When you make it up as you go along, you get to move the goalposts.
The two strike rule in the Tour de France has been modified. It seems there is a time period defined from a rest day (Monday) through Sunday where two COVID -19 positives in your team bubble will get the team removed from the Tour. The nominal plan though is to test on the two rest days, so that’s really only two tests on two days where two people need to test positive. That’s a lot of twos in that sentence. If they test midweek, and if a total of two people test positive for that period then the team is out. The Tour has taken a Trumpian approach – if you don’t test then no one will test positive. I suspect the only reason they will test midweek is if someone is symptomatic.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this. On one hand, I think holding the tour is crazy. So much logistics, even on a reduced “show.” There’s a lot of opportunity for spreading if the virus finds the right person. However, the teams are doing their best to manage their bubble so is the infection risk that high? Or am I just feeling lenient because I’m craving some entertainment?
I’ll keep watching and hoping that they make it to Paris safely.
I had Thomas De Gendt today as my winner, assuming the winner would come from a breakaway. He’s usually in the breakaways, but alas not today. While the winner did come from a breakaway, it was Marc Hirshi who won and everyone seemed very happy. He was so close to a previous breakaway victory and really put in a big effort to win today.
With today’s scoring, I’ve moved all the way to 52,049th.
The Tour de France actually made it through the first week without any teams being kicked out with the “two strikes” rule. No rider tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, the Race Director, Christian Prudhomme, did! He says he’s not part of the bubble so no big whoop. He’ll just hang out somewhere for a week and then join again. Hmm, OK.
And how is my fantasy team doing? Two of them crashed today, and one broke his collarbone and won’t be continuing. I’ve already had to have five rider changes due to injury and performance issues. I’m now down to three more changes and then I’ll have no more changes left. I’m killing it though, I’m ranked 53474th. I have no idea how many are in the contest, but I have been as low as approximately 68,000th.
The Tour de France, usually a July event, kicks off on Saturday, August 29. Or, in relative terms, TOMORROW. It’s not the Olympics of course, but many of the participants would be hopefuls for the Olympics, so it is tangentially related. And I wanted blog content, so here it is.
The problem is, many people speculate that the race won’t complete all 21 stages.
They will try to contain the crowd, but I’m not sure how they will manage that. Do you keep people off the roadside? I guess managing the mountain stages are probably easy to manage because access is relatively limited. City finishes may be a little harder. I’ve been to multiple stages in the 90s (saw Lance Armstrong when his first stage ever, as I stated before) and there was of course a big “village” at the start and finish. If you don’t set up the village, perhaps people won’t come.
There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal about the precautions cycling teams have taken in the past regarding team, health. As team EF Education First’s Tejay Van Garderen stated in the article, “We were all germaphobes before. In the Covid era, it’s like that on steroids.” Perhaps a cyclist should have used a statement other than, “on steroids,” but we get his point.
NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley, she with a Southern accent peppered with French, reported as well.
One thing I’m doing this year, as I have in the past, is a Tour Fantasy game. I’m terrible at these things. Here’s my team at the start. I have some opportunities to make changes once the race starts in case of crash, illness, or I want to fire a rider.
I haven’t lived in Indiana for over 30 years, but the roots run deep. I’ve been featuring Purdue and Indiana athletes in this blog. There is a good article in the Indianapolis Star that gets reactions from various athletes impacted by the postponement of the Olympics.
As tennis fans in greater Los Angeles, we have a great opportunity to watch top tier tennis at the BNP Paribas Open, aka Indian Wells. A year ago, we made plans to attend this year’s last three days of the tournament. It was scheduled to start tomorrow, March 9. Tonight, the entire tournament was cancelled.
“The Riverside County Public Health Department has declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley after a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) locally. As a result, the 2020 BNP Paribas Open will not take place at this time due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and the safety of the participants and attendees at the event. This is following the guidance of medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California.
“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”
“We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” said Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health.
“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” said Tournament Director Tommy Haas. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
Any patron who has purchased tickets directly from the tournament may request a refund for the 2020 tournament, or a credit for the 2021 tournament. Patrons should click the button below to request a refund or credit.”
The current World Champion in the individual time trial is Indiana’s own Chloé Dygert. She grew up in Brownsburg and went to Marian College and she kicks ass. She’s also a Rio Olympics medalist at age 19 in team pursuit.
For some reason, women’s cycling is treated differently then men’s cycling. A marathon is a marathon, right? An Ironman Triathlon doesn’t have different rules for women. Unfortunately, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, women’s road cycling has different courses than the men – usually shorter with less climbing.
The Tokyo 2020 course for women is 137 kilometers with 2692 meters in climbing compared to the men’s course of 234 kilometers and 4865 meters. Here’s a great article describing the controversy and a side by side comparison for that article.
The full route doesn’t have as much climbing as the men’s race which can eliminate some of the differentiation between riders and make the run in to the finish very hard.
The US women’s team has four riders able to participate in the road event.
No countries have five on their roster, and the teams with four are:
The breakdown from other countries can be found here.
As the countries make their team selections, more will be posted.
People that know me know I’m a big fan of cycling. Here’s a picture of me in the Tour de France King of the Mountain jersey in 2000.
Pretty cool, huh? Context is important though, because that is a replica jersey bought in Verdun, France in 1993 (another time living in Luxembourg …) when a stage finished there. This picture was during the 2000 AIDS Ride and I wore the jersey because it was the hilliest day.
Interestingly, in 1993 in Verdun, some brash 21 year old American in the US champion’s Stars and Stripes jersey won his first ever stage of the Tour de France. His name was Lance Armstrong. I was so excited, an avid cyclist and American with an American winning the stage. Then he had his post-race interview, and it was unpolished and rude, and I was embarrassed. From that day, I had a love/hate relationship with him.
Watch this long video with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, and look at the lineup of dopers! There is also a bit of a Verdun history lesson as well.
Lance didn’t win the Tour that year, and he wasn’t considered a GC rider at that time, but his time would come. His post race interview with Paul was pretty calculated. Lance certainly understood cycling even early in his career as that same year he went on to win the World Championship.
We have tickets to the Men’s Road Cycling event, which ends at Fuji International Speedway (the Japanese site is much more interesting). The course takes the cyclists from Tokyo, over some mountains (Doshi Road / Yamabushi Tunnel), over the 1451 m (4760 ft) Fuji Sanroku, a pass through the speedway, a run around Lake Yamanakako, back through the speedway, then onto the very steep Mikuni Pass followed by the Kagosaka pass, before descending and returning to the speedway for the finish. Cycling is a hard sport to watch, and probably best enjoyed watching the highlights. Flag to flag coverage can get a little boring. I’m not sure what the experience will be at the Olympics, but I am hoping they have lots of big screens so we can watch how the race unfolds. Otherwise we’ll just be sitting in the hot July weather, roasting until the leader or leaders approach the finish. There’s no way though that I wouldn’t try to be there. In my fandom, I’ve ridden the 1984 Olympic course in Mission Viejo.
Note that the route to Fuji Sanroku takes you on the roads that will get you to the Yamanashi 5th Station for climbing Mt. Fuji. Here’s my adventure from that starting point back in 2009. If you are following this blog, the Mt Fuji story is definitely worth reading.
The course and the profile for Tokyo 2020 are below.
People unfamiliar with cycling think it is an individual sport, but really it is a team sport. Typically a rider is designated as the team leader, and all the other cyclists in some form or another protect that leader physically and tactically throughout the race. That’s why it is important for nations to have the largest number of qualifiers possible. The maximum number is five, and unfortunately the US only has two. There are a total of 130 riders in the men’s event. Here’s the complete list of rider allocation per country. It is too long to list here.
Countries with five riders are:
Countries with four riders are:
The qualifications are based on that country’s points according to the international governing body (UC).
The US determines its team either through an automated spot through meeting certain criteria, or by a selection committee.
Although I don’t have tickets to the women’s event, I’ll cover that separately as there are differences between the men’s and women’s events, and the US women are performing much better on the world stage than the US men.