July 22, 2006

If You're French, This Has Really Got to Hurt

Hatched by Dafydd

So after all that work the French did to taint Lance Armstrong's world-record seven Tour de France wins (consecutively!) by accusing him of doping, and after the bravura job they did keeping the best non-French riders out of the race this year by a phony-baloney "investigation," Operación Puerto, that consisted of collecting clippings from Madrid newspaper El País... now they suddenly have another renegade non-Frenchman (in fact, non-European) on the loose.

Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Francisco Mancebo, plus the entire Astana-Wurth team, including leader and 2005 fifth-placer Alexander Vinokourov -- who was not formally implicated but had to withdraw anyway -- were excised from the race, which the French expected would surely lead to a French winner. It is, after all, the Tour de France, n'est-ce pas?

Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc said: "I hope we can clean up everything now. All the cheats should be kicked out.

"Then maybe we will get an open Tour with clean riders, with space for ethics, sport and entertainment."

"Entertainment" meaning "somebody with a name like Bernard Hinault," the last Frenchman to win the Tour.

See, France used to win the Tour de France all the time. The Tour began in 1903, was suspended from 1915-1918 (the war), and from 1940-1946 (the other war), and has been run every year since then. Of the first 72 races, a Frenchman won 36 times, for exactly 50%. The Belgians won an additional 18 times: people from French-speaking countries dominated the race.

(There were a few from Luxembourg, too, but I don't know if we should count those. I mean, it's not really even a country, is it? More like a county.)

But all that came to an abrupt halt after 1985, when Bernard Hinault -- the last Frenchman -- won. Since then, nobody from a French-speaking country has won the Tour de France. The closest they came was Greg LeMond; but despite his name, LeMond is American, of course. Since 1986, Americans have won the Tour ten out of twenty times (again, 50%) -- but that's just two riders, LeMond and of course Lance Armstrong.

There have been several European winners, so the French must have thought they had a great shot here -- after Armstrong retired and they booted the top non-French Europeans.

But today, they woke up to this kick in the head:

American Floyd Landis regained the overall lead in the Tour de France on Saturday, likely assuring him the title Sunday in Paris....

The Phonak team leader reclaimed the yellow jersey from Spain's Oscar Pereiro, who started the individual time trial with a thin 30-second lead over Landis. Saturday, Landis moved up from third to first, gaining 59 seconds on the now second-place Pereiro.

Now France faces the national humiliation of having yet another American steal their own race from them.

I'm certain the 82nd Republic (or is it the 101st?) will not take this slap in the rear lying down. Look for a frantic scramble to retroactively disqualify Landis on the grounds that (a) he's an American, like Lance Armstrong, so is clearly implicated in the insinuation that Armstrong used EPO (Erythropoietin); (b) he makes really wretched movies, like ¡Three Amigos!; and (c) he's another "gimp," like Armstrong, so it must be a huge fake.

Landis has an advanced case of aseptic bone necrosis, in which "bone and marrow die in the absence of an infective agent." He is scheduled for a hip replacement after this year's Tour ends tomorrow. So not only were the French beaten, they were beaten by a guy with a bum leg.

(Lance Armstrong suffered from testicular cancer, which eventually spread to his brain and lungs; he was treated by surgery, including removal of one testicle and lesions in his brain, followed by aggressive chemotherapy; two and a half years later, he won his first Tour de France. So the French were also beaten by a guy with a bum... well, you get the picture.)

It must be tough to be a Frenchman these days. First the riots, and now this.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2006, at the time of 3:08 PM

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Tracked on August 1, 2006 10:18 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Dana Pico

And Mr Armstrong was handicapped by dating (and getting dumped by, but that was after his last win) Sheryl Crow!

The above hissed in response by: Dana Pico [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2006 3:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dana Pico

Ted Nugent on deer hunting:

He was being interviewed by a British journalist. The journalist asked,”What do you think the last thought is in the head of a deer before you shoot it? Is it, `Are you my friend?` or is it `Are you the one who killed my brother?’”

Nugent replied, “They aren’t capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, ‘What am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French in that way.”

The above hissed in response by: Dana Pico [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2006 3:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

Laurence Simon had the single best observation on Lance Armstrong's string of wins: "In the land of the ball-less, the one-balled man is king."

J.

The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2006 3:55 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

What point is existence if you've lost France's love? (Not mine. Stolen from Liberal Larry).

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2006 6:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Maybe some brave Frenchmen can head but Landis.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 4:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bill M

Landis has won the Tour de France. I am still laughing.

The above hissed in response by: Bill M [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 11:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: TBinSTL

Hey France, you might want to put some ice on that!

The above hissed in response by: TBinSTL [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 4:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dana Pico

One of my e-mail correspondents suggested that a Frenchman would have won if they'd just told him that the German army was pursuing him! :)

The above hissed in response by: Dana Pico [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 6:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: john.cunningham

My favorite quip re Armstrong was the comment I read after his last tour win. Allegedly there was a news flash that he had been disqualified after French officials found 3 substances banned in the land of Liberte--soap, deodorant, and toothpaste.

The above hissed in response by: john.cunningham [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 9:01 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Robert Anton Wilson points out that the average Frenchman has two testicles, whereas the average American has only one.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2006 2:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

I didn't get that at first, Dafydd, but then I thought about it some more: based on general American demographics and noted Americans like John Kruk and Lance Armstrong, I would bet that the actual number would be slightly less than one for Americans, but I'll grant you and Robert Anton Wilson the right of rounding up.

J.

The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2006 2:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

I heard someone call Landis "The Menonite Menace"

Monky - this is called humor. Ha ha? Get it? Never mind.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2006 9:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

One comment deleted (and the commenter banned) for about eight violations of the commenting rules in a single comment -- a new record!

...And it's not even who you think it is! It was a first-time "commenter" (I would rather say a drive-by cheese-eating surrender-troll.)

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 25, 2006 12:59 PM

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