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The Tour Continues

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

[Guillaume Horcajuelo/European Pressphoto Agency]

I tried to teach Joel from an early age not to let himself get too wrapped up in rooting for a team or an individual, as it interferes with enjoying the sport itself. Tough advice to follow, and sometimes I fail. (See: British Open golf, two years ago, Tom Watson. But the less said about that the better. Way too painful.)

Little did I know that I had allowed my Mark Cavendish obsession to push me over the line once again. Things weren’t setting up well for him and his team two days ago as they neared the sprint finish, but suddenly there he was, bursting from the pack and taking the lead. I was cheering him on, thrilled by his imminent stage win. He never loses to anyone once he launches.

Except that this time he did. The German rider André Greipel, former Cavendish teammate, charged after him, passed him, and held on to win by a wheel. What went wrong? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I was too depressed. Surely Cavendish was hurt by not having Mark Renshaw available to lead him out. This probably forced Cavendish to make his move 50m too soon. What I do know is that instead of feeling good all day about having started the day with another great stage, I avoided any thoughts of the Tour. Instead of appreciating Greipel’s magnificent move and huge upset, I tried to erase memories of his joy as he crossed the line.

My loss.

Yesterday was another day for the sprinters. Had I learned my lesson? Was I looking for a great sprint finish, ready to enjoy it whatever the outcome? I would have to see. And see I did. There was Team HTC returning to form as the finish approached, setting up the leadout for Cavendish. There was Renshaw, the last HTC teammate to lead Cavendish out, timing it perfectly. There was Cavendish, launching past Renshaw toward the finish line. And who was that, coming out of the pack to chase after him? Greipel. With Tyler Farrar making his own move. Three great sprinters. One great finish. Whatever happened would make for a glorious day!

Cavendish held on. I shouted with delight. It was indeed a glorious day. There’s nothing more fun in sport than watching him win.

But there’s more to life than fun, and there’s more to the Tour than sprint finishes. Today, at last, the Tour arrived in the mountains and the tour giants (as well as the would-be giants) finally moved to center stage. I woke up in time to watch the famed climb of the Col du Tourmalet, over the highest road in the Pyrenees. Then after a long descent, they headed up the closing climb of the day, to Luz-Ardiden. It was hard to take my eyes off the riders during the last 10k. For much of the time, not much was happening, but you never knew when one of the Schleck brothers might make a move. Or Cadel Evans. Or a rejuvenated Ivan Basso. And did Contador have any surprises, or is this just not his year, at least not after the badc luck of all his falls last week?

No real answers were given as to who has it and who doesn’t. It seems Contador is at least a little off form, as he couldn’t keep up with the Schlecks or Evans in the final 2k. But still, he lost only 13 seconds to Andy Schleck, Evans, and Basso. Tomorrow isn’t likely to reveal much more, as they have just one major climb, of the Col D’Aubisque, before a long descent into Lourdes. Saturday is the day to watch, with a massive closing climb up to Plateau de Beille. Don’t miss it.

I almost forgot: How about Thomas Voeckler? He was sure he would give up the yellow jersey today. No way he would make it over the climbs with the Tour greats. But it was Bastille Day, he’s French, he was in the yellow jersey, and he found a way to keep up with them, finishing just 7 seconds and one position behind Contador on the day. He remains in yellow, 1′ 49″ ahead of Frank Schleck, with Evans, Andy Schleck, Basso, Cunego, and Contador next. I might as well round out the top ten. Today’s stage winner, Sammy Sanchez is in 8th. Surprise top American Tom Danielson is 9th. (Will he last in these heights?) And tenth is Irish rider Nicolas Roche, son of the great Stephen Roche. But back to Voeckler. Magnifique, Thomas!

Categories: Cycling

Chit-spuh

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

This has made the rounds today, so you’ve probably seen it, the clip in which Michele Bachmann demonstrates the meaning of chutzpah by totally mispronouncing the word in accusing Obama of it. Is this interesting? Can anything still be interesting that shows how outrageous Bachmann is, or how outrageous any number of fellow Republican leaders and presidential candidates are? Maybe not.

A few years back, I wasted a lot of time writing posts about Palin. I have made it a point since the 2008 election not to waste blog time on her and her ilk. (Instead, of course, I attack Obama, who is at least sane. And intelligent. He just has this nasty habit of doing all the things he said he would bring to an end and giving the finger to his erstwhile supporters.) But for some reason, this video pushed me over the edge. It made me wonder if she has ever met a Jew besides an ultra-orthodox right-winger or AIPAC leader.

Well, here’s something I just found, from two Marches ago, the first link to show up in a google search on “bachmann jews”. It has the following quote of Bachmann:

I have been a long time supporter of Israel. The first time I went to Israel was the day I graduated from high school. I spent a summer working on Kibbutz Be’eri near Beer Sheva in 1974. I’ve been 4 times in Israel – 3 times as a Member of Congress. I loved Israel – from the moment I first landed.

As a young girl from Anoka, I was shocked at the level of security in Israel.

We worked on the kibbutz from 4 am to noon. We were always accompanied by soldiers with machine guns. While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines. I really learned a lot in Israel.

I was delighted to go back as a Member of Congress, and see all the changes. To see how it has developed – it is nothing short of a miracle! To see a rose bloom in the desert. In 60 years, Israel has achieved first world, or nearly first world, status.

I am honored to be in a position where I can help Israel. I have a tremendous love for Israel, and great admiration for the Israeli people. I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foundation, the roots of my faith as a Christian.

How about that? She considers herself Jewish. It’s great to see these right-wing Christianists embrace Jewish heritage and culture while having the most narrow, simplistic view of what it is. They love appropriating our holidays. I bet she hosted a Seder this year, one in which the Haggadah was re-interpreted from a Christian perspective. Such respect for our traditions. How about respecting our language? If you can’t pronounce the word, leave it alone.

Categories: Language, Politics