Tour Time!

Around my house Christmas comes three times a year…

1) Christmas Day (duh!)
2) Ironman Wisconsin Weekend
2) The month of July


Christmas day is, well Christmas day, so it’s easy to see why we get excited.

Ironman Wisconsin weekend is just plain exciting.  Getting ready for the big race, all the last minute preparations, final registration, one last swim in Lake Monona before the race (it used to be called the “Gatorade” swim), the nervous energy, carbo-loading, the athletes dinner, the expo, and of course the race itself.  Whether I’m racing or not, I get caught up in the excitement of it all.

The month of July is Tour de France month!  

The race starts this weekend and lasts for 3 weeks.  Laura and I try to get to the race every other year | although this would be our year, and we’re skipping it this time.  When we can’t make it to the race, the American TV coverage is surprisingly good, in fact I would say that it’s actually better than the French coverage, where they basically point a camera at the riders and let you figure it out.  Coverage here makes it really easy to follow along, and allows you to figure out what’s going on in just one quick glance at the screen.

That saidn, bicycle racing can be a really confusing sport, so over the next few days, I’ll try to explain a little about the workings on the Tour de France and other stage-races like the Tour.

Let’s start with the fact that it’s a “stage” race | meaning that it’s done in many stages.  Each day of the race is a seperate stage.  While there are winners in each stage, the overall Tour de France winner is the guy with the fastest total cumulative time when you add up all of the stages.  It is actually possible to win the Tour de France without ever winning a stage. 

That’s not to say that winning a stage isn’t a big deal | it is!  But just because you win a stage, doesn’t mean you will win the race, of that you even have a chance at the overall title.  It’s kind of like the “won the battle, but lost the war” thing.  Each stage is simply another battle in the overall war.  Of course you want to win the battle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win the war…and the opposite is true too…you can lose the battle and still have a chance to win the war.

As if that weren’t confusing enough, to add to the confusion…bicycle racing is a team sport…with an individual winner???

More on that, next time.