Running In Circles
Wednesday, July 26th
Comments: I didn't run today.
Angie's coworkers threw her a baby shower this afternoon, and I joined in after work. It was pretty much dying down by the time I arrived, so I had a couple of beers and some pizza, and then we all drifted our separate ways.
The other day while grocery shopping, I saw a guy wearing an Italy shirt. I developed an incredible urge to run over and headbutt him in the chest. I wonder what that was all about.
Tuesday, July 25th
Comments: I didn't run this morning because I didn't want to close up the house when I went out. The fans and open windows were finally having an effect. I puttered around instead, and when I left for work, the inside temperature was down to 77°. That's the first time it's been under 80° in two days. Let me tell you, it's hard to get to sleep when it's 94° inside your house at 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 22nd
Comments: I didn't run today; it was too freaking hot.
The time trial of today's stage of the Tour de France held a few surprises for me. I didn't expect Gontchar to have the legs to win again. I didn't expect Klöden to beat Landis. And I didn't expect Pereiro to ride well enough to keep second place. I did, however, expect Landis to take the Yellow Jersey, and he did. Leipheimer managed to move in front of Boogerd, but Cunego passed them both, so Leipheimer remains in luck 13th place. Cunego, besides just jumping from 15th to 12th, managed to wrap up the White Jersey title.
Tomorrow's stage will almost certainly come down to a bunch sprint. In that case, I have to pick Robbie McEwen to win.
Friday, July 21st
Comments: I didn't run today.
Today's stage of the Tour de France wasn't really that exciting. Leipheimer is racing like a yo-yo, up one day and down the next. Today he was up again, but I think he will finish out of the top ten. Too bad, really. I certainly wouldn't have picked Tosatto to win the stage in a breakaway; he's a lead-out man, by golly.
Tomorrow's time trial will all but determine the podium spots on Sunday. The top three places are separated by only 30 seconds. I don't know if the race has ever been that close at the beginning of the penultimate day. I think Landis will win the stage, get into Yellow, and win the whole race when it rolls into Paris. I know my picks usually don't do well, but I just can't picture anyone else winning the TT. Right now, in my mind, the big question is who will take second and third on the General Classification. I think Klöden will most likely take second, with Evans taking third. Skinny Spanish climbers like Pereiro (currently 1st) and Sastre (2nd at 12 seconds) don't often ride so well in long time trials. Maybe one of them will do "something special" and hold onto a podium spot, but I doubt it.
Thursday, July 20th
Course: Ft. Steilacoom Random Run
Comments: My parents and I fought traffic all the way through Tacoma to get to Ft. Steilacoom to do the Watermelon Run 5K. When we arrived, no one was there except a handful of people who also wanted to do the Watermelon Run. There was no organizer, no course markings, no clock, and no explanation why. After waiting around a while, my dad and I decided to go for a run on our own. It was quite hot, so we just did 5k. Then we got cheeseburgers and went home. There was construction on I-5, so it took forever to get back. All in all, it was a little disappointing (except for the black raspberry milkshake).
In regard to today's Tour de France stage: Holy Crap! That may have been the best single stage of the Tour that I've ever seen. Greg Lemond's eight-second Tour win following his final day TT in 1989 is up there of course, but that result was as much Fignon falling apart as it was Lemond dominating the stage. Today it was all Landis. And it's not like they let him go; he just powered his way to the front, tore apart the breakaway, shook Sinkewitz off his wheel, and bombed to the finish. I was hoping that Sastre would squeak in far enough ahead of Pereiro to take the Yellow Jersey, but he just missed. This has been an up-and-down Tour, and I would have liked to see yet another rider wear the Jersey for a day or two. I never heard what happened to Leipheimer on the stage, but when I perused the day's results, I noticed that he slipped from 9th on GC to 18th. That's a pretty big drop and no comment about it.
Tomorrow's stage shouldn't have any impact on the General Classification—but this year, who can tell. I imagine a breakaway will stay clear—not Oscar Pereiro clear, but up the road a bit. I'd prefer to see a bunch sprint. For that, I guess I'll have to wait until Sunday's finish on the Champs Élysées. It's all but impossible to predict a winner for tomorrow's stage, but I'll go ahead and pick Philippe Gilbert. He's been aggressive, he's good at the breakaway, and he's far enough down that he's no threat to the overall.
Wednesday, July 19th
Comments: Didn't run.
Today's Tour de France stage really shook up the General Classification. I didn't expect Landis to crack, but did he ever. Leipheimer tried to gain some time and cracked as well. He managed to finish close to the front, at least. I was rooting for him to pull away and make a gap on the rest of the contenders, but it wasn't to be. Still, my hat's off to him for attacking from a long way out. I had a hunch he was going too early though. It's very tough to make a difference anywhere outside the final climb. Rasmussen all but wrapped up the King of the Mountains competition with his solo victory today. I didn't think Rabobank would let him go, as I thought they would want him to work for Menchov. Rasmussen will need to defend the Polka Dots tomorrow, but if none of his KOM competition gets in a break, he can relax and help his teammate.
Tomorrow's stage is another tough call. The race isn't over yet, and a well timed attack or another melt-down could shake up the GC even more. The long downhill finish will make it hard for a small group to get away from other riders. When I first saw the stage, I thought it was the Salvodelli Special. I figured "Il Falco" would stay with the climbers and bomb down the final descent to victory. Well, he abandoned, so that won't happen. Therefore, I'm picking Klöden to win the stage. I think he can match the climbers to the top and beat them to the bottom. He almost did something similar in the 2003 tour, until Lance Armstrong put in a massive surge to nip him at the line. I think this year, no one catches him. (Also, I'm trying for the Double Jinx. I don't like Klöden, and I hope he loses time. Since my predictions have been faring poorly, by picking him to win I'm actually hoping he falters. Of course, by doing so I'm jinxing myself, but that's the nature of the Double Jinx.)
Tuesday, July 18th
Comments: I didn't run today, felt tired.
Today's stage was an epic. I don't think I can adequately express the joy I felt watching the stage, so I won't even try. (I dream of one day watching a stage on L'Alpe d'Huez in person. I'd make a good Schmengie.) I didn't expect CSC to let Fränk Schleck try for the win. I figured they'd want him helping Sastre. Sastre did fairly well anyhow, and if he has another good day in the mountains, he could finish on the podium. I wasn't expecting this kind of action until tomorrow. It was a pleasant surprise.
Tomorrow's stage is the Queen Stage—the hardest single day on the tour. I haven't even come close to predicting the winner of a mountain stage, but why should I let that stop me from trying again. Cunego and Garzelli must be wiped out from their efforts today, so they're out. José Rujano failed me once, badly, so I won't pick him again. I doubt Schleck will win two in a row. I don't think any of the top ten GC riders will win—like today, they'll be too busy marking each other. I think I'll pick Georg Totschnig from Gerolsteiner. He probably won't win, but it's as good a guess as any.
Monday, July 17th
Course: The Wrecking Yard
Distance: 4 Miles
Time: Not Timed
Comments: I put in an easy four miles this morning. I felt fairly good.
Today was a rest day at the Tour de France, but I didn't post anything on Sunday, so now it's time for me to catch up. All I can say about Sunday's stage is: I never want to ride a bike into Gap. Two of the four worst crashes I've ever seen have happened there. (The other Gap crash being Joseba Beloki going down in 2003, which, of course, they showed a replay of several times, commenting about Lance Armstrong's subsequent cyclocross adventure. The other two crashes were Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (my all-time favorite rider) hitting the barrier on the Champs-Élysées and Laurent Jalabert's collision with a gendarme during a bunch sprint in 1994.) I was disappointed that Commesso didn't win the stage, as I've always liked his style (he always rolls up his sleeves, and is one of the few riders who will sport facial hair), but I figured the stage would be won by a breakaway, and indeed, it was, by a Frenchman (Pierrick Fedrigo) to boot.
Tomorrow's stage should be a humdinger. Alpe d'Huez is always unpredictable, but it will be even more so after a rest day. We'll find out if Oscar Pereiro has the climbing legs to stay in the Yellow Jersey. In the past, he has. If he "finds his form" in the Alps, it could be curtains for Landis. I understand why Landis gave the Yellow Jersey away, but I think Pereiro was the wrong guy to let have it. He is one of the few guys who can gain time in the mountains. (He stunk things up in the Pyrenees, but every rider has his bad day.) I doubt that any of the main GC guys will win the stage, since they'll be too busy marking each other to worry about winning the day. Instead, I think a low-placed climber from a non-contending team will go for the solo breakaway and win just ahead of Leipheimer, Evans, Landis, Menchov and Pereiro. Looking at the standings, I guess José Rujano of Quick.Step. (I would like to have picked the Ace, José Azevedo, but I think he is too highly placed to be let go.)
I think I've used my quota of parentheses for the year.
Friday, July 14th
Comments: I skipped my run today because I was too busy reading about the Tour de France. Stupid, yes, but I regret nothing.
Speaking of the Tour de France, today's stage had a lot of minor action. Freire made a fairly successful run at moving up the Points Classification. If he wins another bunch sprint, he could move into the Green Jersey. Aside from the stage win, Popovych's move back into the top ten seems like a non-event, but one good day in the Alps for him—or one bad day for Landis, Evans, or Menchov—and he's back in the hunt for a podium spot. Still, I was surprised there weren't more Frenchmen on the attack.
Tomorrow's stage is bound to be a rolling slog on a hot and humid course. I'm not even going to pretend to pick a winner. I doubt it will come down to a bunch sprint. Phonak doesn't want to work all that hard before the Alps, and the sprint teams, Lampre, Davitamon-Lotto, and Quick.Step are pretty worn out, so they don't want to work too hard either. Maybe Discovery will send Egoi Martinez up the road to try to take back some time. McEwen's been complaining of knee pain, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to any more attacks by Freire.
Thursday, July 13th
Comments: I skipped my run today because my legs were feeling a little wiped out from running up and down all the stairs in yesterday's orienteering meet.
Today's Tour de France stage finally settled some GC issues. Namely, George Hincapie is no threat to win. I overlooked Menchov, mostly because I'm used to Rabobank not having a good candidate for the overall. Plus, Menchov is a rather unassuming rider. Because of Leipheimer's choke job in the ITT, Menchov looks like a podium finisher. Cadel Evans is hanging in there too, and I still think he'll finish in the top three. (I might need to stop nominating favorites. They seem to run into trouble when I do. Valverde crashed out of the stage I predicted he would win. I picked Leipheimer as a podium candidate, but I don't think he can get there now that he lost six minutes in the time trail. I pimped Karpets yesterday, and then he slipped back on the climb and dropped out of the top ten.) Klöden couldn't stay with the final group on the last climb and lost a little bit of time. I'm glad because I don't like him much, but now that I've said it, he'll probably stomp all over everyone in the Alps. Unless Landis runs into a real "spot of bother" on a critical stage, I think he's wrapped up the final victory.
My prediction for Bastille Day is constant French attacks. I expect Dumoulin to go out hard in a breakaway at some point. I think, however, it will eventually come down to a bunch sprint. Tom Boonen will have the Quick.Step boys working hard to reel the breakaways back in. As a consequence, he won't have a full-strength lead-out. McEwen will take advantage of that and pip him for the victory. That is, of course, assuming the Peloton doesn't let a Frenchman sail free. There's always a chance they'll just let a breakaway go if it's comprised of low-placed riders trying to win on their national holiday.
Wednesday, July 12th
Wilburton Park/Kelsey Creek Park Orienteering
Course: Course 3
Distance: 5.3K (Approx. 5 Miles)
Comments: I managed to beat Jake for the first time in a long while. The course was a pure runner's course, but my lack of conditioning hurt me when I had to deal with the stairs and hills in Kelsey Creek Park. I went a bit astray traveling from control 4 to control 5, which sent me through some nettles I probably could have avoided. I made a few other errors as well, but all of them were quite minor. I had some trouble finding control 6, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. The description said it was in a clearing, but the marker was hung from a power pole, and I couldn't see it because there was too much vegetation around it. If nothing else, the course reminded me why I prefer to do my orienteering in city parks rather than the wilds of, say, Teanaway Forks, where I always get lost and spend 3 hours on an 8k course.
Today's stage of the Tour de France was actually rather uneventful. Yes, a breakaway went clear and put a handful of racers into the top ten, but other than Inigo Landaluze, none of them really pose any threat to the podium. I was surprised Agritubel managed a win, but it was Juan Miguel Mercado, the only rider on the team I've ever heard of. (He used to ride for ProTour teams; I wonder what he did to get demoted to a continental team.) The only big shakeup was Iban Mayo's massive loss of time—he finished in the grupetto with McEwen and Hushovd, not a good showing for a skinny Spanish climber.
Speaking of podium contenders, I'm surprised no one ever mentions Vladimir Karpets. (The caption on that photo made my day.) After Leipheimer's choke job in the time trail, after Mayo's collapse in today's stage, and after his teammate Valverde crashing out, Karpets looks like a podium contender to me. I think the only thing that might slow him down is his team deciding to make Oscar Pereiro their leader instead and forcing Karpets to support him in the mountains. I'd love to see them do it the other way around.
Now, my predition for tomorrow. I was going to pick Mayo to win the stage, but after today's performance, no way. It will have to be another climber who's down a bit on the GC so he can get a little bit clear without a big chase to reel him in. I'm going to choose Gilberto Simoni. He's almost 10 minutes back, he can climb with the best, and he wants to prove he can do well outside of the Giro d'Italia. I also expect Rasmussen to attack early and hard to win KOM points, and if there's no breakaway ahead of him, I think he can win the stage, so I'll make him my alternate choice.
Tuesday, July 11th
Distance: 3 Miles
Time: Not Timed
Comments: I ran three miles this morning. I felt pretty good, but I really slowed down over the last mile.
Today's stage in the Tour de France featured an excellent bunch sprint. Hushovd was left hanging to dry at the front of the pack after a bad leadout, and he desperately tried to find a wheel to follow. It didn't work out for him. I thought Boonen had finally nailed it, but the finish line was about 20 meters too far away for him to win. I thought McEwen's move was enough, but he just couldn't quite pip Freire. It was good stuff.
Tomorrow's stage should really be interesting. I'm having trouble making my prediction, mostly because of the long downhill stretch to the finish. I figure the Euskaltel boys will attack like berserkers on the Col de Soudet and the Col de Marie Blanc, but I don't know if they can gain enough time to carry a lead all the way to Pau. I figure Rasmassen will attack on both climbs and coast to the finish, concerned with KOM points rather than a stage win or his spot on the GC. I don't think the descent is steep or technical enough for Salvoldelli to fly away from the pack. I think if Hincapie has the legs to stay close to the climbers, he is big and strong enough to bury them on the way down. Klöden will have the same strategy, however, and I don't know who will prevail. I'll pick Hincapie because I like him better. Any way you slice it, though, it will be an exciting stage.
Monday, July 10th
Course: Post to Post
Distance: 3 Miles
Time: Not Timed
Comments: Today is the first day on path back to fitness. I ran three miles at an easy pace. It didn't hurt, but I felt really slow. Maybe with some training, my race times will start to look a little better.
I honestly didn't expect a break-away to go clear in yesterday's stage. Break-aways generally succeed the day after a rest day, not the day before. At least McEwen was the best of the rest, making my prediction of his victory partially true.
Tuesday's stage should be interesting, as it's rather short and it follows a rest day. I'm predicting a break-away victory, and I'm giving it to Juan Antonio Flecha. He rode well in the classics this spring, and if he's going to win a stage, that one's probably it. If it comes down to a bunch sprint, I believe Boonen is due.
Since there is no racing today, now is a good time to codify the rules of the Phil and Paul Drinking Game.
The game takes place only during the race time commentary—this includes the lead-in, but none of the pre-race show—and it only works if you listen to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen exclusively. Bob and Al just drive you to drink, no game involved.
Take one drink each time you hear the following phrases or words:
"This bike rider* will need to dose his effort* over these slight undulations* if he wants to do something special* today."Four hits in one combination would equal five drinks.
Take a drink any time Phil calls someone or something the wrong name. For example: If he calls Guiseppe Guerini "Guido Trenti," take a drink. If he calls Yaroslav Popovich "Viatcheslav Popovitch," take a drink. If he calls Bouygues Telecom "T-Mobile," take a drink. If he calls France "England," take a drink. Be especially vigilant because he's not always corrected. (And those are all real examples, by the way.)
"Suitcase of Courage" is worth three drinks. You probably won't hear it, but every once in a while Paul pulls it out of his garment bag of clichés and hangs it up for all to see.
This list is up for additions or amendment, so please let me know if you think it needs tweaking.
Saturday, July 8th
Comments: Gonchar surprised me with his win today, but he shouldn't have. He's always finished highly in time trials, and was even World Champ once. Still, I expected Michael Rogers, the current World Champ, to be the best rider on his team, not the 36-year-old former champ. At least Landis placed second, as I predicted. I think he's better off out of the Yellow. He won't have any pressure to defend the jersey, and he's in the best position of any of the real General Classification contenders.
My prediction for tomorrow: Since McEwen has won every even-numbered stage up to this point, I might as well stick with the pattern and go with him to win stage eight.
Friday, July 7th
Comments: I got to watch a Mariner game in the company suite tonight. Too bad the M's got shelled.
Wow, does Robbie McEwen look sharp in this year's Tour de France, especially when his lead-out man doesn't start 300 meters too early. Boonen has his work cut out for him if he wants to win the Green Jersey. There are still, however, many sprint stages left, so anything can happen.
Tomorrow is the first ITT. I really think Michael Rogers is going to win. I think Landis will take second and Zabriskie will take third. T-Mobile has a lot to prove after losing Ullrich, and Rogers, being the World Time Trial Champion, is one of the guys who can do it. I find Time Trial stages rather boring, but they do shake up the GC. It should be interesting to see who pulls on Yellow and how long he keeps it.
Thursday, July 6th
Comments: I thought Boonen finally had a stage win today, but Oscar Freire's surprise move worked brilliantly. Credit Agricole wasn't much of a factor, and Steegmans led out McEwen way too early (Fast Freddie's untimely departure stung a bit more at that moment, I imagine). I thought Quick.Step had it all lined up for Tornado Tom, but the headwind must have done him in, and Freire streaked to victory.
My prediction for tomorrow: If there are crosswinds, the Davitamon-Lotto and Quick.Step squads will take control of the race, and Quick.Step, taking advantage of the absent Fast Freddie, will finally deliver Boonen a victory. If there are no crosswinds, it will be another chaotic scramble to the line. Maybe Galvez can finally squeak out a win—he's been close a couple times, but he crashed today, so he might be hurt. If rain should fall at the finish, look out for Hushovd, he thrives in bad weather. Any way you slice it, it should be another exciting day for those of us who like bunch sprints.
Wednesday, July 5th
Comments: Well, Quick.Step really let me down during today's finish. I didn't see any organization at all. Credit Agricole had a strong presence for Thor Hushovd up front until Julian Dean tipped over and wound up in the fetal position on the ground. After that, it turned into a mad gallop to the line. And in a mad gallop, you can't hold back Robbie McEwen, who coasted to the finish for an easy victory. Hushovd was relegated from fourth to 86th for dangerous sprinting, which puts him in a bad place in the race for the Green Jersey. (I'm sure McEwen can empathize, but I doubt he will.) Julian Dean, in addition to road rash, received a 200 Swiss Franc fine for "incorrect behavior in a sprint."
My prediction for tomorrow: Look for Hushovd and Credit Agricole, desperate for a win and sprint points, to organize a strong leadout that will fall apart before they reach the final straight. Tom Boonen will take over with a strong turn, but McEwen will pip him at the line for the win—business as usual for the Australian Pocket Rocket.
Fourth of July
Course: Planned Rest
Comments: I didn't plan to run today. I figured my legs would be shot from last night's race and I had three engagements to attend. For those that may be curious, my time at the race was 21:39. That's pretty terrible for me, but at least I managed to stay sub-seven. (And to think, not to long ago I had a string of 18 consecutive sub-six minute 5Ks.)
Today's tour stage was actually fairly catastrophic. Valverde, my pick to win on the day, crashed out. Fast Freddy, Green Jersey hopeful McEwen's leadout man, crashed out. Dutch strongman Eric Dekker, likely riding his final Tour, crashed out. Stuart O'Grady apparently fractured a vertebra, but he may start tomorrow anyway. Chris Horner crashed and injured his hand. (I also read in Peloton Press that Floyd Landis was caught up in yesterday's crash near the finish line and hurt his back a little bit. Injuries are turning this into a classic race of attrition.)
Now, my picks for tomorrow's stage. Without Fred Rodriguez to help get him to the front, McEwen will suffer when Quick.Step finally organizes a decent leadout. "Tornado" Tom Boonen will blast to the line for an easy win, keeping both the Yellow and Green Jerseys in hand.
Monday, July 3rd
Course: Firecracker 5000 (pending)
Time: I'll let you know (or not)
Comments: I'm leaving in a few minutes to run a midnight 5k downtown, but before I do, it's Tour de France time.
Today's stage unfolded exactly as I expected, although Matthias Kessler gave me a scare. I thought he was going to hold them off even though I could see his legs buckling in the last kilometer. In the end, however, the sprinters prevailed. McEwen didn't get corked up this time and came through for the victory. My prediction was correct.
Now, on to my prediction for tomorrow's stage. I think Valverde will take it. He'll blast up the Cauberg, put a good chunk of time into the sprinters, and easily fend off anyone who can stay with him on the climb during the final sprint. However, the finish up the Cauberg is exactly the same as in the Amstel Gold. Frank Schleck won there, and he could repeat his success if Valverde hangs back.
Sunday, July 2nd
Course: Planned Rest
Comments: I didn't run today, but I didn't plan to. I was a little bit sore from yesterday's Street Scramble, but I didn't feel too bad.
Now, on to the Tour de France. My first thought on today's stage: Jimmy Casper? The hell? I'm still not sure how he pulled it off. I guess McEwen must have been boxed in. Apparently, someone behind the barrier threw a water bottle that hit Boonen and ricocheted into McEwen, but I haven't heard too much about it because everything was over-shadowed by the massive gash Thor Hushovd got from a spectator's PMU hand. At first I thought he'd been knifed. There was a lot of blood. I'm glad it was accidental and not malicious, but it was still pretty freakish. Hincapie's surprise move to get the intermediate sprint bonus was the type of thing I'd expect from Vinokourev, if he were in the race. It paid off in the end, putting Big George into yellow.
Tomorrow's stage should feature another bunch sprint, but I think it will be even more disorganized than today's. There are two category 4 climbs near the finish, and they should keep any single team from organizing a lead-out. With that in mind, I have to pick McEwen again. Someone like Frank Schleck or Filippo Pozzato could attack and stay clear to win solo, like they've both done this year during the spring classics. I think everyone will be watching for that sort of thing, however, so I don't see it happening.
Saturday, July 1st
Ballard Street Scramble
Course: Ballard Street Scramble
Distance: 9 Miles
Comments: I competed in a Street Scramble this morning. I didn't do nearly as well as I should have. I got confused trying to get across some railroad tracks and lost time and points. On the map, it looked like I could edge around the switching yard and cross underneath the Ballard Bridge. It was all fenced off though. I wasted too much time looking for a way through. In the end, I finished third.
Before I even left for the race, I woke up early to watch the Prologue of the Tour de France. I was a bit surprised that Thor Hushovd won, but I was hardly shocked. The only reason he's not the time trail champion of Norway is that he didn't contest his title, choosing to stay fresh for the Tour instead. I was a bit disappointed that Hincapie didn't get the Yellow Jersey; this may have been his best chance.