NOTE: This post is rated PG-13 for mild strong language and mature themes.
In my previous post I discussed the merits of totally biased reporting on the Giro d’Italia stage race. This morning, I caught the last 20K and narrated it, via instant message, to a friend, as I did with Stage 10. As before, I find that this blow-by-blow report merits a place on my blog, for those who missed this stage (and just as importantly, the follow-up ceremony).
In case anybody was wondering, I only took about half an hour out of my workday for this, around 8 a.m. My workday started at 6:00 and believe me, I made up the time. I wouldn’t want anybody to think I’m a slacker, particularly in this economy.
My biased blow-by-blow of the final 20K of Stage 12
Cadel Evans is wearing one of those ridiculous new Giro helmets that seem to have almost no vents. They’re like old hockey helmets, or something the bad guys would wear in a bad ‘50s sci-fi movie. Taylor Phinney has one too. What’s the world coming to? Oh, some Sky guy attacked but I was too distracted by the helmet to see who it was and what he was trying to do. These helmets must be a terrible distraction to the riders too.
The Eurosport announcers keep mentioning Scarponi, is in “Scarponi had a problem.” Yeah, Scarponi has a problem—he’s a doping, lying d’bag. All other smaller problems are incidental.
Hesjedal is wearing a plain grey jacket. Perhaps he’d rather leave the spotlight to his teammates, after their double victory yesterday (stage victories in Giro d’Italia and Tour of California).
23K to go. Probably less than half an hour on flat roads like these.
There’s a break of five off. They’re 2:10 ahead. Pretty good chance they’ll be reeled in and spanked for their insolence.
Wiggo and his Sky brethren are all off the back. Sean Kelly speculates that Wiggins chickened out again on the descent, but he (Kelly) is being very diplomatic about it. That restraint is probably costing him dearly ... his tongue is probably bleeding.
The other announcer, Declan, is talking about how Bradley’s tummy hurts. That’s not how he put it, of course. He said something like “intestinal virus.” But we all know this is a euphemism for what he’s thinking, which is “Awwww, does our tummy hurt?”
I guess that’s pretty uncharitable of me to make fun of Wiggins, but I just can’t help it.
Ah, now it’s a “chest infection” though when Declan said it it sounded a bit like “yeast infection.” I’m sure that’s not what he said, though ... he’s not that catty.
You can tell Wiggo is suffering because he’s back with a couple Euskaltel guys who are no better at riding the flats than I am! Actually, they’re far better, but the ratio of their performance in the hills to their performance on the flats is similar to mine—that is, fricking sad.
[A reader writes in, “Damn, you’re insulting youseff!” My response: “I can’t help it. It’s how I was raised.”]
Man, they just showed a super-slo-mo of Bradley’s face, and he really does look miserable. He looks even more miserable than Cadel Evans did when he got his podium girl kisses yesterday. I’m sure Evans enjoyed the kisses—who wouldn’t?—but Evans always looks miserable. He makes Nadia Comăneci look like Mary Lou Retton.
You know what those stupid ventless Giro helmets remind me of? Those awful Brancale helmets from the early ‘80s. The riders must be getting a LOT of money to wear them.
On slow days like this it’s not uncommon for a commentator to mention other news in cycling. So I guess I should say something about Laurent Jalabert’s statement to French authorities yesterday. He’s taken the art of half-confession to a new low. Kind of a quarter-fession. “Yeah, the doctors gave us some stuff, and we didn’t know what it was, but I’m sure it was fine. Just for our health, you know.” I can’t say I’m crestfallen or anything. I hadn’t had a lot of respect for Jalabert anyway, because the way that guy dodged the inspectors and “fought for riders’ rights” (i.e., bitched and whined), I always assumed he was lubed. Plus I hated his nickname, “Jaja.” I know that’s probably not his fault, but he should have tried to squash it. I do like saying “Jalabert,” though.
Wiggo is probably not going to make it back to the bunch. He’s running out of time.
Dang, my video feed just crapped out!
None of my Eurosport links is working now.
These free Internet feeds are always spotty but why must it crap out now?
Okay, it’s back, but they’re showing tennis!
At least the announcer has the right accent.
I tried a Dutch link ... no dice, just the top ten list from like stage 2.
I just got an inquiry from an online follower: “Did Wiggo get dropped by his teammates? That’s what the typed [cyclingnews] feed is saying. But wiggo did catch the chase group.” Well, I guess you can’t count on just any race feed you stumble on! Last I saw Wiggo’s teammates were surrounding him like gnats, but they were all way off the back. The “chase group” is bereft of GC contenders.
Okay, I’ve got coverage again, in Italian.
9.3K to go, 35 seconds to the break.
Wiggins is 3 minutes down!
Cav is near the front. Maybe he’s yelling at his bitches to haul in this break already.
Note that I have nothing but respect for Cav’s teammates. I’m just trying to use the pro-athlete vernacular here, imagining what Cav might call his domestiques when he’s not being interviewed, post-win.
Cav’s interviews, incidentally, are very interesting and show some real polish. I guess when you win that often, you plan your speeches in advance and perhaps even rehearse them.
This announcer enjoys saying “Vi-CHEN-zoe NEEE-bal-ee” as much as I do. It’s obvious. Frankly, there’s nothing to say about Nibali on a stage like this. He’s in pink, he’s in the group, he’s just waiting for the stage to be over.
I love how precisely the peloton handles these breakaways, letting them dangle out there, 24 seconds now, just enough to give the guys false hope.
I wonder if other languages have their own version of “DENIED!” which is what I imagine all the English-speakers in the peloton think when it finally swallows up these poor breakaway guys.
Sky is doing a total TTT off the back, with a bunch of sad-sack hangers-on sucking wheel behind.
It’s 5K to go, the break has 18 seconds.
“Can they hang on?!” Declan asks. To which I reply, “Can you come up with a better rhetorical question than that, you dope?!”
Kelly is being politely silent. (I’m back on an English-language feed now, thank goodness.)
“We will see quite a few riders pushing about trying for Cavendish’s wheeel,” Kelly says of the sprint. A week or so ago there was a lot of jostling in the sprint finish and afterward Declan asked Kelly if he ever pushed guys around in a sprint. “Of course,” Kelly replied. He didn’t add, “Because I was a real man and why the hell wouldn’t I?” because this was implied.
The break is caught.
2K to go.
Oh, wait, the break is still 10 seconds up.
But the group is flying. The break is doomed.
I love how this group can blow by a little town in like 30 seconds because they’re hauling ass so fast.
I have no idea who was in this break, BTW. Just random guys. It’s not worth learning their names, just like you don’t name the goldfish you feed to your piranhas.
The pack is setting up for the final sprint. (I refuse to say “gallop.” Any commentator who uses that hackneyed term ought to be tied to a chair and beaten.) Cav is right in there.
He went really early.
Cav wins by a good margin. Man, he’s still got it. Made everyone else look like a chump.
Cav has rolled up to his handlers now and man, he looks blown. Chest heaving. Wow, he went so hard, I think he warped his mouth.
His lower lip is all distended.
You can see his breath.
He’s starting to smile but it looks pained, like when I saw Don Johnson filming Nash Bridges despite being like 80 years old.
Wiggins is still out on the road.
Okay, Cav’s mouth is now working properly. Whew. For a minute there he looked to become one of the ugliest men in the peloton, his mouth gaping like a fish’s.
One of Bradley’s henchmen accidently gapped the Sky group. Man. Wiggo must really be hurting.
There’s some discussion about the race officials taking the GC time at 3K to go, because of the rain. That makes about as much sense as ketchup on a hot dog. I mean, a crash or mechanical, that makes sense. But it’s not like these guys aren’t used to suffering in the cold and wet.
Wiggo lost 3:38 today.
I wonder if Froome is watching and feeling all smug.
Quite a modest victory salute from Cav. Just a slightly raised fist, about eye level. Maybe his upper body is stiff from the cold.
I wish I could hear Wiggins summing up his awful day. Probably some gloriously colorful and profane expressions, unless he pulls off that stiff-upper-lip, keep-calm-and-carry-on business. In that case I’d like to hear his interior monologue.
Only 3 riders went down today, despite the awful weather. It was a pretty dramatic crash though. Those dudes slid for days. I have it on good authority that the roads in Europe, when wet, are slick as snot, because there are so many diesel cars and trucks. It takes a real downpour to wash that crap off.
I wonder how the points competition will change now. I guarantee you Cadel didn’t get any points today.
They’ve set the highlights reel to this awful music, sort of the British version of John Tesh. It has about five discrete notes. I’m sure this is the elevator music they play in Hell. And the elevators are always broken down.
I’m really relieved about Cav’s mouth returning to normal. He’s such a high-profile rider, it would be a shame if his mouth became permanently distended, to the extent of being able to accommodate a tennis ball. He didn’t look right. This sport needs all the nice smiles it can get among its top riders.
You know, whenever somebody is bagging on Cav for being off the back on the first climb in a race, when it’s more of a molehill than even a climb, not categorized or anything, and they’re saying he’s fat and all that, they need to remember just how fricking fast that guy is. I mean, DAAAAAMN!
They just got a nice aerial shot of Nibali adjusting his junk before taking the podium.
Cav is diplomatically saying, “Those other teams were a bunch of losers. They wouldn’t chase, even with the break a minute ahead with 10K to go.” By “diplomatically” I mean that I totally paraphrased what he said, which was probably closer to “Our team had to do most of the work but the guys really heroed up.” Actually that’s not right either, but you get the idea.
Cav has a bit less razor stubble than usual. Maybe he got a phone call from his mom last night: “Come now, Mark, tomorrow’s pretty flat and you’re bound to win ... can’t you just shave tonight? You’ll be on TV again tomorrow, and you look so shabby with all that stubble.”
Wow, Cav won a t-shirt, just like a US amateur! He’s thrown it to the crowd and now has been given one of those silly, dumpy little pillows that look like a tub of movie theater popcorn.
He’s spraying the bubbly. Takes only a small sip, because as much as he wins, he’d be an alcoholic if he indulged much in the victory champagne.
I love it when you get some guy on the podium who pounds a bunch of the champagne. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does I’m like “That’s my boy!” I remember Davis Phinney would down at least three beers during a post-Coors-Classic press conference, but then those were Coors beers which aren’t exactly IPAs or strong Belgian ales.
Nibali gives a 5-second interview. Boring as ever. Of course, it’s possible he’s quite eloquent yet concise; I don’t speak Italian, after all. For all I know he said, “A difficult stage, but beautiful ... glancing over the peloton on a stretched-out straightaway, the riders looked like little dots of color on the wet, jet-black road. I was reminded of Ezra Pound’s poem about ‘petals on a wet black bough.’ And now if you’ll excuse me I have to go warm up my balls.”
They’re giving Nibali the weird ceremonial maglia rosa with the zipper in back. Remember that Bill Murray movie where he was doing a TV ad in Japan and the jacket was too big, so they put binder big clips on the back to snug it up? They should have those handy for when a pocket-climber wins a stage.
Man, it’s windy out there. The ticker-tape from the awards ceremony is blowing around, all the way down in the road. I thought it was snow at first.
Well, other than Wiggo detonating, this was a pretty boring stage, predictably enough. I’d say the greatest excitement was when I lost all my video feeds with less than 10K to go, and there was all this suspense about whether I’d actually get to see anything.
I just fired up cyclingnews, and have learned that 2nd and 3rd place went to Nacer Bouhanni (sounds like a SoCal health food, but he’s French) and Luka Mezgec (nationality unknown ... a “citizen of the world” perhaps). Luka Mezgec is a weird name, like a cross between a cheesy American pop singer and an Iron Curtain thug. What do other sports fans do, who have to see the same old names again and again? This sport is chock-full of anonymous characters. I love it.