Almost here! This year's Tour should be interesting for a number of reasons:
First, the opening prologue has been omitted, and there are no time bonuses. The number of purely flat stages has been reduced. The cumulative effect of this should be to dimish the "which-sprinter-is-in-yellow-today" effect that has dominated the first week of the last several Tours.
Second, for the second year in a row, there is no returning champion. Almost all of the GC contenders from the Armstrong years are gone, or are fading. If Cadel Evans of Lotto or Carlos Sastre of CSC don't make this their year chances are we'll get to see one of the new generation of riders, riders like Frankie Schleck, have a chance at winning the Big Casino.
Third, the organizers promise that this year's tour will be the most thoroughly drug-tested in history. Their insistence on hammering away at doping has cost the riders a lot. Contador, last year's GC winner, will not ride even though he has not been associated with doping; it was enough that he joined Astana in the off-season and was banned with the rest of that problematic squad.
Add some new brutal climbs, in particular the Col de le Lombarde/Cime de la Bonette in Stage 16, and the usual whacked-out fans, crashes, gamesmanship, and the sheer brutal athletic strength and speed needed to cross France on a three-inch wide bicycle seat...well...
En avant, le Tour!
In other news, and in the spirit of ladies' fashion, I give you Little Miss and her devastating Summer Outfit, complete with adorable little flip-flops.
Here's a question for you athletes out there: how little is too little to be hurling yourself at the park climbing wall?
This little girl turns out to climb like a howler monkey on crank, scaling the wall (which is easily four or five times her height) in moments. She terrifies her mom, and I hover behind her ready to catch her but she hasn't fallen and seems to show no fear of the prospect. I really love the fact that she wants to scramble up this thing, but I'm nor sure if two isn't too little to be doing this. Should she be tumbling gently on a mat? Or should I be looking for teeny little pitons and a toddler-sized climbing rope?
And since I'm on a roll with cute pictures of family members big and small, here are Les Girls on the deck in a warm summer morning:
And Monsieur Le Peep shows his Big Love for his Little Sister.