Anatomy of a Photo: Huevo with Sour Cream

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”

Photographs trigger memories and emotions within the human psyche that last a very long time, and remind us of where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt at any given moment of our lives. The above image, although still fresh in the time/space continuum, nonetheless brings back happy times for myself.

It reminds me of Australia, of my friends, as we watched the late-night telecast of Stage 8. It reminds me of the banter between us, with one member of the viewing audience vehemently trying to defend the merits of Armstrong’s challenge for an eighth win. He was systematically taken apart with vigour, backed up by the performance unfolding on the road before us.

Astana was on the front of the peloton, with Tiralongo driving a frantic pace as they hit the base of the climb to Avoriaz. There was a dark figure sitting on his wheel, with a look on his face that said he was already well into the red, but knew that soon his time would come to up the intensity a notch further and put the other teams a little bit deeper into the box of hurt. I wasn’t sure who he was, but he was soon to be a new hero when he buried himself for kilometre after kilometre in service of his team leader. Daniel Navarro was a stud that day, and for the days to follow.

The heat of the day was intense, and I commented on how the riders must just be about cooking themselves, with whatever enhancements were flowing through their veins adding to the risk of their blood boiling and their hearts exploding out of their chest cavities. I was excited beyond belief; it was top-fueled racing, almost like the old days. But this time, it was Armstrong who was feeling the brunt of a dominant team working against him. I was almost screaming at the tv as he struggled to keep the furious pace being dished out at the front. “Go on, bend him over and fuck him, like he’d do to you!” is a pretty close approximation of the words I used.  Did I mention I was excited?

When Pharmy crashed the first time, he was done. He chased back on with all his old vigour, but you could see that the effort had taken its toll on his aging legs, and when Astana turned up the heat again, his Tour glory days were fading rapidly in the rear-view mirror. By the time the above scene took place, he was a well-broken man, a shadow of his former self, an empty shell going through the motions, taking his team mates down with him as he threw in the towel like he’d never even contemplated before.

I wonder if, as he stood there in the middle of the road, without any urgency or desire to get back on the bike, that his famous words were swilling inside his head; “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever”.

Adios, Huevo.

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100 Replies to “Anatomy of a Photo: Huevo with Sour Cream”

  1. I love the disdain on his face, the “Are you fucking kidding me? Do you even know how to ride a bike?” If his eyes were laser beams, Euskatel-Euskadi would have had two riders heads explode that day. There’s the evil eye, which I deliver to cars and riders that are idiots, and then there’s the eye that Armstrong delivered here. It took it to a whole new level.

  2. We call it stink eye, in Hawaii. He was giving it with both eyes that day. Previous to the picture that day, does anyone have the story of why he was coming out of that roundabout sliding on his back at 50 kph? I know he had hit the inside curb, but what caused it? Did one of his domestiques take him to the curb, by accident? My guess was the team rookie lead him into the curb.

  3. That was probably one of the most depressing things I had ever seen in my short history as a cycling fan. As soon as I saw him standing there with his hands on his hips, I thought “That’s it, he’s giving up on the tour.”

    Couldn’t watch the rest of the stage after that.

    By the way, I’m in the process of having a stylized Roman Numeral 5 ( V ) made up as a tattoo for my left calf.

  4. I watched this on my DVR again and again and what seemed like a long look was really a fleeting glance of probably less than a second. However it was seen by everyone and was as it appeared.

  5. @Geoffrey Grosenbach I kinda thought that was the inspiration for the title of this post.

    Navarro was a DOMestique this tour – and that says a lot, considering my hatred of Astana AND dudes who don’t wear bibs. Many wasps knew what it was to be eaten by Navarro that day I can tell you!

    I felt pretty bad for Janez, too – who had to help the old man into town.

  6. What’s that in the lower right corner of the photo, a fucking chalk-bot graffito? That would be ironic.

  7. @ben

    The no-bibs thing is a falacy, methinks. You just can’t see the suspenders, the newer style bibs, like the sweet Castelli V-kit, have suspenders that sit a lot wider of your nipples. Check out Huevo’s here for an example…

    and here you can see the suspender…

  8. @Brett
    That second photo reminds me – has Grimplet said anything about the prospect of inheriting the MJ, Pereiro-like?

  9. No, haven’t heard a peep… probably shitting himself because he knows he’s doing the same shit as Clentador…

  10. Was this not the stage that convinced Clenbutador to ring his homies and holler for a bag of the premium (albeit w/a touch too much of a certain steriod). Getting dropped by Grimplet only to be able to hang a few days later. Hmmmm

    Watching that fall unfold was comical. It was as if it was intentional as I recall. They seemingly decided to just lay down.

    Also, The Yellow Princesses didn’t seem to help much here.

  11. I really like those last couple of photos. Makes me want to quit my job and ride bikes year round, well after I win the lottery

  12. My thought while watching that climb was how the hell Navarro could keep pounding out that pace? It was clear from his face that he had died a few kilometers prior but just didn’t know it.

    One Nut just couldn’t believe that finally he had the bad luck happen to him.

  13. @ Mr. Haven … I’m with you there

    Huevo looks rather camp, stood there nonchalant with both hands on hip. “How very Dare you knock me off my bike?”…. He wouldnt look amiss at a “Roulin’ Dirty” party with Kloden and Ulli.

  14. It’s a day for Rule #5 here for the Melbourne to warrnambool. Used to be the longest one day race in the world but has now been shortened to “only 260kms – head cross winds all day. And it is hailing now with weather forecast to get worse.

  15. @Dave Harding
    I rembemer during the race, that’s exactly what I thought.

    @ZachOlson
    Awesome picture. I think we can all agree the fact that his seatpost says “unity” is one of the most fantastic bits of satire ever gifted this world.

    I always thought it was interesting that all the doping allegations before Landis just bounced off him; he issued a press statement or two, scowled a bit, rode a few guys into the ditch, and that was it. But this time around with Landis, every single time – from California to the Tour – every single time someone published something about the investigation, he crashed that day. He might have crashed more than that, but for certain, every single time it came up, he crashed.

    Really makes me wonder; was he so distracted by the implications that he was getting involved in crashes he wouldn’t otherwise? Seems like this investigation, for reasons only he knows, has struck closer to home than previous ones.

    Back to the picture, it was a landmark moment, and one that we wrote about before – as Brett puts it, he quit at that moment, and he’ll remember that FOREVER.

    The question is, what caused the crash? I’m guessing it was that fucking anime graphiti in the bottom right that others have already pointed out. You know, as in, “What the fuck is that goddamned thing? I think I’ll crash now.” And then Huevos said, “Oh, I think I’ll run into you because I don’t feel like steering anymore. Someone else should really be doing that for me.”

  16. I think the hands on the hips were more a gesture of “Really, again, you’ve got to be f**king kidding me.” than “How very Dare you knock me off my bike?”

  17. I always thought it was interesting that all the doping allegations before Landis just bounced off him; he issued a press statement or two, scowled a bit, rode a few guys into the ditch, and that was it. But this time around with Landis, every single time – from California to the Tour – every single time someone published something about the investigation, he crashed that day. He might have crashed more than that, but for certain, every single time it came up, he crashed.

    Really makes me wonder; was he so distracted by the implications that he was getting involved in crashes he wouldn’t otherwise? Seems like this investigation, for reasons only he knows, has struck closer to home than previous ones.

    On a related thought, I’ve also found it interesting that before his ‘comeback’, whilst he of course split people pretty firmly into hero-worshippers and those who thought him a COTHO, the former outnumbered the latter by a sufficient number to ensure the allegations slipped off him, like oil off a Teflon-coated frying pan.

    After the comeback, especially this year as people have tired of him, rather like a frying pan that has been through the dishwasher too many times, that Teflon coating has become pretty flaky.

    Which I find interesting, because I’ve always thought that his comeback was a big mistake for him personally. Had he stayed retired, the allegations would have mostly subsided, former rivals like Landis would have stayed silent and he could have ridden off into the sunset, become the Governer of Texas or whatever … and his reputation would have largely remained intact, with his detractors reduced to a small minority and even some of them would become misty-eyed in future years remembering epic battles with Ullrich and Pantani.

    Yet instead, driven by a desire to reduce global cancer suffering*/blinded by his arrogance* he risked all that for publicity for Livestrong*/personal glory*. It was always going to end like this. A simpleton could see that surely. But perhaps a COTHO couldn’t …

    * Delete as appropriate, depending on your perspective.

  18. I can’t help but throw out a dissenting opinion here after reading some of your comments.

    Whilst I’m no Phamstrong fan, I do have sympathy for his predicament in this last tour. Lets face it, after stage 3 his chance for victory was over. Bad luck, poor positioning, or whatever, his best and only chance to take time out of Clenbutador and AS was over. A possible 3rd place finish was not even in the picture after that. You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. To say he quit after the fall pictured here is unfair. Whether it was bad luck, self induced, or the lack of an effective doping program this time around, it was simply ridiculous to witness the progression of events that led to that moment. While it was of no particularly special merit, he continued on and even put in a pretty determined effort to win a stage. Lets face it, he is no Jens.

    And as for the comeback in general, who here wouldn’t want to give it another try? What wouldn’t you do to dig into the pain well one more time and attempt to compete at your highest level once more? I can’t blame him for that at all, it was now or never. Sure is easy to criticize him from the side of the road, or better yet from your couch. In hindsight I’m sure he wished he stayed in Texas, but he put in the miles so I give him credit regardless of my opinion of his past tactics or the fact that he remains a COTHO.

  19. @ Michael

    You may have a point , however any stance with a hand on hip is Teapot and therefore camp lol ;-) …. (For non-uk readers the Teapot stance may get lost in translation, ha)

  20. Guys,

    This is the first time I have posted as I think it is time someone stood up for pharmstrong! Pantani was a great rider who doped, which everyone is aware of, so why is it that everyone hates Lance? come on, the guy won the greatest race in the world 7 times in a row, with chemical aid or no chemical aid this has to be the greatest achievment ever in the history of cycling. Ullrich,pantani and all of his peers who have admittedly doped came nowhere near the guy for years but we celebrate their achievments as losers?! come on guys, doper or not he deserves a little more than the title COTHO.

  21. @cwself
    Welcome to the mix. Yes, by and large, the community here feels the same, or similar, on the subject of LA. Although there are a few who are in the pro LA camp. To that, we say Allez! No pun intended (is that even a pun, I don’t know?)

    Typically, the argument goes like this. Yes, Lance won the big race seven times (a great feat but certainly not the greatest in cycling) and in so doing, did it with such mechanization, predictability, and bully-tactics it got old. However, an incredible achievement. But it’s not his palmares that are really at issue. Assholes do incredible things sometimes, that still makes them assholes. The problem with Lance is that he takes the entire world to be idiots, believe me, I used to be one of them, a skeptical one, but one none the less.

    I don’t think there’s a member of this community who didn’t respect his effort on Stage 3 this year. He rode hard and demonstrated the grinta he’s shown in the past, especially when he was a young brash man in one day races. But assholes still do incredible things.

    There is plenty of room around here for everyone, as long as they follow The Rules, so state your views. Just expect to get ribbed and borderline disrespected when it comes to COTHO.

  22. @cwself

    I don’t think you will find very many Velominati deny the fact that Phamstrong had dominated the TDF for those seven years.

    Rather, it is his persona both on and off the bike that bring out the crickets when you might expect applause. Other than a few noteworthy exceptions, he was simply a machine, w/o style or elan. His treatment and revenge directed at other riders was not sporting.

    Hell, even I have defended his comeback in this post. I also gained perverse pleasure during his reign. I liked seeing the ire of the French as an American took position of their most coveted sporting prize seven times. Thus my appreciation for his comeback. He was doomed to failure which in my mind finally made him the tragic figure during the last two tours and thus finally someone to relate to.

  23. @cwself
    Welcome mate.

    Ok, I am getting good at repeating myself on this subject. Marko and Pakrat have given you great reasons as to why COTHO is such, but the one that really needs to be reinforced is this; He would never, ever, EVER have won one Tour, let alone 7, if he hadn’t got cancer. His comeback was the perfect shield to load up on bigger and better doping programs than more naturally talented stage racers like Ullrich. I think he even is arrogant enough to have said at the time, “fuck it, I could die anyway, why not risk it all and if I win the race even once, I will be remembered as a hero.”

    Anyone who believes that LA was a naturally talented STAGE RACE rider and would’ve been a contender without his ‘miracle’ comeback methods, obviously has little knowledge or understanding of his talents and standing among the Pro peloton, and needs to stop being duped by his bullshit.

    Reading ‘From Lance to Landis’ is a good place to start if you need a better perspective.

    Cheers, and keep the posts coming!

  24. @Brett
    @Marko
    @cwself

    My two cents on COTHO (which I believe is more of a funny nickname than his true C-rating. Pat McQuaid and Dick Pound get higher ratings to my mind):

    I think the worst thing you can presume about COTHO is that he was doped to the gills “just like the others”. Not sure it is fair to say that he had “better” doping methods than Ullrich et al (although the fact that he hasn’t been done yet would make the methods better on that score). Who is to say that Armstrong only started a GC doping program properly on his comeback and that Ulle had been juicing since day one. So I believe the only thing you can presume about him was that he was doped like all the others? We don’t know. In fairness to him, he was the best of that era.

    And I don’t believe his racing tactics can be criticised. He raced to win and used the right tactics to win given his and his team’s strength. Can’t knock a bloke for that. He was no less exciting than Indurain, probably more so.

    All that aside – and I am an unashamed fan of his riding – Lance will always be a COTHO because of his bullying of riders, not as part of racing, but outside of that. To give an example, looking back I believe what he to Simeoni was inexcusable. Making a public humiliation and persecution of a lowly rider for “spitting in the soup” gives him lifetime COTHO status in my book.

  25. He was juiced pre-cancer too, and wasn’t a GC rider. Couldn’t climb, couldn’t TT. Could ride a one-day race pretty well though…

  26. As a committed member of this community, the last thing I want to have happen is LA debates ad nauseum. Go to the forums at Roadbike Review if you want that. With that said, when Novitsky and the Feds are done there’s gonna be a lot of peeps eating crow.

    We here at Velominati aspire to a higher aesthete.

  27. @Marcus
    Really well said. Were I in his shoes, I would have raced the same way: formulaic and with nothing left to chance. It’s a brilliant way to ride. The problem is, for us fans, it sucks ass because it’s formulaic and nothing is left to chance. And – as a fan – I feel well within my rights to dislike his style. I also didn’t enjoy watching Indurain race. Another boring racer. Same with Cav’s sprints (when he’s on).

    But please don’t confuse that with not having respect for the feats. It’s impressive stuff.

    I don’t hate Pharmstrong because he doped or didn’t dope or whatever. I hate him because he was a bullying, arrogant asshole who, as @Marcus points out, didn’t stop at bullying the little people if they got in his way. I don’t like that shit when the mafia does it, I don’t like it when an athlete does it.

    On the other hand, I feel truly sick about this latest allegation, and how it’s showing signs that it may strike a hit. I feel sick for all the people who are fighting cancer and are taking his story as a beacon of hope. He’s lied to all of them, and that breaks my heart. Sure, he still beat cancer, but everything after that was a lie, and for the cancer patients, I feel awful.

    BTW, I have been waiting my whole life for an opportunity to post this video on this site.

  28. LA was a bad ass junior “triathlete” lapping the cat 1/2’s solo BITD. He obviously has a huge engine, but I don’t think that’s being debated.

  29. Brett :@cwself
    Welcome mate.
    Ok, I am getting good at repeating myself on this subject. Marko and Pakrat have given you great reasons as to why COTHO is such, but the one that really needs to be reinforced is this; He would never, ever, EVER have won one Tour, let alone 7, if he hadn’t got cancer. His comeback was the perfect shield to load up on bigger and better doping programs than more naturally talented stage racers like Ullrich. I think he even is arrogant enough to have said at the time, “fuck it, I could die anyway, why not risk it all and if I win the race even once, I will be remembered as a hero.”
    Anyone who believes that LA was a naturally talented STAGE RACE rider and would’ve been a contender without his ‘miracle’ comeback methods, obviously has little knowledge or understanding of his talents and standing among the Pro peloton, and needs to stop being duped by his bullshit.
    Reading ‘From Lance to Landis’ is a good place to start if you need a better perspective.
    Cheers, and keep the posts coming!

    So if we disagree with you we don’t understand or are being duped? You’re either with us or against us? Yeah, right. Heard that one before…

  30. @Oli Brooke-White
    No, it has nothing to do with agreeing with me/us, it’s a matter of intelligent, knowledgable people like yourself, believing that one man could perform miracles which he clearly wasn’t capable of without ‘outside assistance’, beating a whole peloton of dopers in the process. It’s just common sense. Sure, be a fan, but be a fan who acknowledges the truth behind the myth.

  31. Fair enough, and so it should be. I’m a Pantani fan, he was a flawed individual and a doper, I acknowledge that. Still a fan. You’re an Armstrong fan, and that’s all that matters if that’s all you want to matter.

    We’ll agree to disagree, haven’t we done that before? We all love the sport, that’s the gist of it. People love football equally as passionately, and Chelsea and Manchester United fans will always disagree, but they’ll still share the passion of the sport. It’d be pretty boring if we all supported the same team/riders.

    Hang around mate…

  32. Brett :He was juiced pre-cancer too, and wasn’t a GC rider. Couldn’t climb, couldn’t TT. Could ride a one-day race pretty well though…

    You see, it’s comments like this that irk me. He demonstrably could TT and climb well, as his dominating Tour DuPont victories and near misses showed. Perhaps his age and inexperience back then were the reasons he didn’t go as well as his amazing potential would have suggested. Remember, many people (like Eddy Merckx, for example) were calling him a potential Tour winner before he even won Worlds – where was Indurain in the results of his first couple of Tours? Lots of people gain new perspective and focus as they grow older, and especially in the crucible of a near-death experience.

    You state “he was juiced pre-cancer” like you know it for a fact, when you don’t have a clue for sure. I can understand not liking him because of his bullying or any of his other perceived character flaws, but if it’s the doping you hate him for you don’t have a leg to stand on! Especially when you lionise guys like Ullrich, Virenque or Pantani, none of whom technically tested positive or admitted to their doping (well Richard did eventually…).

    I’m sorry, but a lot of superiority and condescension wrapped up in gossip and opinion is posited as facts around here, and for me it detracts from the other great writing on this esteemed website.

    As I say though, that’s not your problem it’s mine…

    Cheers, Oli

  33. Is there any chance we could have some Rule that forbade discussion of Pharmstrong / the greatest cyclist of our time* (*delete as appropriate) except should he feature in that day’s news?
    It is pointlessly polarising. Many of us think he’s an obnoxious prick and others prefer to think of his racing achievements. In the same way that Obama is the best thing since sliced bread to some and a ridiculous buffoon to everyone else, nobody is likely to change their mind.

  34. @George
    Don’t go starting political flame wars now man ;-)
    All in all I think that’s a fine suggestion. Nobody is going to “win” this argument and Merckx willing, LA will not soil the spirit of this site. Wouldn’t it be nice if this were the only place on the interwebs where the Armstrong Chronicles weren’t ever further than a comment or two away?

    New rule suggestion: Like religion and politics, Lance Armstrong discussions can be divisive and spoil the mood of a perfectly good social climate. Whether you are a fan of his or not, it is best to keep your opinions to yourself unless you are sure you are in the company of people who are drinking the same Kool-Aid from their bidons. So unless he features in the news of the day, it’s best to do your liking or loathing of him in like-minded company.

  35. @Steampunk
    Only if you wear them like a closeted cross-dresser wears lingerie, covered up by socially acceptable clothing so they remain your little secret.

  36. @Oli Brooke-White
    Personally, I really appreciate yours and every other discenting opinion on the site. Everyone’s disagreements are always measured, always persuasive. They make me stop and think, and question. This is a great community here because people don’t all have the same opinion, it keeps the conversation rolling. Everyone is encouraged to say what they want, believe what they want. If everyone had the same opinion, well, it would be boring, wouldn’t it? So, keep it coming.

    It’s an interesting observation that the two most divisive topics on the site are Lance Armstrong and Compact cranksets.

    I agree with you that until he admits to doping, we’ll never know for certain if he did or not, and in that context “know” should loosely be read as an equivalent to “strongly believe”.

    This is for another post, but I recently read “We Were Young and Carefree”. In that book, I don’t think Fignon has any reason to lie about whether he did drugs or not. There are many, many very interesting things in there, but what sticks with me the most is that he gives a very, very strong impression that didn’t dope to win his Tours. I guess I really believed the Tour was too hard to do without drugs, even then, and his book – while far from conclusive – has really made me rethink the whole thing.

    I’m just glad Pharmy never rode a compact.

  37. @frank
    “It’s an interesting observation that the two most divisive topics on the site are Lance Armstrong and Compact cranksets.”
    That may reflect the religious nature of the Velominatus’ devotion to cycling. Both topics are essentially about guilt. Armstrong – his guilt (or not); and compacts – our guilt in using them. I’m sure more have dabbled with the dark side than would admit it.

  38. Give lance a break – he had another kid yesterday. Two things about him which cannot be argued against – i) he has picked up a lot of chicks; and ii) he breeds very well for a guy with one nut that has copped a serious amount of radiation.

    Chapeau COTHO!

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