First of all I just want to say: I’m a big fan. Especially around Tour de France time each year, when I follow your Live Race Coverage almost religiously. Your coverage is accurate, clear, and up-to-the minute.
But it’s also kind of dry.
What you need, CyclingNews, is some "color commentary." You know, a couple of guys who can add some personality to the play-by-play. A couple of guys who aren’t afraid to say what they’re thinking. A couple of guys who can type really fast, nonstop, for four hours straight.
I’m talking about, of course, my friend Dug and me.
You see, CyclingNews, I recently went back and watched an incredibly dramatic moment from the 2003 Tour de France: Stage 9, Bourg d’Oisans to Gap. Here it is on YouTube:
Pretty wild, isn’t it? But your stage reporting is…um…terse. So, Dug and I took the liberty of adding our own commentary. Kind of like we were Bob Roll, but there are two of us, and we work for a lot less money.
Below, we’ve taken your reporting, and added our own comments, exactly as we would have five years ago when this actually happened.
CN: 16:39 CEST, 175.5 km/9 km to go – Vinokourov’s attack is good, catching and dropping Casero and closing in on Parra and Jaksche, who are now together.
Vinokourov powers up to Parra and Jaksche and attacks immediately. Jaksche tries to hold him, and does.
Fatty: Well, what do you know. Vino’s attacking. How unusual.
Dug: I’m pretty sure he just gave Armstrong “The Look.”
Fatty: I guarantee you that Armstrong is going to sue Vino for trademark infringement. Nobody gets to give people "The Look" but him.
Fatty: I’ll bet you anything that Vinokourov’s a doper.
Dug: Why are Armstrong and company chasing so hard? I mean, who is this Vino guy? Isn’t he from Kazakhstan?
Hey. I just had a great idea for a movie about a guy from there. It’ll be a big comedy hit..
CN: 16:42 CEST 176.5 km/8 km to go - Armstrong and Heras are leading the peloton in pursuit of Vinokourov and Jaksche, who can’t hold the charging Kazakh any more. Vino has 20" with 1 km to go until the summit.
Vino crosses the top of the Côte de La Rochette, as Armstrong steps up the pace behind. Beloki, Ullrich, Basso, Mayo, Zubeldia all go with him. Armstrong’s pace making is good, but he’s still got 10 riders with him.
Dug: Really? Only twenty inches? That’s not much of an attack, if you ask me.
Fatty: You know what? I think Beloki ought to check his tire. It looks a little soft to me. And I think the pavement looks kind of oily.
Dug: No, I’m telling you, Beloki is a master descender.
Fatty: Hey, Basso just chucked out a banana peel. That doesn’t seem right.
Dug: No, I guarantee you: Armstrong couldn’t pick a better wheel to follow.
Fatty: How about that Basso? Betcha he’s a doper.
Dug: I’m pretty sure Ullrich just emptied a bottle full of cooking oil onto the road. Is that legal?
Fatty: Betcha Ullrich’s a doper, too.
Dug: Oh, this is terrific stuff. It’s like the old days, when riders would do anything to win. I once saw Merckx put a live scorpion down a competitor’s jersey.
CN: 16:45 CEST, 177.5 km/7 km to go - Vino hits the descent with a 16" gap to Armstrong’s group, as the yellow jersey himself leads the chase. Beloki is also helping, as he is in second on GC. Bettini is on the back of the group, that contains all the top riders. Even Jaksche is hanging on.
Vinokourov took the points on the climb ahead of Armstrong, Beloki, Zubeldia and Mayo.
Fatty: If Beloki really wants to win, he ought to take the corners really fast. I understand hot pavement is awesome for improving traction.
Dug: Mayo seems a bit, well, temperamental doesn’t he?
Fatty: Totally. I bet you anything he’s a doper.
Dug: I expect great things from Mayo. You wait and see. He’ll be a great TdF GC contender for years to come.
Fatty: Did you notice that Armstrong is riding with tires that have surprisingly robust tread today?
Dug: Like cross tires.
Fatty: Yeah. Weird.
Dug: Seems like a bad move. What could possibly be the advantage?
Fatty: It makes no sense at all.
CN: 16:47 CEST 178.5 km/6 km to go - Beloki and Armstrong are leading the chase behind Vinokourov, who is flying with 6 km to go. This will be a close finish, but there is a 20" time bonus on the line… Look out for Bettini.
Dug: What kind of name is “Beloki” anyway?
Fatty: Yeah, it sounds like a sound effect. Like the sound a body makes when it hits the pavement at high speed, breaking bones and tangling with metal in the process. I’d rather have a last name like “Winsalot.”
Dug: Is Betinni officially a midget? he’s like 4 feet tall.
Fatty: I think they prefer to be referred to as “Adorable People.”
Dug: Is he riding on 20” wheels?
Fatty: Hey, you know how you can tell when Vinokourov is going to attack?
Dug: Tell me.
Fatty: If it’s been at least 3 minutes since his last attack.
Dug: I’m telling you, he should be checked for rabies. Seriously. I think he’s foaming at the mouth.
Fatty: Beloki’s looking good. That guy’s a solid rider.
Dug: Someone should tell those fans alongside the road that you’re not supposed to spray Pam all over it.
CN: 16:48 CEST, 180.5 km/4 km to go – This is a very technical descent, and Vino has lost a couple of seconds to Armstrong’s group on it. But he’s still clear. One mistake will cost him the stage.
Beloki loses it! Armstrong has to go down the grass embankment, taking a short cut. He amazingly gets back onto the group. Beloki is out though. He locked up his brakes just before a corner, and landed heavily on his hip.
Dug: I mean: Woah!
Dug: Did you SEE that girl on the side of the road? She was HOT!
Fatty: Get up, Beloki. Shake it off. You’re fine. You think this race is going to win itself?
Dug: Merckx would be back up already. In fact, Merckx would have taken Armstrong down with him, bitten him, then taken his bike and ridden off.
Fatty: I’m just glad there’s a cyclist’s code, where everyone always stops to help an injured rider.
Dug: Yeah, look for Vino to slow up any second.
Fatty: I think Armstrong is just riding around in that field looking for first aid supplies.
Dug: How on earth did Armstrong manage that little cross country jaunt? No normal human being could possibly have ridden down that field, jumped off the bike, climbed over that embankment, and gotten back on the road. It’s like he’s had special forces training.
Fatty: I only hope they replay this moment on TV over and over for all eternity so that it gets burned into my psyche and I can never ever ever descend down a fast mountain road without having the image of Beloki go all ragdoll play through my brain.
Dug: What’s weird is that Tyler Hamilton pulled three muscles just witnessing the crash. And maybe broke a collarbone.
Fatty: Hamilton. Pfff. That guy’s totally a doper.
Dug: I’m pretty sure I heard Beloki’s femur crack from way up here in the booth.
Fatty: Merckx would have made a splint from one of his teammate’s top tubes and would be on the attack now.
CN: 16:50 CEST, 181.5 km/3 km to go - Beloki has two teammates with him, but is still lying there. That was a hard crash.
Vino has 3 km to go, and is certainly not going to wait for the rest.
Fatty: I don’t think the crash was that hard.
Dug: Yeah, Beloki is just milking it.
Fatty: If Armstrong had fallen, the entire peloton would have come to a complete stop out of respect, then withdrawn twenty paces to await instructions.
CN: 16:51 CEST - Ullrich, Hamilton , Armstrong, Zubeldia, Mayo are all working hard to try and catch Vinokourov. Behind them, Beloki still hasn’t got back up.
The gap to Vino is now 30."
Dug: Beloki STILL isn’t up?
Fatty: I think he may be napping.
Dug: What a baby.
Fatty: No doubt about it. He needs a good talking to.
CN: 16:51 CEST, 183.5 km/1 km to go - Vinokourov has 1 km to go, and is on track for a great stage win in a dramatic finale.
Armstrong will thank his lucky stars that he avoided that crash somehow.
Dug: Armstrong has lucky stars?
Fatty: Oh, that Vinokourov is such a doper.
Dug: No yellow moons? No blue diamonds?
Fatty: I’m beginning to think that beloki’s podium finish is in danger for this tour.
Dug: Seems like he could have at least crossed the line.
Fatty: Oh well, I’m sure he’ll be back next year, stronger than ever. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.
CN: 16:53 CEST, 184.5 km/0 km to go - Vinokourov crosses the line, absolutely delighted with his win. Behind him, Bettini flies to take second place in front of Mayo and Armstrong.
Vino will move up to second on GC behind Armstrong, with Mayo in third now at 1′02.
Beloki has been taken away in an ambulance after locking it up on that last descent. A sad exit for him for this Tour, which held a lot of promise. But Vinokourov put them under a lot of pressure with his attack. Armstrong’s handling skills were pretty impressive to avoid that, and he was lucky there were no fences when he went cross country. Hamilton even patted him on the shoulder when they passed him after he’d got back in the pedals.
Dug: Hamilton TOUCHED Armstrong?
Fatty: I just saw the replay of where Hamilton touches Armstrong’s shoulder. HAMILTON’S ARM COMPLETELY FALLS OFF.
Dug: That’s going to adversely affect his sprint.
Fatty: Oh well. Anyway, that was a pretty good stage.
Dug: Yeah, I suppose.
As you can see, CyclingNews, we have a great deal of insight to add to your race coverage. We look forward to working with you as you cover the Tour de France this month.
The Fat Cyclist