Chris asked for Diaries and since I haven't been on a bike in, well let's just say a number of years, I don't really feel qualified to take up any of the great subjects he posed in his thread. I know there will be some marvelous feedback on those subjects and cannot wait to read everyone's input. That said I decided instead to present here the second annual Bethie's Best and Worst of the Tour.
The Tour is over for this year and we all know Phonak and Landis took home the big award. Actually in my own humble opinion, I think every rider who finishes a Tour de France deserves a gold medal. It is quite an achievement to do what they do. But everyone cannot be the winner. There are categories that the Tour organizers overlook, so I've complied the following to commemorate the riders and background people of the 2006 Tour de France who were not recognized elsewhere for their participation.
This one is tie between Mattias Kessler of T-Mobile and Jens Voigt of CSC, and for the life of me I can't favor one over the other. Both had stage wins, both had crashes, and both worked like big diesel engines for big pulls that amazed me each time I saw it.
Any question on this one? Christophe Moreau of AG2R. OK, OK, so I don't like him as a rider anyway, but I still thought it was pretty crappy for him not to wait to help Dessel in stage 16.
- I was hoping for a stage win for Eki and Zabel. Farfetched, I know, but it would have been nice to see.
- Bobby Julich crashing out.
Tough one this year, but I have to go with Gerolsteiner over Caisse d'Epargne even though I like their colors, because who in their right mind would send their team out in hot weather to ride in black spandex? Oh right, Team CSC.
Agritubel, even so I was happy to see them win a stage. Good on the wildcard team! Maybe next year you'll have enough dosh to hire a designer.
Hands down, it's got to be Podium Girl
Gendarme with the yellow flag in the traffic islands
The "If you were my son, what you'd hear from me" award: Damiano Cunego
Here's the lecture: "Listen, son, you're going to be on the podium in Paris tomorrow in front of millions of people all over the world. If you don't have time for a haircut, at least wash and comb it, you look like a bum."
Best Rider's Diary:
Best Religious Finish
Tied between the "Our Catholics are better than Your Catholics" triple cross and prayer of Popovich, and Rasmussen's impersonation of Jesus on the cross.
Favorite Rider Name:
Another tie, this time between Inaki Isasi and Riccardo Ricco (Anyone besides me think "Oh Luuuucy, I'm Hoooomme" everytime his name was mentioned?)
Best Stage Podium
Serguei Gonchar, both times. It was really great to see him jump with his fist in the air, all smiles. And when he got his first yellow jersey he was like a six year old kid, pulling it away from his body to show everyone "See, See??? This is MINE!"
Best Deja Vu moment:
Kessler going over the guardrail, I was sure he was going to hit that pole again.
Most fun of the Tour:
VDS challenge and daily input from the folks at Podium Cafe. What a great Tour! Thanks everyone!