Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tour de France Prologue

Route: London - London
Riders remaining: 189
Distance: 7.9 km
Climbs: None

July is here…and so is the premier summer pastime in my home: watching the Tour de France. The first day (at least for as long as I have been watching the bike race) is an individual time trial, where each rider tests himself against the clock. The winner this year: Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland riding for Team CSC. He completed 7.9 kilometers (~5 miles) in just 8 minutes and 50 seconds. Very impressive.

Yet for all the fanfare of opening day, the 2007 Tour is actually being ridden without a 2006 winner in its ranks. Why? Because the 2006 Tour de France podium result has yet to be finalized, due to a doping scandal involving the winner: Floyd Landis. I won’t get into the particulars of this controversy; that could most certainly fill pages and pages of blog entries. Suffice it to say, the jury has yet to return a verdict in the case --- literally. The result was supposed to be announced yesterday (July 6, 2007) but, so far, no word has reached the cycling newswire.

This lack of a decision prompted the Tour de France organizers to begin numbering riders at “11” rather than “1” this year. Usually the team of the defending champion begins the numbering, with the previous winner carrying the numeral “1.” The teammates of the champion then use numerals “2” through “10.” The team of the second place winner from the previous year uses numerals “11” through “20,” and so on, until all 189 riders have been accounted for. With no 2006 winner and, consequently, no winning team, the numerals “1” through “9” are eliminated, and the numbering begins with the second place team.

Confusing, I know. Just remember: if you plan to watch, don’t look for numerals “1” through “9” on the back of any rider. For 2007, those numerals don’t exist. If you are looking for the Team Discovery Channel (USA), watch for numerals “111” through “119.” They represent the following riders:

111 Levi Leipheimer (USA)
112 Alberto Contador (Spain)
113 Vladimir Gusev (Russia)
114 George Hincapie (USA)
115 Egoi Martinez (Spain)
116 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spain)
117 Sergio Paulinho (Portugal)
118 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)
119 Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania)

For daily coverage of the Tour de France, tune to the Versus channel early each morning. You won’t be sorry that you did.

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