Zap’s (not a) Tour de France Blog:

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Jawing it up with (l-r) Todd “Go-Go” Gogulski and Bob “Bobke” Roll as we awaited the riders at stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de France.

Let me blunt – the Tour de France is the most fantastic, scintillating, thrilling, awe inspiring, toughest sporting event that the world as ever known. And it has been so for all 99 previous runs since the very first in 1903.

For the 2013 running, not only do we have six arduous mountain stages with four mountain top finishes (including two laps on Alpe d’Huez) to stand back and watch in amazement, but we will also be witness to the first-ever nighttime finish on the Champs Elysees as well as the expected brawl between Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. Bring it!

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM RBA

* Just as we we’ve done in past years, we plan to bring as much of the Tour to you as possible. To begin with we have created a special Tour de France page that can act as your one stop shop for all the most relevant race info you’ll need to stay on top of race. As in years past, I’ll be making my annual first week foray to capture all the mood swings and new tech that I can possibly burn into my photo card. The first week is always the craziest what with nerves still raw, expectations still high, and so many freshly built bikes getting the once and twice over.

With the prospect of many late nights spent typing in some random French hotel room, I’ll be staying alive and inspired with the YouTube music channel (especially since Pandora is de-functioned abroad) and I’ll kick it off right here with The Sonics.

 Unlike any previous year however, I will be pulling a second stint at the Tour just seven days after I get back from the first. Can you say jet lag?! Not only will I be able to stand curbside for the first-ever nighttime finish on the Champs Elysees, but I’ll be doing so following a three or four day bike ride from Switzerland (I think) that Specialized has put together for a select few race fans. Even as I’m packing for Tour stint # 1, I still have no information about the ride other than I change planes in Paris and then head to Geneva. I wonder if there’s any good Mex on the route?

* When it comes to the facts and figures of the Tour de France (or bike racing and history in general), few people can match the knowledge of RBA’s European Editor Tim Maloney. Tim will once again by my partner on the road and he too will be posting all the inside news that’s fit to print with his Racy Language columns.

* Happily, I can report that once again we have secured Bob Roll’s enthusiasm for providing us with as many race reviews as both his and my cell coverage will permit. Each year we say it will be a daily occurrence, and each year I think we hit about a 75% completion rate. Given the time difference, his harried schedule and inconsistent phone service, I’ve had the pleasure of taking Bobke’s reports while sleeping, in the middle of meetings, and while driving on the freeway. The bottom line? No one breaks-down the Tour de France better than Bob Roll. I can’t guarantee its timeliness or consistency, but the way I look at it, having some Bobke is always better than no Bobke at all. Bobke’s Tour de France Slam Dance.

* Also joining us this year will be a former 7-Eleven teammate of Bobke’s in the shape of Chris Carmichael and his CTS staff of coaches. Few people have a better understanding of the physical regime necessary to ride start and finish a Grand Tour and Chris will be offering you a weekly  analysis of what the riders are enduring through his expert eye.

* Though not competing in the Tour proper,  on July 7 our own Neil Shirley will be competing with 13,449 other fanatics who will be tackling the stage 20 Annecy to Semonz route in the annual E’Tape du Tour sportiv race. Keep an eye for “Real Deal” Neil’s race reports as he tries to plant an American flag atop of the podium after a truly tough day of riding, one that will include about 10,000 feet of climbing.

* In addition to the aforementioned RBA brain trust, the RBA site is also the place to go to find daily stage previews, videos and race results. Additionally, we will be posting, posting, and posting on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

* Last but not least, in maintaining our legacy as the (one) magazine where the giving never stops, I am inviting you to pay attention to the web site and Facebook page for a variety of RBA schwag contests. We have some cool and limited schwag to hand out this year…like RBA’s Felpe Friday where we will be doling out a very limited edition Road Bike Action sweatshirt (or felpe in Italian) to the winner of that day’s contest.

So, that’s about all we have to offer for now. We look forward to another great race – the three weeks of the year that defines the racing world. If you have any questions or comments, let us know what you’re thinking along the way.

Road Bike Action Tour de France

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