It’s Tour time!

Pre-Prologue: The Cofidis Curse…Poor Matt White, will he ever ride the Tour? After getting screwed by US Postal for the past couple of years he makes the jump to Cofidis to fulfill his Tour de France dream. Matt White's name was magic-markered off his number so Peter Farazijn could take his place in the start house.Come Tour time Cofidis only has, like, 9 guys left on the team that haven’t been busted for EPO so Matt’s thinking “Fuck yeah, I’m riding the Tour”. Then, while warming up for the prologue, only 4 hours before the start, he eats it and breaks his collarbone. Doh! What’s even better is that his replacement, Peter Farazijn, was slurping down beer in a pub on the other side of Belgium. His cell phone goes off, he gets a police escort (only in Belgium!) to Liege, he hops on Matt White’s TT bike, magic markers White’s name off the number, and away he rides…

Prologue

What’s up with these new aero helmets? It doesn’t get much goofier than this…

Stage 1…My favorite OLN moment…Bernard Eisel eating it while chatting with his team director surely comes to mind, but my favorite part was the uber-suave move performed by Franck Renier after he and fellow breakaway companion Jens Voigt missed a turn and rode off the road while descending in the rain. While Voigt casually stepped onto his machine and got a push from a spectator, Renier pulled off the super-smooth cyclocross remount, launching himself off of wet pavement onto the saddle, no mean feat while wearing slick cycling shoes. I checked his website and, sure enough, he’s got some ‘cross palmares. Look at the picture on his page, he’s all set for ‘cross. Bravo, Franck!

Stage 2…My favorite OLN moment…Maybe Servais Knaven was pissed (did Bessy cause the crash? I don’t know), or maybe pros don’t really give a shit about their $5000 bikes, but I totally cracked up when Knaven was standing on the side of the road after crashing with Thor Hushovd and Frederic Bessy. Knaven was up and seemed ok and he was holding Bessy’s bike. Unfortunately, Bessy was laid out in the ditch and was a few minutes away from remounting. So what does Knaven do with Bessy’s bike? Does he move it off the road and lean it against an inanimate object? No fucking way. Knaven simply lets go, for an ever so brief micro-second the bike is balancing on its own, and then the bike flops over onto the roadway. Knaven rolls off into the sunset and not 2 seconds later one of the speeding team vehicles clips the bike’s bars and sends it onto the shoulder. Too funny. Then Bessy finally gets back on and the bike doesn’t seem to be working too well as he feebly makes his way the final 15km to the finish at Namur. I wonder why? Thanks Servais!

Seeing Servais Knaven unceremoniously leave Bessy’s bike to its own gravity-determined devices reminds me of the first time I saw famous cyclists treat their nice bikes like crap. Way back in 1983 I competed as a junior in the USCF road nationals held in San Diego. My dad and I needed some lunch the day before my race so we rode our bikes over to a Burger King near the park where nationals were taking place. Both of our bikes were pretty crappy, but we lovingly locked them up outside and stepped in to order some burgers. While I was standing in line I looked out the window and saw Andy Hampsten and Roy Knickman ride into the parking lot. As they approached the BK lounge they both hopped off their bikes and let them ghost ride for about 30′ into the sidewalk curb. Andy and Roy were cracking up and they just tossed the bikes against the building and walked in to order. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had some low-level Lotus with first generation Shimano 600 parts and I treated it like a million bucks. These guys were racing for Raleigh and had those sweet red & black team Raleighs decked out with Campy Record and they couldn’t care less. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, but my first trip to nationals in my first year of racing surely was a revelatory experience in so many ways.

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