On the Eve of the '07 Tour

Jul 6 2007

The Tour de France starts tomorrow – who’s sick of reading story/interviews with middling GC contenders? Can you imagine these guys sitting down at a press conference, or a hotel lobby, or wherever the heck interviews take place, and pretending to care while journos fire off questions like “how do you feel?”, “how do you think you’ll do?”. Even if useful, non-stock answers to these questions do exist (e.g. “I have a bad case of gastroenteritis”, “I plan to drop out in the first week”), riders wouldn’t give them.

I am insane to think someone ought to try asking something interesting for once, like “If you could remove one stage from this year’s race, what would it be?” or “after the Voight/Pereiro escape last year, do you think teams will be more vigilant against the breaks?” Of course, maybe I should be glad more people aren’t going all Sam Abt and calling Petacchi’s salbutamol overdose “failing a drug test” (prior to any sanction, I might add) while going into significant depth over Pereiro’s issues with the same substance.

But hey, at least you can always count on journalists to bring a little cheek to the sometimes painfully serious world of the bicycle infomercial (though that hollow cassette is pretty cool…). See the word choice in the second line of this feature; “injected”? Two days after CONI recommends a drug suspension? That’s no accident, folks. Speaking of injections, all 189 TdF riders have apparently signed the “I promising I’m not doping” pledge. Should I cynically note that this happened after all the riders had passed medical checks? Or after word came out that DNA tests would not precede the start of the event? Oops, looks like I just did.

At any rate, barring a terrorist attack, the prologue goes down tomorrow in London, with two “local” riders as favorites (Wiggins was born in Belgium, and Millar is a Scot). Englishman and former prologue ace Chris Boardman lays out his odds here, but not placing bets, or even attending the event is 7-time winner Lance Armstrong. Armstrong, for his part, says it’s due simply to other obligations, and that he still “loves what the Tour represents” – outside of, apparently, it’s oligarchical French organizers. Don’t fret though, as Pez proudly welcomes Lance’s coach Chris Carmichael to tell us all how proper prologue preparation should go. Funny thing is, he doesn’t mention any injections.

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