TdF Shocker! Stage 9 Cancelled Due to Lack of Interestingness

07.10.2006 | 6:21 pm

Paris, July 11 (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Tour de France head honcho Christian Prudhomme took advantage of the relative calm of the rest day to announce that tomorrow’s stage (Stage 9: Bordeaux – Dax) will be cancelled, due to the fact that it looks like it will be the least interesting stage in the history of the Tour de France.

“I really don’t know how that stage snuck in there, but I don’t see any way out of it: that stage is a yawner,” said Prudhomme. “169.5 kilometers of very-nearly-straight road, completely flat.”

“Seriously,” concluded Prudhomme, “What were we thinking?”


A Perfect Storm of Malaise-Inducing Events

Prudhomme’s decision would not likely have been made if not for several precipitating events earlier in the tour. Consider:

  • One Successful Breakaway per Customer, Please: Each flat stage, a group of cyclists shoot off the front in order to give commentators something to talk about. Once per tour, someone from the breakaway is allowed to win the stage. That was yesterday. Sorry, no more successful breakaways.
  • Stage Winner a Foregone Conclusion: Robbie McEwen would win the sprint. Again. It’s not even entertaining to watch anymore. Commentators have been reduced to discussing what kind of victory salute Robbie will do as he crosses the line. For example, consider the exchange between Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen at the end of stage six:

Liggett: “Paul, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that today when Robbie wins the stage he’ll do his ‘I’ve been vindicated for some perceived slight’ salute. He’s a very angry man, you know.”

Sherwen: “I’m afraid I’m going to have to part with you on that assessment, Phil. Robbie looked to be in a pretty happy mood this morning. I’ll wager he’ll do his ‘Jolly Jogger’ salute as he crosses the line.”

Liggett: “Of course, there’s always the possibility he’ll do his ‘I’m a very important person’ salute. That’s one of my favorites, you know.

Note: Sherwen made the correct guess for stage six with his “Jolly Jogger” prediction.

Note #2: Surprisingly, Robbie McEwen actually supports the cancellation of stage 9. “I need time to regroup and think of a new clever salute,” McEwen stated in a recent press conference.

  • The Only Interesting Contest in the TdF Currently Has Nothing to do With Flat, Sprint-Ending Stages: Most major GC contenders took a major blow to their position in Saturday’s ITT, and everybody’s very interested to see whether this damage will get worse or better in the mountains. “I’m very excited to get into the mountains,” said a very un-excited-sounding George Hincapie. “As everyone will remember, I showed last year that I can win stages in the mountains. No, seriously, I can. I can see in your eyes you think it was just a fluke, but it wasn’t! I’ll show you. I’ll show you all!”

Commentators Express Relief, Disappointment

Reached for comment on the cancellation of this exquisitely meaningless stage, Paul Sherwen responded, “To tell the truth, I’m quite pleased at the prospect of not having to commentate this stage. Do you think it’s easy to talk about a peloton that isn’t trying, while pursuing a breakaway that won’t succeed? I have run out of clichés and colorful metaphors, and have told every anecdote from my professional cycling days more than a thousand times.”

“Plus, Phil keeps falling asleep during the flat stages, and then it’s up to me to wake him up while I try to keep talking.”

Phil Liggett, however, expressed mild disappointment at the cancellation of stage 9. “I saw this stage as the Pro Cycling Commentators’ Mt. Everest, really,” said Liggett. “I mean, if I can talk in a friendly, informative, engaged manner about the most dreadfully dull stage imaginable, that says something about me, doesn’t it?”

“Plus,” finished Liggett, “I just finished uploading the audiobook version of The Davinci Code onto my iPod and planned to listen to a few chapters during the stage.”


Racers React

“You mean I don’t have to—I mean won’t be allowed to—race 170 kilometers in close proximity to more than a hundred other stinky men, while risking some bozo crashing me out because he touched the wheel of the guy in front of him?” said Floyd Landis, presumably rhetorically. “You mean I won’t have to ride all day with no chance of changing my overall standing on a stage that nobody else’s standing will change either?”

“Wow,” said Landis. “That’s just tragic.”

No other racers were asked to comment, because it’s looking like in the absence of Ullrich, Basso, and Vinokourov, Landis is the only relevant rider left in the field.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 07.10.2006 | 7:01 pm

    Maybe Robbie should consult w/ Chad Johnson for more victory celebrations.
    Robbie is mow my favorite rider, and the Jolly Jogger sealed the deal. I tried that move this weekend after finishing 37th. I felt stupid as I nearly took out several riders who only appeared to be glad to have just finished. Go figure.

  2. Comment by Cara | 07.10.2006 | 8:06 pm

    You know the flat stages are getting boring when this comparison was made "It was like Robbie pulled off an invisibity cloak from Harry Potter". 

  3. Comment by barry1021 | 07.10.2006 | 8:27 pm


  4. Comment by Unknown | 07.10.2006 | 8:38 pm

    Today’s rest day promises to be more exciting than tomorrow’s stage.

  5. Comment by Random Reviewer | 07.10.2006 | 9:04 pm

    The flat stages have always been boring yet mesmerizing to me, kind of like watching golf on a Saturday afternoon. It’ll get better in the mountains. Or not.

  6. Comment by Unknown | 07.10.2006 | 9:09 pm

    We’re almost to the mountains!  Ya-hooooo!
    P.S.  Wasn’t that awesome to see the breakaway finally work yesterday!?!?!?

  7. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 07.10.2006 | 9:43 pm

    They really should just give the stage 9 prize money to Davitamon and have an extra rest day.  Or telecast a rerun of the world cup final.
    When did Landis become relevant.  Michael Rogers gave him 23 seconds and Cadel Evans gave him 49 on stage 7 just to give themselves something to chase in the last week.  Otherwise this tour would have been too boring to measure.  I award 10 out of 10 to team skippy for sportsmanship.

  8. Comment by Tyler | 07.10.2006 | 10:06 pm

    You beat me to a post I was going to write tomorrow called "Tour de Boring."
    Seriously, guys.  5 flat stages.  A TT.  A flat stage.  A rest day.  A flat stage.
    And they’re not even the "breakaway" style flat stages ("a bit lumpy." – Paul) where a Jens Voigt would have a good time stomping everyone around for a while.  Just flat.
    Come on, get ‘em over with…

  9. Comment by Unknown | 07.10.2006 | 10:45 pm

    I’m a bit worried that we won’t see the contenders attacking each other in the mountains. As you all know, it takes a lot a fitness and confidence to attack in the hills, and I’m afraid that the contenders are going to ride very conservatively.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if this year’s GC winner doesn’t win a stage.

  10. Comment by Zed | 07.10.2006 | 11:56 pm

    Go figure, they took out the dopers and things got less interesting. When does the Vuelta start again? They’re letting dopers into that one, right?

  11. Comment by Diego | 07.11.2006 | 1:25 am

    A classic post, one that is reminiscent of the days when the Tour de France used to be interesting.
    And with all the riders riding so conservatively, there’s not even good crashes. *sigh*
    Woe for the day, when the Jolly Jogger victory salute is a highpoint of a stage.

  12. Comment by Soleilmavis | 07.11.2006 | 5:31 am

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  13. Comment by Unknown | 07.11.2006 | 7:13 am

    The Giro is good.  It has lots of mountains.  Except they cancelled the _really_ interesting bit where the newly created unsealed section of road up to a ski resort turned into a quagmire because of rain.  24 percent gradient too (my local ’steep’ hill is ‘only’ 16 percent at the steepest).  I would pay to see the peleton try to do that on 22 mm road tyres.

  14. Comment by Glen | 07.11.2006 | 1:04 pm

    Nice one Fatty – you really do excel when it comes to TDF commentary !

  15. Comment by Unknown | 07.11.2006 | 2:05 pm

    Amazing.  Y’all call to get rid of the dopers, then get upset when the dopers (some of them anyhow) are gone.  The sport is bigger than them. 
    Seems to me you are looking at the Tour with maglia rosa colored glasses.  If you remember the Tour from last year, or the year before, or the year before that, the first week and a half always sucks.  It’s always flat, the sprinters always win, and there are few successful long breakaways.  Jens Voigt has run all over people a couple times this past week and almost made a breakaway stick a few days ago.  Stage three hitting classics climbs was interesting, as was the ride into Luxembourg.  The amazing story about Floyd’s destroyed hip adds another interesting element to the race.  There have been many interesting and sad crashes, and the stage winners have sometimes been unexpected (Honchar, Freire,Kessler, and a staggering and courageous breakaway win by Calzati).  Yes, there have been long stretches of boredom, but that’s racing, and I think what’s going on here is there are more people paying closer attention to the early stages waiting to see who will rise up to take the yellow jersey.  In two week’s time, it’s likely none of you will remember the boredom of the first days, and will instead be talking about some epic battle on Alpe d’Huez or Col d’Izoard. 
    Either that or watching some enraged French soccer player head butt an Italian is just so much more interesting by comparison.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 07.11.2006 | 3:19 pm

    How much do you think Poundhomme and the Amaury Sports Organization paid Landis to drum up the fake story and  x-rays and commit to having a perfectly good hip replaced?
    I mean it’s obvious that they needed a hero, and also, there is that little known rule that if there is to be an American winner, he must be overcoming some major medical concern (like getting shot, getting cancer, or being one hip joint shy of a full load).
    P.S. The moment I read your title, I knew this article wasn’t from a real news service. A professional writer would have used "due to lack of chocolatiestness."

  17. Comment by mhywan | 07.11.2006 | 5:03 pm

    FC, maybe you should start a campaign to eliminate all the flat stages altogether and bring back the TTT.  I suspect that the breakaway folks don’t actually want to be breaking away about for 3-4 hours.  The last 20-30km probably, but anything else is just manufactured for TV…

  18. Comment by jim | 07.11.2006 | 5:08 pm

    I TIVO every race but have been so bored that I skip to the end and watch the last ten minutes instead of the painful 2 to 3 hours.  If things get any more interesting I might have to check out re-runs of Monk.
    May the mountains bring us some intrigue!

  19. Comment by Unknown | 07.11.2006 | 7:29 pm

    zzz izright. Good writing there, Fatty.
    I would like to know FC’s opinion of radios and all that other electric gadgetry that immediately informs anyone within wireless distance of the tour caravan that Jacques Yabloko and breakaway pals is 7:14 up on the group. The DS’s then activate a little sub-program in their onboard computer that tells them to tell the riders on their team (through their cute litle helmet radios) that they have to ride 48.213 Kph for 52.25km to catch the break.
    Boring. Incredibly boring…better that some small group of nobodies gets 13 or 14 minutes beforethe chalkboard motorcycle guy shows the peloton that they really stepped init this time and the pooch is screwed.
    Still, at my best, when i was 24-34 or so, in 1978-88 or so, I don’t think I could ride 50kph for an hour or so, even in a big group (or so).

  20. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 07.11.2006 | 8:13 pm

    TheEdge: I also have been Tivoing the race, and have been triple-speeding the first 2:45 of the flat stages, slowing down for crashes and for occasional gap checks. without the tivo, i’d skip watching these stages altogether.
    Mark Wan – you hit on a crucial point: where are the TTTs? Those are beautiful to watch, exciting, and race-affecting. why do we not have a TTT?

  21. Comment by Unknown | 07.11.2006 | 8:47 pm

    FC – I sent your news article on to a friend of mine and apparently he was able to interview some of the riders.
    Interviews with the riders after the TT:
    Levi: I thought it was a rest day.
    Julich: Turns, they put turns in a TT course. Those damn Frenchies!
    George: I thought I was pacing Lance but he never showed up.
    Floyd: Wanted: mechanic must be able to have bike ready for stage and capable of completing, no Frenchies need apply.
    Dave Z: I remember what happened the last time I had the yellow jersey.

  22. Comment by Andrew | 07.11.2006 | 9:21 pm

    Jaded. You guys are jaded. Watching the TdF is fun, expecially on TiVo. It’s like some folks here like the Beaujolais Noveau, and others of us like drinking Bud Light.
    Or something like that.

  23. Comment by Scott | 07.11.2006 | 11:35 pm

    Dude, you’re freakin’ hilarious!!  That is EXACTLY why I have you linked on my site.  My feeble brain bows to your razor sharp wit.
    Keep those intrepid reporters out there for more of that kind of news.

  24. Comment by fatcat1111 | 07.13.2006 | 8:08 pm

    I think the US is just sticking it to the French when it comes to racing. First we send a cancer surviver, now a guy with a busted hip. Next year we’re going to send one of Jerry’s kids on BMX.


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