I’ve been waiting for about 345 days for the Tour to start. It has been a tantalising build up, with the tangible possibility that the Manx Missile might be wearing the yellow jersey for the first time. As any fule kno, there is always a bigger gorilla. In this case, it wasn’t the Teutonic silverback, Lord Greipel, but an even bigger simian: the stage was won by the Orica Green Edge team bus.
It’s hard to understate the chaos that follows when you have bus neatly parked in the way of a charging peloton about 11 minutes away from the biggest and most ferocious all-out sprint of the Tour. It’s reassuring that even the greatest show on earth is occasionally hit by rank ineptitude. It confirms one of my longstanding philosophies – that people are just people, and higher up people have usually been doing something longer than those of us with lower down, but are no more worthy of our fawning admiration than those organising the local crashfest at a rainy airfield near you. And they are equally prone to completely messing things up.
In this case, they should have neutralised the race. That way they wouldn’t have had the crashes and an opening marred by confusion and surrealism. My favourite quote came from Marc Madiot. He’s a bit crazy anyway and always good value. he had this to say about Vicente Tortajada, president of the race commissaires:
“This Spaniard, whom I don’t know, can go back home.”
Which for some strange reason reminds of ‘People called Romanes they go the house“.
Here’s Marc Madiot when calm:
And here are some other moments of awe-inspiring madness from the Tour, starting with the photo-hungry policeman who showed just how gymnastic you can be with a compound fracture of your fibia and tibia:
And moving on to the inspired choice to route a peloton along a seaweed-strewn, greasy tidal causeway:
And two of the beastliest crashes ever seen:
In the crazed and demented stage today Johnny Hoogerland managed to hit the deck. He’s a professional crashmagnet with a bagload of previous and 33 stitches as testament to his mad skills.
I imagine the organisers will be hoping for a quieter day tomorrow. It’s unlikely.