Today was all about the cobblestones in Le Tour de France.
Today also marks stage 4 of my personal Le Tour de Blogging, and my attention throughout the day was on SEO. However, I was inspired by men in Lycra who had one of the most nervous and treacherous days imaginable racing on cobblestones.
Racers, teams and organizers have been talking about the pavé and fearing day 4 / stage 3 for a year. Imagine being filled with anxious anticipation of racing over kilometers of cobblestones - bumping and bouncing at 30 mph, diving across the road.
- The smoothest aspect of the road is the gravel at the sides.
- Tire punctures anticipated, a crap shoot.
- Tangled-up bikes and carnage, a given.
- Riders don’t have time to look at the fans, only to look at the road in front of them.
Robbie Ventura, an ex Pro who raced the the Paris Roubaix 1-day cobblestone classic, is known to have said,
“Racing the cobblestones will age you.”
Take a look at these emotion-catching Tour de France cobblestone photos on CyclingFans.com.
Read how the cobblestones shake up the race on Versus.com.
Men & Cobblestones
What motivates these men in Lycra to race in chaos?
Many are simply fighting to keep themselves in the Tour de France. It was only day 4. There was probably more gauze than Lycra lined up at the start. Most, yes MOST, of the racers went into this stage bruised and bandaged after the previous day’s meat grinder where over 80 riders went down.
Imagine the grim faces as shown above from Versus TV showing Garmin-Transitions team’s “pep” talk after losing team leader Christian Vande Velde to broken ribs and their other favorite Tyler Ferrar bandaged with a fractured bone in his wrist.
Bumping, joggling, riding in pain…
Those who say men in Lycra are weenies should eat dirt! That’s what the TdF riders did today. They ate a lot of dirt, inhaled it. Some made mud of it with their blood.
Does Lycra and cobblestone make for a great mix?
Obviously the Tour organizers thought it would make for a great stage, knowing that sending them over these roads would mean Stage 4 of the Tour de France would be one of the hardest stages in its 97 years.
Thor Hushvold commented,
“Cobblestones are good for TV.”
Cobblestones are also good for Twitter.
What motivates bike racers?
The Tour de France is the pinnacle of this sport. It’s what World Cup is to soccer, Wimbledon is to tennis, and the Kentucky Derby is to horse racing.
The majority of riders begin their quest for the Tour de France as a childhood dream. Europeans begin training when they are very young and have the equivalent of a farm league with increasing levels of difficulty. They learn and build:
- Bike handling skills, speed, strength and endurance.
- Strategy, mental acuity and leadership.
They learn the paramount importance of team camaraderie.
Racers are competitive, but it’s friendly. Aside from raging testosterone and smack talk, the elite are professionals. They are men of honor !
Fabian Cancellara sacrificed his yellow leader’s jersey to benefit his teammates in stage 2. As the race leader, he also exercised his authority with consensus of many riders to neutralize the race at the end. They were not excited about 80+ guys going down yesterday. Not all agreed, but … They rode in as a group together as a form of protest against the Tour organizers for planning such a dangerous route.
Days 3 & 4 of the race could earn it the name, “Torture de France.”
Men & Lycra?
Every sport has its outfit, or Lycra “kit.” Don’t ever look at these guys and think they are pansies!
The Tour de France is the most grueling professional sporting event over 21 days.
Each year during the Tour de France, I get a jolt of inspiration and motivation to work hard and through the pain in my personal life and career. As Lance Armstrong noted prior to the cobblestone stage, one must,
“Pick your line and keep your head up”
Oh, and yes … Women wear Lycra, too!