Friday, July 08, 2005


Tdf Stage 7: Aussie Wins Again

33-YEARS OLD...AND NO SLOWING DOWN. He did it again. Robbie McEwen, aging sprinter that he is, proved he still has the legs over his younger sprinting rivals. McEwen adds Stage 7 to his Stage 5 win thus far in year's Tour de France. The outspoken Aussie continues to bounce back after a demoralizing disqualification for apparent head-butting at the finish line in Stage 3. Today, McEwen simply out-powered the world's other elite sprinters to the finish line on German soil after 228 km of riding. They'll be a waltzing Matilda down under tonight! I add McEwen as a nominee for my "TdF 'Guts' Awards."

CAPTURING AN ESCAPED GERMAN. The day featured Fabian Wegman, a German riding for the German-based Gerolsteiner squad, escaping from the clutches of the peloton on the first climb of the day. Wegmann went on a 140 km solo breakaway, building up over an eight-minute advantage and crossing into the motherland before being reeled in. The peloton caught Wegmann with 28 km to go, but his effort was not without reward: being the first rider over several small climbs, he gained enough points to wear the polka-dot jersey as the current "King of the Mountains."

ARMSTRONG 53rd AND STILL WINNING--GO FIGURE. Every day my 12-year old son, Sam, asks me who's winning the Tour de France. He's anxious to know how well Lance Armstrong does each day. He's disappointed when I tell him that Lance finished a stage in 32nd or 53rd place. "You mean he's not winning?" he protests. "No, he's winning," I try to explain, "He's winning right now by staying safe in the pack. He, along with every other rider in the peloton who finishes in the pack attached to the first cyclists across the finish line, receives the same time as the stage winner." In the relatively flat stages, he ends the day with the same advantage over his main rivals as he started. He doesn't even hav to win a stage to win the Tour de France; he just has to have the best time of all other riders.

THINK OF THE TdF AS A "SERIES." This likely computes, but it doesn't satisfy typical American tastes for winning at sports. That's why most Americans are a bit confounded about following the Tour de France. We are used to one-day events and high scores. There's a winner at the end of the day. It would help if we would see the TdF as a "series" of 21 different games. The racer with the best overall score from all the "games" (stages) on July 24th wins. Like the Nextel Cup Series in NASCAR. Does this help? Or mislead?

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