Monday, 15 July, 2002

Tour de France Update

Today was the ninth stage of the Tour de France—a 52 km individual time trial.  Before today's stage, defending champion Lance Armstrong was in 8th place overall, 34 seconds behind the leader; Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano of Spain.  Today was the end of the flat, fast part of the Tour.  Tomorrow is a rest day, and Wednesday is what they call a transitional stage—147 km of lightly rolling terrain heading up into the Pyrenees.  Up to today, there were 11 riders within one minute of the overall leader.  At the end of today's stage, there is only one:  Armstrong trails the leader by 26 seconds.  Expect the field to begin spreading out even more on Thursday, when the tour hits the mountains, separating the sprinters and classics riders from the true all-round cyclists.  These guys are perhaps the best conditioned athletes in the world.  Watching them ride is an inspiration.  I sure hope I can get Tour coverage while I'm away on business this week.