Tour De France Update: Schleck Takes The Lead

After nine stages completed of the 2010 Tour de France, Luxembourg rider Andy Schleck holds a 41 second lead over defending champ Alberto Contador of Spain. Andy hopes to do older brother Frank proud, who was knocked out of the Tour after fracturing his collarbone. Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong - who’s likely riding in his last Tour de France - is currently in 31st place, about 16 minutes behind Andy Schleck.

Today’s Stage 10 is a 111-mile journey from Chambery to Gap, which you can follow along here:

Thanks to Bing Twitter Maps for sponsoring this post.

Tour de France Update: Schleck Breaks Collarbone

Updating the Tour de France: Norway’s Thor Hushovd won today’s third stage, a.k.a. the “hell of the north” due to its cobblestone roads. Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara moved into first place overall after finishing today’s stage in sixth, while Britain’s Geraint Thomas moved into second overall after finishing second today.

Previous overall leader Sylvain Chavanel fell back in the standings when had to change bikes after suffering multiple tire punctures. The biggest injury of Stage 3 was to Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, who broke his collarbone when he fell on the cobblestone about 26 km from the stage finish line.

You can follow the Tour action with this Bing Twitter map:

Thanks to Bing Twitter Maps for sponsoring this post.

Contador to Lance: Hey Bud, How That A** Taste?

Sure there were disagreements, but now that the Tour de France is over and Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong are back in their own countries, bygones can be bygones, right? (Laugh track). Ain’t gonna happen. Barely having arrived back in his native Spain, Contador laid into Armstrong the first time someone approached him with a microphone.

Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong

Contador finished first, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck second and Armstrong — returning to the Tour de France after a three-year layoff — was third. But the Astana teammates were frequently at odds, although Contador wouldn’t give specifics. Read more…

Speed Read: Lance Follows Watson Into Sunset

Sigh. Just 24 hours ago, the idea of Tom Watson winning the British Open and Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France didn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, we were all starting to believe that it all had to happen. Why would they come this far just to fail in the end?

Tom Watson

Much has been written about Watson’s inability to hang on to a one-shot lead on the 18th at Turnberry, but lost in that shuffle was the news that Armstrong has basically conceded the Tour to his teammate Alberto Contador after falling behind in yesterday’s climb in the Alps. While Lance is still second overall, he finished ninth in yesterday’s stage and looks like he’s not going to be able to keep up as the Tour continues through the mountains over the next week.

Armstrong is trying to take the high road in pledging that he will do whatever he can to help Contador keep the yellow jersey until the end, but Contador couldn’t resist smacking Lance with a rather large verbal backhand:

“Lance Armstrong was my idol, but dropping him today wasn’t important — he was just like any other rider … It’s an honor for me to have him working for me,” Contador said.

In other words, this is my sport now.  Armstrong, who is rumored to be starting his own team for next year, acknowledged that Contador was the best rider and that his goal now is to do what’s best for his team.

Alberto Contador

Wins by Watson and/or Armstrong would have probably ended up being the biggest sports stories of the year, if not among the best of the decade. These examples of the triumph of the spirit over the limitations of the body as we age are a shot in the arm of a lot of us could use. For the most part, we are faced every day with some reminder that we aren’t all we could be, and we accept it because we’re getting older. It’s the most convenient excuse, and perhaps the fact that they came up just short is enough evidence for us to keep using it. Golf and cycling are about as far apart in terms of their physical demands as you can get in the sports world. But the fact that a 59-year-old and a 37-year-old cancer survivor could come so close to reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports one last time has to be some sort of wake up call for the rest of us, right?

lance armstrong tour de france

Speaking of wake up calls (and I hate to keep bringing this up), but it looks as if the nails are just about to be driven in the coffin of David Beckham’s MLS career. In his first home game since his return to the Galaxy, he was roundly booed and got into an angry confrontation with a fan during L.A.’s friendly with AC Milan (Beckham’s other team).

beckham signs

Though he claimed afteward that he expected some negativity, it was clear through his behavior that he didn’t expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. The main culprits were the Riot Squad, the Galaxy’s version of a wannabe European fan section. As you can see, they aren’t too happy that Becks backed out on the first half of the MLS season to play in Italy:

beckham signs

After hearing boos and coordinated chants and jeers throughout the first half, Beckham finally had enough and confronted the section of fans as he headed off the field for halftime. He says he went to ask them to calm down, but soon security was getting involved and escorting away a fan who appeared as if he wanted to engage Becks in some sort of physical altercation. The L.A. TIMES has all the particulars of a strange evening at the Home Depot Center.

Lost in all of the tension was the fact that Beckham actually played well, and was instrumental in both of L.A.’s goals in a 2-2 draw with Milan. After he delivered a perfect corner kick in the second half that Bryan Jordan headed into the net, he turned to the Riot Squad and stared them down as he raised his arms in celebration. I imagine that this battle isn’t quite over yet, even though Beckham tried to downplay it in his remarks afterward:

By the way, Los Angeles, way to treat your sports stars. You welcome Manny Ramirez, a proven cheater, back from his suspension as if he was returning from chemotherapy or something, but you get all over this guy. Nice.

Roy Halladay dominated the Red Sox yesterday, throwing a complete-game in a 3-1 victory in what could be his last start in Toronto. So where’s he going? Philly? Milwaukee? The South Side? The North Side? Anaheim? Mannywood? St. Louis? Minnesota? Texas? Seattle is apparently bucking the trend by admitting they aren’t interested.

• From the world of minor league baseball promotions, here’s footage of Chewbacca riding around in the Mystery Machine at a single-A game in Lowell, Massachusetts:

• More from the world of minor league baseball promotions: The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated last night’s game to preganancy, complete with a pregame Lamaze class, and the promise of free tickets for life to anyone who names their kid “Brooklyn” or “Cy.”

The Mets have lost yet another player to injury, and are dangerously close to having to go out and sign Jose Lima again, and nobody wants to see that. Unless his wife shows up for his starts:

Jose Lima Wife

• 5,000 people showed up to see the groundbreaking for the new Marlins stadium, and their view was blocked by the families of the dignitaries involved in the ceremony. Now, if they could only get 5,000 people to show up for an actual Marlins game…

• Hey, so how about that really thrilling PGA tournament that ended in a playoff yesterday? That was some pretty great stuff. Wait, who’s Bo Van Pelt? Milwaukee? What’s going on here?

• With Tom Watson coming so close to winning the British Open, even a guy who survived four surgeries on a brain tumor thinks he’s good enough to come back and play next year.

Henry Surtees, the 18-year-old son of former Formula 1 champion John Surtees, died yesterday from injuries suffered in a freak accident during a Formula 2 race in England. A tire from another racer’s car flew off and hit Surtees in the head, causing him to lose consciousness and drive his car straight into a barrier.

• First, Tony Romo lost Jessica Simpson. Now, he lost a celebrity golf tournament to Rick Rhoden, who won the tournament in Lake Tahoe for the eighth time. Charles Barkley finished last, falling behind Chuck Liddell and Kevin Nealon on the last day.

Charles Barkley golfing

Mike Mussina took the mound for the first time at the new Yankee Stadium yesterday. Of course, it was old-timers’ day, so I guess that means he’s retired. He is, by the way, the last Yankee pitcher to win a game against the Red Sox.

• Maybe the reason that the Pirates gave a bit of an insulting extension offer to Jack Wilson is because they realize that, despite his defensive brilliance, he’s an absolutely atrocious offensive player. Like, along the lines of Yuniesky Betancourt. But I’m not sure I give Neal Huntington that much credit.

Whose win would have been more stunning?

View Results

Tour de France Spectator Hit, Killed By Motorcycle

Admittedly, we’ve never followed professional cycling all that closely; sure, our interest has been occasionally piqued by Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France dominance or Bob Roll’s stories about pooping, but that’s about it. We were always under the impression that cycling was a non-contact sport involving a group of people riding bikes as fast as possible. That would make sense, right?

lance armstrong tour de france

Boy were we wrong. Turns out pro cycling in general, and the 2009 Tour de France specifically, is nothing less than Death Race 2000 on two wheels. Sure, it started innocently enough - a fall and a broken wrist for Armstrong’s Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer. That, however, was just the beginning of the Tour’s bloodlust.

Read more…

Please Stop Shooting The Cyclists, S’il Vous Plait

The Tour de France is fraught with peril, with dangers like drug testers and, um, potholes. Oh, and falling off a cliff. Those, among myriad other reasons, should be enough to make any reasonable person consider other activities for fun or profit.

Red Ryder
(Police have released a picture of the suspected assailant, above.)

It may be time to add one more lurking predator to the mix, though, one of the most cunning of all. No, we’re not talking about Siberian tigers, though that would certainly liven up the mountain stages. “The Frenchman surges ahead, and oh dear, it looks like Sasha has pounced upon him! She’s got a good hold of his jugular, that beautiful beast!” No, we’re talking about the ever-dangerous prankster.

Read more…

Tour de France Going Retro With Radio Silence

Communication is the building block of any successful relationship. This is true at work, at home, in one’s love life, and in sports. Because this is a sports blog and not, say, a relationship guide, let’s focus in on that last one. Communication between teammates is crucial on the court/field/whatever, and communication from coaches on the sidelines is just as vital.

Radio Bicycle

Nowhere is this more evident than in racing sports - including cycling, where cyclists in the peloton (one of the greatest words in the world, BTW) must be very aware of their surroundings at all time. Teams use radio communication to relay teammate and competitor positions, statistics, and other important information. But for some reason, Tour de France organizers think it’s a great idea to try banning radio communication for two stages this coming week. Ready, set, chaos!

Read more…

Lance Armstrong Riding For Glory Of Kazakhstan

Now that Lance Armstrong has returned to the Tour de France, it’s given us a reason to kinda-sorta pay attention to the world’s biggest bike ride again. Nothing against the Tour, but we hadn’t really noticed its existence the past few years without the combative Texan doing his best to stick it to the rest of the world. Amazingly (or not), he’s picking up right where he left off. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Lance Armstrong Borat - MS Paint Rules

(MS Paint - is there anything it can’t do?)

Many people remember his years of racing for the United States Postal Service team, a fitting match for a guy who seemed to embody American swagger abroad (for better or worse). Most people don’t realize it, but this year Armstrong is once again racing for the glory of a government-backed cycling team. Only this time, he’s racing for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Kaz-akh-stan! Kaz-akh-stan!

Read more…

Speed Read: Manny Being Manny Being Ejected

The Manny Ramirez Traveling Salvation Show hit a snag last night in New York, thanks to an umpire with a hair trigger. Well, it’s hard to call anything about John Hirschbeck’s fifth-inning ejection of Ramirez “hair trigger,” since it took roughly 15 minutes seconds from when Hirschbeck rung Ramirez up on a called third strike to when he tossed Ramirez from the game for throwing his helmet, bat, elbow guard, cleats, socks and jock strap into the air in disgust.

Manny didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal, since “I was playing only five innings, so I was leaving anyway.” Which came as news to Dodgers manager Joe Torre. Not that it mattered much - with Ramirez going 2 for 4 with three RBI and Clayton Kershaw throwing six shutout innings, the Dodgers cruised to an 8-0 win over the Mets. But it did give Los Angeles residents driven nutty by the Michael Jackson Circus a chance to remember the other, ridiculously overblown media circus in town.

If you are a college football fan who hates the current BCS system, you had reason to celebrate yesterday as Sen. Orrin Hatch ordered up a can of whoop-ass with a side of hash on the football elite during a congressional hearing about the college football playoff system, and the Senate cafeteria was all out of hash. Specifically, he said that “the Justice Department ought to be looking at this” because he believes the system violates antitrust laws.

(Play the BCS off, Keyboard Hatch.)

Which is great, until you realize that Hatch was the only member of the subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights to actually attend any significant portion of the hearing. But there were plenty of junior staffers there, fresh out of college and probably the only people outside of Hatch and Barack Obama who care about college football in Washington D.C.

Also, you have to understand that Hatch is from Utah, where the majority of the state is still steaming about the undefeated Utes being left out of the BCS Title Game last season, so there’s certainly an element of “playing it up for the home constituants” going on here. So you basically had Hatch grilling the President of Nebraska University, who was acting on behalf of the BCS Backers, which is kind of sad when you realize that Nebraska is roughly one zillion percent less likely to play in a BCS Title Game in our lifetimes than Utah.

Meanwhile, you might remember a small link we had yesterday about U.S. National Soccer Team midfielder Michael Bradley being suspended following a red card and subsequent confrontation with a referee at the end of the team’s shocking 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup. And it turns out that he will be suspended for three games, although it’s perhaps the weakest three-game suspension in sports history.

Michael Bradley

Ever get mad when a pitcher receives a five-game suspension for his part in a brawl, which only means that his next start gets pushed back one game? This one is even worse. FIFA has suspended Bradley for three games, all right - three games that he was never going to play in. The suspension will be served during the group play stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is convenient for Bradley since he’s not on the roster for the tournament.

Which means that Bradley will be available for the U.S. next game that matters, a World Cup qualifying match at Mexico on August 12. Somewhere in Mexico City, a Mexican senator is preparing a special committee hearing.

Other sports news that happened while you were fighting for the rights of busty mannequins everywhere, especially if they turn into Kim Catrall:

  • DEUCE OF DAVENPORT knows that the only thing better than Erik Estrada drunkenly butchering “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during a Cubs game is him giving an interview in the booth during the game that somehow works in child porn and Ron Jeremy. A master class in awkwardness in two parts: First the singing…
  • …and then the interview:

  • Lance Armstrong has moved to within a second of the yellow jersey after his Astana team cleaned up during a team stage during the Tour de France. Which I’m sure no one in America cares about, but it has to be irritating the French more than a canceled Jerry Lewis movie marathon, and that’s always a good thing.
  • When playing for Russian side CSKA three years ago, Yuri Zhirkov didn’t take the advice of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to learn English. Which is a problem, since Abramovich signed Zhirkov to a a huge deal on Monday, and the winger will have to deal with struggling to communicate with his teammates.
  • When GM Joe Dumars fired Michael Curry as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, he claimed that the team needed a more experienced hand at the helm. Which makes it curious why he eventually decided to give Cavaliers assistant John Kuester his first crack at an NBA head coaching job. Couldn’t have anything to do with both Doug Collins and Avery Johnson bailing from the gig? But Kuester has been a head coach at Boston…University, which is close to the Celtics, right?
  • Another depressing sign of the economic times: the NBA salary cap will decrease next year for only the second time in 26 years. The cap number next year is $57.7 million, down almost one million dollars from last year. So when Dwayne Wade lashes out at the Miami Heat for failing to land a big free agent again, they have a ready-made excuse.
  • Reports are circulating that Mike Krzyzewski is going to be coming back to coach Team USA at the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Because as he showed in Beijing, he clearly could handle coaching with limited talent.
  • If you had forgotten about it in the wake of the Michael Jackson Media Overload, just a gentle reminder about swine flu: IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL! Swimmer Kate Ziegler had to pull out of the U.S. Nationals with swine flu, which is also sweeping through the World University Games in Belgrade. If Ron Weasley can’t use his Muggle magic to stave off the swine flu, no one is safe.
  • In case you were wondering if there was any bad blood between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir ahead of their heavyweight title unification rematch, CAGEWRITER answers with a resounding “yep” after watching the two trade barbs during the “Countdown to UFC 100″ on SPIKE. Also, Lesnar thinks the referee of the first match is an idiot, and really, really hates doors.

  • Meanwhile, if you were curious, UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is still insane. He’s not crashing an SUV with his name and picture on it after a wild car chase this time, but SPORTS RUBBISH says he is dry humping unsuspecting reporters during interviews.

  • Interesting news about “aspiring rapper” Keith Norfleet, the ex-boyfriend of Sahel Kazemi. Not only was he the person who picked her up after she was popped for a DUI in Steve McNair’s car, but he also emailed a local newspaper the following: “Pretty interesting news about our golden boy McNair…You would be pretty amazed at the fact of who he was actually with, which I really don’t think his wife would like it too much either.”

Which story do you want to go away and never hear about again?

View Results

Speed Read: Yesterday Brought To You By Gillette

While Brooks and the rest of the SbB crew worked hard to get you the very latest on the Steve McNair murder, Sunday turned out to be a pretty big day for three of the world’s biggest athletes — who just happened to have co-starred in the “Citizen Kane” of awkward athlete endorsement campaigns.

Tiger Federer Jeter

That’s right, now that Thierry Henry has been booted from the Gillette posse (at least in America), all three razor-wielding superstars had pretty huge days.

First, Roger Federer made history by winning his 15th Grand Slam title in a crazy five-set win at Wimbledon over Andy Roddick. Pete Sampras was in the audience, taking in the match as only Sampras could — puking his guts out on the sideline looking bored out of his gourd. The 30-game fifth set was the longest in Slam history by a full 10 games. The final game was the only time Federer broke Roddick’s serve the entire match. Only Roddick’s inability to put away four set points in a second-set tiebreak kept him from pulling off the huge upset.

Federer and Sampras

As Federer was accepting his trophy, Tiger Woods was getting ready to tee off in the final round at the AT&T National, which he hosts. I’m not sure I understand the “host” thing, is that like when Heidi and Spencer “host” a party at PURE? He started the day in a tie with defending champion Anthony Kim, but soon found himself needing to keep up with Hunter Mahan, who started well back but fired a 62 to zoom all the way to the top of the leaderboard. Tiger drained a 20-footer on the 16th hole to take the lead, and he got to the clubhouse with two easy pars to wrap up his 68th PGA Tour win. And he interviewed himself afterward. I have to give him credit, though, as it was the first time the questions in a Tiger interview were as boring as the answers.

Jimmy Fallon and Tiger Woods

(I’m sure that losing to this guy in anything would be enough motivation to win whatever you were doing next)

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter was trying his best to hold up his end of the bargain in a measly regular-season game. But he came through with a four-hit day, including what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 10-8 win over the Blue Jays. Better yet for DJ, he was officially named the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team when the rosters were announced later in the afternoon.

Derek Jeter

Jeter got more votes than anyone else in the AL, but is joined in the starting lineup by just one other Yankee — first baseman Mark Teixeira. A-Rod is nowhere to be seen, with Evan Longoria getting the starting nod instead. Josh Hamilton was voted into the starting lineup despite missing all of June with an injury, and this year’s recipient of the Lance Carter Memorial “Who?” Award is Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey, who is a fine pitcher but a guy even baseball fans would be hard pressed to tell you anything about. And while it looks like manager Joe Maddon pulled some homerism by adding Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford, and Ben Zobrist to the team, all three of those guys are having huge years. And yes, if you’re scoring at home, Zobrist is the last All-Star ever, alphabetically speaking. The other big story is that of 42-year-old Tim Wakefield, who surprisingly has never been an All-Star until now. And congrats to the Royals for producing an actual All-Star this year, rather than their usual token “we gotta put someone on the team” guy.

The NL team is headlined by Albert Pujols, who received the second-most votes ever (only Ken Griffey Jr. got more, in 1994). At age 37, Raul Ibanez is an All-Star for the first time, and has been voted in as a starter. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s probably not going to be able to play. Nor is fellow outfielder Carlos Beltran. That means that reserves Hunter Pence and Brad Hawpe are likely to be out there when the game starts. No true no-name on the roster, as even Pittsburgh’s representative — Freddy Sanchez — is fairly deserving of his spot.

Full rosters can be found here. And there is now voting going on at MLB.COM for the final roster spots. Vote Kung Fu Panda!

Pablo Sandoval

(This fat man should be an All-Star)

• If you click on only one link today, read this story in the L.A. TIMES about Zac Sunderland, a 17-year-old kid who is nearing the end of a solo circumnavigation of the world on a sailboat. Pirates, broken sails on the open seas, armed police escorts in New Guinea. It’s safe to say he had a more eventful year than the rest of us.

Rasheed Wallace is going to be casting ill-advised 26-footers for the Celtics next year, meaning Big Baby Davis is probably on his way out. And Jason Kidd is about to get overpaid by Mark Cuban (enjoy 39-year-old Kidd at $8+ million in 2012, Dallas)

• POLITICO says that Sarah Palin’s lawyer has fired a warning shot to the media in order to squash lingering rumors that Palin awarded the contract for constructing a sports arena in Wasilla (where she was mayor at the time) with the understanding that the same company would build her a house. In other news, the Phoenix Coyotes have just announced they are moving to Wasilla.

• SPORTS RUBBISH has video of the most crucial moment in yesterday’s Wimbledon final. What? Tennis? No, it’s Andy Roddick’s brother searching for a snack inside his own nose:

• I gotta admit, I just don’t really get the Tour de France. One guy clearly won today, but somehow everyone except two guys (that’s like 178 people) were credited with the same time. Hey, but at least Jussi Veikkanen is finally wearing the red polka-dotted jersey!

• OK, there was something called the “Junior World Football Championships” going on for the last week, and you’re not going to believe this — but the USA won. Shocking, considering our boys had to take down the likes of France, Mexico, and Canada (which they did by a cumulative score of 174-3). Next time, in an effort to even the playing field and give other countries a fighting chance, the U.S. is just going to send Washington State’s football team instead (they might be able to beat Sweden).

Beavis would be excited by the news that a man in Scotland set a world record by running nearly 100 yards while on fire (and people complain that eating a bunch of hot dogs is bizarre?). And yes, I am aware that 1994 has called and wants its cultural reference back.

Man running on fire

Ryan Braun is an All-Star, which I guess gives him the green light to talk about how much the Brewers’ starting pitchers suck.

•  That fan who says J.C. Romero “assaulted” him at a Rays-Phillies game last week should be thrilled he doesn’t live in Colombia. There, the athletes just shoot and kill fans who heckle them.

• The city of St. Louis thinks it can tax the bonuses All-Stars receive for appearing in the game at Busch Stadium, but the POST-DISPATCH says that won’t fly if players can prove that their bonus was earned from their previous play outside of the city’s jurisdiction, and not for simply appearing at the game.

• Sure, losing 16-14 in the fifth set of the biggest tournament of your life is pretty brutal, but don’t feel too sorry for Andy Roddick. He has a pretty nice shoulder to cry on:

Brooklyn Decker

Would you rather have 15 Grand Slam titles, or have 1 and be married to Brooklyn Decker?

View Results