Friday, July 6, 2012

Tour de France week 1 recap: The Perfect Storm

Do you remember the scene from the movie  The Perfect Storm where the ass-munch weather man nearly creams his jeans as he considers the rarity of the meteorological event that is unfolding on the Doppler radar before his eyes?
(The best acting in the entire scene actually came from The Count plushie)

Well this week, it is I who is the ass-munch weatherman, only I'm watching the Tour de France, which has become an equivalent perfect collision of calamitous events resulting in an epic wake of destruction.  Like various and severe weather systems intersecting, so too have the different story lines in cycling news woven together to form a veritable cesspool that is not necessarily fun to watch, but impossible to turn away from:
Oh jeeze...

Storm System 1:  USADA's timing.  Travis Tygart will certainly never be accused of being overly discrete.  I suppose when you want to make an example of someone, picking the biggest stage possible is definitely one way to go.  But the least he could do is give Vaughters a friendly "heads up" that witness names were about to be named.  I mean, the usually well-coiffed directeur was particularly disheveled when the news broke and didn't even have a chance to put a fine point on his sideburns before talking with the press yesterday!

Storm System 2:  The entirety of the commentating crew of NBC's Sport's Channel covering the Tour.  Could there be a more insipid or banal pairing than Liam McHugh (Liam McWho?) and Bob Roll?  One knows nothing about the sport, and the other thinks he knows everything.  Then consider that Roll and fellow commentator, the dementia-laden Phil Liggett, are both so infatuated with Lance Armstrong, that they cannot bring themselves to discuss anything that might be perceived as negative about him.  In light of the announcement yesterday of some of USADA's witnesses against Lance to include George Hincapie, Christian VandeVelde, David Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer - what any normal cycling news person would consider to be 4 very significant nails in Armstrong's coffin - the NBC crew spoke on the issue for a grand total of 30 seconds and then immediately cut to slow-motion crash footage of the previous days....over and over and over and over and over....and in such fashion has become the gonzo journalistic source for cycling in America.  Of course Team RadioShack Nissan Trek is advertising heavily on NBC sports for something called the Nissan Ultimate Access competition - so they probably have an agreement with NBC that no more than 30 seconds a day can be dedicated to negative news about Armstrong or Bruyneel.  I wonder if the clause says something like "If excessive bad news is released regarding Armstrong and doping, distract the viewer with more crashes - maybe they won't notice." (The old "monkey likes shiny" trick).  And speaking of crashes, and in specific regard to NBC's 'man on the street interviews', how many different answers do you expect to the question, "How did you avoid the crashes today?"  Yet they keep asking anyone they can shove a microphone in front of (Tyler Farrar excluded.)  Just once I would like Greipel or Goss to answer, "Dude - we were going 45 MPH - how the fuck should I know??  I closed my eyes and gripped the handlebars and somehow came out on the other side!"

Storm System 3:  Peta Todd (girlfriend of World Champion and sprinter Mark Cavendish) has become the new directeur for Team Sky.  She sends out a single Tweet (which she subsequently removed) suggesting Team Sky is not protecting her Man Missile enough, and during Stage 5, they lay down a lead out train for him unprecedented in this year's tour.  Team directeurs were later quoted as saying, "We thought Peta had a good point.....actually maybe two."

Storm System 4:  Peter Sagan.  Not only does he acquire the nickname "The Velvet Samurai" but he also channels Forrest Gump:

But all the crashes have made him a little jumpy, so today he is sporting a bell on his bike to let the peloton know where he is at all times.

Storm System 5: Tyler Farrar.  The poor kid is literally wiping the road with his body all the way to Paris.  So frustrated was he with his crash yesterday, that the bloodied Garmin sprinter charged directly onto the Argos Team bus after he rolled over the finish line to have words with Tom Veelers, even though, as far as I could tell, Veelers had absolutely nothing to do with Farrar going down.  And the whole charging scene was fairly reminiscent of a friend of mine who always thought it would be cool to almost be in a bar fight, so would tell me, "Dude - I'm gonna go get in that guy's face - make sure to hold me back." 

Tyler is probably way too nice of a guy to actually kick anyone's ass anyway.

So what can we learn from the movie The Perfect Storm that might apply here?  Many possible lessons, honestly. 

#1) Lance kind of reminds me of George Clooney's character, who, let's be honest, was far too good looking and well-spoken to be a North Atlantic tuna fisherman, and learned that even those attributes couldn't keep his ship from sinking in the end.  Also - if you keep enough stinking fish in the ship's hold, sooner or later, you're going to start smelling as well.

#2) If watching weather patterns (or bad Tour coverage) on the radar makes you an ass munch weatherman, maybe you should stop watching and go outside more.

#3) Kind of like how the movie really has no use for the attractiveness of Diane Lane, just throwing some booby pictures up cannot salvage a mediocre blog (sorry Peta).

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