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Tour de France, Stage 4

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

poulidor

Today’s stage was the team time trial. Every Tour has a couple of individual time trials, but the team time trial is one of those features that the organizers put in in some years and omit in others. They have forgone it for three years, so its return today was most welcome.

I don’t have much to say about what happened. The story is simple enough, and you can read it elsewhere if you haven’t already. Some brief background. Each team has 9 riders. The teams leave at different times, racing against the clock rather than each other. A team’s time is determined by the finishing time of its 5th best rider. Ideally, all 9 riders stay together for the entire route (which today was 39 kilometers), taking turns being in the lead so at any one time one rider is doing the hard work while all the others get the benefit of drafting. In reality, riders on a team get dropped along the way, but the longer they stay together, the more they can share the load.

Team Astana was heavily favored to win the stage, and they did. They have four of the race favorites — Contador, Armstrong, Leipheimer, and Kloeden. All four have been in the top 10 since the first stage, and thanks to Lance’s excellent tactics yesterday — joining a lead group of riders who picked up 41 seconds on much of the field — he had the best position of the four, in third place overall. If Astana could win by a large enough margin, he would move into first overall and the others would move up as well. In the end, Astana did win the stage. Saxo Bank finished 3rd, forty seconds back, and 40 seconds was exactly the margin by which Fabian Cancellara entered the day ahead of Lance. The result was a virtual tie, but based on looking at the fractions of seconds in their finish times in the opening time trial, Cancellara was determined to still be in the lead. Lance is 2nd, Contador 3rd, Kloeden 4th, Leipheimer 5th, and fellow Astana member Zubeldia is 7th.

So that’s that. An exciting day. But let me talk about something else, something that really bugged me. At the end of each stage, the individual stage winner gets to come up to the podium to be recognized. Then the leaders in various other cumulative categories come up one by one. The best overall time, the best climber, the best sprinter (or points getter to be precise), the most combative, the best young rider (25 or younger). Normally, each one is greeted by two attractive young women wearing clothing related to that person’s achievement. The top overall rider, who comes up to be given his yellow jersey, is greeted by women in yellow. The top climber, who is given a red polka dot jersey, is greeted by women in red polka dot outfits. And so on.

But today I saw something I never saw before, and would be happy not to see again. Cancellara came up and was met not by the usual two women, but by a woman in yellow and some scruffy guy. On closer inspection, the scruffy guy, who was busily helpikng Cancellara don his yellow jersey, was Ben Stiller! What the hell was he doing up there? My God Mon Dieu. He isn’t even French! It’s bad enough that I had to see him in the audience at the Wimbledon women’s final on Saturday, wearing a tie and jacket and looking ridiculous. But at least he was in the audience, not on centre court calling one of the lines. I don’t know what the officials were thinking.

On a happier note, it was good to see Raymond Poulidor among the officials on the podium shaking hands with each of the honorees. I was not yet a Tour fan in the 1960s, so I missed his great battles with Jacques Anquetil, most notably the one in 1964, when Anquetil edged Poulidor for his fifth and final victory. A decade later, at age 38, Poulidor was still finishing second, to another five-time winner, Eddie Merckx. And at 40 he was third! He looked good today. It would appear that the photo of him in his Wikipedia entry was taken and posted today, since that’s exactly what he looked like on the broadcast. See the top of this post.

Categories: Sports

Practice?

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

A few hours ago I posted DJ Steve Porter’s remix of Vince Offer’s Slap Chop ad. More recently, DJ Porter made a remix featuring the famous press conference in which Philadelphia 76er basketball star Allen Iverson responded to questions about his missing practice. The press conference took place in May 2002, after the 76ers were eliminated from the playoffs. See below for a video of the actual conference, and click here for the transcript.

The remix is good fun, which is why I’m posting it, but the issues raised by Iverson in the press conference are interesting in their own right. Before moving on to the substantive issues, I’ll add that the remix focuses on Iverson, but also includes bits from other iconic sports press conferences of recent years and an odd Joe Namath incident. (And I was tipped off to the remix this morning by a Joe Posnanski post.)
Read more…

Categories: Sports, Video

The Skin Comes Right Off

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Onion skin that is.

I haven’t posted a video in a while, so it’s time for one. You are probably familiar with Offer Shlomi, the Israeli-American informercial star better known as Vince Offer, who brought us Sham Wow and Slap Chop. Above is DJ Steve Porter‘s superb remix of Vince Offer’s Slap Chop ad. You can enjoy the remix on its own, or first watch Vince’s original (below) as preparation for the remix. The onion skin of the title appears at about the 2:00 mark. There’s nothing particularly special about this moment in the video. I just like the line.

(Hat tip to Joe Posnanski for his post today on DJ Steve Porter’s remixes.)

Categories: Food, Music, Video