10 toasts from Tour de France champange country

Champagne at 10am? Welcome to Le Tour.

I feel bubbly.

Stage five of this year’s tour runs from Epernay to Montargis, smack dab in the middle of champagne country.

In Epernay along the Avenue of Champagne there are 110 kilometers of of cellars and 200 million bottles of champagne storer underground. In the event of a massive earthquake, the resulting pop of that many corks would probably blow us all to the moon.

Just standing anywhere in this region is enough to make you feel effervescent. At the village du depart in Epernay, they were pouring champagne at 9 in the morning. So in that bubbly spirit, a few toasts are in order.

1 To Mark Cavendish

It would be wise for you to keep your mouth shut on occasion but watching you cry on the podium after winning reminds us how genuine you are and how much you love the sport. Sante.

2 Tyler Farrar

Plenty of tough guys in the Tour de France. To riding the cobblestone on stage three with a fractured wrist and working like a dog for your leadout man Julian Dean in stage four (who took a fantastic 2nd place). Sante.

3 Alberto Contador

Just about every cycling writer in the universe though you’d have trouble with the cobblestones. Nope. You rode them like a pro – which by the way, you are — and rolled in ahead of Mr. Armstrong. Sante.

4 Alessandro Petacchi

Damn, you still got it, tall, sexy Italian sprinter dude. I thought you got the freebie with your first win when most of the other sprinters crashed are were held up but your second stage win was vintage Petacchi and shades of Cipolini. At 36 you still got skilz. Sante.

5 Stephane Auge

Why? Because everyday at sign-in he stops for fans and smiles and signs autographs like he enjoys the experience instead of acting like it’s a huge imposition. A class act, at least from our view. Sante.

6 Jens Voigt

Perhaps the most popular man in the peloton, Jens buried himself for his captain Andy Schleck when the skinny Luxemburger crashed in stage 2. Voigt has the unique ability to grit his teeth, go full gas, au bloc, all out and still appear to be smiling through the grit. He’s good for a round of drinks on me anytime. Sante.

7 The French Police

Now maybe having a press pass and a press banner on the car helps smooth the way and improve their attitude but I’ve found the French police uniformly — excuse the pun — helpful. Like they actually think their main occupation to caring for people. Refreshing and so necessary. I don’t have a GPS for navigation but I do have the gendarmes. They’ve been a big help. Sante.

8 The Cofidis mechanic

Everybody covering Le Tour has at least two or three bad days where everything goes wrong. The fast moving circus is just to complicated not to screw up any number of things. I got myself trapped and abandoned on the last section of cobblestones and 10 kilometers from the finish and press room. That’s a long hike at the end of a day. I was forced to hitch and the Cofidis guy gave me a lift for part of the way. If my wife had seen how handsome he was, she would have left me instantly.

9 Fabian Cancellara.

WHo looks better in a yellow jersey. SO much cooler than some emaciated climber who looks ready to die of hunger. Plus, superstar Fabian is always read to work for others in his team. Sante.

10 My fellow journalists

I used the term “fellow” loosely because unlike the Tour of California, I don’t need to file at the end of every stage. Up close the bike riders are even more impressive. Same goes for the men and women covering the tour — they’re the best of the best. Watching them deal with the travel, the deadlines, the long hours, the 1000 things that can wreck your day each and every day and do it for three weeks is pretty impressive. It looks easy when it’s online or in the magazine but now I know what it takes. Good wifi, for one. Sante,



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  • http://chronictriathletec.com ChronicTriathlete

    Like your blog, but you need spell check and review your posts before publishing. This one only shows 3 of your 10 toasts.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      CHronic, major major wifi probs for me in France today. It annoys you and just drives me crazy. WOrking on it.

  • Jorge

    Don't wary about the spell check. Your blog is like walking barefooted, a great delight. Finding a pebble on the road, just enhances the experience.

    Great job at the tour!!!

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      Jorge, thanks, that realy means a lot. Today was a hard day, the last before the mountains. Finally made it to Autun and my hotel and found your comment and it really brightened my mood. I'll get better and I'm super excited for tomorrow. The tour is hard for everybody from the riders to the writers. Matt

  • Rwhoutx

    I agree w Jorge – although I coul not have hoped to say it with the same charm or eloquence. The typos (of which there aren't too many) add to the experience for me. I like getting these "posts" from the front line of the battle.

  • TR

    Matt I agree with Jorge, Rwhoutx. I admire your way with words and enjoy your insight in the pro cycling world. You have a unique perspective on the sport and those who are involved, and that perspective has given me pause, consideration, laffs and shakes of the head at just how twisted it is sometimes. Love it. Best in class and possibly best read on net.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      TR, when the days are hard — despite this being a total dream — notes like that remind me no matter how hard, it’s still a thrill and to roll with the craziness. Thanks, Matt