Tag Archives: tour de france

More memories of Lance… the Version 2.0 reboot

Lance Armstrong getting a kiss from his girlfriend, who’s holding their new child, immediately after winning the 2009 Nevada City Classic.

I created this post after going through photos I’ve taken over the years, looking for something that might catch my eye, maybe something to use in a promotional email.

Of course, I’ve got a ton of photos dealing with past trips to France, and that being on my mind a lot lately, I started focusing more on photos that were personal (meant something to me) as opposed to strictly business stuff. Below is the result, initially posted in a bicycle racing group on Facebook.

Lance’s new beginning, Version 2.0, began quite symbolically. The photo above came just moments after winning the 2009 Nevada City Bike Race. A new baby, a kiss from his girlfriend, and all looked quite on track for a comeback. And there was this feeling that maybe he was doing this to prove it could be done clean this time. Were we naïve? I don’t think so. It played into his hubris; this idea that he was so arrogant, so believing in himself that he was going to show the world it could be done without doping. Without, of course, admitting that he’d doped for the previous TdFs.

Initially he was an open book for testing, before shutting the door on the science that he claimed would prove he was clean. We’re still looking for answers on that; Lance still, to the best of my knowledge, claims to have raced 2009 clean, taking 3rd in the TdF.

2009 was the second year I brought my son to the TdF. Curiously, Lance didn’t mean that much to him; he was more caught up in the spectacle of the TdF in general. To my son, Lance was “just zis guy, you know?” It was a year later, 2010, that things became more interesting, as Lance’s fall from 3rd to pack fodder saw Chris Horner waste his best shot at a TdF podium in service to a guy who just didn’t have what it took.

I believe Lance could have stopped after taking 3rd and likely gotten away with his records intact. The French were happy; they had their perfect story. The heroic effort that fails. They celebrate effort more so than success, and that was the big flaw in the Lance story. Until 2009 when all that changed. But Lance V 2.0 was still built upon the core code of Lance V1.x. It was destined to fail, because Lance couldn’t help but fall back to his vindictive nature and desire to use every trick in the book to win.

Tour de France 2013- Planning for the Alps

This is not going to be an easy year following the Tour de France. In fact, it may be the toughest-yet for me, due to the unexpected near-total cessation of train service in the Alps this year (due to a massive modernization project). The original plan, which has worked out very well for a number of years, was to work out of a single city for as long as possible, getting close to the nearby stages using the train when they weren’t close enough to ride to. So with that in mind, I set up reservations in Avignon (to see the Ventoux stage, which simply can’t be missed despite being out of the way and accessible only by car) and Grenoble, from which all of the Alps are, theoretically, accessible.

Theoretically. We should have been able to take trains to places reasonably close to each of the stages, but that plan’s now shot. Here’s what’s in store for the Alps-
This is the most-heavily-affected stage. It’s a two hour drive, in good traffic, from Grenoble to Chorges, and on the day of the TdF, could be a whole lot longer. In all likelihood it could be a totally-jammed road, with time trials being very popular and there being so few roads in the area.

Time Trial, Wednesday, July 17th.The plan will be to drive from Grenoble to Veynes, about 100k and supposedly 90 minutes over very twisty roads. This is the toughest stage to catch, because there are so few roads into the area and it carries huge interest because it could determine the final winner of the TdF. It’s not very long, just 21 miles or so, but all of it up & down.
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The beauty of driving to Veynes instead of Gap is that we’ll be taking a route that virtually nobody else is. Traffic congestion should be minimal, and no problem parking at the Veynes train station.

From Veynes, we catch the 11am train to Embrun, arriving right at noon. We then try to intersect the course somewhere on one of the two main climbs, using local roads whose suitability is in question (but that’s never stopped us before!). For the return we ride 30 miles back to the Veynes train station to pick up our car, sine the last train out of Chorges (at the end of the time trial) leaves at 5:25pm, likely too early by half an hour or so.

Alpe d’Huez, Thursday, July 18th. Traffic isn’t an option for this one, it’s assured. There’s only one route from civilization to the base of Alpe d’Huez, a narrow road that starts in Vizille, about 10 miles out of Grenoble, and climbs relatively-gradually for 20 more miles. It would be nice to ride from Grenoble to Alpe d’Huez, but that would preclude doing anything but going up & back. The route below has us parking about 2 miles short of Bourg d’Oison (the base of the mountain), riding further up the valley and then taking one of the amazing “balcony” roads that intersects the main climb just a bit up from the bottom. Then we ride to the top and descend down the back side, the Col de Serenne, and back to the car where we will be waiting in traffic… forever.

Col du Madeleine, Friday, July 19th. Drive from Grenoble to Chamousset and do the loop shown below-

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