By Stevil Kinevil | Photos: ASO/B. Bade
Editor’s note: In case you haven’t been following along, we asked Paved columnist Stevil Kinevil to provide us with expert commentary on this year’s Tour de France—without actually watching any of it. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like the best plan, but consider this: On Tuesday, July 16, Stevil told us he was going to be unable to complete his Tour coverage because he had plans to be out of town and away from his computer starting Tuesday, July 23. When we informed him that the race would be over on Sunday the 21st, he was relieved and slightly sad. “You mean to tell me that all 82 stages of the Tour are already done?” And with that we knew we’d chosen the right person for the job—that this is the kind of honest Tour de France reporting you can count on.
Stage 13 — I didn't have much hope for this stage, but after picking up bits and pieces off the wire, I came to find out that it was a real nail-biter. I should also note that in terms of time bonuses, who's where in the GC, which team is doing what and so fourth, I'm wandering lost in a fog of confusion. It always happens around this point in Le Tour anyway, so don't cry for me, Argentina. I'll figure it out eventually.
Three noteworthy points: Racer leader Chris Froome lost a fair portion of his lead when Alberto Contador and his Saxo Bankers operated like a well-oiled and supremely pissed-off machine, Mark Cavendish flicked poor Peter Sagan like a booger with a final sprint that left all who witnessed it muttering expletives under their breath, and as soon as Cav removed his helmet—I mean, the very second it came off—he donned a cycling cap. Say what you will about him, but at least he acknowledges tradition. Baseball caps on the podium? Psshhh.
Stage 14 — The only two things I read about this stage before investigating further were "well, that sucked", and "worst TDF stage ever." So, at that point, I only dug far enough to find that Omega Pharma's Matteo Trentin won. Then I momentarily felt bad for anyone who won a stage that was declared on Facebook to be terrible. I've had a stomachache for about 24 hours, and I'm pretty sure I'm dying of stomach cancer, so I lied down on the floor to watch a 48 Hours Mystery and wait for eternal sleep.
Stage 15 — Apparently, it's going to take longer to die than just an hour of Keith Morrison's slightly off-putting narratives, so I'm back at my post. Just looking at the profile of today's stage makes me want to curl up in a little ball. Two hundred and forty-two (and a half) kilometers with a mountain-top finish at Mont Ventoux. Give me that last half mile, and I would tear it a new bad-hole.
I read more complaints that this Tour is boring. I also read that in the 46 years since Tommy Simpson was the first Briton to wear the yellow jersey, and ultimately die, Chris Froome not only held onto the yellow, but won today's stage. Of course, it wasn't for lack of trying that Quintana didn't nip this one in the britches, but he just couldn't match Froome's power. Finally, I read an array of criticisms regarding the victor's abilities this year such as, "is he too good to be true?"
It's a sad commentary on not only the sport but the culture when an individual fights their way through the ranks and proves themselves to be a brilliant bike racer, and the immediate assumption is that they must be juiced. Then again, we did it to ourselves.
Most importantly however, I learned that 'snozberries' were not in fact some whimsical fruit conjured up by Roald Dahl, but rather his euphemism for testicles. That kinda puts a totally different spin on that scene in Super Troopers.
Stage 16 — Cries of Froome being juiced are getting louder. Geert Leinders' connection to Sky and Gas6 floating along at the top of them. What does any of this mean? Probably something but probably nothing but possibly something.
As this stage starts, Quintana still holds onto the white jersey, Nieve Iturralde, the polka-dot, Sagan the green, Froome the yellow, and little-known powerhouse Bohuslav Andriychuk of the Ukraine still retains a firm grasp on the checkered jersey. [Rider most proficient at spontaneously singing any song from Cheap Trick's catalog]
At 7:30 in the morning I received the following text from Paved magazine editor Joe Parkin: "There's a dude wearing fluorescent green socks in the Tour. They're pretty sweet. They're not fluorescent yellow, mind you, but green."
Besides noting that Portugal's Rui Costa (Movie Star) won today's stage and wore a ball cap on the podium (STOP IT), I decided that was a sufficient enough report for the day.
Stage 17 — Upon waking up on Wednesday morning, I had an Alanis Morissette song in my head. It was the one about irony—the lyrics of which don't actually give any literal examples of irony, which I'm pretty sure is ironic. So the point of that being that song sucks, and waking up with it being the first thing in your brain is worse.
Today's stage is the individual time trial V.2. Instead of writing about my interpretation of what the internet had to offer, I thought I'd just jot down what the people of Twitter had to say:
"The descent is still slick with tears from Schleck’s pre-ride."
"Van Garderen in with fastest time; and likely winner – heavy rain now at the line – no way will late-starters take risks on these descents."
"Prediction: Contador eats it pushing it too hard in the rain."
"Apparently collegiate racers have been ahead of the curve with this road bike + aero bars + TT helmet setup."
"Andy looks awful on a TT bike. Knees out and everything!"
"Eurosport showing Contador warming up with huge headphones that look to be made of skin grafts."
See what I'm dealing with? It's no wonder these reports are so jacked. The upshot, as near as I can tell, is that it began raining part way through the day's events, which we all know from Jan Ulrich's performance in the 19th stage of the 2003 Tour, can very easily lead to one's undoing. In the actual race, that is. In life, part of Jan's undoing was cocaine and donuts.
Two points to note are that Contador put in a flawless performance, yet Froome dug deep and put in a slightly more flawlesser performance, snatching the stage from the Spaniard. It's been said that exclamations of "PINCHE CABRON" could be heard from inside the Saxo Bank bus.
Stage 18 — Alpe d'Huez: The stage when hundreds of thousands of people bum rush the mountains, get rowdy, poo everywhere, wear crappy costumes, choke the roads resulting in interference with the cyclists, die on the way back down the hill and sometimes get punched in the face by Alberto Contador. Seriously, can you imagine living in one of those picturesque little burghs and then having it overrun by drunken speed-cycle racing fans? I figure I'd be doing a quite a bit of water ballooning if I lived there, but then again, I've never been one who cares too much for crushes of humanity.
Relating to this only a little bit, I will include an email from a fellow named Kevin who I've known since the fourth grade: "I'm pretty sure Elmer Fudd is going to win. I hope next year they make everyone wear a ball-gag."
What I do love, however, is super-human feats of strength. Whether it was Christophe Riblon's heroic mountain top victory, as he snatched it from the very capable hands of Tejay Van Garderen—whose team mechanics apparently neglected to turn the 'suck knob' down on his bike, resulting in a mechanical—or those of John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Adam Hansen (lotto-Belisol) clawing their way up the climb with beers in hand, I am one who high-fives the hell out of their efforts. Naturally, the unsung hero was none other than 'Smiling' Jens Voigt, for not only a stellar performance in today's stage, but because he actually won The Tour five days ago, and then returned to keep the peloton company.
Stage 19 — This stage of the 2013 Tour Day France will be a spectacular one to see. Unfortunately I will not. I'm comfortable with the speculation that Team Vacansoleil-DCM will make an unprecedented move and actually put Danny Van Poppel back into the race. That same jagoff who got run over by the motorcycle a few years ago in one of the mountain stages will come back for round two and actually loose a finger in the process, and someone will probably win the race. If I were a betting man, I'd say it will be Christophe Riblon. I'm not (except when it come to ro sham bo, and pitching pennies) but I'll say that Christophe's gonna take the stage anyway.
Stage 20 — As the sun sets on the this, the 100th running of The Tour, today could very well decide the victor, and unless Froome makes a costly mistake, it will be a downhill coast for him, taking him straight into the pages of the history books. That said, I have a pretty good feeling that dark-horse and checkered jersey winner Bohuslav Andriychuk will have a surprisingly strong day and take a considerable bite out of Froome's lead—all the while belting out a brilliant rendition of 'Dream Police'.
Stage 21 — Since this stage actually happens even further into the future, and my crystal ball is now all covered in cheese powder, I'll wing it by predicting that a bunch of skinny dudes will ride around at a pretty quick pace, one or two will actually try to score some time, but in the end it won’t matter because Chris Froome will have taken the title and will be all "oui oui, bro" as he sips champagne from a flute and wears a monocle in this right eye.
So there we have it. Wasn't that fun? Oh, what's that? You wanna know what happens next year? I can tell you that too. Andrei Tchmil comes out of retirement, and besides waging war on the entire peloton, and making them all cry, he shaves off Bradley Wiggins' eyebrows.
Where the hell was that guy this year, anyway?
Is the answer on the internet? I suppose I'll find out eventually.