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.”
“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.