Ah, Paris-Roubaix. There is no finer example of bike-racing spectacle. Fabian Cancellara proved once again that the secret to victory is to keep your head up, attack once, and finish alone. Most news reports state that the CSC rider “dropped” Vlad Gusev to make good his escape, but this implies the Swiss rider made specific efforts to do so; a more accurate statement would be that Cancellara flat rode the Russian off his wheel. Walter Godefroot called it perfectly (search “Cancellara”) in selecting the former maillot jaune, as it would have taken a freight train to stop his charge to the finish. And strangely enough, that almost happened. In the end, though, the transient locomotive’s only impact on the race was to annoy Tom Boonen and to disqualify a chase group of Leif Hoste, Vlad Gusev and Peter Van Petegem, who apparently violated a UCI regulation against independent thought by realizing that they could cross the tracks without getting hit by the train
So who was the biggest loser on the day? Oh, there’s almost too many to count. I guess I’ll begin by highlighting that Team Discovery Channel fell victim once again to the “Curse of the Great Tombino”, a bit of Flandrian voodoo that will prevent a Tailwind Sports-owned franchise from ever winning Paris-Roubaix. I’m well aware that Discovery/Postal didn’t actively work to trade Tom away, but forcing Boonen to tow the clearly bonking Hincapie until the hypoglycemic American tumbled into a ditch back in ’01, was an affront to the sporting gods on par with the sale of Babe Ruth to finance a Broadway musical. And despite what Scott Coady tries to tell you, no amount of prayer can attone for this transgression.
The curse is manifest in the aforementioned disqualifications, and a strange parting of the ways between the top and bottom portions of Mr. Hincapie’s steerer tube at 47k to go. A hubris bonus is also awarded to George for making a pre-race prediction so perfectly tragic in its fruition that it could have slipped from a cave opening at Cumae. On a related note, Trek’s Scott Daubert (search “fork”) should be receiving a pink slip any day now for deciding that a more beneficial “axle to crown dimension” justified sending his team captain out into the Hell of the North with Sora-level componentry. If such misfortune had befallen Lance, you can bet Daubert’s testicles would be already be dangling from the trailer hitch of the Texan’s GTO. As it stands, though, Trek shouldn’t take too big a PR hit on this one; most people looking to buy Pilot line bikes wouldn’t know the difference between Paris-Roubaix and Stella Artois.
Many might also extend the Finger of Failure toward heavy favorite Tom Boonen. but the World Champ’s only real mistake on the day was leading the charge across the critical Arenburg Cobbles while his teammates were completely unprepared. Surrounded by a dizzying array of colors (rather than sitting in his accustomed sea of Quick.Step blue), Boonen kept a cool head, did lots of chatting, managed his losses, and got 2nd, with a little help from the race jury. I am, however, more than prepared to dump on Boonen’s teammates, who, just a week removed from utter invincibility at Flanders, missed the critical field split and then scattered themselves to the four winds in a chase remarkable only for its brevity and futility. Perhaps Quick.Step DS Patrick LeFevere also deserves a few demerits for today’s performance, as I’m at a loss how a man with three podium sweeps at this event could let his riders get so out of position.
thoughts on “The Curse of The Great Tombino”
This may be my favorite Cosmo rant yet. Equating Tom Boonen with the Babe is like equating Boonen with Eddie Merx (oh, wait.) Nicely put, Cosmo. Your wit is a great companion piece for the decidedly serious Aussies across the way in cyber space.
Easily the best piece written on the race, bar none. And congrats, too, on getting the new job.
Hey man, great commentary! The ‘Tombino’ bit is clever as hell, and the testes from the GTO had me falling out of my cube. I’m a new fan.
The Curse of the Tombino.. The Cave of One Hundred Mouths…
New job? Congrats. Do tell.
Who is Babe Ruth?
Watching Georgie-boy go down in slow motion, I felt compelled to let out a (quite realistic, I might add) portrayal of the infamous (now returned? or still stolen?) E.Munch painting.
Seeing the curve of his bar (I blame that fancy (worthless?) little vibro-dampener thingy in there) swing down into his front wheel was pretty nuts. The soundless scream of “Nooooooooooo!” coming from my mouth is still echoing somewhere…
What is this new job I hear of?
I was planning on shortly taking things into my own hands and start applying for things FOR you…sans your knowledge. You show fantastic talent as a writ/wit and should pursue it to the end, however, if you ended up as a male escort for overweight, cycling-daft housewives in some nameless red-state, it’d be your own damn fault (okay, with maybe a little nudge from yours truly).