Jul 31, 2010

Zucchero's Sweetness

Sitting in Cafe Zucchero with Guy today was  new for both of us just before our ride up the hills in UBC. Inside this very Italian cafe we were welcome by the barista, a heavy set bald man wearing a huge pendant, as future ...Lance Armstrong's. I could only look at Guy with humorous disbelief, as his quick comeback was, "How about Ivan Basso's?" I smiled.

Getting into the Spirit!

The burly barista didn't answer perhaps he never even heard of Ivan Basso, but Lance Armstrong? Really.  No matter. The expresso was extremely good, one of the best I've ever had. Afterwards, we rocketed out of there and onto the roads.

We encountered Pacific Spirit Park and it's hill, climbed it and return for another loop this time flying up 4th Avenue hill and motoring along Chancellor Blvd at 48kms. As we made our way swiftly back on SW Marine Drive, Guy turned to me and said, "That expresso was good." It sure was, we were 'sweetly' booting it.

I'm thinking about the ultra cool book I received from Guy, "Marco Pantani: the legend of a tragic champion." Probably, one of the best cyclists ever to ride, dying tragically by drug overdose on Valentines day 2004. Il Pirata was not only great but explosive whenever he climbed. And climb he did, destroying his competition in a mighty swat. Even Armstrong was scared of him.

I'm not going to sugar coat this further... I'm starting to have a few books to read, and this one looks very good!

Jul 30, 2010

Le Tour: A Visual Feast

This Tour de France was a visually exciting spectacle. Here's some of my favorite images from a great one!


Jul 29, 2010

Exciting prospect.

Canadian hero in Paris.

One of my favorites this Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian is Ryder Hesjedal. Coming off his excellent performance finishing seventh overall at the Tour de France, I'm thinking he'll do better than his 5th place of last year.

The 2009 San Sebastian...
Ryder in the lead pack finished in fifth!

Spain's biggest one day race has a new twist of pain. At 234km in length, with six category climbs, first run in 1981, the picturesque route is changed. It will be hot as the riders will tackle the Alto de Jaizkibel (7.8km/ 6%) and the final killer the Alto de Arkale climbs twice rather than once. This could mean a small leading pack as the race closes to the finish. And it should benefit Hesjedal than a mass finish. The Garmin-Transitions team will be working for the 29 year old Hesjedal and will try to place him in the right position for the kill.

After San Sebastian, Hesjedal will go to the GP Quest France (Aug.22) then to the inaugural pair of UCI ProTour events in Quebec City (Sept.10th) & Montreal (Sept.12th). He'll be rightly showcase as Canada's most successful road racer since Steve Bauer.

The Quebec City race has 15 laps of a 12.6km circuit starts and ends in the Old City and goes steeply uphill to the Grand Allee for a total of 189km. Montreal is 16 times up and down a punishing 12.1km circuit on Mount Royal a total of 193.6kms.

I've seen the Women's World Cup race in 1998 (here on a previous post) on the Mount Royal course and it will be tough, loud & exciting.

Go Ryder!

Bauer Power back in the 1989 Tour...
Steve's best San Sebastian was 6th in 1990!

Jul 28, 2010

Churning the big 5-0!

Happy birthday to me...
My 50th just got alot better!

Today, is a big day for me ... I'm 50! Although the thought of turning this pivotal age was so intimidating, now that I'm here it was certainly more of a chore getting here. I've never felt more mentally & physically better than ever. Must be the benefit from all the riding.

This morning started out ... with work. I promised myself not to stray close to the computer, but the pull was too strong. By noon I was finished and it was out to my favorite sushi eatery with Carolle & my old friend Jim. Then off to see and enjoy the company of my twin brother, Ron. It's kind of fun to celebrate it twice. It was so hot we indulge with a couple of beers in the shade. A couple of nice gifts from him is the Glenlivet & the Spanish Red Marques de Rojas. As a matter of fact, tonight's dinner was all handmade by Carolle and has a mix of Greek (spanakopita) and west coast (wild sockeye salmon/prawns) to it. I loved my homemade coconut cream birthday pie. It was all so delicious.

After an exquisite dinner we savored the Auchentoshan single malt scotch whisky. And, oohh it's sooo smooth with an agreeable sweetness triple distilled from bourbon oak casks. It's now my favorite.

In fact, we plan to extend the festivities toward the long weekend with even more fun!

Marques de Roja or Mouton Cadet?
Playing the role of wine taster. Actually I'm not
but I enjoy wine!

Jul 26, 2010

Fignon: A Coq Crowing!

As my birthday is fast approaching, Laurent Fignon's much awaited book, 'We We're Young and Carefree' has arrived in the mail. He's unspoken, brash and tells it like it is without holding back. His two Tour victories (1983 & 1984) still bode well as epic and caused the French fans to open their hearts to a new, young hero. The eight second loss from Greg LeMond was his fall from grace yet he survived it all, somehow.  That's what I aim to find out in this much anticipated expose on le Professeur.

A lot to crow about!

Fignon was back in this year's Tour. This time commentating for French TV, and going through his own battle with cancer. He was reportedly looking surprisingly good and still applying his in your face opinions.

Just like his prolific riding career, he attacked even the winner, Alberto Contador & second place finisher, Andy Schleck. Fignon weighed in on their friendship to L'Equipe... "What we saw between them on the Tour was inconceivable. Cycling shouldn't just be a game between mates. Competition should be without pity, especially when the race has begun. Nothing should top it. I never fell into the arms of Greg Lemond or Bernard Hinault. When you are rivals you can't like each other. He manipulated Schleck by playing psychological games with him. He compensated for his weak moments by bringing up his strong personal relations with his rival. Schleck went on about his famous plan to counter Contador. We never saw it. It'll remain a Tour of lost opportunity, especially for Schleck."

The last candid words was directed towards Contador, "It's hard to say whether he was less consistent than in 2009. Perhaps he has discovered that last year he was particularly exceptional and this year he has just found his normal level. To find that answer we have to wait until next year."

Fignon seems outspoken as ever ... I'm eagerly looking forward to this!

Laurent Fignon, winner of the 1983 Tour at 23 years old...
Young & carefree!

Jul 25, 2010

Stage 5: Bikes, Books, & Beers Podcast Special Tour Edition

Here's our sixth podcast ...

Le Tour is more than just a bike race. It's all about the personalities in this special edition. Guy & I will get you through it covering 'Chaingate', Ryder Hesjedal's 'Weight of the Nation Tour', French success, Julian Dean & Guy's new kit. A fun look at Sean Kelly's climb up the Col du Tourmalet... old school. My book review L'Equipe's 'Cols Mythiques du Tour de France.' I go Belgium crazy with Galstudio's 'Flandrian Cycling Cap. And, of course, after an 11 hour ride we both ride in the 'Slipstream Cream Ale.'

Sit back & enjoy!

Le Fantôme

Boo! Out comes Menchov!

Le fantôme is a ghostly apparition. Best describes Denis Menchov as the stoic and tough Russian that finally showed himself in the Time trial.

He pulled off a great ride finishing two minutes ahead of his rival for the podium Sammy Sanchez. He was quiet and unassuming during this race but let Sanchez know of what a very good time trialist and rider he is.

The 'low key' Russian riding for Rabobank won the Vuelta twice (2005 & 2007) and the 2009 Giro. In 2008 Bernard Kohl was disqualified and Menchov was moved up to third place.

Before the 52 km TT course the time gap was only 21 seconds from Sanchez. But, that's when Menchov did appear and put in a strong ride taking care of all questions who would take the final podium place. A relatively quiet Tour so far his TT performance was particularly stellar!

Jul 23, 2010

Second best

Kiwi flying!

It's not easy to have Mark Cavendish to race against. Julian Dean knows. He's come up to the Manx Missile on today's stage 18's run in to Bordeaux. He actually won ...in second place. Worthy of his role as the sprinter on Garmin since Tyler Farrar abandoned.

Dean said, "I'm happy with today's result. When we opened up the sprint, Cavendish was clearly fastest. Second is good. Of course I'd love to win, as we all would."

On Wednesday's stage 16, while warming up half way up the Col de Peyresourde, Dean was tackled by a policeman. A case of mistaken identity the policeman had thought that Dean was an errant spectator. As the bewildered Dean got back on his bike the cop tried to stop him from riding back down to the team bus.

If that wasn't odd enough, during last year's Tour Dean was shot by someone with an air pellet gun. A week after that Tour doctors found part of the pellet still in his finger.

Tough going, at least it's better than being tackled by a cop for mistaken identity!

Rydering exceptionally high


Yesterday's toughest mountain stage lured the tiring peloton with a fantastic finish on top of the famous Col du Tourmalet. The race was and is between Schleck and Contador and they finished together with Schleck taking the stage win.

Col du Tourmalet!

The last 10 km it was them and only a fight with the two strongest riders in this Tour. They looked comfortable in front of the rest and followed one another separated by a scant 'Lemondesque' 8 seconds. Unfortunately, there's no time bonuses and a sprint was not in the cards.

Behind a battle erupted with key top ten riders', Sanchez, Horner, Hesjedal, Menchov, Gesink Rodriquez, Van Den Broeck and Kreuziger. Sanchez looked fresh after falling earlier in the race. But, Hesjedal looked even more stronger maintaining a consistent rhythm looking like he's having amazing form since taken over as team leader for Garmin.

As the 'gift' was given to Schleck, Rodriquez attacked and finished third with Hesjedal roaring in fourth! Sanchez, the Olympic road race champ, held onto fifth taking precious seconds from Menchov (sixth) for the final podium spot. Another hero was Nicolas Roche clawing his way to 12th moving up to 15th overall beating his nemesis Jean Gradet.

There's no reason denying Hesjedal his rightful top ten finish in his by far best Tour. "I feel like I'm getting stronger, so a few more days and we'll be happy in Paris," he confidently said.


Jul 22, 2010

Cols Mythiques du Tour de France book

I have you now, my pretty!

It was touch and go this afternoon shortly after 1 PM. I saw the UPS driver stop and approach my front door ...then leave. As he walked back to his van I screamed out to him, "Excuse me, I think that's for me!" He walked over to my balcony and said there was no response when he tried the buzzer. The driver was as elated to deliver the package or then he would have to return it back to the depot. Horrors! Wherever that is. Yesterday, my landlord 'fixed' my buzzer problem. That's what he told me. He'll have to solve this because I'm expecting another package very shortly.

I was so happy to finally get an early birthday present. It's not until next week so the timing couldn't be better. Now, with L'Equipe Col du Mythiques du Tour de France in my hands, look to a mini review this upcoming weekend when stage 5 Books, Bikes, & Beers podcast gets underway!

Jul 21, 2010

Allez Ryder!

Ryder Hesjedal is in 10th overall and looking to secure a top ten finish. But before that, the last Pyrenean stage finishing on top of the Col du Tourmalet (2115 meters) will have to be dealt with.

I for one like many Canadian fans have embraced him as the 'weight of the nation' giving him support at this years Tour. He takes his popularity all in his laid back approach and let's his legs do the talking. Garmin believes in him too, renewing his contract to 2013.

Can he finish in the top ten? I believe he can. He's shown consistency to do it. Hesjedal would move into elite territory beside fellow Canadian, Steve Bauer (4th in 1988, 10th in 1985).

Go Ryder!

Missing the Team Time Trial

Steve Bauer pulling the La Vie Claire locomotive!

I'm missing the Team Time Trial. I love how cohesive a team rides together under constant stress. The trick is to ride as one unit, and when that happens it's a thing of beauty to behold!

Bauer, LeMond, Hinault & La Vie Claire motoring at the...
1986 TTT stage 5 Meudon-St.Quentin en-Yvelines.
They were the dominant team at the 1986 Tour, surprisingly coming in
fifth behind Systeme U!

Jul 20, 2010

Le Green God

The God of Thunder...
in the mountains.

Stage 16: Bagneres-de-Luchon - Pau.

Thor Hushovd is maintaining his god like hold on the green jersey. In succession the classic mountains starring; Col de Peyresourde, Col du d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, Col du Soulor, & Col d'Aubisque. For a sprinter he does very well climbing especially his attempt on the Tourmalet. He tried and finished in a massive group of 50, 6'45" behind the stage winner, Frenchman Perrick Fedrigo. Another French stage victory now at six. Not since 1997, has the French won six stages. A long time coming.

The God of Thunder said, "It was a great way to end the stage. I think I've got the best form of my life. It was worth trying something today and see what happens. I haven't exactly been training for stages like this and the chance of stealing points on the days when my rivals are not in the hunt-but I think I'm changing a little bit as a  rider. I'm not that fast in the sprints anymore and I'm getting better at going uphill. Also, with my broken collarbone, I could not sprint so I did normal training and a lot of that work was in the mountains. And I think that's what I'm getting back now. I think the points classification is mostly down to myself & Petacchi now but, like I said at the beginning of the Tour, anything can happen so we always have to pay attention to everyone who is around."

Jul 19, 2010

Should I stay or should I go?

High five for the Flying Frenchmen!

Stage 15 Pamiers-Bagnères-de-Luchon:

Today was extra special in Le Tour. 100 year anniversary for the Pyrenees with the climb to the Portet d'Aspet and the eventful Port de Bales.

In 1995, Motorola's Fabio Casartelli died tragically on the descent. I remember it and the shocking images still give me goose bumps. As French champ Thomas Voeckler, at times, staggered up the fearsome Port de Bales everyone seem to let him go. On the descent he sped down like a demon smelling victory. He took chances almost losing it on a switchback with only a side of a barn for him to bounce off. Thankfully, he didn't fall. He soloed putting it away for another French stage win. That's number five.  A high five for the Frenchmen at this exciting Tour.

Behind with 21km left, Schleck accelerated from his arch rival Contador and dropped his chain. Was a honored tradition of not attacking the yellow jersey when he's down not followed? A cycling code of conduct broken? Contador accelerated and attacked with dangermen, Menchov and Sanchev leaving a helpless Schleck fiddling with the chain.

At the finish, Andy Schleck loss 39 secs and ownership of the yellow jersey to Alberto Contador. Perhaps not the moral way, especially with the chorus of boos erupting as he pulled on the yellow jersey. An opportunistic Contador did make 'his' right move ...it's a bike race, no?

Jul 18, 2010

Into the mouth of the Pyrenees

Port de Pailhères.

Stage 14: French pride was aglow for her fourth stage victory, this time by a stylish ride by Christophe Riblon. The French were raving mad as he profited from his adventurous solo break of 168 km. With the start today of the great Pyrenees, marking the 100th anniversary of the high mountains in the Tour the excitement ratchets up a notch.

Victoire Inesperer! 

My emotional favorite, 35 year old Carlos Sastre looked set to have a strong ride reminiscent of his stage win back in 2003. Attacking and riding with his familiar panache was a touch of the old Sastre again. He didn't win but it doesn't mean he won't be back.

Ryder Hesjedal finished a very good 12th place, in front of Vinokourov. Consistent and finding his climbing legs on the first Pyrenees stage the Canadian 'Weight of the Nation' lies in 13th overall in front of a resurgent Nicolas Roche. The Irishman rode wonderfully clawing in 18th place and as he crossed the finish line smiled for his victorious teammate Riblon.

Two riders to emerge into the limelight was Sammy Sanchez & Denis Menchov finishing in second & third. As Schleck and Contador watched each other these two dueled and provided what maybe the battle for third overall.

I can't wait what happens in tomorrow's climb up the Port des Balès (1755 m) and the screaming descent into the finish in Bagnères-de-Luchon. It should prove equally dramatic!

Jul 17, 2010

On the road to recovery...

Stage 13 Rodez-Revel: Vino still has a few friends...

It was reported by ITV that Laurent Fignon, commentating for French TV, says that his health is stable for a year and he's doing ok.

The traditional massage and a cold bath.

L'ardroiser a Moto

Nice job Claire!

I like this video story on the very first female L'ardrosier a moto at the Tour.

Ardrosier is the person that works with a stone slate used for restoration usually for roofing. In Le Tour it's to describe the black chalkboard the holder records on with the critical time gaps for the riders.

Jul 16, 2010


On the Montée Laurent Jalabert...
Rydering with Christophe Le Mevel.

Todays stage 12 was another page turner in the Tour book of Garmin Transitions. An amazing breakaway resulted with eighteen riders that went on the second climb. And Ryder Hesjedal was part of the merry band of bandits.

He looked strong and gave it a go. Ever since taking the leadership role he's had an exceptional Tour. The surviving four of Hesjedal, Vinokourov, Kloden, and Kyrienka approached the foot of the Montée Laurent Jalabert with 3km of very steep climbing ahead.

Hesjedal loss contact and finished 24th, 53 seconds behind Joaquin Rodriguez and Alberto Contador. Brave and bold ride for the Garmin leader hoping for a stage win,  he's now in thirteenth overall. Earlier in today's stage, Tyler Farrar had to abandon. His broken wrist was finally too much to bear. He joins Christian Vandervelde & Robbie Hunter on the sidelines. With a depleted team one could say they don't have much of a chance. I think they do.

Ryder's new nickname is, 'Weight of a Nation.' And there's a t-shirt on sale on the Garmin team page. Meanwhile, the ever confident Canadian said, "I think I showed today I can lead the team. That was probably one of the hardest days so far, but I'm not scared to go hard and leave it out on the road. We've got the hardest days coming up, and we'll see what today did to me, but I'd rather take the chance, and maybe come off with something big, than just follow. This Tour is all about testing the limits for me."

I have a feeling Garmin's Tour plans are far from over!

Le Toy Store

Inside the Ag2R team with the mechanics, what a toy store!

Jul 15, 2010

Heat is on!

Controversial it was at the last 350 meters of stage 11 for Mark Renshaw. A win for Mark Cavendish and a  loss for Mark Cavendish as his lead man gets disqualified for head butting Julian Dean and deviation from his line blocking Tyler Farrar.

It wasn't all about the head butting, more so, as Renshaw blocked Farrar forcing him very close into the barriers. The Garmin sprinter looked good and had a chance to give Cavendish a good fight to the line. Unfair or not, the call stands and Cavendish will have to face a new challenge negotiating on the next sprint stage. Petacchi's second place gives him the green jersey.  Action packed? For sure!

Jul 14, 2010

Nice n' Easy does it

Take a deep breath...
Down the Cote de Laffrey.

Today, all the riders were mindful of the heat and suffering already in the Tour. Yesterday's grueling stage was enough of a reminder as today's stage 10 was a recovery stage. Most of the riders basically took it easy. Even yellow jersey, Andy Schleck went back to the team car for bidons for his teammates. Hey, If Cancellara can do it...

On top of the the Cote de Laffrey the French battle for the polka-dots were contested as Jerome Pineau re-took the polka-dots from Anthony Charteau. Only 1 point is separating the two Frenchmen and with the Pyrenees yet to come this battle is far from over.

The long stage produced a break away as 2004 Olympic road race silver medalist, Sergio Paulinho beat out Vasili Kiryienka for his first Tour stage victory. The French would've loved to see one of their own win on Bastille Day, but the Portuguese rider gave his Radioshack team an unforgettable victory!

Jerome Pineau's polka-dots Merckx.

Jul 13, 2010

Shut up legs!

Heroes were made in today's great mountainous stage 9 Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

First off is everybody's lovable favorite, Jens Voigt who helped bring up Andy Schleck & Alberto Contador right up to the top of the frightening Col de la Madeleine. It was pure Jens as he probably said to himself, "Shut up legs!" as he drove up the climb almost to the top. He's a hero in my books and pure class gutting it out with his patented pained expression. Just before the top around 100 meters he just shook his head and stopped with no gas in the tank. What a *%^# effort by the 38 year old ...simply courageous!

Thor Hushovd is utterly amazing. He knew that to distant himself further in the green points classification is to go for the intermediate sprints, which he did. He may not be the fastest sprinter but he is smart. At the start, he took off alone dragging a bunch of riders with him. He took the valuable points stood up then went to his position in the back of the pack.

Cadel Evans rode today on a fractured elbow sustained during a crash on stage 8. Heroic can only be described for the suffering leader of a relatively weak BMC team. His team made it quiet before the start of the stage for fear of not giving his rivals reason to attack him. He lost his yellow jersey on the Col de la Madeleine suffering like heroes do losing more than eight minutes in arrears. He sobbed afterwards and said, "The guys and the team have supported me and believed in me in this whole project. I'm so sorry to have let them all down."

The French can revel in Sandy Casar's excellent dash to win this amazing stage. He was part of the strong break that lead over the Col de al Colomiere, Col de Aravis, Col des Saisies & Col de la Madeleine. His group was caught by the chasing duo of Schleck & Contador but he managed to beat out LL Sanchez and Cunego for the sprint.

Hero status also goes to Sammy Sanchez for chasing alone in the final 10km finishing a minute in arrears but earned third place overall. Jerome Pineau reign in polka-dots are over as fellow Frenchman Anthony Charteau takes it over with his gutsy fifth place finish. One other rider rode well, Denis Menchov as quiet and unassuming so far in this exciting Tour, he finished in 13th place moving into fourth overall.

And, Bastille Day is tomorrow, that means the French riders will be hungry for the stage win ... good, more heroes!

Jul 12, 2010

Schleck vs Contador: Just missing Cadel.

Glory in Gory...
Stage 8 produced many heroes such as Markus Eibegger who
did finish in 177th!
All images: www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/

Rest day leaves the media scrambling to talk to the tired riders. Alberto Contador was one of the star's giving endless interviews, Andy Schleck the same. And rest days are either help or hinderance for the riders where most often the race rhythm is disrupted.

Schleck's first Tour stage glory!

We saw what happen when they both duked it out on stage 8: Station des Rousses-Morzine-Avoriaz, on the last climb with a kilometer to go. Schleck left Contador ...standing. I admire Olympic champion, Samuel Sanchez as the only one to react and gave it a go only to lose at the end. A spectacular first Tour stage win by Schleck telling Contador that he will not be the only favorite for this Tour. Cadel Evans showed he's in line winning the yellow and eagerly stepping into the yellow limelight.

The war on the roads have just begun and we haven't seen the last battle of Schleck vs Contador. Of course, there's an army of others ready to crash their party. Sastre, Menchov, Rogers, Kreuziger, Van Den Broeck, Gesink, Wiggins & Hesjedal all look deceptively strong and getting stronger. Did I leave anyone out?

Here's a funny take of Schleck vs Contador ... I'd would've love to see Cadel show up!

Fisticuffs & shenanigans


A rest day at the Tour couldn't be complete without a chat about the fisticuffs of Rui Costa & Carlos Barredo after stage 6. Here's an amusing interview, see how many Tour personalities you can spot...

Jul 10, 2010

Eating to success!

Those riders are soooo lucky!

Climbing to success

Hesjedal takes eighth!

Ryder Hesjedal seems destined for more greatness. His tour de force is forging him to become as popular as another famous Canadian. 1988 was the last time a Canadian won a stage in the Tour. That was Steve Bauer as he finished fourth overall. An amazing achievement and only one position shy of the podium.

Vive la France!
Sylvain Chavanel.

Now, Hesjedal is in a fantastic position currently in third overall and ever hopeful of stage victory. The seventh mountain stage was ultra hot (well over 30C) and forcing many to ride conserving energy for the high mountain stages to come.

This Tour is so exciting. A new climbing star has emerged. Young Spaniard, Rafael Vaels Ferri of  Footon-Servetto flew to a nice second. He's the new white jersey holder. Cadel Evans looks ripe & ready to take the yellow and with the high mountains zooming, I bet he does it. A French Revolution is happening. That's how I see it with the torrid performance in the Jura mountains by Sylvain Chavanel. Now, with his second stage win he's riding like a changed man letting everyone know that his early Spring bad luck is ...memory. Wrestling the yellow jersey from Cancellara he looks serious indeed. And French teammate, Jerome Pineau has the polka dot's and his closest rival is his buddy Chavanel. 25 years is a long time since a Frenchman won their own Tour. Although, It's early on French hopes like Canadian hopes are more than just a dream!

Jerome Pineau.

Jul 9, 2010

Green Monsters

Jean Graczyk;
 1958 & 1960 (shown).

Mark Cavendish proved to me and everyone that he's back and quickly clawing back into the green points classification fight. Any indication by his last two sprint victories is more to insist that the Maillot Vert is a wide open battle.

Sean Kelly; 
1982, 1983 (shown), 1985, 1989.
From: Tour 83.

With the aid from Mark Renshaw as lead out man, Cavendish made it certain that he's a threat for the green jersey. My money is still on the God of Thunder, Thor Hushovd for the overall green win. He'll have to pick up points on the intermediate climbs to stretch his meagre lead. But, a cast of exciting characters are starting to emerge.

Tyler Farrar is as close as can be for an injured warrior making a remarkable comeback from his near Tour ending fall. Second place slightly off perhaps taking the wrong position but honest for a gallant attempt. It looks like his lead out guy's, Hunter & Dean are finally figuring out the important positioning needed. It's just a matter of time. Spaniard, Jose Joaquin Rojas is a danger man sprinting very well and lurks just in fourth overall. Boasson Hagen is also a danger man, if not for the green jersey, atleast for a stage win. Robbie McEwen, still a favorite, bounced off an official or cop just after he finished and looks shaken as he had yet another date with the tarmac. Look for him to stir it up. I love his aggression. And, Ale-jet is hard to pin down. He already has two stage wins and stays in the mix. Can he tough the mountains to make a glorious bid for green?

The first raucous week is over and tomorrow are the Alps where the grimpeurs will star. Not until next Thursday on stage 11 will the race return back to the sprinters. So until then, here's some of my past green favorites...

Djamolidine Abduzhaparov; 
1991 (shown), 1993, 1994.

Freddy Maertens; 
1976 (shown), 1978, 1981.

Erik Zabel; 
1996, 1997, 1998 (shown), 1999,
2000, 2001. 
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