Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's Your Holy Crap What Just Happened at the Tour de France !#$-show in Review! #TDF2016

Okay, cycling fans--you've seen the footage, you've heard the screams, but a whoooole lot was going on in that stage even *plus* that, so where do we start with a review of the bloody carnage? Here!

The Break: Yes, it all started as a perfectly ordinary day at the Tour de France, with the climb up the legendary Mont Ventoux axed by 6 kilometers after both Quintana brothers were blown off the top of the mountain by 150 kilometer winds and into the valley below on the prior day's recon, a pile of French guys desperately trying to prove their country's cycling relevance on Bastille Day, and giant German monolith sprinter Andre Greipel--approximately both the size and weight of the legendary Louvre museum and all its contents--poised to take one of the most epic climbs in all cycling over a pack of flyweight Munchkin mountain goats. So aside from the usual contingent of early crashes, such as Simon Gerrans breaking his collarbone and *still* finishing the uphill stage, something akin to to having Muhammad Ali at his peak punch your face in 50 consecutive times without a moment's break, everything's going along normally and swimmingly, until:

The Great Pee Controversy of 2016: trust me, on any other day, this'd send hard-core cycling fan into a scorched-earth nuclear-option Twitter war of rage and emoji-stoked weeping: so like three Sky boys--essential domestiques to race leader Chris Froome--go down in a pile, potentially screwing Froome out of much-needed backup which could endanger his overall race lead. Totally coicidentally, at that *exact* moment, Froome's bladder *completely* blows apart, and he pulls the "courtesy-slowdown-for-the-maillot-jaune's-call-o'-nature" card, immediately causing the peloton's Chief Etiquette Enforcer (oh right, and noted bike rider) Fabian Cancellara to slow down the group to wait for him, sending trigger-temper Alejandro Valverde--who knows something about being a !@#damn weasel, thank you, and clearly calls bull!@#$--into an impotent rage and allowing Froome to get his domestiques disentangled and back in line to help him, thus averting an utterly fair and justified loss of time. What the hell Froome you punk, you're riding just fine without this sneaky crap! Which gets us to:

The Climb of Mont Ventoux: where, as a pack of enormous Easter-Island-figure-sized Belgian Classics riders naturally are the first to ascend the feared mountain over the wee climbers gasping behind, the joyful crowd, hugely intoxicated by adrenaline, an Oktoberfest's worth of beer and god knows what else, and the peculiar pleasures of acting like total !@#holes half-dressed in man-thongs, fright wigs, and prurient Furry costumes for the TV cameras, runs, as always, dangerously on top of the riders while also helpfully setting off smoke flares two inches from the nostrils of both boys in the peloton who actually *need* asthma inhalers for medical reasons. Meantime, as Chris Froome, his superdomestique--uh, Tejay Van Garderen's teammate--Richie Porte, and nice guy Bauke Mollema attack and successfully drop the already-embattled GC contender Nairo Quintana--the "unprecedented security" at this year's Tour, apparently consisting of an impressive two gendarmes, is outnumbered by a ratio of 20,000 idiots: to 1 as the race motos try to ram their way through the throng, at which point one unusually stupid fan gets waaaay too in the way, causing the race moto ahead to stop dead on a dime, Richie Porte to smash his jaw right on the moto camera, and Froome and Mollema to go down like dominoes right on top of him, with Froome's bike especially folding like a hot crepe, leading to:

The Olympic Track and Field Competition: Froome, with no replacement bike or team car in sight, completely going off his head in panic and sprinting up Mont Ventoux in his bike cleats but sans bike, while frantically grunting to his bosses into his race mic and being shruggingly waved off by passing neutral Mavic wheel-carrying motos, until:

The Merry-Go-Round: in which Froome finally gets a neutral replacement bike that fits like crap, won't let him clip in his shoes properly, and might as well have been some roadside fan two-year-olds freakin' Big Wheel for all its usefulness, which the exasperated race leader promptly abandons by the roadside, standing around losing time until the Sky team car finally shows up with a new bike, at which point:

The Comeback: Nairo Quintana, previously climbing like, well, a giant Belgian Classics specialist except for a coupla brief and fruitless attacks, cheerfully passes Froome along with every other GC contender who's previously been dropped, crossing the line after:

Someone Just Won This Race: poor old Thomas De Gendt, taking one of the most celebrated climbs in all cycling which would normally be the absolute highlight and triumph of any rider's career, crosses the finish line in victory to virtually no notice by the fans, TV commentators, or race organizers at all, after which coverage immediately cuts away to:

The Important Stuff: namely, TV clips from 20,000 different angles showing how utterly !@#$ed the race is, breathless interviews with dazed GC contenders, the race commentator's swooning shouting dissection of what just happened, and the race organizers' desperate rocket-fast attempts to figure out what's the fairest way to calculate the GC when it's just been totally upended by some flag-waving fan !@#$head, which includes, somewhere, De Gendt getting a nice jersey presentation, ASO provisionally awarding the leader's jersey to Queen Elizabeth in the confusion, and Chris Froome getting totally crappily and unfairly hissed by the crowd when he's done tweeting that he's just been handed the maillot jaune and finally deigns to go up to the stage and put it on despite Nairo Quintana crossing the line some 36 years ahead of him, while fellow crash-caught riders, like Bauke Mollema who for chrissakes hit the deck at the *exact same time and place* for the *exact same freakin' reason*, immediately take to Twitter to denounce how *they've* just been massively screwed on time while Chris Froome gets gifted a now-virtually-unassailable race lead ahead of tomorrow's key, and inevitably Quintana-crushing, time trial, and former race leader/inexplicable new GC rider Tom Dumoulin cheekily asking if they can get their 21 minutes they schlepped home in removed from *their* time. Yep, just another day at the office--damn, maybe poor Contador was better off inadvertently getting the hell outta Dodge and avoiding this nightmare, who *knows* what would've happened to him out there!

Well, that's just another day at the office at the ol' Tour de France--enjoy the recap footage, and if today's stage is any indication, anything goes for tomorrow!

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