Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tour de France: Stage 16

The miles of campers parked alongside the road, the insane fans, the restaurant at the top of the pass, and the treeless landscape ... it can only be one place: the Tourmalet! Along with Alpe D'Huez, the Tourmalet is one of the greatest climbs of the tour to watch. And the best thing about it this year is that we get to see it twice. After the rest day tomorrow, the riders head back up the opposite side. Can't wait.

With all the amazing climbs in Stage 16 though, what I ended up remembering the most were those long, treacherous, and thrilling descents. Everything must seem like a blur to the riders as they barrel down the mountains at 60+ mph, the subject of my abstract painting for the evening...

As for the race itself -- yet again we saw some dramatic stories etched into Tour history, both on the road and off.

On the road ... What a thrill it was to see Lance Armstrong in the breakaway! That fast-pedaling cadence of his brought back many memories. Even though the day didn't end as he had hoped, seeing Lance battle it out one last time was a real treat to watch.

And off the road ... I just read the translation of Alberto Contador's YouTube apology/explanation, which I thought was very nice. I'm sure it won't change things on the course. Schleck will still be out for revenge, as he should -- that's what makes a great bike race! But Contador's video was a very human moment, and it really showed the difficult split-second decision he had to make. Nicely done.

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