I'm watching The Fall Classic on the tube. Game One of the World Series. It looks cold in St Louis...it's the third week of October in the Upper Midwest after all. Though I don't have a dog in the hunt, I always watch the Series, it's the last vestige of Summertime...I'm like a big ol' bear gorging on the last of the summer's berries and salmon before hibernation time...only winter is my busiest time.
After running into town for my mail and some groceries this morning, I looked around the internet for my daily dose of news and information. How did I miss the announcement of the 2012 Tour de France Route yesterday?
I know, I know...it's more than eight months until a pedal is turned in anger in the 99th Tour de France! Hell, the eggs that bear the chickens I'm counting aren't even laid yet!
I'm not discounting Winter and Ski Season at all...I'm craving redemption, closure, even healing in the wake of this year's crash-marred Tour. I got my clock cleaned...no, disinfected...no, sterilized in TdF Fantasy Racing, and I'm looking forward to rising a sub-basement or two towards The Light. The cellar I was dwelling in was so deep I could smell the sulfur, and feel the radiated heat from the Lake of Fire!
There's a different look to next July's route. Two Individual Time Trials totaling almost 100 kilometers, with the longest the day before the finish in Paris. No Team Time Trial this edition. Not so many mountaintop finishes, but more Big Climbs than last year (25, up from 23). The iconic L'Alpe d'Huez is MIA this year, but as is the norm, the Tour will largely be decided in the mountains.
The long time trials favor three time winner, Spaniard Alberto Contador, but I'm liking Luxembourger Andy Schleck's chances again next year.
Two-time runner up, Schleck is teamed with directeur sportif Johann Bruyneel in the wake of the merger of Schleck's Team Leopard-Trek and Bruyneel 's Team Radioshack. Remember that Bruyneel was directeur sportif for all of Lance Armstrong's seven TdF victories. Even given Armstrong's gifts, there's no discounting Bruyneel's direction, preparation, strategy, and assembly of the supporting cast to shepard the team leader to the top of the podium in Paris.
It's many months before the teams name their TdF Squads, but it's going to be very interesting to watch the chess game between Schleck's Johann Bruyneel and Contador's SaxoBank-Sungard manager Bjarne Riis .
Bruyneel said the race is “missing a classic summit finish like the Ventoux or Alpe d’Huez”, but suggested that there will be plenty of chances to attack, sometimes not in the most obvious of places".
“It’s a good course for Alberto,” said SaxoBank-Sungard manager (and 1996 winner) Bjarne Riis. “There might not be many summit finishes, but the climbs are hard. Even if the stage finishes in a valley, the differences will be made on the climbs like always.”
Well, I've got all Winter and Spring to contemplate my TdF navel. Before anything is set in stone, there's baseball's Spring Training, Opening Day, the kickoff of Formula One Racing, IndyCar Racing, even NASCAR racing, not to mention night after night of (hopefully) Hero Snow.