Friday, July 13, 2007

Le Tour

Is anyone following the Tour de France this year? For those of us that don't get the race on TV, are there web sites that are doing live tracking/ commentary that you'd recommend?

And more importantly, are there particular riders I should be rooting for (other than anyone tough enough to gut out two weeks on a bike with a broken tailbone)?


Blogger Benjamin said...

Yeah, it's hard not to root for Vinokourov and Kloden with the injuries they have. It'd be nice to see Leipheimer do well too as he's another American.

The odd thing about this tour is that there appears to be no front runner. Usually by now there are one or two riders who have put themselves in a strong position. Maybe in spite of his time trial abilities Rasmussen will be able to climb well enough to win?

Sadly, I don't know of any online links to race coverage (my Tivo records the versus broadcasts).

7/17/2007 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Oh Vino... And now word that that someone else tested positive for testosterone.

I have to wonder, though, at how on Earth so many tests can come back positive. I have a hard time believing that this many elite athletes could possibly be stupid enough to get a blood transfusion that they know (or should know) is going to be detectable at the end of a stage, then go out an win the stage, knowing that would trigger an automatic drug test. Or that so many cyclists wouldn't know how quickly testosterone would get out of their system if they were doping. I would think that if cycling was really this dirty, they'd at least be pretty good at beating announced, in-competition tests.

In fact, I'm starting to suspect that a lot of these results are false positives. Obviously, it's basically impossible to do a double-blind study on an elite athlete's T/E ratio in the aftermath of a Tour stage through the Alps with and without doping. That makes it hard for me to believe that the error rate on these things is really all that well known or that the various cut-offs in ratios are really the black and white things that the officials would lead us to believe.

7/25/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

And now Rasmussen got booted?!

Is anyone going to be allowed to finish this thing? Perhaps next year we should field a Math Hut team. Sort of like bidding $1 on the Price is Right, we wouldn't win anything on the course but we'd at least pass all the doping controls and we'd be right there if everyone else got sent home.

7/25/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger E said...

If you don't finish a stage, then you're not allowed to compete in the next stage. Team Mathhut might be able to finish a few stages. But I think there is a maximum time for each stage that would be a problem for us. And I'm pretty sure we'd be totally stopped by the first mountain stage.

But you do have to wonder...

7/26/2007 03:51:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

It looks like you have 25% of the winning time in order to complete the stage (other than the prolog where there is no time limit). That might be a bit of a challenge for Team MathHut when we got to the mountain stages. But we do have nearly a year to train, and there are only 6 or 7 mountain stages...

7/26/2007 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Vincent said...

Slate reports that it's really, really hard to finish a mountain stage.

7/28/2007 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

I would point out that
- He did finish
- Team MathHut has a whole year to train
- We have a whole year to figure out the ideal gear ratios and other mechanical tweaks to maximize our climbing potential

Just think, we could be the Tour equivalent of Eddie the Eagle!

7/30/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger E said...

I've done a few small sections of previous Tour stages. For example, I did Avignon to St. Remy to Les Baux to Arles. The St. Remy to Les Baux was steeper than I would want to do again. I'm not sure whether I got off my bike once or twice, but it wore me out to the point that I had to forego tourist activities in Arles to get back to my hotel before dark. Les Baux is not high at all, and I believe Les Baux is considered part of the "little Alps". I originally was toying with the idea of trying Vacluse the next day. After making it halfway up to Les Baux, it was 100% clear that I was not doing Vacluse.

Granted my only preparation was biking to work and back most days and a single flat 20 bike ride a couple of weeks before I left. And I was riding a heavy hybrid rental rather than a road bike. But still, I found a previous Tour schedule that included that (as part of a longer stage) and called the stage "flat". Let me tell you, that is NOT flat.

8/01/2007 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Yeah, I think our only hope would be to have everyone kicked out on stage 1. Otherwise, we'd find ourselves competing against well trained genetic freaks. Your typical professional cyclist probably rides over 500 miles a week and has well under 10% body fat. Anyone want to join me in singing "Toasty the snowman"? :)

8/01/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Qian said...

Here's an interesting article from 2003 about an amateur cyclist who doped for 6 months to find out what it's like.

I think even if every team got kicked out after the first stage, Team Math Hut would be hard pressed to finish the Tour in anything like a reasonable time frame. Personally it takes me most of a day just to rehydrate after 2 hours of tennis. So the Tour would take me a minimum of 8-12 months to finish. I doubt there'd be much of a television audience for a bunch of nerds riding very slowly for 8 months.

8/01/2007 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

We'd just have to change the marketing a bit. Change it from a "sporting event" to "reality TV" and you could get months of prime-time television out of it!

Of course, the French might start to get upset that they had to keep cars of roads for months at a time, but we'll just tell ABC to send them a few francs for their trouble.

8/01/2007 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger mwal said...

Did you all see this? : Lobes of Steel.

"An expanding body of research shows that exercise can improve the performance of the brain by boosting memory and cognitive processing speed."

The piece also includes a few favorable remarks concerning chocolate, alcohol, and 'herb', as I believe it is called.

8/20/2007 06:49:00 AM  

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