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Notes From the France Desk

Stern-faced Bradley
Stern-faced Bradley
Bryn Lennon

One lap to go! Stay tuned around here for all the National Championships this weekend. Meanwhile, I hear there's something brewing for the following week...

  • One thing I look forward to in the upcoming Tour de France is delving into the matchup of Peter Sagan vs. Mark Cavendish vs. Andre Greipel (and maybe others) for the stage sprints and the points competition. We at the Podium Cafe promise to look at this from a purely empirical --

What the?!? I... I... let's just go on, shall we?

  • Oh, and speaking of videos to make people look cool, here's one from Oslo...

No, I have no fucking idea what just happened. OK, back to cycling.

  • Sir Bradley, we hardly knew ye. Well, that's not even slightly true, we even read your autobiography, which I kind of think you actually wrote. But we hardly knew ye on the bike taking a victory lap around France. First, before the Sky patch ironed onto the maillot jaune had cooled, your own team was sizing up a successor for 2013 (not for nothing, yo). Then you go and change up on us, saying what you've really always wanted was a maglia rosa, and saying like a guy who loves the sport as much as us DDIFP wankers do. We thought we were out, but then you pulled us back in. And now out again. Me, I love the honesty about how he doesn't think he can muster the sacrifice needed to win the Tour a second time. This is the story of all sports, the part where sport teaches us something about life in general. Not that Wiggins is going anywhere, and frankly I'll believe the line about him not chasing another Tour when his career is over. Another life lesson from sports is how ambition comes and goes... and then comes back again. I wouldn't put anything past Wiggins... except maybe the maglia rosa.
  • Can someone explain how "purito" translates into "Itching"? Granted, Joaquim Rodriguez could do a guest appearance on Itchy and Scratchy, being a little dude, but that seems a bit of a mis-gnomer.
  • CN had a big profile of Nairo Quintana this week, someone I've been hyping all year. Can Nairo win the Tour de France? Uh... sure. Sometime soon, and on a course like this year's. But it's a tad early to outfit him for yellow, I think we'd all agree, including the writer from CN/Cycling Weekly (they weren't tipping him to win). But! While serious riders don't often pursue the maillot a pois, could this year be another story? And could a guy like Quintana take the spots? There's a case to be made (for what little such theories are). He's a very consistent climber, but he's not a team leader, meaning he might be up the road on occasion, or at least that he's not strictly confined to the heads-of-state peloton. Further, the race features quite a lot of HC and Cat-1 climbs, with I think 4 MTFs (double points). This tilts the advantage toward consistent high finishers, and marginalizes the guys chasing cat-3s and 4s early on. BUT! Stage 19 features two very early HC climbs, 25 points each, and an enterprising non-contender could make a huge move here on a solo or small break. We know Quintana won't be doing that. But if he's after the jersey, or wearing it, we could see Movistar allowing him to defend it in the first couple hours that day.
  • I'm no women's cycling expert but it's always cool to see greatness emerging so young. And with that, I give you Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, CLM Champion of France. (Contre-le-montre, or against the watch. Get used to that one.)
  • Thoughts and prayers out to Euskaltel-Euskadi whose masseur Rufino Murguia was heavily injured in an accident involving the team vehicle he was driving and another truck. It's easy to overlook the folks behind the scenes, but they take risks too, hauling massive equipment up and down mountain passes on a frantic schedule. Hope he's OK now or soon.
  • The Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen has been put off for 2013, with organizers hoping to bring it back in 2014. No mention of this coming on the heels of Rik I losing decisively to Rik II in the Flandriens Faceoff this spring, but it seems like too much of a coincidence to dismiss.