No More Giro

And that’s the end of the Giro for 2013, really enjoyed the coverage offered by Carlton Kirby and Daniel Lloyd, hope to hear their voices again soon.

Congratulations to Mark Cavendish on an incredible Giro! Woohoo! 

Now, to catch up on our Belgian beer drinking, we will turn to TiVo for our Tour of Belgium catch up sessions. Stay tuned for a fun diversion from all this pro road cycling…

All Cavendish all the time

Well, perhaps not alllll the time, but we’re so chuffed that Cavendish has cleaned up on the Giro d’Italia so far. Well done! Most of the time our own Cavendish is sound asleep on the couch but when he hears the tv screaming his name he becomes quite animated. We’re finding ourselves developing new GC favorites, Cadel is doing nicely, Niboli should learn how to smile to prove he’s not just an automaton. The field is full of unfamiliar names. But the BIG highlight of this year’s Giro has to be the announcers on BeIn Sport….Daniel Lloyd and Carlton Kirby are terrific! Funny, wry, informative, great rapport with each other. Once we got them to turn up their mics and turn down the motorcycle roar we find ourselves getting more used to their soft spoken British ways….and we love it! I’ll have another pint on that, mate.

It does seem that the pressure was too much for Bradley Wiggins, tough luck. Hard to not perform well with all eyes turned your way. (not that we’d know anything about that…but we surmise). It will be interesting to see what happens to Sky come the Tour. Mark Cavendish proves time and again that he is the most generous cyclist on the road, never fails to credit his team mates. Cheers to you Cav. 

We’re not quite through the Giro, but it has been entertaining with truly horrible weather, some lovely scenery of some very out of the way places. Hard to know what to drink along with images of Alpine mountains and rolling fields planted with grapes. ice wine maybe?

Tour de California

Tour de California – Stage Five

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the startling absence of stunning scenery–it is California, after all–maybe there just isn’t anyone in the field with any panache, but this 2013 Amgen Tour of California has been a hard one to stay geared up for. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they brutalized the riders by making them climb a mountain in 111 degree heat, or ride through the dust and road trash of one of California’s ugliest places. At least the tv viewing audience around the world couldn’t see the shame that is the trash filled desert. I doubt the riders are happy being trimmed down and sand blasted the first two days with heat and sand.

Mind, it’s not over yet. Kudos to Phil Liggett for acknowledging that the podium girls have names! Joanna and Alison. Nice one, Phil. Put a name to a beautiful woman and suddenly she’s not so pincheable is she….

And then, just as we were about to suggestion fast forwarding to the finish line on Stage 5, there goes Jens Vogt! And we’re out of our chairs yelling at the tv cheering him on. Nicely done, Jens!

Oh and in all that we did get the message that we’re supposed to think Peter Sagan is a nice guy. OK, open mind, shut mouth, wait and see.

Giro d’Italia #1 hmmm or rather #3

Well, whew, after last minute, or more post-minute scrambling we found coverage of the Giro on beIN network…never heard of it before but, ok, we’ll check it out. No thanks to Universal for neglecting to fess up that they didn’t get the coverage contract. Can there be a silver lining to the pink jersey? We’ll see. We, sadly, missed Cavendish winning a stage…but we’ll move forward with the viewing hoping to see more of him.

Or we would except that it is nearly impossible to hear what the announcers are saying….dudes! the ‘background’ grinding of the motorcycles or helicopters is supposed to be….hello…..just that….BACKGROUND. What we can glean seems like the guys, still can’t catch their names, are pretty funny in their own Brit ways…chatty, informative…just turn off the fucking noise will you please???

And, well, it’s Italy. So the scenery is, well, Italian…hillsides dotted with stucco and tile villas, narrow roads, not too many fans along the roads but those who are there are adamant.

It is great to have a third access of coverage of cycling…Universal, NBCSports and now BEIN…not bad, more races than we’ve ever had before, doesn’t make us complacent, mind, we still want excellence, but we’re researching Italian wines and will be in touch shortly with appropriate advice for the future stages dining experience.

Who won Stage 3? Check in yourself and find out.

La Fleche Wallonne

More Belgian countryside, and nice to see Andy Schleck smiling. Sorry not to be seeing Frank racing yet, out on suspension for an unintentional drug ingestion. So how does that work? Note to riders, don’t take water bottles from anyone but your team crew. Anyway, noticing, over a nice Leffe Blonde – definitely the beer to start with– that most Ardennes villages have new construction, meaning post WWII 1945, with now and again a skeleton of a medieval church or abbey. 

Moving on to dessert beers (who knew?) we love the framboise but certainly Krek cherry beer is the famous one. If the races continue to be boring we may have to start talking about the exotic Belgian beer making techniques unmatched anywhere else in the world. 

Uphill finnish up the Huy, rooting for Phillip Gilbert but….oh well…who? Doesn’t matter, at least they beat Peter Sagan. 

Now here’s the real point of this coverage….women ride bikes? Who knew? Congratulations to Marianne Vos who apparently wins this one all the time, but even now we only get to see her cross the finish line…it’s a complete aside…perhaps we could at least have a small version of the race? The truth is, men don’t care about women racing bikes, and who runs the sports networks? yeah… hey, cycle-girls, you should BOYcott…girlcott?  whatever….

 

Beer it is!

(Spoiler alert)…

Liege Baston Liege….up and down and around in the Ardenne looking like winter has only just left the region. All the more reason to start and finish the day with a nice dark beer. We started out with Belgian beers, of course, since Phillip Gilbert was slated to take it…instead he just got to wave to his parent’s house and Dan Martin crossed the finish line (why must you dilly dally at the very end?) to, I’m sure, endless bottoms up toasts back in Ireland. Guinness it is!

Steve Schlanger and Paul Sherwin navigated the race for us. Ahem Steve, we didn’t need to know that Dan Martin couldn’t win the next race we get to watch because he fell. That would be La Fleche Wallone, which was aired over the last weekend, BUT WE DON’T GET TO SEE IT UNTIL THURSDAY. SUCKY, GUYS AT NBCSPORTS. Come on, just because you have never watched a bike race doesn’t mean you can’t figure out that one wants to watch them IN ORDER! Sheesh.

Anyway, Slainté, Dan Martin.

 

They’re Back….Hooray for Phil and Paul!

Sigh…I mean seriously…sigh….Phil and Paul are back! Hooray! The excitement increased exponetially as a result (sorry Steve and Todd…maybe it’s the venues…) but we’re back in France and we’ve got the best commentators going, hands down, no one can beat the reportage of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin on NBCSorts, welcome back guys!

I’d make more comments about the Tour of the Basque country but truthfully I’m going to have to force myself to finish watching it. What’s with the motorcycle/helo background noise? It’s like listening to a baseball game being called in a dentist’s office. Switch to NBCSports and notice the absense of annoying vehicle sound? ahhhhh. thank you French TV god.

Speaking of suitcases of courage (valises de courage?), Fabian Cancellara is looking great at least mid race – kb Fabian, kb.

Wine pairing advice for the race – obviously a sauvignon blanc, give youself a sense of the dry, dusty, cold riding conditions…maybe a Sancerre, no, I think stick with sauvignon blanc.

Tut Tut Peter Butt

sagan2OK, Peter Sagan, that is just about enough out of you. Not only do you disrespect the women around you but you disrespect the guy who won the race and deserved his moment on the podium. Shame on you Sagan. We knew you were a joker and a jerk last year, stuff a sock in it. Women, it’s time we show the guys we’re sick of this.

 

Tour of Basque Country

Tour of the Basque Country

Episode 1

 

Should you be wondering what I do during the long sessions of seemingly endless peloton rounds around the countryside, I’ll confess that it is entertaining trying to decide what the hell is the deal with AG2R’s bike shorts. Are they like Lululemon’s yoga pants? Crystal clear? Who knows, it sure looks like we get moon cracks, is there a seam in those pants? WTF? Even Phil Liggett once commented that AG2Rs choice of team uniform was a rather strange presentation. Ah well, we’re still awfully interested in the results….afterall, what else is there to do?

 

            For one thing we might watch Alberto Contador, but, clear lense yellow glasses aside, aren’t we all over AC? Still waiting for him to prove he can do it without drugs.

Meanwhile, Team Sky seems to offer a leader no matter what race they are in, and it’s never the same guy so there’s going to be one hell of an arm wrestling match come the Tour and I think Cavendish made the right move to leave (accept the push? freefall? oust?)…

 

I forget, where’s Levi?

 

 

E3 Harlebeke (spoiler alert)

Galer’s Blog2

E3 Harlebeke

Coming to you live from in front of the recorded race on TV (thank you TiVo), a nice glass of white wine at my side, hubby safely home from another grueling day on the mountain bike trails of Mendocino county snoozing at my side…

And the award for ‘are you nuts??’ goes to Paolini who removed his leg warmers while peddling hard to keep up with the peloton in the E3 Harlebeke, a crazy little ride in the Flanders portion of Belgium where, by the way, spring has definitely not sprung.

Peter Sagan (Peder, that is, thank you Todd) hungry to steal the thunder from Fab Fabian and Tom Boonan (thrilled to still have two arms after a bad mountain bike event– (are you listening honey??)). Tiny little single track lanes which sometime in mid summer might be gorgeous, but right now in March…uh..nope, not so much.

One of the fun parts of watching racing in Europe is the scenery, and the houses. “Oh yeah, I’ll take that Chateau,” you’ll hear me say that a lot come July. Belgium? Not so much. You can tell they get too much snow, the roof line dominates the house construction style. The land is flat farmland, but where are the animals? Always the sign of a corporate presence when farms are single purpose. Family farming– a few cows, a few pigs and chickens, a decent crop summer and winter….has been replaced with government subsidized farming on a ticket. No cows coming home here.

Note to riders, it might be easier to ride in the gutter, but did you ever see Laugh In back in the 70s? Slow motion tip over. Ouch! Embarrassing.

‘Achtervoglers’ is your Flemish word of the day. Pretty sure it’s ‘breakaway group’, the French would call it ‘tete de la course’ – head of the course, here it’s anyone in front of the main body (Peloton).

I don’t think there are any Americans in this race so tempers are cool and no one’s done anything rude.

Congratulations to Fabian Cancellara, once again showing us who has it and who doesn’t!