Blazin' Saddles

Tour de Farce: Yellow hats, kilts and Noodle Doodle

Blazin' Saddles

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Another sodden stage in the Tour de France saw Blel Kadri deliver the host nation’s first win before Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali slugged it out for second.

But a second crash in as many days saw Andrew Talansky plummet out of the top ten of the overall standings – and it could have been worse were it not for the help of a lady in a big yellow hat.

The American skidded out on the final descent of the day to add to the fine collection of road rash on his rump. And when Talansky tried to get on his way, his chain had got itself caught between his cassette and frame.

Lucky, then, that help was on hand in the unlikely form of lady in flip flops, a dress and leather jacket whose mobile home he had almost ploughed right into.

“He’s not going to get much help from her,” said Carlton Kirby in the Eurosport commentary booth before correcting himself when the dame’s digits saved the day (at least, partially: Talansky did eventually ship two minutes to his rivals).

The women’s mechanical dexterity - she even gave the tyre a quick squeeze to check for pressure - did not go missed by the fans on social media, however.

But then the twist…

Yes, it turns out the woman was actually a man in a kilt kitted out in a load of free crap from the publicity caravan – namely a Skoda t-shirt and a floppy official yellow Tour de France Irish Bar-style top hat.

One rider wasn’t too happy with the American – Leopold Konig of the NetApp-Endura branding Talansky an “idiot” and holding him responsible for the crash, which saw him also lose valuable time. “That idiot Talansky took me out on the last descent. Yesterday, he blamed Gerrans when it was his own fault and today he caused a crash again. I have no time for people like that. I’ll have a word with him because I’m not happy,” said the irate Czech.

Without Simon Gerrans to blame his latest spill on, Talansky no doubt had a strop later outside the Tour’s meteorological trailer – for the wet weather must have played a role in his spinning off on the descent.

Indeed, the weather turned so abruptly that the breakaway riders were completely drenched before they had time to request rain coats from their team cars. Cue someone with the requisite photo shop skills to turn it into a memorable meme…

Before the heavens opened it was left to Alberto Contador to provide an early shower – the Spaniard urging a moto cameraman to give him some privacy as he went for an in-motion pee before the peloton started to chase down the break.

The cameraman lingered just long enough, however, to show one of Contador’s Saxo team-mates lean forward to hold his leader’s saddle while the Spaniard sprayed the verge. Seconds later, the aerial helicopter camera then picked up Contador tucking everything in and rearranging the contents of his bib shorts…

This was followed by good old Carlton Kirby, apropos of something totally unrelated, saying: "Well, we still haven’t seen it…"

What most of us did see – or envisage, at least – was a sure-fire victory for Simon Yates from the break. Despite bring the youngest rider remaining in the race, the Orica-GreenEdge man seemed to have the best climbing legs of the five leaders – and many people on Twitter (including occasional Eurosport pundit Dan Lloyd) were celebrating putting on a small wager on Yates earlier in the day, when his odds were longer than there are days in the year.

Even Yates’ brother Adam felt his twin had the victory very much in the bag…

As it was, victory went to France's Kadri – the only rider from the break who managed to defy the peloton after yellow jersey Vincenzo Nibali and his main rival Alberto Contador went tooth and nail on the final ramp to the finish.

Their appetite whetted by this opening hors d’oeuvre, fans will no doubt relish future battles between Noodle and Doodle in the Vosges – so tune in at 4pm on Sunday for more…

Felix Lowe - Twitter: @saddleblaze

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