Stage 2: Bigs Come Out to Play

6 Jul

Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France ended with some serious bike racing among the favorites and a favorite sprinter, Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Surprisingly difficult for such an early stage with 9 categorized climbs and 12,000 feet of ascent, Stage 2 offered a chance for a favorite to gain or lose time.

When Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) jumped with his attack from the back, none of the other GC contenders followed. Possibly because they didn’t want to haul Sagan to the finish only to have him out-sprint them for the win and possibly because it is only Stage 2 and way too early to burn many matches.

Besides when it was all said and done Nibali’s lead is a mere two seconds on his GC rivals, still it was a great bit of racing by Nibali who has had a disappointing spring. Today’s stage win, his first, will be a confidence booster.

I continue to be amazed by the huge throngs of people lining the course during these first two stages. Reportedly England is putting up the largest number of fans to ever watch the Tour and thus most likely any bike race. Huge crowds everywhere and narrow roads make for a jittery peloton, but beautiful scenes. Stage 3 is the last stage in England, starting in Cambridge and finishing in London.

These photos are from Getty Images:



6 Jul

Welcome to the new look for For the Love of Bikes blog!

If there was a sarcasm font, the previous statement would be written in it – bolded and in all caps.

I made the mistake of following the prompt to update my theme, Woo’s Bueno, which I’ve used here for years. Loved that theme and really I was quite fond of the look of my blog. It had taken years to get it the way I wanted, but I had numerous sidebars with a variety of information plus excerpts and photos of bike tour trips, as well as numerous popular posts, blogs I follow, and more.

All gone.

So, please bear with me while I try to get FTLOB up and running, then hopefully back to some likeness of its former self. Sigh.



2014 Tour de France – Stage 1

6 Jul

Would you believe me if I told you there wasn’t a single crash on the opening stage? Didn’t think so. Of course there were crashes!

Just ask sprinter and Brit, Mark Cavendish.

The script was written: Begin the Tour de France in England, have possibly the largest crowds ever watching and cheering it all, make the finish in Cavendish’s Mum’s hometown and have Cavendish win and take the yellow jersey, his first ever. The royals were there, his family and fellow countrymen all there to witness Cavendish’s dream come true.

What transpired was Cavendish’s worst nightmare. Not initially though. His team had provided him with the perfect lead out, delivering him near the finish, near the front.

All sprints are hotly contested with riders jockeying for position, but especially sprints in opening stages when a win results in the yellow jersey. Cavendish was to the outside of nemesis Marcel Kittel and to the inside of Simon Gerrans when Cavendish tried to headbutt Gerrans out of his way. They both ended up going down, clearly Cavendish’s fault and Kittel and Peter Sagan raced for the win. Kittel won, taking the yellow  jersey, which most had expected Cavendish to take, just like last year.

Unlike last year, this one was Cavendish’s own doing.


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Tour Time

5 Jul

The 2014 Tour de France has arrived welcoming in the month of July like it has for over 100 years.

For me personally, I’ve only been following the Tour since the likes of Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong raced it. Back then it wasn’t easy to follow the Tour even though Americans were competing and winning.

Now it is incredibly easy to watch the Tour. There are hours and hours of live televised coverage available and even more written coverage, commentary and analysis of each day’s stage plus all the inherent behind-the-scenes talk and speculation about the riders and the race.

High drama.

For the last 4 years I’ve written my own daily analysis of the Tour: the 2010 comeback Tour for Armstrong, the incredibly exciting 2011 Tour, the incredibly dull 2012 Tour and the disappointing but less dull 2013 Tour.

Although I hadn’t planned to blog on the 2014 Tour de France, here I am.