Tour de France giving cycling fans plenty to talk about

The first nine stages of the Tour de France have been a roller coaster of emotion. Those first stages included American team Garmin-Cervelo win the team time trial which put their rider Thor Hushovd in the yellow jersey. The next day Garmin-Cervelo followed up with Tyler Farrar’s first Tour stage win. While the American squad’s first stages showed promise for the upcoming days, pre-race favorite Alberto Contador was already having bad luck. During stage 1 he was caught behind a crash which cost him valuable time. His Saxo Bank team lost another 28 seconds in the TTT. Stage 5 his luck took a turn for the better and he was second in a photo finish to BMC’s Cadel Evans.

As the stages were completed jersey contenders were being eliminated like characters in an Agatha Christie novel. Sky’s Bradley Wiggins crashed out in stage 7. Also pulling the plug on the Tour was Tom Boonen. He had crashed hard two days ago and finally the pain became too much, abandoning during the stage to Châteauroux. RadioShack’s Chris Horner also crashed hard. He remounted and finished the stage dazed and confused. It was later discovered that he was suffering from a concussion.

This past weekend the Tour entered the mountains. It was not expected that the big Norwegian would continue to hold onto the yellow jersey as the riders were facing four categorized climbs. Remarkably, Hushovd did just that, finishing with the same time as his closest rivals. The saying about the yellow jersey giving the wearer added strength seemed true. In another show of American strength at the Tour, Tejay Van Garderen, who had been out on a day long break, earned enough King of the Mountain points to take over the polka dot jersey. This was the first time an American had worn the climber’s jersey since Greg LeMond in 1986.

Stage 9 is destined to become a highlight reel for eternity. On the descent of the Pas de Peyrol several riders slid off the road or became involved in the crash in some manner. Evans required a wheel change and a push to get back in the action, but the most seriously hurt was Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov and Jurgen Van den Broeck of Lotto. Also forced to abandon with a broken wrist was Dave Zabriskie. However, the drama was far from completed.

Up the road the four man break continued to chug along. Suddenly a French television media car tried to squeeze by the quartet by riding on the grass along the road. But a roadside tree forced the driver to swerve back onto the road and sideswipe Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland. Both riders remounted with Flecha bruised and bloodied and Hoogerland torn up by landing in barbwire.

As the riders are “enjoying” their well deserved rest day, the yellow jersey is now on the back of popular Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.

Fortunately our Southeast riders have had a relatively safe Tour so far. George Hincapie has been often seen at the front of the peloton. Brent Bookwalter had a minor scare when he also crashed on the descent of the Pas de Peyrol. He smacked his head but has been able to continue.

We’ve been watching the action unfold with other cycling fans in TourChats. Carolina Cycling News sponsored the Stage 3 live chat and this week TotalCyclist Diva Camp is teaming up with us to sponsor the Stage 10 live chat on Tuesday at 8:00 AM Carolina time (EDT). You can join us every stage of the Tour de France right through to the finish in Paris. TourChats are like a virtual sports bar just for cycling where fans cheer, comment and generally enjoy being with a group of cycling fans in a virtual way. Each live chat starts at 8:00 AM and concludes when the live streaming coverage ends. During the live chat there are prizes and an on-going drinking game. Just because you’re not along the side of the road in France doesn’t mean you can’t experience some of the of the excitement. If you miss joining the live chat, you can check out the replay during the slow part of the race.

Week 2

Week 3 – Sponsored by The Sufferfest

  • Sun July 17 – Stage 15
  • Tue July 19 – Stage 16
  • Wed July 20 – Stage 17
  • Thu July 21 – Stage 18 – Sponsored by Warpia
  • Fri July 22 – Stage 19 – Sponsored by Carrie Cheadle, M.A., Sport & Exercise Mental Skills Coach
  • Sat July 23 – Stage 20 – Sponsored by @J_Tubb
  • Sun July 24 – Stage 21 – Sponsored by Pedal Chic

Additional prize sponsors: CytoMaxHandlebar Mustache Apparel and Handlebargains

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