I Have Three Tour de France-Related Questions

07.11.2009 | 6:27 pm

Like everyone else in the United States, I have been watching the Tour de France with a raptness that can only be described as “moderate.” Or perhaps it could be described as “quite interested, but not to the extent that I’m not fast forwarding through half-hour chunks of it at a time.”

As I have been watching, a few questions have occurred to me.

1. The Bob Roll Pronunciation of “Tour de France.” Since the beginning of broadcast journalism, Bob Roll has pronounced “Tour de France” so that it rhymes with “Sewer say pants.” Everyone knows this is intentional, but the gag has gone on so long that we expect it. This year, Bob’s pronouncing it correctly. Is it that he’s grown weary of the joke? Or is there something more contractual at play here?

2. Helmets. Watching the Tour this year, I suddenly realized that it now seems totally natural that everyone wear helmets all the time, not even discarding them for mountaintop finishes. I thought that pros could ditch their helmets for the final climb in mountaintop finishes. Is that no longer the case, or has everyone finally just gotten used to leaving their helmets on?

3. Polka-Dot Podium Girls. For Friday’s stage, I stuck around to watch the awards, because the stage was a thing of beauty. And as always, the podium girls were beautiful, as were their dresses.

And then…there was the Climber’s Jersey:


These outfits give rise to a whole host of questions, including the following:

  • How do you think the podium girls reacted upon first seeing them?
  • How do they manage to smile?
  • Did anyone else make the following association?


Yeah, that’s what I thought.


  1. Comment by Racer34 | 07.11.2009 | 6:39 pm

    1) Bob got tired of having his dinner spit in by the french chef’s. But, it is french food so how did he know?
    2)They mentioned during one of the pre-race shows that removing the helmet for the mountain top finish is no longer allpwed.
    3) Minnie at least shaves her pits and wears deodorant.

  2. Comment by Dr. Lammler | 07.11.2009 | 7:21 pm

    And is Craig Hummer now pronouncing his last name “Ummer”?

    Many questions will go unanswered.

    And I like Racer34’s observations about Minnie.

  3. Comment by Uphillbattle | 07.11.2009 | 7:30 pm

    Very astute observations, Fatty.

  4. Comment by Kris | 07.11.2009 | 7:53 pm

    Bob explains on The Spokesman podcast and their is an excerpt of the interview on the Fredcast. I believe he states that he stopped doing it a year or so ago and no one noticed.

    Livestrong Challenge
    Team Fatty
    Austin, Texas

  5. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 07.11.2009 | 7:57 pm

    Minnie looks better.
    And where’s Bob Roll’s massive class ring he used to always wear?

  6. Comment by PennyPue | 07.11.2009 | 8:02 pm

    When I first saw those dresses my eyes bugged out of my head. It HURT.

    I bet they demanded double pay or double espressos at least.

  7. Comment by MuddyButty | 07.11.2009 | 8:12 pm

    I like the polka dot dresses, even if they are modeled after Minnie Mouse!!

  8. Comment by Philly Jen | 07.11.2009 | 8:18 pm

    Team Fatty automagically makes a person more svelte and suave, and raises your IQ by plentysix points! Ask the Bobke what joining Team Fatty can do for you today!

  9. Comment by Thomas | 07.11.2009 | 8:43 pm

    1. If they also replace Craig Hummer with Michael Strahan it would be awesome.

    2. Ever since Lance took that uphill digger in the 2003 tour they’ve had to wear their lids all the time.

    3. If Contador ends up with this jersey attacking Lance, Levi, and Kloden; then hopefully Minnie will punch him in the groin.

  10. Comment by Pam D | 07.11.2009 | 9:13 pm

    It is not the dresses that are so very painful; it is the Minnie Mouse bows in the hair. Well, OK, the dresses ARE painful, but the bows absolutely push it over the edge. Minnie is a definite improvment.

  11. Comment by Erik | 07.11.2009 | 9:25 pm

    Bobke’s tour “day” france was poking fun at Lemond, who apparently never quite had the same panache with the language that he did with the race. I’ve forgotten where I saw him explaining that, but somewhere. It seems they started back in the day, and Bob wasn’t one to quit. But with Greg moving from slightly nutty bike race to ex-racer who’s clearly nuts, maybe the joke lost its flavor? It’s strange seeing him say ‘duh’ france after all these years.

    Anyone else think they should shoot Frankie some better questions? Even the Hummer-esque dumbos would be an improvement…

  12. Comment by Scrod | 07.11.2009 | 9:48 pm

    1. Told to stop being a fool.
    2. Told to stop being fools.
    3. Told they were being fooled.

  13. Comment by Jeff L. | 07.11.2009 | 10:09 pm

    I think the helmet rule came about in 2004. There were actually a couple of guys that got DQ’d in 2005 at Paris-Nice for taking off their helmets.

  14. Comment by David B (The FredCast) | 07.11.2009 | 10:42 pm

    Yep, Kris got it right. Bob talked about it on Episode 39 of The Spokesmen and I played the excerpt on Episode 126 of The FredCast. Pretty funny, actually. I also loved his comments about riding in the Giro.

  15. Comment by Edward | 07.12.2009 | 1:58 am

    I loved the questions because they made me think. Thanks.

    I hated the popup that I had to click off to read things. As a former bicycle shop owner who sold cruisers to DisneyLand I want to thank you for the
    plug of the Brand and the complements for Minnie.

    Usually the French do not want to follow the American lead so this is an interesting polka dot follow.

    Warmest Regards

  16. Comment by Linda | 07.12.2009 | 6:30 am

    Those dresses looked ridiculous but the bows made it much, much worse. The girls look like they’re thinking, “Just 5 more seconds and then I can get off this podium, barf with embarrassment and get the heck outta this stupid getup.”

    And I still think Bob needs to re-shave his head this year.

  17. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 07.12.2009 | 7:28 am

    Some of the other Ossies on here may correct me but I don’t think we saw those dresses on our broadcast. In fact it was early in the am for us I can’t even remember the KOM getting a mention. Was it censored?
    Racer34 have you seen Minnie Topless?

  18. Comment by Jim | 07.12.2009 | 8:20 am

    Regarding 1. Bobke is much less annoying to watch now than a couple of years ago. Notice he doesn’t use his hands as much either. I like him. He was an awesome cyclist when he had hair, and he was a critical part of Lances’ comback after cancer.

    Regarding 2. There hasn’t been a truly mountain top finish yet. There have been mountain stages, and steep climbs, but these stages have ended on a flat with a bit of a sprint finish, or featured a descent after the climb. The tough climbs are still to come.

    Regarding 3. The girls sure sre purty. Why critize it.

  19. Comment by fe-lady | 07.12.2009 | 11:40 am

    I LOVE the polka dot dresses! (I want one)-

  20. Comment by fe-lady | 07.12.2009 | 11:42 am

    And anyway- Minnie’s Dress is red with white dots, not white with red…so no comparison when it comes to fashion! :-P

  21. Comment by Wendy | 07.12.2009 | 12:56 pm

    Fatty, I’m with ya! I think they look like Minnie Mouse too, but hey, they’re closer to the podium than I will be. So I guess it’s a good price to pay for fame. LOL

  22. Comment by Mike Roadie | 07.12.2009 | 3:18 pm




    I’ll take Minnie!


  23. Comment by Don | 07.12.2009 | 3:39 pm

    Great photoshop phatty, er Fatty!
    I’m going to go to get ready for the rebroadcast of the Tewer dee Frants.

  24. Comment by Jeff L. | 07.12.2009 | 4:23 pm

    Jim, gotta correct you, buddy. There are only 3 mountaintop finishes. Stage 7 was a mountain top finish on the hors-catagory Arcalis (10.6 km at 7%). There’s nothing flat about that one and it’s actually longer and as steap as the first mountain top finish in the alps (Cat 1 climb up Verbier, next Sunday. 8.6 km at 7.1%). The only other mountain top finish is Mont Ventoux on the eve of the Champs-Elysees. Mont Ventoux is a beast at 21.6 km at 7.6%. In my mind, only Alp d’Huez is more legendary.

  25. Comment by Jeff | 07.12.2009 | 6:12 pm

    Anyone else notice that there are only two stages that matter left? The time-trial and Mount-Ventoux.

  26. Comment by Julie | 07.12.2009 | 6:22 pm

    Would have been great if they could have got Ben Stiller in the polka dot dress. They looked ridiculous. The one good thing about having to watch the race on versus.com is not having to listen to Craig & Bob.

  27. Comment by Jeff L. | 07.12.2009 | 7:08 pm

    Stage 15 (mountaintop finish) and Stage 17 (4 category 1 climbs and 1 category 2 climb) could open up some time gaps, if the Schleck brothers or Contador (or even Lance) decide to go. Those two stages, the time-trial and Mont Ventoux will decide the GC, in my humble opinion.

  28. Comment by Erine | 07.12.2009 | 7:45 pm

    As someone who would willingly drink Bob Roll’s bath water and then ask for a second helping, even I have been shocked and dismayed. I miss the Tour day Frantz. Maybe he was paid off by Christian Prudhomme. Maybe he grew up after his head was shaved (and beautifully, I might add!) during the Tour of California. Who knows for certain?

    The podium girls- gosh, their outfits and that darned silly bow on the top of their heads are AWFUL. Minnie Mouse is it- and as someone who has an unreasonable fear of Disney (and all things anthropomorphic) I am horrified by them. What the holy heck were they thinking? And worse, why don’t the podium girls stage a revolt? I’d pay good money to see that. Would Benard Hinault tackle them off the stage?

    Of course, I just admitted to an unreasonable attraction to Bob Roll AND to a phobia involving Disney so I must be nuts.

    Win, Susan!

  29. Comment by John | 07.12.2009 | 8:34 pm

    The original helmet rule introduced after Andrei Kivilev’s death allowed for removal of helmets at the base of the last climb of the day where the race ended on a mountaintop – apparently to stop “overheating” on very hot days. There was actually a minimum gradient requirement that I can’t recall. After a couple of seasons, the UCI ditched this rule to make helmets mandatory at all times. This rule was brought on by a number of factors including i) today’s light helmets and commonsense came to the conclusion that helmets probably protected riders more than a bare head (esp for Levi); ii) helmets can carry the name of the helmet makers – heads usually don’t; and iii) the process of GC riders removing helmets en masse didn’t enhance the spectacle of climbs.

  30. Comment by juancho | 07.12.2009 | 8:58 pm

    The dresses, the bows, all totally hot. You prefer a burkah maybe?

  31. Comment by Josh | 07.12.2009 | 9:02 pm

    I’m not 100% sure about this, but I’m pretty sure I saw someone holding a sign in today’s race (yesterday’s?, they’re starting to run together) that said “G’Day Susan.” Phil might have even commented on it? The guy was on the right hand side during one of the two climbs. Sorry I can’t be more specific.

    Anybody else catch this? Is it an Aussie WIN reference?

  32. Comment by courtney | 07.12.2009 | 10:15 pm

    Josh – I saw a sign with “Susanne”, I think that may be the one you are talking about. I don’t remember if it was “G’day” but I’m sure I saw Susanne not Susan.

  33. Comment by Charisa | 07.12.2009 | 10:16 pm

    Those were girls up there? I just saw two minnie mouses and one awesome bike rider . . .

  34. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.13.2009 | 1:48 am

    Mr Dole, the time has come once more to Veet your head.

  35. Comment by Josh | 07.13.2009 | 6:02 am

    Shoot. My mistake. Good eyes courtney.

  36. Comment by Jim | 07.13.2009 | 6:19 am

    >>>In my mind, only Alp d’Huez is more legendary.

    No way. Not even close. Alpe d’Huez is about bike racing, Ventoux is about bike racing, plus literature, and philosophy. Medieval philosopher Petrarch (Petrarcus if you went to a good private college) invented the sport of Mountain Climbing (aka Walking Uphill), becoming the first man in recorded history to ever climb a mountain ‘because it’s there’ and then write about it. He mainly wrote about how bad he suffered but the view was nice, which makes him Jon Krakauer’s spiritual greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreat grandfather. Petrarch also founded travel journalism in his essay on the Ascent of Mount Ventoux, making him the predecessor of Wordsworth (who wrote the first book on Seeing England on 1 guinea, 2 shillings and and a tuppence per day)) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who specialized in getting wasted on road trips using whatever substances were at hand, as well as writing poems about old sailors).

    Come to think of it, Coleridge was probably more like Bob Roll than Petrarch.

  37. Comment by Wing-nut | 07.13.2009 | 6:39 am

    I’ve noticed a lot of on camera changes in Bob Roll’s delivery. Less hands, more talk of “back in the day”, more talk of excessive drinking. European pronounciation of several words and phrases.

    I’ve also noticed less exposure of podium ceremonies especially the dignitaries.

    I miss Al Trautwig.

  38. Comment by Randoboy | 07.13.2009 | 7:19 am

    So, I remarked the same thing the other night to my wife, and then immediately realized how gay it was to wonder about a woman’s dress. The only non-gay way for a man’s man to think about a dress is, “whoo-wee, that thing is nice and short/tight/low-cut.” My wife just said that I’m being sensitive, but that’s woman-speak for “gay.”

    But then I got to thinking about some of those other dresses — none of which is sufficiently short, tight, or low-cut (There! Salvaged my manhood yet again!). I think there’s got to be some kind of battle between podium girls as to who gets stuck in what dress, and the biggest loser is the climber’s jersey girls. I mean, the yellow ones aren’t all that pretty either, and would look like crap if you didn’t have a good tan. You’d need to be an autumn to year the yellow.

    Shoot. I’m gonna stop writing about this now and look at porn.

  39. Comment by JEB | 07.13.2009 | 7:54 am

    Randoboy, LMAO!

  40. Comment by Isela | 07.13.2009 | 8:07 am

    Minnie should make appearances like that all the time. Good one Fatty!

  41. Comment by Jim | 07.13.2009 | 8:25 am

    >>>I miss Al Trautwig.

    Wow. You could start a club for people who feel that way. It would be very prestigious because it would be so exclusive.

  42. Comment by Doug | 07.13.2009 | 8:28 am

    Hey and what ever happened to Greg Lemond?? Doesn’t he usually stick his nose in the Tour at some point?

  43. Comment by Brian | 07.13.2009 | 8:29 am

    Helmets have been required throughout the race since a crash in 2003 that killed Andrei Kivilev during Paris – Nice


    I noticed the Bob Roll thing too. Did you hear him the other day after Hummer asked him if there were any HC climbs in the US? “Sure, especially after I’ve been drinking all night before!”

  44. Comment by mark | 07.13.2009 | 9:24 am

    I like the podium girl outfits.

  45. Comment by iowakathy | 07.13.2009 | 9:56 am

    I love that helmets are expected, but I hate that rest day/non race day cycling photos show pro cyclists without their helmets. WTHeck? By now, they should realize that young kids want to emulate them.

    I loved the polka dot dresses!

  46. Comment by Jeanne | 07.13.2009 | 10:43 am

    I am brand new to your site (clicked the link from Pioneer Woman)but LOVE your Minnie Mouse observation. That is exactly what I thought – I also wondered if they were wearing over-sized white shoes too . . . hmmmm. You are very astute!

  47. Comment by the inadvertent farmer | 07.13.2009 | 11:23 am

    My 6 year old daughter saw the dresses and thought they were soooooo pretty…maybe on a 6 year old! What were they thinkin????? Kim

  48. Comment by neca | 07.13.2009 | 11:45 am

    I tivo the live coverage and watch that – I like Bob Roll, but for an entire stage I find Phil & Paul’s commentary to be much more interesting.

    Ditto on the dresses, I saw those and thought “What were they thinking?” The dresses aren’t good, but the bows are awful!

  49. Comment by SkiMoab (Dave) | 07.13.2009 | 1:07 pm

    Minnie is the very first thing I said to my wife when I saw those outfits!

    Also, Yellow Jersey gets a Lion and White gets an… Abominable Snowman!? How awesome is that? Why don’t the other jerseys get stuffed animals? My wife made the observation that White is the best young rider, so maybe they figure they still like stuffed animals?

  50. Comment by Puna | 07.13.2009 | 1:39 pm

    Hi there, I know the competition for PW’s prizes is over but I wanted to contribute anyway. Good luck to on your goal. And blessings to your wife and I do hope we get a cure soon.

  51. Comment by frilly | 07.13.2009 | 4:39 pm

    SkiMoab, I thought it was a Yeti.

  52. Comment by Kt | 07.14.2009 | 12:33 pm

    I totally agree about the KOM podium girls and their terrible outfits.

    Ok, it’s not so much that the dresses are bad. But those BOWS!!!! Whoever came up with that idea needs to be taken out back and shot. Awful. Those poor girls.

    The yellow ones aren’t too bad, but then again I haven’t been paying much attention to what happens after they get done showing the standings, so don’t have an opinion. I don’t like the shoes the yellow-girls are wearing, though, they don’t look good AT ALL.

    And yeah, how come the other jersey winners don’t get stuffed animals? What’s up with that?

  53. Comment by Lynn Stephens | 07.15.2009 | 2:13 pm

    I saw these dresses, whilst eating at the local pizza hang out and immediately said to my duly betrothed…look MINNIE MOUSE! They are horrific, but then again, I guess they are getting paid to wear ugly dresses and head pieces and fake smiles and kisses….rough life!

  54. Comment by Mel | 07.21.2009 | 3:47 am

    1. I had never heard of Bobke before you made him shave his hair off – though weirdly he’s popped up a couple of times on the British coverage this year.
    2. UCI rules – helmet at all times on all stages (perfectly sensible – it makes me cringe when I see people riding without helmets)
    3. Yes. Though no doubt that won’t stop them in their quest to marry a cyclist (they’ll just have to find riders with a deep attachment to Disney!)


    PS: If you haven’t already, check out the photo on p28 of the August issue of ProCycling!

  55. Comment by Jenny | 07.29.2009 | 1:14 am

    I’m going to have to show my husband your blog. He’s an avid cyclist…both mountain and road.
    We have joke everytime we watch the Tewer day france about Bob’s pronunciation!LOL
    I did make a minnie mouse catty comment…glad someone was on the same wavelength as me.LOL

  56. Comment by Susan | 07.6.2010 | 2:40 pm

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the black pantsuits – hidous – but they pale in comparison to the polkadot dresses. Hoop skirts? And those floppy red tops and ridiculous shoes? It’s a tribute to the beauty of the podium girls that they still are lovely, regardless. Someone needs to speak to the designers……


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.