Final Days of the Tour
by Christine Mazurk
My mother, bless her soul, never understood my athletic endeavors. She thought I was crazy when I announced I wanted to ride Cross Florida just nine weeks after buying my first official road bike - a Trek. My craziness went up a notch when I told her I'd signed up for my first marathon, but I think I sent her over the edge when I completed my first Ironman - a 140.6 mile triathlon - in New Zealand no less. She just didn't get it.
You have to understand, my mom was the kind of woman who always wore dresses, never left the house without full makeup, and swam laps in the pool without getting her hair wet. I, on the other hand, leave the house without any makeup at all, my hair pulled up in a ponytail. When I was a little girl, I had tea parties at the bottom of the pool.
Mom visited Paris annually. (Her entire family is still in and around France.) One year, her visit coincided with the final days of the Tour. She didn't understand the frenzy surrounding the city, then she learned the Tour would be ending on the Champs-Elysees that Sunday. She knew nothing about the Tour except that my husband and I were big fans and watched every year. So, she decided to buy us souvenirs from the Tour.
She entered a store and asked the owner what she should buy? He smiled and led her to a display table. "The Yellow Jersey, of course."
She made a face, and politely replied, "but my daughter does not like yellow!"
"Madame, it is the jersey of The Champion." He laughed, shrugging his shoulders at her ignorance.
I'm sure she gave him the stink-eye before purchasing two yellow jerseys!
She's been gone for thirteen years now, but thoughts of that story still bring a smile to my face or actually, make me laugh out loud. .
So what's happening in this year's Tour? Yesterday was a rest day after a brutal Stage 16 that ended in Gap. Monstrous climbs and several tricky descents made for a mouth gaping spectacle. There were a number of break aways that divided into smaller groups as the Peleton chased.
Ruben Plaza from Lampre-Merida pedaled his heart out to stay in the lead and take the STAGE WIN, but Peter Sagan, who's wearing the GREEN JERSEY, took plenty of risks in the descent of Col de Manse - known as the site of Joseba Beloki's horrific crash in 2003 - to close the gap. Sagan managed to get within 200 meters of Plaza, but ended up finishing 2ND for the fifth time this tour.
Watching Peter fly down those aggressive, tight switchbacks made my heart race and my breath still. But the worst sight was when Frenchman Warren Barguil lost control on a sharp right-hand turn, barging straight into Geraint Thomas, which sent him crashing into a telephone pole. He flipped and landed in the dense vegetation on the cliff. I thought he was dead! At that speed, to crash head first into a pole, how could he survive?
Miraculously, Geraint Thomas got up, secured a new bike from the team car, and pedaled to the finish. He goes into the rest of the week in 6th Place Overall. Outstanding!!!
STAGE 16 RESULTS:
1. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida)
2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) 30 seconds down.
3. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) 36 seconds down.
Yellow - Chris Froome (Sky)
Green - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Polka Dot - Chris Froome (Sky) - 2nd Joaquim (or is it Joachim?) Rodriguez (Team Katusha)
White - Nario Quintana (Movistar)
OVERALL STANDINGS going into Stage 17:
1. Chris Froome (Sky)
2. Nario Quintana (Movistar)
3. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)
4. Alejandro ValVerde (Movistar)
5. Alberto Contador (TCS)
6. Geraint Thomas (Sky) --- Bravo!!
7. Robert Gesink (lotto)
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) --- Last year's winner!
Today, Stage 17 begins four days of heavy climbing in the Alps, which will culminate with a finish on the legendary flanks of Alpe d'Huez, before heading into Paris for the annual finish on the Champs-Elysees. I can't believe the three weeks are almost over. Will CHRIS FROOME keep the YELLOW? My guess is YES!!
Until next week, enjoy!