Friday, July 8, 2011

Another weekend is upon us!

Wow, another week gone by.  The first week of the Tour de France, and what an exciting and dangerous week it has been.  My favorite team Garmin-Cervelo has had a spectacular week with wins in the team time trial (Stage 2) and Tyler Farrar's sprint win on Stage 3.  Thor Hushovd has been in yellow since stage 2, so all in all a great TdF for Garmin so far.

Just a crazy week of crashes though, and so devastating to both Radioshack and Quickstep.  Jani Brajkovic is out with a concussion and broken collarbone, and now Chris Horner is questionable with the crash today where he sustained a broken nose and a concussion.  Even of Chris continues he is now over 12 minutes down after being up in 13th at around 10 or 15 seconds back.  Levi Leipheimer has had several crashes now, losing over a minute yesterday and now an additional three minutes today.  Quickstep has lost Tom Boonen with his retirement from today's stage and Sylvan Chavanel, the current French champion hurt.  Bradley Wiggins from Sky Procycling is out with a broken collarbone and for Sky he was their hope for the General Classification (GC), but Sky does have quite a few others that can get some stage wins.

Tyler Farrar winning Stage 3 of 2011 TdF
I am not sure why so many crashes this year.  The roads don't look any more narrow than the past, but the peloton has seemed to be more nervous than the past and the wind direction changes seem to have played a part, at least in today's stage.   Riders are taking more risks trying to get through small gaps for no real benefit, it is like they want to be around their team regardless if they are working at the front or not.  One of the reasons I haven't returned to doing more races, besides being so busy, is that since I have had so many years since I have had a racing licence I am considered a Cat. 5 rider.  In road races it is hard enough to be around a bunch of guys who have no real experience riding in a pack of more than 10 riders, let alone a criterium with a 100 rider field and guys trying to stuff each other into corners.  After seeing all the crashes in the Davis 4th of July Criterium that I was a corner marshal for, I really don't have any desire to ride criteriums.  I thought the Pro 1/2 race was pretty good with no pileups and generally pretty smooth riding, at least until the final sprint where a rider from Yahoo! was clipped and sent spinning.  It was rather interesting in that midway through the crash he managed to stand up, unfortunately he had so much momentum he continued into the barriers without his bike.  He appeared to be ok, but shaken up.

Even doing group rides there are so many sketchy riders and people who are "experienced" but really have no concept of pack riding and being able to draft properly.  I have been lectured by several riders that I need to ride directly behind the rider in front, nevermind the fact the wind is head to cross or cross and if I ride directly behind I am actually getting very little draft.  I know we can't ride echelon in traffic, but I tend to ride where the actual draft is, not just directly behind.  Also, so many riders can't rotate though a paceline without hammering as soon as they are on the front.  If you are trying to attack, attack, but if you want to ride as an efficient group pull though easy and just match the pace, if you want to increase the pace, but stay together, slowly increase the speed.  And one more pet peeve, when you stand up when climbing please don't throw your bike backwards, as you stand you do it at the top of the pedal stroke so you don't shove your bike back into the rider behind you.  Ok, I am done bitching for the night.  It isn't like I am not guilty of some piss poor bike handling, everyone has lapses in concentration and most don't have devastating consequences, but I think in general everyone could do with some bike handling drills and nothing beats cyclocross for building some handling skills.

I am looking forward to watching the 8th Stage of the Tour tomorrow after my ride, I am going out for a ride to Sutter Creek with a couple of thousand feet of climbing to make things fun.  Just riding by myself tomorrow, I haven't felt like I was going well at all this week, and haven't done my usual hours,so hopefully I am up for the ride tomorrow.

 I am sure that tomorrow will calm the nerves in the peloton and the number of riders who are able to follow the lead will be reduced considerably.  I don't know if Garmin has any riders that are going to go hard for GC this year.  I am still hoping that Chistian VanVelde, Ryder Hesjedal or Tom Danielson will be able to ride into the top 10.  Cadel Evans looks to be headed to a podium if he can keep up the pace in the mountains.  So far Cadel looks pretty good and it seems to be his year, at least if he can stay out of the chaos.  Trudi got the podium flowers from Cadel when he won Stage 4, I don't know if Trudi is the soigner that works with Cadel, but that is pretty cool.

Time to get some rest for tomorrows ride, ride hard and stay safe!

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