Note from Fatty: Have you entered the Win a Trip to the Tour of Utah Contest? Today’s your last day! If you haven’t entered yet, click here to do it now.
To this point, I have not been exactly kind about the 2006 Tour de France. Which just goes to show: the Fat Cyclist is not about truth. It is about saying whatever happens to come into my head at the moment (which, luckily enough for the blog topic, is almost always cycling or cake).
And right now, I really like the Tour.
No, even more than that.
Things I Like About the 2006 Tour de France
Yesterday (Tuesday), Dug and I were IM’ing. I admitted that once I got over the initial disappointment of seeing a big clash of the titans (Let’s face it, an Ullrich / Basso / Landis battle would have been something to see), I was really starting to like this Tour. Here are a few of the things / people I find myself really liking:
- Random Winner Generator: Here’s how to successfully choose the winner of a given stage: Generate a number between 0 and 1, then multiply by the number of racers in the field. Round the result up to the nearest integer and add 1. Map that result to the person who has that number in the GC rankings. If your random number seed is the same as the UCI’s, you now have picked the correct person to win the stage for the current day.
- Matthias Kessler: Before this tour, I don’t recall ever having heard of him. But this guy is strong (he’s won a stage), he’s dedicated (he’s been an exceptional and self-sacrificing lead-out guy), and he’s tough as nails. Did you see him flip over that guardrail? That would have sent me to the hospital (and it did in fact send two other riders to the hospital). Kessler just got up and rode away.
- Oscar Pereiro: You know, when Thomas Voeckler stumbled into the yellow jersey a couple years ago, everyone acted like it was the most wonderful thing ever. For my money, though, Pereiro is doing a lot more with a similar gift. When Landis gave Pereiro the yellow jersey with a gift of half an hour last week, you can bet that he didn’t realize how loathe Pereiro would be to give that jersey back. Did you see Pereiro ride Klöden off his wheel today? Holy smokes.
- Breakaway Planet: Earlier during this Tour, I made a joke about a “One Successful Breakaway per Tour” rule. How many have succeeded this Tour, though? Twenty? A thousand? In a Tour where anything can happen, people are more likely to try anything, I guess.
- Landis’s Massive Implosion: Before Tuesday, I thought the Tour was over, and that Floyd had it wrapped up? Who had an honest chance at closing the gap he had created? And then, on one bad climb, it was over. Landis had completely disintegrated, and I no longer had any idea who was going to win.
- Landis’s Gracious Post-Implosion Press Klatsch: Based on seven years of Tour watching, I had come to expect that when the leader has a bad day (or a really, really bad day), he would just disappear into his trailer and not come out until the next stage, at which point he would act all cagey and give some perfunctory, dishonest-feeling explanation of what happened. Instead, Floyd walked out, sat down, and candidly answered everyone’s questions, making no excuses whatsoever. Watch the video and you will not be able to help but like Floyd. I promise. I especially like the part where someone mumbles a question; Floyd doesn’t catch it. Instead of going to the next reporter, Floyd says, “Sorry?” as if it were his fault that the guy mumbled.
Spoiler Alert: Don’t Go Beyond This Point If You Haven’t Seen Thursday’s Stage
- The Most Inspiring Stage I Have Ever Seen: I used to think I’d never see anything as beautiful as Hamilton’s solo breakaway in 2003. The thing is, though, Hamilton was allowed to get away because there was no way he could ride back into contention. As far as I can tell, nobody allowed Landis anything today. He just took it. He rode up to the front of the pack of the best cyclists in the world, and he ripped their legs off. Then he rode up to the breakaway group, and he ripped their legs off. A couple guys dared to ride his wheel; they just got shot out the back. Nobody could hang with him today. It was a brute-force declaration of intent, and it left everyone in awe. Also, it left a bunch of professional cyclists flopping around, newly legless.
- No More Armstrong References: Up until today, Phil and Paul always seemed to talk about Floyd’s successes and failures in context of how Armstrong would have handled the situation. Armstrong would never have given Pereiro 30 minutes. Armstrong would never have blown up and ceded ten minutes. Today, though, they stopped talking about Armstrong.
- Landis’s Post-Race Interview: In this interview, Landis owns his horrible yesterday and lays it all on the line: He wants to win the whole thing, and he wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything else. No bet-hedging. No pretension. And he’s got a smile that he simply cannot stop.
- Floyd Landis’s Beard: Waaaaaay back in March, I mentioned that I would root for Landis to get on the TdF podium on the condition that he shave his beard. I now retract that condition. That beard’s starting to grow on me. In fact, I think I’ll grow one like it myself. (Note: If you take into consideration that there was no way I could predict the whole Defenestration of the Contenders (a much more appealing name for the scandal than “Operacion Puerto”), my predictions are pretty good. Landis is my top-rated pick of the people who actually started the race.).
PS: Next week is going to be big on my blog. I’ve got a giveaway that will simply knock you onto your butt.
PPS: Saturday, I’m racing the 50-mile solo event in the E-100 series. Wish me luck!