Why I Love July (Also Called Make It 4)

18 07 2008

I actually love July for 3 reasons, the cricket, the football transfer merry-go-round (busy times for Pompey and I may write somthing about this soon) but mostly for Le Tour de France.

Firstly a few facts and figures:

  • First ridden in 1903 by 60 riders
  • Only 10 riders finished in 1919
  • 15 million spectators will line the roads during the race
  • The fastest average speed for the race is 41.654km/h won by Lance Armstrong in 2005
  • 144 British riders have taken part over the years
  • 2008 tour raced over 3500km over 21 stages

I am a big cycling fan and have been to see the great race 6 times. I was there when the great Miguel Indurain finally cracked in the alps, I have seen all of the greats of the nineties flying past at 60km an hour, The hour coverage with Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin is some of the best commentary that you will hear, and its not all about the cycling, there is the whole spectacle of the tour caravan (a 20km procession of advertising, team cars, dignitaries, VIPs, TV crews and a few cyclists thrown in) and its getting exciting again now. There is a British rider doing not just well, but doing superbly. Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man (with an ego about the same size) has until the 13th stage won 3 stages, he is without a doubt the fastest man in the world over the last 200m (a spped camera at the end of one of the stages clocked him at 74km an hour). No Briton has ever achieved 3 stage wins in the same tour before and only 6 have ever won stages.

Mark Cavendish takes his 3rd stage win.

Mark Cavendish takes his 3rd stage win.

Winning his third stage would normally have been huge news in the cycling world, but for the continuing depths that cycling is going to. I am completely disgusted by all of the doping that goes on, it makes a mockery out of the sport and what is the worlds premier endurance event. A third rider this year has been caught with traces of EPO in his blood, (all 3 of them had taken a varient of EPO (its called CERA) that has been undetectable before and is fairly advanced) Ricardo Ricco the young Italian had taken a brilliant stage win in the Pyrannese earlier in the tour but has now been shown to be a cheat, and he deserves all he gets. For those of you that don’t know, EPO increases red blood cells and therefore increases endurance.

I found this quote in the paper today, see if you can figure out what is wrong with it:

British cyclist David Millar summed up competitors’ feelings, saying: ‘It’s irresponsible. This guy does not have any love or care for the sport.”

The answer is, its by David Millar, who himself has served a 2 years ban for doping.

Anyway Saunier Duvall, Riccos team has now quit the tour, today they have sacked another of their riders for “Irregularities”. This is after the team manager guaranteed live on TV that these riders were clean…

Now in the tour, 3 teams independently test their riders, Mark Cavendish’s Columbia team are one of them. Cavendish was also the first rider to sign to the anti doping charter. Even though the guy has an ego that only rappers can equal, I like the guy, heis good, and he knows it. He is also quick to acknowledge the help that the team have given him. Without the domestiques (the dogsbody riders that fetch the leaders food and drinks, and lead out the sprinters) dragging his weary body over the haut catergorie climbs, he wouldn’t even have still been in the event, he would have been eliminated, so bonus points for that.

Anyway, big congratulations to Mark, to win a stage is a fantastic achievement, to win 3 is amazing. He isn’t sure if he is going to complete the tour, as he has to go off to the Olympics where he will hopefully bring back a gold in the Madison race.

OK, lets make that 4 (I was writing this as I was watching the coverage), he just won the 13th stage, and thats 2 stages in a row. From being boxed in with 150m to go to 2 bike lengths in front over the line is a completely amazing sprint. Especially leaving some of the best in the world for dead.



2 responses

28 07 2008

Did you know that the Isle of Man isn’t actually part of the United Kingdom? It’s a crown dependency but it’s not officially a part of the UK. The people on the Isle of Man are British citizens though. I reckon Cav is popular enough to lead an uprising and become king, then the Isle of Man would win a shitload of Olympic medals. The guy’s awesome, he’s got every right to be confident given how much quicker than everyone else he is. He always says it’s down to his team too. Nothing wrong with being sure of yourself. As for Millar, he made a mistake and he did his time. Now he’s one the quality riders you can feel confident isn’t doping. He’s taken his punishments like a man. Ricco was a disapppointment but the way his team dominated the mountain stages they rode in was too fishy really. Piepoli suddenly got really good aged 36? It doesn’t happen. Not sure about Vandevelde either (if his lawyers read this, ignore it). At least we ought to be sure Evans isn’t doping, he just has a shit team, and Menchov would have won it if he could stay on his bike for more than 5 minutes. I’m not sure what to do at 7 now. Might just listen to a tape of Liggett and Sherwen. There’s a facebook group called something like “I wish Phil Liggett narrated my life”.

28 07 2008

Funny you should mention that tape of Phil Liggett. My dad actually has every episode of the channel 4 programme and now ITV4 from around about 1990, possibly earlier. When he gets fed up he will start to watch a tour.

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