Welcome to Le Tour Babe’s blog on the 2009 Tour de France. This is a chic’s perspective of the race– one that can help you better understand why your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or special someone (a/k/a bike geek) can’t turn their head away from the world’s most prestigious bike race. And I admit, I’m one of those geeks who is glued to the race. Here we go…
This year’s Tour de France is a three-week bike race that travels 2200 miles around France– well, mostly France. This year’s Tour starts in Monaco on the Mediterranean Coast and will also dip into Switzerland and Spain. About 180 cyclists (all dudes) will race sometimes more than 100 miles a day– in daily bike competitions called “stages.” The Tour starts on July 4 and ends in Paris on July 26. The racer who finishes all the stages in the shortest amount of time combined, wins a big trophy (something like the Superbowl cup) and $600,000! Imagine how long it would take to drive from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Now imagine riding a bike that distance. That’s the length of the Tour de France.
Who Will Win?
I’m not a betting type of gal, but I’d say that seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will not win this year. Lance is still hotter than a muffin just out of the oven. He appears in great shape. But in a recent interview with VeloNews he admitted that after a four-year sabbatical from cycling, he doesn’t expect to win. That’s not the voice of the once-cocky Texan who won the Tour from 1999 to 2005 and dated Cheryl Crow! Now, if you haven’t heard of Lance Armstrong, you’re living on Mars. Let’s assume you know of him. The problem he has this year is two-fold: First, Armstrong is 37 years old, which in terms of Tour de France winners, is like dog years– too old. (Ouch!) Second, Armstrong is on the same team as a Spaniard Alberto Contador, a skinny, 26-year-old who won the Tour in 2007. It’s not good karma to start a race competing against, rather than along with, your own teammate. Armstrong and Contador are at odds and odds-on favorites, but will either of them win? I’m not placing any bets.
The best rider should win. And, we won’t know who that is until the Tour is long underway and we’ve had a chance to see how they’re riding. Sometimes, cyclists will be in good form the first week and drop out from exhaustion the next. I’ve always been keen on a few riders who have performed well but have not necessarily been in the spotlight. One of them is Germany’s Andres Kloden, who is riding for Lance Armstrong’s team Astana. Kloden is a workhorse and I like his moxie in the mountains. He won’t win the Tour, but I would like to see him win a stage. American Christian Vande Velde is an all-around nice guy and pretty darn strong cyclist who surprised a lot of fans last year when he stayed on the wheels of the Tour leaders in the hard mountain stages. Vande Velde, or VdV, is the leader of team Garmin-Slipstream managed by my buddy John Vaughters, so I gotta root that something good comes to VdV. I’ll be watching Andy Schleck closely this year ’cause he has a good chance of winning the Tour. He’s from the tiny country Luxembourg, which isn’t even as long as some of the Tour stages, so he rides all over Europe– good for training. He’s also super skinny– good for riding up steep mountains– and has a very fast brother on his team– good for morale. Andy could be a winner.
Au revoir for now,
Le Tour Babe