Predictions of the Weekend: Tour de France Edition

06.26.2009 | 11:11 am

Well. It’ nice to see that Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel evidently read my blog, from which they have learned that they are bringing four toppity-top GC guys to the Tour de France (which I choose to abbreviate as TdF).

And they’ve taken action.

First, Lance tweeted that he is not the leader of the team. Then BBC Sport reported that Contador is the leader of Astana for the Tour:

“It’s hard to find a better stage race rider than Alberto,” said team manager Johan Bruyneel of the 2007 Tour winner.

“He has worked very hard, earning the right to represent our team as the leader in July.”  

So. There you have it. Everything’s settled. Thanks to me. I am so glad there are people like me in the world to identify and solve the world’s problems

Which means it’s time for us to start obsessing over something else TdF-related. Specifically, it’s time for us to start making predictions of what’s going to happen at this year.

I’ll go first.

There will be an (attempted) official baton passing. During the first regular (non TT) stage, Armstrong will pull a wooden dowel, wrapped in yellow electrical tape, out of his jersey pocket and offer it to Contador. It will be a highly symbolic gesture, and Phil will swoon as Paul tries to do the moment justice. Meanwhile, Contador will have no idea whatsoever Armstrong is trying to convey and will wave away the baton. Armstrong will shrug and put the baton back in his pocket. Misreading this combination of actions, Phil and Paul will endlessly discuss whether Contador refused the talisman out of humility or contempt. Versus will show the attempted handoff ten thousand times.

Versus will completely ignore that Armstrong is riding in a support role. They will make each and every single one of their promos about him, heavily featuring a count from 1 through 7, then ending with an explosive 8. Casual viewers will not be aware that there is anyone else riding in this Tour de France, and will have the impression that Armstrong is doing it solo.

Bob Roll will have grown back his hair. To the degree it’s possible for him to have grown back his hair, that is. Seriously, man, either keep it buzz-cut or shave it entirely.

The Team Time Trial will be one of the very best stages. I say this without irony or (attempted) comedy. I love watching Team Time Trials on their own, and I think that Astana is set for a very fast time. I think, however, that Garmin-Slipstream will beat them, and there will be pandemonium in my family room. And possibly elsewhere.

Exactly two people will be caught doping. I do not know which two. They will not, however, be from the same team.

Two people from Astana will end up on the podium in Paris. Those two people will be Contador and Armstrong. Contador will win, Armstrong will take third. I do not know who will take second, but have a hunch it will be Cadel Evans. I have to say, though, it would be pretty extraordinary if Astana swept the podium. Has a team ever done that before? Would you or would you not flip your wig if it happened this year?

I’ll get all nostalgic. The moment Armstrong drops back to get water bottles for Contador, I’ll get all misty and will suddenly and deeply feel deep in my heart that we are all mortal. Except Cipollini, of course.

I will not watch any of the flat stages live. I intend to liveblog some of the stages, but I will Tivo the flat stages, and will spend on average half an hour fast forwarding through the whole stage, scanning just slowly enough that I’ll be able to recognize when there’s been a crash. I will probably not even mention these stages in my blog, because really, what’s to say?

My fitness will falter. The TdF happens at the same time of day I have carved out for riding my bike. If, during this time, I am instead sitting on the couch eating bowl after bowl of cereal, do you think I’ll gain weight? No, that’s just silly!

My children will ask if they can watch something else, please. And I will say “no.”

Feel free to agree with me and provide supporting evidence in the comments section. Thank you.

PS: More importantly than all of the above, I have browbeaten Joe Lindsey into adding me to his blogroll. Now all I need to do is get Bike Snob NYC to add me to his blogroll (yes, he has a blogroll, but it’s very well hidden; this renders its usefulness questionable at best), and my quest for world domination will be complete


  1. Comment by Rantwick | 06.26.2009 | 11:13 am

    Fatty – Thanks to you and your damned enthusiasm I’ve begun following pro cycling when I never had before. I even signed up for on an online TDF pool, but now realize I don’t know any but the biggest names, and even then I don’t know who’s great at TT vs Mountain, etc.

    Is there some sort of online pre-game show that would help fill me in on who’s good at what?

  2. Comment by Duane | 06.26.2009 | 11:32 am

    I watch the TdF on my DVR so I can skip commercials and any dull parts.

    A crash provides a holy crap moment but I love the break aways and attacks.

  3. Comment by Lisa B | 06.26.2009 | 11:33 am

    Hmmm. Could be, tho I’m still going for Lance for the win, Alberto for second, Christian VandeVelde (sp?) for third. And Bob Roll with shaved head. And you frothing at the keyboard during the whole thing. :-)

  4. Comment by dug | 06.26.2009 | 11:44 am

    here’s hoping the two stages with no radios are spectacular. teams will start stealing signs.

  5. Comment by Kt | 06.26.2009 | 11:50 am

    I am sad that Chris Horner didn’t make the cut, but understand that there are a lot of quality riders on the Astana team to choose from. Whatever.

    I think the two no-radio stages will be very interesting, if only from the commentation– you know, trying to figure out what’s going through the competitors’ heads, but not literally that would be gross. And messy.

    I think the Team Time Trial will be awesome. I love watching those things.

    Oh heck– the whole race will be great. I’ll be watching in on TiVo time, so will get to fast-forward over commercials. Yay!

  6. Comment by Todd Olson | 06.26.2009 | 11:57 am

    What kind of cereal? If it’s Colon Blow you might actually lose weight – Little Chocolate Donuts (“The real breakfast of champions”) expect to gain.

  7. Comment by bikemike | 06.26.2009 | 12:02 pm

    dang it, dug stole my thunder. yep, really looking forward to the “no radio” days. hinault has wanted to do this for quite some time and it’s a shame chris horner won’t be there to enjoy it. he hates the things.
    i fully expect armstrong/contador fireworks to insue. how do you say “uncle” in spanish?
    popcorn and big gulp at the ready.

  8. Comment by roadrash | 06.26.2009 | 12:16 pm

    Thanks fatty for gearing us up for the TdF.

    My predictions:

    Podium: Contador, Evans, Menchov
    Dopers: Kreuziger and one of the Schleck bros.
    Random: Frenchmen Sylvain Chavanel and Sandy Casar win long breakaways during the radio silence stages… Why else would the TdF organizers shut down the radios?

  9. Comment by Grayduncs | 06.26.2009 | 12:16 pm

    You are on the bogroll, but if you changed the title to A Fat Cyclist then you would be at the top of the list. But you would not be THE Fat Cyclist and the difference between A (just one of many) and THE (there may be many but really, only you count) is important. And if you were going to change the name to get to the top then really you want to make sure that no-one is going to usurp you from that spot by calling yourself 1A1111 Fat Cyclist. Which is not that pithy. Maybe just getting on the list is good for now.

    Hope that helps.

  10. Comment by Philly Jen | 06.26.2009 | 12:25 pm

    Betcha dollars to Little Chocolate Donuts that Zabriskie boosts that baton out of Armstrong’s pocket and tosses it off in Vande Velde’s direction…

  11. Comment by graisseux | 06.26.2009 | 12:33 pm

    Prediction: Thomas Voeckler gets the polka-dot jersey after stage 2 and keeps it until the race hits actual mountains.

    Another prediction: Even though ASO made sure Bastille Day (July 14th) was one of the “radio-free” stages, a French rider will not win on that day.

    Third prediction: Basque fans will wear orange and wave Basque flags and banners demanding Basque prisoners be moved to prisons in the Basque country and in a fit of Basque separatist pride will for some reason still cheer madly for any and all Spanish riders.

  12. Comment by Dr Codfish | 06.26.2009 | 12:46 pm

    ” …will pull a wooden dowel, wrapped in yellow electrical tape, out of his jersey pocket…”

    Jersey Pocket!? Are you kidding? He’ll pull that sucker out of his …. suitcase of symbolism!

    Yr Pal, Dr C

  13. Comment by Donna | 06.26.2009 | 12:50 pm

    I think the whole naming of of Contador as the “leader” is strategy. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, but you know that Bruynel is a sneaky-sneak like that. :)

    Wouldn’t it prove more entertaining to see Armstrong only contemplate “passing the baton”, but then give “The Look” to Contador and say, “No? Okay!” Then accelerate at light speed???

    It wouldn’t be commentating “VS” style a little swooning by Phil and Paul, not to mention the patronizing looks they give to that young blonde dude… what’s his name? But the real question is, can Bobke keep his hands still? Or, will they finally tie them down — though I think his mouth might stop moving if they did. You didn’t speculate which of the commentators would take home their yellow jersey!

    I never watch the flat stages in their entirety…Tivo is the only way to go — it’s much more efficient to simply fast forward through them. Anyway, flat stages are only as good as a NASCAR race — we only watch them for the wrecks!

  14. Comment by Flatoutjim | 06.26.2009 | 12:55 pm


    Get your kids their own TV. In fact, get them one each. The bigger and flatter, the less chance of them fighting and disturbing you.

    Given your persuasive begging skills, you could try to hit up SONEY, JVC, SHARP, or whoever for a couple of free ones.

    Try it. Go ahead, I dare ya!

  15. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.26.2009 | 1:02 pm

    @bikemike…..uncle in espanol is “Tio”

    @roadrash…..these predictions are a lock!


    Can Team Fatty Austin pass $100K this weekend????

  16. Comment by Hamish A | 06.26.2009 | 1:46 pm

    I predict Lance will turn up to at least one startline rocking Livestrong / Nike kit and make a big fuss about the ensuing fine.

    I also predict that Contador will not get the support from Astana that he would rightly get as Team Leader (except for Levi, Levi I trust).

    I’m hoping after last years display of little man angst Evans doesn’t show and quietly slips off into the sidelines to cuddle his little lion that he was so protective of last year.

    Astana will win the TTT. Without question. Unless Garmin / Slipstream win. In which case they won’t.

    Cavandish will take a number of sprints then pull out halfway through the Tour.

    Phil & Paul will come up with new & creative ways of saying established place and rider names.

    LeMond will pop up multiple times claiming Armstrongs amazing performance / lack of performance is evidence of doping.

    Your live blogging will be the most interesting coverage of this years Tour.

    Allez Levi!


  17. Comment by Jim | 06.26.2009 | 1:49 pm

    Joe Lindsey’s blogroll, eh? So, did you have to pay him 20 pounds of salmon jerky, some dried passion fruit and a quart of sour milk too?

  18. Comment by Dan O | 06.26.2009 | 2:04 pm

    who won the headphones?

  19. Comment by dicky | 06.26.2009 | 2:11 pm


    Did you tell me that BSNYC has a blogroll just so I would go over there and click everything a thousand times in the name of adventure exploration?

  20. Comment by Flying Ute | 06.26.2009 | 2:22 pm

    Send your kids to Dug’s house to watch TV. That’s all that guy does.

    BTW, I flipped my wig the other day. Hurt like hell.

  21. Comment by mark | 06.26.2009 | 2:37 pm

    I have to disagree about the flat stages. Here’s what I like about them:

    1. You can watch them in 30 minutes and still have free time left to ride that day because you can skip most of it and just watch the very, very exciting parts described in point #2.

    2. The only thing more exciting than the drama of will/won’t the breakaway get caught is watching the sprint finish if it does. No radios is going to rule!

    3. The finish of flat stages is way better than the anticlimactic ennui of a mountaintop finish. Really, if someone gets ahead, you know he’s going to win. TV tries to cover it in such a way to make it seem closer than it is and add drama, but it rarely works. Plus you have to invest at least two hours lest you miss the part where winning rider makes his move. The only exception to this is when there’s a sprint to the mountaintop finish–then you get the best of all worlds. Really it’s just like the AF rides–once Brad makes his move it’s over. But the spring to the guard house ain’t over until it’s over. Just try and tell me I’m wrong.

  22. Comment by KanyonKris | 06.26.2009 | 2:37 pm

    Prediction: A pack of Chupacabra attacks the peloton, no-radio day delays rescue, 37 racers dead.

    That’s as good a prediction as any.

  23. Comment by Bandobras | 06.26.2009 | 2:42 pm

    Although the Tour will only take a month there will be 47 insanely long breakaways which will be caught be the peloton heartbreakingly close to the finish line and the brave break riders will be swallowed up just before the finish.

  24. Comment by Steve | 06.26.2009 | 3:18 pm


    1. Versus will play the same 5 commercials approximately 50 gajillion times, (and that’s just the count per stage).
    2. The Mt Ventoux time trial will be preempted by Versus to replay the Stanley Cup finals.
    3. Cadel Evans will not attack. Except during the post-stage press conferences.

  25. Comment by dug | 06.26.2009 | 3:20 pm

    “Send your kids to Dug’s house to watch TV. That’s all that guy does.”

    flyin ute, it’s the least we can do to pay back whomever gave us that thing.

  26. Comment by BigJay | 06.26.2009 | 3:27 pm

    Yes, we are all mortals. Except for Cipo. Take that Ligget! Best cycling quote ever.

  27. Comment by Claire | 06.26.2009 | 3:50 pm

    You must resist getting them their own TV. Forcing them to watch the TdF is a right of passage. I can still remember begging my own dad to watch something else when I was a kid.

    Team Austin you are so close to 100K you can totally do it this weekend I just made my small push to get help you there. You must have less than $200 bucks to go now.

    The counter on the Fatcyclist home page isn’t updating properly though, it makes it look like you still have a grand to go.

  28. Comment by Rick | 06.26.2009 | 4:01 pm

    The visual that Lisa B brought to mind in her comment above “you frothing at the keyboard” sets up a great idea….Fatty live blogging stages and a live video feed of you working yourself into a frenzy. Imagine the ability to split screen Fatty, Lance, and Alberto during the key moments of the stage. It would be spectacular and practically guarantee you a write up by Bike Snob NYC. It would be enough to finally add you to his Double Secret Blogroll!

  29. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 06.26.2009 | 5:21 pm

    Most excellent and thorough predictions…we don’t have Tivo (I know, shocking) so I’ll have tough it out on the flat stage days.

  30. Comment by Rob M. | 06.26.2009 | 6:12 pm

    I like the predictions by Hamish A and by Steve.

    For the three spots on the podium, I would like to see any combination of Armstrong, Leipheimer, Zabrieski, Hancapie, VandeVelde, or any other Americans.

    Unless ties are allowed. Then I would like to see them all on the podium.

    You know, just to annoy the French.

  31. Comment by bubbaseadog | 06.26.2009 | 6:35 pm

    im actually going to ride part of stage 20 the mont ventoux the same day as stage 20 but much earlier i think it shoul be 100km this is a private tour and ill probably ride about 5km to the summit if i can breathe. win susan

  32. Comment by Rob M. | 06.26.2009 | 6:40 pm

    I apologize for leaving out Danielson and for misspelling Hincapie.

  33. Comment by SWFC | 06.26.2009 | 6:47 pm

    Six predicitons…

    1) The ASO will introduce a Formula 1-style KERS system whereby the riders have to strap a 10-kilo lead acid battery to their back to get a .5 hp boost. It’ll cost a fortune and prove unpopular with the riders, but chiropractors will be thrilled.

    2) The person who paints penises on the road will be revealed to be Rolf Harris.

    3) Cav will raise two fingers as he wins on the Champs Elysees. He’ll have won four stages, but will be letting the Frenchies know he still has his bow fingers intact just incase there’s a reenactment of Agincourt after the presentations.

    4) A motorised chocolate eclair will climb Mt Ventoux 1.84 times faster than Thor Hushovd.

    5) The Devil will convert to Islam and duet with (the artist formerly known as) Cat Stevens in Besancon.

    6) Bradley Wiggins’ dodgy hairstyle will have been altered from looking like Jimmy Saville to George Michael. L’Equipe will reveal it’s a toupee with the, translated, headline Wiggins Wig Wham Woe.

  34. Comment by @peckishcyclist | 06.26.2009 | 7:49 pm

    Intriguing predictions…
    Incidentally, Team Fatty-San Jose, let’s step up the donations!

  35. Comment by Jeff | 06.26.2009 | 7:58 pm

    Cadel Evans taking second? Way to go out on a limb!

  36. Comment by LuckyLab | 06.26.2009 | 11:15 pm

    I predict there will be at three stages that go so incredibly long, the maximum time overage on my DVR of 90 minutes will leave the recording stopped with less than 10K to go.

  37. Comment by buckythedonkey | 06.27.2009 | 4:19 am

    Yellow: Contador with Sastre and Andy Schleck* on the podium.
    Green: Friere (despite multiple stage wins by Cavendish).
    Polka Dot: Kreuziger.
    White: Gesink.
    Brown: Armstrong (see CyclingPlus magazine).
    Yellow and Black Hoops: Evans (for looking the most like he’s chewing a wasp).

    Dopers: one of the Schlecks (possibly Dad, er, again) and one of the Germans.
    Scene I’d like to see: a solo stage win for Bradley Wiggins. The Argyle winning the TTT.
    Stage too far: Menchov will bonk in a big way.

  38. Comment by Kris | 06.27.2009 | 11:10 am

    Except Cippolini…perfect.
    Living in London, UK, my fitness will falter as I will simply be too lazy to ride, instead choosing to live vicariously through any of the riders in the TdF…particularily Andy Schleck, who has my vote for a #2 finish.

  39. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.27.2009 | 8:02 pm

    I aam ticked about Chris Horner. I’ll have to go over to Bend this weekend and console him.

    My bet is that at some point, Armstrong will see if he can lead Contador out so hard on a mountain stage that he drops him. And if he doesn’t it would just be “pushing him to excel”.

  40. Comment by Darren | 06.28.2009 | 8:13 pm

    Neither of those statements from Bruyneel actually say that Contador IS the team leader.

  41. Comment by Hamish | 06.28.2009 | 10:22 pm

    Wow, lots of anti-Cadel, pro-American sentiment in the comments here.. not really cool

  42. Comment by Fuzzy | 06.29.2009 | 8:32 am


    On Saturday 4th I will be standing with She Who Must be Obeyed, on the streets of Monaco, shouting myself hoarse.

    On Sunday 5th, I will be sitting with She Who Must be Obeyed, on a picnic blanket, beside the road, somewhere between Monaco and Nice, quaffing wine and munching baguette and saucisson and, for a minute or two, shouting myself hoarse.

    Smug? Moi?

    Win Susan!

    Luv ‘n Stuff
    Fuzzy from the UK

  43. Comment by Kiwi | 06.29.2009 | 3:13 pm

    In my house the TV belongs to me in July,train the kids better fatty….LOL.


  44. Comment by Triflefat | 06.29.2009 | 4:46 pm

    What Hamish said.

  45. Comment by CSJ | 06.29.2009 | 8:53 pm

    Can not wait!

    Some how it always pulls me in. Go to go for Armstrong just cause it will drive the French crazy. US sweeps the podium check the Fatty entry on the dope testing/shower incident. They will suddenly decide that flying over the Atlantic is equal to doping with high altitude Lama blood infused with Red Bull and black truck stop coffee.

    As for the kids the secret is chocolate in many forms, followed by mesmerizing Disney movies on the old TV.

    Also what goes best with breakfast, black coffee and Phil Liggett a cheeky red or dark beer? I can never decide.

    “He’s wearing the mask of pain” Phil Liggett

  46. Comment by Westy | 06.30.2009 | 4:30 pm

    There will be so much attention on Armstrong/Contador/Evans that Sastre will quietly power his way to retaining yellow (again!). Sastre Currently odds of 18/1 worth a punt!

    Friere will win Green without winning a stage!

    Moreau will get the Polka Dot to celebrate his retirement.

    The White jersey will be won by an Italian upstart never to be heard of again!

    Roger Hammond does a Jacky Durand and wins most aggressive rider and gets the lantern rouge for his troubles!

    Dan Martin will win a stage with a breakaway, rekindling memories of Martin Earley. Did Sherwin ride in the same team as Earley?

    One of the Schlecks not the one caught doping will puncture in the TT and Riis will get out of the car and throw his bike in the ditch!

    Is Nicholas Roche riding? One of the best P and P commentaries is when his dad rode out of the clouds in 1987 making up loads of time on Delgado and eventually yellow.

    Cannot wait!

  47. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 06.30.2009 | 6:41 pm

    My kids are not fond of this time of year either, “cycling AGAIN!!… Daaaaaad, can’t we watch something else?”


    Good times. WIN


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