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Active Expert: Bruce Hildenbrand

4 Posts tagged with the david_millar tag

I am probably jeopardizing my manhood, but for this trip to cover the Tour de France I bought myself an auto GPS unit. My sense of direction is pretty darn good, but in some of the older towns in Europe (and the US for that matter) the layout and direction of traffic on the city streets just don't make sense.

 

Nothing is more frustrating than, after along day of reporting on the Tour, to have to spend several hours driving in circles trying to find your hotel. And just like the riders of the Tour, we journalists need to get a good recovery after our efforts. Accumulating stress and/or losing sleep will make the three weeks of the Tour seem like months. Suffice it to say, anything you can do to make your life easier is warmly welcomed.

 

So I bought a Garmin Nuvi 265WT not only because it is a highly rated GPS unit, but I also like to spend money with companies who sponsor cycling. I am wearing a set of Columbia Titanium crewneck shirts throughout France. Don't worry, I wash them every night and they are ready to go each morning.

 

Listening to Garmina (the nickname of the woman who provides the voice commands) tell me where to go is pretty soothing when I have no clue as to where I need to be. But, in celebration of the Tour de France, Garmin, the title sponsor of the Garmin-Slipstream team has a special, free, offer for those who own Garmin GPS. Garmin-Slipstream team director, Matt White, recorded all the words and phrases(and a few more!) used by the GPS units.

 

Now when I need to turn right, the Aussie voice of the former US Postal and Discovery Channel rider White tells me where to go. And during those long flat stretches where there are no directions to give, Matt pops in with some light comedy to break the boredom.  My personal favorite is "Did you remember to put the bikes on top of the car." Along with the voice of Matt White, Garmin is also offering addition vehicle icons. You can choose from a number of different vehicles including both a Garmin-Slipstream team bus or team car.  I chose the team bus.

 

If you would like to add these new features to your Garmin GPS just go to GarminGarage.com. They don't take up much space on your unit and it really does make for a very unique experience. Don't fret, if you start missing Garmina's soothing voice, it is very easy to switch back to have her give you directions.  The same goes for the vehicle icon.

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A couple of days ago, I promised to post some pictures of my ride with the Garmin-Slipstream team as they were doing there morning warm-up for the TTT. I took some on-the-bike photos, but given the twisty technical nature of the course, the incessant wind, the speed of these guys and the fact that I was trying to cough up a lung about 90% of the ride they came out a bit, well, er, um, fuzzy; kind of luck how I was feeling.

 

Note that some of the riders were warming up on their road bikes.

 

The boys are looking good in formation.

 

This is what happens when you are going 30+mph on a bumpy road in a heavy crosswind trying to hang onto one of the world's best teams.

 

 

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Race notes

 

David Millar is the man. He laid it all on the line on today's stage from Girona, where he and most of his Garmin-Slipstream teammates call home, to Barcelona. The conditions were epic with torrential rains hammering the rides in the final few hours. Millar attacked his three breakaway companions with 12 miles(20km) remaing and looked to be heading for a stage win. Unfortunately, the peloton caught him with about a mile remaining, the look on his face did not mask the disappointment at coming so close.

 

The final hour of racing was marred by a number of crashes. Painted lines, roads slick with diesel and numerous roundabouts played havoc and caused three or four crashes when the riders were being as careful as possible in the dangerous conditions. Both Tyler Farrar and Tom Boonen were taken down which resulted in the final sprint being a bit of a free-for-all.

 

The Rabobank team had been setting pace on the front to set up a win for their Spanish triple world champion Oscar Friere, but Cervelo Test Team's Thor Hushovd came by him with about 75 meters to go and took the win. Yet another Tour stage provided a dramatic ending

2,680 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, bruce_hildenbrand, david_millar, garmin_slipstream, thor_hushovd, cervelo_test_team, garmingarage, matt_white

The Garmin-Slipstream team announced its 9-man roster for the Tour de France.  Not surprisingly, Christian Vande Velde will lead the squad.  He finished fourth last year and looked very good doing it.  The only question will be can he regain the fitness necessary to be competitive after a serious crash in the opening stages of the Giro? Recently, at the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) he looked like he is on the way back, but there is some more fitness needed to contend for the overall. Luckily, Christian knows how to make it happen.

 

The team will also include Bradley Wiggins who came within one second of winning the final TT at the Giro. Besides being counted on to place highly in the time trials he has lost a reported 9 pounds(4 kilos) and will be a key support role for Vande Velde in the mountains.  The multi-Olympic gold medalist will also be part of the leadout train for Tyler Farrar.  Bradley will be earning his money at the Tour.

 

David Millar and Dave Zabriskie are included on the team for their time trialing abilities. The team time trial on stage 4 is a goal for the squad and they have the horsepower to win it. Also, look for Millar to go for stage wins in a small breakaway on the flatter stages.

 

Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin are included for their climbing abilities and to support Christian in the mountains. Ryder played a key role in the Alps at the 2008 Tour and Dan Martin is one of the up and coming stars in the pro peloton with some outstanding performances in hilly stage races last year and this spring.

 

Tyler Farrar was one of the revelations of the Giro.  He sprinted to several second place finishes behind Mark Cavendish. While he didn't get a stage win, he showed that he was ready to mix it up in the finale and had no fear in doing it. He could definitely win a stage of the Tour.

 

Julian Dean is the final cog, after Bradley Wiggins, of the Farrar leadout train. Look for Wiggins to go from 1km to about 600m with Julian taking it from there to about 200m. This train, which was new for the Giro, had lots of practice in Italy and is ready to launch.

 

Danny Pate also has immense time trialing skills, but as he proved on the stage to Prato Nevoso in last year's Tour he can sense an opportunity for a stage win and go for it. He was oh so close last year.

 

The Garmin-Slipstream team is a well-balanced squad that includes riders for all the tasks necessary to be competitive in the mountains, flats and time trials. Good luck boys!

 

Bruce

1,309 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, bruce_hildenbrand, tyler_farrar, david_millar, christian_vandevelde, giro_d'italia, dave_zabriskie, bradley_wiggins, ryder_hesjedal, garmin-slipstream, dan_martin, julian_dean, danny_pate

True Confessions?

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand Feb 10, 2009

What to do? What to do? Does an athlete need to confess to a doping positive to be accepted back into favor with his fellow competitors and fans? In the past few days we have seen Alex Rodriguez(A-Rod) admit that he used steroids during the height of his career in 2001-2003 when he was voted the league MVP. The problem is that in 2007, A-Rod told Katie Couric that he had never taken performance enhancing drugs(PED's).

 

Why the flip-flop? Because several journalists at SI.com were able to obtain the identity of some of the 102 baseball players who tested positive for steroids when Major League Baseball did anonymous testing in 2003. So, faced with pretty hard evidence that he did use steroids, A-Rod came clean. In cycling, a similar situation occurred several years ago when Ivan Basso denied drug use until bags of his blood were identified in a refrigerator in Spain.  David Millar also denied drug use then came clean when syringes containing EPO were found with his fingerprints at his home.

 

Why am I bringing this up? Am I jealous that A-Rod hooked up with Madonna and I didn't? No, it is because the 4th annual Amgen Tour of California starts on Saturday and Basso will be there. Millar rode the race last year. But, more importantly, Americans Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis will also be there. Basso, Millar, Hamilton and Landis all served suspensions for doping infractions, but while Basso and Millar admitted their transgressions, Hamilton and Landis did not.

 

There is a good reason that Tyler and Floyd have not admitted to doping. Both contend that they didn't do performance enhancing drugs. The question here is, do Tyler and Floyd need to admit that they took PED's to be accepted back into the pro peloton and be embraced by the fans much like what has happened to both Millar and Basso?  Is it good enough that Tyler and Floyd served their suspensions, paid their debt, so to speak?

 

Personally, I think that Tyler and Floyd should be allowed to compete and their fans should be allowed to cheer and cheer and cheer for their success. If you are not a Tyler of Floyd fan, then fine, don't cheer for them. Don't put them on your Christmas card list. What I have a problem with is people calling Tyler and Floyd dopers. Yes, they were dopers, but by the same token so were Basso and Millar. So, if the shoe fits, then everybody should wear it.

 

Bruce

 

ps - unless some huge story breaks in the next week, this is the last blog I intend to write about doping. The Tour of California is America's premier bike race so let's focus on the positives!

 

pps - if you are saving an asterisk for any of Barry Bond's records, don't forget to save a few for A-Rod.

1,214 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: bruce_hildenbrand, a-rod, amgen_tour_of_california, david_millar, tour_of_california, floyd_landis, barry, bonds, tyler_hamilton, ivan_basso, alex_rodriguez

Mont Ventoux Looms

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand Mar 12, 2008

The Paris-Nice race has a date with the "Giant of Provence" on Thursday and it looks to be epic. The weather so far in the 'Race to the Sun' has made the conditions at the recent Amgen Tour of California look downright tropical. Bucketing rain and cold temps have caused shortened stages and a general lethargy in the pack. Who could blame them!

 

All that will change on Thursday as Mont Ventoux looms on the horizon. It's still winter, especially in France, which means that the riders won't be going all the way to the lofty, 6400 foot summit. A friend of mine rode to the top a month or so ago and ended up pushing through some pretty major drifts. Instead the race will finish at about the 4400-foot level at the ski station of Mont Serein. For those of you familiar with Lance Armstrong's epic battles on Ventoux in the Tour de France and the Dauphine Libere, Mont Serein is on the other side of the mountain, the north slopes.

 

The climb is a bit easier from the north, but by no means is it a gimmee. In fact, from the Maulecene, at the base, the average gradient is much more constant

and overall greater (7.2% vs 7.1%) than the more well-known south side start in Bedoin. Heck, whatever side you ride up this legend of cycling will leave you gasping, but with lots of great memories.

 

For the pro riding Paris-Nice this will be a 3300-foot climb and will be a rude awakening, especially for those racers who aren't really peaking for this race. My guess is that this will be a battle between Luis Leon Sanchez(Caisse d'Epargne) and Frank Schleck(CSC) with Robert Gesink(Rabobank) and Sylvain Chavanel(Cofidis) as spoilers. Hopefully, Slipstream Chipotle's David Millar can hang in there, though the climb may be a bit longer than his liking.

 

One dark horse is High Road's Craig Lewis. With a 6.4 watts/kg power output, he has the potential to be up there with the best, but in his first full-season on the European pro circuit, he may be on a steep learning curve.

 

Regardless of what happens, the European stage racing season officially opens on Thursday. Get there early for the best seats!

 

Bruce

1,140 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: bruce_hildenbrand, david_millar, slipstream_chipotle, lance_armstrong, paris_nice, mont_ventoux, high_road_sports, craig_lewis