Sunday, July 31, 2005

1st Annual Mighty Blogs Award

Cooler then getting an Oscar!!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I introduce to you the 1st Annual Mighty Blog awards!
Look for the Star (above) at a few choice blogs that I read. These are all personal choices, a voting committee of one.

To the winners and those receiving honorable mentions please note:
You will not become rich, famous or popular because of this.


You may take satisfaction in knowing that someone is taking notice of who you are and what you are doing. More importantly I just want to say thanks. Most of you continue to be the reason why I continue to blog myself.


Best Friend to the mightyblogs:
Vector at Hydrogen and Stupidity – Vector has been one of the earliest people to comment on the mightyblogs. He also did the HTML work for the site design (gratis). (don’t blame him for the colors, fonts and layout as it is was by my very amateur design). One of the true pleasures in my life was meeting Vector and his lovely wife in Amsterdam for a few beers and snacks.
Honorable mention: Christian Beach, Mark at Haemoglobin

mightyblogs Overachiever Award:
DougRoss@journal - Whether he is writing about Information Security, Software Development or Life in General (as he puts it), Doug always finds the time to write, and write, and write. Doug is the most professional, non-professional (nice wording, huh?) blogger I read. There are times when his writings have inspired my own writings, which is why he is a Mighty Blogs World Tribe member as well.

mightyblogs Underachiever Award:
Ben Allbright at B.allbright – This is a guy who I ‘bumped’ into on mBlog. The guy has my interest for several reasons. First and foremost he is cerebral to what is going on in the world. He also has some life experiences, such as serving in Iraq that I do not share but remain interested in. He also won an episode (possibly more) of Jeapordy! Unfortunately, after waiting patiently for months, still no essay on Iraq as promised in his politik blog, and lately his work has included the ‘usual’ Larry King(ish) one liner rants and posts promising future posts. Granted it appears he is busy in life, but who isn’t? Perhaps this award motivates him to write more.
Honorable Mention: Christian Beach (please wake-up!!) Rennes at Katominaator (yes it is in the Estonian language but I can at least look at the pictures!!)

Story of the Year:
The execution of Theo Van Gogh (mighty blogs post and here and here)
Honorable mention: Death of Pope John Paul II, Elections in Iraq, Lance Armstrong wins his 7th Tour de France

Favorite Post on the mightyblogs (whoever said "Self Praise Stings" was wrong):
How American do you have to be to become President? (1,2,3)
Honorable mention: A brief History of Anti-Americanism (1,2,3), Global Warming and the Kyoto Protocol, Theo’s movie….van Gone!!, On Gulags and Gitmo’s

Favorite Post (outside of the mightyblogs):
Fight on the mBlog – It is no secret that I have my share of issues with Matt Good's political philosophy at times. That said I believe he generally has good intentions and this story and this statement “It is hard to imagine that teens of modern, democratic western nations would need to resort to such violence. Kids will be kids (as the saying goes), but when will Parents start becoming Parents again?” , had a profound impact on me. (for some strange reason though Matt removed this statement from the original post.
This post of Matt inspired my own Does Everyone Want Their 15 Minutes of Shame?
Honorable mention: My Food Pyramid by Doug Ross, November 2nd – Vector at Hydrogen & Stupidity.

Posted by mightymerk, 7:46 AM | link | (2) comments |

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Happy Anniversary - Birthday - Whatever you want to call it!

Anniversary - Birthday - Whatever you want to call it!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

August 1st is officially one year for the Mighty Blogs!!

Like most blogs, it has changed quite a big the first few posts (example here and here) were more personal in nature. Early on I had wanted the mighty blogs to read more as a term paper or editorial piece (examples here and here), but quite frankly I do not usually have the time to post things like this with any consistency (though I do try).

All in all though I achieved my initial goal which was to keep this thing going for at least a year. I didn’t care if I received any comments at all (though they are always appreciated).

Along the way I came into ‘virtual’ contact with quite a few people. I got introduced to quite a few good blogs, depending on your definition did my fair share of trolling and commenting, and even got to meet a fellow blogger in the Netherlands.

I will not make any promises, but you should know I am always thinking of doing more with this blog (as so many of us do). Perhaps doing some podcast work, having several contributors, or simply having more frequent, higher quality posts. Right now I grade myself a B- in terms of the general quality of my posts. That said, continue to bookmark this blog as I have no plans on stopping any time soon.

Look for a special post on August 1st.

Happy Anniversary mightyblogs!!

Posted by mightymerk, 7:40 AM | link | (4) comments |

Friday, July 29, 2005

Mother Nature Strikes Again - Tragedy in India

A the time of this post, 749 people have now been confirmed dead as the result of several neighborhoods being flooded out in in Western India (including 376 in Bombay.)

Most deaths were caused by collapsing walls, drownings and electrocutions, he said.

At least 15 people, including seven children, died late Thursday in a Bombay shantytown stampede set off by rumors of a dam bursting, the officials said. More than 25 others were injured.

Nature again reminds us what a powerful force it is and I am sure that as it continues to rain emergency aid may be brough in from outside of India.

My prayers are with those in India right now.

UPDATE: Death Toll Rises to 910 after new rains pound the area.
Posted by mightymerk, 9:10 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mighty Merk on Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong - 7 Time Tour Winner, Texan and American, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

He has done it!!

Lance Armstrong has officially won the Greatest Race on Earth, the Tour de France, for the 7th time !!
(in a row no less)

I want to first congratulate Lance, his family, Team Discovery and all of the Tour riders. It this truly magnificent sport, where the peleton flows like poetry on the road (instead of paper), where sacrifice and selflessness conquer all, and where the man-machine relationship is at is pinnacle you have all proven to be champions.

Merci Beaucoup!!

As some of you may know, I spend a great deal of time travelling, especially to Europe. I am fortunate enough to have some very good contacts and friends in almost every country (yes friends I could depend on). I also have met and formed relationships with hundreds of people. Very often business and general politics are discussed, but occassionally the conversation will turn less formal and two topics often come up. Lance Armstrong and 'Being' an American.

When you are an American travelling abroad you often get asked strange questions. Sometimes the questions are asked out of genuine curiousity, and other times it is a sort of game that might be best described as 'Let's see how foolish/dumb this American is'. People will ask you if you can name the president/prime minister of their country. If you know the capital of every state in the United States (believe me many Europeans know this), which states in America support the death penaty, and the all time classic....
"Did you vote for George Bush?"

That said, one of the more puzzling questions I get is "Why are American so proud?", to which I generally ask back "Proud of what?" The answer almost 100%of the time is "Proud to be an American". The point of this post is not to provide an answer to this question, but I do see having pride in one's nationality as having some true meaning...and this leads me back to Lance Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong was born in a trailer park. Jokes aside, this is tough living. He was not born into a life of privilege, nor did he have any state body on the lookout for potential cyclist the way say perhaps Jan Ullrich did (in former East Germany). Lance had to make this mark and make his way himself. Lance was also born in Texas. I live in the Jersey Shore, so I am the farthest thing from being a 'Texan', but as with all 'different' people, there are some qualities that I very much admire about people from Texas. I have known/met quite a few people from Texas in my life. In general these are very confident folk. They don't suffer from low-self esteem, lack of confidense, or even allergies as many 'coastal' people might. For every 'other' American that may poke fun at them, or makes a joke suggesting that Texas is its own country, you will have a Texan that shamelessly agrees. Texans are the type, that even the most incapable one of them will stand toe to toe with the best, get knocked down, down right let somebody get the better of them and they still will wake up feeling as confident as ever in the morning.

Lance Armstrong is an American and that is even a bigger reason why he has done what he has. Now don't get me wrong, every country is capable of producing a champion, a hero, someone to emulate. Americans do not have the monopoly on this. But I do think Americans have (for whatever reason) the monopoloy on allowing themselves to dream the highest dream, sample every bit of life (not matter how high or low) and yes, be proud of who they are and what they have done (or are trying to do). It's the reason why Greg LeMond, the first American ever to win the Tour de France did not settle on just one victory, even after being shot and almost losing his life. It is the same reason why Lance, who at one point was told he had about two months to live did not stop after his first race post recovery, or his first Tour victory. See Americans also like the underdog. The guy who came from nothing only to win it all. After all that is many of is also the story of our nations birth. Lance Armstrong, like many Americans, does not take himself so seriously (don't mistake this for a lack of confidence though), but believe me he takes his work, in this case cycling, and everything he does very seriously.

Americans are to able love their country even when, in the case of early African-American athletes, their country may not be so loving back. Even when you disagree with a policy, a government, or even a war you perform as the best American Athlete possible. You do it for America as much as you do it for yourself. You are proud not because America or Americans are so inherently great, but because we achieve so many dreams despite the fact that we are a flawed people. The privilege is not what we were born with, it is about what we pick up throughout life.

Now many of you may not believe all of this (even many of my fellow Americans). It might appear too self serving, and does not provide a rounded enough approach to Lance and what being an American is (and this I will admit).

That is ok.

There are no guarantees that another American will win a Tour de France, though the fact that 3 Americans did finish in the Top 10 is promising. That said if another American wins the Tour you can be sure he is not out to win just one. He is out to win 8, or 10 for that matter, and Lance Armstrong, the brash Texan from the United States will be a big reason why.

Congrulations Lance!

Posted by mightymerk, 3:59 PM | link | (2) comments |

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Stage 20 - Tour de France

Saint-Etienne loop (individual time trial), originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Lance Armstrong Wins Stage 20 and is assured of his 7th straight Tour de France Victory!!

It was a fantastic individual time trial. Many riders, traditionally not known for their indivudal time trial skills, stepped up their game and took it to the Tour as well as to Lance.

There was plenty of drama. Ivan Basso, who has certainly improved his time trial abilities was ahead of Lance by 7 seconds at the first checkpoint, nobody expected this. Unfotunately for Basso it appears he went a little too strong too early and he suffered later in the race finishing 5th. Ivan Basso remains a favorite for next years tour.

Then there was Mickael Rasmussen, The Grea Dane, desperately trying to hold on to his 3rd place podium spot as a determined Jan Ullrich burned through the course. It was almost like watching a nature show and wanting to helping the spirited gazelle from the attacks of a cheetah, you wanted to reach throug the screen and push Rasmussen along. Unfotunately after two crashes, and at least as many bike changes he dropped back deep into the top standing, finishing 7th. Both Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong passedhim.

Jan Ullrich certainly proves what a capable rider he still his, making up HUGE time on both Rasmussen and Basso, finishing 2nd in this stage. Basso should thank his lucky stars he had such a nice lead on Jan, because it got very close. Jan is true champion (winning in 1997) and never finishing worse then 4th place in the Tour de France. I belive Jan does have at least 1 more Tour de France win in him. Hopefully T-Mobile or another team can help him accomplish this.

Last but not least ther was Lance Armstrong. As impressive as Jan Ullirich's ride was, Lance had eclisped him in the end by 23 seconds (which is pretty sizeable in cycling). From start to finish, despite some of the other drama, there was little doubt he was going to go out and win this stage. He had not won a race all year, and despite what he may say, not having a stage win in the Tour de France would have detracted slightly from even a 7th win.

I will save the big Lance write up for another day but I will stay now CONGRATULATIONS LANCE!!

The General Classification looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC – 3,463.5km in 82h34’05”
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC – at 4’40”
3. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO – at 6’21”
4. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA – at 9’59”
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST – at 11’25”
6. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO – at 11’27”
7. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB – at 11’33”
8. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL – at 11’55”
9. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO – at 12’44”
10. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) PHO – at 12’44”

Final Standing for Stage 20 are:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC 55.5km in 1h11’46"
2. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 23"
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO - at 1’17"
4. Bobby Julich (USA) CSC - at 1’33"
5. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 1’54"
6. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 2’02"
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at 2’06"
8. George Hincapie (USA) DSC - at 2’25"
9. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 2’51"
10. Vladimir Karpets (Russia) IBA - at 3’05"

Posted by mightymerk, 5:44 PM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, July 22, 2005

Stage - 19 Tour de France

Lssoire to Le Puy en Velay, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

First I must congratulate Italian rider Giuseppe Guerini in winning this stage. He did so as part of an escape group.

Changes in the General Classification!!
Christophe Moreau was dropped out of the top 10.

The General Classification now looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 3,408km in 81h22’19" (41.694km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 3’46"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 5’58"
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 7’08"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 8’12"
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at 9’49"
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO at 10’11"
9. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 10’42"
10. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) PHO - at 12’39"

The final results for Stage 19 are:

1. Giuseppe Guerini (Italy) TMO - 153.5km in 3h33’04" (43.225km/h)
2. Sandy Casar (France) FDJ - at 10"
3. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) LIQ - at 10"
4. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) PHO - at 12"
5. Salvatore Commesso (Italy) LAM - at 2’43"
6. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway) CSC - at 2’48"
7. Nicolas Portal (France) CSC - at 2’48"
8. Bert Grabsch (Germany) PHO - at 2’48"
9. Sylvain Chavanel (France) COF - at 2’48"
10. Peeter Weening (Netherlands) RAB - 3’50"

Posted by mightymerk, 12:02 PM | link | (0) comments |

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Stage 18 - Tour de France

Albi to Mende, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Changes in the General Classification!!

It was nice to see such activity in this stage from a large group of different certainly adds some drama to the Tour de France this year. Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer and Mickael Rasumussen all lost time to Lance Armstrong.

The General Classification now looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 3,254.5km in 77h44’44" (41.664km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 3’46"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 5’58"
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 7’08"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 8’12"
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at 9’49"
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO at 10’11"
9. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 10’42"
10. Christophe Moreau (France) C.A - at 13’15"

The final results for Stage 18 are:

1. Marcos Serrano - 189km in 4h37’36" (40.85km/h)
2. Cedric Vasseur at 27"
3. Axel Merckx - at 27"
4. Xabier Zandio at 1’08"
5. Franco Pellizotti at 1’08"
6. Thomas Voeckler - at 1’18"
7. Luke Roberts - at 1’28"
8. Matthias Kessler - at 1’444"
9. Egoi Martinez - at 2’03"
10. Carlos Da Cruz - 2’38"

Posted by mightymerk, 7:50 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stage 17 - Tour de France

Pau to Revel, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

It is official, only the Great Eddy Merckx has worn the Yellow Jersey more times (through 111 stages) then Lance Armstrong (79). While it is certain that with the retirment of Lance Armstrong Eddy's record will stand it still remains quite an achievement for Lance Armstrong.

Congratulations to Team Discovery rider Paolo Savoldelli, who won Stage 17 in spectacular form. This is the first time that two riders from Lance's team have won stages at the Tour de France (during his 7 year reign).

There were no changes to the general classification.

The final standings for Stage 17 are:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 3,065.5km in 72h55’50" (41.823km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 3’09"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 5’58"
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 6’31"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 7’35"
7. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO - at 9’38"
8. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at 9’49"
9. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 9’53"
10. Christophe Moreau (France) C.A) at 12’07"

Posted by mightymerk, 7:25 AM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stage 16 - Tour de France

Mourenx to Pau, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

The last big mountain stage found Lance Armstrong comfortably protecting his lead.

Despite the fact the race was 'fairly' calm with no major attacks coming from any of the top contenders there was some drama with Australian Cadel Evans taking off in the first escape group gained 3 minutes and 24 seconds to move into 7thplace (elevated from 11th).

It was also ince to see Oscar Pereiro win the stage, as he came in 2nd in stage 15 after doing a lions share of the work for the escape group in that stage.

The final results for Stage 16 are:

1. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) PHO - 180.5km in 4h38’40" (38.863km/h)
2. Xabier Zandio (Spain) IBA - at same time
3. Eddy Mazzoleni (Italy) LAM - at same time
4. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL - at same time
5. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) FDJ - at 2’52"
6. Anthony Geslin (France) BTL at 2’25"
7. Jorg Ludewig (Germany) DOM at 2’25
8. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain) FAS at 2’25"
9. Ludovic Turpin (France) A2R at 2’25"
10. Cedric Vasseur (France) COF at 2’25"

Posted by mightymerk, 9:45 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Stage 15 - Tour de France

Lézat-sur-Leze to St-Lary Soulan, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

A remarkable Tour for the Americans!!!

For those following my commentary, you may remember a few posts back how I mentioned that it was possible that an American would hold the Yellow Jersey for every stage of the Tour for the first time in Tour history. In large part due to an incredible ride by Jens Voigt back in Stage 10 , this possibility was removed and Jens took the Yellow Jersey for a day.

It still should be noted that American cyclist are having an incredible Tour, further illustrated by George Hincapie's Stage 15 victory today!! Hincapie outsprinted Oscar Pereiro sio. Both riders were the only riders to lead at the end of an initial 14 man break-away. It was an emotional day for Hincapie and Lance Armstrong it was exactly 10 years ago today that former teammate Fabio Casartelli lost his life on the same stage after a crash.

3 Americans are now in the Top 10 of the General Classification: Lance Armstrong in 1st, Levi Leipheimer in 6th (7'35") and Floyd Landis (9'33") in 7th.

Today's stage was particularly brutal and there were some changes to the general classification, most notably that Ivan Basso, wo stayed pedal to pedal with Lance today, moved into 2nd place ahead of Mickael Rasmussen.

The overall general classification looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 2,645.5km in 62h09’59" (42.309km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 3’09"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 5’58"
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 6’31"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 7’35"
7. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 9’33"
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO at 9’38"
9. Christophe Moreau (France) C.A - at 11’47"
10. Andreas Kloden (Germany) TMO - at 12’01"

The final results for Stage 15 are:

1. George Hincapie (USA) DSC - 205.5km in 6h’06’38" (33.63km/h)
2. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) PHO - at 06"
3. Pietro Caucchioli (Italy) C.A - at 38"
4. Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) RAB - at 57"
5. Laurent Brochard (France) BTL - at 2’19"
6. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 5’04"
7. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - at 5’04"
8. Oscar Sevilla (Spain) TMO - at 6’28"
9. Jan Ullrich (Ger) TMO - at 6’28"
10. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 6’32" 17:25 -

Posted by mightymerk, 8:47 AM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Stage 14 - Tour de France

Agde to Ax-3 Domaines, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

What a Stage! It was exciting from start to finish.

T-Mobile, with the three headed cycling-hydra of Ullrich, Klöden and Vinokourav staged an early and repeated attacks that absolutely destroyed Team Discovery. Lance Armstrong though proved every bit the champion as he stayed with each and every attack throughout the day eventually leaving T-Mobile in fragments and beating CSC rival Ivan Basso at the finish to record 2nd place in the stage.

Austrian Georg Totschnig won the stage by responding to the early attack and make an escape on his own. It was an emotional finish for Georg, with tears in his eyes he could barely stand. You could hardly fault him for this though as it was his first stage win of any major tour and he had to hold off the late attack of Armstrong/Basso to finish 56 seconds ahead of Lance.

Because of the brutal attacks by T-Mobile, the general classification was shaken up a bit.
It currently looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 2,440km in 55h58’17" (43.32km/h)
2. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB - at 1’41"
3. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 2’46"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 4’34"
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 4’45"
6. Floyd Landis (USA) PHO - at 5’03"
7. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 5’03"
8. Andreas Kloden (Germany) TMO - at 5’38"
9. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstahn) TMO - at 7’09"
10. Christophe Moreau (France) C.A - at 8’37"

The final results for Stage 14 are:

1. Georg Totschnig (Austria) GST 220.5km in 5h43’43" (38.491km/h)
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - at 56"
3. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC - at 58"
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) TMO - at 1’16"
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 1’31"
6. Floyd Landis (USA) GST - at 1’31"
7. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA - at 1’47"
8. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB- at 1’47"
9. Andreas Kloden (Germany) TMO - at 2’06"
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) EUS - at 2’20"

Posted by mightymerk, 1:42 PM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, July 15, 2005

Stage 13 - Tour de France

Miramas to Montpellier, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Some may wonder what has Lance Armstrong's presence in the Tour the last 7 years meant? Usually in the days between the Alps and Pyranees stages the winners have traditionally been 'non-factor' riders that take part in an 'eschapee' or escape. NOT TODAY!!!

Today was a day for the SPRINTERS!!

Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team helped real in the escape group to give him the Stage 13 Victory and more importantly valuable points in the Green Jersey (sprinters) category. Thor Hushovd still remains in the Green Jersey but this finish certainly makes things much more interesting.

There is no change to the overall classification with Lance Armstrong remaining in the Yellow Jersey.

The final results for Stage 13 are:

1. Robbie McEwen (Australia) DVL
2. Stuart O’Grady (Australia) COF
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA) DVL
4. Guido Trentin (USA) QST
5. Thor Hushovd (Norway) C.A
6. Anthony Geslin (France) BTL
7. Robert Forster (Germany) GST
8. Magnus Backstedt (Sweden) LIQ
9. Gianluca Bortolami (Italy) LAM
10. Chris Horner (USA) SDV

Posted by mightymerk, 11:35 AM | link | (3) comments |

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Stage 12 - Tour de France

Briancon to Digne-les-Bains, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

For the 15th time since World War II, a French rider won a stage of the Tour de France on Bastille Day, this time being David Moncoutie. Mr. Moncoutie, a rider from Team Cofidis, helped lead a pack of riders who broke from the Peleton and won the stage with a 10 minute plus advantage. None of the riders in the break are considered threats to the overall General Classification, but for the people of France this is a sweet victory!!

Drama also came in another form as Team Discovery rider and Lance Armstrong teammate Manuel 'Triki' Beltran quit the Tour after a nasty crash. He did so under doctors advice. Triki, a Mountain Specialist, will surely be missed by Lance and could serve as hope for T-Mobile, CSC and Credit Agricole Teams who feel that this may be the year that Lance goes down.

There were no changes to the General Classification.

The final results for Stage 12 are:

1. David Moncoutie (France) COF - 187km in 4h20’06" (43.137km/h)
2. Sandy Casar (France) FDJ at 57"
3. Angel Vicioso (Spain) LSW at 57"
4. Patrice Halgand (France) C.A at 57"
5. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spain) IBA at 57"
6. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) LIQ at 57"
7. Axel Merckx (Belgium) DVL at 57"
8. Juan Manuel Garate (Spain) SDV at 57"
9. Thor Hushovd (Norway) C.A at 3’15"
10. Stuart O’Grady (Australia) COF at 3’15"

Posted by mightymerk, 9:04 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Stage 11 - Tour de France

Courchevel to Briancon, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

The aggressive T-Mobile rider Alexandre Vinokourov returned to proper form (after getting left behind in yesterdays stage by Lance Armstrong) to take the Stage 11 win. In the process of this win he also cut his deficit to 4:47 (to Lance Armstrong). It was a brilliant rebound for Mr. Vinokourov who in my opinion remains one of the most spirited riders in cycling. He is also certainly not short on confidense or guts.

The final standing for Stage 11 are:

1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) TMO -
2. Santiago Botero (Col) PHO - at same time
3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) C.A - at 1’15"
4. Bobby Julich (USA) CSC - at same time
5. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) LAM - at same time
6. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - at same time
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) DVL - at same time
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at same time
9. Mickael Rasmussen (Den) RAB - at same time
10. Georg Totschnig (Aut) GSt - at same time

French rider Chritophe Moreau is now in 3rd place, 2:34 behind the Yellow Jersey, which is a big relief for French cycling fans (who have been longing for a quality French performance for years).

The General Classification now looks like this:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - 1,859km in 41h51’57" (43.902km/h)
2. Mickael Rasmussen (Den) RAB - at 38"
3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) C.A - at 2’34"
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC - at 2’40"
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) IBA - at 3’16"
6. Santiago Botero (Col) PHO - at 3’48"
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST - at 3’58"
8. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) IBA - at 4’00"
9. Jan Ullrich (Ger) TMO - at 4’02"
10. Andreas Kloden (Ger) TMO - at 4’16"

Posted by mightymerk, 9:56 AM | link | (0) comments |

Stage 10 - Tour de France

Grenoble to Courchevel, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Lance Armstong is back in the Yello Jersey. It appears that all doubts concerning his physical and mental state have been answered. He absolutely punished his main rival during this first Alps stage.

Congratulations to Alejandro Valverde for taking the stage victory as he outsprinted Lance in the end.

The final standings for stage 10 are:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) IBA
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC - at same time
3. Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) RAB at 9"
4. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA at 9"
5. Ivan Basso (Italy) CSC at 1’02"
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) GST at 1’15"
7. Eddy Mazzoleni (Italy) LAM at 2’14"
8. Cadel Evans (Australia) DVL at 2’14"
9. Andreas Kloden (Germany) TMO at 2’14"
10. Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakstahn) C.A at 2’14"

Posted by mightymerk, 3:50 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Stage 9 - Tour de France

stage10, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Gerardmer to Mulhouse

Danish rider Mickael Rasmussen is the man!!!!
In one of the most impressive acts of cycling I have ever seen, he was able to post an attack just 4km into the race, win every top mountain point for the Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains Jersey) and almost take the Tour lead!!

It must also be noted that German Rider Jens Voigt was rewarded for his aggressive riding this Tour by taking the Yellow Jersey from Lance Armstong at this stage as well. Some may argue that Lance gave the Yellow Jersey to Jens, which is partially true (as Lance could surely have fended off his attack), but as you learn more and more about this wonderful sport you understand that sometimes losing is winning. In this case Team CSC (for which Mr. Voigt rides for) will certainly have the pressure on them to defend the Yellow Jersey. This gives Team Discovery a much needed break.

Congratulations Mickael Rasmussen and Jens Voigt!!

Since we had a major change in the General Classification let me post it here:

1. Jens Voigt (GER) CSC 1,493.5km in 32h18’23" (46.22km/h)
2. Christophe Moreau (FRA) C.A at 1’50"
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) DSC at 2’18"
4. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN) RAB at 2’43"
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) TMO at 3’20"
6. Bobby Julich (USA) CSC at 3’25"
7. Ivan Basso (ITA) CSC at 3’44"
8. Jan Ullrich (GER) TMO at 3’54"
9. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC 3’54"
10. George Hincapie (USA) DSC 4’05"

The Final Standing for stage 10 are:

1. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN) RAB - 171km in 4h08’20" (41.315km/h)
2. Christophe Moreau (FRA) C.A at 3’04"
3. Jens Voigt (GER) CSC at 3’04"
4. Stuart O’Grady (AUS) COF at 6’04"
5. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) FDJ at same time
6. Antony Geslin (FRA) BTL at same time
7. Sebastian Lang (GER) GST at same time
8. Laurent Brochard (FRA) BTL at same time
9. Jerome Pineau (FRA) BTL at same time
10. Gerrit Glomser (AUT) LAM at same time

Posted by mightymerk, 7:33 AM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stage 8 - Tour de France

finish, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

A picture is sometimes worth a thousand words. In the case of the picture for the photo finish for State 8 of the 2005 Tour de France, I would have to agree and therefore there is no stage map today (though the route was from Pforzheim, Germany back to Gerardmer, France)

But of course I am not short on words or opinions!! ;)

Let me first congratulate stage winner Pieter Weening of Rabobank. The Dutch rider proved that sometimes the brave attacker can hold on for the victory.

It was a fantastic race in which there were several points of drama. It was hard to decide what was more dramatic, that fact that T-Mobile was relentless in their attack of Lance Armstrong, or the fact that Team Discovery, by many considered the strong team, had completely failed Lance.

T-Mobile riders Jan Ullrich, Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden all took turns taking shots at Lance Armstrong. It was only when Kloden made a lone break that Lance could sit back a bit ane remain with Ullrich and Vinokourov, who were closer in time to him in the overall classification.

It is certain that T-Mobile, with Ullrich (3 time runner up to Lance and 1997 Tour winner), Kloden (runner up last year) and Vinokourov (3rd place in 2003) has the talent to break Armstrong, despite the fact he appears to be in topo form, especially if his team continues to fail him.

Tomorrow's race is a MUST WATCH!

The final standings for Stage 8 are:

1. Pieter Weening (Ned) RAB
2. Andreas Kloden (Ger) TMO at same time
3. Alejandro Valverde (Sp) IBA at 27"
4. Kim Kirchen (Lux) FAS at st
5. Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC at st
6. Jan Ullrich (Ger) TMO at st
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) DVL at st
8. Christophe Moreau (Fr) C.A at st
9. Chris Horner (USA) SDV at st
10. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) TMO at st.

Posted by mightymerk, 3:42 PM | link | (3) comments |

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tour de France - Stage 7 Results

Lunneville to Karlsruhe, originally uploaded by mightymerk.


That is exactly what German rider Fabian Wegmann did!! I was certain that a German rider would make a bold move, but I had no idea it would be Fabian. For 160km he rode on the attack, but in one of the most cruelest aspects in modern day sports, he was gobbled up by the peleton with about 25km left to the finish.
With that, it was all left to the sprinters to determine the outcome of the race.

Australian Robbie McEwen (a sprint specialist) won Stage 7 just ahead of Sweden's Magnus Backstedt and Austria's Bernard Eisel. Lance Armstrong finished in 54th place, but was awarded the same time as the stage winner and holds onto the Yellow Jersey for another day.

The final standings for Stage 7 are:

1. Robbie McEwen (Australia) DVL
2. Magnus Backstedt (Sweden) LIQ
3. Bernhard Eisel (Austria) FDJ
4. Gerrit Glomser (Austria) LAM
5. Baden Cooke (Australia) FDJ
6. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) FAS
7. Tom Boonen (Belgium) QST
8. Gianluca Bortolami (Italy) LAM
9. Thor Hushovd (Norway) C.A)
10. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain) FAS

Posted by mightymerk, 8:34 AM | link | (0) comments |

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Our Thoughts Are With You

Our Thoughts Are With You, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Britain.

Posted by mightymerk, 11:34 AM | link | (0) comments |

Tour de France - Stage 6 Results

Troyes to Nancy, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Italian Lorenzo Bernucci won the 6th stage of the Tour de France today, escaping a crash at the final turn of the race that ended in Nancy.

Lance Armstrong keeps the Yellow Jersey, but T-Mobile rider Alexandre Vinokourov gained time on him by finishing 2nd in the stage and is now just 53 seconds behind Lance.

The final standings for the stage are:

1. Lorenzo Bernucci (FAS)
2. Alexandre Vinokourov (TMO)
3. Robert Forster (GST)
4. Angelo Furlan (DOM)
5. Thor Hushovd (C.A)
6. Kim Kirchen (FAS)
7. Gianluca Bortolami (LAM)
8. Egoi Martinez (EUS)
9. Gerrit Glomser (LAM)
10. Kurt Atle Arvesen (CSC)

The next stage will take place tomorrow a 228km affair from Lunneville, France to Karlsruhe, Germany. I expect the top German riders and the German teams of T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner to be particularly aggressive.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:47 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tour de France - Stage 5 Results

Chambord to Montargis, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I have decided to blog each and every state of this years tour starting with Stage 5 today.

The results are in:

1. Robbie McEwen (AUS - DVL)
2. Tom Boonen (BEL - QST)
3. Thor Hushovd (NOR - C.A)
4. Stuart O’Grady (AUS - COF)
5. Angelo Furlan (ITA - DOM)
6. Allan Davis (AUS - LWT)
7. Bernard Eisel (AUT - FDJ)

Most of these names come as no surprise as they are some of the all time Sprinting Greats in this sport. Noticeably absent is Erik Zabel who was left off this years T-Mobile team which is quite a surprise considering he is a 5-time Green Jersey (sprinters jersey) winner.

The overall classification does not change so Lance Armstrong continues to wear the Yellow Jersey.

Two interesting sidenotes

#1 *Lance initially tried to start the race by not wearing the Yellow Jersey. He did so out of respect to fellow American David Zabriskie who had an unfortunate crash towards the end of Stage 4 and subsequently lost the Yellow Jersey that he had worn for the first 3 stages. David had won the Yellow Jersey after he won the first stage (and individual time trial) beating Lance by 2 seconds.

#2 * If Lance holds onto the Yellow Jersey through Paris (and thus winning his 7th Tour de France) it will be the first time in the history of the tour that the Yellow Jersey was worn entirely by U.S. riders.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:29 AM | link | (0) comments |

Monday, July 04, 2005

America's Birthday!!

My interpretation of the flag...drawn May 2004, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Happy 4th of July to my American readers.!!

Have fun and be safe!!

Posted by mightymerk, 6:41 AM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, July 02, 2005

...or will be Tour de Lance?

...or will be Tour de Lance?, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Today is the start of the Tour de France and perhaps more importantly (from a historic point of view), Lance Armstrong's quest for 7 straight Tour de France titles. The race is amazing. Truly many of the champions are immortals in the sports world. Eddy Mercx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain amongst others.

The sport of cycling itself is quite like any other. When your main opponent crashes it is proper etiquette for the lead to slow his tempo and to allow the fallen rider to catch up. It is also a very team oriented even, sometimes with the most talented rider of the day on the team, sacrificing himself so that the team leader and improve in the overall standings.

Cycling also has its down parts as well. As a support where illegal stimulants and things like blood doping are commonplace it tends to detract from all of the finer qualities. In general, cyclist are some of the most tested athletes in the world because of this.

My personal love affair with this incredible bike race begain in 1989. At the end of my first year in a French language class Greg LeMond was on his way to his second Tour de France victory.

It was quite an exciting thing to watch considering the following:

In 1986, Greg LeMond became the first American ever to win the Tour de France. At the time it was a big deal simply for the fact that an American had won an even like this, when cycling had little if any popularity at all in the states. Shortly after this victory, Greg LeMond nearly died from shotgun accident he received while turkey hunting with family. With 37 shot gun pellets still in his body, some even in the lining of his heart, Greg went on to win the Tour in 1989 and 1990. In 1989 Greg won Sports Illustrateds sportsmen of the year (the first cyclist to have done so).

After watching my first Tour, I never turned back.

Since that time I have followed every Tour de France very closely. Some of my heroes over the years were Marco Patani, Jan Ullrich, Erik Zabel and Viatcheslav Ekimov. I have even had the pleasure of spending time in Paris during two tours (2002 and 2003). It was quite interesting being in a Parisian cafe or bar, watching so many people fixated on a cycling even. This is something very unlikely to see in the U.S. (though even the local bars tend to cover the Tour).

One of my favorite bands, Kraftwerk, had put out a complete soundtrack album dedicated to the Tour de France with this album by the same name. (as a follow up to their original single in 1983)

Lance Armstrong, himself has a heroic story as a cancer survivor (at one point being told he had two months to live). He has said that this will be his last Tour, and it is certain he wants it to be a victory. It is all the more interesting because so many cyclists like Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso are motivated to dethrone the current champ, and in the process make their own mark. Lance had authored two books, It's Not About the Bike. My Journey Back to Life and Every Second Counts. Both make excellent reads (especially on a train or plane) An excellent article about Lance written by Phil Ligget can be found here.

No matter what the outcome of this race, or of future races I remain a fan. If you are interested in following the Tour online here is a link to the official site.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:13 AM | link | (0) comments |