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Tour 2009: It’s Ground Hog Day!

July 15th, 2009 Comments off

Stage 11 of the Tour de France was a lot like Stage 10. Sure, the route was a bit different, as was the scenery along the way, but at the end of the day, the results were the same, as Mark Cavendish sprinted past everyone else to win his fourth stage of this year's Tour, and reclaim the Green Jersey from Thor Hushovd, who was able to maneuver into position coming down the stretch, but couldn't quite get past the "fastest man in the world."

Today's route rolled through the hills between Vatan and Saint-Fargeau, a distance of 192km (119 miles) that offered little for the climbers to do. The Peloton played it safe most of the day, although there were a few crashes along the route, and a late breakaway had to be reeled back in by Team Columbia-HTC once again. And just like yesterday, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw delivered Cavendish to the finish line, where he powered his way up hill to claim the stage. Previously, many had said that he hadn't ever won on an uphill finish, but he silenced those critics today, pulling away from the field.

Otherwise, nothing else is changed. Nocentini is in Yellow, six seconds in front of Contador, and eight in front of Lance. Egoi Martinez holds on to the Polka Dot Jersey and Tony Martin is in White. As I've said several times before, nothing will like change in that department until next Tuesday, when the Alps make their first appearance, and they can't come quick enough at this point. These by-the-numbers stages are not very exciting to watch, unless you're into the sprinters and following the Green Jersey points.

Tomorrow, it's on to Vittel by way of Tonnerre. The stage is 211.5km (131 miles) in length and offers a bit more in the way of climbs, although there is still nothing more than a Category 3 to deal with. The only real excitement will be whether or not anyone can challenge Cavendish, either out on the route or at the finish line.
Categories: Cycling, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France Tags:

Karakorum 2009: Gasherbrum Summits a No Go, Teams Leaving K2

July 14th, 2009 Comments off

More news from the Karakorum today, where we're learning that the weather remains bad and conditions on some of the big peaks are not improving as the teams would like.

We'll start on the Gasherbrums, where ExWeb is reporting that a large snow storm has struck the mountain, sending teams down from C2 where they had been hoping to launch their summit bids on both G1 and G2. News on the Jagged Globe website confirms that their team was amongst those that retreated off the mountain as it was blasted with snow. It seems that Viekka Gustaffson was amongst those forced down from an attempt on Gasherbrum I.

Meanwhile, there have been no updates to Don Bowie's site since July 8th, when we were told that Don and the crew were climbing up to 7000m and hoping for a weather window on G3. We can only assume that conditions are bad on that mountain as well, and that perhaps they were forced down too.

Jumping over to K2, the reports are that the mountain is loaded with snow, especially on the tricky upper slopes. There is enough there to send Giuseppe Pompili packing from the mountain altogether, saying that it isn't worth the risks to continue climbing the mountain this year. He's not the only one calling quits, as both Sean Wisedale and Tunc Findik have left base camp as well. Both men indicated that they were listening to their gut instincts while giving up their climbs as things don't feel right on the mountain at the moment. Wisedale went so far as to say "The presence of death here is overwhelming". Tunc will now head over to G2 with a hope for better luck.

Finally, back on Nanga Parbat, the teams are still dealing with the two deaths there over the weekend. Yesterday I mentioned that Korean climber Go Mi-Sun had fallen to her death, and I incorrectly stated that her body had been found and removed from the mountain. It turns out that that isn't true, and while the team knows where her remains are, they haven't gone up to find them, nor has a recovery operation been mounted at this time. As you can imagine, the mood is described as somber in BC.

IS Film Video Teases El Cap

July 14th, 2009 Comments off

Adventure video company IS Film Video has posted a great looking teaser video for one of their upcoming films entitled El Cap, which, as you can probably guess, deals with climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

The film isn't just about climbing the world's most famous big wall however, as it focuses on a man named Michael Kozusko, who has attempted to scale El Cap twice before, once in 2006 and again in 2007, and failed both times. But, he is determined to reach the top, and if he does so, he'll become the oldest man to ever solo the wall. According to the trailer, he's going back to give it another shot in October of this year, and this film will follow that attempt.

You can watch view the trailer for El Cap by clicking here. What you'll get is a tantalizing look at the film, which is being made by film makers Dave and Mary Davis. The images in the teaser are beautifully shot, and the video clip does exactly what it is suppose to do, which is to tease us into wanting more. I know I'm already wondering if Michael can finally get over the hump and finish his solo climb of El Cap or will the mountain stop him once again, and send him home a defeated man. Can't wait to find out.
Categories: Climbing, El Capitan, Yosemite Tags:

Commemorating The Greatest Adventure of All Time!

July 14th, 2009 Comments off

Thursday marks the 40th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the spacecraft that first took man to the moon, an event that many people feel is the greatest accomplishment in human history. To commemorate this historic event, a new website has been launched at which will recreate the entire mission from start to finish.

If you visit the site right now, and as I write this we're still more than 43 hours from "launch", you can see a virtual representation of the Saturn V rocket that would propel Apollo 11 out of the Earth's atmosphere. You'll also be able to hear ground control running through pre-flight checks as they prepare for the mission, which is still two days away. All of the audio feeds are authentic, and once the mission is underway, there will be video as well, as we follow the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on their voyage, which will culminate next week on July 24th when they return to Earth with a splashdown. Of course, before that happens we'll get to relive the most significant piece of history when on July 20th, Armstrong and Aldrin pilot the lunar lander to the surface of the moon, and become the first humans to step foot on another world.

From what I understand, the details of the mission have been rebuilt to exacting specifications for this website, so we'll all be able to follow along in realtime. The site also allows you to view the liftoff from a variety of angles, and feeds us information about the speed and distance traveled. Other feeds provide trivia about the day, such as what the best selling books were at the time, and the songs that topped the charts as well.

Of course, once liftoff occurs, that's when the fun really begins. I'm told that there is nearly constant chatter between the astronauts and mission control, which should make for a very interesting way to relive this slice of history. I wasn't around when the moon landing happened, I was actually born a month later, but I have always been a fan of the space program, and have been fascinated with the idea of traveling to other planets. For the next week or so, this is going to be something that I'll be watching very closely. In my mind, it is indeed the greatest human adventure of all time, but if you can think of one better, I'd be happy to re-evaluate.

Tour 2009: Bastille Day Break Doesn’t Go Well For French

July 14th, 2009 Comments off

Stage 10 of the 2009 Tour de France was a fairly easy, by the numbers, affair today. In fact, Lance Armstrong called it one of the more relaxed days he had ever experienced on the tour. The course was a 194.5 km (120 mile) ride through the rolling hills between Limoges and Issoudun that offered the climbers few chances to flex their muscles but gave the sprinters some time to shine.

An early breakaway by a group of French riders looking to celebrate Bastille Day provided a bit of intrigue to the proceedings, but the Peloton wasn't ready to grant them their independence just yet, and the break was run down, mostly thanks to some good work from the Columbia-HTC team. At the end of the stage, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw helped to propel their teammate, Mark Cavendish to yet another stage win (his third this year), with "the Missile" finishing just ahead of Thor Hushovd and promising young sprinter Tyler Farrar.

The standings remained unchanged for the Jersey holders and the top of the GC. Rinaldo Nocentini remained in the Yellow Jersey once again, as expected, with Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong content to remain seconds off the pace, lurking, and waiting for the Alps next week. Hushovd kept the Green Jersey despite losing out at the line to Cavendish, while Egoi Martinez stayed in the Polka Dot Jersey, with little more than Cat 4 climbs to challenge the climbers today. Tony Martin is still the top newcomer to the race, and as a result, he keeps the White Jersey as well, and if I were willing to bet, I'd say he'll be riding into Paris with White on his back.

Tomorrow, the riders will face a 192km (119 miles) jaunt from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau that will, much like today, favor the sprinters. The terrain will mostly be rolling hills once again, with a few Category 4 climbs mixed in. Don't expect any movement in the General Classification once more, while the top speedsters vie for sprint points to apply to the Green Jersey. For now, all eyes are focused on next Tuesday and the coming of the Alps.
Categories: Cycling, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France Tags: