27 June 2011

Le Tour De France 2011: Rooting Interest

If you don't know already, The Tour De France starts Saturday. It will be aired in the states on Versus, whose coverage is excellent every year. I've been watching since the halcyon days of Lance Armstrong, and because they work to educate the viewer, I actually know what the heck is going on and enjoy the sport.

This year, the first without Lance in a couple of years, I'm faced with a unique question: who do I root for?

Do I root for American Levi Leipheimer, the current Greatest American Cyclist? He just took the Tour of Switzerland on the last day by putting in a blistering time trail, winning the overall by under 2 seconds. Levi's been at this a long time, but has never gotten over the hump in the Tour. His for is excellent, so perhaps this is his year?

There is also Bradley Wiggens of Great Britain who just won the Critérium du Dauphiné and could be the best chance Great Brittan has had for a Tour champion in a long time. Considering that the brilliant announce team of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin are both Brits, there might be a bit of rooting for him from the commentators.

Then there is Alberto Contador, the defending champ. Oh wait, I think he is the waking embodiment of everything that is un-sportsmanlike so I think I'm going to end up actively rooting against him. He's your villain.

There are either of the Schleck brothers, Andy or Frank. Andy just won the King of the Mountains for the Tour of Switzerland. He would have been in the hunt for it all, but he popped a chain on the opening time trail and had to ride his road bike for most of that race. For those who don't know why that matters, a time trail is you against the clock. It means that all you care about is flat out speed and reducing anything that could cause drag. Time trial bikes are wonders of engineering, with the giant plate wheel and exacting precision of production to have the perfect weight and power to get the most speed and lowest drag possible. The road bike has spokes, which are already bad, and isn't balanced for a time trial. He lost minutes because of this. He is the sympathetic person to root for after popping a chain last year and watching Contador take advantage to win the Overall.

Then there's the field. So many names... there could be Cadell Evans, Christian VanDevelde, Chris Horner or even some other random guy who steps out to distinction.

Whoever it is I decide to get interested in, I will be keeping a daily log of my thoughts as the Tour progresses. Nothing fancy, just some snap analysis. This week I'll go over what makes each jersey special for the uninitiated. You could find this on a wiki, but I'll tell you why each on is interesting and how to look for a winner.

So, who do you think will win this year? Do  you have any idea what any of this means? Can you believe an American still watches after Lance retired? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. The Schlecks if Levi Craps out, yet I was surprised how he did at the Tour de Suisse. I would like to see Andy Schleck get the win but as is usual will be rooting for Radioshack and any of thier members if they are in contesting range in the end