Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tour De France: How Did the First Day in the Mountains Go?

A Day to Forget for Most 

 The eighth stage of the 2013 Tour De France was a day that most would like to forget. With two massive climbs, including the Hors Category Col de Pailheres, it was a day for the climbers.

 Can Anyone Stop Sky?

 Sky Pro Cycling showed the field they are here to win by absolutely decimating the contenders on the final climb up to the finish at Ax 3 Domaines. It all started at the base of the Col de Pailheres, when they set a fast-pace up the climb eliminating all of the pretenders among them, the likes of young American star Tejay Van Garderen, who would go on to loose more than twelve minutes on the day. Might I say that team Sky looked reminiscent of the old USPS team from the Armstrong days? They were all on the front and dropped everyone even without attacking. The team’s Richie Porte was still able to finish better than all of the other contenders, like Contador and Valverde, even after taking a massive pull at the front.

 Who was left to threaten Froome in the mountains? Nairo Quintana could probably have competed with Froome on the final climb had he not been trigger happy and attacked on the massive Col de Pailheres. That will come with time as he gets more tours under his belt. Hopefully Contador can return to his climbing ways, but nobody can touch Froome and Porte in the time trials. In fact, the only one that has a chance at beating them is Tony Martin and he’s definitely no threat to the GC. Contador has struggled against the clock since returning from his doping suspension and Valverde has never been very good against the clock. If I could predict this year’s podium, I would venture to guess that Sky Pro Cycling will go 1-2 on the podium for a second year in a row. Next year will we see Porte winning and another Sky rider in second. I mean Sky is set for the future with prodigy’s Joe Dombrowski and Ian Boswell waiting in the wings for there own cracks at a Grand Tour. But, I am getting ahead of myself. There is still two weeks to go and as they say in cycling, anything can happen.

Out Go the Lights 

 For many contenders it was a day where the hopes of winning the greatest bike race on earth just fizzled out. Tejay Van Garderen was probably the biggest disappointment of the day losing over twelve minutes and getting dropped on the penultimate climb with Sky not even going all out. After last year’s top five performance and finally winning the Tour of California this past May everything was looking up for Tejay, but it just was not to be. Adding to that, Cadel Evans lost over 4 minutes. It was a day much of the BMC team wished they could forget. Manager Jim Ochowicz admitted after the race that the team might have to change their game plan. Meanwhile, Saxo-Tinkoff Director Bjarne Riis is still holding out hope that Contador will find his climbing legs and not surrender to Sky just yet. It was clear Contador was tapped out as he sat on the absolute edge of his saddle to try to get as much power over the pedals as possible. The fact is, you have more power in your hamstrings and glutes when you sit back, but when you’re in a world of pain instinct tells you to lean forward.

Schleck Makes Progress, Belkin Shows Strength

Through the first week of the Tour Andy Schleck was able to limit his loses. He entered the day only 27 seconds down on Froome. The question on everyone’s mind coming into the Tour was how would Andy climb? Andy showed us he can still climb with the big boys, but stills needs to work on finding that one last gear. This past year has been nothing but brutal for Schleck. An injury just before last year’s Tour and difficulty regaining his form, the media became highly critical of Schleck. Today he showed us he is on the comeback trail. Coming over the penultimate HC climb he was tucked nicely in the top ten. He stayed with the group at the beginning of the final climb, but once Sky cranked it up he just could not follow coming in just about 3 minutes in the rear. Look for Schleck to improve as the tour continues and possibly win a stage when the race goes for the Alps. The surprise of the day had to be the duo of Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema of Belkin Pro Cycling team. They finished fourth and fifth on the day respectively. Belkin came into the Tour with Robert Geshink as their leader, but as he faded Ten Dam and Mollema took up the reins. Both looked strong on the climb, finishing ahead of many of the pre-race favorites.

 Now that many riders have lost all hope in winning the Tour look for them to go on the attack. Teams now will switch to chasing stage wins and things will become complicated for team Sky. They will have to keep track of all of the riders and monitor the GC contenders. Its setting up to be an exciting two weeks, so grab your popcorn and buckle up because fireworks are on the horizon.

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