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Old 07-13-12, 12:54 PM   #1
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TdF Observation

For me, the names at the top of the standings are not all that glamorous-have not even heard of some of them but admit I don't follow professional cycling that closely. However so far I think I've enjoyed watching this year even more than past few years. I think a lot of it is seeing the teamwork, strategy and individual skills. Today's stage was a good example. How the fella won had a lot to do with experience and strategy. Also the fact that some teammates being stronger on the climbs than the GC contenders is intriguing. Also the ruling at the finish line on one of the sprints. I hope the remaining stages continue to be interesting.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:23 PM   #2
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I thought todays stage was boring. No action except over the last 10 kms from the breakaway and nothing else to excite. Team members may be stronger in certain disciplines on certain days than the GC contenders but The TDF requires overall skills.

But watching every day live on TV and it is building up to something good. Others can't understand how I find a big group of riders in a line or bunch doing nothing except pedal interesting- but there is always something going on that will bear a relationship later in each days stage.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:33 PM   #3
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No spoilers please. I'm watching today's stage when I get home. At least I know I can fast forward to the last 10 km.

I really enjoyed yesterday's stage. I wonder what might have happened if Froome and Van Garteren had been left to their own devices. I also hope they stay clean. I don't think the sport can take too many more doping scandals.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:48 PM   #4
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I wonder what might have happened if Froome and Van Garteren had been left to their own devices.
I suppose long term it would be about the same as a baseball lead-off hitter swinging for the fence. Once in awhile it might work but the team results are maximized when everybody performs their job.
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Old 07-13-12, 02:22 PM   #5
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There have been complaints that the Tour is getting too "predictable", as it seems to follow the same pattern year after year lately as far as the various jersey competitions are concerned.
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Old 07-13-12, 02:45 PM   #6
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There have been complaints that the Tour is getting too "predictable", as it seems to follow the same pattern year after year lately as far as the various jersey competitions are concerned.
The GC was pretty predictable from 1999 to 2005.
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Old 07-13-12, 02:56 PM   #7
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There have been complaints that the Tour is getting too "predictable", as it seems to follow the same pattern year after year lately as far as the various jersey competitions are concerned.


These complaints are as old as the race. Those who don't like the results always complain. In 1974 Eddy Merckx was asked by the organisers not to compete, because he'd won four in a row and there was such hostility among the French public at the thought of a Belgian equalling Anquetil's record. And in 1975, on his way to winning five, he was punched in the kidneys by an outraged fan on one of the climbs. Having him win was, apparently, "boring" and bad for the race.

There's nothing especially predictable about this year's Tour.

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Old 07-13-12, 03:23 PM   #8
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These complaints are as old as the race. Those who don't like the results always complain. In 1974 Eddy Merckx was asked by the organisers not to compete, because he'd won four in a row and there was such hostility among the French public at the thought of a Belgian equalling Anquetil's record. And in 1975, on his way to winning five, he was punched in the kidneys by an outraged fan on one of the climbs. Having him win was, apparently, "boring" and bad for the race.

There's nothing especially predictable about this year's Tour.
How about that, we agree? Ever since Bobet put together a team effort to drag him to the GC win in 53-54-55 there have been formulas that when done correctly will produce results. That is one of the perks of the team system, the team can help in the GC, Sprints, Climbs and team standings. One of the greats Anquetil never seemed to race any harder than necessary to with the GC. LeMond may have been an exception and he used to hang it all out.
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Old 07-13-12, 03:40 PM   #9
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For me, the names at the top of the standings are not all that glamorous-have not even heard of some of them but admit I don't follow professional cycling that closely. However so far I think I've enjoyed watching this year even more than past few years. I think a lot of it is seeing the teamwork, strategy and individual skills. Today's stage was a good example. How the fella won had a lot to do with experience and strategy. Also the fact that some teammates being stronger on the climbs than the GC contenders is intriguing. Also the ruling at the finish line on one of the sprints. I hope the remaining stages continue to be interesting.
My thoughts exactly - every single word. And even if it seems a little boring at times, I always enjoy the virtual tour through France and seeing the old structures still standing since Medieval times. And it's comforting to learn that they too have days when their legs don't work as expected.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:02 PM   #10
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On the boring side, I admit that I often fall asleep during the TV coverage of the middle of the stage. Phil & Paul's droning voices, plus the standard race strategy (an early break takes off with nobody significant in it, the pack lets them go, then the Yellow Jersey or sprinter's teams start hauling it in at a rate of 1 minute per 10 km, day after day), plus it's just a bunch of guys pedaling bikes.

But it really is quite interesting when you can look beneath all that and see what's really going on. The five races within the race (this would be the competitions for the four jersey classifications plus the competition for the stage win). Seeing if anyone is having a bad day. Trying to figure out why someone is attacking at a certain time or place, or why one of the teams is rapidly accelerating. Watching plans not work or backfire (Sagan trying to bridge up to the break on the descent before the intermediate sprints and failing, or Cadel's beautifully set up break with Tejay, only to get gapped by TVG once the attack is made. The climbing stages are always interesting, as guys attack and other guys go off the back.

But I do think that the coverage on the flat stages could be reduced considerably, focusing on the intermediate sprint and the final 20 km to the bunch sprint at the end. Phil & Paul also get it wrong quite often, regarding what's going on. I find ex-US-based pro Scott Moninger's comments to be far more perceptive, but it does helpl to listen to the analysis to get a better understanding of what's happening; this gives a much greater appreciation and thereby less boredom.

The live reports on Velonews, where a number of knowledgeable guys are commenting on the action as it happens, is also a good source (much better than the rather static live reports on cyclingnews.com).

Like anything else, the more background knowledge you have, the more interesting it gets. But yeah, I still fall asleep during the long, flat sections where nothing is happening!

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Old 07-13-12, 04:06 PM   #11
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Oh, and as well, Team SKy's task is to make the race as boring as possible. It's just the way good team tactics work when you're leading. It's up to the guys who are not leading to light it up!

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Old 07-13-12, 04:07 PM   #12
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There's nothing especially predictable about this year's Tour.
Correct. Evans was supposed to dominate more, he hasn't. BMC looks stronger on paper and is not on the hills. Sky is doing a MUCH better job then had been expected of them, reminds me of the old Postal and Discovery days. Wiggins is riding a boring race - on TV, but is doing exactly what he needs to do to win. Froome and Nibali are keeping the race interesting. Schleck looks lost without his brother - are we sure they aren't twins ?.

One observation I had after yesterday was how, as always, the top riders blow off the peloton when the hill gets steep. You wan't to know who will be high on GC next week ?, look at yesterdays stage.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:36 PM   #13
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Just the scenery is worth watching some of the coverage. I'm not much of a cycling fan, but you've got to appreciate the magnitude of the the individual efforts, the team efforts and the logistics. When all is said and done I'm going to wonder whether the winner is the best cyclist or just the best cyclist of the nine on a very strong team. Could the winner succeed on a middle-of-the-road team?
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Old 07-13-12, 06:27 PM   #14
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I find I ride better and harder with less internal whining, after a few days of watching these guys. Especially on the hills. I can see how steep it is, I can see the suffering. I went up a local long hill Thurs, one I've done maybe 6 times this season. Prior I had maybe maintained 8-9mph. On Thurs I was steady at 11. I'm always thinking "I'm twice the age, 50% or more heavier and can do 2/3 the pace, but other then those small things, I'm the same".
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Old 07-13-12, 06:42 PM   #15
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I've enjoyed watching the Brits revel in their glory, since they're no good at anything else, particularly football.


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Old 07-13-12, 07:53 PM   #16
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But it really is quite interesting when you can look beneath all that and see what's really going on. The five races within the race (this would be the competitions for the four jersey classifications plus the competition for the stage win). Seeing if anyone is having a bad day. Trying to figure out why someone is attacking at a certain time or place, or why one of the teams is rapidly accelerating. Watching plans not work or backfire (Sagan trying to bridge up to the break on the descent before the intermediate sprints and failing, or Cadel's beautifully set up break with Tejay, only to get gapped by TVG once the attack is made. The climbing stages are always interesting, as guys attack and other guys go off the back.
I think the more you understand any sport the more interesting it becomes.

To me, baseball is the least interesting sport in the world. (I've never watched Cricket). It's like watching grass grow and some of the fields are artificial so there isn't even that. I've got friends, though, who LOVE baseball. They can not only plot every pitch but they complain there isn't enough time between pitches for them to think about all the various possibilities.

I guess that's why they have both chocolate and vanilla. I love watching the tour.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:55 PM   #17
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When the peloton isn't all doped up, the 20-somethings dominate, as would be expected. They just recover better. Froome and Van Garderen would both be at the top if the strongest natural riders were the ones that got support.

But rumors of Wiggins doping still seem totally plausible at this point. He is riding with the same control exhibited by Armstrong. If you have an unnatural advantage, the smart guys don't try to show off (like Riccardo Ricco in 2008), they just control their team and win in a boring, ineluctable way.

In general, I think that doping is way down. It is the only explanation for the success of the French riders.

And rdtompki's point re team support is very good. Cavandish is scratching to stay at front in the sprint finishes without his lead out train.
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Old 07-13-12, 08:39 PM   #18
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In general, I think that doping is way down. It is the only explanation for the success of the French riders.
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Old 07-13-12, 10:44 PM   #19
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My thoughts exactly - every single word. And even if it seems a little boring at times, I always enjoy the virtual tour through France and seeing the old structures still standing since Medieval times. And it's comforting to learn that they too have days when their legs don't work as expected.
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Old 07-14-12, 12:51 AM   #20
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Heard a comment this morning and I think it sums up the TDF leaders completely.

Naming names but Wiggins could win--Froome could win---- but it is the team that will win. Without the members of the team working for them--Neither will win.

On the doping side- it is probably there somewhere. It is the same in every sport but at least cycling is taking steps to stop it. They catch the cheats- they take action against them and they advertise the fact that they have caught abd banned the Offenders. Taken a good few years to happen but any professional rider now knows that it is not worth taking drugs as if you do---You will be caught. Not possibly could be caught---YOU WILL BE CAUGHT
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Old 07-14-12, 01:33 AM   #21
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Just the scenery is worth watching some of the coverage. I'm not much of a cycling fan, but you've got to appreciate the magnitude of the the individual efforts, the team efforts and the logistics. When all is said and done I'm going to wonder whether the winner is the best cyclist or just the best cyclist of the nine on a very strong team. Could the winner succeed on a middle-of-the-road team?
Yes. Evans won last year despite BMC being weak. And there have been many similar examples in the past. But it is very difficult for an individual to succeed in the face of sustained assaults from those supporting other riders.

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When the peloton isn't all doped up, the 20-somethings dominate, as would be expected. They just recover better. Froome and Van Garderen would both be at the top if the strongest natural riders were the ones that got support.

But rumors of Wiggins doping still seem totally plausible at this point. He is riding with the same control exhibited by Armstrong. If you have an unnatural advantage, the smart guys don't try to show off (like Riccardo Ricco in 2008), they just control their team and win in a boring, ineluctable way.

In general, I think that doping is way down. It is the only explanation for the success of the French riders.

And rdtompki's point re team support is very good. Cavandish is scratching to stay at front in the sprint finishes without his lead out train.
I agree and disagree. TeeJay is not yet the finished article. Froome may be. But Froome isn't a babe in arms, he's 27. Top stage racers generally don't reach their peak until their late twenties, with some notable exceptions. It takes many years to develop the stamina.

Who knows about doping? But Wiggins and Sky are dominating while climbing significantly slower than did Armstrong, Pantani, Ulrich. Even Kloden used to climb quicker than they are now. That may be a cause for optimism. And Wiggo's climbing style is largely the product of his physiology. He's a world-class time -triallist. What he is good at is putting out sustained power, and managing his effort so he can stay close to the red line, but not cross it, for the required time. What he can't do is the rapid accelerations of the true grimpeurs. So I don't think the way he climbs is in itself indicative of doping.

Finally, Cavendish's win on stage two was a classic example of how to win a sprint without being led out. Were it not for a pretty horrific crash that trashed his chances for two days (he was still pretty beaten up the following day) we might have been talking about him having won three stages already. Obviously a train would help - you could argue that one of its main advantages is to make crashes less likely.

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Taken a good few years to happen but any professional rider now knows that it is not worth taking drugs as if you do---You will be caught. Not possibly could be caught---YOU WILL BE CAUGHT
This isn't true, I'm afraid. Doping moves on. I am optimistic that the use of EPO has been substantially reduced, but my guess is that the dopers are now concentrating not on boosting performance, but on enhancing recovery. To the best of my knowledge there is no test to detect micro dosing of human growth hormone, and I'd bet on that being the drug du jour.
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Old 07-14-12, 04:24 AM   #22
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I believe Froome will opt out of his Sky contract this winter, some team will offer him a lead position for next years TdF.
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Old 07-14-12, 05:50 AM   #23
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There have been complaints that the Tour is getting too "predictable", as it seems to follow the same pattern year after year lately as far as the various jersey competitions are concerned.
That is why the Giro d'Italia is a better one to watch. Less predictable.

But overall the television coverage with the high definition quality is really a big improvement from say 3 years ago.
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Old 07-14-12, 06:13 AM   #24
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Taken a good few years to happen but any professional rider now knows that it is not worth taking drugs as if you do---You will be caught. Not possibly could be caught---YOU WILL BE CAUGHT
Sadly, I don't think so. The dopers are always a step ahead of the regulators.

My theory is that Lance never failed a drug test because he only boosted his chemistry to the threshold of the test. If you do that, I could see how eating a hormone enhanced steak really could be enough to push you over the limit. The latest charge against Lance has to do with witnesses of the dopeing process rather than blood levels.
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Old 07-14-12, 06:23 AM   #25
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I believe Froome will opt out of his Sky contract this winter, some team will offer him a lead position for next years TdF.
"Opt out"? Someone will have to buy him out, as Sky bought Wiggins out of Garmin. And Sky have deeper pockets than any other current team, as I understand it.

Besides, it may well not be in Froome's interests. He'd have to consider the quality of the support that would be available to him elsewhere. He's currently in the strongest, best funded team on the pro tour. And there are three GTs. If I were managing Sky I'd be letting Froome lead a team in this year's Vuelta or next year's Giro. He's only 27. He could pick up a GT or two if he's good enough, and then inherit the team leadership for the TdF from Wiggo maybe the year after next. That would be the smarter choice, IMO.
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