Tuesday, July 17, 2007

TdF Stage 9: Brad Marsh

Big fat caveat right off the top: I wish Fabio Casartelli was here, to be the "old man" in the race, or a hot new Director Sportif. And I wish Andrei Kivilev was here, to be Vino's first lieutenant, seeing him through these tough days. So I'm not saying helmets are a bad thing. These two very gifted young men might still be with us today if the helmet rule was in place earlier. (It was Kivilev's death that finally got a rule in place.) So with a very careful however, I have to say that I really miss seeing guys without their helmets in the heat of battle.

Whenever I see an old clip, whether it be in black and white or as recent as Armstrong and co. on Luz-Ardiden or L'Alpe D'Huez, it just jumps right out at me, how great it was to see their faces. We saw the hair glistening with sweat, the furrowed brows, the tension in their cheeks. We get so up close to the riders, for hour after hour, day in and day out, it seems silly to complain about not getting more. But something has been lost; they are just that little bit more hidden from us. I still wonder about the uphill exception there was at first, when they could toss their helmets on the final climb. But I guess Lance proved on Luz-Ardiden that the danger never stops!

Some guys push their helmets up, so we get a better view, like dear Linus Gerdemann today. And we still have a lot to see and recognize in our favorites, or to compare in rivals. We still see the grimace or the smile or the cool breathing. We still see the unmistakable pedaling styles, the straightening up or slumping down, the steady push or the bobbing and weaving. We still see the supple slender frame or the beefy powerhouse. We just don't get in their heads quite so much anymore. And then when they get off the bike, so many of them shove a hat on their head and tug it right down to their eyes - come on boys, give us something!

I don't know if Brad Marsh was the last NHL player to go without a helmet, but he was the last Philadelphia Flyer to do so [when I was watching the team - thanks Larry!]. (Older guys were grandfathered in of sorts, they didn't have to follow hockey's helmet rule.) I remember this: one, because I used to be a hockey nut, but two, because he was one of the last guys I felt like I knew. It's even worse in hockey, because you don't get those in-your-face camera shots, so guys became even more anonymous. As with cycling, you could still appreciate what they were doing, and get to know styles and moves, but it's a more detached experience. It's more like watching playing pieces than flesh and bone human beings.

Seeing the whole picture added to their personalities - Rick MacLeish and Hound Dog Kelly zoomed around with their flowing hair, Bobby Clarke guts it out with his curly locks, Gary Dornhoefer was dashing with his matinee-idol looks. Sorry, misty water-colored memories, back to cycling.

Fabian Cancellara almost pulled off "dashing" last week, but seeing his curly and flowing locks in pre-race interviews helped that along. You can't really be dashing on the road anymore. You can be a lot of other great things, but dashing, I think that's lost to the record books. Yaroslav Popovych has that great grin, thank goodness, but with his big sunglasses and helmet, he sometimes looks like a cartoon character, or maybe a Muppet. Seeing him in interviews, he has a bit of hockey great Bobby Orr about him. That would've been fun to see out on the open road today as he was eating up the course. But endlessly more fun to see him for years to come, so helmets it is. Can't wait to see Saul Raisin racing again.

Race notes: To borrow a device from Bill Maher: New Rule - commentators are hereby forbidden from bringing up Lance Armstrong's infamous bluff every single blessed time someone is hanging off the back. Let it go, P&P, I know Lance made you pee your pants that day, and you felt all hurt and duped and silly, but dudes, Let It Go, please! It's okay, if you ever get fooled again, I'll forgive you, but if you keep this silliness up forever, I won't!

Can Cadel Evans be on the Versus contenders list now? What's a guy gotta do? I'm sorry all the names don't fit on one screen, such is life in today's peloton, but leaving him off is pretty insulting! They'll leave Vino there probably, fine, but how about Menchov? I think it's safe to take him off now, and give Evans his rightful place!

Still with the poker, these boys! Oy! Yes, do leave Vino's name on the list. At the rate the other contenders are messing about, he's still got the outside chance if he can come good. All the gap-forming before that wasn't poker, I suppose you have to try, but it seemed a lot of wasted energy in the end. Oh well, maybe it's psychological advantage in the bank for next week.

LMAO when Phil called Paul "Phil"!

Quote of the day: "It was disappointing that Menchov couldn't get his ass over the Galibier." - Michael Rasmussen, quoted at VeloNews. Alright, Michael, you are now the de facto team leader, but it seems to me that's no way to lead! You think Denny's going to help you now? Or any of his buddies on the team? They will, of course, for the team, but I imagine not with as much devotion as they might. You like to do your thing solo, but yellow requires friends.


Camille said...

Julie, you're in fine form. I always learn so much from these entries of yours. And great point about Cadel. Maybe they just see him as a perennial also-ran? But still, he was fantastic both yesterday and today in the Alps. Yes, it's time to make the damn font smaller if they don't have room for one more line on the contender list!

cat2bike said...

Julie, Robbie V and Bob Roll were just talking about the friction between the co-leaders. Rabobank is the worst, and most obvious. Have you read Freddie's blog on Active? His post on stage 8 is really good. Plus where did I hear the Astana team is trying to rein in Kloden because he's German!! God, if there is all this competion between teammates, what kind of mess is that going to make??
And as well as CSC get along, I worry about Frank and Carlos. Frank 's got more personality that Carlos; but I tend to not get too excited by Spanish and Italians; there is something about the nature of the Italians(except I LOVE Betteni!) and the spanish, that my middle American/German and Flemish blood can't quite warm up to. I love the Aussies and feel warm for for the Germans....okay I'm rambling in your comments section.

Jon said...

"Yellow needs friends"? I would say Yellow requires work-horses, if they are friends that's just gravy...

Julie said...

T - ramble anytime. :-) I agree about Frank and Carlos re: personality, but I do hear lots of respect from the CSC guys for Carlos and his experience and racing acumen.

Jon - LOL, yes, I didn't mean "BFF" kind of friends, I meant it in the racing context, guys that will work with you.

Yvette said...

I don't know how the roles on Rabobank play out, but I do know that leaders (e.g. Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong) of teams do seem to be able to *put the guys in their places* and get away with it. That's definitely the case when the roles are clearly mapped out, but who knows...I kind of like it when someone is stirring the pot and Rasmussen DOES have yellow on, which gives him the edge.