Sunday, July 8, 2007

TdF Stage 1: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose

Borrowing from another sport again, that's Peter Berg's line from the great football show Friday Night Lights. The clear eyes and full heart today at the Tour de France belonged to Robbie McEwen, who had me cackling with laughter as he pulled off one of his best reappearing acts ever in the closing meters. There he was off the back, just a few K from the end, grimacing in pain as his team paced him back. When they got back to the peloton, Phil and Paul cautioned, "but now he has to work himself up through 150 riders in just a few kilometers." The unspoken caveat, though, was that if any rider could do it, it would be the crafty McEwen. And sure enough, he came charging through at the end and showed the field how it's done.

McEwen explained his difficulties to VS.' Craig Hummer afterwards - someone with tired eyes rear-ended McEwen as he was stopped by traffic in front, tossing him over his handlebars. He said he couldn't even move his arm and leg at first. Veteran that he is, though, he didn't panic and eventually got rolling again. Mark Cavendish can certainly take a lesson on the day. It wasn't clear what happened to Cavendish, but he was seen having a tantrum at the side of the road, helmet pushed up on his forehead, screaming at someone off-camera. He may well have been in the right, but at that point in the race, you need to concentrate on the bike, get it going again, and save recriminations for later, when you're not wasting energy. Ah, he's young, he'll learn, it's just unfortunate for him that today's image is the one he'll leave on the final day in his home country. Speaking of homeboys, David Millar played it just right, getting the polka-dot jersey by the skin of his teeth. He's a squirrely one, but I think he looked happy on the podium!

Random observations: Fun to see CSC on front for much of the day. I'm sure it wasn't fun for them, but I like seeing some of my favorite guys on display. Is there any sight more heart-stirring then big Jens Voigt powering away at the front, seemingly pulling the entire peloton with his strength and will?

There was a great and unusual camera shot, on one of the narrow roads, that started with the crowd before the riders arrived, and let you feel the anticipation, and then the thrill as they rounded the corner and the crowd began to cheer. Actually got me teary-eyed, sentimental fool that I am.

Almost, and I emphasize almost, made up for the interminable commercials! This first weekend always reminds me why I don't mind following online at work during the week - you get a much better sense of the flow of the race, and catch a lot of things missed on the broadcast. Kind of like when they make a movie out of a long book. If you've read the book first, the movie is enjoyable, because you have all the information to fill in the blanks, and you get some visual highlights. The primetime show last night was made eminently more bearable by a visit from Chris Boardman - I hope that wasn't just for when they're in England!

Love all the fresh buzz-cuts on the guys. They're ready to rumble! CyclingNews again with the George Hincapie going to T-Mobile next year, they're talking like it's a done deal! VeloNews hints at big signings by Slipstream. DZ mentioned them the other day, I wondah! VN also said they've heard that USADA will "carefully review" the arb's verdict before deciding whether or not to appeal. Can we dare to hope??


cat2bike said...

I felt sorry for Mark Cavendish. First Tour;best hope for a win in England; and he has a ?crash? and/or mechanical. But no one could beat Robbie!! I think Mark is great; he's just young, and has stuff to learn!

And your closing comments are very provocative!
Great post, Julie! You have a way with words!!


Yvette said...

Loved how you summed up Robbie's finish, almost better than watching it! He makes it all the more exciting...

Anonymous said...

Great post, as always, Julie! You capture my excitement in words!

I know that Discovery doesn't have a sponsor yet and all....but I just CANT imagine the team without George. There are always interesting revelations this time of year though.

Of COURSE we're all daring to hope :)

Camille said...

Julie, about MD, we can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, as far as his cycling commentary goes. Seriously, you could really fill a void here (when you have time - haha) by giving us your insights that you don't see others expressing. It doesn't have to be long or espn-ready. Just blurt when you feel the need and I know I'm not the only one who would enjoy reading it. I said something to this effect here yesterday but who knows why it didn't post. Anyway, think about it! Because you really do express yourself well, and you know a lot. That's a great combo. Besides, you'll get it *right*! Thank goodness for that little phenomenon you told me about... :)

Julie said...

Thanks all! Camille, LOL, I think I would've made a great case study the last 24 hours! :-)