Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France 2012, Stage 11

Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France 2012, Stage 11

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During the 1969 Tour de France, Felice Gimondi and Ray Poulidor were fined for taking a ride from a lorry up the Tourmalet. What about Merkcx? Well, he was towing the lorry.

Its an old joke, but like any good joke, it stays funny no matter how many times you hear it. I bet it’s even funnier if you know what a lorry is. I knew a girl named Lori once – wasn’t funny at all – though she would give a ride to anyone who asked, so I’m assuming that’s the joke.

Merckx decimated the 1969 Tour in a way we haven’t seen in ages. On July 15 of that year, The Prophet started the day with an almost unassailable lead of somewhere around 8 minutes. Not enough, obviously. So it was, then, that his rivals’ tails wagged at the sight of him flustering with his gears near the top of the Tourmalet. A mechanical, obviously, sure to cost him loads of time. In fact, he was just moving Sur La Plaque into my personal favorite gear for climbing – the 53×17. They wouldn’t see him again that day and four hours later, his solo effort would net him another 8 minutes’ lead.

If anyone at this Tour de France wants to beat Bradley Wiggins, they’re going to have to set aside the in-vogue last-mountain attack or start putting a lot more stock in poisn’d entrails, eyes of newt, and wool of bat. Unless their strategic plan involves deliberately crashing the entirety of Team Sky or having them all come down with a synchronized sniffle, they’re going to have to start riding their bikes hard from a lot farther out than the 5km banner.

Stage 11 is the test, even though Stage 10 is also a test and may already prove me right or wrong (it will be one of those, I’m sure of it). But Stage 11 sees the finish to La Toussuire where Floyd Landis cracked and lost a mountain of time before regaining it the next day and subsequently testing positive for beer-induced testosterone. Its not a very steep climb, but its hard enough to suck if you blow up. It won’t be hard enough to drop an in-form Wiggins, so Nibali and/or Evans will have to hit the road a lot sooner than the last climb if they’re going to start making inroads. And if my boy Fränkie Schleck wants a chance at the win, he should probably start the stage today.

It’s time to ride with the breath of a cannibal.

You know the drill: get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero for a chance to win a pair of fi'zi:k R3 road shoes and two pair of DeFeet socks.

// Velominati Super Prestige

  1. @frank

    FUCKING AWESOME STAGE!!!!

    Loved the mutal pat-on-the-back between Nibbles and Wiggo. Newfound respect between the two, and certainly from me.

    Me too, classy riders.

  2. My internet was coming and going – anyone have a better idea of what happened to Rolland to cause his crash? Kind of looking like he just cut it to short, didn’t swing out wide enough, then also hit a rough patch of road. And, what distance was it at?

  3. Allez Noel!

  4. @Erik

    Dear @Frank and all the keepers:

    Thanks for the all the work you do behind the scenes on this.  I think it is too easy to take the fact that this site exists for granted.

    Allez!

    Now, ignore my dispute because I don’t know how to score these stages right.  I’m a wanker.

    A+1 to that!  Well, not the wanker part, at least as far as I know.

  5. @Ron
    Rolland was riding perfectly and cornering aggressively. He only crashed because the Astana rider braked hard when he fucked his line and blocked the exit. Not a fast/hard crash really by pro standards.

  6. nice touch.

  7. do we have a Hinault – Lemod situation brewing in Team Sky…….  great stage, and good to see Wiggo and Nibali bury the hatchet ( hopefully!) at the finish line…

  8. @Gerard

    do we have a Hinault – Lemod situation brewing in Team Sky…….  great stage, and good to see Wiggo and Nibali bury the hatchet ( hopefully!) at the finish line…

    Race ON. Race OFF. Until next time — Race ON!

  9. Why oh why did Froome have to get pulled back?  I know he rides for team Sky, but I had him winning the stage, now I’m lamenting coming close on the VSP but not winning the shoes. 

    Seriously though, how long will he sit up and wait.  This year for sure, but I don’t know if he will  do it next year even if Sky makes him the leader for the Vuelta in the Spring.  I understand he is under contract for three years though.  How could he move if he wanted to?

  10. Thanks, Harminator. I did see it, but broken up. Ha, PROs do it all hard, even crashing. That’s still a great showing of mental toughness to jump back on the bike & chase.

    Pat on the back? I was kind of liking the one finger salute at the line stuff.

    Just back from my first proper ride in over two weeks. Amazing how fast you can feel out of shape, slow, and out of breath. Oh well. Still fun to be back on the bike & recall that just a short cruise can be damn fan. And also nice to jump back on your #1 and have it feel perfect, run smoothly, and handle nicely.

  11. @Harminator

    Frankie Schleck almost did the same thing to Evans as they approached the finish line.

    @motor city

    nice touch.

    Nice bit of class.

  12. @Buck Rogers

    Also bummed to see Roche come in over six minutes down and fall out of the top ten.

    Cyclingnews has a 2:28 video of Roche talking after the stage about his GC chances. Which seems like a lot of time.

  13. Yellow tape, eh? So maybe all of Wiggins’s bad fashion & hair choices have been a set-up in order to make the tape look a little less ugly?

    I like the added blue to the Leaky kit.

  14. @Steampunk Ouch, low blow Steamy!

  15. @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers

    Also bummed to see Roche come in over six minutes down and fall out of the top ten.

    Cyclingnews has a 2:28 video of Roche talking after the stage about his GC chances. Which seems like a lot of time.

    @Steampunk Thanks for the heads-up.  Just watched it.  Not sure why but I always root for Nic Roche.  Must be the French in me (not b/c he is half French but b/c he always comes up short).

  16. Looking at the way we’re distributing prizes has made the obvious more obvious that we shouldn’t give all the prizes to first place but spread them out.

    Since we already promised the shoes and socks to first place, we’ll stick to that but I’m also going to chuck in a V-Shirt as a prize to @huwge for getting second. It’s not a pair of shoes, but it will have to do.

    For the next Stage VSP, the shoes will go to first place, the socks to second place, and V-Shirt to third.

    We’ll also redistribute the prizes on the main Tour VSP.

    Cheers.

  17. @frank Excellent idea.  Any prizes for the Flamme Rouge?  I was TDY and completely spaced the original entry…

  18. @Buck Rogers

    @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers

    Also bummed to see Roche come in over six minutes down and fall out of the top ten.

    Cyclingnews has a 2:28 video of Roche talking after the stage about his GC chances. Which seems like a lot of time.

    @Steampunk Thanks for the heads-up.  Just watched it.  Not sure why but I always root for Nic Roche.  Must be the French in me (not b/c he is half French but b/c he always comes up short).

    Not sure how they can stretch Nico’s GC hopes to 2:28. It takes less than 5 seconds to say “I’m actually just an over-rated and over-paid journeyman”.

  19. @Bianchi Denti Nice!  You know it is sad when you really get excited for one of your favorite riders to hopefully finish in the top ten with no hope whatsoever that they’ll be top five, to say nothing about the podium!

  20. @Bianchi Denti & @Buck Rogers:

    I used to like Roche, too, but then made the mistake of reading his autobiography. It wasn’t very good, and I didn’t come away feeling more sympathetic toward him (quite the opposite, in fact). And then I got to wondering why he needed an autobiography anyway. Some thought about what it’s like growing up the son of a campionissimo and what it’s like to be racing in that shadow might have been interesting, but no such luck. None of that. Just a blow by blow account of his career.

    To get to 2:28, we could have brought in Farrar to talk about his GC prospects, too. And, maybe the entire Rabobank squad.

  21. Oh well. I wonder who else I should doom to be pack fodder next by picking them for the VSP.

  22. @frank

    Looking at the way we’re distributing prizes has made the obvious more obvious that we shouldn’t give all the prizes to first place but spread them out.

    Since we already promised the shoes and socks to first place, we’ll stick to that but I’m also going to chuck in a V-Shirt as a prize to @huwge for getting second. It’s not a pair of shoes, but it will have to do.

    For the next Stage VSP, the shoes will go to first place, the socks to second place, and V-Shirt to third.

    We’ll also redistribute the prizes on the main Tour VSP.

    Cheers.

    Good thinking @Frank.

    Maybe there should be a random prize as well for, oh say, 22nd?

  23. I like this! Distributed prizes, very cool.

    And, Steampunk it seems as if you have an informed opinion of why you don’t much care for Roche. I can accept that. Has anyone ever told you that bike racers aren’t necessarily that smartest guys around? Oh yeah, great on the bike, but I’ve been told they’re not that slick off it, for the most part. Maybe he could have done a better job with his book?

    I hope a “2:28″ t-shirt is in the works, with his time off the lead stamped on the back!

  24. And talkin’ about books & such. I read LeMan’s early book (Greg LeMan’s Total Cycling Book?) and am just watching the late 10km of the 1989 World Championship.

    LeMan made it seem so easy – I got a bike, I started riding it, I raced it, I headed to Europe. A shortened story or was LeMan really the Man and just had tons of natural talent? He really was quite the all-arounder.

  25. Oooh, Friday the 13th tomorrow!

  26. @frank Cheers Frank – rules is rules, but this made my day. Need to get my picks in earlier, but that most likely means I’ll be zero all the way to Paris. Huw

  27. @Ron

    Oooh, Friday the 13th tomorrow!

    Wut? Friday the thirteenth is nearly over down here buddy. better not be Friday tomorrow, if it is I’m chucking my esky out the ute and slapping the sprogs with me thong.

    Australian’s an interesting language.

  28. @minion Not nearly as interesting as Kiwi. A classic:

  29. they’ve just published wiggins’ latest blog on the guardian website addressing the doping questions. apologies for the length of this but I think its well worth a read:

    There have been a couple of questions asked about doping this week and I don’t feel I’ve been able to give a full answer. I understand why I get asked those questions given the recent history of the sport but it still annoys me. It’s hard to know what to say, half an hour after finishing one of the hardest races you’ve ridden, when you’re knackered. The insinuations make me angry, because I thought people would look back into my history, the things I’ve said in the past, such as at the start of the 2006 Tour when I turned up for a first go at the race and Operación Puerto kicked off, what I said when Floyd Landis went positive, and what I said when I was chucked out with Cofidis after Cristian Moreni tested positive in 2007.

    On the way home after that, I put my Cofidis kit in a dustbin at Pau airport because I didn’t want to be seen in it, and swore I would never race in it again, because I was so sick at what had happened. Those things I said then stand true today. Nothing has changed. I still feel those emotions and I stand by those statements now.

    To understand me, I think people need to look at the bigger picture, where I have come from, in the context of how the sport has changed, and how I’ve progressed. They see me put in a great time trial like I did on Monday: I can do it because I’ve worked hard to close the gap between me and Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin. What seems to be forgotten is that the margin between me and the best guys wasn’t that large in the past, even when I wasn’t putting in anything like the effort I have in the past couple of years.

    I do think that over the years I’ve laid down a few markers as to what I could do. I was fifth in the time trial in Albi in the 2007 Tour, behind Alexandr Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans and Andreas Klöden. The first two later tested positive for blood doping so I was effectively third, two weeks into the Tour, at a time when I wasn’t concentrating on the race.

    I had the engine already, and it showed that year when I won the prologues in the Dauphiné and the Four Days of Dunkirk. As early as 2005 I was seventh in the world time trial championships in Madrid: two of the riders in front of me, “Vino” and Kashechkin, were again, later, done for doping; a third, Rubén Plaza, was implicated in Operación Puerto. That year, I won a mountain stage in the Tour de l’Avenir.

    When I look back, we now have an idea of what was going on in the sport back then and it was a different era. Personally, I used to find it difficult. You’d be trying to negotiate a contract

    – say £50,000 – I had two kids to worry about, a livelihood to earn in the face of what was going on, and people beating me because they were doping. I had a chip on my shoulder as a result, and I wasn’t shy of saying what I thought about doping because it directly affected me and the lives of my family.

    Since then, drugs tests have begun to work better, the blood passport has come in, so it’s harder for people to dope. The chances of getting caught are far higher than they were. I do believe the sport is changing, if you look at what Ryder Hesjedal did at the Giro and what Chris Froome did at the Vuelta. As that change has happened, my performances have gone up, and at the same time I’ve begun to work far harder than I did before. I’m not claiming the sport is out of the woods but doping in the sport is less of a worry to me personally, it’s less at the forefront of my mind, because I’m no longer getting beaten by people who then go on and test positive or whatever. If there is a difference in my attitude now compared to back then, it’s that I’m more focused on what I am doing, I pay less attention to what’s going on outside my bubble because I’m not coming second to riders who dope.

    It affects me less, in terms of my worrying about it, but the important thing is that nothing has changed in how I stand morally. Nothing has changed about the reasons why I would never dope. In fact, the reasons why I would never use drugs have become more important. It comes down to my family, and the life I have built for myself and how I would feel about living with the possibility of getting caught. I wrote it all in my autobiography back in 2008 and I still feel the same now. It’s just I say it less. There is more attention on me, which makes me more withdrawn, and I don’t feel easy in a leader’s role, as [cycling author] Richard Moore correctly wrote in his book.

    The question that needs to be asked is not why wouldn’t I take drugs, but why would I? I know exactly why I wouldn’t dope. To start with, I come to professional road racing from a different background to a lot of guys. There is a different culture in British cycling. Britain is a country where doping is not morally acceptable. I was born in Belgium but I grew up in the British environment, with the Olympic side of the sport as well as the Tour de France. I don’t care what people say, the attitude to doping in the UK is different to in Italy or France maybe, where a rider like Richard Virenque can dope, be caught, be banned, come back and be a national hero.

    If I doped I would potentially stand to lose everything. It’s a long list. My reputation, my livelihood, my marriage, my family, my house. Everything I have achieved, my Olympic medals, my world titles, the CBE I was given. I would have to take my children to the school gates in a small Lancashire village with everyone looking at me, knowing I had cheated, knowing I had, perhaps, won the Tour de France, but then been caught. I remember in 2007 throwing that Cofidis kit in the bin at that small airport, where no one knew me, because I didn’t want any chance of being associated with doping. Then I imagine how it would be in a tiny community where everyone knows everyone.

    It’s not just about me. I’ve always lived in the UK. All my friends in cycling are here, and my extended family. Cycling isn’t just about me and the Tour de France. My wife organises races in Lancashire. I have my own sportif, with people coming and paying £40 each to ride. If all that was built on sand, if I was deceiving all those people, I would have to live with the knowledge it could all disappear just like that. My father-in-law works at British Cycling and would never be able to show his face there again. Their family have been in cycling for 50 years, and I would bring shame and embarrassment on them. It’s not just about me: if I doped it would jeopardise Sky

    – who sponsor the entire sport in the UK – Dave Brailsford and all he has done, and Tim Kerrison, my trainer. I would not want to end up sitting in a room with all that hanging on me, thinking: “Shit, I don’t want anyone to find out.”

    That is not something I wish to live with. Doping would simply be not worth it. This is only sport we are talking about. Sport does not mean more to me than all those other things I have. Winning the Tour de France at any cost is not worth the possibility of losing all that.

    I am not willing to risk all those things I’ve got in my life. I do it because I love it. I don’t do it for a power trip: at the end of the day, I’m a shy bloke looking forward to taking my son to summer rugby camp after the Tour, where he could maybe bump into his hero, Sam Tomkins. That’s what’s keeping me going here. What I love is doing my best and working hard. If I felt I had to take drugs, I would rather stop tomorrow, go and ride club 10-mile time trials, ride to the cafe on Sundays, and work in Tesco stacking shelves.

     

  30. Ahhh no, I meant to stick that last post in the main tour VSP thread.

    @keepers Feel free to move it over if you want. 

  31. @motor city

    thanks for that, that is an excellent piece

     

  32. @motor city Hmm.  Interesting.  That sounds sincere and I’ll choose to believe him, even though it is hard for me to turn off the overly-suspicious lawyer in me whispering, “the [man] doth protest too much, methinks.”

  33. @The Oracle

    Yes well if we’re quoting Shakespeare I could think of some good ones about lawyers too…

    Wiggins is saying exactly what I have been saying since it was first raised here – he gets the same stupid questions asked of him day after day when he’s barely crossed the finish line, and it isn’t like he has come from nowhere.

    He also made exactly the same point about his track performances – that you don’t win Olympic and World pursuit titles without having a higher-grade engine than most other people on the planet. He’s managed to retune that engine to the road, but it took five years.

    What’s he supposed to do FFS –  he is criticised for giving stock responses, he’s criticised for confronting it, and criticised for trying to be reasoned but passionate.

  34. @motor city Great piece.  Thanks for posting.  Loved Wiggos dig on Virenque.  I NEVER liked that dude and still do not. 

  35. @ChrisO Don’t worry, I’ve heard ’em all, buddy!

    All I was saying is that sometimes it’s hard to turn off the lawyer instincts when dealing with the “real world” (leaving aside the debate over whether the world of professional cycling is real or surreal, of course.)  I have no real reason to suspect that Wiggo’s anything but sincere.

    Wiggo’s actually gone up in my estimation over the course of the Tour, and his statement just furthers that.  It’s articulate and reasoned, but it also is backstopped by the filthy outburst a few days back.  I like a well-spoken guy who is also passionate and thinks deeply about what he’s doing.  I’m genuinely rooting for him.

     

  36. @Gerard

    do we have a Hinault – Lemod situation brewing in Team Sky…….  great stage, and good to see Wiggo and Nibali bury the hatchet ( hopefully!) at the finish line…

    We will if Wiggo is promising to work for Froome next year and doesn’t. So far, so good from what I can see.

    There’s a difference as well, I think, to being the leader and domestique. Froome has almost no pressure and we’ve seen loads of riders show promise under those circumstances only to crack when they become the leader. Not to say he would, but its one thing to race like he is when its not expected of him, and another when it is.

  37. @Ron

    Yellow tape, eh? So maybe all of Wiggins’s bad fashion & hair choices have been a set-up in order to make the tape look a little less ugly?

    He heard you. He rode black bars today.

  38. @niksch

    @frank Excellent idea.  Any prizes for the Flamme Rouge?  I was TDY and completely spaced the original entry…

    No, this isn’t kindergarten; not everyone gets a prize. The Flamme Rouge’s prize can be improving their score next time round.

    @Buck Rogers

    @Bianchi Denti Nice!  You know it is sad when you really get excited for one of your favorite riders to hopefully finish in the top ten with no hope whatsoever that they’ll be top five, to say nothing about the podium!

    You guys talk like you invented rooting for riders with no chance. Welcome to my world, man.

  39. @frank

    @Gerard

    do we have a Hinault – Lemod situation brewing in Team Sky…….  great stage, and good to see Wiggo and Nibali bury the hatchet ( hopefully!) at the finish line…

    We will if Wiggo is promising to work for Froome next year and doesn’t. So far, so good from what I can see.

    There’s a difference as well, I think, to being the leader and domestique. Froome has almost no pressure and we’ve seen loads of riders show promise under those circumstances only to crack when they become the leader. Not to say he would, but its one thing to race like he is when its not expected of him, and another when it is.

    very true, for all Froome’s great form and climbing prowess, I could potentially see him cracking a bit under pressure, whereas I think Wiggo is a bit more measured – good to see him chase down in the stage today – and great win by Millar!

  40. @motor city

    nice touch.

    knee over the top bar.  1) pro 2) classy.  When I grow up, I want to ride like this

  41. @minion

    @Ron

    Oooh, Friday the 13th tomorrow!

    Wut? Friday the thirteenth is nearly over down here buddy. better not be Friday tomorrow, if it is I’m chucking my esky out the ute and slapping the sprogs with me thong.

    Australian’s an interesting language.

    Really, what the fuck did you just say?  I’m not smart enough to figure it out.

  42. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    I’ve seriously got no idea. Most people round here sound like lunatics to me to be frank.

  43. Sweet!!  I’ve been on electro blackout, but thanks to the time warpage of the DVR, I just finished watching the stage.  A fantastic stage made unbelievable by the massive haul of loot.  Thanks @Frank and all the keepers for all the hard work.  VSP is even more fun when you win!!

  44. @motor city

    that is an awesome response. I like Wiggles, in the same way I like Cuddles, and that response has improved his standing in my eyes massively. Sure, the GC race was done days ago, but I think the reason I like it is it’s a 100% about face from the type of Contador/Armstrong comment, made at the time interest in what he has to say is peaking.

  45. @minion You can’t be frank.  You’re minion.

  46. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @minion You can’t be frank.  You’re minion.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0A5t5_O8hdA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

  47. Damn.  I really suck at adding YouTube vids.

  48. @Jeff in PetroMetro It worked and was spot on, mate!

  49. LOL :-D

  50. Never mind the lorry, is that the Terminator following Merkcx on a motorbike?

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