Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the 13th.
ESPN commentator Michael Smith entered treatment Wednesday for what network executives have identified as Cranio-Rectal Syndrome. The rare condition is characterized by impaired vision, a heightened sense of smell and the ill-advised use of smart phones.
Smith enraged the cycling community Monday with a series of tweets in which he dissected the apparent hilarity of a Stage 9 crash in which a French TV car swerved into the day’s five-man break. The accident sent Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha crashing to the pavement and catapulted Vacansoleil-DCM’s Johnny Hoogerland into a barbed wire fence. Despite their injuries both riders finished the stage and continue to race.
Network officials were forced to craft an apology tweet for Smith Tuesday evening after his initial draft (“I haven’t laughed so hard since Terms of Endearment”) was deemed “better, but not quite there.”
Thursday saw the Tour’s first true mountain stage as the peloton began its first of three days in the Pyrenees. Contador-watchers expecting the reigning champion to light up the day’s climbs were instead treated to more elusive sight: the Saxo Bank leader struggling to keep pace over the closing kilometers. The Spaniard – known for his spectacular climbing style – saw his GC defecit grow still larger, dropping an additional 13 seconds to competitor Andy Schleck (CAS).
It was Frank Schleck who may have been the stage’s great revelation. The rider powered away from even his little brother in the closing minutes, finishing just 10 seconds behind stage winner Samuel Sanchez of Euskatel-Euskadi. The elder Schleck moved into second place on his effort – just 1:49 behind Thomas Voeckler, who retained his maillot jaune.
Friday’s stage 13 will find the peloton ascending the monster Col d’Aubisque – a 16.4km climb (and/or delicious chilled soup). Look for the GC boys to keep a careful eye on one another, a sizable sprinters’ gruppetto to work in solidarity at the rear and a likely breakaway stage winner.
Dan’s pick for stage 13: Emboldened by a strong stage 12 look for Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel to close the deal on Friday.