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The first rest day is here, and boy am I pooped. Sure, the peloton has traveled 1620km over the past nine days, but I’ve had to watch that Bob Roll commercial 763 times, so I’m pretty sure we’re even.
It’s been an eventful start on the roads of France, Belgium and Switzerland (both legally annexed into France last February by race organizers), with pre-race favorite Bradley Wiggins already consolidating an almost two-minute lead over returning champion Cadel Evans. But you already know that story. So instead, let’s look back at a few of the week’s more entertaining highlights.
Tinkov, Taylor, Soldier, Sky
Don’t look now Johan, but there’s a Russian billionaire making bedroom eyes at Fabian Cancellara. After Spartacus assumed 2012’s first maillot jaune on the strength of his prologue TT, Oleg Tinkov — the Russian financier behind Tinkoff Bank (Saxo Bank’s new co-sponsor) — took straight to Twitter to begin wooing the RadioShack-Nissan rider, who is one of several he reportedly hopes to purchase as part of a Saxo-Tinkoff super team in 2013.
“What a win for Fabian. He is the best. He need [sic] to be @saxobanktinkoffbank,” wrote Tinkov.
Let’s hope everyone considers this carefully. If 2012 has shown us anything it’s that super teams aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be — and I think this ended poorly when it happened to Demi Moore in “An Indecent Proposal”.
Tyler Farrar: Boiling pot of restraint
Believe me when I say you couldn’t ask for a nicer guy than Garmin-Sharp’s Tyler Farrar, which is why I’ve occasionally questioned whether he has the right stuff to be a sprinter. In a discipline ruled by the brash and cocky, the Washington native is a guy you’d be happy to let date your daughter. Tyler’s got a gentle, Zen-like calm and a Tibetan “inner peace” tattoo to prove it.
Which is why it was fascinating to witness Farrar’s mannerly “meltdown” after Thursday’s stage 5. Following his third consecutive high-speed crash, a bloodied and visibly angered Farrar attempted to storm aboard the Argos-Shimano bus in search of rival Tom Veelers (who was apparently the last thing he remembered touching before the tarmac). Stopped by Argos staff — and eventually Jonathan Vaughters, who hightailed it over to ensure a pillow fight wasn’t about to break out — Farrar unleashed what may have been the most G-rated tongue-lashing in the history of road rash, tearfully requesting that staff tell Tom that, “you don’t do that to someone.”
Wiggins has a few choice words for the bone idle
Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, on the other hand, could use a little more Farrar. After being questioned about his response to Twitter users who have suggested that dominating wins must be viewed by fans with suspicion (given the sport’s troubled past), Wiggins dropped a profanity-laced rant that, if spoken by a major American athlete, would have earned him the lead story on every network newscast. Wiggo then dropped the mic like Eminem in “Eight Mile” and strolled out of his own press conference. Many have criticized Wiggins for his choice of words, but in fairness, who doesn’t hate wankers?
Peter Sagan is here to help
After a while the days of the Tour begin to blur, leaving many fans and reporters struggling to distinguish one day’s happenings from the next. Fortunately, Slovak sensation Peter Sagan has developed a handy method through which to track his stage wins — performing a comical victory salute after each.
How many stages has the Liquigas-Cannondale rider taken to date? The answer is three: Chicken Dance, Forest Gump and Angry Hulk. Now if we can only put these pesky mountains behind us we’ll get to see him do that cool sprinkler dance.
Hey Mom, I’m on TV!
In a terrific advance for American cycling fans, NBC Sports aired live coverage of this past weekend’s stages on the network itself, lending a shot of mainstream credibility to the sport and prompting your mom to call to let you know. Sure there were commercials every three minutes, but at least you didn’t have to decide which little X is the one you’re supposed to click to make them disappear.
Dan Wuori is the author of Velo Magazine’s monthly column, At the Back. For more of Dan’s commentary and humor, follow him on Twitter at @dwuori.