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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Let the Lance-watch begin 

Yes, I know. No matter how much I tell you that the Spring Classics are beautiful, no matter how much I tell you that the Giro D'Italia and Vuelta Espana are very important races, no matter how much I suggest that the ProTour really has changed pro cycling, you still really just want to hear about Lance and the Tour de France.

Well, the big news today is that Lance faced what might be called his first serious test of the season, a time trial in the Dauphine Libere, an eight-day race which Lance Armstrong has regularly used as a tune-up for his Tour assaults. He has won it twice, in 2002 and 2003.

The time trial is vitally important because in the Tour de France, the winners make up time on the rest of the field mainly in the time trials (there are usually two major ones) and in the mountain stages. The Dauphine TT comes a few weeks before the start of the Tour de France, and it is well contested, and is therefore a useful test of Armstrong's relative strength.

The result today? Third place in the TT, which is good, and maybe even good enough.

For my part, my own racing is also approaching benchmark levels. Yesterday I rode from New Westminster to UBC. In New West, I passed a courier van in traffic. We kept going back and forth for some time; the driver was clearly making an effort to stay right at the speed limit, as evidenced by the one time when I started slowly passing him as we paralleled each other on Marine.

He finally got away, though. I saw him get ahead of me as he exited to the Arthur Laing Bridge.

In other words, I'm as fast as a car in rush hour traffic. Next goal: be faster.

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