Friday, July 24, 2009
Stage 18: Time Trial
Annecy, the Venice of the Alps. They actually raced around a lake, but I found this to be an interesting picture.
At first I didn't find this stage this interesting, as the riders are just racing against the clock rather than each other. (Each rider starts three minutes later than the previous one.) However, it got more interesting as it went on, as the riders higher up in the standings finally went.
Something new I learned: time-trials are something of a specialty. It's why the riders have different bikes, helmets, and clothing in this stage. Riders like Bradley Wiggins (GBR, team Garmin Slipstream) are so good at it that this stage should have moved him up in the overall standings. Meanwhile, the Schleck brothers (LUX, team Saxo Bank), though being good in the Alps, were supposed to lose quite a bit of time.
However, not much really changed. Perhaps at this level, there are no slouches in any event? Andy Schleck in particular lost just a little time to the overall leaders, just 1:45 to Alberto Contador (SPN, team Astrana). Quite incredibly (to me anyway) Contador won this stage. He didn't really have to win it, as the people ahead of him on this day were well-behind him in the overall standings, but evidently it's a manner of pride for the guy wearing the yellow jersey to win this stage. (Lance did it several times.)
I took a vacation day today, pretty much just to watch this. (That, and I just didn't feel like going into work.) I'm kicking myself for not picking up on the event during its earlier stages. The Tour de France happens just once a year, so I'll definitely have to watch is from start-to-finish next year.
Interestingly enough, Lance is racing for Team Astana. It's a group of state-owned companies in Kazakhstan! (Astana is the capital of that country.) The leader, Alberto Contador, is on the same team. I'm guessing that country got tired of all the Borat jokes....
Lance's brakes. They're placed to reduce wind resistance. I'm wondering what the downsides to such a placement are. And if there aren't any, then why don't all bikes have their brakes here?
Christophe Moreau, FRA, Agritubel. Despite being 38 years old, he finished 8th in this stage, just 45 seconds behind Contador.
George Hincapie's bootie. (And if I can mention it without sounding too gay, that dude has some solid legs!) He wrecked a few days ago, and may have broken his collarbone. However, he's not going to the doctor until after the race, because he doesn't want to be disqualified at this point.
Best pic I could get of the strange elliptical gear of Bradley Wiggins. I think he was the only rider with such a gear. It's supposed to provide a rider with more power.
In the future, we'll all wear helmets like Andy's.