July 17, 2004

two things about the Tour de France: in yesterday's final climb, up La Mongie in the Basque section of the Pyrenees, fans paint slogans and encouragement to their favorite riders on the pavement. But there were dozens and dozens of big "ETA" signs painted on the road. I am trying to imagine another such public display of support for what I naively assume is a terrorist group.

two, in today's stage, which was full of brutal mountains, Iban Mayo, a Spanish climber who was a favorite to challenge Armstrong, had a kind of do or die day. It was clear from his poor climbing yesterday that he wasn't going to challenge anybody. Today, on the 2nd to last climb, he wanted to give up, took his feet off the pedals. And but then his teammates, and two non-teammate Spanish riders, came up behind him and started pushing him up the hill. He is a champion, and they did not want him to fail so ignobly. It is heartbreaking.

other updates: Heras is getting his ass kicked. Hamilton was getting his ass kicked, but dropped out of the race today. Ullrich is getting his ass mostly kicked. Voeckler and Rasmussen are amazing. Armstrong is, as always, superhuman.

Posted by dbrown at July 17, 2004 11:23 AM
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