29 July 2011

The 17 teams of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Final Teams competing in the stage race in Colorado will be
  • Bissell Pro Cycling Team
  • BMC Racing Team (USA)
  • HTC-Highroad (USA) 
  • Jelly Belly Cycling Team
  • Leopard-Trek (Luxembourg)
  • Liquigas-Cannondale (Italy)  
  • Rabobank (Dutch)
  • Saxo-Bank Sunguard
  • Skil-Shimano (Netherlands)
  • Spidertech Powered By C10 (Canada)
  • Team Exergy (USA)
  • Team Garmin-Cervélo
  • Team RadioShack (USA) 
  • Team Type 1-sanofi aventis (USA)
  • UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA) 
2 teams from Columbia
USA Pro Cycling Challenge is a UCI 2.1-level event: each of the 17 teams will have 8 riders (136 riders). Some of the riders have been named, the final team rosters will be announced in early August. Race dates are August 22-28. View the 7-day stage race route maps.Read more information on this information page on PedalDancer.com or visit the official USA Pro Cycling Challenge event website.

Schlecks, Evans, Horner all coming to Colorado

Big name riders at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Update 08/09/11: Start List announced The team roster list for the 2011 USA Pro Cycling tour in Colorado
Cadel Evans headlines early Colorado tour startlist Published by VeloNews Aug 9th 2011 7:08 PM
It was announced that Cadel Evans will be coming to Colorado to race in August. The winner of the 2011 Tour de France joins Andy and Frank Schleck, who are reported to have committed to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as well. So too has Chris Horner (now doubtful after a pulmonary blood clot diagnosis August 1st) and Tom Danielson. It is big news for the race that 4 of the top 10 riders from the recent Tour de France will be meeting to compete in Colorado in 2011.

Other American local names already listed on the rider roster include George Hincapie, Danny Pate, Ted King, Timmy Duggan, and Levi Leipheimer. Other possibilities revealed on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge website of teams looks like David Zabriskie, Christian Van de Velde, Tejay Van Garderen and one of the US Jacques-Maynes twin brothers. For you cyclocross fans it appears Jeremy Powers will be riding on the road for this one. For Canadian fans look for Ryder Hesjedal.
HTC Highroad might also be bringing Tony Martin. Under Team Garmin there are pictures of Hesjedal, Van de Velde, Danielson, and Zabriskie listed on the official USA Pro Cycling Challenge website, no Hushovd anymore (it was recently removed)
The other members of the Leopard Trek team seems to be Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voigt (Jens leaked that he his coming during a TDF interview)! Luiqigas is an unknown, the team will be here but whether Peter Sagan will be here to repeat his green jersey success at this year's Amgen Tour of California or Ivan Basso (whose picture is now up on the USA Pro website - hm?) will be here has not yet been announced. Rabobank has Lars Boom, Robert Gesink, Luis-León Sanchez, Juan Manuel Garate, and Peter Weening featured.

With these riders on the rosters this is shaping up to be a Tour of California rematch. However since only Andy Schleck and Tom Danielson rode the California race in May, Cadel Evans and Frank Schleck will make the challenge in Colorado complete. 

No mention of Fabian Cancellara, or Alberto Contador attending the USA Pro Challenge race in Colorado. The Quickstep Team (Tom Boonen) is not one of the teams competing in the Colorado race and local Coloradoan Taylor Phinney will be competing in Spain at the Vuelta a Espana. I hear no Mark Cavendish as well, although they are using his face to promote the event. And it looks like no Oscar Freire or Thor Hushovd now. 
Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck and Cadel Evans, are not listed on the roster for the Tour of Utah and should be well rested by August 22nd for the opening Prologue in Colorado Springs. Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer are racing the Tour of Utah two weeks before (August 9-14) the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado (August 2-28). Both races are calling themselves “America’s Toughest Stage Race™” - but the Tour of Utah trademarked the phrase, so they win.
Cadel Evans confirmed for Colorado stage race (VeloNews)

28 July 2011

Can fans ride a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge?

Are you coming to Colorado with your bike?

For updated information for the 2013 race - please transfer to: USA PRO CHALLENGE  2013
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is happening in Colorado, August 22-28, 2011. Time to finalize your plans to attend. Chances are you are thinking about bringing your bike (and fishing pole, and hiking shoes, kayak, canoe, tent, and all your other weekend warrior toys). What are your options for riding while seeing the Pro Tour in Colorado? 
There is no official L'Etape citizens race in conjunction with the USA Pro Cycling planned yet. Who knows if they will have one in years to come, but I hope they will. The Amgen Tour of California finally had their first ever L'Etape du California this past May after 7 years of the race.
That means as cyclists, you will most likely need to make cycling the route and watching the race happen for yourself, although you do have two organized options (that I have found).
* Scout the Stage Citizens Ride The event is intended to raise funds for Vail Valley Medical Center, local cycling amateurs may ride the first section of Stage 4 USA Pro Cycling Challenge from Avon to Wolcott / Four Eagle Ranch, in advance of the pros on the morning of Friday, August 26, 2011. Experience what the pro riders feel like at a stage start depart. Cost is $100, ride length is 15 miles, age is 12-years and above, start time 11:15am, includes: BBQ lunch, gift bag, ride jersey. Register at Active.com

* Amateur Time Trial Date: August 22nd, 2011 Location: Colorado Springs. Prior to the Pros riding the same course. I am trying to find more information bout this event for amateur cyclists. Be one of the few to participate in a once in a lifetime experience and race head-to-head with the world's top professionals! Just before the professional peloton starts the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a select number of amateur athletes will race over the official 5.18-mile prologue time trial course in Colorado Springs. Experience the same precise timing as the pros, the cheers of the crowds lining the course, and professional officiating by UCI officials for a chance to compare times against the professionals. Proceeds go to the Pikes Peak Cycling Society to help support the costs associated with attracting and hosting the Prologue of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Space is very limited and tickets are $750. Less than 15 spots are left.

* Ride of Champions presented by SRM - Colorado Springs, August 19th, $495 Pikes Peak Cycling

* Kids: USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Gunnison Stage Start - Kids on bikes get to race off the official start line at 10:15 a.m. Date: August 24th, 2011, Location: Gunnison

Please also see What's happening around town - for a list of additional local races and special events in each host city in conjunction with the USAPro race.

Riding the Routes: If you want to ride a complete stage or other parts of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race routes, you will need to make it happen for yourself. In studying the route I would make these suggestions:  
1. come early and ride the weekend before the race begins, or stay and ride after the race.
2. find a person willing to drive sag support, so you may ride sections of the stage routes while moving cities.
3. ride out to the route in the morning, cheer like mad, ride back, backtracking after the race has passed through, to your same hotel, tent or car. Or move locations in the early morning (before the road closes) or in the evening (after riding).
4. see a stage, ride a day, see a stage, ride a day, etc.,  skipping around the actual stage routes.

Cyclists options - stage by stage: 
Prologue: cycle between the start in Garden of the Gods and the finish in down town (but not on the race route).  
Stage 1: ride from Salida up Monarch Pass. You can complete this entire stage route to Crested Butte by bicycle with sag support. Or ride from Gunnison to Monarch Pass. Or ride from the town of Crested Butte up to Mount Crested Butte (3 miles uphill) the only mountain top finish in the Tour! 
Stage 2: ride up Cottonwood Pass, or ride up Independence Pass. Entire route discouraged, but possible for both very fast and experienced cyclists only. 
Stage 3: ride up Vail Pass 
Stage 4: you can complete this entire stage route by bicycle, with sag support. Or ride from Vail to Avon and back.  
Stage 5: ride up Rabbit Ears Pass, or ride up Swan Mountain Rd near Frisco, or into the town of Breckenridge.
Stage 6: ride up Lookout mountain, or ride your cruiser bike to any other area along the route or into downtown Denver.
*Please note that race route roads will have rolling closures. Sag support vehicles may not be able to accompany their cyclists at every point on the stage. Mountain passes will experience full road closures hours before (Independence Pass) or even the night before (Cottonwood Pass) the race. 

Think it through before you ride

Please read about road closures (and the comments) at this blog post: Camping and road closures for USA Pro Challenge

Being able to see a start and finish in the same day will be restricted to the Prologue which is only 5.18 miles long (bring a bike to get around), or the 10-mile time trial in Vail - (definitely bring a bike). After Stage 1 departs Salida, you can drive into Crested Butte via Cottonwood Pass (road closes at 3:00pm), the event organizers say you will be able to make the finish in Crested Butte. You can depart after the start in Golden immediately (depending on where you park your car!) and get to the finish in Denver, but you probably won't make it to the finish if you wait for all three entry/exits of the riders around Golden. 
In Colorado we have long mountain roads in between the start and finish towns, with no side road options (where bear, elk and mountain lions live). Thwarting your effort to get from the start to the finish in the same day during race times, will not only be mountain passes, rivers and wild beasts, but policeman, road closures, and bike racers who are a lot faster on a bike than you are - like George Hincapie (and maybe the wildest beast of them all - Jens Voigt). Even if they open the roads after the race passes through, you will not beat George to the finish line in time to see him and his peloton cross the line.
You will be more concerned with getting there by dark. When riding in Colorado, safely estimate 14-16mph, as your average ride time to allow for stops, regrouping, picture taking, weather, finding water (no domestiques) and food (no feed zones for you). Add in our famous altitude as an explanation for slower climbing speeds, and you realize why it is geographically and physiologically improbable to do it all.  

Weather in Colorado: Mountains - Cool nights (40-50s) colder on the high passes, crisp mornings, bright clear sunburn hot mid-day temperatures (70-80s), afternoon rain showers, great evenings. Denver (80s-90s) hot.

Stage 1: Salida to Crested Butte. Perhaps depart early from Salida and watch the race on Monarch Pass, then descend into Gunnison for food and water and then ride the remainder of the long hot ride into Crested Butte for a well deserved shower and dinner. Westbound US 50 closed at US 285 at 9:45-12:45. Rolling closures along US Hwy 50, east and west bound, 30 minute delays from 11:45am - 4:00 pm

Stage 2: Gunnison to Aspen. For those claiming they will ride the entire 131.1 route of Stage 2 on race day, 100 miles in Colorado is a big deal, the Triple Bypass is 120-miles of a really big deal. Anyone who has ridden Ride the Rockies or Bicycle Tour of Colorado will tell you, you could be biting off more than you can chew for a race day ride (I am telling you that, and I've done the Lourdes - Tourmalet - Luz Ardiden loop on a day of the Tour de France). This route is perfect for a 2-day ride. Riding hard, stopping for a couple hours and riding hard again - is well, hard. 

It is not just road closures that will stop you in your tracks, it is simply that it takes a long time to ride these roads on a bike. According to CDOT:

Cottonwood Pass closed: August 23 at 3:00 pm until August 24 at 1:00 pm.
Independence Pass eastbound closed: August 24 11:00-4:00pm.
Independence Pass westbound closed: August 24 11:00-2:00pm.
According to USA Pro Cycling Fan Advisory the passes will be closed at noon. Cyclists will be able to continue to ride on the roads, but will should get off the road (and will be told to get over) as the race approaches.

If you departed Gunnison at 6:00am on bike, you could  reach Twin Lakes (91 miles) between 11:30-1:00, just at or past road closure cutoff time to climb Independence Pass, you might be able to climb it, you might not. They will allow bicycles to ride on the road after it is closed to vehicles, but you will need to stop and get over as the race comes through. If you rode Gunnison to Buena Vista over Cottonwood Pass, you might arrive to a waiting car by 10:30. It is a 1/2 hour drive from Buena Vista to Twin Lakes, where again you will just make or miss the cut off time for Independence Pass by car. Sorry to be a party spoiler. But if you must ride the entire stage, I would suggest heading out very early in the morning, and trying to get as far as you can along the road before they close it for the race. Then ride the remainder after the race passes through. 

Booking it in Colorado will achieve 18-19 mph for an amateur (the fully supported pros average 24-26mph), standard cyclists will be 13-14 mph. You have the dirt climb of Cottonwood Pass (slower speeds), and then Independence Pass, which comes at 110 miles into the route of Stage 2. Allow 6 hours at booking it and 9 hrs at standard speed to get to this point, plus more time to gather water and food. Allowing for race and road closures you are looking at a 9-12 hour day and some stretches with no source for water. The sun will rise at 6:19am, and set at 7:41pm.
Cottonwood Pass will be closed to vehicles at 3:00pm the day before the stage to allow for work on the gravel road. Cars can return to the other side of the Collegiate Peaks by going back over Monarch Pass and around. Or wait until the road opens up considering the traffic coming off the mountain pass. Hopefully some entrepreneur will be selling water at the top, otherwise no sag support and no gas station up top. Any cyclists trying to climb up Independence Pass after the race should be aware of the car, foot, and bicycle traffic descending back down the road toward them.

Mileage between towns on Stage 2:
Gunnison to Cottonwood Pass: 36.0 miles
Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista: 32.2 miles
Buena Vista to Independence Pass: 42.8 miles
Independence Pass to Aspen: 19.8 miles

* Cell phone coverage in the mountains of Colorado can be spotty, it may be difficult to contact all members of your group throughout the day. Also fueling yourself at altitude for a 131 mile climb should not be taken lightly by flatlanders, unless you have acclimated and trained well for this type of riding. I would advise having checkpoints and a plan B for your sag support. And maybe make that sag wagon a sag truck.

The race organizers think it will take the (fully supported) Pros upwards of 5.5-6 hrs (23-24 mph) to ride Stage 2 (Ted King rode part of the route last week in 5 hours). The fact that the race begins at 9:45am, and the organizers estimate the finish time into Aspen to be between 3:00 and 4:15pm, means they have no idea how long this route will take the pros to race. I've never before seen an hour and fifteen minute window of estimated arrival before. 


The good news is that they will be allowing roadside camping just as they do in Europe. The state highway police will have a 10 car and 10 motorcycle team traveling with each stage of the tour for the length of the Tour. It is believed they will be allowing camping along the roads as long as the cars and campers are safely off the road. 

The active hard working people at Bicycle Colorado have provided good news about camping for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. They bring the fans good news that roadside "European Tour Camping" will be allowed for this event. Please read more on the Bicycle Colorado website at: Camping for USA Pro Cycling Challenge Fans on race route, European-style Race Spectating comes to Colorado. 

I am encouraging you to pick your point and be happy with it. The point is to have fun at the event! There will be no scouts out there waiting to sign you up for your dream pro team. You still have plenty of choices this year, and more reason to come back again next year to try a different combination of rides. Chances are you will land in Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs or Breckenridge and enjoy it so much you will not want to race out of town anyway. For this year begin your planning by deciding if you want to be in a start city or finish city, which days, and where you want to see the race.

Stage 4: between Avon and Steamboat Springs has very little services or population in the miles between these two towns. If you plan to ride the stage you will definitely need sag support for water. It is best to leave early in the morning to begin your 82.8 mile ride to Steamboat Springs. After about 5 hours on your bike you could arrive into Steamboat in time to see the finish.  

Stage 5: between Steamboat and Breckenridge. Most Colorado cyclists take 6-8hrs to ride a century. So whether you ride early or late you will be able to see the start or the finish. You have better, but still limited, chances for water supply along this road. Eastbound Rabbit Ears Pass closed at US 40 in Steamboat Springs. Motorists can use the alternative route on State Highway 9 to State Highway 134 or State Highway 141 via I-70, 10:30am -1:30pm

* VIP travel packages Travel Packages offered by VeloSport Vacations including three different 4-day, 3-night tour packages (Midweek Mountains, Final Weekend, Vail Time Trial). Packages range in price from $1995 - $2695 per person, with the Midweek Mountains package including a helicopter ride over Maroon Bells! These are VIP travel and viewing packages, including airport transfers, hotel, VIP access, buffets, gifts, TV in VIP suites at the start and finish areas, access to press conferences at the race and more. They are not cycling or riding tours.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge race dates
August 22-August 28, 2011
PROLOGUE : Monday, August 22 - Start and Finish in Colorado Springs, CO (Prologue) 5.18 miles
STAGE 1 : Tuesday, August 23 - Start in Salida, CO. Finish in Crested Butte, CO. 
99.4 miles
Wednesday, August 24 - Start in Gunnison. Finish in Aspen, CO. 131.1 miles
Thursday, August 25 - Start and Finish in Vail, CO. (Individual Time Trial) 10 miles
Friday, August 26 - Start in Avon, CO. Finish in Steamboat Spring, CO. 82.8 miles
Saturday, August 27 - Start in Steamboat Spring, CO. Finish in Breckenridge, CO. 105.2 miles
Sunday, August 28 - Start in Golden, CO. Finish in Denver, CO. 73.79 miles

Either chase the tour everyday, or stay for 2 days in the same town watching a finish, start and taking in a bike ride. See more itinerary examples and suggested bike rides in the area near each stage of the tor on the PedalDancer.com race fan information page. Happy riding! 

Also see all the events planned for the fans by each community (Gunnison and Crested Butte get a gold star!) What's happening around town?

Wandering around in circles

I got lost in France
Lost in the fun and glory and scenery and excitement of a really great year at the Tour de France. Alright, this year I experienced the Tour from my laptop, desktop, TV, phone, facebook, and twitter accounts, but it was all-consuming and I was there! I'm sure I was. In fact I keep looking for my suitcase to unpack, it seemed so real from my virtual world.
Typically this time of year (or more like every other year) I am a few pounds lighter after riding in France, sick-and-tired of eating too many croissants, adjusted to living out of one suitcase - and liking it, hypersensitive to wasting energy (electricity is darn expensive in France!), overly focused on where to find the next restroom, absolutely addicted to cafe, and in the habit of saying bonjour to everyone I meet. This year I have none of that. Just a fading memory of one of the best Tour de France races in many years. 
I am in the strange post-tour hinterland, somewhat lost and trying to find my way to inspiration. People are visiting my blog looking for information on Fabian Cancellara's wife and Frank Schleck's wife, whether Bernie Eisel has a girlfriend, and wanting pictures of George Hincapie's legs. Thank goodness people are still interested in bikes, because I am not drawn to answering those other topics. Instead I am shocked by my own longing to once again see Thomas Voeckler ride a bike. This is all strange behavior.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge (a.k.a Quiznos Pro Challenge, Tour of Colorado, Colorado Pro Challenge, That New Bike Race in Colorado Phil and Paul Shamelessly Promote, whatever you call it) is coming into town very soon (August 22-28th) like one long anticipated circus train. I should start blogging about bike rides in Colorado, but it is 98 degrees (37 C) here in Denver. Hot and dry with major thunder and lightening storms in the evenings. Much more conducive to sipping drinks under the shade of a tree, outdoor concerts, and trying all the new restaurants popping up around town these days. 
But do please come to Colorado in August for the big race. By then we will surely be in a drought, our green hills will be brown, the snow will have finally melted, and we will all be out on a bike traveling in one long line from one town to the next across this glorious state. You will be amazed by our blue skies, rivers, mountains, micro-breweries, and picturesque small western tourist towns. If you can't make it out to the race, then the scenery will be worth your arm-chair-sports experience. Phil and Paul are right - Colorado will look incredible on HDTV.  As Paul Sherwen said this past spring upon his first visit to Colorado, "flipping heck, I heard Colorado was beautiful."

Every bike rider in the race will wish he had brought his kids along with him to Colorado. Fly fishing, hiking, camping, horses, wildlife - Colorado is an outdoor paradise for families, or the individual bike rider wanting to ride a bike at altitude. It is all new. An opportunity for fans to be part of a first year event, which could be scary unpredictable (locals do some weird things to bike riders in these parts: cow dung, tacks), but hopefully mostly fun and good times. Guaranteed to be beautiful! 
Flippin heck - that is gorgeous

26 July 2011

Recommended Viewing: Tour de France Photography

Going through Tour de France withdrawals
The first few days after the Tour coverage end are brutal. Cold turkey - no more daily live viewing of the Tour de France until June 30, 2012. To remember how good it was, this is a great collection of photos. Definitely read the name of each photographer responsible for each image. These were the people in the thick of it, day after day to capture our best memories and what we would like to imagine we would have seen if we had been there. 
2011 Tour de France photographs collected by The Atlantic 
Part II 
Part I

This video of Laurens ten Dam working the crowds of fans on Alpe d'Huez will make you feel good:


And another video of the peloton, along with Thor Hushovd, rounding the final "Norwegian corner" on Alpe d'Huez in 2011: 


And of course my favorite photographer blogger from the entire tour O'Nev Cyclismo Fotographia:

23 July 2011

Watching the Tour de France, Stage 21

Watch it Live!
Live link online to watch Stage 21 (in the morning) Tour de France on Eurosport (x out both ads, no need to download). Stayed tuned into Eursport for after race interviews. More live links at: http://www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/#live.  Read the live report CyclingNews live reports. *Gaps and breakaways

Final overall results of the 2011 Tour de France General Classification 

Tour Travel: The race rolls into Paris
Photo by PedalDancer. com
Paris is magical. Every trip I have taken to Paris has been different and unique. I have seen the Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysees 4 times in the past years. The crowds are enormous, and crushing, but the energy high and the atmosphere charged with excitement. A morning stroll, a museum, the finish of a Grand Tour, cheering for your favorite riders, a beer in a garden, a dinner in a cafe, and more strolling. This is Paris! 
Photo by PedalDancer. com
It feels like tradition, but the Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Élysées only 36 times (since 1975).

If you are planning on seeing the race in Paris in 2011 - a few fan tips in my posts from last year in Paris: 
Saturday, July 24, 2010 I'm in Paris
Sunday, July 25, 2010 Ah Paris!
Monday, July 26, 2010 Final Stage of the Tour de France

For those of you in Paris, have fun! I wish I was there with you.  
Photo by PedalDancer. com

“It’s disappointing in a way, but if you look at the size and importance of the Tour, it’s a real honor to be second, especially when your brother is one step down,” ~ Andy Schleck.
Who will be wearing the special jerseys tomorrow into Paris:
141 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM 83h 45' 20"
188 ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR 83h 56' 03"

TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO 250h 57' 43" (wearing the yellow dossards)
Also keep an eye out for these jerseys:
#55  Thor Hushovd (Nor) [World Champion Road] on Garmin-Cervelo
#8    Nicki Sörensen (Den) [Denmark National Champion Road] on Saxo-Bank
#12  Fränk Schleck (Lux) [Luxembourg National Champion Road] on Leopard Trek
#13  Fabian Cancellara (Swi) [Swiss National Champion Road\ on Leopard Trek
#32  Philippe Gilbert (Bel)  [Belgian National Champion Road] on Omega Pharma-Lotto
#57  Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) [Lithuanian National Champion Road] on Garmin-Cervelo 
#93  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) [French National Champion Road] on Quickstep
#171  Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) [Spanish National Champion Road] on Movistar

The yellow, white, and polka-dot jerseys are decided. But the green jersey is still in contention. Pay attention to both the intermediate stage points and the final stage win. It could decide who wears the green jersey. Current sprint point (green jersey) classification point totals going into the last stage of the 2011 Tour de France are. 
1. CAVENDISH Mark 171 HTC - HIGHROAD 280 pts
2. ROJAS Jose Joaquin 88 MOVISTAR TEAM 265 pts
3. GILBERT Philippe 32 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 230 pts

Yes, they do race on the last day. There remains a race for the green jersey between Cavendish and Rojas. Winning the last stage of the Tour de France remains a big deal, so there will definitely be a race at the front. The day will be fun to watch, I only wish the TV coverage showed some of the after parade of riders on TV. VersusTV usually does a great job of showing podium presentations but not show this fun post-race event afterwards. If I find a live online link that allows us to see the pageantry after the race, I will share it tomorrow.

Congratulations to Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, and Frank Schleck. I am a huge fan of all three. Thanks also to Thomas Voeckler who dug deep and gave witness to the effort it takes to win the Tour de France. I feel that Voeckler had a restorative power to this everlasting competition. An athlete who restores belief is equal or almost better than an athlete who wins.

In 2012 the Tour de France will begin in the Belgian city of Liege. The dates of the 2012 Tour de France will be June 30 - July 22, 2011. The official route will be announced on October 18, 2011 in Paris. Prudhomme promises surprises for the 2012 Tour de France The 2012 Tour is rumoured to be built around climbs of medium difficulty.

Come back and visit PedalDancer.com again. It is not over, these past three weeks have stirred more curiosity in me. I want to learn more about the Directeur Sportifs of the Europcar team. I want to really study and understand the rules, I want to compile the questions answered by some of the people who  know so much about this sport. I want to learn more about the organization of A.S.O. I'd like to create some new ride maps, and I want to finally discover some good accommodations in the Alps! 

I will continue to post on a regular basis about traveling, news, and events in the world of professional cycling. Also I got behind on posting the additional Tour Travel post from Stage 14, and the Fan Frenzy posts for stage 19, 20, 21 because I was having too much fun in life - swimming, and birthday (mine) dinners out with friends.
Also please COME VISIT COLORADO! (USA Pro Cycling Challenge, August 2011). Until then, happy pedaling!

22 July 2011

Watching the Tour de France - Stage 19

Watch it Live!
Live link online to watch Stage 19 (in the morning) Tour de France on Eurosport (x out both ads, no need to download). More live links at: http://www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/#live.  Watching the time gaps Gaps on LeTour website and live report CyclingNews live reports.
The Col du Galibier again - are you kidding me! But it finishes on the top of Alpe d'Huez (d'whez). This will be a huge day in the Tour de France. History The Galibier 1911-2011 (100 years).

Modane - Alpe-d’Huez 109km

Col du Telegraphe
East side of Col du Galibier down to Col du Lautaret
Switchbacks of the east side of the Col du Galibier
The tunnel on Col du Galibier
The summit!
Henri Desgrange monument at the summit of the Galibier
The LaGrave glacier between the Col du Lautaret and Alpe d'Huez
La Grave
Skiing on La grave glacier
Looking down on the town of Bourg d'Oisans from Alpe d'Huez
Church on Alpe d'Huez, located a "Dutch corner"
Climbing Alpe d'Huez
Quiet on a non-Tour day
no reason to rush the downhill with these views
You are in the Alps!
Photos by: PedalDancer.com  

Refer back to Watching the Tour de France, Stage 18 for more information on the Col du Galibier and Alpe d'Huez.

21 July 2011

Rules are meant to be broken

Or we'd be down to only 80 riders

As much as Thomas Voeckler's epic hold onto the yellow jersey grabbed at our hearts strings today at the finish of Stage 18, way back down the mountain suffering the effects of the impressive effort by Andy Schleck's eventual stage win, were 88 riders in the autobus. The pack at the back came in after the official cut-off time. 
As Andy climbed faster, he not only changed the overall standings of the race, he forced the Tour de France organizers to break (or stretch, or be forced to accommodate) their own rules. The cut-off time was set at a 9% increase in time over Andy's time. The 88 riders rolled in 35min 40sec after Andy, missing the official cut-off time by 2min 33sec. What does it mean to miss the cut-off time?
If it is a lone rider or a small pack of riders behind the cut-off time, they will be eliminated from the race entirely. If it is a large group the rule is applied subjectively. After today's race we could have been facing an individual time trial on Saturday with half the number of riders, or the procession down the Champs Elysees on Sunday in Paris, with a measly 80 riders. That would have been a lot of pomp and circumstance for 3 to 4 riders on each team. The rules needed to be adapted today.

It could have been the traffic jam on the road that hindered the 88 riders from arriving on time. But I think someone should have gotten on those well-used race radios to tell one of those 88 riders to start pedaling a little faster. Not that it is easy to go faster up a 10% grade, across a road lined with buses and crazy fans, but that was a significant happening in the Tour de France today, which in the end - did not happen. 

Mark Cavendish was one of those riders in this last gruppetto today. It seems rules applied to sprinters are often subjective. He was not eliminated but penalized. As a penalty Mark Cavendish had 20 points taken away from his total sprinter's points and quest for the green jersey. Why 20 points? I don't know, but every man in the last group received the same penalty. As always in the Tour de France, we can count on the sprinters to add color and controversy to the race. 
Mark Cavendish is still in the lead for the green jersey, but is now only 15 points ahead of Rojas (who made it to the top of the Galibier before the cut-off time and retained all of his points). The race for the green jersey is not over yet.
Meanwhile the fans on the roads received 34'40" of steady entertainment as riders were spread out along the mountain today. What a day it must have been for fans on the slopes of the Alps. Study the stage standings from stage 18 today, it is fascinating to see the damage that was done to the main field of riders over 4 mountain passes. There are clearly climbers ... and there are clearly not climbers.

Rules are subtle things
Found on the official LeTour website under rules: "The rules are the bible for a sporting competition. Through their balance and subtleties they must ensure equality, motivate the riders and help spectators and viewers to understand the event." Today's bending of the rules ensured that spectators had riders remaining to watch - it was a rule worth bending. If they are in the business of bending rules, I would have liked to see the rule bent to offer Hoogerland a lift to the finish line the other day after his terrible forced accident.

"Use your French" 
Our good friend Jean Paul often tells us this. His intent is to kindly instruct us to act a little less like an tightly-wound American and a little more like a tolerable Frenchman. Which means at times, it is appropriate, and far more effective, to break the rules and apologize later. "Ooh, I am sorry, I did not know."It is a good cultural lesson to grasp while in France, and a fun way to remember to "use your French".

Update post post 07/22/11: It happened again today on Stage 19, with a smaller group of riders at the back. They too received another 20-point penalty. This time Rojas was with Cavendish (both were penalized) and Gilbert was not (no penalty). The current green jersey points are Cavendish (280), Rojas (265), Gilbert (230) after Stage 19.  

Björn Leukemans #214 (Bel) (Vancasoleil-DCM) was indeed eliminated for coming in outside the time limit on Stage 19 (not a DNF). He was the only rider to be eliminated due to time-limit on Stage 18 and Stage 19 in the Alps. Leonardo Bertagnolli (ITA) (Lampre-ISD) is listed as a withdrawal (DNF) during Stage 18. Complete 2011 Tour de France withdrawal list

Watching the Tour de France, Stage 18

Watch it Live!
Live link online to watch Stage 18 (in the morning) Tour de France on Eurosport (x out both ads, no need to download). More live links at: http://www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/#live.  Watching the time gaps Gaps on LeTour website and live report CyclingNews live reports.

Where are we? Stage 18
Stage 18, 2011 Tour de France

4 big profiles of today's climbs - the Col Agnel and the Col du Lautaret are both very long. Also the Col d'Izoard and the Col du Galibier add intensity.

Col Agnel
Col d'Izoard
False summit near the top of the climb
Col du Lautaret
Col du Galibier

Route of Stage 18 - This video makes it look like they are covering more than 2 countries!

Tour Traveler - 
Windswept nothingness  
That is how I would describe the climbs of Col Agnel and Col d'Izoard (d-Iz-wah). These climbs are out there. Out in the middle of nowhere, between ski resorts and long empty roads through glorious fields of wild flowers. When we climbed the Col d'Izoard in 2007, the only real people we saw out on the climb were a few cyclists, and a military troop training in the area. At least we didn't have to worry about cars! This was also the day I counted over 30 flys on the back of my brother's jersey (I know I am back on the fly theme again, which reminds me did you see the fly on the TV camera lens during Stage 17 yesterday? I don't make this fly stuff up).
The Col d'Izoard was a climb I had heard of in the Tour de France (yes one of those on the bucket list). And so we went. I enjoyed the town of Briancon very much, my sister-in-law found a great bookstore and ice cream shop as we climbed into no man's land. Beyond Briancon the road is fairly large with high traffic (and tunnels) all the way to the Col du Lautaret. Where we saw a large group of Botanists studying wildflowers in the fields. The Col du Lautaret is more like a bump on the road. If you continue driving north you will come upon the nice town of Bourg d'Oisans, turn right and voilà you have found the switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez. Turn right at the Col du Lautaret and you have no choice but to go up and over the Galibier. 
No matter what everyone says of Alp d'Huez, as an amateur cyclist, the Col du Galibier is so much more, especially the other (east) side. It is a big big climb. If the weather moves in on the Galibier it can be serious. Once you are on the climb you are committed. Alp d'Huez on the other hand is a series of (21 to be exact) rather fun switchbacks offering a changing view of the valley below with a number of homes, businesses, cafes, and a church along the climb. There is only one side of Alpe d'Huez - up. Alpe d'Huez is fun on a non-Tour day, and a blast on a Tour day. Galibier is one big bad mighty climb. 
The 2011 Tour de France will tackle the Co du Galibier twice this year, from both sides. On the west side is the Col du Lautaret, on the east side is the Col du Telegraphe (another oft climbed Col in the Tour de France, and a good one to climb if you are in the area). 
Col Agnel (do you see anybody in this image?)
Col d'Izoard, (can you find the one hiker in this photo? and me)
The road to Briancon (do you see anyone on this road?)
Briancon (people inhabit this city, so does very memorable ice cream!)
Col du Lautaret (there are Botanists in these fields - somewhere)
Col du Galibier (the real deal)
up at the top is the summit of the Col du Galibier
What and where is Galibier Serre-Chevalier?
The valley of Serre-Chevalier, extends from the summit of the climb of the Col du Galibier south to the town of Briançon. Chevalier in French means knight or horseman, yet Serre-Chevalier can be translated to mean flock of hills. This valley was once under Roman rule and is now an active ski area. There is no town at the base, or on the top, of the Galibier, (although there is a hotel cafe on the Col du Lautaret). Therefore they are giving the large ski-town of Serre-Chevalier down the road the credit for the finish of Stage 18. The race goes through this town, but finishes up the Col du Galibier. 
Serre Chevalier Vallée
Some previous posts by PedalDancer.com about cycling in the French Alps:
A day at the Dauphiné
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011 route

The other well-known cycling climbs in the area near Col du Galibier:

Map of bike climbs in the French Alps (click to enlarge)
A PedalDancer.com map