Monday, July 7, 2008

Tour de France 2008 Stage 3: When Argyle Attacks!

They came to animate, and animate they did - Garmin-Chipotle's Will Frischkorn jumped at the start today and managed the tricky feat of staying away all day long. And very nearly won the stage; his good-natured disappointment in second place was wholly endearing. Argyle fans have a special spirit and loyalty, and they were jumping up and down all morning long around the world it seems. I worry sometimes about how hard we all want so much for this team, so it's great on a day like today when things go right.

Will got aggressive rider on the day, and his exploits helped move the team into first place overall. Tomorrow is the day Garmin-Chipotle has been looking forward to, but they got a great head start today! So the team should all have yellow numbers in the TT, but I wonder, does Frischkorn get an orange one? Just kidding, I suppose he'll get the red. I was so proud of him, working well in the break and guiding them through that tricky furniture with 44K to go. Of course these guys have plenty of race experience, but something about it being their first Tour, makes me feel all maternal. And he hung right in there in the final Ks, following the attacks. Will wished he did a couple of things differently, but it was a great effort and with his penchant for breakaways he just might get another chance of a lifetime down the road.

Heads-up riding by David Millar and Christian Vande Velde held their places when the split came. Romain Feillu's lead might make it tricky to get yellow, but they'll still want to go for the big win in the TT. Ryder Hesjedal was not so lucky and got caught out, but he'll come back in the mountains. Martijn Maaskant was a cool customer when his jacket got caught in his wheel in the early going. No panic, he tried carefully to fix it himself, then stood by patiently as the mechanic got the job done. I'm obviously quite partial to the Burrito Boys, but they make it easy, don't they? Jonathan Vaughters was on Sputnik today, talking about how one of the great dividends of their clean-team concept is that the riders are just so darn happy. They're not stressed about whether to dope or not, not stressed about whether their teammates are getting an unfair advantage or not - or putting the team at risk; they can fully enjoy their successes and be one big happy family.

I do have to question one team decision, though. Robbie Ventura in the car w/JV following David Millar in the TT? Are they going to keep duct tape at hand? I kid because I love, Robbie, but really, can you keep quiet in the back for such an exciting ride? I know I couldn't!

With Feillu in yellow, and the stage win by Samuel Dumoulin, the French continue to have plenty to cheer about. A touch of sadness that Christophe Moreau was one of the big losers in that third group, perhaps he'll be able to go for a stage now. He dropped away at the end, but you have to feel for Paolo Longo Borghini. He was the only one of the four who got nothing for his troubles. Although, sitting second on GC for a day isn't bad.

As if the day wasn't exciting enough, we had not one protest interruption but two! First on the road, where thankfully there were just the leading four to squeeze through while Christian Prudhomme negotiated the peace. They managed to clear the road for the full pack, still several minutes behind. And then we had the jarring sight of a protester jumping up in front of Dumoulin on the podium - bad form indeed! You're not going to win anyone to your cause that way, interrupting the Frenchman's glory. But I have to say it was worth it to see the immediate and massive assault on the guy by Bernard Hinault himself, classic! Not caring for a second if the protester broke his neck or the like, Hinault blasted him from behind and sent him flying off the podium. The Badger didn't stop there, he then helped the gendarmes wrestle the interloper into custody. Message sent - don't mess with my podium.

There were some sunny patches on the route, but conditions were miserable at times, faces squished against the rain and wind. This surely hampered efforts to bring back the break, even before the big crash split the pack. Denis Menchov got a double whammy with that split. He would have been looking to the TT to gain time on some of the pure climber contenders, and now has a hole to dig out of from the start. And, he spent precious energy trying to catch back on, so will perhaps not be at full strength tomorrow. I would mention Riccardo Ricco also needing help going into the TT, but he huffed after the finish that he wasn't there for GC, so never mind.

The straw castle with the "river" full of boaters and the "road" full of stationary cyclists gets first prize so far for fan display, fantastic! It reminded me of my childhood when I would get my dozen or more Fisher-Price toys out all at once and set up the castle surrounded by the peasant towns and farms.

Unfinished business from last night: Greg LeMond was indeed a guest. I have to identify with his jumbled expression of thoughts, I run into that myself. It's all clear in our heads, but we can't all be smooth talkers. Seeing him there, and especially his interview with Frankie Andreu on the Versus site, it was like some pleasant alternate universe. A former winner coming 'round, commenting on the race. Of course the subject matter included doping, but the idea of his visit, as a natural thing, when it wasn't for so many years. There were a number of things that went into that not happening for a while, including Greg's own issues, but hopefully he is healing, the sport is healing, and we can see him pop up regularly in years to come.

Here's a good David Millar article by Paul Kimmage, thanks to CFA for the heads up. The passage about him in jail is very interesting, how the "legal advice" mindset kicks in, and how he was determined to stay defiant until a kind gesture from one of the officers made him break down and face a new reality. It makes you wonder about others who have gone down that road, what might have been.


Nikki said...

Julie :-) What a day today?!? So happy for Will! I was on the phone with John at the end of the stage and then watching VS tonight with JV up in the booth - was anybody not on the edge of their seat pulling for him? Great stuff. So exciting!

Tomorrow should be pretty good! C and Millar are both in good form so I hope they both give Tony a run!

Max said...

Thank you Julie for expressing so many of my felt but not articulating thoughts, the Fisher Price reference is priceless. What do you think of JV in the booth when his best friend and best (so far) chance for a stage win is still on the road? Maybe a voice of experience in his ear might of made the difference. All in all a great day for the boys in argyle and tomorrow is another day.

Julie said...

I know! I could've died when JV said, nah, he can't win in the sprint, I'd like to see him go for it with about a K to go. That's exactly what Will wanted to do, but the guy who was in the car said no! Ahh! It was priceless to have JV in the booth, though, those little grunts were agonizing! D. was strong, too, he probably would've been able to stay on Will's wheel anyway.

jessica said...

Glad to have your posts - makes the race seem 'new' when I feel like I'm missing some of the arc, some of the story playing out.

I don't want to ask you to re-hash certain subjects and maybe some simple re-reading of older posts would help me. But you seem to have an open, embracing(?) opinion of G Lemond. He just confuses me! Maybe you just feel his achievements should be honored, regardless?

nalgenegirl said...

What a great blog! I love your commentary on the Tour

Julie said...

Thanks Jessica! On Greg, I've come to a new appreciation of him in the past year. I used to play along with the Greg=Evil that Lance always dished out, I'm sorry to say. Lance played that Bad Guys game very well, and it was easy to get caught in the trap if you didn't take a step back and investigate the other side. Greg didn't do everything right, but he was trying to speak some truths about his sport and its icons, truths that have gained increasing credibility. And my goodness, if people can be a fan of the self-described jerk that is Lance, why are they so hard on Greg's human foibles? I think he's gotten a bad rap, and deserved better.

Nalgenegirl - thanks, I'm from your neck of the woods and have enjoyed your blog as well!