As I sit here watching the Tour de France while resting comfortably in my armchair, I find myself ruminating on the risks of the modern professional Cyclist. Even from my perch of steel and cowhide, I find myself recoiling in fear as traffic islands are navigated at speed, shoulders and bumped on wobbly bikes, and the boney elbows of GC contenders are thrown about amongst the meat-covered arm-sausages of the spinteurs.
I hold my breath and pray silently to something I have yet to understand – possibly the ridiculous little chihuahua with a human allergy who sleeps soundly nearby – that the riders run the gauntlet safely. (How can a dog be so little and still be a dog? Does not compute.)
I generally sleep through the first week of the Tour; there are only so many Chateaux and rolling green fields that I can watch as the peloton mechanically reels in the doomed breakaway in the final kilometers. But this year has seen its fair share of excitement, including back-to-back sprint finishes so close that the riders themselves weren’t sure who had won. Not to mention that I love it when the riders are on their knees coming across the line; nothing like a little visible effort to make me feel good about sitting there sipping my espresso while nursing my morning stroopwafel.
Some highlights from this week include the following, in no particular order.
- Peter Sagan’s Stage 2 post-stage interview:
Interviewer: How did you win the stage today?
Sagan: Well, I came around the guy in front and then there were no more guys to come around, so I won.
Interviewer: This is the first time you’ll have worn the Yellow Jersey, how does that feel?
Sagan: Well, I like this jersey I have with the stripes. But yellow is also nice.
- Oleg Tinkoff’s finish line dance after Sagan’s same Stage 2 victory. The jovial fellow is a bit of a loose cannon, but what his celebration lacked in tact it made up for in raw rooskie enthusiasm.
- Bryan Coquard’s Stage 4 sprint was the first time I found myself being amazed that a bicycle could survive such savagery; I’ve seen bicycles get driven into garage doors that seemed to be having a more peaceful experience than his was. If he had gone in a straight line, he’d have won by a bike length. “A” for effort. Imagine how fast he’ll go when he upgrades from racing in his brother’s sneakers to real cycling shoes.
- Greg van Avermaet taking a beautiful solo stage win and riding into Yellow with a V minute lead. Then extending it to almost VII minutes over the first mountains of the Tour. I don’t think he’s going to win the Tour, but he’s definitely not reading from the same script everyone else has and people should be raising their eyebrows for sure. It was also very nice to see him still working for his team leader Teejay; it isn’t every day you see the Maillot Jaune working in the team rotation.
- The only thing more bizarre than the time the Orica team bus broke the finish line on Stage 1 of the 2013 Tour was having the ride kite come tumbling down over the peloton in today’s Stage 7. Did anyone else see Oleg lurking nearby with a shiv?*
* Thanks to @pmcqueen for letting me shamelessly steal his joke.