Thursday, July 23, 2009

2009 Tour de France - Attack on Mont Ventoux

I know that most of my regular readers (both of you) are not really interested in cycling, but the 2009 Tour de France has been very exciting this year. Mostly because Lance Armstrong is not only back after a four year retirement, but he is doing very well. Lance is currently in 3rd place and 3 minutes and 50+ seconds behind the leader, which is a lot of time that will unlikely be made up, so nobody is expecting him to win. However, Lance's Team, Astana, is winning in the team category and his team mate, Alberto Contador (2007 winner) is solidly in the race leader's Yellow jersey and is a shoe in to win.

This year has been especially fun to follow online, because the Tour Organizers, Teams, Team Directors, Commentators, and riders are all on Twitter. Lance himself is a prolific Twitterer so you get an amazing inside look at the race and the daily lives of the riders. You can also get minute by minute updates during the stages, so I can get instant status on my smart phone as things are happening and see results in near real time. I also read that Versus, the channel that covers the Tour in the US, has seen an 80% increase in viewership. In fact, because I've been keeping a running list of contest code words on my blog, I have seen over 5,000 visits to my blog just this week (click the Site Meter link at the bottom of the page and check it out.)

Although the Tour officially concludes on Sunday with the final stage ending in Paris with laps around the Champs Elysee, this is generally regarded as a ceremonial stage for the overall winner (however the Sprinter award is still hotly contested), who is typically so far ahead in overall time that it would be difficult to lose in Paris. However, there is still an epic 20th stage coming up this Saturday racing from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux. Mont Ventoux is a monumental climbing stage that has been the scene of many dramatic racing moments in the past. It's also one Lance Armstrong has some regrets on, so you can expect him to go all out there. So, if you haven't been following the Tour, I recommend you set your DVR or tune in on Saturday to watch an amazing show down. Veve le Tour!

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