Tour de Jank 2010 – Stage 1, Old Mystic-Quanaduck Cove-Old Mystic

OK, so the premise behind the Tour de Jank is that, as the Tour de France is going on across the pond, I’m going to do a tenth of the tour distance every day, ‘cept in and around New England. Ideally, I’ll get back into posting pictures, but who knows. My guess is that this lasts all of one or two days.

I’ll probably be a day behind talking about the actual race, as I tend to catch the coverage in the evenings after the kiddos are in bed.

Stage 1 – Old Mystic-Quanaduck Cove-Old Mystic

Stage 1 was a sprinter’s stage, relatively flat run along Route 27 to Route 1 out to Quanaduck Cove in Stonington, and returning along roughly the same route, ‘cept coming up the Groton side of the Mystic River after a delay for the drawbridge. Legs felt good, bike was a little squeaky. Pretty good average speed – above 16 MPH for the whole ride.

TDF Prologue / Stage 1

First, a couple of suggestions on following the Tour.

In the US, Versus (the bull-riding and hockey channel who I may never forgive for pre-empting the finish of one of their Tour of California stages for a hockey pre-game (PRE GAME!) show) owns the coverage. Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll, and an increasingly competent Craig Gummer do the commentary. They’ve put a bit of a paywall in front of much of their internet coverage, but it’s not too shabby. I may try their iPhone app once my phone arrives.

My current favorite semi-pro cycling commentary comes from Cosmo Catalano at Cyclocosm (shout out to the Nutmeg State!). His twitter feed (@Cyclocosm) is phenomenal. Here’s an example of Cosmo’s work.

The Luckiest Man in the Peloton from Cosmo Catalano on Vimeo.

For the best of scrounged video, check out Cyclingfans. Their twitter feed is pretty good, too.

The prologue was good. Usually, I hate the time trial stages – just sitting around watching guys suffer without any strategy other than “Ride. Ride fast.” (Courtesy of Missy)

I’d also recommend following @LeviLeipheimer and @dzabriskie – Leiphimer because he’s freaking amazing, and Zabriskie because he’s pure gonzo cycling.

But the prologue was an exception. Maybe because it was only 10 minutes of effort per rider, or maybe because Lance FREAKING Armstrong came in 4th, finishing in front of Alberto Contador. I’m pulling for Armstrong, partly because I’m an ignorant American, and partially because I refuse to acknowledge that 38 is over the hill. (And, ’cause I’ve picked up a similar amount of grey hair in the last year).

What to Watch For

I’ll admit I’m a bit behind in pre-read for this year’s tour, because life has been a little hectic (in a good way). But, as opposed to most years, it’s good to get in front of this year’s Tour. Tomorrow and Tuesday are going to hit a good chunk of the roads in Belgium and northern France that are ridden in the Spring Classic races, and should end up shaking up the General Classification (The thing that Armstrong’s won 7 times) much earlier than most years.

The spring classics are huge one-day races held in March and April, nasty weather months in Northern Europe. Think rain and cobblestones. They’re also wicked long – Paris-Roubaix is close to 200 miles, with about 20 miles of cobblestones through places you heard about in World War 1 histories.

The race favorites are going to be trying to stay ahead of the pack, as with close to 200 riders going 25 MPH on cobblestones, it’s likely that there are going to be some major crashes. It’s also likely that some of the wafer-thin climbers are going to be sorted out, as having a little bit of butt helps out on bumpy roads.

I did catch today’s sprint finish, complete with massive crashes in the run-up to the sprint, one apparently caused by a wayward dog. Good on Allesandro Pettachi, who’s been out for a couple of years after a nasty, nasty crash. Good start to the tour.