Saturday, 09 July, 2005

Tour de France 2005

It's Tour de France time again.  This year, perhaps because I've been busy with other things, I've been somewhat disinterested in following the race like I have in the past.  I am, however, still interested in the results.

The Tour started last Saturday, July 2, with the prologue time trial.  Lance Armstrong placed second, two seconds behind David Zabriskie.  Apparently, Armstrong was a bit disappointed by this showing.  Some say that he wanted to lead through the entire race.

Armstrong remained in second place overall until the stage four team time trial, in which his Discovery Channel team beat Zabriskie's CSC team by two seconds.  Armstrong got the lead because Zabriskie crashed shortly before the finish and ended up coming in well behind his team's main group.  In any case, Zabriskie probably could not have won the Tour.  In fact, today he finished 51 minutes behind the stage winner--less than a minute ahead of the elimination cutoff time.

Today's finish was so close that it was almost impossible to determine which of the two leaders won the stage.  Even with the photo finish equipment the naked eye could not see which tire crossed the line first.  Apparently there is some kind of electronic timing equipment installed on each bike, too.  That equipment said that the difference was 0.0002 seconds.  If you figure they were moving at 30 MPH when they crossed the line, the winning margin was about one tenth of an inch.

For daily coverage on the Web, check out the official Tour de France site.  I discovered today that Eurosport.com has a live audio feed that works only with Internet Explorer on Windows.  I could not get it to work with Firefox.  I also don't know yet if it's in English, as I didn't discover the feed until after the stage finish.

The next two weeks should prove interesting.  After today's stage there are some who question the strength of Armstrong's team and their ability to help him defend his title.  I think we'll find out on Tuesday with the first mountaintop finish.