You know, the real reason I want to watch today’s stage is to see if there’s any mention of Bobke needing to shave his head, since we raised $5000 on his LiveStrong Challenge page yesterday.
Will we get the publicity we so richly deserve? We’ll find out soon.
Or soonish, anyway.
3:05 Paul’s interviewing Lance about yesterday’s stage. Lance sounds really hoarse.
Also, Lance is wearing enormous sunglasses.
I will not relate the substance of the interview, because there was none.
3:06 Of course we’re going to ads. A good time to see what’s going on at the cycling sites that have actual expertise.
Right now, there’s a group of 4 with a gap of 5ish minutes on the peloton.
3:11 White, Mollema, Vandborg, Mollema in the lead group.
3:12 Leipheimer touches his front wheel to Armstrong’s back. He goes down hard and causes a pileup.
Leipheimer hops back up and gets going again, hoping nobody saw him.
And I’m sure nobody did.
3:14 By "he goes down hard" I mean Leipheimer goes down. Armstrong stayed up, because there were no renegade musettes on the attack.
3:15 Mollema — one of the guys in the lead group — is with Rabobank. Have you noticed Rabobank has someone in every single breakaway in this tour?
You know why, right? It’s because they want us to say "Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank!"
3:16 What’s kind of sad about the TV coverage today is that it started right as the race finishes the second — and last — of the climbs.
3:17 So we get to watch everyone descend and then ride on the flats in the rain for a couple hours.
I expect we’ll find a way to entertain ourselves.
3:18 Hummer goes into commercial talking about the Leipheimer crash, saying, "Leipheimer is in a crash he caused himself! How much will it affect him? We’ll find out when we come back."
I hereby promise to donate $500 to the Bob Roll LiveStrong Challenge if Hummer finds out anything about how the crash is affecting Leipheimer when they come back from break.
3:21 Well, whaddaya know. They don’t seem to be describing anything about how the crash has affected Leipheimer.
3:22 Doesn’t seem to be raining on the lead group, which is only 5 minutes in front. Weird that the weather is so different in such a short distance.
3:24 Phil and Paul are talking about how the lead group isn’t going to last. With the big flat, I’d have to agree.
3:25 Bob’s interviewing Lance. LANCE, ASK HIM ABOUT SHAVING HIS HEAD!
He didn’t ask.
3:26 Phil and Paul are talking about how relaxed Lance is, and how he’s spending all his time fighting cancer. But you know what else they should talk about? How about how BOB EARNED $5000 for LiveStrong yesterday and NOW HE’S GOT TO SHAVE HIS HEAD.
Sorry. I’ll take a pill.
3:28 Breakaway gap is down to 4:30. Will it last? No it won’t.
Have I been successful in predicting race outcomes as I liveblog? No, I haven’t.
3:29 And we’re off to ads.
It’s an ad for a gizmo that makes things louder. But the thing is, that guy’s wife is such a nag, I’d expect him to want something that makes things much, much quieter.
Oh, you can use it to eavesdrop, too! That’s an actual selling point they’re describing.
And it costs $15. So you know it delivers top-notch audio.
3:32 I’ve lost my internet connection. Yay!
3:33 I’ve got my internet connection back. Yay!
3:34 Phil and Paul are describing how bad the weather has been, and that Leipheimer has said it’s been like stepping into a shower, turning it on cold, full blast, and standing there for four hours.
Yeah, whatever. I do that every single day.
3:35 A shot of Astana leading the Peloton…and we’re out to ads.
The lead ad here is for some product that gets rid of malware. It’s only for PCs, which is hilarious in light of the fact that the computer shown more than any other on the ad is a prior-generation iMac.
Well, there’s your problem, dude.
And then an Enzyte commercial. Which I am officially sick of.
3:36 Does anyone know of an awesome remedy for a lingering cold?
Hummer talks about how tomorrow is going to be spent mostly above the 2000 foot level. Um, I’d have to descend 3000 feet to get that high.
3:40 Hummer says it looks like some of the non-Astana teams "are getting anxious." Phil tells him ever-so-politely that he’s totally wrong.
3:41 Hummer points out that "a columbia rider is breaking wind."
Heh. Breaking wind.
3:42 Paul says that Thor is a warrior for whom it is important to take any shot he’s got.
OK. Good to know.
3:43 Hummer just said something I couldn’t figure out. he waits for Phil or Paul to respond. They do not, because I don’t think they could figure out what Craig said either.
So he goes to commercial!
3:45 "ITT Tech is education for the future." Do they teach you how to build phasers? Flying cars? How to use a light saber?
3:47 Hummer promotes the ToC Fantasy game. Here’s my fantasy: that I’m good enough to ride in the ToC.
Like I said: fantasy.
3:48 So, presuming this comes down to a sprint, who’s going to win?
My money’s on Cipollini.
3:49 You know what that comedian girl should do to be funny? Armpit noises. Armpit noises are hilarious. Joking about a GPs can also be hilarious, but it wasn’t in this instance.
3:50 Susan says, "As much as I like to root for breakaways, today I want a sprint finish."
So let it be written, so let it be done.
3:51 And we’re at ads. I am going to take a short nap.
3:55 Hummer just reported the gap as being at 5 minutes. Which is useful information. Kudos, Hummer!
3:56 Bob talks with Hummer. We can’t see Bob. Perhaps his head is already shaved and it’s just too, too hideous for television?
3:57 This tour has brought a bunch of guys I was excited to see race against each other: Basso, Landis, Hamilton. So where are those guys?
3:58 Lizzylou notes "cycling.tv just stated that Armstrong is getting daily fines from UCI because of his non-conformity in attire." This makes sense to me — he’s constantly got LiveStrong / Mellow Johnny’s stuff covering his Astana gear. I have mistaken him for the yellow jersey like a thousand times during this race.
Dude, when you’re on the clock, wear the uniform.
Chuck just emailed me saying he’s doing what he can to get us some airtime, but the guys in the editing room are tough nuts to crack.
Editing room guys: give us some airtime and I’ll send you free Fat Cyclist T-shirts.
Really, what more could you want?
4:04 Hummer relates the boxing term, "Down goes XXXX" to "Down goes Leipheimer." Phil punches in Hummer in the throat, and down goes Hummer.
I can dream, right?
4:05 Hummer asks Phil and Paul MC-Hammer trivia. Yes, really.
Paul delivers a spin-kick to Hummer’s head, while Phil prepares a bonesaw to dispose of the body.
OK, that was out of line. I’m going to go take a pill.
Yes, another one.
4:08 Time gap is 4:20.
4:09 For a doomed breakaway like this, does anyone have an idea of what the breakaway riders are thinking as they churn along in their doomed way? So hard, yet so thankless.
That was not a comedy quesion. I really want to know.
4:10 Gap is down to less than 4 minutes now. Really, they’ve gained 30 seconds in a minute? Is that even possible? Did the lead group stop and buy snacks at a convenience store?
Did you know ITT Tech has a criminal justice school? I’ll bet 95% of the people taking that class are doing it with an eye toward writing their hardboiled CSI script.
4:14 Astana still leading the peloton, behind the lead group at 3:20. Phil is pretending to think that it’s possible that the lead group will stay in front. Paul says, "Pish posh."
OK he doesn’t really say that. But I wish he would.
4:15 What, it’s a 3:45 gap? The timing random number generator is in fine form today.
4:16 Instead of 2 laps around the city block in Modesta, they’re just going to have one. Which means the peloton has that much less time to start reeling in the lead group.
4:20 Ads. I’m spending the time to watch an MC Hammer video. I recommend you do the same.
4:23 Recapping the early part of the stage. You know, the good part. The part that came before the television coverage.
Hey, I have a cold. I’m aloud to be a crybaby.
4:24 Velonews predicts the break will be pulled in at the 9-mile mark.
4:26 Hummer asks a question. Phil chuckles and pats Hummer on the head, then puts a snausage on Hummer’s nose.
4:27 I’m pretty sure that in this montage on Cavendish they just totally let him slip the word "a–hole" slip through. Oops.
4:29 I’m cranky today. Does it show?
4:30 Only a 3:20 gap. Columbia/High Road is starting to help with the pulling.
That eHarmony couple is just evil. They must be stopped.
4:35 Gap’s down to 3 minutes. Now would be a perfect time for the lead group to pull off the road, hide their bikes, and wait for the rest of the peloton to come by, at which point they could jump out from behind a telephone pole (cyclists are very skinny) and yell "boo!"
Or they could stretch very strong, but thin, line across the road. Either way: hilarious.
4:38 Phil reports a lack of enthusiasm problem with the peloton.
Chin up, peloton!
4:39 Gap’s down to 2:45. So the lack of enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be getting in the way of the peloton doing their job. However listlessly.
4:40 It’s raining again.
4:42 It’s time for ads. ITT Tech. They’re talking about the construction industry. The announcer says of the idyllic community, "Bonds are built."
The problem is, he’s kind of sloppy with the way he says "bonds." Sounds more like "bombs."
Which changes the meaning of the sentence a lot.
4:46 The lead group continuing to lose time. Gap of 2:25.
4:47 There’s Bob Roll, interviewing Cavendish. Bob still has hair. With any luck, this will be the last day we see him that way.
4:49 The camera stays on Cavendish, long long after anyone has anything to say about him.
Paul asks Hummer why Modesto is named Modesto, and Hummer knows the answer!
So that’s why they have Hummer along. Just in case a game of Trivial Pursuit breaks out.
4:50 Gap of 2:05, with 20 miles to go. Phil seems unconvinced that the peloton will catch the lead group.
I do not share Phil’s concern.
4:52 Has anyone else noticed that Hummer uses a different voice when he’s doing his "transitioning to commercial" announcing? He sounds so excited. I believe it’s his favorite part of the job.
4:55 What? They’re not going to show the finish? Oh, that’s awesome, Versus. Very good executive decision you made there.
Really, when you broadcast a flat, boring stage with a sprint finish, nobody’s really interested in how the stage ends anyways.
4:58 So, for those of you who — like me — have been watching on TV, you’ll probably want to go ahead and open a browser to:
I’m heading there now.
Hockey’s more important than a stage finish anyway.
5:01 Um, who are the guys announcing on http://tracker.amgentourofcalifornia.com/ anyway? They don’t seem to be aware that we can hear them.
5:07 Gap’s down to 1:40
5:10 The peloton is stretching out at the front end. Gap’s down to one minute.
So does anyone think the lead group will survive?
5:12 Frankie says the peloton is going 28 mph while the lead group is going 24.
5:13 Velonews play-by-play makes a good jab: "Hey, for you Versus viewers out there, how’s that hockey game?"
I fear for my Tour de France stage ends.
5:15 The gap’s down to 30 seconds and the team cars are pulling out of the way. Nice try, lead group!
5:16 Louder attacks. White and Vandbourg drop off the back.
5:17 Now it’s just Louder and Mollema. Louder working hard. How can you not root for him?
But it’s not going to happen. I don’t think you can maintain this pace for 8 miles.
5:18 Louder and Mollema are working well together. But there’s Mollema, softpedaling. It’s over, they just don’t know it.
5:20 Vandbourg sucked into the peloton (and probably shot out the back — hard to tell on my teeny tiny laptop with crummy streaming video, thanks Versus!)
5:21 Frankie is unequivocal: "They’re not going to make it."
5:22: Gap of 12 seconds. Mollema jumps. I hereby call it the jump of doom.
Louder catches him and sits in, resting for a second. Count on Louder jumping in a moment.
Cuz, why not?
5:23 You can see the peloton behind Mollema and Louder. They’ve sat up. Kudos for the try, guys.
5:24 And now it’s the sprinter’s turn. I can never tell who’s who or who wins in these chaotic things.
What kind of person can even do one of these mass sprints? I would poop myself.
5:25 You know, you’re going to get better reporting by going somewhere else for the next few minutes. CyclingNews or VeloNews. Come back afterward.
5:26 I wonder how that hockey game is going?
And it’s Thor Hushovd!
I wish I would have been able to see that sprint on something bigger than a postage stamp. You know, like on my high-def 50" plasma.
5:29 I don’t think this changes much at the top of the GC standings.
Replay of the sprint shows Hushovd like about three miles ahead of everyone else. Beautiful lead-out.
5:32 As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t fault Versus at all for when they can’t get a signal. But when they cut away from THE MAIN REASON TO WATCH THE WHOLE STAGE, well, yes. I need a name of someone to blame, please.
Let’s end with a nice shot Scot got…of Bob protecting Levi from the rain.
Bob’s looking kind of wistful, as if he were contemplating how he’s going to look without his hair.