The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, July 28, 2006


Meanwhile, in some ways more shocking news: Team Astana (ex-Astana-Würth, ex-Liberty Seguros-Würth) has been categorically cleared by Spanish authorities. That's right, Vino's team, which was ineligible for the Tour with 5 riders suspended under suspicion in the Peurto scandal, now finds itself in the position of an innocent man released after years in prison. Name smeared? Check. Unparalleled opportunities missed? Check. No way to be made whole? Check.

And now this entire scandal, which blew apart the favorites board the day before the Tour, risks becoming the biggest clusterfuck of all time (Sports category). Imagine if Ivan is cleared, in a year when he was all set to pull a rare double of the Giro D'Italia and Tour de France. Imagine if Jan is cleared, after missing what was really his last, best chance. The evidence against these guys was not, to my understanding, any stronger than it was against the Astana Five.

Christ. What a fuck-up.



Floyd's Out!

OK, it's not official, and apparently the testosterone test that he's half-failed is notoriously flimsy, but Jesus this sucks. And after everyone else, too. You'll note that I couldn't even write about it when it was news, yesterday. Fuck.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Now, about that Tour

OK, sort of curious radio silence here since Landis bonked last Wednesday. As you all now know, he proceeded to perform one of the most stunning rides in 103 years of Tour history, in one day helping people to forget 7 years of Lance moments. As impressive as Floyd's ride was - and it was an almost superhuman effort, the kind Leipheimer kept trying to pull off to get himself into contention, but kept being unable to follow through on - what thrilled me was the way Team Phonak shattered the peloton as a launching point for him. This is what USPostal/Discovery always did for Lance, but rarely so dramatically, and never so early in a ride. All 8 of Floyd's teammates sacrificed themselves for him, riding as hard as they physically could extremely early in an extremely hard stage, absolutely blowing apart the peloton and giving Floyd the leadout he needed to develop an escape that no amount of chasing at the end of a long day could reel back in. One team member had to quit the Tour that day, so spent was he by his effort for his leader. But his reward will be great: not only does the Tour winner give all his winnings to his teammates (he's got more money coming, thank you very much), but also the team - and no doubt his compatriots - will not forget that effort.

So, everybody loves a winner, and after what Floyd did, I'm over my initial unenthusiasm about him. Meanwhile, my boy Klöden did just fine (3rd place), thank you. And the enigmatic and invisible Cadel Evans finished off the posium, so screw him. It is now the official policy of anarchitect to ignore Cadel Evans.


Tom Tomorrow and the Big Dog

This post reminded me of something I though of posting a few months ago. Tom writes:
I’ve never entirely understood the tendency of bloggers who revile the DLC and everything it stands for to simultaneously revere Bill Clinton, who is pretty much the embodiment of the DLC and everything it stands for. [...] his decision to stump for Lieberman should nonetheless serve as a reminder that this guy will sell out progressives at the drop of a hat if it is somehow politically expedient to do so.

That this is not exactly breaking news is something anyone who was paying attention during the nineties should understand.
Awhile back, I reread Tom's Great Big Book of Tomorrow, a comprehensive collection of pretty much his whole career up to 2003. It was mostly funny of course, and where the Bush 1 years seem quaint and the Bush 2 years horrifyingly prescient, the Clinton years mostly pissed me off.

Why? Because, while Tom's criticism of course comes from the left - why isn't HillaryCare single payer, etc. - the actual complaints tend to be grounded in the exact same tired, slanderous, and - as we know understand too well - completely wrong tropes that rightwingers and the press used to obstruct Clinton, wound Gore, and ultimately lay the groundwork for Bush to become president. Think of every bit of nonsense you ever heard Rush say about Clinton, and - short of drug-running at Mena and murdering political opponents - it's in This Modern World throughout the 90s. And it really pissed me off.

Ultimately, what Tom Tomorrow did was very similar to what we're now angry at Lieberman for: attacking a Democrat with the same weapons used - honed - by the rightwing. Unlike Lieberman, Tom makes no claims of being a Democrat, so at least the disloyalty issue is less salient, but you know what? Attack centrist Dems for pusillanimity in the face of Republicans, promote lefty ideas, mock DLC mantras all you want. But don't pat yourself on the back for promoting, in whatever small way, anti-American bullshit like the '98 impeachment. Anyone who thinks that what has gone wrong in the last 15 (25?) years in this country is not enough lefties attacking Democrats needs to wake the fuck up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Landis has cracked"!

At 10:58 EDT, according to Holy shit. There's still 15+km to go on the final climb of the day. If he's truly cracked, he could get wiped out today. Others ion his group - which has now left him - include all the contenders: Evans, Menchov, Klöden, Sastre....

10:59: "Landis Stranded...
Landis has no puff left. He cannot respond to the surge that was started by Sastre. He has already lost 15"..."



On the Road Today: Levi!

Levi Leipheimer has been looking stronger since his dismal first two weeks, and today has made a strong move. After aggressive attacks from the outset and a breakaway of 13 riders, the race settled down to Mikael Rasmussen ("The Chicken" for his long mountain biker's legs) way out in front, and Levi gradually moving up on him. Rasmussen's a strong climber, so it's unlikely that Leipheimer can catch him, but Levi has put some distance between himself and the peloton. A stage similar to this was run in the Dauphiné-Libéré in the spring, and Levi won it, so we know that he can hack the climb. He has a chance - a small one - to make significant dent in Floyd's lead - maybe take it from 6+ minutes to under 4. But Floyd has teammate Axel Merckx with him, so it'll take a heroic effort from Levi - something we've yet to see this Tour.


Landis back in yellow

OK, this post is almost 20 hours too late, but, as nothing stunning has occurred in the first 3 hours on the road today (an unbelievable number of attacks - the course starts out going straight up the hors categorie Col de Galibier, the highest mountain in this year's Tour), a little analysis is still viable.

From's summary of yesterday:
Landis attacked a number of times and Kloden was always able to follow. This group dropped Evans, Menchov, Leipheimer and Sastre early.
And from the redoubtable Samuel Abt in the Times:
Landis, who rides for Phonak, said Monday that he did not intend to win any of the mountain stages. He said he merely wanted to stay within striking distance of the overall lead and make his move in the time trial Saturday in the Tour’s penultimate stage.

But he was forced to alter his strategy Tuesday, when one of his top challengers, Andreas Klöden of Germany and the T-Mobile team, attacked with about three miles remaining. Landis had to follow in order to prevent Klöden from gaining considerable time. As a result of that push, Landis regained the overall lead.
So here's the deal: Floyd is no Lance. He's not as strong (of course), and he doesn't have the same strengths. So when Klöden made his move, Floyd didn't crush him the way Lance always crushed Jan, Ivan, or Pantani. But he followed him, took him at the line, and in so doing, dropped every other rider who could be considered a contender (including the surprising Menchov, whom Landis has identified as his primary rival at this point). Now, they're all still in the race, and Landis could bonk today or tomorrow (although tomorrow is not a mountaintop finish, and so it's unlikely for any contender to gain a lot of time there, because the peloton can regroup on the final descent). But the bottom line is that Landis has ridden quite well, and has been strategically sound. It's hard to believe he won't win it all.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Break Day

They take a break, so I'll take a break from writing about riding. Instead, let me direct you to a beautiful and sad meditation on death. Neiwert's best known for writing about right-wing extremism, but his thread of posts on orcas and the natural wonders of the Northwest is a welcome leaven.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

How the Mighty Have Fallen.

One of the remarkable facts about USPostal, then Team Discovery, during the Lance Years, is that over the course of 7 Tours de France - 161 stages and over 15,000 km - not a single rider retired from the race. Not from illness, injury, nor exhaustion.

Well, yesterday, not only did Benjamin Noval, a low-profile worker, abandon the race, but so did Paolo Salvodelli, who was one of the team's four "co-leaders" at the start of the race. I'm not sure you need to know much more than that about the chances of the team this year.

This, despite the fact that yesterday - Bastille Day, when the French riders are always desperate for glory - Disco got their first stage win of the race. And it wasn't Big George, who took part in a big breakaway that lasted over 50 km, but rather Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych, who was in a late breakaway and then burst away in the final 3 km to win by 0:27. He halved his time to Landis, who remains in yellow, but it seems awfully unlikely that he'll get any closer. He certainly won't be permitted to escape again, although he could conceivably simply take a mountain stage away from Floyd. But even if he does, Floyd would take it back at the time trial in the penultimate stage.

As you may be able to tell, I'm a bit resigned to a Landis victory. Which wouldn't bother me, but I'm not really rooting for it.

Paolo in better times, winning Stage 17 last year:

Thursday, July 13, 2006


OK, that was exciting. What's the upshot?

Well, Floyd's in yellow. He was 4:45 behind yesterday's stage winner and today's maillot jaune, Dessel of AG2R, and came in 4:46 ahead of him today. It's actually not quite as dramatic as that, since Landis also gets 0:10 (I think) for finishing third.

Yes, third, behind Menchov & Levi. After that, Evans & Sastre 0:17 back, some others, and Klöden 9th at 1:31 back. And I think that those are the riders to watch from here on out. There are certainly a few others who could do something (after all, 3 mountain stages are left), but these guys (apart from Sastre) were favorites going in, and today they showed that they deserved to be. Klöden, whose mettle has been questioned, I think showed something today, particularly holding reasonably close after being dropped with 6 km to go. Leipheimer, although he won't make up huge hunks of time today (and certainly not against Landis or Evans) at least showed strength for the first time all Tour. Better late than never. Discovery looks awful now, and the shine has come off T-Mobile - they may not have spent their energy ideally over the past 2 days.

And tomorrow, this could all change.

[Updated slightly to reflect some more accurate distances]


And it's Menchov!

Well, I was right about Landis: apparently Denis made his move with 250 meters to go, and neither Landis nor Levi (who made an abortive move at 2.5 km) could follow. Levi's move was countered by Menchov & Landis, but blew away Evans & Sastre (who, since I have yet to mention him, was one spot ahead of Hincapie before today, and will now be many spots ahead, likely in the top 10).

Now that's a mountain stage.

[Updated slightly to reflect some more accurate distances]


Flat finish

Just learned from that, although technically a mountain finish, the stage really has a 2 km plateau at the end. Meaning that the group of now-5 (Landis, Leipheimer, Menchov, Evans, & Sastre) won't break apart at the end, unless one of them has legs for a huge sprint. But breaking on the final climb shouldn't be an issue. Instead, expect 2 km of constant attacks and reelings in. Maybe a photo finish.

Update: Landis has inexplicably led the Group for the last 1+ km, driving pretty hard. He can't possibly have enough after that to attack at the end. Can he?


That Jersey

The aforementioned Rabobank jersey. I've been tempted to get one, but I'm not actually a fan of the team....



Boogerd of Rabobank (best jersey in the Tour) is blowing apart the Gang of 17! As of 4:53 PM, down to 8 riders.

Update: Down to 7. And Boogerd is serving as lieutenant to Denis Menchov. As I said the other day, Menchov put himself into contention after the Time Trial, currently 16th, 5:58 back. But he's only 1:08 behind Landis.

More update: Menchov takes over! Klöden dropped! Levi attacks! Shit, this is exciting!

Last one on this post: Cadel Evans has been in this group the whole time. Apparently I'm incapable of noticing this guy....


Live Tour Update

This is Hincapie's last chance, I think. With 20 km (30+ min.) to go, a big group of ~17 is sitting 1:30 ahead of most of the rest of the riders. Landis and Levi are in the group, as are Klöden and Rogers of T-Mobile. They're heading up the last climb (it's a mountaintop finish). But Hincapie's in the following group, and if he can't hang....

Ack! Since I started, they're down to 15 km to go, and the lead has grown to 1:45. Discovery has looked weak all day, T-Mobile strong. And Landis, although unsupported, seems strong.

2:00! Shit!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Another Tour Shakeup

Sorry about the lack of posts - I'll recap later. But for now the story is the result of the Time Trial.

The TT was expected to be the first real test of the Tour, and the sprinters and breakaways of the first week all blow away. What was not expected was for Levi Leipheimer to get blown away, nor for George Hincapie to wind up almost 2 minutes behind Floyd Landis. Less shocking, but still surprising, is T-Mobile with 4 riders in the top 8, 6 in the top 16. So, where do we stand?

Landis - now in second place, behind Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) - has to be considered the clear favorite. He's ridden well every day, and isn't especially threatened in the mountains by the other GC riders. Cadel Evans is looking good, in 11th, but David Zabriskie, the Tour's most natural TTer, needed to gain time today, not lose it. Hincapie is only one mountain victory from yellow, and Team Discovery is looking strong (6 riders in the top 32, plus two more at 42 and 45), but he shouldn't have lost this much time today. Finally, Leipheimer's Tour is over unless he finds a surge; at 96, he's more than halfway down the GC.

What about others who have become contenders today? Well, T-Mobile's Klöden (8), whom I mentioned in preview, looks good. The commenters on OLN said the other day that he's a bit of an enigma, a rider with too much going on in his head. But maybe he's got it straight now. Although T-Mobile is not a team well-known for dealing with multiple potential leaders, so who knows how they'll handle their position. Young Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is sitting at #9, and won the Vuelta á España a couple years ago, so he can handle a Grand Tour. Another Russian, Vladimir Karpets of Caisse Espargna-Baleáres, is right behind Evans, and was the Tour's Best Young Rider in '04, so he bears looking at, but the team is not so strong. Italian Paolo Salvodelli (Discovery) is sitting 5 slots ahead of Hincapie; if he out-climbs George in the Pyrenees, Discovery may become his team.

All in all, an interesting day. Days like this always test my feelings when I'm not sure whom I'm really rooting for. I knew that I liked Hincapie a lot - I had my 2 year old chanting Hin-Ca-Pie on the home stretch of the Prologue - but I thought that I was reasonably pro-Floyd. Instead, he's in the cat-brid's seat, and I'm bummed. Ah, well. Still over a dozen stages to go.


Saturday, July 01, 2006


Vino's Out!

(That curse, BTW, is "damn" in Russian; Kazakh slang proved intractable).

My favorite, Alexandre Vinokourov, is unable to race the Tour not because he was implicated in the Puerto scandal, but because too many of his teammates were. Without at least 5 teammates, Astana-Wurth couldn't race. In a word, that sucks. Vino must have some bad karma, to go from having his own teammates work to bring him down to having his teammates' perfidity bring him down.

Anyway, where does that leave us? With 3 Americans, one Australian, and one Spaniard as favorites. I wrote about George, Levi, & Floyd yesterday. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), of Australia, was not on my radar screen, and I'm still not sure, based on prior performance, why he's being mentioned, but the OLN gang are united on it, so it must be so. Last is strong young Spaniard Alejandro Valverde(Caisse D'Espargne/Baleares), whom I did know about but neglected yesterday.

This morning's Prologue, a short, flat time trial that took only about 8 1/2 minutes to ride (an average recreational cyclist could probably do it in 13), was mostly dull: a fast time was posted by an early, unknown rider, and held up all day. Then, as the last few (and best) riders started (one at a time, 1 minute apart), intrigue arose. Floyd Landis was, incredibly, not at the starting gate on time, and went off maybe 8 seconds late. He finished 8 seconds off the winning time (set a few riders before by Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), a breakaway specialist). David Zabriskie, who won last year's opening time trial ahead of a Lance Armstrong in peak form, almost came through, but was a few seconds slow. Finally, big George Hincapie powered down the final straightaway, looking like he would take the day, and the first yellow jersey of the race. He crossed .72 seconds too slow. It's meaningless in terms of race position - Hushovd is no threat on the GC - but seeing George, Lance's most faithful lieutenant, in yellow tomorrow morning would have been psychologically powerful.