#bikeschool: Les Solutions de Rechange

14
Jun
2011

By my calculations it is exactly 18 days until the start of this years pinnacle event in the season’s calender, Le Tour de France. This year’s event is set to be a real spectacle with 4 mountain-top finishes and the re-installment of the team time trial as well as enough flat stages for the sprinters to shake a stick at. [ED – While we are on the subject of mountain-top finishes, here’s a neat little fact for you to taunt your buddies with. This year’s Tour passes over the highest mountain it has been over in it’s history. Le Col Agnel stands at 2,777m and will be at an average of 6.5% and has only been used in Le Tour once before in 2008 when Egoi Martinez crested the summit first with Simon Gerrans eventually taking the stage win.]

As I write this, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse are in full swing where some of the big guns are showing their worth, knowing that it is vital in preparing the body for the perils of Le Tour as well as being able to get the closest possible reconnaissance of your rivals before the riders arrive on L’Ile de Noirmoutier on the 2nd of July. We have already witnessed a somewhat crazy, if not enthralling (compared to last year) Giro d’Italia with notable rides from Scarponi, Gadret, Nibali, Rodriguez and the punchy José Rujano who all seemed to be fighting for 2nd place after Clenbutador turned on the gas in the mountains.

 

The ‘Alternative List’

Over the next few weeks you will undoubtedly be inundated with lists of possibles, probables, big hitters and no hopers for this years Tour. Quite boringly these official publications, online and in print, have their image to think about and don’t generally rock the boat… well now you have me! Here is the ‘Alternative List’ of information on some of the biggest riders (and one other) in this years race with my own take on their chances…

 

Alberto Contador, Clenbutador, Clenty… what ever you want to call him he is going to play a big part in this years Tour, as he has done over the past few years. The diabolical state that he and the UCI have left our sport in over the last 12 months is unexcusable to you and I but the powers that be seem to sleep soundly at night. The wins that he gifted to José Rujano, Igor Anton and Paolo Tiralongo in this years Giro in an attempt to gain kudos points to cash in at Le Tour made me choke on my filet mignon. Personally, I cannot fathom how anybody who knows anything about professional cycling could cheer for Clenty and I hope he snaps a spoke or drops a chain on every major climb and gets found to be the cheating ass that we all know he is. That is all.

 

 

Brother Grimpeur the Younger, Andy Schleck has to be classed as the bookies favourite of all ‘never-tested-positive’ riders. Baring a mind bendingly stupid Schleckanical, Andy will have a strong team around him that will able to control the race until they hit the mountains, and if all else fails, he has been working on his camouflage and concealment to enable him to hide 10km from the summit and just jump out from the woods in front of the leading group. After coming so close in the last two years the Grimplette will need a large wallet in his jersey pocket to take this years event and may be better off trying to secure the white jersey of the Young Rider classification for the last year he is eligible.

 

 

 

I’ve never hidden my feelings about dopers or those ‘that have never tested positive’ but annoyingly I have a soft spot for Veino. Whether it is his sheer brazenness, his tears following his first win after returning from his ban in the 2009 Tour de L’ain, or the realisation that he is one of the only remaining cyclists left in the peloton who I loved to watch when I begun to get into the sport. Every sinew of my body tells me I should want to throw a lead filled bidon at his tiny blonde head but my noggin-box stops me every time and I end up screaming “Gitmek Veino, sadece fincanda piss yok!”

 

 

Cadel ‘Cuddles’ Evans generally looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp but opitimises everything that is Australian. He might look like a bag of melted Hershey’s Kisses but with a flash of those amazingly vein-busted legs, a cheeky joke with his 2km wide gob and the dulcet tones of his Northern Territory upbringing he could have your girlfriend away from you in a second… and have you believe it was your fault! A true Aussie! Cuddles may be 63 years of age but he is one of the most exciting riders to watch in the Pro peloton and able to finish 3 week grand tours with only 1 working elbow, which is not something that has been said about many cyclists. I love Cuddles’ post race comments as much as seeing him gnarl his way to victory and hope he can be the first man in history to race Le Tour for a full 50 consecutive years.

 

Given his recent Tour de California victory and the fact that 90% of this posts’ readership is probably American I though I should add a Yank into the list to keep the flying monkeys from the window. If you hadn’t already realised this post does not have a massive basis on facts… and that’s what makes Chris Horner a perfect pick for the US’ entry into the ‘Alternative List’. After being shepherded around the suburban roads of California by his team to the biggest win of his career, Horner made my favourite quote of the year thus far when discussing his Tour pedigree:

“I have definite plans of riding there in 100 percent form. I will focus solely on working to bring my form back up to 100 per cent for the Tour de France. I plan on being top five, if not on the podium. I think I can climb with anyone in the world and I’ll show that in July.”

Sorry what!? You can ‘climb with anyone in the world’ now that you’ve won the Tour de America!?!?! I beg to differ… nay… I say you frickin’ can’t! I’m not belittling the ‘4th Grand Tour’, really I’m not, it really was an exciting event this year that I enjoyed watching, but Horner was in the same kindergarten class of ’48 as Cuddles! He got 10th overall last year but I think he may have inhaled some funny smoke from all of those college kids lining the Californian roads if he thinks he can mix it with the bog boys come July. Not to mention, I can’t think of a suitable nickname for him… he’s got no chance!

 

Twiggo has just taken victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné and in doing so, has probably smashed to smithereens all possibilities of winning Le Tour. Like any true Brit, the Mod-father performs well when he is able to be humble and stay out of the limelight but falls to useless stiff upper-lipped pieces when people start looking at him. After his great performance in the 2009 Tour, his preparation for 2010 mainly consisted of riding every race that supplied you with a starting number and thus he had enough energy to competitively race the first 70% of every Tour stage and began to falter just in time for the live TV coverage to start, which made him look like an ass! This year is different. He and Team Sky’s Davey B recognised the mistakes they made with his preparation straight after he’d ballsed up the 2010 event and are ready to crack some skulls… but then he went and won on Sunday and now his odds are as short as Samuel Dumoulin, D’oh!

 

Let us know who you will be cheering/booing for in July and please remember, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine and do not represent those of The Boss or Lovingthebike.com! If you wish to sue, please be aware I have very very little money… it’s probably not worth it!

 

Lead, follow…. or get out of the way!

@StevieDexter

Enjoy Your Ride

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15 Responses to “ #bikeschool: Les Solutions de Rechange ”

  1. Velonista on June 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    1. Spanish Steak
    2. Schleck the Younger (he underperformed last year at AToC and Suisse, too)
    3. Van den Broeck (he really impressed with his ability to change gears on the climbs at the Dauphiné)
    4. Mod-Father
    5. I’m still mulling over Good Cuddles and O Hesjedal; Cuddles could finish much higher or he could crash out (and still doesn’t have a team). Ryder was terrific last year and could repeat that form, but I don’t know if he has the team support…

  2. Aaronthestrong on June 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Awesome article! This will be my first year really following the TdF. Hope you toss up more posts like this so I can pretend I understand more than “Oo look how fast they go up those Mountains!”

  3. Heather Nielson on June 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I am thoroughly impressed, though not surprised by your witty and clever study on the subject.  I agree, much as I felt the same way when Lance came back, about Clenbutador racing in Le Tour; almost makes me sick to my stomach and personally offended, maybe because I race I don’t know.  I agree with  you about Andy 100% as well Stevie.  I fear that too much pressure has been, or maybe put on him, much like on Cunego was a few years ago and then everyone walked away realizing he was too young to handle the mental side of winning a Grand Tour.  ‘Patience young grasshopper’ comes to mind for Andy. And holy cow!  I feel exactly the same way about Vino.  I’ve always liked him and I still do.  He shows real girt, panache, guts and an iron-will and is probably one of the most experienced riders in the peloton this year.  (And you’re gonna have to tell me what your last sentence means in your description of him LOL).  Ummmm I may disagree slightly with your opinion of Horner and not because I don’t agree that there’s some ‘bigger boys’ over there in Europe, there are; but because the climbing here in California has been compared to Europe many times and is not as far off as you may think my dear.  However, I don’t think he’ll win either, but I do think he’ll be in the top 10. Oh and, we don’t ALL smoke graasssss……all the time….just….sometimes.  And as for your final analysis, I’m gonna need a translator LOL!! Well written Stevie and I love your passion for the sport.  I look forward to hearing/seeing all your crazy adventures whilst participating/shaking cow bell at Le Tour!!

    • Bob A on June 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      Yes, another call for the Brit to American translation! LMAO

    • Stevie Dexter on June 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm

      I need to find a cowbell first, it’s a lot harder than I first thought! But Horner…. NO TOP 10! I’m throwing the gauntlet down on this one blondie. Pick your wager and we’re on…..

  4. Bob A on June 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    1) Clenty will win, going away…. unfortunately.
    2) Andy doesn’t seem to be in great form this year.  I was hoping he was improving since the AToC, but getting dropped yesterday in the Alps leads me to believe that he’s not going to challenge.
    3) Levi looked ok in AToC but has been underwhelming in the Tour de Suisse as well.
    2&3) Could they be holding back w/ the TdF around the corner?!?
    4) I have no feelings about Cadel one way or the other, except that he will always be a bridesmaid and never the bride.  He’s great. But not the best.
    5) Biggest challenge to Clenty will come from Vieno and/or Wiggins.

    Podium: Clenty – Wiggins – Vieno

    • Stevie Dexter on June 14, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Big call Bob, I like it. I’d be very happy if Wiggo could take 2nd, he’ll get given the 1st place via the courts soon enough! 

  5. Darryl is Loving the Bike on June 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Hey Stevie, you are totally in your sweet spot with this post and I really want to see more of this kind of thing from you in the future.  I love your passion for the sport and it’s great to read about your thoughts and opinions on all of this.  I really hope everyone gets the chance to see what you have to say about this year’s Tour de France.

    I’m looking forward to some fantastic coverage by you while you’re out in France.

    Great post, Stevie.

    Darryl

  6. Julie on June 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Okay, so I’ve never watched a Tour de France (or any bike race) and only know a little from Wikipedia, but I’ll give it a go.  How does one watch here in the states?   Is it broadcast?  Can we find it online?  Will there be enough commentary so I’ll know what’s going on?  Will you be posting about it?

    • Bob A on June 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Julie, the Versus network (cable/satellite) has extensive coverage of the Tour thoughout July.  Generally they broadcast live in the mornings, then do 2-hr repeats throughout the day and a 3-hr repeat in prime time.

      Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are two former British cyclists that are incredible announcers.  I have learned a ton from watching their coverage of past Tours. 

      Daily from July 3 – 24 this year, with two rest days (probably the 11th and 18th).

      Enjoy!

    • Dave Boyd on June 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      Julie,
      You can ‘watch’ via twitter by following @procyclinglive. Reading their stream now will help you learn about the riders, their teams, as well as terms and how the races typically unfold. Last year Versus had a deal to watch streaming coverage on their website as well. Bob is right. Liggett and Sherwin are top notch announcers! They bring a great perspective to the race.

      • Stevie Dexter on June 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

        http://www.procyclinglive.com/livestream/# is an awesome site, run by volunteers. Please support this site as it should be your one stop shop for the best in live streams.

        • Bob A on June 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm

          And they do a GREAT job with their twitter updates as well! I’ve been following them for AToC, Dauphine, and TdSuisse while at work (shhhh).

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