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.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tour de France Stage 6

Route: Semur-en-Auxois – Bourg-en-Bresse
Riders remaining: 184
Distance: 199.5 km
- Côte de Grandmont 2.4 km; 5.1%; 4 category
- Col de Brancion 3.5 km; 3.6%; 4 category

Today was the hottest yet in the Tour de France with air temperatures approaching 30º C (that’s ~86º F). That means the road temperatures were hot enough to soften the asphalt. Those kinds of road conditions, plus strong headwinds, kept the average speed down around ~22 mph most of the day. Hopefully, the slower speed and the almost pan-flat profile gave the injured Andreas Kloden and Alexander Vinokourov an opportunity to recover from their wounds. We shall see when the mountains come in to view on Stage 7.

The flat profile certainly meant a perfect day for the sprinters. With a rather slow start to the final lineup, seemingly because no one team would commit to control of the peloton, the “speed demons” eventually got their act together for a run to the finish. In the end, it was Tom Boonen of Team QuickStep who won the day. Sadly, the lone escapee of the day, Bradley Wiggins of Team Cofidis, didn’t prevail, having been bested by the peloton in the last few kilometers after being away for 180 km. Too bad. I like to see those brave, solitary attacks succeed. Maybe one will be in offing on the road between the Alps and the Pyrenees. Once again, we shall see.

Another crash in the feed zone resulted in the withdrawal of Enrico Degano of Team Barloworld. During his racing career, Lance Armstrong used to talk about how dangerous the entrance to and exit from the feeding stations could be, and the level of attention that was required during that part of the day. Unfortunately, some of the younger competitors (like Degano, who was riding in his first Tour de France) are learning that lesson the hard way.

Team Discovery Channel status
Additional update from Stage 5: Benjamin Noval was involved in a crash with the Team Bouygues Telecom support car yesterday. A post-race visit to the hospital resulted in thirty stitches to his bicep and chin. He also bruised his hip. Apparently, he either hit, or went through, the rear window of the automobile, breaking glass in the process. Cause of the accident: sudden braking by the French driver. No worries yet, the team plans to assess Noval’s fitness level on a daily basis while he continues to race.

George Hincapie fell back to sixth place today due to the high-level finish of Oscar Freire from Team Rabobank. Vladimir Gusev remains directly behind Hincapie in seventh place. Gusev holds the white “youth” jersey as well, a prize he has kept on his shoulders since Stage 1. Levi Leipheimer remains in 22nd place, a repeat of yesterday.

Race Withdrawals Stage 6
- Geoffroy Lequatre (France)
- Enrico Degano (Italy)

Race Trivia
- Did you know that each rider in the Tour de France needs to ingest ~6000-7000 calories per day to fuel their racing efforts? The average sedentary American requires only about 1500-1800 calories per day. Big difference!

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