Le Tour – quatre vingt dix neuf!


It’s huge – it’s the 99th – it’s clockwise this year – and it’s here. It’s Le Tour.

Remember when tour riders had rock-star status?

1949: Coppi and Bartali

1959: Bobet

1971: Merckx

It’s not quite “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” but let’s consider 2012:

Sagan

He has just won 5 stages of the Tour of California and 4 stages in the Tour de Suisse. And he’s just 22!

Cavendish

He’s come a long way since the beginning.

Quickly out growing the little wheels.

To the very top.

By the way, is there ANYTHING more pasty than an English cyclist?

Wiggans. In form. Paris-Nice, Dauphiné Liberé (its French for “free the dolphins”). Mullet.

Da Modfavver

Listening to The Jam:

Wiggins rides on the 50 anniversary that Tom Simpson became the first Englishman to wear the yellow jersey. Five years later, Tom “If 10 kills you, I’ll take 9” Simpson also was died of an amphetamine overdose on the Mt Ventoux stage of the tour. Good read here.

How is Bradley so far in front of everyone? I think he has discovered the advantage of facial hair. He’s clearly working on his sideburns. Cadel is working on his eyebrows. Dauphiné podium:

You know who I’m backing.

Cadel practising his race face in the Dauphiné.

It’s nearly there.

The past master, of course, was Hinault. From carefree, playfulness

to “I will eat your liver” in a split second:

Badgers are like that. BTW, I think Timothy Olyphant should play him in the movie:

This year tour is particularly exciting for Australians with the Orica Greenedge team

Following last year’s leak at its Newcastle ammonia plant, Orica has stepped up with an “..alleged release of heightened levels of cyanide into Gladstone Harbour.” How green is that?

QLD state environment watchdog has charged the company with 279 breaches relating to discharges and if found guilty, the company faces a penalty of $1 million per offence. Gladstone Harbour has been the site of fish deaths and abnormalities in the past several months. Orica has issued a statement saying it intends to defend the complaints and believes there has been no environmental harm or risk to human health.

Simon Gerrans

Johnny “barbed wire” Hoogerland is back

0% body fat tend to accentuate scarring:

The bookies are saying its a two-horse race:

With pretty much daylight next.

Vicenzo Nibali?
He’s worn pink, he’s worn red, maybe this year it will be yellow.

Who else? Not Lance (who??), who recently announced on his website: “I have never doped.” That’s good enough for Phil “He told me to my face and I believe him” Liggett, but not to the 10 eye-witnesses who saw him doped and the USADA, who are opening a case against him. Who are the 10 eye-witnesses? Being kept secret.

Of course, its not so easy to get TdF wins taken away from you, but Lance is going to give it his best shot. Five years ago Bjarne (“Mr 60%”) Riis confessed to using EPO to win the 1996 Tour. Nobody’s taken the win from him even though he’s actually confessed. And it hasn’t stopped Riis from running a cycle team, currently Saxobank, where the star rider is Contador.
BTW, Bjarne bike throw:

Alberto (“I too, have never doped”) Condator will miss the Tour, as he’s still serving his doping ban, should be back for the Vuelta.

George Hincape is retiring.
This will be the 17th and last time around France. Last year, he is said to have testified about doping with Lance. (He’s one of the 10).

David Millar (repentant doper)
Back after serving his 2 year ban.
Another nice bike throw:

I can totally understand this throw if you watch what happened.

Vino (unrepentant doper)
Vinokourov worked with Ferrari, (a doctor also being charged by USADA for doping conspiracy). A Vino quote from 2007 “We have a code of ethics and I respect it. … However, Ferrari is not my doctor but my trainer.” Vinokourovo tested positive for blood doping shortly after in the 2007 Tour de France, served his 2 year ban and is now back in the peloton.

A little-known bit of trivia: Cadel also got some training from Ferrari.
But this was a long time ago, before Cadel switched from MTBs.

Filippo “Only God can judge me” Pozzato
Yesterday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has officially charged Pippo with doping offences. It looks like he’ll miss the Olympics. But not the Tour (that would be unfair, why pick on him?). It’s all to do with Ferrari training plans. The 50,000 Euros/year type plans. More here.

Alejandro “Mr Puerto” Valverde
I’ll just give you someone elses take on him:
‘Why do we despise Valverde when he’s served his penalty and has every right to be back? Because like his alphabet buddy Alexander Vinokourov, he’s a cynical and unrepentant liar. Upon his return to the sport he boldly declared he’d done “nothing wrong.” ‘

Ivan Basso (ex doper)
He’s done his two years, leave him alone.

Levi Leipheimer:
US Postal, Team Discovery, Astana, Bruyneel. What are the chances he’s clean? Recently, USADA announced that Leipheimer, Hincape, Zabriskie, Vande Velde won’t be making themselves available for the US olympic team. To be clear: the riders themselves didn’t announce it, the US anti-doping authority announced it for them.

It’s pretty clear that they are 4 of the 10 testifying against Lance.
The others? I’m guessing it includes:
Floyd “I guarded Lance’s blood fridge” Landis

Tyler “I saw Lance inject EPO” Hamilton

Which leaves just four. Who do you think they are?

But luckily the peloton has cleaned itself up, let’s not dwell in the past,
IT’S ALL GOOD.

Three weeks of suspension of disbelief – I can hardly wait! Who knows, this might be the year that the winner of the Tour de France Cadel will say “I’m clean and this is a victory for clean cycling.”

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