brian on 2004.07.20
at 09:43 pm
The USA Today has an excellent primer for non-cycling fans online today to prep you! Things to know this year include the fact that the stage is an individual time trial. This means instead of a slow moving pack of 150 or so riders, the road will host one at a time, released in one-minute intervals. This is the first time in tour history that this stage has been approached in this way. Traditionally, the stage has been a regular stage, with the pack riding perhaps 120 miles before finishing at the top of the mountain. Records are kept for the 13.8 kilometers (8.57+ miles) that the road snakes to the top.
Here are the highlights of the USA Today piece:
The crowds are so big that their mass can be seen from the orbiting International Space Station.
(L'Alpe) will attract more than a million fans for Wednesday's 16th stage of the Tour… the grand finale on Paris' Champs-Elysees draws a crowd half the size.
…fans along the route, a two-lane, asphalt road, are within touching distance of the riders as they pass. In some sections of the course, riders appear to be laboring through a tunnel of humanity.
For the multitudes on the course, however, a day on L'Alpe d'Huez is like the Super Bowl and NBA Finals all in one day. Except the Tour does not charge for admission. Many arrive a week early to get a choice viewing spot.
The infamous "Dutch Corner," about halfway up, is clogged with fans from the Netherlands. The Dutch have settled on this area, in part, because it comes where the roadside area is wide enough to accommodate the mass of partiers.
More important, it is a particularly steep section that makes the slow-moving riders easy prey for the revelers' shenanigans, such as offering parched riders a cold beer.
Lance Armstrong has obtained the yellow jersey (maillot jaune, current first place rider) and thus rides last in the time trial. Lance will launch at 10:58 AM EDT.
Also see alpedhuez.com
UPDATE: Lance demolished the competition on L'Alpe today. Enjoy this link about stage 16
Posted in: Sports
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