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 21, 2007

Tour de France Stage 13

Route: Albi - Albi
Riders remaining: 166
Distance: 54 km
- Côte de la Bauzié 3.4 km; 4%; 4 category

Ah, finally, the first individual time trial of the 2007 Tour de France. Conditions: wet! Personally, I find it difficult to watch rainy stages of the race because the road conditions are so dangerous. It makes for a genuinely nerve-wracking experience. Of course, watching my favorite riders beat the clock is inherently stressful; the rain just adds more tension. And if it is stressful for me as a fan and viewer, just imagine what it must be like to be a race competitor.

Individual time trials have a way of “upsetting the apple cart,” as Phil Liggett says, and today was no exception. Some of the pre-race favorites and contenders for the overall lead did well; others torpedoed their chances. Take, for example, the ride of Alexander Vinokourov, by far the most impressive of the day. The captain of Team Astana ABSOLUTELY DECIMATED everyone with a blistering pace, averaging over 30 mph for the entire course, dragging himself into ninth place overall from nineteenth place just the day before. I guess 60+ stitches in both knees and an elbow didn’t make much difference.

Alejandro Valverde, on the other hand, lost huge amounts of time on the leaders, finishing in 47th place for the day. The poor guy finished last, being passed near the line by Michael Rasmussen, a man who started over two minutes behind him. Iban Mayo had a less than stellar showing as well, ending with a result that put him in 46th place. Both riders, who were second and third overall at the end of Stage 12, now sit in eleventh and twelfth place, almost six minutes behind the maillot jaune.

Crashes on the course: Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC, the world time trial champion, crashed between the third and fourth time checks while attempting to turn left after exiting a tunnel. Vladimir Gusev of Team Discovery Channel lost it in a roundabout, also between the third and fourth time checks. Andreas Kloden of Team Astana hit the deck in a corner on the descent of the only climb. Yaroslav Popovych, also from Team Discovery Channel, bought it as well, although I was unable to learn the circumstances of his mishap. Other riders who crashed: Andrey Kashechkin of Team Astana.

Team Discovery Channel status
Between the rain and the crashes, these guys had a challenging day but with decent results. The team ended the stage with three men in the top ten: Yaroslav Popovych, Alberto Contador, and Levi Leipheimer. Focusing a bit wider, the team has four riders in the top thirty overall, the three just mentioned plus Vladimir Gusev. George Hincapie currently sits in 35th place overall. That means that more than 50% of Team Discovery Channel is in the top 21% of all riders competing. If that isn’t evidence of a strong crew, I don’t know what is.

Current standings per all race competitions:

- General classification: Alberto Contador, 3rd; Levi Leipheimer, 5th; Yaroslav Popovych, 15th; Vladimir Gusev, 30th; George Hincapie, 35th.
- Points competition: No contenders.
- King of the Mountains competition: Yaroslav Popvych, 3rd.
- Youth classification: Alberto Contador, 1st.
- Team competition: 2nd.

Race Withdrawals Stage 13

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