Wow, what a wild couple of days it's been in the Tour. I've been enjoying the action, as this year feels much more like the wild year of 2003 than last year's less intense rivalry. From the individual time trial and Zabriske's win until now, I'm very much enjoying the 2005 Tour.
Starting in stage 9, things got interesting as Lance got caught alone, and had to fight off attack after attack on the mountain. Then came stage 10, where The Discovery channel boys hammered the field with an amazing pace, shedding riders off the back, until only Lance and Valdeverde remained to battle for the win.
Then today's stage 11, VInokourov takes flight for most of the day, beating out only Botero at the line, after cracking spectacularly in yesterday's stage 10. It was amazing to see the DIsco Boys hammering today, to reduce Vino's 3-some minute gap all the way down to 1:15!
I've been impressed with Rasmussen and Valverde, as they seem able to match Armstrong so far. I suppose that the real test is, how long can they stay with him through the Alps and Pyrenees? But that's the fun of it all — seeing guys like Vinokourov dropped one day, only to rise and attack the next. I expect the fireworks and attacks will continue tomorrow.
I don't have any idea what might happen over the next few weeks, but judging by the first week and a half, it ought to be quite exciting.
I'm always amazed how much I learn each time I follow the Tour, especially hearing Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen making the call on OLN TV. I love their background information and insights, because it's an opportunity to discover even more depth about cycle racing, what each attack or move really means in the scheme of things.
I've also been enjoying The TDF For The Rest of Us blog, by John Hay, Jr. who also does a nice job of explaining what the moves of the day meant, and how they play into the overall picture of the Tour. Great stuff!
I stumbled across a good interview with Eddie Merckx at SpIegel (in English) I wanted to share here (via TDF blog). Eddie talks quite a bit about Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, and what he sees as differences in their attitudes. Merckx seems convinced that Lance is destined for the overall 7th win. It's a good interview, worthy of a read.
Finally, if you haven't yet checked out Eurosport's live streaming, do so. While I truly relish hearing Phil and Paul each stage, the Eurosport team of David Duffield and Sean Kelly do a very nice job. Here are the links for WIndows IE and a direct link for Windows Media (including Mac users).
Enloy the next few weeks cycling fans! :-)
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