Friday, June 27, 2008

"Green is the new yellow" - Sprinters take the stage at the Tour de France - a WSJ article

Karen, one of my blog readers from Florida, sent me this article in today's Wall Street Journal about the sprinters in the Tour de France and how this year is their year. It's a very interesting article - make sure to click on the Photo Slideshow for great photos of sprinters and a commentary. It's also interesting to note that this year contains more possibilities for sprint finishes than past Tours.

Though I am personally much more of a sucker for a great climber, I find sprinters a fascinating group. The risks they take are mind-boggling, but it doesn't seem to bother them at all. It's all or none with them, because going for the green jersey is often a matter of millimeters and nano-seconds. There's nothing worse (or more adrenaline producing) than seeing a massive pileup during a mass sprint a few hundred meters from the finish line. You can be sure the yellow jersey contenders will stay back in the pack to avoid potential crashes on the sprint finishes of flat stages. I think because of their incredible courage, daring and speed, sprinters are often brash and vivacious personalities, so proud of their accomplishments they often come across as cocky (more so than other riders, although Michael Rasmussen was about as cocky as they come). Don't hesitate to describe these vibrant personalities to your classes in your rides!

I've occasionally heard comments from instructors who would like to teach a TDF stage but don't feel confident enough to do so. They are so new to the sport and are unsure of themselves when talking about bicycle racing in their classes and tell me, "But I don't know the words to use, and some of my members know more than I do, so I feel silly!" My suggestion is to read as much as you can, especially some of the articles I've provided in the past posts, and to borrow videos or DVDs of past Tour de France races to familiarize yourself. You may even be able to find them in your local library. And don't worry what your members think - you are providing them with a fabulous workout and great entertainment. In many parts of the country, you'll know far more about the Tour than many of your members even if this is your first year - and it might even be you who turns them on to a new passion!

Whenever I read an article like this WSJ article, I am always perusing for verbiage I can "steal" to use in my Tour de France indoor classes. You should be doing the same - get yourself a small notebook, and start keeping some coaching and cueing notes so when you are teaching your class, you'll sound like the expert!

And remember, your ultimate goal with TDF rides is to have even more fun in your Spinning classes!

Enjoy this video of two early stages of the 2007 TDF and their crazy mass sprint finishes, one is even on cobblestones. Pay attention to the colorful verbiage used by Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett. Paul says, "He can't get rid of the Frenchmen, they are like sandbags to him - he wants get rid of them and float to victory!" And then how Phil Liggett says, "They all got beat by the yellow jersey, that will serve them right!" [...ah man, only 8 days before the Tour starts! Can you tell I'm excited??]

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