Tour de Frags

Sean Kelly, one of the hard men of the peloton when I was first becoming interested in the sport way back in the day, implies in a chat with the working press that this modern lot is a shower of eejits — and I’m not inclined to argue with him after watching stage six of Le Show Beeg, in which pretty much everybody save the Eurosport commentators, ASO management and Paddy McQuaid found themselves on the tarmac, in the ditch or inside an ambulance.

Sean Kelly back in the day, as photographed by <a href="http://www.corvospro.com/arimages.aspx">Cor Vos</a>

Sean Kelly back in the day, as photographed by Cor Vos

“These kinds of crashes happen, but you have to ask, how did it happen?” Kelly told my man Andrew Hood over to VeloNews.com. “Nobody wants to brake anymore. Everyone is pushing to be in the top 30 riders. Everybody is taking so many risks, and they will have crashes because of that.”

From your lips to God’s ear, Sean a chara. Today’s appalling clusterfuck on a narrow section of road, which left dozens of riders on the floor and sent several out of the Tour altogether, looked as though someone from the Spandex Liberation Army had set off a roadside bomb as the peloton rode past. Andy tallies up the body count here.

Some crashes can be blamed on course designers. Others can be chalked up to ineptitude (yes, pro cyclists fuck up just like we do, only at higher speed). I don’t know whom to pin this one on, other than upon the collective mindset that everyone — sprinters, wanna-bes, winless guys fretting over next year’s contract, GC men and their minders, and anyone in a Euskaltel-Euskadi jersey — just has to be at the front, all at the same time.

There isn’t enough room. Forget about UCI regulations —  it’s a violation of the laws of physics. You can’t squeeze a thousand pounds of Lycra through a garden hose. There’s gonna be an explosion. And we saw it today.

Editor’s note: Incidentally, in case you’re wondering where I am lately, I’m helping Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey with running commentary on the 2012 Tour over at Red Kite Prayer. Well, maybe “helping” isn’t quite the word we’re looking for here. “Hindering” may be more accurate. Whatever. I’m there, and you should be too. See you.

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9 Responses to “Tour de Frags”

  1. Douglas Glondeniz Says:

    I can see this tour is starting to look like a Cat. 5 race, BUT! (One of your ‘toons from the book come to mind) How about this new kid Sagan? All I can say is wow.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Wow indeed, Doug. Nicolas Cage will ask uncle Francis Ford Coppola to underwrite a time machine so he can play Sagan in the inevitable biopic. Unless Sofia wants the role for herself, of course.

  2. sharon Says:

    Really wanted DZ to pull it off today.

  3. brokenlinkjournalism Says:

    A friend posted something along the lines of “they are not paid enough” to deal with the crashes, road rash, yada yada yada. Since I could care more about the Tour de Country of Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys I just said “that bruise/rash is going to hurt in the morning.” Don’t ask how I know that but I do! If you ride enough you will discover this fact!

    Nevertheless the first week (or so) of the TdCoCESM is always a crashfest…so why are people surprised by this? If they were crashing in the Alps I would say “yes it is a crashfest” but that is not what typically happens. Therefore…keep the rubber side down and the lycra/spandex side up – or maybe more appropriately “not down on the ground.”

  4. High Plains Drifters Says:

    Excellent video overviews of each stage over at Streephill, for anyone interested.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    I dunno, I think they need to cut the size of the peloton down some. Limit the top tier teams to just a dozen or so, then give the organizer some wild cards, say 4 or even 6. 18 X 9 is plenty big, nobody can tell if 150 guys just rode past or 210. Back-in-the-day smaller pelotons were more common but I won’t claim the pileups were fewer, but at least they weren’t caused by too-large fields all being urged to “get to the front” via some guys in cars with a radio! Enjoyed some serious-fun descending today on our way from Corvara to Montagna/Ora. My half of the ride had TWO descents and only ONE major climb…..can’t get better than that in my book!

  6. Boz Says:

    I think we need some more Patrons in the bunch to keep order and kick ass on the dumb shit riders causing all the commotion. Sure does give lots of promo footage for the networks to show over and over…

  7. Jeff Cozad Says:

    I’m with Larry on this one. It’s a bit crowded out there. The other thing is to loose the carbon wheels and the cork pads.

    That said, I’m liking Sagan. We need a character in the peloton. I still miss Super Mario.

  8. Khal Spencer Says:

    Woo. Wiggins put the hammer down today, didn’t he?

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