My darlings, I'm sorry to report that my dearly beloved co-commentator, the incomparable Locutus, still off in France, and no doubt enjoying the bejesus out of riding up grueling mountainsides, has encountered all manner of trouble today, what with road closures, lack of television reception and the inability to wrangle up his internet connection in France. Ah, the trials and tribulations of being in France during the tour, non? As a result of all that, Locutus has been unable to file his absolutely indispensible Jambon report today, and time did not allow for me to make one of my half-heated attempts to write soberly analytical race commentary. I'm afraid you'll just have to settle for ...
Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux
... and I'm not going to lead out with Lance Armstrong today for two reasons: first, I fully expect to be rocking his astronaught-looking ass pretty hard tomorrow, when I feel confident that he will eat the Alpe d'Huez in one bite like Godzilla; secondly, as I think every regular reader of my humble little column knows, I've got a huge soft spot for Jens Voigt, and that crazy maniac was an ANIMAL today!
Friends, in case you haven't gathered this before now, I like the big, strong ones who can... uh... hammer all day... but, hold up! That came out just a little bit funny, didn't it?! Doesn't sports lingo just have a certain je ne sais quoi? What I really meant to communicate is that I like the tall bike racers who can ride hard all day long, and let's face it, you don't need to look any further than Big Jens for that kind of action.
So, there was Mr. Voigt, drilling it hard the whole day long, spending the early part of the stage in the breakaway, until he-man gets called back into the fold by his CSC team to lend his awesome power in support of his especially delicieux team leader Ivan Basso. What do you think that burly German beast on a bike did then? Well, waited up, of course, and then, nothing much, except round up the troops and drive the murderous pace that would bring an errant Jan Ullrich back into line just in time to whittle the field down to only the biggest, baddest bike racing machines in Le Tour Delicieux!
Jens "Hammerdog" Voigt did all that while looking all athletic and sort of delightfully dorky at the same time, and that just cracks this race fan. I like to see a tall man rock a big bad adam's apple while putting the screws to the "heads of state" at the Tour de France. I mean, how on earth could you possibly go wrong with a convergence of factors like that? Big Delicieux Jens is my posterman today, because race fans, Jens is a huge favorite around here. Go Jens! GO!
Jens "Köstlich" Voigt
Photo by the incomparable Christine Grein
Before I go any further, I'm going to need to tip the old Chapeau to another big German, and that, of course, is Jan Ullrich. It's a well-known fact of narrative science that the tragic hero always packs the punch, and I have to say that Jan, with his constant willingness to start everyday and fight like a champion, despite his many losing battles over these years of Lance Armstrong's total domination, is just so delicieux. Jan looked pretty bad in the Pyrenees last week, but we should all know, after all these tours of the big German diesel never saying "die," that Jan Ullrich is a better man than to throw in the towel before the race is won or lost. I hated to see Ullrich down for the count in the Pyrenees, but if he keeps riding like he did today, he just might be able to claw himself back onto the podium, and I would love to see that.
At this point, though, it's time I acknowledged the undisputed, and virtually unchallenged KING of Le Tour. Lance Armstrong, people. Seriously. That man never looks hotter than when the pressure is on, he's driving it up a mountainside, and you just know he's got it all under control. Armstrong was entirely unruffled by Ullrich's move, content to let his superstud teammates (most notably that ultra-coolster "Pretty Boy" Floyd Landis, who pretty much totally kicked ass today) do the monkey-work while he cools his heels in preparation to deliver the knock-out blow. The impression I came away with today? If Lance wants it, he'll take it, thank-you very much. That kind of assurance and the strength to back it up has got to be a scary thing to watch for his rivals. Also, before moving on, I'd just say again, for the permanent record, that Floyd was a stud today.
Finally, Little Tommy Voeckler. Yes, my hero lost the Maillot Jaune today. We knew it would happen, but people, that adorable creature worked his "Ti Ti" little butt off today to stay in contact with the what was left of the peloton, and although he crossed the line a little off that pace looking like a stricken man, he still makes White Jersey Watch the most scrumptious part of the day, especially since after 10 days of owning it, Voeckler will start actually wearing the Maillot Blanc tomorrow; and because here at Crazy Jane's copy desk, we are ALL ABOUT giving it up for Ti Ti.
Achtung, race (& boy) fans! Don't forget to send me your picks for the Delicieux distinction! We need all the help we can get over here, so e-mail me your choices at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your comments at Le Tour Delicieux!