Tour de Gaul

After week one’s crashes and withdrawals (including sportreview.net.nz fav Bradley Wiggins), it’s a wonder there was any lycra or cyclists left to get up all those hills. Poor old Johnny Hooglerland’s arse was all over the globe’s tellys after this appalling bit of driving. His polka dot jersey and continued presence in the race is a reminder of how hard tour riders are and how much this race means to them.

My rider of the tour so far has been Thor Hushovd, the World Champion who took yellow after the team time trial, held on to it for a few days as well as dragging his big sprinters’ frame over two mountain stages to take line honours. Super stuff.

Getting into the Pyrenees, Richard Williams wondered where the attacks were – the GC leaders were marking each other into oblivion and not pinning their ears back to make the death-or-glory breaks. Andy Schelck was even nicknamed ‘stiff neck’ by French press for endlessly riding while looking back at his rivals. He must have been reading – his 60KM solo attack in this morning’s 18th stage was the moment of the tour so far. Bizarrely, Eddy Merckx himself appeared in a car, sticking his head out the sunroof like R2D2 to give the cannibal seal of approval to the attack. Little Aussie bleeder Cadel Evans was left to slog up the hill by himself, dragging the other GC contenders up behind him like naughty children.

And so it comes down to the last hill climb, the time trial, and the Champs Elysée. New Zealand fans can cranks the MySky and get up for what should be some compelling stuff. Tomorrow morning’s stage is the Alp D’Huez, the Tour’s equivalent of T20 cricket – let’s see if Evans and A. Schleck have anything left after their long rides today.

Who’s going to win? I’m with BikeSnob, and would like the fairytale, please. Voeckler, who would be the first winner to spend race time in someone’s car port, or Evans. It will probably be a Schleck. Any way it winds up, this has been a dramatic tour.

Follow le Tour

Tour de France is perhaps the most tweeted sporting event going – here’s who’s worth following.

Selected cyclists:
Fabien Cancerella Classy, as you’d expect

George Hincapie No nonsense, as you’d expect

Jens Voigt has only just signed up, but is giving Charlie Sheen a run for his money in terms of followers

Mark Cavendish generally tries to live up to his ‘maverick’ reputation on his HTC approved tweeting device

David Milllar @MillarMind is his handle, interesting tweets from an interesting rider

Andy Schleck See Millar’s description above, only substitute ‘boring’ for ‘interesting’

Cadel Evans – the little Aussie bleeder

Support

Team Leopard Trek Seem to have an actual planned approach to social media – dong it right

Johan Bruyneel ex-Lance Armstrong, now Radio Shack Team Director

Parody, etc

Fake Floyd Landis

Graymanrod This may be the actual Floyd Landis

UCI_Overlord

TDF Lanterne loving tribute to le tour’s last placed rider

Other reading

Time magazine looks at Twitter on the tour

Jens Voigt’s blog – really worth reading, hilarious and revealing

Bike Snob NYC Tour De France – the cycle-blog master at work

Paul Kimmage interviews Floyd Landis

Links on Friday

If you’re a 38 year old unfit would-be footballer, and you ever get a chance to take a penalty at indoor or seven-a-side football, you are duty bound to perform a Panenka. Here are ten of the best, number one is my favorite

Turns our Floyd Landis of the Floyd Fairness Fund has not only turned into the Bear Queen Of The Forest (see image in the story) but is trolling Lance Armstrong on Twitter. The rotter

The seven annoying friends you meet at pub quizzes. I am none of these. I am basically the perfect person to have in a pub quiz team

Hot New Video Game Consists Solely Of Shooting People Point-Blank In The Face

Why is U2 so popular?

Reading list

Lionel Messi gets the New York Times treatment. Wish Maradonna had read this.

Meanwhile, the New Yorker says let’s wait until Lance is proven guilty; from the same author, a long 2002 profile.

As a father of two under-three Waikato fans born on the North Shore, I know the importance of giving the offspring absolutely no choice in which team they support.

A 13 year old scores his own version of my favourite goal ever.

Links on Friday

I imagine watching this FIFA 2011 own goal would be a similar experience to watching the Titanic sink

If you think Two Pricks At The Ashes means Ricky and Shane, then check out The Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths. It’s the latest roll of the dice from JRod and Sam, featuring the level of rapier sharp cricketing analysis you’d expect from the last two survivors on a lifeboat after they’ve eaten everyone else

BikesnobNYC’s visit to the Bike Expo is worth a read, if only to laugh at the guy selling butt cream

Age hasn’t made Gary Neville any less angry

World Cup tentacles, All Black skiting and unwritten rules

In the last two weeks, while sportreview.net.nz has had its cyber thumb wedged firmly in its virtual arse, we’ve had a World Cup final, dramatic scenes on bikes in the French Alps and the Pyrenees and the All Blacks have treated the Springboks like Frodo treated the Cuba Street fountains.

Like the 1995 All Blacks, who made the tragic mistake of going to a dodgy seafood restaurant the night before their South African final and contracting mass food poisoning in the process, Holland made the tragic mistake of going to see the Karate Kid remake and contracting a bad case of Wanting To Kick The Shit Out Of Everything Syndrome. WTKTSOOES severely reduces your ability to play football, and your ability to think clearly – Mark Van Bommell was found ten minutes before kick off attempting to Kick The Shit Out Of a soft drink vending machine in the players’ tunnel, while Wes Sneijder wanted to Kick The Shit Out Of himself, and it took several men to pull him off himself.

Arjen Robben is so crippled by Wanting To Kick The Shit Out Of Everything Syndrome, he is still on the pitch at Soccer City trying to decide between kicking the shit out of Nelson Mandela or a puppy.
Meanwhile, Spain’s tactical approach was kind of like inviting the girl of your dreams on a date to play Spirograph – sure, you’re going to make a lot of pretty patterns, but you’re not doing your chances of scoring any favors.
Looking back, this World Cup will be remembered as one of the most football-free World Cups ever. Between the vuvuzelas, the ball dodgier than a three week old boiled egg and the fucking octopus, there wasn’t a lot of *actual* kick-ball-score-goal-football to talk about. All the big European stars looked like they’d rather be in Ibiza or Hello Magazine and couldn’t wait to get the first plane out of the biggest sporting event they’ll likely play in. At least the French had the style to flounce the fuck out of Dodge with a bit of flair. As Sione Lauaki says about the days he could beat people up without ending up in the paper, things aren’t what they used to be. Roll on the blooming Champions League already.
Back home, the All Blacks provided one of the biggest sporting surprises since the Dean Lonergan’s apparent absence of permanent brain damage by beating the World Champion Springboks not once but twice. The results shook people who make their living by thinking of things to say on telly for the half hour before test matches start to the core, and has seen a complete 180 degree re-alignment of the games’ top two powerhouses. With two defeats first up, South Africa fine themselves in a situation stickier than Shane Jones’ iPad.
The All Blacks now have ‘bragging rights’ which, in the modern era, takes place mainly on social networking sites:
The All Blacks’ decision to employ online coaches (Conrad Smith appears at 44 seconds) to maximise their ‘bragging rights’ has been hailed as genius, and is sparking talk the All Blacks could go fully viral in time for the 2001 cup. There hasn’t been this much All Black noise online since Grizz Wylie had too much scotch at his Marlborough crib and made an anonymous reverse charges abusive toll call to John Hart in the summer of 1994.

Meanwhile, the Australians, already regarded as outsiders for this year’s Tri-Nations, have no ‘bragging rights’ whatsoever, nor ‘skillz’ or ‘cred’ ‘online’ and are playing ‘catch-up tweeting’ before clearing a single nostril on the field:

In Europe, the Tour De France has had cobbles, slick roads, crashes and more dastardly moves than Winston Peters sorting out his minibar bill. People everywhere are talking about Alberto Contdor’s sneaky maneuver around Andy Schleck while his chain was half way down the mountain, a move that went completely against the unwritten rules of the sport. Sport is full of unwritten rules, as outlined below:
  • Tennis – at Wimbledon, don’t look Cliff Richard in the eye. Just keep walking, bro
  • Rugby League – NSW players only shit in Queensland hotel corridors, and vice versa
  • Lawn bowls – throwing bowls at the ref is frowned upon, generally
  • American Football – players must whoop at least 33 times for each completed first down
  • Knitting – I see that Maureen bitch brought that yappy fucking dog again
  • Netball – no elbows above the neckline
Luckily for cycling fans everywhere, there’s always Jens Voigt, who manfully took one for the team by falling off his bike. A Jens Voigt faceplant from his bicycle brings the sporting world together like only an Australian cricket test series defeat or Colin Montgomerie looking cross can. Voigt’s selfless act, and determination to cycle to Paris like a callous circus freakshow, dragging his useless, useless legs behind him has warmed the hearts of sports fans everywhere. Vive le Tour!

Book review: Bike Snob

When my trusty green Morrison Monark got stolen from the school bike racks in 7th form, I didn’t want to get another. Like most 17 year olds, I was more interested in cars, and how they’d get me to places I could get away from my parents and drunk than anything two wheels could offer.

Fast forward to when I was living in Dublin in 2000, and trying to figure out how to get to work – it was time to buy another bike, and after whizzing down the road, hopping on and off the pavement, unconstrained by buses timetables, routes or stopping at red lights, I felt like a kid again. And I haven’t been off a bike since.

Bike Snob is, mainly, about that feeling of being a little kid again. While the acerbic cycling blog Bike Snob NYC that gave birth to this book takes down the hip, pretentious or altogether too serious aspects of cycling in hilarious fashion with razor sharp observation and wit, Bike Snob the book is a more gentle meander.

Bike Snob wants you to ride your bike, and tries to evoke some of the obvious joy he takes in riding, explaining the benefits, mentally as well as physically, and gives a little history as well. He debunks a few of the myths surrounding cycling as well, like riding in traffic, bike fitting and maintenace. Essentially, riding a bike is a pretty simple activity / pastime / sport / whatever – Bike Snob wants to see you get out there and enjoy it for yourself, making a compelling argument that the world would be a better place if more people rode bikes.

There’s a few hipster take downs chucked in for for fans of the blog, as well as a hilarious section on cycling sub-cultures and how they get along (or not), and the whole book is illustrated with some fantastic drawings. There’s even some Bike Snob stickers for your fixie.  Highly recommended.

Get it postage free from Book Depository.

Here’s a great example of a hipster take down from BSNYC.