Sunday, July 29, 2007

Last day in Paris: end of the summer - mimitig

The peloton sweeps round the Place de la Concorde, under the watchful eye of the golden Maid of Orleans – iconic astride her horse, and a symbol of Paris to match the golden angel who looks down on Berlin, or our own Angel of the North.

It’s been a strange day, low-key, very little racing, no champagne roll-out at the start and I suppose that befits the ending of a Tour that promised so much when Ken, in a slightly crumpled white linen suit, waved the boys off in Whitehall three weeks ago. One hundred and forty-one men are riding to the finish line, actually one more than made it to Paris last year, although it seems that this year has seen the abandonnment of more than usual. But that’s because this year, we’ve lost two whole teams. Astana – forced out after Vinokourov’s positive doping sample, and the Cofidis team’s voluntary withdrawal when Moreni tested positive.

Once racing really started – two laps into the Champs Elysee, it was a bit of a race on. Team Barloworld (let’s not forget they were a wild-card entry but already with two Stage wins and likely to take King of the Mountains), worked like bastards to catch the breakaway. All on their own, it wasn’t going to work, but then Discovery came to the party and brought the ten-man break back.

With rain threatening – an unwanted weather intervention to make the cobbles of the final laps into a skating rink – Quickstep got themselves organised to chase the pack down and line up their man, Tom Boonen for a final sprint. It didn’t work, Lampre’s Daniel Bennati took the win, from Big Thor Hushovd and the old boy Eric Zabel.

don’t know what to think about this Tour overall. I don’t know that I believe in the Maillot Jaune. Classic commentators, and old Tour pros, Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett seem sure that this has been a good Tour, that drug cheats are in the minority and catching the cheats is a good thing. David Millar – reformed character and outspoken in his views – reckons it’s been the cleanest Tour he’s ridden, maybe the cleanest ever. I guess we have to wait for the outcomes of the dope tests, look at the rest of the season, and see where we are come June/July next year. For me, I’ll follow the news, I am upset by what has happened this year, but I’ll watch Le Tour next summer and hope that by then we can believe in our heroes in lycra.

20 comments:

tony said...

Well, mimi, I'm glad to see you've started to make peace with the tour. I love it, without being at all 'into' cycling, if you know what I mean. I really enjoyed this last report and hope you have a cleaner version to tell us about next year...

mimi said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19dP84Q4Qus
I make my own peace. there'll be another link shortly.

tony said...

Ay Mimi, that's the 5th link leading to this message; 'The url contained a malformed video id.'

mimi said...

This is my song, my soundtrack to the years gone by and just my tune. Glad that anyone has enjoyed my reportage of Le Tour - it's been a tough gig to stay with them,but I do hold faith, and believe in my boys in lycra. Hey, someone has to, and it's me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28TeUbYvXS0

tony said...

Now it's six, mimi... tell me the song and I'll find it...

mimi said...

Ghost Town - the Specials

tony said...

nice mimi. Now try this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6YLHRsieAg

bluedaddy said...

Desert Island Disc material Tony. Ace tune.

Mimi, whatever the trials and tribs of this Tour, it's been a real pleasure to follow things with you and Mouth. Cheers x

MotM said...

A fine piece to conclude your (our) despatches from the edge (of the sofa).

It has been a great Tour full of excellent racing with the decision in the balance until the last couple of kilometers of the Time Trial. But the elephant is still in the room and it crashed about too often this year.

Here is a very fine piece about the elephant - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/tour_de_france/article2159415.ece.

Thanks for the kind words for Mimi and I - loving cycling is hard work despite its beauty and our readers here really helped.

A bientot mes amis.

guitougoal said...

Mimi,Motm,
The tour will survive because
1-its popularity, The most watched race in the world.
2-it's free. People bring family and friends on the road, watch live on tv, read mimi and motm's comments on pseuds for free.

MotM said...

Gitou - You're right of course.

mimi said...

While watching and reading about Le Tour has not been the complete pleasure I was anticipating, it's been lovely to read all the comments from you lot - thank you for sticking with it, Mouth and me, and despite what the papers are saying today, I'm going to hang with Paul and Phil and hope that this is the end of the bad era and beginning of a new one. See you all in Brest for the Grand Depart next July!

allwell said...

Just thought I'd mention how much I enjoyed these pieces by both mimi and mouth.

I'm not traditionally an avid follower of the Tour but found myself quite engaged this year, especially as ITV4 and Eurosport were showing highlights at a decent time. That was, of course, before the whole thing went tits up.

Eurosport was great. The phrase 'pedalling squares' was one I'd not heard before and in two words it perfectly encapsulated my riding style at the best of times. Sean 'certintly' Kelly was also great. I understood every word he said in isolation but by the time he finished a sentence, sometimes many hours later, I had absolutely no idea what he'd been talking about. His discomfort when the talk turned to drugs was also quite amusing.

I loved watching Vino in that time trial: a strange combination of granite hardness and fluidity, the toughest of men in the campest of clothing. It was like Henry Moore had got together with Gilbert and George.

Of course he turned out to be supercharged which was disappointing. But Bradley Wiggins made an interesting point. These people may be cheating feckers but they are not necessarily bad people. They are just more prepared to take risks and more prepared to do whatever it takes to win. Everybody in that Tour must have a driving ambition and has over the years made manifold sacrifices to get where they are. Taking drugs can be seen as merely a extension of that attitude. You could even argue that they are the ultimate professionals. I won't but you could.

Anyway, on more than one occasion I relied on Mimi and Mouth to catch up on developments so thanks, and well done to you both.

mimi said...

allwell: many moons ago, in a piece about Sport and Art, I floated the concept of Gilbert and George as Premiership referees. Reading your comment here, I think they'd be quite at home in the world of lycra. I love your phrase: "the toughest of men in the campest of clothing". Glad you enjoyed the reports.

DoctorShoot said...

Mimi and Mouth
great tandem work and inspiring stuff...

your passion is the measure of your pain Mimi and your reports have been at once glittering, informative, reflective, devastated and finally, philosophical.

I know you'll be back. We need you

MotM said...

Allwell and Doc - Thanks foer such kind words.

The Gilbert and George allusion is so perfect!

mimi said...

Doc: you've summed up at least my Tour far better than I ever could. It's been far more of a pleasure than a pain to write up stages for the readers here. Without encouragement from you all, as events unravelled, I might have abandonned myself but am now very glad I accompanied the Lantern Rouge all the way to Paris.

guitougoal said...

a final note after reading all the comments and the reports from the printed press.
last sunday Alberto Contador took the podium with the arc de triomphe in the background.amid norwegian, australian, colombian and french flags celebrating various riders.Contador prevailed in a questionable tour,-one french news paper titled:'Tour de farce"-Liberation editorialized:"it was a caravan of ridicule".
Years of question drain the prestige of the tour de France, Ulrich, Basso,Landis, Rasmussen, Vnogradov,
every year is still the same, should we, we the people who love the tour, leave the hypocrisy runs the show from top to bottom? Now U.C.I and French Tour organization are blaming each other for this year fiasco.The joke will continue if the clean up doesn't start from the top and I would suggest that both U.C.I and Tour de France managers who tested negative on their results should be ousted for failure to perform.

mimi said...

somewhat frivously, after having poured my heart out and emoted violently on this Tour, I would suggest that Mimi gets the Maillot Jaune, and all the little cuddly lions. I will do my best to bring a cool evaluation to the state of Pro-Cycling sometime next month. Compared with other sports, it is not in the hands of the devil. I still love it and believe in at least half the peloton.
Thank you all for sticking with the Tour - despite it all.
Mimi
xxx

mimi said...

and I still can't spell!!

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