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Címon Newbies! Flip on the Tube!
 
By Staff
Date: 7/9/2005
Címon Newbies! Flip on the Tube!
 

Címon Newbies! Flip on the Tube!
By David Shields

What a stage! If today is any indication, weíre in for an incredible bicycle race. The relentless attacks on the final climb knocked Discovery off their feet. A combination of tactical mistakes exposed weaknesses in Armstrongís team, something we donít often see. Armstrong found himself totally isolated for the last half of the final climb. To his credit, he limited his losses, dropping important time only to T-Mobileís Andreas Kloden.

But still, Armstrong suffered significant damage. Referring to his teammates he said afterwards, ďWe have some talking to do tonight.Ē They canít be happy about hearing those sorts of words, but Lance wasnít happy either.

No wonder. Today it was as if his cloak of invincibility had been stolen.
Newcomers are often stunned to discover how critical the mental aspect of cycling is. The sport might even be more mental than physical.
Winning requires supreme confidence. These guys ask inconceivable things of their bodies, willing their minds to ignore excruciating pain. Itís impossible to invest that extra increment of suffering if youíre convinced you canít ultimately gain anything for it.
For fans, tiny gestures and expressions can provide a window into the battles raging between an athleteís ears. Even through gritted teeth, you can sense small victories as well. If you watch closely, you just might learn something about yourself.

Tonight there are a lot more cyclists seeing reason for hope than there were just twenty-four hours ago. T-Mobile and CSC look particularly strong, but there are a number of cyclists from lesser teams who stand to benefit from this mÍlťe as well. As a fan, it is a very exciting development. Each year we build up to the tour hearing tough talk from various yellow jersey hopefuls, but seldom does anybody not named Lance Armstrong back those words up.

Because I spend so much time these days speaking to groups who donít understand cycling well, my focus is on introducing new fans to the sport. Iím amazed how often people tell me that they watched the stage into Paris and couldnít figure out what all the fuss was about.
That would be akin to watching only the San Antonio Spurs victory parade and then wondering why Texanís are so crazy about tall guys. Iím begging you, tune in now! Watch the last half hour of one of these mountain stages, and then tell me what you think. Donít be surprised if you find yourself tuning in a bit earlier on the next day, and a bit earlier on the day after that.

Dave Shields is the author of Amazonís #1 Selling Sports Novel, The Race. In June the book became the first sports themed novel ever to win the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. See more at www.ReadTheRace.com.

 
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