Cyclists In The Flesh From The Tour De France

I know that I have posted a lot about the Tour de France.  I love it and know that my fellow cycling friends would be disappointed if I didn’t post some pics of the big riders.  If you aren’t a cycling fans, we’ll be back to normal programming tomorrow as the Tour ends.  Feel free to notice the slender arms and the shaved legs.  I like that I was able to get this close to the riders.  Above is Marcus Burghardt of BMC.  Sandy Casar of Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ is sponsored by the French lottery) is below.

Cadel Evans (BMC) with Janez Brajkovic of Astana, Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas Cannondale, and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.

This is Chris Horner of Radioshack-Nissan.   I like that he looks like he is having a good time.

The new BMC General Classification (GC) rider Tejay Van Garderen.  He’s wearing the white jersey as the leader of the best young rider competition.  His tweets are pretty hilarious.  They include:

  • “Woke up this morning and found a married women in my bed.” – after getting married
  • “Tony Martin is making a call to his girlfriend. I can tell because his voice just went 4 octaves higher.”
  • “I’m really liking the ‘Young, Wild and Free’ song. Maybe that’s because I’m not allowed to do any of the things they sing about.”
  • “Non-flush urinals are good in theory, but every time I use one it wreaks of week old stale piss. And that is my 1000th tweet.”  Words to live by.

Alexander Vinokourov of Astana.  After testing positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France, it was alleged that he had used his father’s blood.  Vino responded, “I heard that I made a transfusion with my father’s blood. That’s absurd. I can tell you that with his blood, I would have tested positive for vodka.”

Big George Hincapie of BMC a cycling legend from neighboring South Carolina (who married a podium girl) and is retiring after this season.

David Millar of Garmin-Sharp won a stage in this year’s Tour.  He is known for testing positive, admitting “yes, I did it,” serving his suspension and now willing to be quoted on the subject.  Interesting quotes of his include:

  • “To be brutally honest, it’s simple economics. If they want to come into cycling, sponsors need to know the team they are funding is clean, otherwise the risk is just too great.”
  • “In fact cycling has always been ‘saved’ by judicial investigations and not by the anti-doping controls we put in place. That’s the harsh truth. We have relied on them to clean the sport up.”
  • “My epiphany came in that police cell: I realised I was about to lose everything and it didn’t bother me, not in the slightest. I’d come to hate cycling because I blamed it for the lie I was living.”

Our Norwiegan friend cheered on the Norweigan National Champion Edvald Boasson Hagen.  In case you were wondering whether to address him as Mr. Boasson Hagen or Mr. Hagen, he said, “In my passport it says Hagen as a surname, and Edvald Boasson as first names. Boasson is a kind of middle name. But I prefer to use both as a surname.”   If you are still confused, you could try calling him Eddie Boss instead.

Nicki Sørensen of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff and Manuel Quinziato of BMC (I think) having a bit of a chat.  Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Sharp (gotta love a Chicago boy of Belgian descent).

How ’bout them ‘burns?  The yellow jersey holder and likely winner, Bradley Wiggens.  Apparently he has not heeded the advice on my sign to “shave the ‘burns.”

One of my favorite Swiss, Fabian Cancellara, who abandoned the tour after this stage.  He plans on competing in the Olympics, but before he does, it is his wish to be present and there for his wife at the birth of their second child.  Aaawwww. What a sweetie.

Related articles

Advertisements

I Love My Husband, But Jens Voigt May Be The Coolest Man Alive

I adore him.  He’s great.  I love him so much that I married him and hope to remain married to him all our lives.  Nevertheless, cyclist Jens Voight may be cooler.  In fact, he may be the coolest man alive.  Fans of cycling love him.  Look at the enthusiasm on the guy in the red shirt’s face.  Heck, look at the enthusiasm on Jens’ face.

We watched the stage from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, France and were lucky enough to see Jens Voigt (who at 40 years old is the oldest rider in the race) attack.  He is known for his epic attacks, ability to endure pain and delightful personality.  We got to see him climbing the last climb after he escaped from a 25-man group.  He attacked, lost ground and regained it, just missing the stage win, coming in third.  Seeing it live.  Priceless.

Just check out the determination on his face in every photo.  Here are 10 examples of Jens Voigt epic coolness:

10.  In the 2010 Tour de France, Jens Voigt’s front tire blew out, causing him to crash.  He’d been speeding down mountain in the Pyrenees (Col de Peyresourde) at 70 kilometers (40 miles) an hour. Needless to say, he hit the pavement hard, shattering his bike, breaking ribs and creating a huge gash in his elbow.   Stop?  Never!  Bleeding, Jens borrowed a kid’s bike and rode it for 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) until he he could get a new bike from his team car!

9.  While riding up Alpe d’Huez (an epic mountain) the Tour de France, Jens gave a kid his empty water bottle.  Happy and loving life, he was angered when we saw a middle-aged guy tackle the kid and take the bottle.  Fired up and pissed off that the jerk had rained on his parade, he stopped, turned around and coasted down the mountain.  Perplexed observers likely wondered whether he was injured or abandoning the tour.  Jens found the guy in the crowd, pointed to his bag and told him that the bottle he grabbed was for this kid.  The jerk gave it back and the crowd went nuts.

8.   In the 2011 Tour of California Jens rode two stages with a broken hand.  Even though it caused him constant pain, that wasn’t the reason he dropped out of the race.   According to the doctors who treated him, leaving it untreated would permanently damage his hand and ability to grip things.  He flew back to Germany to get surgery.  Before leaving, he apologized saying “I would like to apologize to the fans not only for withdrawing but for the two stages I did manage to do after I broke my hand. I was just operational on those days, and that does not satisfy me. I am never there just to fill up the numbers. So, please dear fans: Don’t be mad at me! Do not start thinking I am getting all soft in my old days. I will make up for everything in Tour of Colorado, or even maybe next year in Tour of California.”

7.  In the Amgen Tour of California the following year, a bee landed on Jens’ lip.  He tried to just leave it alone, but it stung him anyway.  Don’t piss off Jens, he’ll eat you, literally. “…[T]hen i (sic) decided to live up to my image and swallowed her and did chew every bit of honey out of that bee!!!”   His lip swelled in the middle of the race and joked about looking like he’d had a cosmetic procedure.  Always positive, Jens said, “Take that little bug as punishment for messing with me!!”

6.  If you want to have some fun, check out all of the Jens Voightisms on the internet.  One of my favorites, “Jens Voigt will never have a heart attack.  Jens Voigt’s heart isn’t stupid enough to attack him.”  I like them better than the  Chuck Norris-type tributes because with Jens, they are probably true.

5.  Jens went down hard in the 2009 Tour de France while descending the the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard when his front wheel inexplicably lost traction.  He bit it hard, face first.  He lost consciousness for three to four minutes.  He had a concussion, a litany of bruises and broken bones in his face.  He hit so hard that  he was lucky to be alive.  In typical Jens fashion, he called his wife that night and told her that he knew who she was and their kids were, that he just needed some time to heal.

4.   He says one-liners like, “Shut up, legs” and “Make My Day” in a funny German accent.  Essentially, he laughs at pain.  His acceptance of it and ability to endure it sets him apart.  In the self-flagellating sport of cycling, this makes him a saint.  What really makes him remarkable is his ability to endure it with a smile and a sense of humor.  He summarized his attitude, by saying, “I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world – I’ve been able to make my hobby my job. Because it’s such a hard sport, it’s important to be able to work in an environment that’s fun. Imagine, you think: ‘Hey, now I have to go back to the races, back to all those idiots.’ That just doesn’t work.”

3.  He looks to differentiate himself from his competitors and has settled on determination.  Jens said, “It’s about determination.  These days, everybody trains hard and smart. Everybody has a decent technique or tactic… a good bike… You’ve got to look somewhere else to make a difference. Tour de France winners used to win by 15 minutes. Today, 15 minutes out, you’re in 35th. So the one with the highest pain threshold takes it. If you can suffer a little bit more, go out hard one more time, it intimidates the other riders, even if you’re only slightly better than them. That one more push could crack your opponents and you’re out front while everyone else in the back arguing who’s going to chase you. Let them play the poker game. Up front, it’s all or nothing. I try to tell the guys that. And I have enough experience to prove it.”  In other words, I am willing to suffer more than you, you don’t want to force me to prove it to you.

2.  In the 2011 Tour de France, true to his motto “always attack,” Jens escaped in a breakaway with several riders in Pyrenees.  On a steep descent, Jens tumbled off the side of the mountain into a ravine. He climbed out, dragging his bike with him. He got back on his bike, began riding and promptly crashed again, hard.  Jens rejoined the peleton so that he was there for at a critical moment in the race, to sacrifice himself for his star teammates, the brothers Andy and Frank Schleck. No wonder they love him.  After two nasty falls, his bloody legs broke the breakaway.  Vintage Jens.

1. Jens takes advantage of his job to see things.  Some people just sail through without looking.  He comments on seeing castles or the shortest town name ever.  How can you not appreciate someone like that?

Put On Your Thong And Cheer On Your Countrymen

The Tour de France is known for the wild enthusiasm of its fans.  The fans are part of the spectacle.   Where else do you see people camping in devil costumes replete with pitchfork or dressed as Borat running up a hill?  I have never seen so many men in thongs.  As one of them explained to me, “we don’t normally dress like this, we do it for the Tour.”

Others dress like they normally do.  These guys might not normally plan to all wear same hot pink jersey.  Then again, they might.

People show their enthusiasm for the Tour in their dress.  This poor lady from Luxembourg had a cast.  She painted her toenails in her country’s colors and drew red and white polka dots (to represent the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey), yellow and green stripes (for the Yellow and Green jerseys that go to the overall tour winner and the leader in the sprint points).

Although the Tour de France is France’s premier sporting event, its international aspect is an integral part of it.  We saw people from:

  • Norway,
  • Luxembourg,
  • Denmark
  • Belgium,
  • the Netherlands,
  • Germany,
  • Switzerland,
  • Estonia,
  • the United Kingdom,
  • Australia,
  • New Zealand,
  • and the United States (although Boris and Natasha said that there weren’t as many Americans as there were during the Lance Armstrong era).

Having a rider win the Tour de France, is a huge boost to cycling in that country.  People become more familiar with the sport, it gets more publicity, people starts buying more bikes and riding more.  Australian’s interest in cycling and the Tour exploded with the success of Australian Cadel Evans who won the Tour last year.

We saw tons of flags we’d never seen before.  There were tons of Brits and we saw several of these three-legged flags.  We learned it is the flag of the Isle of Man, the home of legendary British sprinter, Mark Cavendish.   Undoubtedly, the Queen, Prince William and Kate are all Cavendish fans.

Someone else had a theory that the nationalities of fans on the mountain revealed something about how economies are doing.  Vacations in France aren’t usually cheap.  We saw tons of Norwegians (who went nuts for Team Sky‘s Edvald Boasson Hagen).  Norway is definitely not hurting.  The UK, the Danes and the Germans have some of Europe’s strongest economies.  Then again, it could have something to do with geography and when people have vacation time.

French rider, Thomas Voeckler, won stage 10 from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.

How do Frenchmen celebrate a fellow countryman’s victory on a stage of the Tour?   With champagne, bien sûr.  We had to hustle to get to the next day’s stage so we didn’t stick around to see if they had thongs.

Checking One Off The Bucket List – On A Mountain At The Tour De France

I have said it before and I’ll say it again.  I love the Tour de France.  Being the dork that I am, I have watched every stage of the Tour for virtually the past decade.   How have I accomplished this feat?  I get the TV to watch the Tour in July.  The rest of the year, I give him the TV the rest of the year to watch all the football, basketball and hockey he wants.  It’s a fair trade.  Watching it on TV, I always dreamed of seeing it live.  Guess what?  It finally happened. On Wednesday and Thursday, I was on mountains in France in a Detroit Red Wings jersey, getting sunburned, and taking in the spectacle.

Watching the tour on TV, you can’t fully appreciate the beauty of the mountains the colors, the helicopters, and the excitement.  You can’t meet the other fans.  They are delightful and quite friendly.  I don’t know of many places where you can meet so many people from other countries in such a congenial environment.  The excitement was contagious and everyone made the most of it.

On the way up Col de la Madeleine, we stopped and bought this wonderful hunk of local cheese out of someone’s barn for our picnic.  Because you have to get on the mountain early before they close the roads, people picnic, eat, drink and are merry.  Everyone was having a good time.

True fans of bicycle racing appreciate seeing these guys and go to great lengths to do it.  My guests (Boris, Natasha and Mr. Peabody) hiked with me 18 miles up and down a mountain to see the stage on the Col de la Madeleine.   Others, biked up to the peak and back down.  Some people camp out on the mountain days ahead of the stage to get a good spot.  The rich and lucky get to ride in the cars (although I can’t imagine the view of the cyclists is that good) or get shuttled to a viewing area with a TV at the top.

Even the trip from one stage to another was exciting for us cycling fans.  We saw NBC Sports cars racing down the highway to Albertville.  Although we had no idea who was inside (NBC Sports probably pays their speeding tickets), since we couldn’t catch them. We’re swearing that it was Bob Roll (who doesn’t love Bobke) in one with Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett in the other.

It was just amazing to think that caravans travel from distant countries to experience the Tour.  Observers spray paint the name of a relatively unknown cyclist from their region on the pavement.  Some guy from a village in the Netherlands who drove a thousand miles and spray painted his countryman’s name on the mountain.  He’ll be lucky to finish in 45th place.

We have done the All-Start NASCAR race.  While there is huge excitement and the fans are devoted, you have a drunken, often belligerent atmosphere.  The most intoxicated people we met were some nationality censored who offered us beverages, told us some great stories and played us some great music.  Rock on.

We saw last year’s winner Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggens in the yellow jersey surrounded by team Sky.  We saw all of our favorite American riders: Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, big George Hincapie, the hilarious Dave Zabriskie, Tyler Farrar, Christian Vande Velde, and the awesome Tejay Van Garderen (who should be BMC’s GC rider).  I even got to see some of my favorites: Frank Schleck and Fabian Cancellara.   Even going uphill, they whipped by us at amazing speeds.  I was still able to see enough to tell you ladies that Spartacus (aka Fabian Cancellara) is just as handsome in person.