The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jul 2010

The Spoke Word: Tour de France Stage 12 report

Alberto Contador may have finished second in Stage 12, but the Astana captain was the clear winner at the Tour today. Contador lost a two-man sprint to fellow Spaniard Juaquin Rodriguez but gained 10 seconds over yellow-jersey Andy Schleck and even more time over podium hopefuls like Denis Menchov, Levi Leipheimer, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

Schleck was unable to respond as Contador and Rodriguez shot off the front of the peloton just over a mile from the finish. Though he lost only 10 seconds and retained the yellow jersey, Schleck’s inability to respond was a psychological blow ahead of this weekend’s battle in the Pyrenees.

Contador now trails Schleck by just 31 seconds in the overall, with Spaniard Samuel Sanchez of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi third, at 2:45; Rabobank’s Russian captain Menchov fourth, at 2:58; and Belgian Van Den Broek fifth, at 3:31. RadioShack’s Leipheimer, who lost 17 seconds to Contador today, remains the highest-placed American, in sixth place, 4:06 behind Schleck. (Full results.)

Though it was listed as a flat day, Stage 12 actually saw a fair bit of climbing, including a short but punchy climb right at the end of the 130-mile run into the town of Mende. The second climb of the day saw 18 riders go off the front, including Contador’s dangerous teammate Alexander Vinokourov.

“Vino” stayed at the front for the rest of the day as the pace saw his group grow smaller and smaller. With the lead group down to four, he upped the pace until he was finally riding alone and headed toward what looked like the stage win. But when Rodriguez attacked near the finish, Contador took the opportunity to bridge up to—and fly past—his Astana teammate and drive the pace to the finish.

Rodriguez followed Contador’s wheel to the finish, then came around with just a few meters left for the stage win. But by then Contador had already sent his message: He’s still the man to beat in the Tour de France.

—John Bradley

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Yellowstone to Yukon

Last year, I took a half-day road trip through Yellowstone with my brother Garrett. We saw four bears, two herds of buffalo, antelope, elk, four moose, and thousands of tourists. Garrett, an ecologist in the Rockies at the time, could name the type of animal causing a traffic jam by the number of cars backed up. The most memorable was a black-bear jam, some 60 cars deep, where we watched a mama bear bluff charge two kids that looked to be about eight. The kids’ reaction--flee like quail--satisfied the bear. She sauntered back into the woods with her cubs. As the cars began to drive again, Garrett leaned out the window of his wobbly Subaru and started yelling at passing RVs, “ Keep your kids away from the bears! They’ll eat children!” Then he tucked back and said, half-jokingly, “They’re lucky she didn’t...must be inbred.”

Having grown up in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, that anybody could be so stupid to allow their kids to get a broomstick's length from a wild bear--especially one with cubs--came as a shock to Garrett and me. But during a 2,400-mile road trip I took this summer, it started to make sense. I drove from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Bend, Oregon, and back, a route that crosses plenty of wild places. My animal sightings totaled three deer interspersed with a herd of Herefords. Outside of whitetails, most wildlife in America is rare and people's interaction with it even rarer. Lack of habitat is the culprit. Our country’s intact, historic ecosystems are confined to a few largely isolated pockets like Yellowstone.

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Joe Riis, a 25-year-old photographer for the Freedom to Roam campaign, is one person changing that. He uses camera traps to document animals in need of migration corridors, which are basically links of wild lands that connect patches of wilderness large enough to sustain breeding populations. Riis and Freedom to Roam’s vision is a web of wild lands similar to our highway system that will help prevent the genetic isolation of large mammals. His last project, to snap photos of elusive pronghorn antelope near Grand Teton National Park, took three years to complete (check out the photos). But the work seems to be paying off, or at least it’s part of a growing trend. Corridors have sprung up to protect jaguars in Central America, black bears in India, elephants in Africa, and grizzlies in North America.

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If Riis succeeds in expanding grizzly habitat in the northern Rockies, it could mean more frequent animal sightings outside Yellowstone and, hopefully, fewer kids (and parents) thinking bears are okay to approach. All good, but I'm going to miss Garrett's belligerent scare tactics.

--Kyle Dickman


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Iroquois Lacrosse Team Misses Opener

The Iroquois national lacrosse team was stranded in a Comfort Inn in Ozone Park, Queens Thursday night after being denied visas by the British government, the New York Times reports. The team was forced to forfeit the opening match of the world championship tournament against England.

Last week, the British government told team members that they would not be allowed to travel using their tribal passports without assurance from American federal officials that they would be permitted to return to the United States after the tournament. The necessary permission was denied earlier this week.

The Iroquois members were offered United States passports, but refused to accept them. Players argued that traveling on American passports would tacitly question the sovereignty of the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

On Wednesday morning, Secretary of State Clinton delivered a one-time waiver to allow the team to travel for the tournament. That evening British officials again denied visas for the team, despite earlier assurances.

The United Kingdom Border Agency has since stated that players would be allowed to enter the country only on the condition that they carry American or Canadian passports in addition to their tribal passports.

The State Department continues to advocate for allowing the Iroquois team to travel, but British officials have yet to make a concession. The team is scheduled to play against Japan tomorrow. It remains unclear whether they'll be able to take the field.

--Riley Blanton

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It's a Double Rainbow!!!

What does a double rainbow mean? Watch this nature video, and you won't find out. You'll just hear the question asked with a sense of awe—accompanied by healthy scoops of exclamation and crying. It's worth watching anyway.

Special thanks to The Huffington Post for bringing it to our attention.

For more about the YouTube video sensation, check out this background article. For more on what causes double rainbows, check out The Straight Dope. For more on what causes this kind of reaction to double rainbows...we're guessing you probably have some idea.

--Joe Spring

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Video: Contador vs. Schleck

Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador went head to head again in Stage 12 of the Tour de France. Schleck wasn't expecting Contador to attack, so he lost a bit of time but was able to push back and retain the yellow jersey. The winner of the day was Oliver Rodriguez.

Go to for more videos, and check out The Spoke Word for analysis.

--Aileen Torres

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