Sunday, February 24, 2008

ToC Stage 7: Love To Eat Them Mousies

Woohoo! What a great finish to a soggy, tough week in California. Hooray for George Hincapie, for Levi Leipheimer, for David Millar, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Chris Horner - so many of my favorites did well, even battling illness as DZ and Horner were. I think my only top guy who missed out on the action was Jens Voigt. I know he wasn't feeling great, so I'm sorry he wasn't in the mix, but I look forward to plenty of action from him as the season progresses.

Crazy action from Kilometer Zero. It was a greatly diminished peloton, but what remained still had some fight in them. Michael Creed went a little nuts, I had to wonder if that was him or Michael Ball looking for even more publicity. At least Creed was still in it at the end. Nice attack on the big climb by Slipstream. Astana were obviously rock solid, but you can't just give up, you have to fight to the end, so good on Slipstream.

One of my mother's favorite T-shirts was the famous cartoon by B Kliban referenced above. I couldn't help but think of it in the final circuits today. Cat and mouse games in cycling give me fits. It's such a gamble, and results in failure so many times, it has me pulling my hair out every time. I thought it might be Rollin all over again, George still with good legs but waiting for the whole group to chase with him. Great run for Tom Zirbel - beast of a man, but he can get those pounds moving!

I had my doubts (forgive me!), but George did just enough to keep Zirbel within reach. I could see George had enough to bridge the gap, and I was afraid he was playing too many games. I had a feeling he could blow past Zirbel, and was relieved when he finally made the move. But then they all grouped up again, and started playing games again, argh! With the peloton swooping in, I wondered just how many years they wanted to take off my life. Out of nowhere I started saying "don't get hinky Hincie," delirium clearly setting in.

Another wave of relief as George made the final push for the line, and wild cheering as he crossed it with arms raised. It's been such a tough week for George. He was spreading his wings in a stage race, able to really race for himself, but hitting bumps along the way and not quite succeeding as he'd hoped. So it's so great to see him pull it out today, he can take that into the Spring as a boost, instead of a burdensome pile of almosts.

It's not that I think last year wasn't a real win for Levi - the race is what it is - but I'm glad he defended this year outright, no qualifications. He showed off his great strength and the great strength of his team. They couldn't have made a better statement. I love that Bobke is shamelessly partial, throwing up a softball question for Levi to make his emphatic point in the post-race interview.

In addition to the guys mentioned above, I was happy for the domestic teams that did well in so many breaks and took a couple of jerseys in the end. Especially Scott Nydam, who takes the KOM jersey home as great medicine for his dad.

I don't know that I've ever had such a love/hate relationship as I do with Versus. Please, tell me, what is so special about 7:18?? We can see Bob is standing with George, we couldn't squeeze that in? Show the World Combat League fans some real tough guys, stick around for the presentation! (As a side note, great/horrible stories from the announcers on about their worst crashes, oh my.) I couldn't even get the presentation on the Amgen website, they just had Frankie and JoE chatting for a while. Sorry, we can't all fly to California to see it in person. I need some closure, people!

Oh happy, happy day. I'll be a zombie at work tomorrow, but I stayed up to watch the repeat on Versus, just in case. Lo and behold, they had presentations galore - stage podiums, final podiums, Levi kissing his wife, Christian holding his baby, flowers, champagne, a second Levi interview, and an interview with George. George looked so worn out in all the interviews this week, but in this one he looked like a new man, I'm so happy for him! Okay, now I can go to sleep...


Amy B said...

Excellent posts Julie! Remind me what happened last year in the ToC that made you question Levi's win. I can't remember...was it the Basso thing?

Anyway, gotta study now. Thanks for the break :)


Julie said...

Hey Amy! Ugh, statistics, brings back memories... On Levi, I'm off to bed, so I'm not going to get the exact specifics, but it was the stage where there was a crash in the closing circuits, but not within the final K. So, usually, the field would not all get the same time. George hauled Levi back as best they could (and this was George, so it was pretty good!), but they still lost time on Jens Voigt, who avoided the crash. Then, after the stage was over, the officials decided to give everyone a reprieve and give them the same time. It was early on, so you can't say it really decided anything (would Levi have taken more time in a later stage if he needed it, etc), but it was pretty fishy, looking like it was more of a PR move to keep Levi in the hunt. Even though, as the organizers took pains to point out, they had nothing to do with it. Happy studying!

Anonymous said...

Aha. I guess I had forgotten about that.....


cat2bike said...

I hadn't forgotten. This year was much better. Straightforward. I like that. P-R 2006 will forever be etched in my memory for that damn train crossing!!