Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brother Vinokourov.

A friend recently commented that she was not sure who to root for in the Tour de France, in these post-Lance years. This was after Christophe Moreau had kind of dropped back, so even her Franco-philia would not provide the answer.

I had a look at the standings and came up with this list of options:

1. Big George H., although he is not set up to win, and I don't think Levi will either, although he may do OK.
2. Vinokourov and his scraped up knees, because Astana really did put the hurt down last night, and I think he could pull it together.
3. Poor Christophe Moreau, because he is French, but he seems to be out, too.
4. Rasmussen, if he does not waste away first, because there is nothing like a.... Oh never mind.
5. The Belgian Tom Boonen, because even after his wreck yesterday he kicked butt today, AND Belgium makes great beer.
6. Alberto Contador, because even though he is Spanish he rides for Discovery.
7. Andreas Kloeden, also Astana, who is supposed to be pulling Vino, but seems to be doing well in his own right.
8. Kim Kirchen because he is from Luxembourg, for God's sake.
9. Thor Hushovd because his first name is Thor.
10. A whole bunch of Spaniards.

But then this afternoon, as the PP and I sat down to watch today's time trial, I said to him, "I think from now on I am pulling for Alexandre Vinokourov." There were good reasons for that. First, I knew that he had been hurt in an early stage, and although I had not seen the big crash (I have since, since it provides such spectacular footage), I did watch a medic in the Astana team car replacing the bandages on both his knees the other night, and that was amazing. It turns out the man is riding with 60+ stitches in his body. As someone who recently had a few stitches in her shoulder, and who was mostly sitting around afterwards as a result, I can say, that is a shitload of stitches!

Second, his team is unbelievable. Did you see Astana put the hurt on the peloton during Thursday's stage? It was a flattish stage, and apparently there were serious crosswinds, which they took serious advantage of. I think at that moment, everyone in the peloton would have been happy never to see light blue again.

Third, he has the yellowist sunglasses in all of cycling.

Then there is this photo:

It comes from Vino's own website (taken by Tim de Waele) and it gives you some idea of all his bandages. But what I noticed right away, and what secured my choice to pull for him, was that little netting he is wearing on his right arm, to protect his elbow bandage. You see, during my little love affair with the PICC line, I had to keep the whole apparatus enclosed in this little mesh sheath, so that all the piping and so forth would not get stuck on stuff or get yanked out accidentally. In other words, I felt just a little connection to this Khazakh, even though I know that there is really no comparison between my fitness level and his. (Or my leg strength. Or my speed on a bike. Or, OK I'll stop there.)
So Vinokourov is now my man. His time trial today, through the streets around Albi, was pretty amazing, too, so I think that bodes well for my choice. (And did you notice that Astana had 3 of the top 4 riders?) Besides, watching someone have such a horrible crash, keep going, ride hard with his team once he is just the tiniest bit recovered, and then pull out such a performance today at Albi? Inspirational.

Go go Vino!


Scott said...

I've been watching the Tour de France now ever since I became hooked on the incredibly complex tactics and strategies of the race. That was the year when Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond were on the same team, Hinault was going for his historic fifth win but had LeMond breathing down his neck in the standings. On the last mountain stage Hinault faded badly and LeMond was on his way to a big stage win and quite likely the lead and the overall race itself when the team's race director ordered LeMond back to Hinault to assist him. LeMond argued a little but obediently headed back, completely unaware of the size of the lead he had built up over the struggling Hinault. I eventually mostly forgave Hinault for the 'theft' after learning of some of Hinault's very own great races (never forgave that race director whose name I've unfortunately blanked on at the moment) and from that time on have watched the Tour every year. I had to look up what year that was, and it turned out to be 1985 - gasp! I find it very peaceful watching the peloton whirr its way through the French countryside and listen to the commentators talking about the race, the competitors, and the various strategies and jersey competitions. Someday I'll have to visit France when it's on and stand by the side of the road to cheer them on. Do you follow the Giro d'Italia, and if so do you follow on the internet or do you have a satelite feed?

Isis said...

I agree with you about the peloton and about the complex tactics.

I have followed the Giro in years past (when I was a more avid cyclist myself, and after I had been to Italy...), but I have not recently. I was just wondering during this year's Tour whether there is TV coverage of it on Vs. like there is of the Tour, but I gather from your message that there is not. No satellite feed, alas, but I do sometimes check in with velonews, just to see what the developments are.


Ace said...

Isis, you are the only one I know who is willing to acknowledge that Vinokourov has the yellowist sunglasses in all of cycling. Wearing the yellow jersey could hardly compete with such yellowishness. Although, might the word be yellowest? Yellowist sounds like a follower of the yellow path.

Yellow yellow yellow yellow.

Isis said...

Excellent pointillisme, Ace. I wondered why that word looked wrong....

Scott said...

I limit myself to the televised Tour de France as I'm not a cyclist myself.