Saturday, July 6, 2013

Biased Blow-by-Blow - Tour de France Stage 8

NOTE:  This post is rated R for mild strong language, drug references, and excessive bitterness.


As I’ve blogged before, there’s a benefit to bike race coverage that doesn’t try to be unbiased or fair.  Sports fans have their favorites and so should commentators.  And it can be necessary to call a spade a spade on the basis of it looking, sounding, and smelling like a spade, even if the highest standards of journalistic integrity would require some kind of proof that it’s a spade.  So here is my  totally biased report.

Biased blow-by-blow – Tour de France Stage 8

What’s-his-face, Declan, just said, “Guess-ink, or Jess-ink, depending on how you pronounce his name.”  Uh, dude?  There’s usually a single right way.  As a journalist you’re supposed to simply find out what that is.

Anyway, Robert Gesink attacks from the peloton.  He’s going after the breakaway of three.  I don’t know who’s in it because my feed just froze.

David Millar is going off the back.  Not sure if you’d remember this, but there was a time he was touted as a future Tour GC contenda.  Oh well.  I think it’s enough that he can win the odd stage.

The riders are all climbing the Col de Pailhères, by the way.  It’s an HC climb.  I heard one of the announcers the other day describing the categorization system as being based on an old car a journalist had.  If he could make it over a climb in 4th gear, it was a category 4.  If he had to downshift to third, it was a cat 3, and so forth.  If his old car couldn’t make it over at all, it was HC.  Not sure if there’s any truth to this, and I’d like to know what that car was, but it’s kind of amusing.

Thomas Voeckler is heading off after Gesink.  “You might call him ‘the housewife’s favorite’ but he’s bored with that,” Declan declares.  I’m not sure I like the visual on that ... hair curlers meet single-digit body fat.  Blech.

Pierre Rolland, the Europcar leader, is dropped.  It didn’t take Voeckler very long to take advantage.  I guess he had a deal already cut with the management:  “If Rolland sucks in the mountains, I don’t have to wait.”

The countryside is absolutely gorgeous.  Perfect weather, green everywhere.  We armchair tourists can appreciate it in a way the racers probably can’t.  I remember a journalist asking a Coors Classic rider if he enjoyed the weird scenery on the “Tour of the Moon” stage; the guy replied, “What scenery?”

Sky is lined out on the front.  It’s only a matter of time before Froome, and then Porte, accidentally drop everybody due to the staggering amounts of lube coursing through their systems.  It’s kind of like how a drunk can wander out into a blizzard and never feel a thing.

Race leader Daryl Impey is getting dropped.  Where’s your Orica-Green Edge van now, Impey?  (Okay, maybe that was uncalled for.)

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has effortlessly bridged up to Voeckler, like a piranha chasing down a goldfish.

Now Voeckler looks like a goldfish whose tail section has been bitten off.  He’s going backwards.  The way his mouth is gaping, he really does look fishlike.  Now he’s absorbed by the group.

Quintana is really moving.  He’s making it look easy.

Sylvain Chavanel is falling off the back of the peloton.

Christophe Riblon (AG2R) is the leader of the race, out front alone.  It looks like Quintana has dropped Gesink as he chases Riblon. 

Declan is describing the expensive road surface that doesn’t melt in the heat.  “Being expensive is perhaps why it’s so narrow.”  This guy would be fun to have at a dinner party, I think, but I can’t help but wish Sean Kelly would assert himself a bit more and talk about, say, bike racing.

Quintana has caught Riblon and now they’re working together.  They’ve got 39 seconds on the peloton.

Now Quintana has dropped Riblon.  Riblon’s shoulders are rocking and I’m sure he knows that the fun and games are over.

Can Quintana hang on for 32K more?

Pierre Rolland has not only made it back to the peloton, but has now attacked it.  I’ll bet he has some choice words for Voeckler at dinner.

Gesink is now dropped from the peloton.  Declan has just called him “Hay-sink,”  so he’s now used three different pronunciations, covering all the bases.

It’s a little sad that Sky still has at least four guys at the front.  There was a time when only one, maybe two domestiques could drop a perennial Tour favorite like Gesink.  Vasil Kiryienka is sitting on the front blasting away like it was nothing.  Kiry-who?  Exactly my point. has crapped out completely.  Curses!  I’m trying  Wish me luck.

No luck., can you help?  Well, I can see some footage, but it’s in French.

Quintana has just over a minute.  He’s looking really, really strong.

There’s some snow up here.  I think this stage reaches the highest point of this year’s Tour.

The French announcer is either talking about the course, or somebody’s heart.

Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank team also has several domestiques in this increasing select lead group.

Tejay van Garderen has been dropped from the peloton!  Cadel Evans is still holding tough.  This group only has like 20 guys now.

I don’t like this French commentary at all.  Those guys have a different word for everything.  (Yes, I stole that joke from Steve Martin.) 

Okay, Hahabar has finally come through and I’m back to my native tongue.

Wow, Quintana is into the fenced-off section near the summit of the climb.  He’s still looking very good, though his lead is still only a minute.  He’ll have to descend like a maniac to hold off the group and still have an advantage at the base of the final climb.  It’s a category 1.

Rolland got second over the top for some KOM points.  It is interesting to note that his teammate, Voeckler, did not.  I’ve read that Voeckler isn’t very popular in the peloton, and his behavior today surely won’t help.

Quintana’s lead is down to 54 seconds as Sky continue pressing on behind at the head of the peloton.  There are 26 riders there and maybe a few will catch back on so they can get shelled again on the final climb.

Declan is talking about the road surface again.  The other day he was talking about tectonic plates.  I think he originally wanted to be a geologist but nobody was hiring.  Perhaps his career counselor said, “Well, you’re a masterful bullshitter; how about bike race commentator?”

Nicholas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), who was dropped on the climb, just blew by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the descent.

Pinot is losing more and more ground to the peloton; why is the cameraman documenting this?  Just to shame him later?

Pierre Rolland continues to hammer as he chases down Quintana.  He’s only 43 seconds behind him now.

Sean Kelly, seeming to read my mind, explains that the camera is following Pinot because he’s a top French GC favorite.  Isn’t that sweet, how the French still pretend one of their own could place high in the overall?  A guy named after a wine, no less?  Speaking of French riders, I don’t know why Rolland doesn’t get more respect (from his teammate and from the commentators).  He’s certainly riding like a favorite today.

Rolland is only 25 seconds back.  It’s the pack that’s 40 back. is laughing at me now.  Fortunately I left the French feed open in another window so I can still see something.  If y’all want to chip in and buy me some real coverage I wouldn’t complain...

I have three separate so-called English-language feeds now and they’re all in French.  And the audio feeds are syncopated, so it sounds like six Frenchman calmly arguing over one another.

OK, I’ve got English but it’s Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.  If they mess up and use the word “Armstrong” to describe the action, I’m switching back to French.

You know, I’ve been watching for over an hour and I haven’t seen a single non-Sky rider in the top three places of the peloton.  They’re like a bunch of robots or something.

The riders have reached the final climb.  This is about six miles long so the 21-second gap really isn’t much.

Wow, Tejay has lost three minutes on the peloton.  Maybe he’s still recovering from racing up Mount Diablo in his Tour of California bid back in May.

Evans is getting dropped!  So is Rolland, and Talansky, and Dan Martin!  They’ve been dropped by the Big Pharma reps on Sky!  At this rate, Sky will end up with all three spots on the final podium in Paris.

Michael Rogers is dropped.  Not sure who else Contador has left to help him.

Richie Porte  has dropped the hammer and the lead group is down to five riders.  It’s Porte, Froome, Contador, Valverde (Movistar) and Kreuziger (Saxo Bank) as Quintana is caught.

Froome has attacked.  His mouth isn’t even open.  He just looked back, casually, like “Is everybody dead yet?”  It’s really boring to watch Froome attack because probably just about anybody you could grab off the street could do this if given as much lube as Froome is on.

Porte and Quintana are together.  Kreuziger is pacing Contador.  Evans is back with Andy Schleck.

Froome is so thin he looks like the victim of some wasting disease.  I can barely stand to look at him.  He’s ghoulish and he’s ruining our sport.

Schleck and Rolland have dropped Evans.  Wait, that’s not Schleck.  Dang it, Phil!

This isn’t even any fun to watch.  It’s like Lance all over again, except I’m not so naive now and cannot mistake an illusion for real sport.

All my feeds are frozen but it’s barely worth getting them going again.  You know what?  Froome can gargle my balls.

Contador looks pretty clean this year.  Perhaps he fears a lifetime ban.  I wonder if he’ll change his mind when he sees Froome getting his yellow jersey in a little bit here.  Hell, I’d gladly give him some of my blood.  At least Contador made it look realistic back when he was lubing-to-win.

Froome is in the final kilometer.  The crowd is cheering politely but I’m sure they’re not particularly excited.  You know what this reminds me of?  Bambi Meets Godzilla.

Froome heads for the line.  Oh, look, here comes Richie Porte soloing in for second!  Just like in the Criterium International!  What an amazing coincidence!

Here comes Valverde, so we’ve hit the doping trifecta.

Contador loses 1:45.  But of course the race was really won before the Tour even started, on the little island of Tenerife.

Talansky and Dan Martin come in about 2:35 back.

Schleck loses 3:34 today.  Evans loses 4:13. 

Holland’s Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin Procycling), is in 5th in the GC.  Very, very impressive.  Oddly, the leader board has him as a Belgian.  This guy doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves, perhaps due to his facial hair.  Somehow, he hasn’t captured the hipster look with his beard.

They’re showing a replay of Froome’s victory salute.  Phil Liggett says of Froome, “He’s not the prettiest of bike riders, but he is the most effective.”  He must have bitten his tongue to keep from adding, “At doping.”

Perhaps you saw that Froome, in a pre-Tour interview, said, “My results aren’t going to be stripped.”  Thou doth protest too much!  You’re supposed to wait until you’re accused before you start lying!

Froome is being interviewed.  “This is the first real GC day, so to come out in first and second, this is a dream come true for us.... That’s such a good way to start the mountains for us.”  Such insight!  You know, it’s genius like this that enables a pair of riders, almost unheard of as recently as two years ago, to walk away from the best bike racers in the world in pretty much every stage race they do.

Looks like Tejay is going to lose about 12 minutes.  Of course, nothing matters now because the entire sport has been blown up again.  Or perhaps I was just being foolish when I thought it might be cleaning up.

Wow, as Chris Froome steps onto the podium, one of the podium girls sucker-punches him in the kidneys!  It’s a dream come true!  Okay, I confess that despair has driven me into fantasy.  Actually, you know what a real dream come true would be?  If the doping controls actually worked.  It’s a disgrace that Bernard Hinault has to pretend to be happy for Froome right now, and actually shake his hand, when this is all so obviously a sham.

Another group of really outstanding, and very likely clean, athletes crosses the line over 17 minutes down.

Chris Froome is on the podium for the third time today, this time for the KOM jersey.  His calves are smaller than mine.  You know what I’d like?  I’d like to take Froome on in a good old fashioned fistfight.  All his EPO, extra blood, and whatever the hell else he’s on wouldn’t do much for him there.

Quintana gets the white jersey of best young rider.  If I’m not mistaken, he takes it over from Peter Sagan, who is still out on the course.  By the way, the green and white bodysuits of these podium girls are ridiculous, but they’re by far the best-looking podium girls we’ve seen today.

Voeckler finally drools in, well over 20 minutes down.  The housewives will soon be reading “Fifty Shades of Off-The-Back,” just as soon as I’m done writing it.

They’re interviewing some white-haired Frenchman.  I think I can translate:  “It really didn’t matter what anybody tried to do in this race ... tactics were out the window ... the only thing to note about this race is that Sky is absolutely coked to the gills, a bunch of goddamned pin-cushions.  It’s just too bad that Froome looks like such a douchebag, because there’s no syringe for that.”  (Full disclosure:  it’s been over two decades since I studied French and I’m not sure I’ve translated this perfectly.)

Both my remaining video feeds have turned into odd displays of grey and black vertical bars, which is a big improvement over yet another replay of Froome’s victory salute.  It’s so absurd for somebody to look really excited about “winning” when he and his teammate go one-two yet again, just like all season and throughout last year’s Tour.  I’m pretty sure this will be my last Tour de France blow-by-blow ... I’m going to go find something else to watch, something more honorable, like cockfighting or pro wrestling.  Thanks for tuning in, and I’m sorry I haven’t had something better to report.

1 comment:

  1. Love it. And might I suggest covering Luche Libre; those guys are seriously great fake wrestler/real acrobats. And, for the record, I was wondering why the commentators in the stage the other day didn't say something about a black guy not only being in this race but also being a factor; it's rare, so let's say it. I realize it could be construed as racist, but I see it as celebratory. Golf talks all the time about Tiger Woods being (part) black, after all (right? I don't follow a lot of golf, but I do recall that's been brought up a time or two).