Tour de France review
Due to circumstances beyond my control I was able to watch nearly all the stages of this year’s Tour de France. It reminded me of a Jack Kerouac novel. There were some really good bits connected my long stretches on inane travelogue.
That isn’t meant to detract in any way from the awesome achievement of just finishing cycling’s answer to being water-boarded on the rack while averaging the same speed I reach when peddling full speed down hill.
The finishes are of course the main attraction for cycling fans, while the crashes and controversy appeal to the NASCAR/Pro Wrestling fans. Those obviousities aside there are a few moments which I’m sure will pop up in my random access memory flashbacks of my impending senility.
The greatest of these moments was at the finish of stage 18. Luis Leon Sanchez was cranking his legs off against another rider when Mark Cavendish flew by at inhuman speed. Sanchez stopped peddling and threw his hand in the air in surrender and disbelief.
Second on my list is from earlier in stage 18. It was the crash involving Philippe Gilbert, Denis Menchov and a large black dog which had slipped his leash and run onto the road. The highlight of the aftermath was Gilbert going after the dog owner and being restrained by the officials. As they escorted him back to his bike it occurred to him that he was still in the middle of the Tour de France. Funny stuff.
The last, and I’m afraid the saddest and goriest, was a reminder that we are all human, we all make mistakes and we all at one time or another have to wear one of Bill Engvall’s signs. On stage 17 racer Chris Anker Sorenson’s front wheel collected a piece of newspaper. Reacting much more than thinking he reached down to extract the paper. His fingers got the worst of it and will require skin grafts. He did however complete all 20 stages to make it to the finish. These people are way tougher than I am.
Long bike races have so many variables that if you didn’t offer a variety of prizes no one would come.
Of course every racer dreams of the yellow jersey awarded to the rider with the best total time over twenty stages. This year’s top prize was won by Bradley Wiggins who I was surprised to hear was the first Brit to ever win the race.
Then there’s the green jersey. It’s for the rider who scores the most points. Points are awarded on a seemingly random collection of pretend finish lines stuck in the middle of stages. To confuse matter further not all pretend finish lines have the same points available. This year’s winner was Peter Sagan who deserves extra credit for his inventive victory dances.
America’s great young hope Tejay van Garderen one the white jersey which awarded to the highest finishing young rider. Tejay finished fifth overall and seems to have quite a future ahead if he isn’t crushed by the media’s expectations of him. I’m a big fan of Tejay’s, not because of his skill but because I have a cocker spaniel named T.J..
The last award is the polka-dot jersey. No, I’m not kidding. Even worse, this is the award for being the best at climbing the mountains. The toughest challenge I can imagine represented by something usually only worn by girls too young to realize they don’t have to wear the clothes their mothers want them to. Thomas Voeckler got to wear this ridiculous outfit home.
Big bike racing is a team sport and there is an award for best team. This year it was RadioShack-Nissan at the top of the standings, which if rumors are true may be their swan song.
So that’s it for this year. Another year, another tour. I guess I’ll have to climb on my own bike now and get back to work trying to ride all the way to the top of San Bruno Mountain. Maybe my wife can sew me a polka-dot jersey of my very own.