Julie with a B

Thursday, July 21, 2005
Tour de France
These are the standings in the General Classification (ie over all the race)
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 3,254.5km in 77h44’44" (41.664km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 3’46"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 5’58"
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 7’08"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 8’12"
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at 9’49"
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO at 10’11"
9. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 10’42"
10. Christophe Moreau (France) C.A - at 13’15"

A couple things to notice here.... first take a look at the average speed that Lance has ridden the race at just under 30 mph. Think about that a moment. That's the average along the flats, up the grades, over the Alps, down across the flats, over the Pyrenees, back across the flats.
Ouch. (When I was bike racing, and my goal was to just finish the race, winning wasn't even on the horizon, I could sprint UP TO 27 mph on the flat.) Hmmm. Now there has been a bit of discussion about the speed of the this race. Apparently one of the tactics early on was to keep the speed up across the flat stages, so that by the time Lance got to the "hills" he would be over tired. And there WERE alot of over tired riders. The first day in the hills didn't go smoothly for team Discovery Channel. But Lance simply rode to the front and answered every challenge the other riders offered. The next day the yellow jersey was on someone else's shoulders . . . the following day Lance had it back and has kept it ever since.

The other thing to notice? See those riders with "USA" after their names? Yes there are 3 riders in the top ten from the U.S. This is a new thing. The first American rode in the Tour in 1981. Only 31 American riders have ridden in the Tour during the years since then. Greg LeMond was the first American to win the Tour in 1986, and he went on to win again in 1989 and 1990.

I heard someone say today that it was Lance Armstrong that has made road bike racing popular in America. Actually, no, it was Greg LeMond. But Lance Armstrong has brought it into everyone's living rooms. Absolutely incredible.

I've watched him ride all of his Tours. He is always focused, almost austere looking. This time? The cameras catch him smiling and chatting with his competitors as he peddles into history.


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