Sabotaging the saboteur?
Paulo ran me down, but the Dutch say I punched him.

Sabotaging the saboteur?
Paulo ran me down, but the Dutch say I punched him.

by / / 57 posts

Some of you may have noticed KRX-10‘s comment on my earlier post regarding Sabotage. Well, needless to say, I was overjoyed to see the pictures he provided of the “sabotage” incident. I’m sure it’s lost on no one that his joke is based on the fact that I’m an American citizen of direct Dutch decent and because of me, the American Discovery Channel cycling team lost one of its key riders during the 2006 Tour de France – a perfect example of “the ancient Dutch art of screwing up your own team.”

Well, there’s some background to this story that deserves to be told. Michelle and I have twice been to France (in 2003 and 2006) to ride and follow the Tour when it comes near the area we stay in Aspet, France. This has been a truly exciting experience both times, and we have memories from both trips that will stay with us for ever.

During each of the two trips, we’ve chosen one major mountain stage to camp out on the roadside overnight and watch the Tour come by the next day. The first time we did this was a fairy-tale, textbook experience. We stayed on Alpe d’Huez and slept on the roadside. We brought a few bottles of wine, and made friends with people with whom we could only communicate through gestures and third or fourth party broken translations. The most colorful of these friends were a group of Italians who became drunk, invited us to their house in Tuscany, and declared us all to be lifelong friends. The next morning, as we were dragging ourselves up from a long sleepless night, the leader of their group visited our tent with a suspicious looking glass of something. I somehow managed to ask if it was wine. He gave me a disgusted, insulted look and said, “No. It’s 7am. This is Grappa.” Well, needless to say they continued on that path and the day culminated with them marching single-file down the center of the road a few hours before the Tour came by – buck naked.

The trip to the Tour in 2006 was no less memorable. We went down to Pla-de-Beret in Spain to watch the race on its first major mountain stage. We camped overnight, hung out the next day and headed down the mountain some distance to watch the race come by. I usually like to photograph the riders as they come racing by, so that’s what I was doing again this time. The lead group including Floyd Landis came by, followed by more and more riders, and I got some great shots. Some time later, the grupetto containing many of the sprinters and domestiques came by. The group was coming up the mountain, and I noticed one of my favorite riders, Tom Boonen, in the group – on the far side of the road. I judged the speed of the group coming up to me and determined I could just barely dash across the road in time to not interfere, allowing me to get a great shot of one of my heros. Having no time to waste, I shot across the road as fast as I could go. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself numb and in midair.

Knowing that the groupetto and its various surrounding motorcycles and cars were fast approaching, I made like a steamroller towards the side of the road in order to avoid the unappealing fate of being run over; my head was spinning as I was trying to understand what happened and why my whole body ached.

As I heard the bicycle wheels, motorcycles and cars whiz past me and on up the road, I gathered myself together and looked to the other side of the road from where the blow had been delivered. There, crouching on the ground, sat Paulo Salvoldelli – screaming at me in Italian with blood pouring down his face. As it turns out, he had decided not to wait for his team bus and to instead ride (helmetless I might add) down the mountain – against the direction of the race route – while the race was still in progress. I am no expert at judging the speed of an object that smacks you unexpectedly from behind, but I’d guess that he was traveling somewhere between 20 and 30 km/h. The impact dislocated my shoulder (an injury which still bothers me today) and gave me several large bumps and bruises.

As Michelle helped him up, I yelled my apologies from across the street before making it gingerly across to see if I could somehow help. I felt terrible.

As if I didn’t feel badly enough already, we found out the next day that Paulo had dropped out of the Tour, citing his head injury as the reason.

While I’m ashamed to have knocked him out of the Tour, I must ask you to consider the following: what was he doing coming down the race course during the race – in the wrong direction? Further, why was he going so fast and not coming to a stop or slowing if the racers coming up were close enough that I hardly thought I could jump 4 feet across the narrow road to get the other side in time? Was he about to pile-drive the groupetto?

I like to think I saved Tom Boonen’s Tour that day. When you think of it, I’m a hero.

Anyway, like all crazy experiences, I have since taken a sort of odd pride in this tale, and upon our return from France, I scoured the internet for evidence of the incident, and to try to find out what the cycling community thought of it – to no avail. I found a few smatterings of information, but nothing interesting or conclusive.

Then, a few days ago, KRX-10 posted this series of pictures which he apparently found on a Japanese website somewhere last summer and had been holding onto until “the right moment.” It was one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a long time, and Michelle and I certainly got an enormous kick out of it.

Then, in a dazzling display of Google savvy, Michelle tracked down two posts on the internet talking about the incident. The first had a reasonably accurate description of it. But – hilariously – the other post was on a Dutch news site. She asked me to translate. My jaw dropped when I read the headline. “Bicycle tourist punches Savoldelli out of the Tour”. The post went on to say a drunken tourist punched him to the ground. In a mind-bending, dizzying, cyclical scenario, are the Dutch trying to sabotage the saboteur?

I’m forever indebted to KRX-10 and Michelle for finding these jems. Although, I have to say I suspect that Michelle is just trying to make up for the fact that she is showing no concern for my wellbeing whatsoever in these photos. Her first comment to me after Paulo rode off was not, “ARE YOU OK?” but was instead, “MY BIKE IS LIGHTER THAN HIS!”

Oddly, I was reasonably receptive of the news and was rather interested to hear more on the subject.

Photo Album: Dutch Saboteur gets bitch-slapped by a 120 pound Italian

// Racing

  1. Don’t you care that you wrecked a care of a rider?

    I must ask you to consider the following:
    What was he doing coming down the race course during the race – in the wrong direction?
    Riders always do this, even on flat stages (you don’t know anything about cycling).

    Further, why was he going so fast and not coming to a stop or slowing if the racers coming up were close enough that I hardly thought I could jump 4 feet across the narrow road to get the other side in time?
    How do you he has going fast you had your back to him? How about next time you stay on one side of the road and look before you cross the road.

    Was he about to pile-drive the groupetto?
    no
    I like to think I saved Tom Boonen’s Tour that day. When you think of it, I’m a hero.
    What a load of bullshit. Paulo would of easily stopped in time. He would know how to ride a bike.

  2. Given his recent Vuelta success, Nibbles is going to need a few more nicknames. I hereby nominate Vinvezo from above. I don’t know why, but it just sounds right.

    I am, however, sorry to learn that Frank knows nothing about cycling. It’s been a good ride here, but now I feel a little duped…

  3. What an amazing and terrifying story!

  4. @Steampunk

    like you, I too feel duped. I’m going to find another site that I can take more seriously. Maybe PodiumCafe, I’ve heard ex-postal riders might hang out there.

    @Adrian

    Ahahahahahahaha! That is fucking hilarious, whether serious or a piss-take.

    How do you “wreck a care”? Is that when you crash into an elderly person’s home-help?

    Do you think anyone would care about Paulo’s care if it had been an eight year-old kid he’d piled into and potentially hospitalised? Would you care? So what difference does it make if he hits a full-grown man (other than the full-grown man would likely suffer far less injuries than an 8 year-old)? Paulo is paid enough to watch where he is riding, especially as he is certainly aware of how cycling works – the average fan, on the other hand, may know as much about the rules, written or unwritten, as they do about astrophysics.

  5. Now I’m really discouraged. I realize, of course, that what goes up must come down, and therefore Frank was ridiculously callous in his actions and know nothing about cycling and physics. This site sucks.

  6. just admit it velominati you made a mistake

    How do you “wreck a care”? Is that when you crash into an elderly person’s home-help?

    I meant career -sorry for my bad spelling

    Do you think anyone would care about Paulo’s care if it had been an eight year-old kid he’d piled into and potentially hospitalised?

    If Paulo hit a 8yr old it would be the parents fault for not looking after the kid. The parents should of being watching the 8yr.

    Would you care?
    yes

    So what difference does it make if he hits a full-grown man (other than the full-grown man would likely suffer far less injuries than an 8 year-old)?

    A full grown man should be smart enough to look before he crosses the road.
    Paulo is paid enough to watch where he is riding, especially as he is certainly aware of how cycling works – the average fan, on the other hand, may know as much about the rules, written or unwritten, as they do about astrophysics.

    It is basic knowledge you LOOK before you cross the road.

  7. Shit happens.

  8. @adrian Beware; Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny…

  9. adrian

    It is basic knowledge you LOOK before you cross the road.

    Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…Meditate on this, I will…

  10. @adrian
    As members of the community, one of our key responsibilities is building the illusion that we know anything about cycling and making sure @Steampunk never feels duped or disappointed. He is a very fragile man.

    I do have just a few questions and tips for you:

    NUMBER ONE: Do you read as poorly as your write? I mean, are the letters all jumbled up like that when you look at words, too? Because it really seems like you only read the title of the piece, looked at the pictures, jumped to a few conclusions, and then started posting.

    NUMBER TWO: You have clearly outlined that everyone in this scenario is responsible for their own behaviors. Except Paulo. You’re absolutely right, they are above these things. Those poor Pros are victims and can’t be held accountable for their actions. This also applies, I assume, to doping.

    NUMBER THREE: Get a spell checker. Or pay attention to the little squiggly line that most browsers these days show you when you have misspelled something. You may also want to dabble in some English studies.

    NUMBER FOUR: Please, PLEASE, read some more articles and leave us some more manic posts. They’re gold, mate.

    @KitCarson
    Strong work.

  11. @Steampunk Eh, mate..In order to be disillusioned you have to have illusions to begin with…it’s a tough reality check for all of us. Frank’s Velominatus training is obviously, incomplete…

  12. @KitCarson
    Lando-ing is all about illusions. Tricking your body into thinking it can harder and longer. As per Wiggins: we’re all one minute from cracking, so you just have to ride for one more minute.

    @frank
    This seems to run contrary to the illusion I’m trying to create that I’m an aspiring cognoscentus. Fragile only behind the computer screen; on the bike, the BFGs take over.

  13. @Steampunk
    Off the bike:

    On the bike:

  14. Fucking comedy gold. And I thought it was Emma Pooley’s Rainbow Jersey that had put me in a good mood all day. Obviously not

    <prayer>
    please, Adrian, please plead that English isn’t your first language
    </prayer>

    Il Falco, forever flying dangerously close to the 50% hct limit.

    It is basic knowledge to loo both ways before crossing a road, when that road is open. But that road was closed and would remain so until the following police escort re-opened it. Therefore, the only traffic on it should have been those riders still competing and their support and they would only be coming from one direction. So why the need to look both ways? If there was someone coming from the other direction, then they were illegally riding on closed roads.

    Now if I were to, heaven forbid, ride the wrong way on a closed road knowing full-well that I might happen to bump into a few hundred-thousand fans and some of my colleagues, I think I might try to keep my speed down and be ready to give way to those people lawfully allowed to be on that section of road.

    Unless of course, I was a pig-arrogant pro cyclist in desperate need to re-hydrate/water down my blood before a doping test/have a transfusion who had long forgotten that pro cyclists are actually just another part of the human-race and not some immortal demi-god to whom the laws and morals of the road and life do not apply

  15. You should always look both ways, didn’t your Mum teach you that?

    And I’m not taking sides here, but if I had just raced up a hoofing great mountain my reactions and presence of mind might be dulled – it all must have happened pretty quickly for both Frank and Savoldelli to have stuffed up…

  16. @frank
    Umm: does that make me two chickens when I’m on the bike? And not half the climber? I’m sure that was supposed to be flattery for my fragile ego, but I’m not seeing it.

    @Jarvis
    After we’ve already wrecked Salvodelli’s care on this thread, I’m thrilled that it’s okay to loo in both directions, too. My wife is always miffed at me when I miss the bowl.

  17. thankyou for the replys

    english is not my first language.
    wow your tough insulting someone on the internet. how about you attack the topic not me. Your arguement is so weak you have to attack my poor english.

    any way
    Mr Jarvis what did the riders do once they crossed the line after finishing stage 20 in the vuelta espana 2010? they descend back down the hill, when riders where still climbing(grupetto). THey do this in the tdf as well, I suggest you watch it some time and see for your self. they even do this on flat stages

    frank

    do americans always blame someone else even if it it is their fault?
    do you snort cocaine like your hero tom boonen?
    or are you just a arrogrant know it all american?

  18. do americans always blame someone else even if it it is their fault?
    do you snort cocaine like your hero tom boonen?
    or are you just a arrogrant know it all american?

    Hmm…Much anger in him, like his father…strong, the dark side is…

  19. @Adrian
    if English was your first language means that your poor spelling and language use are explained by that and not just because you are stupid.

    However you might want to reconsider the subject of attacking the individual as that seems to be your topic. You also might want to read through the site and do some research into the nationality on those that you are attacking. I’m led to believe that calling Canadians, Americans, is very poor form.

    I am very aware of what professional cyclists do at the end of a stage, I have seen both on the TV and in person, on mountain and flat stages. This practice, although not allowed by race rules, is usually allowed to go unpunished by race officials. I am also aware that some/many (depending upon your viewpoint and knowledge) pro cyclists cheat by doping, something else that is against the rules, so should this also be allowed to go unpunished?

    Snorting cocaine like Boonen is substantially less of an issue in competitive cycling terms than the drugs your bestest friend Paulo was probably doing to get a hematocrit level of 49.99% on the penultimate day of a grand tour in the days when a level of 50% would see you get a two-week suspension.

  20. This is comedy gold! Adrian you are on the wrong side of this one. It was simply an accident. Paulo should have been descending at a prudent speed. Not to mention most everyones eyes were probably on the riders still ascending, and as Paulo approached he should have been extra cautious knowing this.

    It must have been Paulo’s first time descending through the spectators at a TDF. Can you imagine any pro rider not using the utmost caution descending through a crowd. Obviously he was not expecting any drunk Germans, stoned Dutch, or ignorant (and arrogant) Americans to cross HIS path.

    As everyone knows, Americans think they own everything, and always blame someone else for their mistakes. Since Paulo was riding for an American team he must have figured he owned the road and could do no wrong as an honorary American.

    Unfortunately, this one is squarely on the shoulders of the Italian. His temporary employment not withstanding, he should have known that piss drunk spectators (frank) might not know he was coming from an unexpected direction. How you or anyone can possibly think otherwise is very telling.

  21. No disrespect to Frank, but I don’t think this was only Savoldelli’s fault…

  22. @frank
    The Chicken picture above is spooking me: surely we need some kind of rule prohibiting cliché tattoos, although I can’t help thinking he got a major discount if paying by the inch (or centimeter)…

  23. @Steampunk
    Yeah, it is spooky; I did a Google search to find a picture of a “fragile man” and all I got was weird stuff and pictures of naked body builders. I don’t understand that result, but that’s what I got. Under the circumstances, I figured the Chicken was the best option.

  24. @adrian
    I am not a know-it-all American. I am a know-it-all Dutchman, who lives in the United States.

    Since you haven’t been able to actually read it, I’ll spell this bit out for you – a direct quote from the article:

    I yelled my apologies from across the street before making it gingerly across to see if I could somehow help. I felt terrible.

    As if I didn’t feel badly enough already, we found out the next day that Paulo had dropped out of the Tour, citing his head injury as the reason.

    That aside, I sincerely urge you to read some more articles and continue to pepper us with your manic postings. We really do love it. Seriously. I mean, hell, you’re even getting Oli to come out of his shell a little bit!

  25. Perhaps Adrian is actually Paulo Salvoldelli, skulking around here using the alias “Adrian” in order to exact his revenge on Frank all these years later…old wounds heal slowly, apparently!

  26. This was unfortunate accident and I think Salvoldelli is responsible for his actions. He knew the inherent risks of descending in the wrong direction during a race. He decided he could safely descend. He was wrong and he paid the price. I have been to a couple of TDF hilltop finishes. When the grupetto or the leaders of a race are arriving, there are no cycling fans looking uphill period.

  27. And the genesis of the Lexicon term “Adrian” is explained…please tell me he hung around for more quality commenting????

  28. !?! How did I miss this? Great entertaining post, and probably timely with the Giro approaching.

  29. Just came upon this story now. I was a bit perplexed in the author’s write up. He is a spectator, period. The pro cyclist is, well just that, a pro cyclist. The pro did nothing wrong, the spectator is. End of story here.

  30. @Rob

    Just came upon this story now. I was a bit perplexed in the author’s write up. He is a spectator, period. The pro cyclist is, well just that, a pro cyclist. The pro did nothing wrong, the spectator is. End of story here.

    Hey Adrian – you’re back! And I see the English is getting better but still needs a bit of work

    Oh yeah, and you gotta meet Leroy.

  31. @Marcus

    @Rob

    Just came upon this story now. I was a bit perplexed in the author’s write up. He is a spectator, period. The pro cyclist is, well just that, a pro cyclist. The pro did nothing wrong, the spectator is. End of story here.

    Hey Adrian – you’re back! And I see the English is getting better but still needs a bit of work
    Oh yeah, and you gotta meet Leroy.

    I think Leroy’s visiting Cambridge to make sure some Shakespeare quotes he read were used correctly.

  32. @frank
    Now THIS is why I continue to read the various random articles that I find on this site (that and your writing). Absolute comedy gold.

  33. Just to stir shit up, would Paolo have “retired” if he had worn his helmet on the way down the mountain? Might have saved a few stitches.

  34. @wiscot
    Not. Saying. A. Word.

  35. @Marcus

    @Rob

    Just came upon this story now. I was a bit perplexed in the author’s write up. He is a spectator, period. The pro cyclist is, well just that, a pro cyclist. The pro did nothing wrong, the spectator is. End of story here.

    Hey Adrian – you’re back! And I see the English is getting better but still needs a bit of work
    Oh yeah, and you gotta meet Leroy.

    Damn, man, I missed this last July. This shit is killing me! Where have all the gadfly’s gone, anyways???

  36. @Chris

    @wiscotNot. Saying. A. Word.

    Sorry, but that pic DEFINITELY deserves a double post!

  37. @Chris

    @wiscot
    Not. Saying. A. Word.

    Good man Chris. Admirable self-restraint. Still, had to quote rather than just hit reply.

    I do hope she’s going to use some good old-fashioned braces (suspenders) to hold those knickers up. Actually, using words like knickers and suspenders in relation to that pic makes me want to go lie down . . .

  38. @wiscot

    @Chris

    @wiscot
    Not. Saying. A. Word.

    Good man Chris. Admirable self-restraint. Still, had to quote rather than just hit reply.
    I do hope she’s going to use some good old-fashioned braces (suspenders) to hold those knickers up. Actually, using words like knickers and suspenders in relation to that pic makes me want to go lie down . . .

    A brace of Assos Girls, yes I’d have to lie down too.

  39. what I wouldn’t give to be her right hand. I always hoped that if you bought enough Assos kit, they’d send you a special link where she wouldn’t be covering things up as a reward for being a loyal customer. Either I’ve not bought enough Assos kit (unlikely) or such a link doesn’t exist (sob)

  40. @roadslave
    Is there a Velominati clothing model? Besides Frank I mean. Not that he doesn’t do a great job standing out there in his front yard showing the colors etc, but he’s hardly the Assos girl.

  41. I think part of the problem regarding the Paolo incident is that Frank was wearing a baseball cap rather than a cycling cap. The extra long brim obscured his vision. Michelle is more appropriately and correctly attired.

  42. @Chris

    @wiscot
    Not. Saying. A. Word.

    @wiscot that could be part of the problem The other part is that he didn’t look before he crossed the road …

  43. @frank

    On the bike:

    Hang on a sec…
    Is @Steampunk really “The Cleaner” from La Femme Nikita?

  44. On repeated reading I have determined that the only thing that could improve this bizarre and tragic story is if Frank had been wearing one of those Borat mankinis.

  45. Given Fhronk’s dizzying height, that fluro bit of mankini would be stretched completely to the limits, it’d make the dental floss description very, very true.

    Pinging it like pinging a girls’ bra straps would be very satisfying, mostly for the expected high pitched girly yelps.

    And yes I have thought waaaayyyy too much about this.

  46. Thank the lord almighty for historic posts on this site.  The Brostum ligament reconstruction has taken place and 2 weeks in bed and 12 weeks off the bike have commenced.  In the first 2 days I have read just about every bit of cycling news that is current and am now delving in to the history but also randomly digging up old articles too….so to save my sanity and by way of a Bump…this one had me chuckling and ofc the Assos girl is delicious!

  47. I nominate this as an Article Monument.

  48. Bumpity-bump.  Never mind the accident, this is gold, Jerry, gold:

    We brought a few bottles of wine, and made friends with people with whom we could only communicate through gestures and third or fourth party broken translations. The most colorful of these friends were a group of Italians who became drunk, invited us to their house in Tuscany, and declared us all to be lifelong friends. The next morning, as we were dragging ourselves up from a long sleepless night, the leader of their group visited our tent with a suspicious looking glass of something. I somehow managed to ask if it was wine. He gave me a disgusted, insulted look and said, “No. It’s 7am. This is Grappa.”

  49. Don’t feel bad about this, Frahnk.  Unbeknowst to all (yeah right) you were just being an early, more hands on Travis Tygart.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/coni-seeks-ban-for-paolo-savoldelli

  50. @itburns

    I nominate this as an Article Monument.

    Damn.  Just noticed this post and  the poster.  Ghosts in the machine, never forgotten.

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