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Tour de France: The Jambon Report - Stage 12
 
By Crazy Jane
Date: 7/16/2004
Tour de France: The Jambon Report - Stage 12
 

Ok, so it's a combined Jambon Awards & Le Tour Delicieux today, and it's a hard one, because where can one begin? Race fans, I think we got served today. Oh my God, do I ever love the Tour de France. Let's just get right to it, shall we?

Golden Hams of the Day

  • Lance "Can't Front on This" Armstrong (US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). Well, I've been saying, since the end of last year's near-miss, that Lance Armstrong would win the 2004 Tour de France by minutes, and at this point, I have no idea who could possibly challenge him. If today is the shape of things to come, I think Big Tex would need to develop a sudden and debilitating bout of malaria or accidentally ride to China after taking a wrong turn to lose his 6th Tour de France. Stick a fork in it, people. I guess all those donuts, movie premieres, hanging out with rock stars and oh, yeah, preparations for an historic bid for all time Tour glory, have paid off. The fact is, Lance Armstrong never looks better than when he's drivin' it up a mountain. That look on his face and the little superman curl are just undeniable. Unless unexpected disaster strikes, I think we can count on a steamroller to Paris, and a familiar little yellow man in front of the Champs Elysees, but Armstrong won't be counting his chickens. There's a lot of race ahead!


Lance Armstrong & the face of destiny
Photo by Christine Grein

  • Big George "Look at Me, I'm a Total Rockstar" Hincapie, Jose Azevedo and the US Postal Service (Totally Badass) Professional Cycling Team presented by Berry Floor. My goodness me, what on earth is George doing up there?! Somebody stop this man! For the record, by the time Jan "Mr. Big" Ullrich was cracking wide open on La Mongie, George was only just finished turning the screws at the front of the race. I've been saying all tour long that Hincapie is the cadillac of domestiques, and I swear he's been in the wind or on the front more than any other man in the darned Tour de France. Big George is, as Phil and Paul have enthused repeatedly, "a magnificent bike racer," and, in conclusion, here's what we are seeing from George Hincapie: amazing strength and fortitude married to absolute dedication, and as if that weren't delicieux enough, a big, charming matinee idol smile. Quit it George! You're killing us!

    But, let's be clear, people, because in making a whole to-do about Big Hink, I do not want to neglect to gush senselessly over the rest of those bad boys in blue! Eki and Pavel Padrnos drove it hardman style on the flats, Triki Beltran, Floyd Landis, Chechu Rubiera and Benjamin Noval controlled the climbs like they were born to do it, George Hincapie was THE MAN, and Jose Azevedo was incredibly impressive as he delivered the knock-out blow, the effort written all over his face and body. By the time Azevedo dropped anchor, Armstrong was clear of all his rivals, and ready to make it stick. Here's the bottom line: Lance Armstrong is a very lucky man to have a team this bitchin', and I hope he personally gave every one of them a foot massage and a kiss on the forehead before tucking them into bed tonight.


LL Cool G works it, baby
Photo by Christine Grein

  • Bello Ivan Basso. I've gotten about a dozen e-mails this morning letting me in on something I already know: that man is gorgeous. He's also a hell of a bike racer, who's been knocking on the door for years now. Last year, he rode to an impressive 7th place in the GC after his Fassa Bortolo team imploded leaving him with just two teammates after Alessandro Petacchi called it a day, and in 2002, he was the best young rider. Today, he was the only man who could stay with Armstrong when the move was made, and he did it looking like he had a lot more gas in the tank. Girls, this is one to watch, and I, for one, am never disappointed to see his clear eyes and perfect teeth when he smiles from the podium, so I'm delighted that Lance didn't try to take him on the line. Ivan Basso rode like a superstar today, and if he keeps it up, he could just find himself gracing the podium in Paris. He's got my vote!


Basso-licious!
Photo by Christine Grein

  • Little Tommy Voeckler: The Frickin' KING of the Maillot Jaune. I have to say, people, that before he stepped into yellow, this race fan had never so much as HEARD OF Thomas Voeckler, but I can assure you, I will never forget his incredibly courageous ride to keep the Maillot Jaune this week. Voeckler has been suffering all kinds of pain and anguish, but this little Frenchman just keeps on coming back. They say the golden fleece has magical powers over a man's strength and fortitude, and Voeckler is riding so beautifully, that I can't imagine that there was a dry eye in France when he came over the line with all the agony of his climb up La Mongie written all over his face. Voeckler final moments in the saddle were the kind that twist you up just looking at him. This kid's got a HUGE suitcase of courage, and it'll be a sad day when he loses the Maillot Jaune. While I'm here, though, I have to break down and give it up for Richard Virenque today, who was there to pace Voeckler when he faltered on the last climb, because that was a sight to see: the loverboy of French cycling, forgetting personal ambitions to encourage the young French champion in the Maillot Jaune? Vive la France, already!


Voeckler the Great!
Photo by Christine Grein

  • Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile). Oh, to be a fly on the wall at T-Mobile headquarters tonight. Jan Ullrich now slips behind his best pal, German champion Andreas Kloden, in the GC, Does this mean we will see a change in team leadership when the show hits the road tomorrrow? Ullrich claims that it was the cold rain that froze up the power in his huge thighs, and says that if he must, he will ride for the best man on the team. We shall see, in the days to come...

Ham Gazers of the Day

  • Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) Tyler Hamilton (Phonak Hearing Systems) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel Euskadi).There was a lot of glory today, but it was a sad day, too. What happened to Big Jan and Tyler? Where was that attack we all hoped would come from Iban Mayo? If Ullrich continues to ride like he did today, this will be his first tour finishing off the podium. Meanwhile, Tyler Hamilton, who looked so strong last year despite ridiculous adversity, and for all the world, like a true challenger, completely folded on La Mongie today. Can he come back? What about the much touted Iban Mayo? Nowhere to be seen. But, Ullrich is still a big German diesel, Hamilton is a full-on hero, and Iban Mayo is a brilliant Basque climber, but these top dogs all ate it big time today. At this point, it's hard to imagine any of them gaining much time on Armstrong, but these are some hard, bike racing men, and there's a lot of terrain to come, so we can only hope these guys come back to us tomorrow on the Plateau de Beille, where the fireworks will continue tomorrow!

Until Then... au revoir!

 
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