Tour de France – Ep I Part II

by kpmautner

About five minutes after I signed off on yesterday’s post (first day of the 100th running of the Tour de France) the output hit the oscillator. First off, at the finish line in the tiny Corsican village of Bastia, one of the team RVs got stuck under the finish flag. Doesn’t sound too bad except that the finish flag is a broad span of metal with all sorts of electronic timers and cameras and weighs tons … and it was supposed to be positioned high enough that the motor coaches could pass under it. Wrong. The bus stuck fast.

This was embarrassing and bad enough, but the peloton was 5 kilometers (maybe 10 minutes) away from the finish! The broadcast showed split-screen – bus stuck under flag (and I mean STUCK), with peloton thundering down on it. Like a good old-fashioned western with the cavalry on the way. And there was supposed to be a sprint finish. For lots of points and the maillot jaune to boot. Rather exciting for us spectators. Flash to peloton getting closer, closer, closer … flash to bus, stuck, stuck, stuck …

Meanwhile back at the ranch, a faulty move by one of the star sprinters (trying to get closer to the front for the final 500 meters) takes out a chunk of the pack – including ALL the star sprinters, who are naturally bunched together so that they can keep an eye on each other for the final sprint. Flash back to bus, still stuck …

The team managers are radioing to their bikers that they’re trying to change the finish line (imagine riding in the Kentucky Derby and suddenly discovering that the finish line has moved …), the domestiques are trying to find out what happened to their star riders, the broadcasters are trying to figure out what’s going on, the bus driver is annoyed, the peloton keeps closing, the mess back a few hundred meters is sorting itself out, the cause of the accident is standing at the side of the road with the derailleur off his bike and his crew can’t get to him due to narrow roads and the bodies all over the road and the bus is stuck and the peloton is closing ….

Finally, they get the bus moved, inform the riders that they still have a finish line, clear the mess out of the road, and a German domestique seizes the day (all the hotshots are waaaaay back in the order) and wins the sprint. Since it’s the first day, he also gets the maillot jaune and looks incredibly smug.

Hopefully there will be a little less excitement on the next installment, but it made for a dramatic end to what was turning into a rather calm sort of run.