I took a few photos that didn't fit into the earlier blogs(OK, how does something not fit into a blog, you ask!) so here they are with appropriate comments.
Will Frischkorn was the star of stage 3 of the Tour de France initiating a 200km+ breakaway with three other riders and almost winning the stage. For his actions he was rewarded the most aggressive rider for that day. Will was also off the front for over 200km in the season's first classic, Milan-San Remo. Hopefully in 2009, Will gets to stand on the podium.
Ryder Hesjedal has ridden at the highest levels in both professional road cycling and mountain biking. He is totally capable of winning one-day and stage races, but during the 2008 Tour de France he was a super-domestique for team leader Christian Vande Velde. Ryder was there on that critical day on the Col de la Bonnette to help Christian limit his losses when he was dropped halfway up the massive, 6000-foot climb. Unfortunately, Christian crashed on the descent and lost a further two minutes which ultimately cost him a podium place. Ryder's crucial role was all but forgotten, but he did his job well. As did Christian!
Christian Vande Velde's father, John, was also an elite bike racer. He was a member of the 1972 Olympic team as part of the team pursuit squad. BTW, Jim Ochowicz was also on that team pursuit squad. However, John is probably best remembered for his role as one of the four Italians on Team Cinzano in the Academy Award winning movie 'Breaking Away.' John wasn't the one who put the pump in Dave Stoller's spokes; that was Eddy Van Guyse. A devoted track racer, John had a portable board track constructed nicknamed the 'Vandedome' which was used for a few European-style six day races throughout the US in the 1980's. John sold the track for $5 to another passionate cyclist and word is that it might be re-assembled for some races in New York next year.
While the actual 2009 Garmin-Slipstream jersey has yet to be unveiled, here is a look at what might be very close to the final design. Note that long-time sponsor Chipotle is still part of the team, they are just not one of the primary sponsors so are not included in the official team name. Those of you worried about the departure of argyle need not be concerned. The power of the argyle is still strong!
We all know who the Texas Tornado is and his chief rival Der Kaiser. How about 'the Cannibal' or 'Pou-Pou'? It is a pretty common practice in the sporting world to give our favorite athletes nicknames. Some, like the aforementioned Cannibal, describe the way they ride a bike while others like 'Chechu' Rubiera are named for for their mother's favorite character in a Spanish radio soap opera.
Sometimes it is easy to figure out where the nickname came from. Eddy Merckx is pretty much considered the best professional rider to ever throw a leg over a bike. He won an amazing one-third of the races he entered and would simply destroy his competition when he saw fit. He was given that name by a journalist in the early 70's and it stuck. The cannibal is a totally appropriate name to describe Merckx's riding style.
There have been some other pretty good nicknames in the past. Bernard Hinault was the badger for his fierce competitive nature. The diminutive, two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini is known as the cricket. Rouler exceptionale Fabian Cancellara was given the moniker 'Spartacus' by a teammate from his days on the Italian Fassa Bortolo team. The winner of the 2006 Paris-Roubaix, which closely resembles a chariot race, could easily be mistaken for a Roman gladiator.
Scott-Saunier Duval rider Riccardo Ricco is known as the Cobra, a name given to him by a friend. It is not known what prompted that name, but his consistently aggressive riding style in the past two Giro d'Italias certainly seem to indicate that it's a pretty good call. And if you saw him launch his searing attack today on the Col du Aspin there is no doubt that he name is well-deserved. Ricco launched with such absolute fury that the lead group simply had no response.
Do you have any favorite rider nicknames to share or have you made up a nickname or two you would like to propose for a rider?
It was great to see Christian Vandevelde finish in the lead group which moved him up to 3rd overall. He looked relaxed and content as he crossed the finish line. Here's hoping that Christian continues to show his climbing form tomorrow on the Col du Tourmalet and Huatacam. He is clearly capable of being there.
Will Frischkorn stopped by after the finish and remarked that he was loving the grupetto days such as this when he could just ride tempo and not worry about going up the road. He called his move on Stage 3 'the suicide breakaway which never succeeds' and was pleased that all four riders in the group wanted to work hard enough to take it to the finish.
The big guns will be firing on the Col du Tourmalet and Huatacam tomorrow. Both these climbs have the capability to rip the race apart. Look for the majority of the action to come on the 8-mile 3700' climb of Huatacam to the finish.
The 2008 Tour continues to provide an E-ticket ride through France and today's stage was just another day of thrills and spills on the way to Paris. The thrills were provided by Garmin-Chipotle rider Will Frischkorn and his three breakaway companions who beat the odds and held off the peloton to win. They were undoubtedly aided by a horrific crash with about 20km remaining which split the peloton into three groups and put a huge dent into the overall hopes of several riders.
On the positive side of today's stage, what can you say about the ride of Will Frischkorn? His is his first ever ride in the Tour and many questioned the selection of the 27-year old for the team. If you remember this spring's Milan-San Remo, Will is no stranger to long breakaways in the biggest races in cycling, but to attack initiate an attack and go off the front on day three in your first ever Tour takes some pretty big stones. And the Tour officials agreed, awarding the Boulderite the 'most combatitve' rider award for the stage.
It has been a long road for Will to the Tour. I remember him in 2001 as a 19-year old pro on the short-lived Mercury-Viatel team and then his transfer onto the TIAA-Cref development squad a few years later. Will was still in his early 20's, but he had been a pro for so long, that he was considered one of the team's veterans. In 2005 he almost made the big jump to Europe when he was offered a contract on Team CSC. But, as frequently happens in the pro ranks, his place on the team was given to another rider and Will remained stateside.
Honing his skills, he took a more senior position on the TIAA-Cref team which made a few forays to France in 2005, 2006 and 2007 to contest some races such as Criterium International. The learning curve was incredibly steep, and there were many days when just finishing and not giving up was the most optimal outcome.
On the negative side of today's stage, there were more crashes, the most serious and important occurred just when the peloton was in full flight trying to bring back Will's breakaway. Ricardo Ricco and Denis Menchov both missed the split and lost a bit over a minute to the likes of Valverde and Evans. As we all know, crashes are a part of bike racing, but it still makes it hard to swallow when mishaps shape the outcome. Hopefully, Menchov and Ricco can rebound and maybe this will make the mountain stages a bit more exciting as the two try to take backtime.
But, the day belongs to Will Frischkorn and even though one of his breakaway companions won the stage and another one got the yellow jersey, Will's ride might just be the breakthrough his career needs to ratchet it up into high gear. I hope I don't sound too much like a homer but, for me he was the real winner today.
What do you think about Will's ride?
ps - today France not only got the stage win, but also the yellow jersey. The Frenchies have been all over the front for the past three days trying to restore some French pride to their home race. Unfortunately, it will have to be stages and short stints in yellow as they have absolutely no hope for the overall win.