Sunday, July 4, 2010
As in every year, we suss the Tour de France. We rip it, we roll it around and then we slaughter it. And when the slaughtering is over we come back here and ring that victory bell……..Well, the winner does anyway (courtesy of Grease, for those who aren’t so culturally aware). Which is what brings me to The Potentials Of Le Tour. The Favourites. The Fully Loaded Men. So, who is going to win this years Tour, I hear you ask? Here is where I conjecture, speculate, abuse, discount and, ultimately, champion the various potentials.
The Obvious Dudes
Alberto Contador (nn. Bertie Bott, Best Cyclist Of All Time, Spanish whiz-kid on the two-wheeler, and so on). I don’t want him to win his millionth TdF, but unless you’re totally retarded, you’ve probably noticed he’s a bit of a Favourite with a capital F. The Favourite status would probably have something to do with the fact that Contador wins every Grand Tour he’s ever looked at, and even the ones he hasn’t. But I’m not daunted by his undeniable Favourite status. I think, in the words of the indomitable Kevin Rudd, “it’s time for a change, Australia”. So, if Schlecks F and A can work together up mountains, and Cadel can beat his arse on timetrial bikes, and Masterlance bitchslaps him one just for luck, then hopefully Contador won’t kill this year’s Tour like he’s killed every other.
Andy Schleck. (nn. Schleck Jr, etc) If Andy strikes form like a vein of gold in a mountainside, then Eureka! He really could win. Unhappily, Andy striking said form so damn quickly is about as likely as me striking a vein of gold in a mountainside, not least because there aren’t any mountains where I live. Andy’s lead-up to this year’s Tour has been dismal, to put it generously, and so if Andy doesn’t have a sudden and unexpected form-strike, then he can’t win. Contador is seemingly in better form, has a more effective kick when climbing, and is more consistent overall. And everyone knows how the episode entitled “Out-of-Form Andy vs In-Form Contador” ends. Answer: Not well.
Frank Schleck. (nn. Franklin, The Other Schleck Brother). Less attractive, less youthful, less talented and less confident than Andy, Franklin seems like the outsider of the Main Pack. The outlier. The unwanted. The red-headed stepchild. The Other Brother. But this year, more than any year, is Form Time for Schleck Brunette. He’s been spanking that tarmac a lot more effectively than his little bro, and hell, if he can beat Andy, then beat Andy. If Franklin can also take on Bertie Bott Contador and win the actual Tour de France itself, then go for gold. Frank is the Dark Horse of this year’s Tour. Watch out, Unsuspecting Plebs, coz he could take it.
Lance Armstrong. (nn. Masterlance, The Boss. THE BEST CYCLIST OF ALL TIME) The Big Man is back in business now that he’s got Loveshack and a new team of Bitches to do his every bidding. Life is good for Masterlance. A new Babychild on the way too. But can he win the Tour de France for an eighth time? Can he relive his glory days? Can he pretend he’s 28 again and get something more out of those tired old pensioner’s legs of his? Can he take back the title of Best Cyclist In All The World from his BFF Bertie Bott? Is his team good enough? Is he stronger than Contador, stronger than the Schleck brothers combined? Is he The Lance Of Old? No, dude, he aint. But he’ll give it a fair crack, bro. He’ll try his ASS off, and he’ll do what it takes to come out on top. But that ‘top’ probably don’t mean a TdF win is on the cards, man. He’s Masterlance, hell yeah. But he’s also a human, dude, and he’s, like, 39. Unlikely, bro.
Ivan Basso. (nn. Not applicable) I have to acknowledge Mr. Basso’s position as a Tour de France favourite here. I can’t get away with ignoring it, because a handsome 6” Italian dude charging up the Italian Alpes in lime green lycra is hard to ignore. Especially given the fact that he’s only recently returned from a 3-year drugcheat suspension. That’s also hard to ignore.
Cadel Evans. (nn. Cadellio, Little Aussie Battler) Yes. You’re right. Last year’s Tour for Cadellio sucked. But everyone has their bad days, months, even years. And he’s obviously not having one of those this year: this year he’s got a Fleche Wallone under his belt, as well as roughly 40 second-places to various Italian drugcheats. He’s also World Champion, in case anyone forgot, and did I mention he’s Australian?
The Not So Obvious Dudes and the Dudes I Cant Stand The Thought of Winning
Bradley Wiggins. (nn. Friggins) Will Not Win. I’ll shoot myself first. He needs to get back inside his cozy velodrome and stop pretending he can road race like the real men.
Denis Menchov. (nn. Deni, Rampaging Russian) I love Deni for the simple fact that he has so much personality. He’s just so emotional, so outspoken, and so good-humoured. And he’s Cadel’s partner-in-shithouse-form (of last year’s forgettable TdF fame), so perhaps he and Cadel can, together, bring the house down with twinsets of bitchin’ good form.
Carlos Sastre. (nn. The Sastrinator, Boringest Waste of Time To Ever Win A Tour De France). Ha, that was a joke, but a joke I did not, and still do not, find very effing funny. Go suck off Cervelo’s wheel, and see how far that gets you, pal. Not far at all, I can tell you, because a lucky strike on a lucky day with the lucky addition of being thrown up the mountain by two much better teammates only comes around once in a blue moon. And you’ve already had your blue moon, buddy, which is more than even the luckiest loser in the world should ever have gotten. Not that I’m bitter.
Christian VandeVelde. (nn. V-da-V) V-da-V is one of those dudes who I’ve heard a lot about, but never actually seen doing anything worthwhile. It’s like he decides to suck when I’m watching. Which, if you go by that way of thinking, means that if I’m watching the Tour de France, he can’t possibly win it. I’m sure he’ll be respectably placed in the top twenty again, along with all the other bridesmaids, and I wish him luck.
Kreuziger Roman. (nn. He wishes) He’ll keep up on a few of the big mountain stages, but then he’ll falter on one that really matters, at which time he’ll watch his AMAZINGLY TALENTED BUT TOTALLY NOT ON DRUGS team leader Ivan Basso shoot off the front and leave him to die on the roadside. If its Kreuziger or Nibali, it doesn’t really matter. They’ll come roughly 7th-ish, give or take ten places.
Well, it’s a few days before the Biggest Cycling Race Of Them All, actually tonight for Southern Hemisphereans like moi. Time has flown since writing and posting this, so let’s barricade ourselves on the couch with our hot chocolates, croissants, and Haighs, and enjoy a Tour de France that is actually worth enjoying this year.
Pictures from Tim de Waele and Roland Miny if you couldn't tell. Hope its not illegal.