Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Biased Blow-by-Blow - Tour de France Stage 5


As I’ve blogged before, there’s a benefit to bike race coverage that is far from unbiased and fair.  Sports fans have their favorites and so should commentators.  So here you go.

Biased blow-by-blow – Tour de France Stage 5

As I join, this Eurosport bloke, Declan I think he’s called, is delivering his “fireside chat” style commentary.  “The chase is on but it’s ever so gentle.  We are teeing ourselves up for a sprint as we look at some lovely lavender.”

Markel Irizar (RadioShack, like you care) is apparently adjusting the mirror of a Tour de France logo-emblazoned convertible.  Now he’s fixing the window glass on the other side, and now giving some woman in the passenger seat a little hand massage.  It makes sense when riders hang on to their team cars for a free ride, but with this vehicle it makes no sense.  This guy has chutzpah!

I wonder if there’s actually anybody using this video feed who is stupid enough to believe that an upgrade to “Video HD” is necessary, especially when the words “Wait to close ad 20 seconds” appear.  On the other hand, maybe it’s only a matter of time before computer operating systems start actually showing ads.

The breakaway of four has only six minutes now, which suggests it’s doomed since they had only twelve minutes when the entire pack was somnambulating.  If you don’t know what “somnambulating” means, shoot me an e-mail because that would make me feel superior.

There’s a duo attempting to bridge to the group.  The on-screen text with the video feed calls them “poursuivants,” which is French for “the dudes who are chasing,” but when I first saw it on the screen I thought it said “poor suckers.”  Might as well.  What are they thinking?  “Hey, I heard the break is doomed!  Let’s go join it!”  I guess their belief that all the breakaway needs to succeed is them is what makes them champions.  I can’t decide whether I envy this attitude or not.

The pack just divided beautifully around one of those roundabouts.  I wish American drivers could handle them with such aplomb.  Get two or more of us at a roundabout and everybody kind of panics, except certain old dudes in Benzes who seem to think they have some special credential and can just ignore the other cars entirely.

Declan just delivered a two-minute treatise on what the road does in the last few kilometers of the race.  Are the British just smarter than us, in being able to actually follow such a complicated description, or is Declan out of touch with how (and whether) sports fans think?

It’s 37K to go.  That’s about 22 miles for you Americans.

One of the guys in the break (there’s no point learning their names) has a little moustache.  I saw that Sagan had one a week or so ago.  Please, guys, this sport is funny looking enough as it is.

There’s a Euskaltel guy motoring away from the pack on this climb, and his upper body is so still he looks like half-assed CGI.  Very impressive.

I read recently that Tony Martin was fined for his bike having rainbow stripes in the TTT, which he’s only allowed to have in an ITT (not having won a world’s TTT).  That’s ridiculous.  Specialized bikes have had rainbow stripes for ages, since the first mountain bike world championship was won on one.  Should a guy be disallowed from riding his Ciocc Mockba ‘80 in a race, simply because the guy himself didn’t win the Moscow Olympics in 1980?  Look, TdF officials, Martin wasn’t wearing rainbow stripes on his person.  His bike was wearing them, and I’m sure that’s appropriate.  (With so many Specialized bikes out there, surely a world’s TTT was won on them at some point.)  Besides, what will happen when the first openly gay Tour rider wants to show his pride?  Will he have to win a world championship in every discipline first?

Wow, this big Lotto guy is really drilling it at the front.  I love to watch these guys suffer.  It makes my old desk chair here feel so cozy (though actually this chair is kind of a pile).

GreenEdge is leading the chase now.  It’s the least they can do after screwing up the race with their bus on Saturday.

I haven’t seen Omega-Pharma at the front at all.  Wouldn’t they rather do their work while it’s flat, rather than risking shelling Cavendish on the category 4 climb toward the end?

Okay, Omega-Pharma must be clairvoyant, finally they’ve got a guy on the front.  Or maybe it’s just my talent for stating the obvious.

Orica GreenEdge is no longer in obvious danger of losing the yellow jersey, having limited the time gap to the break, so maybe they’ll make the other teams step up.  But so far the other teams are still being lazy.  I guess passing the buck has become a habit for them.

It’s 19K to go and Declan is talking about geology and techtonic plates.  Interesting choice.

Cannondale finally has a guy on the front.  Whoops, only for about five seconds, like a kid dabbing his toe in a swimming pool ... “Ooh, that’s cold!

Kevin Reza (Europcar), one of the guys in the break, is black.  That is rare among road cyclists.  The announcers haven’t said anything about this, probably terrified of committing some kind of gaff.  I hope I’m not...

The break is starting to turn on itself.  Yukiwa Arashiro (also Europcar) attacked the others but they quickly chased him down.

The leader of the chasing peloton flicks his elbow and the guy behind him shakes his head.  Now the peloton, which had been doing better, is spread all the way across the road.

Another inexplicable pileup in the middle of a dead straight section!  Obviously the handiwork of some inattentive rider, who should be strapped to a chair and beaten with garden tools.

Christian Vande Velde looks like he hit the ground pretty hard.  Dang, that sucks.  Even if he’s uninjured, that’s a hard chase with only 15K to go.

The Astana guy in the break is Alexey Lutsenko.  I don’t know his patronymic.  These Spanish riders get all three names on the roster; why don’t the Russians and other Slavs get their patronymics?

On this long road the peloton is in sight of the break.  Predictably, the announcer says “The peloton can see its prey.”  I’d like to remind him that the breakaway riders are the aggressors here, so the predator/prey metaphor would be lame even if it weren’t so hackneyed.

Lutsenko has attacked the break!  They’re hauling ass on this descent and Riza is diving after him.  But the pack is really flying.  Lots of curves on this descent but nothing too sharp.  Still, the pucker-factor is significant, at least for this spectator.  (Not familiar with that term?  Hint:  it’s not my lips that are puckering.)

Arashiro and De Gendt, the other two from the break, are now caught by the peloton.

Now Omega-Pharma are swarming the front.  Cannondale is still loafing.  They better start riding soon so they can get warmed up for the sprint ... they’ve been practically hibernating (or “hobbernating” as my younger daughter used to say).

My older daughter needs to leave for camp!  She’s asking me to make a sandwich!  I’m shucking her off!  I’m such a bad parent!

I wish I’d paid attention to Declan’s long description of the parcours.  But I just don’t have it in me.

My feed has frozen up!  It’s fake browser widget upgrade ads again!

So 4K to go, ten seconds for the leaders.  Frankly, the sprinters could close that up in the final 200 meters.  Wait, the two leaders have already been absorbed.  Must have happened when my screen was obscured.

Euskaltel is trying to do something.  How cute!  Wow, now their guy is going backward so fast it’s like he was clotheslined.

Sylvain Chavanel has a bright orange bike.  Perhaps he’ll be fined for this, as he never won the Dutch national championship.

Marcel Kittel has launched something.  I don’t know what you’d call it, really.  Not quite an attack, but it’s about 1.4K too early to be anything else.

Lotto leads it out with 1K to go.

Omega Pharma has the lead at 500 meters but the frenzy begins...

Mark Cavendish launches way the hell out and manages to stick it!

Whoah, massive pileup behind the winners!  It’s unbelievable how many guys are down.  I think the vast majority of the riders were caught behind it.

I’m going to go ahead and admire Cavendish for that win even though he’s wearing this totally awful helmet.  I don’t know what it is this year with the helmet manufacturers trying to outdo each other in ugliness.  I can’t even describe Cav’s lid.  It looks like a cheap knockoff of some ‘80s helmet, like the patent just ran out and you can buy this piece of crap at Target for like four bucks.  Little stripes like a 1982 Ford Fiesta.  (No, I don’t know anything about cars, but I hope you get the idea.)

Edvald Boasson Hagen was second, Peter Sagan third.  I have to confess, I’d have been ticked to see Sagan win this, because his team was such a bunch of deadbeats.  They should interview him.  “I have to not hand it to the team, I really owe this non-victory to them.  They were just un-amazing today, working together like a badly rusted machine, really just not stepping up and not getting the job done.”  I realize I’m giving Sagan far more credit for rhetorical ability than he deserves.  A more realistic made-up quote would be something simpler like “Me Tarzan you Jane.”

Okay, something exciting better happen in the podium presentations because I’m missing breakfast for this and it smells good!

Oh my god, Cav’s teammate has a helmet that is absolutely unconscionable.  It’s some quasi-aero S-Works thing that is probably more dangerous to the future of cycling than doping is.  What the hell is wrong with this UCI organization when they’re fining riders for rainbow stripes but allowing helmets that would make Carmen Miranda wince?

I think that more riders were merely stopped behind that crash than actually crashed.  I hope nobody’s Tour was ruined by this.  Maybe somebody needs to conduct a bike handling workshop for these folks.

Cavendish, in his interview, claimed to have launched his sprint 500 meters out.  It was a long sprint, but certainly not 500 meters.  In his defense, I’m sure it felt like 500 meters.

Well, the coverage is ending and I only got to see one podium presentation.  I guess that’s not as bad as the Tour of California coverage a few years ago when they ended the coverage with about 2K to go because it was time for the pre-show for some stupid American sport I never cared about.
Thanks for tuning in.  I hope to do this again soon.

1 comment:

  1. You're my hero Dana, despite being a pathological liar.