’s chain came loose. Suddenly, instead of adding critical seconds to his lead, Schleck was desperately trying to get his chain fixed before the others rode away from him. People will argue for years to come as to whether or not Contador should have taken advantage of Schleck’s misfortune or else waited for him. Contador claims he didn’t realize Schleck was having a mechanical problem and he also couldn’t afford to let the likes of Sammy Sanchez and Denis Menchov eat into his slender 2 minute lead. The issue was argued on these very blogs and it was suggested that if Contador had waited, Sanchez and Menchov would have waited too, but how was Contador to know that? There was no time for a round-table discussion and, rightly or wrongly, Contador, Sanchez and Menchov all headed for the summit without Schleck. Schleck showed tremendous courage and did his best to reduce the deficit but he didn’t have a big enough group on the descent and ended up losing 39 seconds to Contador along with the yellow jersey. Those 39 seconds proved decisive.

The Prologue, according to Phil Liggett, was the most decisive stage as Andy lost 45 seconds.  “Andy can’t time trial.”  Proven untrue when Andy really scared Contador in the final time trial.   It turns out that Andy needs 2 1/2 weeks of hard racing to properly warm up for a time trial.   Go figure.  Perhaps that is my problem.

The Tour organizers had decided to incorporate 7 sections of cobblestone roads to the stage 3 and  many felt this would disadvantage Alberto Contador who had very little experience of riding on the pavé, but Contador only lost 1 minute 13 seconds to the Saxo Bank contenders when he was expected to lose quite a bit more. If anything it was a disaster for the Saxo Bank team when Andy’s brother Frank had to abandon the tour after crashing on the pavé  and breaking his collarbone. One can only wonder how differently the Tour would have turned out if Andy had had his brother Frank to help him in the Pyrenees!

And finally, Lance bid his final adieu.  I think that the old guy really showed himself well.   We look forward to seeing you at Kona next year.

Le Tour 2010: Fin

Posted: July 25, 2010 in It's All Important Stuff

Yes, tomorrow many of us, certainly I, will look longingly at our TV’s, remote in hand, and pout or possibly tear up a bit.  Sunday in Paris is one of the greatest days in sport.  I have had the pleasure to watch Lance zip up four yellow jerseys on the top step in Paris.

The magic of the day is difficult to describe.  Paris is the greatest city in the world and the best venue to participate in the tour.

Not shown on TV is the amazing parade which takes place after the podium platitudes are over.  Each team takes a very slow celebratory lap up and down the Champs.  All of our heroes greet their fans.  Many regularly stop for family or their local fan clubs along the route.

I remember in 2005 when Christian Vande Velde jumped into the “Cutters” to a huge roar.  This is the time for all of us to thoroughly enjoy the amazing show that these guys and the organizers have put on.  By win number seven, Lance became even more unreachable, but the other guys are just guys.  They are our heroes, but mortal all the same.  It shows in Paris.  It is easy to forget that most are 23-29 years old and were working in their local bike shop a couple of years ago.

2010 was the most interesting tour I can remember, and I have been following for 30+ years.  In 1989 when LeMond took out Fignon in the final Time Trial is my all time favorite moment.  My neighbors must have thought that I lost it, as I screamed madly when Greg smoked Fignon in Paris. This is still the fastest time trial in history. Greg rode at 33.8 mph for 15 miles.

see the video of the Time Trial

But, 2010 has left us with so much to discuss.  Check back in over the next few days and we can have a chat about our favorite moments from this year. Please leave a comment about your thoughts on Le Grand Boucle.

Adieu Le Tour

Amoral Victory

Posted: July 24, 2010 in It's All Important Stuff

I’ll be back to win in 2011

Andy’s youthful pledge to make it to the top step of the podium this year is not going to happen. Andy will slide into Paris with a mere  39sec deficit to Contador after starting today’s amazing Time Trial stage only eight seconds behind.

Schleck lost nearly two minutes to Contador in the final time trial last year.  He, and all of Luxembourg, should be very proud.  Schleck has seriously improved against the watch and dropped just 31 seconds to one of the best time trial riders in the world on a long windy parcours.

“I’ve always said I’ve progressed (in the time trial) but to beat Alberto is not easy. I gave it my all, and I just couldn’t beat him,” said Schleck.

“I’ve won two stages here, so for that I’m happy. I will come back next year to win. He is not unbeatable.”

The irony does not escape us that Andy lost 39 seconds when Alberto attacked him after dropping his chain on the “Jalabert” climb.  This abhorrence to tradition will long be argued among pedalphyles.  Yes 39sec is what Alberto gained that day and 39sec is exactly the lead going into Paris….hmmmm?

I do take solace that Contador was then obliged to gift Andy the stage on the Tourmalet.

“The Tour last three weeks, and you have to be good every day,” added Schleck.

“In the mountains I think we were about the same level. I messed up the prologue. In the Tour, it’s the final result that counts and he’s beaten me by 39 seconds.”

We all have to give it Contador. The guy is freakin’ good.  Lance has said that Alberto is better than he was in his prime.  Hard to judge this statement, but it surely could be true.  That being said, I still do not have to like him or respect his style.

Fabulous Fabian Cancellara did come through, on a course with a bit less wind, and trounced everyone for the stage win today.  He is clearly the class of racing the clock.

Bicycle racing is a sport for warriors.  Some fight on the side of giant mountains, some rolling through the heart of the populace and others in all out dashes to an arbitrary line painted on the town square just that morning.

It isn’t the roads, or the country or the trail that makes this so.  It is the earnestness lived, honor shown and willingness to utterly fail by mortal men and women who rise above any place they ever thought that they could.

Most of us stand on the side, voyeuristically watching, exalting their virtues, lamenting their fate, somehow seeking larger purpose.  Some people have to be good and some people have to be great.  Anyone who completes the Tour de France is great.

Seek what you will, but seek something at which to be great.  There is no greater profundity than that achieved by reaching some place a little too far, just yesterday.

Andy Raymond Schleck and Alberto Contador made up prior to the serious throw down today on the Tourmalet.  Perhaps the settling of Andy’s anger tips the scale back toward Alberto.  Even this may be a bit of a calculation on Contador’s part.

Andy Schelck best tells the story – I’m satisfied with the stage win but I also wanted to turn white into yellow but unfortunately it wasn’t possible. I really tried hard, you have to believe me about that. I changed rhythm and I tried everything but I think we’re on the same level on the climbs. Alberto attacked and I could go with him – it was a quick response – but in the end he didn’t sprint to win the stage because I did the most work.  I have a lot of respect for that, it shows that he’s a great champion. I tried to find out how he was feeling. You need to look at someone to see how he was coping. I think you can find out a lot if you look someone in the eyes. He didn’t have the sunglasses on today so it was possible to see, that’s why I looked so many times. But he always looked good and that’s kind of what killed me.   El Pistolero is strong, huh? I could not drop him. He was always there. I wanted to find out if he was getting weak but he didn’t succumb. He even attacked me to show, ‘Hey, listen young boy, I’m still here! You better stop playing these games with me.’ I’m super happy to win this stage today – it’s the Queen stage of this year’s Tour. To win on the Tourmalet is like a win on Alpe d’Huez.  When I turned to talk to him, I said: ‘You pass?’ And he didn’t. I would have done the same. Why should he pass me? In the end, he let me win the stage and I’m super happy.

It is fairly certain that the top two podium spots are now settled.  Alberto’s attack on Andy a few days ago may have cost him a stage today, as he felt compelled to gift the stage victory to Andy.  There is always justice in Le Tour.  Looking down the overall times after today it is very nice to see Ryder Hesjedal moving up to 8th and Chris Horner to 10th.  Both can time trial well and have great chances to move ahead with two Spaniards ahead of them on GC.

1. CONTADOR Alberto 1 ASTANA 83h 32′ 39″
2. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM SAXO BANK 83h 32′ 47″ + 00′ 08″
3. SANCHEZ Samuel 181 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 83h 36′ 11″ + 03′ 32″
4. MENCHOV Denis 191 RABOBANK 83h 36′ 32″ + 03′ 53″
5. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 101 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 83h 38′ 06″ + 05′ 27″
6. GESINK Robert 195 RABOBANK 83h 39′ 20″ + 06′ 41″
7. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 77 KATUSHA TEAM 83h 39′ 42″ + 07′ 03″
8. HESJEDAL Ryder 54 GARMIN – TRANSITIONS 83h 41′ 57″ + 09′ 18″
9. KREUZIGER Roman 44 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 83h 42′ 51″ + 10′ 12″
10. HORNER Christopher 23 TEAM RADIOSHACK 83h 43′ 16″ + 10′ 37″
11. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 161 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 83h 45′ 25″ + 12′ 46″
12. PLAZA MOLINA Ruben 168 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 83h 45′ 40″ + 13′ 01″
13. LEIPHEIMER Levi 25 TEAM RADIOSHACK 83h 47′ 03″ + 14′ 24″
14. KLÖDEN Andréas 24 TEAM RADIOSHACK 83h 47′ 23″ + 14′ 44″
15. ROCHE Nicolas 81 AG2R LA MONDIALE 83h 48′ 39″ + 16′ 00″
16. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 9 ASTANA 83h 50′ 36″ + 17′ 57″
17. GADRET John 85 AG2R LA MONDIALE 83h 50′ 38″ + 17′ 59″
18. LÖVKVIST Thomas 37 SKY PRO CYCLING 83h 51′ 09″ + 18′ 30″
19. DE WEERT Kevin 133 QUICK STEP 83h 52′ 42″ + 20′ 03″
20. MORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel 107 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 83h 58′ 02″ + 25′ 23″
21. SASTRE Carlos 91 CERVELO TEST TEAM 83h 58′ 29″ + 25′ 50″
22. MOREAU Christophe 166 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 84h 05′ 09″ + 32′ 30″
23. ARMSTRONG Lance 21 TEAM RADIOSHACK 84h 10′ 37″ + 37′ 58″
24. WIGGINS Bradley 31 SKY PRO CYCLING 84h 13′ 42″ + 41′ 03″
25. CASAR Sandy 62 FDJ 84h 15′ 35″ + 42′ 56″
26. EVANS Cadel 121 BMC RACING TEAM 84h 17′ 52″ + 45′ 13″
27. EL FARES Julien 174 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 84h 21′ 35″ + 48′ 56″
28. RIBLON Christophe 89 AG2R LA MONDIALE 84h 23′ 06″ + 50′ 27″
29. CUNEGO Damiano 201 LAMPRE – FARNESE 84h 24′ 35″ + 51′ 56″
30. BASSO Ivan 41 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 84h 26′ 25″ + 53′ 46″

Time is up!  Andy either nails Contador on the Touramlet for 90 seconds or goes home in second.  Can he do it?  Absolutely, he can.

Andy is right where we expected him to be two weeks ago.  He is within striking range, but his achilles heel, called the race of truth for a reason, will most likely cost him 90 seconds on Saturday.  But, when you back a fierce competitor into a corner, you can never know what to expect.

Until now there was always tomorrow.  We are out of tomorrows.  Andy either attacks and wins on Thursday or he skips the best step in cycling – the top step on the Tour de France.

Andy Schleck says we haven’t seen his full strength yet, and I agree, he closed a big gap to Contador before the summit of the Port de Bales. What if Andy had slipped his chain with one more kilometer to climb?   I think Schleck would have thrown his bottle in Contador’s spokes and raced him into Pau.

Technically Alberto doesn’t have to attack. Last year Contador took 1:44 out of Schleck in 40.5 kilometers in the final individual time trial. This year, the Stage 19 time trial is 52 kilometers long.

Contador has yet to win a stage yet in this year’s Tour de France. He might be able to win the Tour without winning a stage, but I find it hard to believe he doesn’t want to win on the Tourmalet tomorrow.  Thus far, Andy has made him look bad. He was criticized for chasing down his teammate, Alexander Vinokourov – perhaps justly so. And then there was the toolness of Stage 15 when Schleck dropped his chain.  Again, further evidence that Contador is a butt and a tool.

Contador needs to win on the Tourmalet.  A real champion would do so.  A real champion would demonstrate his superiority. A champion races to win and not to lose.  We’ll see what Contador really is made on the slopes tomorrow.

Throw it down boys.  We want to see who is the best.

Lance attacked today.  My prediction was one day off, but, hey, the old guy looked pretty good out there.  Give him his due.  He rumbled with the young fast guys and made us all proud.  Four more days and we can begin the Ironman Kona countdown to 2011.  Lance won a great chance to win.

I really appreciate and respect the comments of everyone regarding Contador.  Contador, in my opinion, is a butt because he attacked when Andy had a mechanical.  I recognize the fairness of this debate.  If he weren’t previously a butt, I may not make such a fuss.

However, Alberto is a total tool because he continues with his story that he didn’t know Andy had a mechanical.  This is total BS.  He watched it happen in front of him.  He nearly crashed into him.  Race radio was cackling within seconds of the occurrence and Alberto not only didn’t slow down, but attacked all the stronger, whipping the entire top 5 into a frenzy.  He could have simply held out his hand and the others would have waited for 15 seconds while Andy jumped back on the back.

Fine, don’t wait for the yellow jersey, but just man up about it and say that the race was in front and you felt you had no choice but to go.  Contador will likely still win, but he lost his chance to win greatly.

Menchov and Sanchez have oddly escaped criticism, yet surely these two very experienced riders also share some of the responsibility. Ultimately however it was the second-place rider Contador who had most to gain, and, as the defending champion, up to him to suck it up and ask them to stop to wait for when the Yellow Jersey was in trouble.

Contador has little authority over the peloton, and this may have been part of the problem. No-one looked to him for guidance, as they would have if it were Armstrong in that position. One feels that whilst the other riders respect Contador as a rider, their respect for him as a leader is almost non-existent, because he is a butt.

Contador could have earned that respect yesterday and won the heart of the cycling world. Instead, he lost a great many fans and left many others trying to justify his unsportsmanlike behaviour.  So perhaps because he has previously been such a butt, he couldn’t help but be a tool today.  Ergo a possible defense – perhaps he should go with this.

See Contador’s apology video

Many of us will face Tour withdrawal on Wednesday, but Thursday should be an outstanding racing day.  Schleck has already promised fireworks.  “Thursday we will see a big attack,” he said.  He is pissed and, frankly, I hope he smacks Contador hard and gains a couple of minutes.   He will need it on Saturday.

Contador Is A Tool

Posted: July 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Contador is a tool. He does not honor the jersey. He is not a champion. Again, he is that classless guy whom will have no friends today.

The Tourmalet is a BEAST. Go Andy. Many of us want you to totally kick his ass today.

I do love the drama with Phil and Paul. Has Liggett finally lost his mind?

Hitting the deck over and over will take the sting out of your legs and Lance certainly did not feel great on the first day in the pyrenees.   The seven-time Tour champion took it relatively easy, allowing the young dudes to match testosterone and watts output in the high mountains.

“Once you’re not there and once you know you’re not going to be the best, I’d prefer … to sit up and enjoy it,” Armstrong said Sunday, after he finished 70th, more than 15 minutes behind stage winner Christophe Riblon.

“It’s a unique experience with no pressure at all,” said Armstrong, who dropped to 38th overall. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m going out having a good time.”

Lance is a born killer.  He will not be satisfied with a “tour” of France.  Winning the team classification is important to Radio Shack and they will defend it, as it may be all they have left, from Caisse d’Epargne.  Lance, I suspect, cares not at all about that.  He wants a win.  He has been looking for the right moment.  That moment is today.

The route today goes over the Col de Portet-d’Aspet. That would ordinarily be considered a benign, category two climb. But 15 years ago Sunday, Fabio Casartelli, Armstrong’s dear friend and teammate, died after a horrific crash on the descent of the climb.

Burning that emotion as fuel, in 2001, Armstrong grabbed yellow the day the race passed by the 8-foot tall sundial that was erected as a memorial to Casartelli. Lance would not be denied for the stage victory.  He saluted Fabio as he rolled across the line.

The punks could close out Lance today.  Contador’s Astana teammates have tried to shake Schleck throughout the mountains, and in doing so, they’ve successfully dropped Armstrong each time.  But, has he shown us what he has.

“They’re not going to let me go early on, so you have to have your climbing legs,” Armstrong said. “And obviously, nobody’s going to give it away.

“Back in our heyday, we never gave anything away. I don’t want them saying, ‘Let the old man have one.’ That’s not what this event is about. It’s a hard sporting event. The best guy is supposed to win on a daily basis, on a three-week basis.

“I’ll do my best,” he said, “but as you know, and everybody knows, we’re running out of chances.”

Lance will attack today, lighting the road, hurting the young legs behind – the attack alone will be a victory.  I want Lance to win because he is an old dude now.  Us old dudes got to stick together.

Go Lance!