Saturday, July 06, 2019

The Tour 2019: new faces

History may be over for a while.  I'm gonna put in some hours following the Tour de France this year.

Woods in 2018
There are all kinds of new colours and names to assimilate, as usual. Teams cohere, but sponsors come and go. So the long dominant Sky team of Britain is now something called Ineos, my old fave Garmin is now EF Education First, which doesn't sound like "Go Leafs Go." Middle Eastern tyrants sponsor UAE and Bahrain in an effort to polish their reputations, and "Astana" and "Katusha" have a "former Soviet Union" vibe to them.  But in fact the riders come from many different places, including two Canadians.

Michael Woods rides for Education First. He won a Vuelta a Espana stage last year and is a killer hill-climber, but with EF for his first Tour he's supporting overall contender Rigorberto Uran of Colombia this year, so he may be pulling Uran up hills rather than challenging on his own account. Hugo Houle, also Canadian, is a support rider with Astana. Neither a sprinter nor a climber, he's not likely to get mentioned much, but his team leader, Jacob Fulsang, is one of the race favourites, so he will have a lot of work to do.  His first Tour, too.

They started today in Brussels -- hey, Belgium is pretty beautiful, and I got to see the ridge line at Waterloo where Wellington sheltered his troops from Napoleon's artillery.  The route leads through various gorgeous parts of France before getting to Paris.  Looking for more.
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