Blacknell.net

Politics, technology, and society. And the seasonal incursion of pro cycling.

Month: April 2008 (Page 1 of 7)

If you’ve ever had to deal with an Apple Genius . . .

you'll enjoy this.

European Embassy Open Houses – Saturday, May 3rd

This Saturday, European Union member states invites the public "to take a shortcut to Europe." From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the embassies of all EU member states will be open to the general public. Each embassy is planning a program "featuring the country's cuisine, its music and special events." From the UK's press release:
Take a Tour of the United Kingdom: For the first time ever, the British Embassy invites everyone to take a tour past the grand history, old castles, Big Ben, Parliament, fish and chips, haggis, the Giant's Causeway, and Stonehenge to a UK that is now a more modern, innovative and multicultural society. Starting at 10:00 a.m. on May 3, you can tour the United Kingdom with stops in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Guests will have the opportunity to learn more about Being a Brit Different, take a taste of Scotland, businesses of the United Kingdom, and hear about life in DC from high-profile of British expatriates living in the United States. Event Details and time of speakers: 10:00-11:00: British Ambassador to the United States Sir Nigel Sheinwald 11:30: Journalist and Author Christopher Hitchens 12:30: BBC Washington Correspondent Matt Frei 1:30: Senior Director, Business Policy Council and former Journalist Martin Walker 2:30: Newsweek Senior White House Corespondent Richard Wolffe Location: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 Transportation: Free shuttle departing from Dupont Metro Station Parking: Parking is limited so please take the free shuttle if you can Accessibility: All guests are welcome, but not all areas of the Embassy grounds are accessible
Those of you who live around DC may find this an interesting opportunity to see the inside of the embassies of those countries who are less than generous with public access to their embassies (and I'm looking at you, Britain - go take a lesson from Spain or Sweden).

Uphill. Both ways.

The NYTimes.com folks handcode.

TdG: Greg Henderson Takes the Final Stage

Greg Henderson takes the final stage in Atlanta

A few shots showing the lead up to this moment after the jump.

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TdG: Atlanta Circuit – Final Stage

The final stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia kicks off at 1pm EDT.  The 10 laps around a 6.2 mile circuit in downtown Atlanta will be the battleground on which the winner of the 2008 Tour de Georgia is decided. Team High Road's Kanstantsin Siutsou enters the stage first in the overall, thanks to his surprise stage win on Brasstown Bald.  Trent Lowe, of Slipstream, is only 4" back from Siutsou.  Astanta's Levi Leipheimer is 14" back.  Everyone else?  More than a minute back.  While the circuit isn't exactly flat, it's pretty hard to see how anyone outside of the top three will be able to get into the mix tomorrow. Hit the jump for the weather, terrain profile, and course map.

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Kanstantin Sivtsov Wins Brasstown Bald

Team High Road's Kanstantin Sivtsov surprised everyone to win the Brasstown Bald stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia. He's four seconds up in the overall general classification of the race, and if he can keep those four seconds in tomorrow circuit stage in Atlanta, the Tour de Georgia is his. We'll see.

Kanstantin Siutsou

Updated to correct spelling of name.  That's what you get for relying on the official media guide . . .

TdG: Blairsville to Brasstown Bald! (Stage 6)

I suppose it's partly a function of being here, among the energy, but I can hardly think of a more exciting day in American pro racing than this stage. Added in 2004 (after some griping by Lance Armstrong about the lack of a mountaintop finish), the climb up Brasstown Bald is not only the most difficult in American pro road racing, but also enjoys an international reputation as ridiculously difficult. It's in stages like this - where most riders are just focused on surviving - where the best of pro riders can capture the race for themselves. And we're not short of riders who think that they just might be able to do that. Things get rolling in Blairsville at 11am, starting on an 88.4 mile (142.3km) course to Brasstown Bald.  Check out the profile:

The routing of the course, gives the peloton time to warm up on some (relatively) flat valley roads. Sprinters get a points opportunity around mile 39. There's a feed zone at mile 52, but we get our first KOM opportunity immediately after that, at mile 57 in Hogpen Gap. Riders descend from there, with just a little bit of time to recover before the second KOM line at mile 74 (Unicoi Gap). While Sunday's circuits through Atlanta yield some theoretical possibility of a continuing GC contest, it's rather unlikely. If any of these contenders are going win the 2008 Tour de Georgia, it's going to be at Brasstown Bald. So, let's look at the GC possiblities. Slipstream's Trent Lowe is the man in yellow, but (as noted here on PC) you can't help but wonder if team owner Jonathan Vaughters didn't intentionally make him a hopeless caretaker in order to keep his GC options wide open. Tom Danielson is definitely out of the running, having lost 17" on yesterday's stage. However, both Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriske share the same time as Lowe (Lowe picked up the yellow on a very technical tiebreaker related to his position crossing the line in the TTT). I'd certainly love to listen on in that conversation at the Slipstream hotel tonight. My money say that Vande Velde, the second podium step in last year's TdG, is tapped. Levi Leipheimer - along with Chris Horner - is only 4" back right now. Now, as much as one might think of Vande Velde or Zabriske's talents, it's not hard to imagine Leipheimer putting more than 4" into these guys (esp with the help of teammates Horner and Colom - both of whom are at the same time as Levi) . Oh, and who's only 6" back, perhaps capable of opportunistically taking advantage of these guys watching each other too closely? That would be George Hincapie. I thought - and he said - that he was pretty clearly out of the running on this year's race. Maybe not so much. After these folks, chances fall dramatically, with Bobby Julich leading a trio who are 13" seconds back, and it going down from there. So, to review: The top ten for the  overall, at the moment:
  1. Trent Lowe, Slipstream-Chipotle
  2. Dave Zabriske, Slipstream-Chipotle
  3. Christian Vande Velde, Slipstream-Chipotle
  4. Levi Leipheimer, Astana, +4"
  5. Chris Horner, Astana
  6. Antonio Colom, Astana
  7. George Hincapie, Team High Road, +6"
  8. Kanstantsin Siutsou, Team High Road
  9. Bobby Julich, CSC, +13"
  10. Inigo Cuesta, CSC
While the GC is the race everyone's paying attention to, the KOM competition is finalized today, with a decent haul of points available over the three KOM points on the stage. The first over the Hogpen Gap climb gets 10 points (going 7 deep), first over Unicoi gets 8 points (going 5 deep), and first up Brasstown gets 12 points (going 10 deep). So lots of possibilities for the non-GC mountain goats today. The current standings are: The top five for the KOM, at the moment:
  1. Ted King, Bissell - 13 pts
  2. Valery Kobzarenko, Team Type 1 - 10 pts
  3. Cameron Evans - Symmetrics - 10 pts
  4. Moises Adalpe, Team Type 1 - 6 pts
  5. Tim Johnson, Health Net - 6 pts
The KOM competition is wide open. There aren't enough sprint points to affect the sprint jersey (held by High Road's Henderson), and Slipstream's Trent Lowe has 50" over his nearest competitor (Symmetrics' Christian Meier) in the young rider competition. So we'll worry about those in Atlanta, instead. And what of the area that makes this stage possible? Blairsville is a quiet little Appalachian town (and remember, it's not "appel-a-shun", it's "apple-atchan"). Brasstown Bald isn't a town at all, but rather the top of the tallest mountain in Georgia. All in all, it's some beautiful Eastern mountain country, and if you ever get the chance (and have the legs), you should ride it. Now, I know you're waiting for it. The easy shot. But no, I'm not going to do that (despite the fact that Deliverance was, indeed, filmed just a few miles away from here). And anyway, folks around here have a sense of humor. Instead, I'm going to change it up a bit, reaching outside of Georgia for the music and use it to frame the story of this stage. There's a story, you ask? Well, I was looking through previous years' results earlier today, and I noticed something - almost all of the podium finishers on this stage have been once-close leaders/lieutenants who end up in competition with each other. Now, I know that this describes much of cycling, but there's really a closely connected set of stories here. Consider the drama of 2005, when Lance (former Postal) sat on Floyd (former Postal), killing Floyd's GC lead (with apparent malice) over Lance teammate Danielson, who would take both the stage (a certain Levi was 2nd) and the overall as a result. Next, in 2006, Danielson (Disco) wins the stage, but couldn't shake Floyd (Phonak) despite his and Popo's (Disco nee Postal) best efforts. Then there's 2007, where Levi dropped Disco teammate Danielson in pursuit of a Gilberto Simoni attack, resulting in Levi's winning the stage (by 38 seconds) over Danielson, despite an earlier understanding that Danielson would be taking the stage. So, in light of all of that and the poetry that is a well-timed attack on Brasstown Bald, here is today's music - The Ark's This Piece of Poetry is Meant to Do Harm:

You've been watching over me Saying you're keeping me company I should be grateful, I suppose and compare you to a summer's rose

 

You've been talking sweet to me about peace and loving harmony But I know what you say about me So now I tell you cause I gotta break free

 

That I can't give you no false affection I can do without your phony charm This train ain't moving in your direction This piece of poetry is meant to do harm Enjoy Brasstown Bald, folks. How to watch the race Live video from WCSN will start at 12:00pm EDT. Those of you outside of the US, can get it free from Cycling.tv here, time uncertain. The Tour Tracker should start its coverage when the things get moving at 11am EDT.

- originally posted to PodiumCafe.com

TdG: Suwanee to Dahlonega

Unlike today's stage, this preview will be short and sweet. While I'm sure that the riders hardly felt like yesterday's 20 minutes on the track at Road Atlanta felt like a day off, at least hope they got a little more rest than usual yesterday. They'll need it for Stage Five, which is not only the longest stage in the Tour de Georgia, but also brings the first mountains. Riders will be starting in Suwanee at 10am, and will spend the next 133.4 miles (214.7km) taking the long way to Dahlonega. Check out the profile after the jump.

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TdG: At Road Atlanta

Here are a few shot of the day out on the track, where Slipstream claimed the stage. (Will expand and move the gallery here later today, I hope.)

TdG: TTT at Road Atlanta – Stage Four

Here we are - the much anticipated team time trial (TTT) on the Road Atlanta racetrack. In the TTT, each team will start all of its riders together. The finish time of the team will be determined by the time the front wheel of the fourth rider crosses the finish line. Any riders finishing behind the fifth rider on that team will be awarded their actual time across the line. Stage Four takes place entirely upon the 2.54 mile Road Atlanta track in Braselton, GA (about an hour northeast of Atlanta). The course will have twelve turns, ranging from hairpins to long sweepers. The start will be no fun for anyone, as it launches the riders straight into a not-insignificant hill. Here's a map of the course, after the jump:

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