Velominati Super Prestige: 2011 Le Tour de France

The Badger stomps to the win in 1985. Photo: Presse Photos

While a good number of Velominati get all uppity around May and make rash statements like their preferred Grand Tour is the Giro d’Italia, because it has more and bigger climbs, beautiful white roads and crazy tifosi, there’s no denying that Le Tour de France is the real grandaddy of them all.

Admit it, July trumps May every time.

Maybe it’s because of the greater media attention, or the fact that there’s bound to be a controversy, but I for one look forward to this time of year with a fervour that has myself and others residing in the lower half of the world consuming inhuman amounts of caffeine and staving off sleep deprivation for 21 days on end, without question or cause for concern. It’s all about the bike (race) and nothing else really gets a look in. Job? Ah, we can do that blurry-eyed and with concentration levels that are probably below safe standards if operating heavy machinery. Or even computers. In fact, operating a computer becomes the central task of the day, as we check results, reports, the topography and distance of the next stage, and of course our VSP standings.

Which brings us to the Blue Riband event on the 2011 Velominati Super Prestige; Le Tour de France. Who will be resplendent in the Maillot Jaune after three weeks of high-pressure tipping, rest-day swaps and bonus stage picks? Have we seen the last of Steampunk’s yellow reign of terror? It’s time to peak, to climb well for your weight, and move Sur La Plaque to the top of the VSP. Study the guidelines (with a grain of salt, as whatever we say here overrides the guide, so ask if you’re not sure), respect the Piti Principle, and enjoy the next three weeks of the greatest show on earth. As usual, get your picks in by 5am Pacific time on Saturday morning. If you wait until the last moment and bugger it up, don’t come crying, just wait until the first rest day with all the others who pulled a Delgado.

Brett’s Take:

As a Keeper, my own tips don’t count to any jerseys or prizes, so this Tour I think I’ll tip with my heart rather than my head; it’s let me down enough this season anyway, so any ‘logic’ or ‘knowledge’ is to be discarded and replaced with ’emotion’ and ‘taking a stab in the dark’. In fact, I might even target the KOM this time around, try and get in some long breakaways and pick up points over the smaller cols while none of the big contenders are paying any real attention. Yeah, channel the spirit of JaJa, Reeshard and the Chicken. Better get me some juice.

Taking the heart over head approach, I have to say that this is going to be the year of an upset. It’s there for Cadelephant to take. The cards are all falling for him; Cont Of The Highest Odor will fade in the last week, spent from his Giro and without a reliable supply of prime beef to call upon; Grimplette, while he may have been foxing in Switzerland, just doesn’t have the firepower to match it with Cuddles or COTHO against the clock, and hasn’t got the mental capacity to attack in the mountains. Wiggins, Gesink, Grimpelder… they’ll be fighting for scraps.

It’s a three horse race, this one, but at last count there’s only three steps on a podium.

Marko’s Take:

Recently on these pages we’ve at once lamented the loss of the all-rounder GC contender and derided the formulaic predictability that “well-rounded” riders in the modern peloton employ to win races.  All the names at the top of the Giants of the Road list, however, excelled  at one thing, winning the biggest sporting event in the world.  But it isn’t  climbing prowess, time trialling efficiency, tactical sense, and winning ability alone that endear riders to us.  If it was it would be way easier and really boring to be a cycling fan.  So what is the difference between a guy like say, LeMan and a guy like Armstrong?  Panache.  What we’ve lost isn’t a type of rider but a style of rider.  Rather what we’ve lost is panache.  If, in the modern day, being a douchenozzle or belladonna means panache, so be it.  But if doping scandals and bro-mances make you yawn, keep in mind there is a lot of bike racing going on in le Grand Boucle.

So I ask, where’s the panache as far as GC contenders go?  Cuddles (may have blown his panache wad last year), Le Petit Grimpeur (no panache), Sammy Sanchez (panacheicito), Basso (panached-out), Horner (Mcpanache), JVDB (panache-a-be), CVDV (pa-crash), Veino (panachenozzle), and Ryder (trying to get all the Canadian panache that Don Cherry has been hogging for the last 30 years). For me, other than Cuddles, Veino, and Ryder it’s hard to get really excited about any of the GC contenders. But alas, I will not vote solely with my heart like my Aussie bro in New Zealand. I will do my best to garner points for no other reason than pride as I don’t get shit for winning either.

So then, now that I’ve gotten all pessimistic about the GC, what am I looking forward to? Panache, fucktards. I wanna see Faboo tow Frandy through the TTT for Leotard Schleck (thanks Dr C) and then make some perfect amount of dumb remark afterward. I wanna see Cavenisgrowingonmedish win some sprints. I wanna see Farrar beat the Manx Mouth in some sprints or cry trying. I wanna believe in the Rainbow Jersey again. I wanna see if Tomeke still has what it takes. I wanna see Jens hurt EVERYBODY. I wanna see some Russian or Spanish dude I’ve never heard of have the ride of his life and shed some tears on the podium, and I wanna see Gilbert on a long solo break on his birthday get himself a stage win and maybe even the yellow jersey for a bit.

The reason this race is so cool is there are so many races within the race.  Sure, you betcha, get drawn into to GC drama but don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.  There’s a shit-ton gonna happen in the next three weeks and it’s gonna be good.

Gianni’s Take:

Burned from the all too predicable days of Pharmy, I just don’t care that much about the yellow jersey, Contador or a Schleck – ahhhh, who cares, skinny little bastards. I’m all in for the drama hidden within each day’s race. A stage win in the Tour can make a rider’s career and every stage has unscripted drama:  Stuey O’Grady finishing the stage within the time limit, riding in from 100km out with a broken collar bone. Or Magnus Backstead riding in by himself, dropped in the small mountains, finishing beyond the time limit, his number peeled off his jersey and he is ruined. These things happen every day in the Tour.

I like a good spoiler, like Eros Poli on Mount Ventoux, or the spoiler small break that stays away when the last 40km is a high speed tailwind run, ruining a day for the sprinters. I like Rik Verbruggen, flat back, so aero on his bike, hauling ass, a crazy solo bid for glory. I want to see more of that. I would be thrilled to see one of the Garmin roulers win a stage, and I’ll be thrilled if HTC doesn’t win the TTT.

I can schleckulate about a few things: unless Contador and Cavendish get their front wheels tangled up together resulting in a horrendous career threatening crash, both Andy Schleck and Tyler Farrar are doomed. I’m sorry, Andy can’t go fast unless it’s a steep hill (up) and no one is as good a sprinter as Cav, by a lot. Then again, if my schleckulations were worth anything, I wouldn’t be down in the boggy hole that is the low end of the VSP results.

Frank’s Take:

Every year, it happens. Every single year. It has a bitter taste, Disappointment. It sits on the front of your tongue like a small black weight that is surprisingly heavy for its size. Even though you’re not swallowing it, the taste spreads throughout, slowly – into your jaws first, then the rest of your being.

With one exception, I have never had my chips down for a rider who ended up winning – not since 1990, when I was all-in for Greg LeMond. 1991-1995 was Indurain: I favored first Bugno, then Rominger. 1996: Virenque. 1997: Virenque. 1998: Pantani; it was a long shot, but the awesome little dude pulled it off for once in my life. 1999: Zulle. 2000-2004: Ullrich. 2005-2006: Basso. 2007: The Chicken. 2008: Frank Schleck. 2009-2010: The Grimplette. But I continue to favor the dark horse because I know that when I am redeemed, it will be glorious beyond articulation.

This will be that year. Not because I will change my tactic, but because this is the one for les Fréres Grimpeur. It’s a hilly enough race with enough uphill finishes – we all know the skinny boys have a challenge when the road points down. (You’d really think that with all that practicing they do going uphill that they’d occasionally get a chance to practice going down one as well, but those boys descend like first-year amateurs.) Bertie blew the guns at a very difficult Giro and all the Spanish Beef in the world can’t help you recoup from that kind of effort in time for a similarly difficult Tour. Cuddles is a pipe dream borne from the understandably optimistic thoughts from our antipodal brothers and sisters in Oz and Newz. Wiggo, Vande Velde, Gesink, and Van den Broek will all learn how hard it is to pull out a good Tour ride for a second (or first) time when the pressure is truly on.

I’ve also vowed not to get caught up in my propensity to dwell on the fact that Contador should not be in the race. The fact that a rider who failed a dope test in last year’s Tour has been allowed to start is a reflection of the ineffectiveness of Cycling’s governing bodies, not on Bertie. True, I hate him and would be happy to see him not start, but if I were in his shoes, I admit that would start if I was allowed to. And, lets face it: Andy’s win will mean more when it comes with the defeat of Alberto than with a nonstart.

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1,407 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: 2011 Le Tour de France”

  1. @earnest

    Double Ha! Dave Harmon to Andy Schleck: “STOP looking over your shoulder! It’s the forward motion that counts, Sir!”

    Yeah I caught that. Quite a contrast from listening to the Eurosport commentary at work and then hearing Paul and Phil for the VS replay at night. They’re far more candid and sarcastic.

  2. Man. Grimp Sr needs to dabble in some fratricide. Nothing to suggest da Whinge (jr) has anything better in his legs and surely only C-odor can challenge the two of them over the next 2 days?? How about Frank, C-Odor and Cuddles for the 1-2-3?

    Speaking of Frank, he’s infinitely more stoic than his bro. He commented to Sky yesterday that he thought Bertie’s attack was a clever one and recognised his weakness descending.

    EBH has got some engine.

  3. @ frank

    Any news on the Hoogerland V-pint? And is the plan to have it presented on the Champs Elysee by Merckx himself?

  4. Good work by Eddy BH this morning, little Tommy V’s over enthusiasm nearly ended up with him having a quick expresso in some locals back yard!

  5. @Jonny

    @ frank
    Any news on the Hoogerland V-pint? And is the plan to have it presented on the Champs Elysee by Merckx himself?

    Yes, stand by for an announcement (here) on Sunday.

  6. Interview with Voeckler after today’s stage:

    Reporter: “Yesterday you said you learned your limits; what did you learn today?”
    Voeckler: “My limits in descending.”

    Give the guy credit. He tried to attack on the final descent in the yellow jersey. He could have finished with the contenders again, but thought he’d have a go. All for nought, but he and Contador are about the only guys going for it at the moment.

  7. @frank


    @ frank
    Any news on the Hoogerland V-pint? And is the plan to have it presented on the Champs Elysee by Merckx himself?

    Yes, stand by for an announcement (here) on Sunday.

    I’d make a donation to a source that can contribute money to providing Hoogerland with a set.

  8. Not sure what all the media flap about Spanish collusion is about. After Contador and Sanchez attacked, it looked an awful lot like Schlecks, Evans, etc. working together to catch back on. But I guess that’s different…

  9. The Voekler stays in yellow, just. Amazing racing. The Schlecks hold 2,3 on the overall, with Cuddles and Cunego in fourth and fifth. Tomorrow will be epic.

    [vsp_results id=”8758″]

  10. @sgt

    The Inner Ring has an interesting post about a possible Movistar tactic to get Rojas into verde; it’s a fine line to walk, but given the tempest in a teapot about Cav taking pulls uphill, it could make the Alps a bit more interesting…


  11. Good on Schleck the younger for finally pulling his finger out and winning atop the Galibier, even with his slightly embarrasing salute – needs more practice clearly!
    Evans was totally awesome – Tommy V owes his hanging onto yellow all to Evans who dragged his ass up the hill – admittedly he had nothing to gain by doing so , but he could have been a bit more sporting about it and at least taken a pull!

  12. It’s honestly a privledge to be watching the performances on display yesterday and today… whatever happens, nothing’s being left out on the road and heads should be held high all around. I’ve always like Andy so his move yesterday was absolutely epic in my book but, starting this tour as anything but an Alberto fan, the grace with which he handled coming apart yesterday and the boldness of his move today have earned my respect. Really an historic tour…

  13. @frank

    Didn’t I get points on the last mountain stage? I think I may be missing some points.

  14. In one of the most amazing Tours I can think of, we have Netraam taking over the lead in the VSP.

    [vsp_results id=”8758″]

  15. damn what a stage, it was truly awesome, chapeau to Tommy V for giving it his all, but the drama at the front end was amazing to see – its gonna be down to the wire in Grenoble – can Cuddles pull out all the stops for a victory!

  16. Apparently I’m safely mid pack but I’ll be honest I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the points…c’mon Cadelephant, show those Swivelburgers how to ride a TT & give us an Antipodean champ!!!

    I’ve a sneaking suspicion most Aussies will be giving this morning’s ride a little extra Rule #V in the hope that he gets across the line!

  17. God I can’t wait to get caught up… it’s killing me to read all these comments about the last two stages and not have been able to see them yet.

    Awesome, awesome tour though, excluding those awful crashes the first week. I’m glad I purchased the NBC TdF All Access and have been watching the whole thing this year.

  18. …and just like that my dreams of riding the Voeckler fairy tale to VSP gold is done. Hopefully Cadel can overtake Frank and at least get me a few points.

    No regrets though, and who knows, with a little smarter riding from Tommy over the last few days he might have had a shot in tomorrows TT. He’s still my favorite rider in this years tour.

    Tomorrow should be a great finish to a incredible week of racing.

  19. @LA Dave

    …and just like that my dreams of riding the Voeckler fairy tale to VSP gold is done. Hopefully Cadel can overtake Frank and at least get me a few points.
    No regrets though, and who knows, with a little smarter riding from Tommy over the last few days he might have had a shot in tomorrows TT. He’s still my favorite rider in this years tour.
    Tomorrow should be a great finish to a incredible week of racing.

    @LA Dave
    Wow – I lost all control of my grammar on that post. “Dreams is done”? “a incredible week of racing”?

    Time to stop relying so heavily on spell check…

  20. Sounds like I missed the end of an awesome stage. Can’t wait for the TT tomorrow.

  21. @Sqt takes the lead in the VSP. Surely this will be the final result. Congrats!
    [vsp_results id=”8758″]

  22. Earnest’s post-race interview from

    “I’m glad to have taken a minor place on my rookie VSP. SO many thanks have to go to my teammates for all their efforts this VSPTdF. They’ve worked so hard all tour, and I wouldn’t have been here without them. I’ve learned some things this year, so I hope to come back stronger next year as we shoot for the podium. Thanks to my mechanics and soigneurs, as well. It’s been a dream team. They’ve made this a truly wonderful rookie experience. Thanks.”

  23. @heath
    Fucking. Awesome.

    I must say, Bertie earned a little redemption in my mind. Still wish he wasn’t riding, but he comported himself like a sportsman and a champion, and showed plenty of grinta.

  24. @sgt

    @heathFucking. Awesome.
    I must say, Bertie earned a little redemption in my mind. Still wish he wasn’t riding, but he comported himself like a sportsman and a champion, and showed plenty of grinta.


    I wish the costumed no talent ass clowns who very nearly crash out riders would hurl themselves off of whatever col is on the menu for the day.

    Except Didi. As far as I can tell, he’s good natured and not dangerous to the peloton. He’s grown on me. Oh, and he rides a LOOK 595.

  25. @heath

    That is thebest thing Bert has done that makes me like him.
    Jeez I’m as bad as everyone else. Hate on a winner when they’re on top, like em on the downside because they’re more human. Please disregard every comment I’ll make about pro cyclists in the future from now on, my opinion isn’t worth toilet water.

  26. Man, I just got back from getting my ass handed to me after yesterday’s gold. I was a marked man and got schooled by the Cat 3 but I came home to see that Cuddles is in yellow. I am so freakin’ happy to see him finally win the Tour (if nothing goes wrong tomorrow). Lot’s of opinions about riders have changed for me. I have grown tired of the Schleckenheimers. After watching Chasing Legends I think Cavendish is a good bloke and I’m not too fond of anything that has to do with Garmin/Chipotle/Slipped disc/Whatever. I still don’t care much for Contabore.

    Update on the 75 year old Guns of Navarone – Robert Paganini:

    Me and the Mrs. had lunch with Monsieur Paganini and his lovely wife. I quizzed him heavily about his racing career. He started racing in 1952. He never turned pro but raced Cat 1 until his 50’s. He has raced with Jacques Anquetil. He says that when he goes to the Sr. World Games he always has to race against former Tour stage winners. Because of riding like a moron my race was about half a kilometer up the road with less than a kilometer left so I sat in with next group that included Paganini and when the sprint started I just sat back and watched Bob get on the wheel of the guy that jumped the hardest (who looked to be in his mid 50’s) and start to go around him but he couldn’t pull it off. Too bad but it was a sweet try for a guy 75 years old. He also said that when he was a teenager racing in Paris that there would be 50-60 races in the area on Saturdays with 300 people in your class. Nuts.

  27. A huge congratulations to Cadel and team, and also to @sgt for taking the VSP win on one of the greatest Tours ever. Cheers.

    @sgt gets to wear the Maillot Jaune badge until next year’s Tour. Congrats.

    [vsp_results id=”8758″]

  28. Incredible TT by Evans yesterday, equally epic to the attack from Andy & Alberto in the mountains! Legendary peformance… super gracious acceptance speech as well. True Champion.

  29. @Marko
    Well, I’ll be revelling in Cadel’s glory for the next week or so but….don’t know? Another month or so to the Vuelta. Tour de Pologne?

  30. OK… just recovering from my virtual hangover after sipping virtual champagne on the virtual Champs Elysees yesterday, and came across this little observation: Like the Tour itself, results for the 2011 VSP were well below the results in 2010… I guess the Biological VSP-assport is working, eh Frank?

    Still very close overall, the stripes are far from permanent at this point. What’s the next event? In honor of slash, I’d suggest the women’s TdF; unfortunately it’s cancelled for 2011.

    Classica San Sebastian?

    2011 VSP TdF Top Ten
    1. sgt (30 points)
    2. D-Man (28 points)
    3. il ciclista medio (28 points)
    4. velomihottie (27 points)
    5. earnest (27 points)
    6. seemunkee (27 points)
    7. needmoreV (26 points)
    8. Bianchi Denti (26 points)
    9. benjamin (24 points)
    10. Jamin (19 points)

    2010 VSP TdF Top Ten
    1. Steampunk 36 points
    2. Andy 31 points
    3. Geof 31 points
    4. Marcus 30 points
    5. Scott 26 points
    6. Roadslave 25 points
    7. John 25 points
    8. Hawkeye 25 points
    9. Joe 24 points
    10. Rob 22 points

  31. If anyone is still relaxing in bed, enjoying your post tour cigarette, you may be interested in this site.

    Pretty interesting stuff comparing the climbs, speeds, power outputs, etc. of this tour in relation to past tours. Looks like strong evidence to suggest a clean tour.

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