Friday, July 22, 2011

Augusta, Daytona, and L'Alpe d'Huez Stage 19 Preview

Every sport has its shrine, a place where when the athletes compete, it means something. Whey they win, the stake their claim on immortality. A place that even casual fans recognize and respect what occurs there. Locations such as Augusta, Daytona, and Churchill Downs.

In the Tour de France, it’s L’Alpe d’Huez. Not the highest, steepest, or the oldest climb in the Tour, but when the world's best race here, always memorable. A twisty, high pitched mountain pass in the Alps that was first included in the  Tour in 1952 (Won fittingly by Fausto Coppi) and a fixture for almost the last thirty years. When a cyclist wins here, it’s mentioned with their name forever, like an Oscar winner, heretofore, “I’d like to welcome L’Alpe d’ Huez winner Mr. blabbity blahbity to our gathering/event/presentation. Winning the stage at L’Alpe d’Huez has brought many a man to tears, including many of the 600,000 who camp out for days prior, just to catch a glimpse of thier heroes ascending the roughly half-hour climb.
 The second ascent of the Galibier in this year's Tour will break things up quite a bit and the approach to the L'Alpe will be fast and furious with an elite group certainly forming by the time they hit the 9km of the climb. The fireworks between individuals will get lit and someone will try and launch themselves to cross the line first and follow the footsteps of Lemond, Armsrong, and Sastre who won the stage and went on to win the overall Tour.

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