FRENCH "QUITE GOOD AT CYCLING" SHOCK
"Oh, here Jean-Christophe goes again about tape cassettes and the Fresh Prince..."
Let’s face it: the Tour belongs to Vincenzo Nibali. He’s been the best rider and, besides, he has time to stop for a col-top ice cream, bitterly argue with the stall proprietor about the merits of Italian gelato and its structurally-superior cone lattice over the soggy French specimen, and still showboat to an easy win.
But reading L’Equipe, you wouldn’t think he was leading, given the relentless tubthumping for high-flying homeboys Thibaut Pinot, Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet (third, fourth and fifth overall respectively, four days before Paris). And Bryan Coquard’s been getting a piece of the action, too, currently leading the ‘Points Classification For People Who Aren’t Peter Sagan'.
Then there’s galloping Tony Gallopin (we love a good aptronym at Rouleur). Oh, there has been much to celebrate, mainly variations on the fact that France are pretty decent at cycling again. Blel Kadri must be well cheesed off: in any other Tour, his stage win would make him the toast of the nation.
Hooray, the future is bright. Never mind the fact that Péraud is 37 years old and causes Bardet’s eyes to glaze over whenever he starts talking about floppy disks and Les Spice Girls in the team bus. Or that several favourites crashed out before the mountains. Or that Pinot is a shredded nerve away from becoming a hard-braking nervous wreck on the descents, and Bardet got dropped on the first day in the Pyrenees…
We are urging caution. If history has taught us one thing, it’s to not underestimate a French rider’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – or in this case, a podium placing. They are the maillots jaunes at that.
France got all excited in 2011, and then Sir Thomas Gurn-a-lot threw it away on the Galibier. Pascal Simon, Jean-François Bernard, Stéphane Heulot, Rémy Di Gregorio: you can hardly walk through the Tour de France village without meeting a former French star, hyped to the heavens in his day, who will, unsolicited, grab your wrist, show you his scrapbook of faded newspaper interviews and beg an interview about that time he was fourth over the Col de la Madeleine in exchange for a free breakfast. Poor, poor Benoît Salmon.
So, France, don’t count the poulets before they’ve hatched. Too much pressure could break those fragile chicks. It’s still an awful long way to Paris.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
4 – Number of different riders Norway has had at the last five Tours (Hushovd, Boasson Hagen, Nordhaug, Kristoff).
7 – Number of stage wins by Norwegian riders in the last five Tours.
3,080 – Number of Euros won by the Lampre-Merida team after ten stages.
15,600 – Number of Euros won by Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) after ten stages.
In the process of losing the yellow jersey, Thomas Voeckler throws his bidon out of the pram at the 2011 Tour.
An article about French cycling success is about as much excuse as we need for this.
From mad managers to crazy commentators: this Norwegian one loses it as Alexander Kristoff wins stage 12.