The world is indeed full of plenty of hard men, but few heroes. Following his stage 13 effort up and over the Col d'Aubisque and his surprise win in Lourdes, Thor Hushovd easily qualifies for a slot in each category.
I mean really, is there any man in the Tour today who would/could qualify as being harder than 40 year old Jen Voigt? One of the daily doses of TdF barmy that a handful of us journos were passing around in France last week was the need for a gray jersey - for the highest place old guy. After his heroic effort on stage 12 when he pulled the Leopard team up and over one mountain and then up some more, I mean really, who else but Jens Voigt?!
AS FOR ANOTHER CELEBRATED HARD MAN...
One of the better post-dinner fetes I enjoyed was when RBA's Euro
correspondent & historian Tim Maloney and I were just finishing our
espressos when who else but former 7-Eleven/Motorola racer, Team Discovery DS, and now
Team Sky DS Sean Yates
came out to watch the sliver of moon disappear behind the sea of
sailboat masts that lined the horizon outside the Best Western Le Roof
Tim called Yates over and the two proceeded to spin one yarn after
another about all things British cycling. At times Maloney seemed to know more of the intricate details of UK cycling than Yates
himself - such are the ways of a cycling fanatic. On and on it went until the moon was on high and the waiters were turning down the lights. So many great stories! I have to say just having the opportunity to sit in the presence of
veritable icon of Euro road racing was an awesome experience.
The lanky Sean Yates offers up some sage advice at the stage two TTT.
Later in the week I caught up with Bob Roll and as I was taking down
notes from him for RBA's upcoming Tour coverage in the mag, I asked him
about his own opinion on Yates.
"I rode with him at 7-Eleven and Motorola from 1988 – 1991. Sean was
always bonkers for the bike. He loved riding and still does. That dude
was so strong and he was full of such delightful eccentricities which
were never fully subsumed by the rigors of the sport. Yates was not
about having elegant meals with the beautiful people. After he quit he
was a yard man, he did hedge work for the high and mighty...like if there
was a English equivalent of a Mexican in America. If Monty Python had a
bike team, Sean Yates would be the team leader!"
Here's the Sky Pinarello that Yates currently rides - note the 32 spoke "Classics" wheelset.
Yates may be an old guy, but he still runs the full pro slammed & laid out positioning with a 150 mm stem.
Sean was still running a 32 rear cog that was leftover from the recon rides they did at the Giro d'Italia. Yep, that's a hard to find carbon Shimano/Yumaya derailleur sideplate he's running on his Di2 derailleur.
Here's a little snappy I took of the ever cool Sean Yates in Solvang back in 2004 when he was working with Team Discovery Channel.
Just by chance, both Pinarello sponsored squads (Sky and Movistar) were staying at the same Best Western hotel and the collection of team cars, trucks and buses filled the parking lot.
The Sky bike truck had one of the nicer set-up with a fully enclosed indoor workshop.
Two sides of a similar coin...bike # 114 is Edvald Boasson Hagen's bike and # 117 is Geraint Thomas' rig. Shimano, ProLogo, Elite, SRM and Deda are the bike equipment sponsors.
After the bikes are washed and gone over, they get loaded on the roof racks and transported to the start. These are the back-up bikes since there are no number plates mounted.
JUST A QUICK YELLOW JERSEY PROMO
is happy to gloat about their main man Thomas Voeckler.
AS FOR THE OTHER HARD MEN AT THE TOUR....
No, this wasn't a trio of French moto tourists, but official Tour de France camera men headed out for another full day in the saddle. This is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world.
On their way to the start, this camera man takes some time to check his messages. Friendly looking pilot eh?
Here's another example of doing some multi-taqsking. How about the beater Triumph?
Another friendly glare from the pilot. Two days later these same guys were doing the same thing in a driving rain storm - again, one of the hardest jobs imaginable.
TAKE ONE FOR THE KIDS...
Thor Hushovd is just one of many riders supporting the "I Ride For Kids" effort. The site was set-up by Oakley's man in the TdF trenches Steve Blick.
One year ago, July 13th, 2010, Steve and Jennifer Blick's four year old son Tyler was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL /Pre B, a type of blood cancer that forced them to make some pretty quick tough decisions. After his diagnosis, they were quickly bombarded with many resources, but it became almost impossible to choose, or trust, the right ones. Steve notes, "It wasn’t until making a phone call to help another family in our shoes that we really felt the need for a place like this to go to."
Steve and Jennifer Blick explain, "I Ride For The Kids"
is not a charity and there isn’t anything being sold. It’s our way of 'giving back' to other families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis, and we wanted to share our story and resources that have helped us the past year." They state that the website itself is still in its infancy, but the powerful resources and tools are what they’re hoping to spread to other families who have unfortunately been placed in the same situation as theirs.
"You know, this site isn’t about one child...it isn’t even about cancer; it's about our family giving a boost of encouragement and information to other parents who are supporting their child through a hard time", said Steve.
"We like to think of the website this way...One day your family is happily living life, your kids have just constructed a huge rocket ship out of Legos and then someone comes along and drops it on the tile floor. To say the least, it’s a disaster. From there you have to find a way to reorganize and get everything put back together. This was our situation a year ago, but with I Ride For Kids
we hope to help other families locate some instructions on how to put things back together.”
The Blicks’ final words for families in their situation are words that have helped them through their times of darkness, “It is half in your head, half in your heart….keep your head straight and your heart will follow”
RIDE FOR THE KIDS
Doctor Spencer I Presume?
Hey, look who I ran into at the start of stage four in the fair city of Lorient - Jeff Spencer
. After his eight tours of duty as a team doc for the Postal/Discovery/Astana squads, Jeff was called back into action by Johan Bruyneel to work his magic for RadioShack. And wow was it ever needed this year. I'm working on a follow-up with Jeff, but until then, czech out the video he made in the days before he headed over...
BTW, do you know how to play the guitar?