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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tour de France Stage 16

Route: Orthez – Gourette-Col d’Aubisque
Riders remaining: 160
Distance: 218.5 km
- Port de Larrau 14.7 km; 8.1%; H category
- Alto Laza 3.5 km; 6.8%; 3 category
- Col de la Pierre-Saint-Martin 14.2 km; 5.2%; 1 category
- Col de Marie-Blanque 9.3 km; 7.4 %; 1 category
- Col d’Aubisque 16.7 km; 7.0%; H category

I missed HUGE chunks of the race today due to a power outage that lasted for several hours in my part of town. Thankfully, most of the food in my refrigerator survived, but not my ability to report on the Tour de France. I was able to catch the last few kilometers, though, and what a treat for this cycling fan! To watch Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador take on the maillot jaune on the last climb was impressive, and not just from the perspective of physical competition. For a seasoned professional like Leipheimer to demonstrate utter humility by stepping into the role of domestique for a man almost ten years his junior was an example for all of us. I’m sure Mr. Leipheimer had his own goals for the Tour de France, especially since he came to the race as the captain of Team Discovery Channel. Yet, circumstances on the road to Paris have dictated a new plan for the team --- support of Contador as the best hope for a podium finish. Unfortunate for Levi, at the moment, but the Tour de France never stays the same for more than a few hours. Tomorrow is another day, with another shot at victory and time bonuses.

Team Discovery Channel status
Obviously, the “Disco Boys” looked great on the slopes of the Col d-Aubisque, coming in second and third on the stage. Alberto Contador remains in second place, just over three minutes behind Michael Rasmussen, while Levi Leipheimer is in fourth position overall. Not often mentioned is the fact that Yaroslav Popovych is also in ninth place. With three men so highly placed in the General Classification competition, is it any wonder that Team Discovery Channel also holds the lead in the team contest? Not really.

Even though it looks like the men in the Planet Earth jerseys will fall short of putting an American in the overall lead by the end of the 2007 Tour de France, they will definitely garner a podium finish for Contador. It would be great to see a third place win for Leipheimer as well. The final individual time trial will be the deciding factor.

Race Withdrawals Stage 16
The number of race withdrawals was high due to the departure of Team Astana. Joining the list of riders who are no longer competing:

- Paolo Savoldelli (Italy)
- Gregory Rast (Switzerland)
- Daniel Navarro (Spain)
- Andréas Kloden (Germany)
- Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan)
- Serguei Ivanov (Russia)
- Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)
- Antonio Colom (Spain)
- Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)
- Matthieu Sprinck (France)

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