The Chainlink

Am I the only one unemployed enough to be watching this years Tour every morning?  I am surprised that I haven't seen a single thread about the Tour yet.

Lance Armstrong has a podcast this season called "Stages" where he breaks down every stage with technical insight and commentary.  Lance Armstrong annoys me, but the podcast is an interesting breakdown

That Sagan/Cavendish crash was crazy.

It reminds me a little of Steve Bartman. After some initial anger and rage at someone we feel bad when we realize the guy is innocent.

As always; the locales and small towns they all ride through are beautiful and quaint. One of my favorite things about watching the tour on TV is seeing the small towns and hearing the color commentary on the history.

I watch the Tour every morning on an app called NBC Sports Gold, roughly $50 for coverage of the professional cycling season including the Giro and the Tour.

Unfortunately there is no coverage of the woman's pro circuit. I know little to nothing about the pro woman's rides and I bet it's just as exciting.

Happy Tour everyone!!!! 

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Yeah, the elbow was intentionally used to keep his balance after Cavendish knocked him off balance in an effort to fit through a space that was too small.

Cav brought it on and Sagan paid the price.

I believe that Sagan did not deserve to be disqualified, but I think he failed to hold his line in the opening moments of the Sprint in an effort to box out Cavendish. Cavendish saw a small opening and went for it in the same fraction of a second that Sagan moved to box him out. Sagan deserved to be relegated to the back but not disqualified.

The 1st contact was when Cav tried to force his way through, knocking Sagan to his left. It looks like Sagan was keeping his balance with body English is why the elbow was out. Doesn't even look like the elbow made contact, and it looks like Cav was going down before the elbow made an appearance.

And Cav was awful soft spoken after the crash, when he'd usually be all fired up, almost like he knew the crash was his fault.

I really wish they would cover the women's pro circuit. Definitely be worth seeing. 

Both Sagan and Cav have bad boy reps and yet I LOVE watching them both race bikes. Sad they are both out because they are my favorite sprinters (purely selfish reasons). 

Racing is a commercial entity, and until those in power decide that there's money to be made in women's racing we ain't gonna see it.

I really wish they would cover the women's pro circuit. 

I would also like to see it.

Me three. 

Today, Sunday 7-9-17, NBC5 Chicago has some free TV coverage of the Tour de France from 2pm to 3:30pm.

Where are people watching the Tour? I've been following the ticker on Cyclingnews.com, but i need some visuals.  

We watch it at our house...I started watching out of curiosity as a late-blooming cyclist in maybe 2009, and after a couple of years my wife joined me, then our daughters.   Funny thing is we are not a 'sports family' at all, don't care about da Bears, only a bit about baseball, no AYSO for the kids.   So naturally when we decide to follow a sport, it is the absolute geekiest it could possibly be.   ;- )

So...the Tour is absolutely the best-covered race to watch, because it is the biggest event of the year for French TV and they throw enormous resources at it.  It gets worldwide play (though little in the US) and is in part a three-week long commercial for France, esp French tourism.  In fact the French Ministry of Tourism is a sponsor and actively involved in the planning (of the TV at least).   Those spectacular helicopter shots that show the peloton going along a wooded mountainside, then track around to reveal a historic chateau are carefully planned, and the interesting sidelights that 'Phil and Paul' come up with are right out of a detailed book.

By comparison the Giro and Vuelta, the other 'Grand Tour' races, are not as good TV, though the races themselves may be just as good or even better sometimes.   The Dauphine' though (a weeklong race in late spring) is covered by France, so it's done pretty well.

The 'spring classics,' one-day to one-week races in Italy and northern Europe, can be very exciting, and of course have the advantage of not as much time commitment.   Lots of fine cyclists specialize in these as they can call on different strengths than the Grand Tours.   Paris-Roubaix, 'the hell of the North,' due to its cobblestone sections, is my favorite.  There's a great documentary about P-R called 'Hell of the North.' 

NBCSports carries the Tour and a bunch of other races, however for some reason our DVR did not record the first few stages while we were out of town.  Usually it picks up anything coded as 'cycling' so either NBCSN or DirecTV kind of screwed up.   There are, um, other sources available online though, so we caught up last week.  Unf we'd gotten some spoilers about the Sagan-Cavendish dustup.

In that crash, Cavendish was at fault.   They are both aggressive sprinters, but Cav is a notorious shoulder-pusher, head-butter, and gap-splitter so this is all too typical of him.   After he crashed out of the first stage of the Tour in 2014 (in Harrogate, UK), taking out Simon Gerrans with him, he admitted that he'd been aiming for 'a gap that wasn't really there.'    And there was a track stage at last year's Olympics where he quite plainly brought his bike halfway across the track to take out another cyclist, sending him to the hospital.   You can find references to both, and many other instances, online easily enough.   I actually like Cav as a cyclist, but those who live by the sword...

Sagan is no saint but he doesn't win by pushing (or by being the absolute fastest), he sees opportunities others don't, and uses his superb bike handling to take advantage of them.

In this incident Cav was NEVER parallel with Sagan.   There was a general movement to the R, and Cav thought he could squirt through a tiny opening, which was closing even as he started.   As a small guy he's often been able to get away with this kind of thing, often by pushing, but it just didn't work this time.   Possibly a sewer drain in the gutter that some see in the video contributed to his fall as well.  Sagan's elbow only comes up after Cav is falling, and the front angle shows that Sagan's whole weight is shifted as he tries to maintain balance after Cav's shove.  I'm not convinced that Cav's brake handle was under Sagan's bars or arm though, the front angle which seems to show it is from a very long-lens shot which compresses distance a great deal.

Sagan's DQ is a real black eye for the sport I think.   The penalty is unfair and considering that the veteran Valverde already was injured on a rainy stage when there should have been softer barriers on the curves it all conveys disorganization and arbitrary attention to issues of safety.  Last year's fiasco on Mt Ventoux certainly didn't help!

My wife said she wasn't interested in this Tour anymore because Sagan's out.   And I kind of agreed, esp as the whole race was looking like a Sky romp.   I can't hate Froome or certainly his teammates like G Thomas, but the whole Sky organization tends to 'suck the air out' of the race. Sure they win, but it's so boring.  

However there are some more interesting and surprising things happening on individual stages so maybe this won't be such a drag after all...

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