Friday, January 01, 2010
New Year's Resolutions-2010
As I did last year, I thought I'd share my New Year's Resolutions for this first year of the century's second decade. The idea of these resolutions is to give me a sense of where I'd like to go in the coming year on a deep level. From these will flow long, medium and short term goals to which I will add a few more goals from things I don't see as deep but I do deem as important (such as goals related to cycling and course work).
One of the questions I get from cynics is, "Why do you make resolutions when you probably aren't going to keep them?" and "So, how did you do last year?" I make resolutions because I believe that it is important to state who I want to become each year. Will I achieve all (or even any) of these? No, most likely I will not. But by laying them out before me, I clarify where I want to go int he coming year. Last year, I did lose weight and keep it off which helped me reach my goal of winning the state time trial championship. I did shift our menu and purchasing away from foods that are energy intensive to produce and nutritionally deficient. Were there things I failed to move forward on? Sure, but that's not a reason to strive to be a better person. The question I ask in return is, "What's the alternative? Stagnation, cynicism and despair?"
So, without further ado, here are my 2010 resolutions:
I resolve to change the way in which I interact with technology in my life in the following ways:
I will forsake the use of technology as a means of mindless entertainment.
I will use technology and social networking media as a way to lessen the distance between myself and those around me.
I will better explore the creative aspects of technology to share my thoughts, ideas and values with those who come into contact with me.
I resolve to create an atmosphere of grace and peace in my life and my surroundings:
I will endeavor to create and keep simple and beautiful living spaces that encourage both contemplation and interaction.
I will endeavor to cultivate the finer things of life and to ask others to join me in enjoying them.
I resolve to keep growing in who I am and who I am becoming:
I will consciously seek out the paths of katharsis, photosis and theosis in my spiritual and religious live.
I will work to engage more completely in a life of prayer.
I will establish a habit of reading each and every day.
I will seek out and follow opportunities for professional growth and development.
By my example I hope to create the space and example that will inspire others to allow grow.
I resolve to work to find and engage community in my life:
I will renew my efforts to broaden my community of faith.
I will strive to invite new and diverse people to join me in community.
For all who took the time to work through this, thanks for reading. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Grace and Peace.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The GPS Dilemma
So, we finally got a GPS; something I have sort of avoided for a while. For those who know my wife and I, this may seem a bit odd but to be honest, I was the one dragging my feet. We've seen friends' GPS systems and have appreciated and admired them for some time but I just never quite wanted one myself. Let me see if I can explain.
I think that for many guys there's a sort of "yes/no" think going on with GPS. It's not just a simple tool sort of thing that a guy gets as soon as he can afford it and he thinks that the technology is robust and mature enough to be reliable most of the time. As least it wasn't for me.
Growing up out West, I sort of learned a certain level of independence and self-reliance. This was heavily reinforced by my time as a Boy Scout. Given that I have a well-developed sense of direction and an seemingly innate ability to navigate around I was one of those guys who rarely asked for directions and rarely needed to. It isn't a stubbornness kind of thing but more one born of years of learning to find my own way combined with the genetics of generations of those who got to places before there were maps and a cultural environment that emphasized being prepared and being able to make it on what you had.
The second factor in all of this is a guy's general love of all things "map". If you ask a guy what one of the coolest things ever invented is, I would argue that if he put some real thought into it (something most guys wont really do because there are more important things to do like seeing who won last night's Colts/Jags game on Sportscenter), he'd say that maps are right up there with the wheel and the remote control; way above sliced bread and the disposable razor. Most guys can spend hours looking at maps. For me, the best issues of National Geographic were the ones that came with maps. I would study them for hours. When I got old enough to have a car and independent enough to use it to explore, I began collecting maps of everything with roads just to have the maps and to imagine where I might go. The GPS does away with the need for my precious maps because it is map of sorts. This is both a positive and a negative.
The final factor is that almost all guys love technology and the GPS is some of the coolest technology around and it is map technology. Even "retro-grouches" love technology. They may poo-poo modern tools and technology but that's really because they love the technology they have. They've fallen in love with the shapes and forms and functions of the technology they use and they believe that setting it side for something newer, shinier and more carbon fiber is akin to marital infidelity. That's the ting with maps. They're technology to be sure but they're technology that has romance. They're pictures of roads unseen and untraveled. They are the technology of adventure and the unknown horizon. The question was whether a GPS technology would destroy that romance.
So it was a attraction/repulsion thing for me (and for a lot of other guys I expect). The map/technology factor is a huge draw to get a GPS but there's the sense that with the GPS I'd be giving up some of the independence I've relied upon for so long. Can one really be a trailblazer and pioneer when following the directions of a small box stuck to the windshield of one's car? Can one grow to rely too heavily on a piece of technology that someone else controls? These sorts of questions have tormented me for a couple of years as we've debated getting one. I love my DeLorme maps and I've used them to find my way around so many places. And yet...they're just not as detailed as I'd like, especially in the cities. While I can pour over them and dream and plan, they aren't as interactive as I'd like. I find myself on Google Earth and Google maps more and more as I seek better tools to plan my adventures.
So, my sense of independence and pioneering have been at war with my love of gadgets with the maps thing sort of weighing in on both sides. Finally my wife (who doesn't have the "finding her own path" hang up that I and many men do) prevailed upon me to get a GPS navigation system. Like many men, I rationalized it by sort of thinking that it was for her and maybe there'd be some cool stuff for me in it too. Truth be told, however, there was a big part of me that wanted it.
To be honest, I find it pretty darn cool. I don't use it a whole lot but when I do the whole map/distance/time of arrival thing is just amazing. When we go to Salt Lake, I think we'll take it and let it sort of guide us around to cool things to see. It should be quite interesting since I have always navigated that particular city by a combination of feel and the counterintuitive street numbering system. I wonder if once my Dad sees ours in use if we'll end up having to get him one or if he'll appreciate it but decide that his old school cowboy instincts are a better way to travel.
Thanks for Reading.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize
I was planning to meet the team for a four hour training ride this morning but the seemingly never ending rain has quashed that idea. So before I climb on the rollers and trainer, I thought I'd write a few thoughts on President Obama's reception of the Nobel Peace Prize. For those who are polarized on both sides of the issue, you probably want to stop reading now (of course, by writing this I virtually guarantee that you won't) as I expect that I'll support neither position and likely say things that you'll both agree with and disagree with. This means everyone will be mad at me for something I've said and I'll catch grief from both ends. Such is life in the middle.
I was tempted to write about this when the Prize was first announced but both the firestorm of controversy and my usual desire to see how things play out convinced me to wait a bit before committing my thoughts to paper (on in this case, electronic media). As I've given the award some thought I've come to a few conclusions.
First, the Prize was awarded by a group not connected to President Obama. I was a bit dismayed by some of the conservative reaction that seemed to blame the President for receiving the Prize. Unless he somehow manipulated the Nobel committee from afar, I think he was just as surprised as anyone to learn that he had been awarded the honor. Was that award a bit premature? Perhaps (though I'll speak to that in just a bit), but that's not the President's fault. I think he acknowledged in his acceptance speech that he has much to do to "earn" the award.
The Nobel committee has always been a bit odd with this prize. Unlike the other five Nobel prizes which award accomplishments in their respective fields, the Peace prize has historically been awarded for reasons that are often times more nebulous. The two previous American Presidents to win the award, T. Roosevelt and Wilson, were men whose approach to peace were complex. T. Roosevelt, who won the prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese war, also advocated a muscular American military presence both before and during his administration. Wilson, who ran on the promise of keeping the United States out of World War I (but was eventually swayed by public opinion generated in part by the work and speeches of one Theodore Roosevelt), put together the idea of the League of Nations and tried to create a just peace following the war but failed in the later and had the former rejected by his own people. The Nobel Peace prize is, at times, awarded for what a person has done but it it is also frequently awarded for the hope of what a person will do or for the symbol the person becomes or represents. In this are probably lessons on the nature of peace itself.
It is in these last two senses that I think the committee acted in awarding President Obama the prize. The hope is that the President will take a different approach in his diplomacy that the previous administration. In a way, I see the giving of the prize as one final European rejection of the Bush Administration's policy of American unilateralism. In this sentiment, I think the committee has been petty. Bush and his advisors are gone. We all understand that the governments and intelligentsia of Europe didn't like him. There was no need for a final "don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out" type of statement. Yet the hope in Europe is that the new administration will take a different approach; one that is more inclusive, less impulsive and less confrontational. Interestingly enough, the presentation ceremony cane just days after the President's announcement to increase the number of troops in the conflict in Afghanistan.
The second point that I think can be made is that while I do believe that the Prize was given to President Obama in the hope of the new approach he may be taking, I also believe that it was given in the recognition of the fact that he stands as a symbol of how quickly change can take place and how rapidly justice can come about through the actions of those committed to peace. Here I believe that the Peace prize was, in a way, a second prize awarded to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That America has elected a black president only two generations after Dr. King marched and spoke out against the institutionalized policies of racial inequity is a powerful symbol to all of those who wonder if things might ever change for the better. The awarding of the Peace prize to President Obama sends a powerful message to all those who fight injustice and violence in the world that while progress in the moment may seem very slow, the transformation they are seeking to bring about may occur in ways they would never have imagined possible. Dr. King's dream was that children of all colors could play together in peace. I wonder if he would have imagined that within forty years of his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial there would be enough political will in America to elect a black man as its leader.
Another interesting thing is the reaction here at home to Obama's acceptance speech. A number of conservative politicians from Newt Gingrich to Sarah Palin (and I use the word politician liberally in regards to Mrs. Palin) have praised the President's remarks. In them he puts forward the ideas of both American exceptionalism and the need for America to act vigorously in using military force to ensure peace and stability in the world. There are two comments I would make here. First, many conservatives are saying that Obama is saying the same thing as President Bush did and, as such, his remarks are a confirmation of his policies. I would disagree with this. Saying that America has a role in insuring world peace through the use of military force is not the same as saying that America has the lead role and that the rest of the world can go to hell if it doesn't agree with how we choose to assert that role. Secondly, I profoundly disagree with President Obama's statement that violence can be used to create good. I believe that violence and force are often necessary to restrain evil and will need to be used to stop others from inflicting injustice on those who are weaker. I believe that force and violence, in doing this, can be used to create a space wherein good can take place or structures can be created that will lead to better circumstances. But violence and force will not create good. Good can only be created through the positive action and agency of those committed to human dignity and justice.
The final comments I would make regarding this topic stem from an editorial cartoon that Mike Luckovich drew for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In it he showed Obama emerging from the barrel of tank's gun to receive the medal awarded with the Peace prize. The tank was labeled Afghanistan as a pointed reference to Obama's increase in troop levels signaling a renewed commitment to the war effort there. The President has received some heat from democrats and liberals who claim that they voted for him on the promise they believe he made to get us out of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I remember consistently hearing candidate Obama say that Afghanistan was the real conflict that we needed to be involved in and that the Iraqi war was a mistake mainly because it distracted the country from that effort. While one may argue that continuing either conflict is in error, it seems rather foolish to elect a candidate who promised to focus more resources into a conflict and then criticize him for doing that very thing.
So those are my thoughts this morning before I move into the dreadfully boring activity of spinning my wheels and going nowhere. If my comments have offended, please forgive me. If they have stimulated you to think about something, even if that something is a response to disagree with me, fantastic; but don't spend too much thought on the ramblings of a man who will spend the next three or so hours in a gerbil like activity in hopes of winning a bit of colored fabric a bit later in the year. This activity is likely evidence that I am not of sound mind (even thought I hope the activity will make me "of sounder body"). I hope your day is a bit less dreary than mine.
Thanks for Reading.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Long Overdue Update
Not too many people read my posts here too often due to most of them having facebook and seeing my notes there but I thought I'd write something for both sites.
Finals week is upon us here at the College and the students are in their usual scramble to get things done, study like mad and pass all of their classes. While I don't teach freshmen any more, my colleagues who do tell me it's been a rough semester. Our 18% enrollment increase hasn't been a completely good thing. It has meant that we've avoided layoffs and more serious cutbacks (due to increases in tuition revenue) but it seems pretty clear than many of the students in this surge are woefully unprepared for college and unwilling to exert any substantial effort to learn. I'll probably write more here in a few days on the topic but it's been a big issue for us here as I expect it has been for many of the access institutions in the state.
I'm back into the training swing of things. I've already got six weeks of work in the legs. It's hard to lose the fitness but I know I'll build to a higher peak next year. What makes it even harder is this is the first year I've really had good season over season power data (last year my PowerTap died until almost February). Seeing where I was at at the end of the season with an FTP of 310 and seeing where I'm at now with an FTP of 275-280 is pretty hard to take. I have to adjust my riding zone which has taken some doing. The focus this early season has been working on my short term power. I'm already way ahead of where I was last April and I did some short VO2Max intervals earlier this week that were really surprising in terms of how high they were. The longer term power will come around and the shorter interval numbers are very encouraging. The hardest thing has been the weather. It looks like we're on track for one of the wettest winters in recent memory here in Georgia so it means a lot of indoor time on the trainer. It's been hard to stay motivated to do long efforts at lower wattages but I need to get the miles in.
I just finished Brain McLaren's book, "Finding Our Way Again" which discusses the renewal of using ancient practices of spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian. The book was very much of an overview so there wasn't as much specific discussion as I would have liked but I really liked his discussion of the intertwined ideas of katharsis, fotosis and theosis. I'm pretty familiar with the idea of theosis and katharsis is something I've looked at under other names but the inclusion of the practice of fotosis was new to me as was the practice of integrating them together. I'm very intrigued by the thought of intentionally including all three into my life in this integrated way and will likely build my Lenten fast and practice around such themes (strange to be thinking about Lent during Advent but I like to plan ahead sometimes). I may also work to create a series of events and activities for our GCF community to participate in together from this.
Finally, I've been giving a lot of thought to things in the sports world of late. I'll write a bit more about that soon but I'm disappointed in all of the local negative reaction to Tim Tebow's emotionalism in the SEC title game.
So with that I'll sin off for now.
Thanks for Reading.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Riding the Blue Train
Today was one of those perfect days on the bike. Racing a bike is oftentimes a difficult and frustrating endeavor where a couple of hours of hard work and suffering only results in a mid-pack finish. One of the reasons I do time trials is that I control just about everything that happens in my race. There are no team tactics, blocking or positioning issues. My strength is my result; my suffering translates into my win. The downside to time trialing is that the preparation, suffering and either defeat or victory are generally held alone. The one discipline that transcends both the aloneness and the capricious nature of bike racing is the team time trial. In amateur races it usually involves four riders on one team all racing together to set the best time as a team. We race alone against the clock but the effort and pain is shared.
Today was just such a day. Our team colors are blue and white so we sometimes go by the name "The Blue Train." This is especially true when we participate in a team time trial. Over the last two years we've won just about every event we've entered including the State Team Time Trial (TTT) Championship last year. What distinguishes the TTT is that everyone still has to work together. The time for the race is usually taken on the second rider and four guys go a lot faster when everyone is working together. Since we all ride together a lot as a team and we train together over the winter and spring we've learned to ride fast together. There is a trust in the other guys. You know they'll suffer for you just as you suffer for them. You know they'll make you suffer so that you can get better but they'll never hold it against you when they crack you.
Today was maybe the last TTT for the Blue Train. Our primary sponsor, Security Bank, was shut down by the FDIC and sold to another bank. We don't know what our sponsorship prospects are for next year so even though we're pretty committed to racing together, it may be under different colors and in different circumstances and it mostly likely wont be in blue and white kit. It was a sort of bittersweet time as we starting gathering together for this last TTT in the uniforms that have made us respected and just a little feared around the state.
Today Robert, Trey, Jeff and I came together to lay down the law one more time. For me the event started with my typical warm-up. As we gathered, we were loose about the ride. No stress as the trainers were set up and the bikes set to spinning. I felt surprisingly good for a warm-up on a hot, muggy morning with no breeze. As worked my way through the iPod playlist my legs responded to every increase in intensity I asked for. I had rhythm in my head but more importantly, I had it in my heart and legs. As we spun over to the start line I was feeling strong and motivated. After a few instructions and a prayer from Trey, we lined up and got our countdown. I led us out and got us up to speed for the first minute and a quarter. As I pulled off, everyone was in line and looked good. I tucked in at the end of the Train and my teammates took over driving things. Each sat on the front for the time they could hold a high speed and then they too pulled off to let the next in line set the pace. When I got back to the front we were four minutes in and I was beginning to think this was going to be good. We were smooth and fast. I could tell that we were all working at the same level. I wasn't just coasting in the draft and there weren't gaps opening up when I new rider was on the front.
Today we were amazing...maybe the best I've ever seen. We hit the 9 mile mark at 19 minutes. We were rolling at over 28 miles an hour or 46 km/hr. When we hit the second, harder half of the course we didn't unravel either. We kept it together with everyone pulling through. I was on my limit and suffering like a dog but so was everyone else. We were four guys united in a goal and in the sacrifice and suffering it would take to achieve that singular goal. We had caught our 2 minute team at five miles and we caught our 4 minute team at 15. At 17 miles, Trey finally popped but Robert, Jeff and I continued to power along. With one kilometer to go, Jeff finally blew up and Robert and I finished together in exactly 42 minutes. 19.61 miles in 42 minutes gave us a speed of 27.5 mph or 44.5 kph which ain't too bad for a bunch of old guys. Jeff rolled in only 10 seconds later and Trey came in a minute after that.
Today I suffered and it felt good. I haven't hurt after a ride like I did after this one since the State Championship and yet it was so much better in a way. There I was racing for a jersey; here I was racing for my teammates. Several times I thought that I might have to let up or maybe even let go but each time Jeff would pull off the front and turn the train over to me to drive I would somehow find enough strength to pull hard for another 1 minute effort. And when I would pull off to let Robert drive us on and struggle to latch back on at the end of the train I would find the extra something to get me back into the slipstream so that I could recover just a bit until it was my turn again.
Today we won our category and had a former pro who is without a contract for a moment not brought a ringer team we would have won the entire event. We only lost by 42 seconds to the elite ringer team and we crushed the rest of the field, beating our nearest rivals by over two minutes. We were strong in our pain and dominant in our solidarity. Today the Atlanta teams were crushed by a team from the "sticks" of central Georgia that has learned to ride together.
Today was the day the Blue Train left the station for one final trip and I was proud to be on board. Thanks to DHo, Grasshoppa and Stoney for letting come along for the ride. It is a memory that I'll always cherish.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Old Age and Treachery
So le Tour may have proved the old adage about Old Age having more power than Youth today. Armstrong saw the intentions of an old teammate and converted that knowledge into 41 seconds of tactical advantage both against most of the field and his own nominal team leader. That Lance didn't say something over the radio or try to clue in his teammates in some other way speaks either to his subconscious desire to be "The Boss" against or his assumption that everyone gets what he gets so easily now after so many years of riding and working in political circles.
Now in third place, Lance is in a position to take the Malliot Jaune for the first time in four years. I can't believe that he'd keep it past Arcalis but what a story it would make. His team has to beat Saxo Bank and Sparticus by one second for every kilometer in tomorrow's team time trial. Not an easy feat; especially considering that the last time these two teams essentially faced off the time difference over a longer distance was five seconds. Both squads have problems. Saxo Bank has used a lot of energy defending the jersey the last two day and Frank Schelck is banged up. Astana, while clearly the strongest team, is a divided squad and one has to wonder if that will manifest in the race through a crash or a split. I believe that Contador is too strong to get dropped but the Old Age and Treachery might rear its ugly head a bit.
The other two teams everyone is talking about is Columbia-HTR and Garmin-Slipstream and I think they'll both factor into the mix but I don't see them beating Astana. The wild-card team as I see it is Liquigas. No one is talking about them and maybe for good reason but they've got four or five really strong riders and they could make some noise tomorrow.
My prediction is Astana, Columbia, Saxo Bank, Liquigas and Garmin. Rabobank will lose a lot of time and doom Menchov's chances. Whether Silence-Lotto can put in a good enough ride to save Evans' chances in the GC remains to be seen but I could see them losing 90 seconds pretty easily tomorrow. Cervelo will ride well enough to keep Sastre in the mix, even if he's on the outside looking in. Give them sixth overall with a minute lost. Cancellara will still be in yellow tomorrow but only by a handful of seconds.
Thanks for Reading.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Well, two out of three ain't too bad on my predictions for stage 1. The big loser for the day was Denis Menchov who lost a ton of time on a 20 K stage and will lose a bunch more in the TTT on stage 4 as Rabobank doesn't have the firepower to hang with Astana, Saxo Bank and Garmin-Slipstream. I just don't see him doing the double. Speaking of Astana, four riders in the top 10 is prett impressive and really scary for the other teams. If they can deal with the internal team rivalries it's hard to imagine them losing this race (barring bad luck). They are the odds-on favorite to crush the other teams on stage 4.
One thing to mention is the number of under 26 riders who did really well today. Nibali, Schleck, Krueziger, Martin and relative unknown Coppel rode strong time trials today. I dont know if all of these guys will make it to Paris but I think this bodes well for the future of the race and the sport if these guys will be dueling for the next five to seven years for Grand Tour supremacy. Contador may be the next three or four Tour winner but I won't be too surprised if one of these guys steps up in the next couple of years to challenge him.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the traditional "Sprint Stages". Stage 2 is a pretty hard first full day with a category 3 climb right out of Monaco and three more cat 4 climbs plus a lot of unmarked but hard bits with one of the worst about 15 km from the end of the race. To me it seems like someone who wants to wear the polka dot jersey will definitely try to get a break together since there are a lot of early points available on this stage. If someone can grab most of the mountain points here they might be able to hold the spotty jersey all the way to Barcelona.
Traditionally this is a place where a couple of riders from the smaller French teams try to do something to get some TV time so I expect the same script to play out here. This would be a great place for Moreau to lay a bit of a foundation for a KoM run (and then solidify it on the Girona-Barcelona stage) but the guy who I really think will try to make this go will be Thomas Voeckler. Add to that someone like Auge and maybe a first Tour flier by Nicolas Roche and you have the makings of an interesting break that'll last until the last 20 K or so.
After that it'll all be the sprinters' teams with Quick-Step and Columbia HTC vying to see who can control the leadout. If Cavendish can get over the last climb (and I think he can from his ride at Milan-San Remo), he's got to be the odds on favorite. There's not enough of a climb to open things up for Hushovd or Boonen so I think the pure speed guys are going to have the upper hand. Hence, I predict a Cavendish, Freire, Farrar finish.
We'll see what happens. Thanks for reading.
A Few Predictions
Here I am at the last minute for a few predictions for this year's Tour de France. The race is one of the most interesting in years with four past champions racing (Sastre, Contador, Pereiro and Armstrong) and a bevy of strong contenders who have placed on the podium in the past (Kloden, Leipheimer, Evans, and Menchov) plus some new talent in Frank and Andy Schleck, Vandevelde, and Kruziger. There's a good bit of drama as four of the contenders actually ride for the same team which is sometimes a recipe for disaster. As always, the race uncovers who the strongest rider is.
So who do I think will win what?
Green Sprinter's Jersey: Four names here-Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen and Oscar Freire. THe last three have won the jersey in past tours and Cavendish is the best sprinter on the planet right now. From the looks of it there are some 10-11 stages that a sprinter might have a chance at. Four or five of those are pretty flat and suit Cavendish but the rest require that the rider make it over a few medium size climbs in good shape. Those will suit Freire who is the best guy going up hill of the four. He's the guy I would pick to win the Maillot Vert but his back isn't always so good for a three week race. Still I think it'll go down like this: Freire, Hushovd, Boonen, Cavensih, Farrar.
Polka Dotted Mountain Jersey: This is a real toss up. The guy who's won this the last few years has either been doping or has vanished off the face of the earth. To win this you have to be a guy with climbing talent that's good enough to win the race and either dominate the race or give up your chances to win the whole thing to win this jersey. Usually that points to a climber who doesn't time trial really well. The guy I'd liek to see win this is Christophe Moreau who has finsihed fourth in the Tour once in the past and isn't a bad climber. It's his last Tour and the French need to get something out of this race. The last few years he's made some noise about going for the jersey but has never seemed to give it his all. Maybe this year is his year. Otherwise I see one of the guys from one of the two Spanish teams but I honestly don't know which one. So I'll go with Moreau and leave it at that.
General Classification Yellow Jersey: I could go on and on for paragraphs as to who will win and why but there are two points to make here. First, if you're not on a team that can team time trial then you're going to lose at least a minute on stage four and that's going to be hard to make up. This makes things hard for Evans and Periero who don't have good teams for this discipline. If you don't recover well, then you're going to die in the time trial/Mont Ventoux double at the end of the race which will likely take Vandevelde out due to his recent injuries in the Giro. In between at least one favorite will explode and fall by the wayside and another will crash and end his chances. Having a strong team with several dangerous riders will help tactically but it's the guy who has the best day on the Ventoux who wins the race. By the way, if Armstrong's out of contention and the Astana is strong enough to protect Contador without his, expect Lance to do everything he can to win the Ventoux stage. So here's who I think will win:
1. Contador (really stepping out on a limb here)
2. Andy Schleck
Periero, Frank Schleck, Leipheimer, Kruziger and Kirchen will all finish in the top 10. I don't think VDV will. Astana will win the team competition over Saxo Bank and Columbia-HTC. Cavendish will win three stages.
Today's ITT stage: Astana's sending Lance off early in case the wind comes up so that'll be interesting because it'll give Leipheimer and Contador good time checks to ride against. Miller, Dave Z. and Cancellara will also do good rides here. Hincapie may do well also. I'm going to go Cancellara, Contador, Dave z. as my top three.
We'll see what happens.
Thanks for Reading.