For those caring about cycling, Team Astana (named after the capital of Kazakhstan) has named their preliminary team for the Tour de France. I can only imagine that Premier Nazarbayev is as giddy with excitement as I am... eager to see Central Asia claim a major victory in a sport previously dominated by 'continentals.'
Six of the nine-man team have either a) won the Giro d'Italia outright, b) won stages in the Giro, Vuelta or the Tour de France, or c) had top-3 overall finishes in the Giro, Vuelta, or the Tour.
And at their head is the Golden Man of Astana, Alexander Vinokourov. He's scarey good... and if his previous team, T-Mobile, hadn't made him self-destruct, he could have won this race in the Lance-era. I love the picture of him with the toddler, taken at a criterium race in Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan -- and a city I'm lucky to have visited even if it was a little like Denver meets Las Vegas in a Mad Max movie). Nice to see someone wearing a kolpak hat in honor of the event.
So far the Dauphiné Libéré hasn't revealed too much... Levi Leipheimer can time-trial, Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd haven't quite found their strides as sprinters yet, and Tom Danielson has a weak stomach. Bring on the hills and lets see what everyone else is made of.
On another note: Momo and I have a big adventure the next two days. There'll be pictures and dramatic narrative to come.
Oooh, and I think we'll hunt test him for the first time in September. Maybe he'll be up for a direct attempt at Master Hunter! Yoiks. That will take some work though.