Daily Athlete on the Rise: Tejay Van Garderen

Le Tour de France 2012 - Previews

Tejay Van Garderen may be the best all-around rider the United States has seen since Lance Armstrong. At 25 he has two top 5 finishes at the Tour de France and he does it with a balanced set of skills. He is good climber, powerful time trialist and he’s strong on the flats, making him a tough rider for his competitors to crack.

This 2014 Tour was a bit a struggle for him and his team. After going through several crashes in the first week, including one on the extremely difficult stage 5 cobbles, he encountered sickness going into the first rest day. Everything seemed to be under control until mid-way through the Alpes; he bonked. Not eating enough on the rest day he conceding over three minutes to his closest rivals. But he stopped the hemorrhaging and rode strong the final week ultimately clawing back one place in the final time trial to 5th place overall.

With his strong 2014 Tour de France performance Tejay not only proved that his 5th place in 2012 finish was no fluke, but also that he could handle the pressure of team leadership and adversity. Look for him to be a podium favorite in 2015 and maybe, just maybe, a Tour de France victory is in his future.

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Daily Athlete on the Rise: Daniel Ricciardo

F1 Young Drivers Testing - Day Two

It’s not often that a sophomore driver moves up to a premiere Formula 1 team and shows up his four-time and defending world champion teammate… in fact it’s never happened, until now.

Daniel Ricciardo has the same material as the great Sebastian Vettel; the same engine, same aerodynamics, same tires, and the same distain for Mercedes’ dominance. But, yet, he’s consistently getting the better of Vettel, and after a convincing win at Hungarian Grand Prix, it seems the better of everyone else too.

Throughout this 2014 season, Ricciardo has been the only driver able to crack Mercedes stronghold on victory lane. He’s the only non-Mercedes driver to win a grand prix this year; winning both the Canadian and HUngarian Grand Prix. And that’s pretty impressive considering the likes of Alonso, Raikkonen and, of course, Vettel are behind the wheel as well. A combined 7 World Championships between them! And its Ricciardo who is single-handedly chasing down the turbo scientists at Mercedes.

With his recent victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix he is now back into the world championship conversation. It’s going to be a tall ask to knock off both of the Mercedes drivers, but just being in the conversation at this point in the season is a huge coup for Ricciardo. So, grip the TV remote steering wheel tight for the finale of this season, as the young Ricciardo lays chase to the dominate Mercedes.

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Daily Athlete on the Rise: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Physical Monsters still exist! And Milwaukee Buck’s forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of them. Nicknamed the ‘Greek Freak’ he’s currently preparing to embarrass people in his second NBA season.

Antetokounmpo was taken 15th overall in the 2013 draft by the Bucks. The Greek Freak didn’t see much of the court last season, but began to pick up playing time toward the end of the year. Expect to see his minutes per game rise from 24.6 to well into the 30’s. Why use one of our famous daily spotlights on a second year player who is yet to put up impressive numbers in the NBA?

Lets start with his athleticism. In the combine, Giannis recorded a 44-inch vertical. And that’s at 6’9” with a 7’3” wingspan! But thats just the beginning. He started his NBA career just under 6’9”… stay with me… Now, as he is preparing for his sophomore season, he is measuring out at 6’11” flat, with his  wingspan spreading to 7’4”! Revised draft big boards suggest that with those measurements, the Greek Freak would have been a unanimous 1st overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. What makes this all even more impressive is Giannis Antetokoumnpo is only 19 years old. That’s right, this monster can’t even enjoy a beer yet.

Stats are great, but how does this translate into performance? Kevin Durant found out the hard way.

antetokounmpo block

This one of the most impressive blocks of the entire season. Take a closer look; note where Antetokounmpo’s hand is when the block is made compared to the rim. People aren’t supposed to be able to do that! His hand is a clean 6-8 inches above the rim.

During this years summer league in Las Vegas, Antetokounmpo really impressed. Over a span of four games, he averaged 17 PPG and nearly 6 RPG. He displayed his refined jumper, which granted him success from the mid range, and from behind the arch, while still showcasing his dangerous driving ability. His quickness was hard for even smaller forwards and guards to contain.

With the size of a true NBA 4 or 5, the handling skills of a point guard, and the scoring ability of a wing, he may be the most versatile player in the NBA. Bucks coach Jason Kidd has already told the media of his plans to use Giannis at Point Guard, a position he played in Greece.

Everyone in the world of basketball, maybe the world of sports, should keep their eye on Antetokoumnpo this upcoming season. With more minutes coming his way, and more positions on the court, the sky is the limit for Antetokounmpo.

Just enjoy this kid’s ability one more time.

giannis

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Daily Athlete on the Rise: Marcel Kittel

Mercel Kittel

Known mostly for having the hair of virgin angels and for his stellar performance in 1985 classic Rocky IV, Marcel Kittel has also emerged the world’s most dominant sprinter in 2014 Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish’s replacement as the foremost sprinter in the world was inevitable, but I don’t think any of us thought it would happen quite so quickly or with so much force. In last year’s Tour de France, Kittel went head-to-head with the great Mark Cavendish. He took the first stage, the last stage and a few in-between for good measure. No doubt getting the better of the ‘Manx Missile.’ This year, sans Mark Cavendish, he was even more dominate, again taking the first stage, the crown jewel of the Champs-Elysee and two more stages in-between. He handles himself with class and restraint. No head butts in the final 200 meters for this guy, probably in an effort not to disturb the hair, but whatever the reason, the fans appreciate it. And at the tender age of twenty-six there could still be a half-decade of dominance ahead for Kittel. His stock is definitely up after this Tour de France, look for his face to be a few more Deutsche-Wheaties in the coming months.

As Ivan Drago ’85:

ivan drago

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Tour de France 2014 in Pictures

rafal majka

stage 1 tour de france
A royal start to stage 1 in England
mark cavendish
England’s hero Mark Cavendish bruised and battered after Stage 1 crash
vincenzo nibali
Fans look on as Vincenzo Nibali wins Stage 2
chris froome
Chris Froome riding with fractures in his hands and wrist only moments before ultimately crashing out of the tour
alberto contador
Former champion Alberto Contador exits the tour with a broken tibia
andrew talansky
American Andrew Talansky tangles wheels with Simon Gerrons and goes down hard
andrew talansky
Following several crashes, Talansky fights to ride nearly 30min behind the peloton but finished the day within the time limit
rafal majka
Rafal Majka finishes a stage win, physically spent, on his way to a King of the Mountains Victory
michael rogers
Michael Rogers takes a victory bow after ten years of trying for a stage win
jean christophe peraud
Jean-Christophe Peraud fights through the Pyrenees to finally finish on the podium at 37 years of age
tony martin
World Champion Tony Martin powers his way to victory in the tour’s only time trial
marcel kittel
Marcel Kittel wins on the Champs-Elysees for the second year in a row

Hottest Footballer Wives & Girlfriends

irina shayk
Portuguese star Christiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend Irina shayk
ann katherin brommel
World Cup hero Mario Gotze’s girlfriend Ann Kathrin Brommel
fanny neguesha
Colorful Italian star Mario Balotelli’s fiance Fanny Neguesha
Sophia Suarez
Known for biting Luis Suarez can also score goals and a wife like Sophia
alex curran
Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrards wife Alex Curran
bethany dempsey
American Superstar Clint Dempsey’s wife Bethany Dempsey

Tour de France Rest Day Review

tour de france jerseys

The first ten days of the tour have plagued by rainy weather and too many crashes. But the jersey favorites are starting to emerge.

Yellow Jersey:

With the heavy crashes and retirements of pre-race favorites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, it looks like Vincenzo Nibali’s race to lose. Throughout the first week, he has always been in the right place at the right time, avoiding crashes and other mishaps. In the only real test of the favorites thus far, stage 9, Niabli crushed the competition, making the statement that it is his race and any of the challengers are going to have to do something special if they want to win.

Green Jersey:

Although he’s not the fastest man in the race, Peter Sagan IS fast and is also hella strong. And once again it looks like he has the formula to take just about all the points available without winning any of the bunch sprints. Mark Cavendish’s crash on stage 1 only makes his road to a green Paris that much easier.

Polka Dot Jersey:

Last year Joaquim Rodriguez finished on the podium. This year he wants to do the same, but he’ll try to do it by way of the Polka Dot Jersey presentation. It’s his only chance after losing an hour in the first week of the tour. And if the first taste of the mountains in this year’s tour are any indicator, he will be hard to beat.

The White Jersey:

Michal Kwiatkowski looked to be firmly in control of this competition. He has the pedigree to be the white jersey favorite and seemed to stay at or near the front for much of the first week. Then the Tour moved into the mountains, and Kwiatkowski showed that he doesn’t have the same form of years past. Faltering on Stage 9, Romain Bardet moved into the lead. But with most of the big mountains still to come, it remains to be seen if he is a real contender to keep the jersey to Paris.

The World Cup Finals Preview

After nearly a month, we are down to two teams in Brazil. This Sunday, The Germans and The Argentines will play for the ultimate national pride, a chance to lift the World Cup high above their heads. For the Germans this will be their 8th trip to the final, looking to win the world cup for the 4th time. For Argentina, they will be trying for a 3rd time World Cup crown.

germany

 

THE SIDES:

The Germans made it here with one of the most stunning games in World Cup history. No team has scored more goals in a semi-final, or won by as many. Brazil had never lost to an opponent by six goals. They embarrassed the hosts in front of their vast crowd. With such a dominating performance The Germans are the resounding favorites in this game. History, however, would suggest something different. In the past nine meetings between a European and South American nation in the final, the South American side walked away victorious seven times. Germany also have a losing record in finals appearances, making it to seven but only to came away with three trophies.

Keys to the Game for Germany: 

The Germans will look to dominate in the midfield. Javier Mascherano has had a wonderful tournament in the middle of midfield for the Argentinians, but he is going to be on his own defending some of the most dangerous players in the world. In his vicinity, he will be defending Khedria, Kroos, and Thomas Mueller. The strength of Khedria, the brilliant positioning of Toni Kroos, and the creativity of Thomas Mueller may be too much for one man to handle. Stopping Messi will be another task for this side. Look for Germany to pressure Messi high up the pitch and to force the ball away from him.

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Argentina have had a quiet, but successful World Cup thus far. They performed well against their group stage opponents and were often helped by a moment of brilliance from Messi.

Lionel Messi is playing a role that not many others have. He has successfully brought his team to the final. Argentina haven’t made many mistakes, and Messi has provided them with enough of a spark to just outplay their opponents. Simply put, if Argentina lift the trophy, Messi’s performance will go down as one of the World Cup’s best. Argentines have had to deal with heartbreak handed to them by this German side for the past two World Cups. In 2006 & 2010, Germany beat Argentina in the quarterfinals. Miroslav Klose, who scored three goals in those two games, will be starting in his final game for the Germans on Sunday.

Keys to the Game for Argentina:

Germany no doubt looked invincible against an uninspired Brazilian side in the semi-finals, but Argentina are surely planning a strategy to combat The Germans. Look for Argentina to attack down the right flank, at left-back Benedikt Howedes. He is a right-footed center back playing out of position. Argentina always have been particularly good at picking at players on the pitch. If Howedes can’t handle the pressure coming his way, Argentina may find success down the right flank.

It’s gonna be one heck of a game!

Tour De France (English Review): Tea & Crumpets?

Cavendish Plays construction worker, Nibali shows classic Italian passion still has a place in cycling and Kittel proves he’s the fastest man in the world 

Vincenzo in yellow 2014

Late in Stage 1 Cavendish believed that paving a passing lane took precedent over cycling.

Coming up the final incline to the finish, Cavendish found himself behind big Marcel Kittel. Cavendish knew that, with 200 meters left, he had to get around Kittel. There was only problem… Australian Simon Gerrans was driving in that other lane. To make room, Cavendish put the top of his helmet into Gerrans’ chin at 35mph. Cavendish worked a little too quickly and they both went down, hard. Cavendish remained on the ground for a while before sheepishly, and no doubt in great pain, crossing the line to a round of applause by his countrymen. No doubt a tribute to the record number of victories he had given to them, but also a sanguine round of applause for what could have been. Up the road Marcel Kittel took the stage just as he did on Day 1 of last year’s Tour.

In the bumpy and long Stage 2 a flexing of the overall contenders’ muscles and an emerging selfie craze was in store. Many people believed that some overall contenders might come near the front. I don’t think anyone thought that there would be quite such a sorting out of the overall contenders. As the effects of  a selfie crazed world showed through to the refined land of tea and crumpets and the gentleman’s event of the tour as several riders slapped phones out of the spectators hands. Ramunas Navardauskas actually looked like he quite enjoyed it. See video:

As the race neared its completion and the steep Jenkin Road began, a who’s who of the Yellow Jersey favorites began to appear at the front of the race. At the foot of the climb, Sagan had his Cannondale team at the front to get him into a position to possibly launch an attack. But as the short (800m), steep (30% in some areas) climb developed it became apparent that it might be too much for Sagan and Cannondale to control. None other than THE Alberto Contador moved to the front with his dancing pedaling style, out of the saddle, his head on a swivel to see where everyone else was. Chris Froome emerged, Tejay Van Garderen, Vincenzo Nibali, Andrew Talansky.. did I say who’s who, all came to the front. Contador didn’t attack but set a high tempo at the front instead. Along the right hand barriers Froome attacked and Van Garderen was right on his wheel. The attack was shut down pretty quickly as soon the group was all back together. Coming off of the climb Sagan remained towards the front of the newly formed group of slightly fewer than a dozen riders.  Then from a stealthy 9th wheel with about 1.5 k to go Nibali launched the fatal attack to gap the field by a few seconds and take the yellow jersey.

Stage 3..England’s equivalent to The Champs Elysee.. Marcel Kittel put his Giant Shimano team on the front and stormed to victory at Buckingham Palace. With that victory he solidified the usurping of Cavendish as fastest man in the world and will now be the man to beat in the coming half decade.