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Tour de France

Dog Breath: The men who shot Liberty Evans

“You got a choice, Dishwasher. Either you get out of town, or tonight you be out on that street alone.”—Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance in

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By Patrick O’Grady

"You be out there on that street, Dishwasher. And leave the Luxembourgers and that big Swiss cheese in the bar."

“You be out there on that street, Dishwasher. And leave the Luxembourgers and that big Swiss cheese in the bar.”

Photo: Dutton Peabody


“You got a choice, Dishwasher. Either you get out of town, or tonight you be out on that street alone.”—Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”


Carlos Sastre must be feeling about like Ransom Stoddard, the naïve, idealistic tenderfoot Jimmy Stewart played in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

The smart money says Liberty — as played by Cadel Evans — is going to croak Sastre when he goes out on the street alone come Saturday. And Sastre knows he’s not much of a hand when it’s just one man lined up against another.

But he’s gonna be out there slappin’ leather, just the same. And if he happens to croak Evans instead of the other way around, well, he’ll have a whole crowd of John Waynes to thank for his good fortune.

The Duke, as you will recall, played rancher Tom Doniphon, Stoddard’s rival for the affections of Hallie (Vera Miles). Doniphon was the man who actually laid Valance low when the gunfighter and the lawyer finally faced off in that street, and it cost him his sweetheart while elevating Stoddard to heroic stature.

Frank Schleck has to be Tom Doniphon in our little play, having sacrificed his own yellow-jersey future in stage 15, but his brother Andy, Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellara have all been in there plugging away, too.

The parallels are not exact, of course. Evans is not a bad man; he simply has a bad team for what has proven a very tough Tour. He may be short on panache but has shown tenacity in the face of overwhelming opposition, and should he come out on top in the final showdown it will be hard to say that he doesn’t deserve the victory.

Should Sastre prevail, the triumph will not be his alone. He will have ridden into Paris on the strong shoulders of his teammates, and the victory will belong to CSC-Saxo Bank’s rather than to a single rider. But first he must go out on that street alone. “Nobody fights my battles,” as Stoddard told Doniphon.

So, whiskey, barkeep, and leave the bottle. And you, dude, deal the cards. Come Saturday one of these guys is gonna be holding a smoking pistol while the other draws nothing but aces and eights.

Well, pilgrim, whaddaya say? Is that straight shooting or a clean miss? Slap leather and blaze away at webletters@competitorgroup.com.