Now I’ve never won any bike race of any significance, therefore have never had to think about an appropriate finish line salute. If I was a professional bicycle racer with a show of winning a major race however, I think I’d probably sort my shit out just in case I may be bagging a big win. While I’m sure it must be fairly hard to keep your emotions in check when you’re a couple hundred metres from the line and you know this is the biggest moment of your career, you’ve probably done this kind of thing before, and it comes back to that job title: you’re a professional. Now’s the time to be one.
Watching the replay of the Ronde last night made for some hard viewing for my pedalwan and I. Witnessing the consummate pro that is Tommeke having to deal with equipment failure and a fat guy trying to get him going again had us yelling at the screen in frustration. Seeing our boys Sagan and GVA hitting the deck because of morons using the barriers as a clothes rack upped the angst levels even more. But things really went through the roof when an admittedly decent ride––aided by the previously-mentioned bad luck of the riders who undoubtedly would’ve fought out the win––was capped off by a display that you’d expect a local Cat 3 to even baulk at.
As Giblets––with the added weight of tradition of the Belgian tricolor to respect––rolled the last 300 I pleaded with the screen in a vain attempt for him to hear. “Don’t overdo it.” Whatever happened to waiting til the actual line to give a salute, both arms in the air, or a finger raised, or a bow or whatever, not ten different things all mashed up like a frickin David Guetta remix of some hack boy band. I mean come on, Merckx managed to win 525 goddamn races and never let crap like ’emotions’ get in the way of a good, honest arm raise and smile.
Ok, maybe I’m getting a little too invested in this, I thought as the line drew nearer. Then I noticed the unclipping of the feet. “He’s not, is he? Please don’t.” Yes, the ultimate act of treason unfolded before our eyes. A Rule 95 violation in one of the most famous and revered races in the annals of cycling. He may as well have dropped his bibs, pulled a photo of The Prophet from his jersey and taken a shit on it, then wiped his ass with a Lion of Flanders flag. This won’t be remembered as a great win, but a great travesty. A Monument defiled forever.