Vive Le Tour: The Contendadors

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Scott about (what else) the Tour de France. He missed the morning ride, and more importantly, the post-ride coffee where we analyze the previous day’s stage over vodka-valium lattes. So in a flurry of emails we reviewed the current state of affairs and placed our bets for the top three finishers. Loser makes dinner AND supplies the wine. This could get ugly.

Anyone who says the Tour is boring this year needs to have their helmet examined. What had the potential to be a slam dunk (or whatever the cycling equivalent is) by Berto or Andy has turned into a free-for-all with so many contendadors it’s almost impossible to call. Throw in some crashes, sprints and trash talking, and you have one hell of a bike race. We are a mere four days out of Paris and it could very well be tight enough to make the generally ceremonial last stage into a balls-to-the-wall sprint down the Champs Elysées. That would be awesome.

Speaking of awesome, Thor SMASH is all that and a bowl of herring. With two stage wins so far, the big man from Norway is almost as awesome as my boyfriend. Bigger too. (At this early juncture in our relationship I’m not adverse to playing the field). He’s certainly not going to win, but he has made for some very exciting moments – especially for the Norwegians who don’t typically dominate this race.

Cavendishy is proving his superiority to mere mortals over and over again. Unlike poor Andy Schleck, who only seems to like it when the road tilts upward, I wish there were more flat stages so I could continue to watch Cav pound everyone into the ground on those incredible sprints. I don’t care who you are, that is some good watching. Way more macho than cage fighting – which in reality is two sweaty hillbillies in hot pants groping each other until one loses consciousness.


But I digress. Lets talk condendors.

Thomas Voeckler is still in yellow and over a minute up on Evans. He seemed to suffer yesterday, and went off the road on that crazy descent today, but surprisingly didn’t lose that much time. They are stubborn, those Frenchies. He would be SO HAPPY (and surprised) to win, and all of France would be drunk until July 2012. There is nothing more fun than drunk French people. He’s said he has a zero percent chance of winning the Tour, but he’s certainly not riding like he truly believes that. Zero is bad. I think if he keeps up with the contendadors and stays out of parking lots, his chances are much better than that.

Cadel Evans is odd-looking and kind of gives me the creeps, but he was kicked in the head as a child so I kind of feel sorry for him. He is riding very, very well and certainly has a better than good shot, but I think he may be burning too many matches to go all the way. Imagine the tantrum of epic proportions he will throw if he loses it! I’ve heard even his fellow Aussies are a bit embarrassed by his fits.The Schlecks are very close behind, well at least Frank is. He looks pretty strong, but Andy is flailing. And whining – a lot. I am a little surprised at all the bad press these darlings of last year are getting. Maybe the Schlecks need to eat something and stop whining. Maybe Frank should eat Andy.

The Dirty Rotten Spaniard found his mojo again yesterday, no thanks to his fair weather team who all but deserted him until today. Maybe because he is Dirty and Rotten. I will grudgingly admit Contador has the strength and talent to win this thing again, and the fact he’s come back from a gazillion crashes is indeed impressive. And a little frightening. He is as tenacious as a cockroach at armageddon.

Scott tells me the great Eddie Merckx said that “Contador can be the next Merckx of the 21st Century”. Comparing Merckx and Berto makes me throw up a little in my mouth, but we do need a new champion in this sport, even if he is a dirty rotten little Spaniard whose teeth are WAY too big for his head.

Speaking of Spaniards, both of my TdF pool teams include Samuel Sanchez, who I picked mostly because I like saying his name. So I really want him to win. He’s a bit of a dark horse, and has (I think) as good a chance as any at the final win. If he does, my gloating will be unbearable. Something like this:

Barring any crashes, dropped chains, crashes, spectator or media car interference, crashes, or crashes, my picks are:
1) Voeckler
2) Frank Schleck
3) (ug) Contador

Scott’s picks:
1) Contador
2) Evans
3) Frank Schleck

See you in Paris! I hear they have nice wine there.

p.s. Thanks to all of the various international news agencies for the use of all of these lovely photos I wish I had taken myself.