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Once I hit 3000 posts I may retire?

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Postby StlSluggers » Tue Jul 26, 2005 12:15 am

...hitting our stride at 3,000 posts!

;-) :-D B-)
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Postby Madison » Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:25 am

Rirruto wrote:Hey Mercer Boy, I dont know squat about cycling, just understand the basics I guess. What's with the teams in cycling?


That's when I quit paying attention this year. Maybe it's just my lack of understanding the sport, but when they got to talking about Lance's team letting him down and he lost ground due to the team screwing up, I quit paying attention. Sounds more like a chess match than who can cover the course in the fastest amount of time. If the race is not about who can do it the fastest (and from the sound of it, it isn't), then I didn't care to follow it at all.

Maybe Mercer can shed some light on this though. :-)
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Postby Mercer Boy » Tue Jul 26, 2005 2:15 am

Madison wrote:
Rirruto wrote:Hey Mercer Boy, I dont know squat about cycling, just understand the basics I guess. What's with the teams in cycling?


That's when I quit paying attention this year. Maybe it's just my lack of understanding the sport, but when they got to talking about Lance's team letting him down and he lost ground due to the team screwing up, I quit paying attention. Sounds more like a chess match than who can cover the course in the fastest amount of time. If the race is not about who can do it the fastest (and from the sound of it, it isn't), then I didn't care to follow it at all.

Maybe Mercer can shed some light on this though. :-)


This is going to be a lot of info...and you might not get it all at once. :-/

Yeah, the teams are basically set up for one thing - to have their best rider win the general classification (meaning the fastest overall time). Only about 5-10% of the total riders have a chance to win because the other riders simply aren't good enough to stay with the best mountain climbers/time trial guys. The riders that are the best at those phases are the people that win Tours.

Mainly, the teammates' (called "domestiques") job is this - to pace the pack of riders when the mountains start. They basically act as rabbits - raising the pace and tempo of the climbs to break off weaker riders.

Lance's team did quite poorly in one of the first mountain stages. All of his teammates dropped off early in the hard climb, so Lance had to fight off any attacks from other riders by himself. That can be hard if someone has a great day and gets way ahead of everyone else. Luckily, no one broke away from Lance that day - but it could have been a disaster if Lance had a bad ride and someone else had an amazing one. Normally you want to have at least 2 of your teammates to help you up the mountains.

I guess it could sound like they are riding the race for their team leader, but having teammates there help you to go faster because they help you raise your own pace.

Teammates are also needed on flat stages. If a rider in a breakaway group who could win the Tour gets too far ahead, they must go to the front of the main pack (called the "peloton") to help gain the time back. The peloton can go very fast in a group because they become a giant draft, and everyone takes turns at the front breaking the wind.

Breakaways routinely get 8-10+ minutes ahead of the peloton. The peloton takes it pretty easy for about 3/4 of the race, and at that point the riders will go to the front to bring them back. Normally by the end of a flat stage, the peloton catches the breakaway riders because the speed of 160 riders becomes much greater than that of 3 or 4. !+)

As far as getting money - I'm not exactly sure, but I think they normally split all the wins of the team members at the end of the Tour and divide it equally among each other. There is also a prize for the team that finishes in the fastest overall aggregate time. Team CSC (the team of 2nd place rider Ivan Basso) won the overall team standings this year. Lance's team was 4th I think.

Lance can ride whatever races he wants. His main focus is to win the Tour, though. He basically does what Tiger Woods does; he only goes to the big one-day races and the "major" of the sport. Tiger saves himself for the majors and only does the tournies he has to do for sponsors. :-)

There are actually two other "Grand Tours" - the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. There are only a few riders these days that do them all. Actually, Ivan Basso did the Giro, and a lot of people said he shouldn't have. They thought that it could have weakened him for the Tour de France. They are only about a month apart. It's like running two major marathons in a short period of time. Not many serious marathoners do more than 3-4 a year because they will just be too tired to do well in them all. So, whoever is saying that Lance is not good because he doesn't do a bunch of races is uninformed in my opinion. ;-)

Well, I hope that helped answer some questions. You can ask more if you'd like. Note that I am not a cyclist nor do I follow the sport THAT intently...I just know the Tour and the basics of what they do. ;-D
Last edited by Mercer Boy on Tue Jul 26, 2005 2:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Invictus » Tue Jul 26, 2005 2:20 am

I feel so much more educated. im serious man! excellent job. Too bad i didn't understand any of this before Lance retired - i would have appreciated watching his runs more probably. :-? ;-D
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Postby Madison » Tue Jul 26, 2005 2:49 am

Nice post Mercer and thanks! ;-D

Guess it's probably just me, but I'd like to see just the guys that have a shot at winning it all compete. Get rid of the other guys and just let the cream of the crop ride it out and see who can do it in the shortest amount of time. Sounds a lot like the "team" part of riding is "defense", and in a timed race, there really shouldn't be any "defense" in my opinion (which is still at rookie status when it comes to racing :-D).

Thanks again for the info though! ;-D Learned some and I appreciate it. ;-D
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Postby Mercer Boy » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:20 am

Madison wrote:Nice post Mercer and thanks! ;-D

Guess it's probably just me, but I'd like to see just the guys that have a shot at winning it all compete. Get rid of the other guys and just let the cream of the crop ride it out and see who can do it in the shortest amount of time. Sounds a lot like the "team" part of riding is "defense", and in a timed race, there really shouldn't be any "defense" in my opinion (which is still at rookie status when it comes to racing :-D).

Thanks again for the info though! ;-D Learned some and I appreciate it. ;-D


Might as well describe some other parts of the race! :-D

Well, it's not just the best overall time that wins stuff. ;-) There are other prizes that riders fight for as well.

There is a "Green Jersey" given out to the best sprint rider in the Tour. During every stage, there are intermediate sprints along the way that riders can compete in to get sprinter's points. Whoever crosses the line first gets 6 points, then 4 and 2. Much of the time, these points are taken by riders in a breakaway. Sprinters often go in the breakaways to get these points.

Basically on any flat stage, there is going to be a bunch sprint at the end of the stage because breakaways rarely work. At the final finish line, there are sprinter's points given out to the top 20 finishers. The guys that can accelerate the fastest over a short distance are led out by their teammates in order to create a slipstream for them to come out of at the last possible second. Those final sprints are pretty fun to watch also! ;-D

These sprinters are not good at climbing, so they finish many hours behind the overall leader. But, as long as they finish the Tour under the time limit, they can win the green jersey. This year, the sprinter's title was won by a man named Thor Hushovd. At the same time that Armstrong was starting to win his Tour titles, there was another guy who was winning the green jersey multiple times. His name was Erik Zabel. I believe he won the green jersey six times in a row. That's pretty amazing that he was the best sprinter that many times. 8-o

There is also the "Polka-Dot Jersey" which you may have seen. This is given to the rider who is deemed the "King of the Mountains." There are mountain points given at the top of each of the categorized climbs during the Tour. The man who accumulates the most climbing points is given this jersey. In order to win this prize, someone has to go out by himself on a day where there are a ton of medium/large sized mountains and get all the maximum points for the climbs. He will also stay with the top overall riders and make a fast acceleration at the very top of a mountain in order to get the top points.

These guys are unbelievable climbers, but since they are generally terrible individual time trialists, they have little chance to win the Tour. Those type of guys normally win the polka-dot jersey. This year, the winner was Michael Rasmussen from Denmark. Before him, a Frenchman named Richard Virenque won the King of the Mountains title five straight years and seven in total - the most all time. 8-o

There is also a "White Jersey" given to the best young rider in the Tour. You have to be 25 years old or younger to win it. Whoever has the best overall time out of these riders gets the white jersey. One of Lance Armstrong's teammates, Yaroslav Popovitch, won the white jersey. He could end up being the top rider for Discovery Channel if they don't bring someone else in. ;-D

So you see...it's not just the top riders that compete for prizes. There are other guys that ride to win the other awards.

In a nutshell, the race in total is a lot of fun to keep track of. If you want to casually watch the Tour, you can easily catch the best and most important parts if you watch the stages on the weekends and normally the 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays of the Tour. Those are the days when the big mountains show up and when the best fights are waged. I myself don't always watch every stage...but I'm always glued to the set when I see that there is a day with 3 or 4 huge climbs. That's when the action happens. ;-D
Last edited by Mercer Boy on Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Invictus » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:25 am

*begins taking notes for his fantasy cycling teams* --- is there fantasy cycling?
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Postby Mercer Boy » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:35 am

Invictus wrote:*begins taking notes for his fantasy cycling teams* --- is there fantasy cycling?


I wouldn't doubt that there is in Europe... ;-D

It might be pretty fun to predict or pick who you think will win those one-day races, the 7 day mini-tours, and the three major Tours. :-?
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Postby Madison » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:40 am

So lots of little races inside the big race? That's pretty cool, and I had no idea about those (see what a cycling newb I am? :-D ). Again, I learned something, and I thank you Mercer! ;-D Maybe I'll have to tune in next year and give it a fair shake. :-)


I still think they should just take the guys who can win, let them run the race with no team, no help, and see what happens though. O:-)
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Postby Mercer Boy » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:53 am

Yeah...I see your point Mad. I would think that during a one-day race that the riders are on their own, but during the big Tours, it's a different story. :-/

It will be harder for "newbies" to get into the race next year with Armstrong gone, but let me tell you - I think it will be a very, very, very exciting Tour. B-) Now that Lance is gone, all those other guys who were almost as good as him can now fight it out against each other. I mean, I really have no idea who will win!

Like I said, most of the stages are pretty boring, and you wouldn't want to watch all 2-3 hours of coverage because it's mainly just watching 160 guys all riding together. :-P The last 30 minutes of each flat stage are pretty interesting, and any day where there are huge mountains involved can be cool because of the tactics involved.
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