Tour de France Fab Four. Who is McCartney?

 

Fab Four, non-cycling version

Fab Four, non-cycling version

 

This Tour de France “Fab Four” thing is starting to get hilarious.

Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana are all serious, highly possible winners of this year’s Le Grand Shindig.

However, the continual “Fab Four” references to the original Fab Four, the Beatles, have us wondering exactly who is who in that famous grouping.

The first role call is the easy one. Contador is clearly the John Lennon of the group. He’s the most vocal, the most well-known, the one most comfortable with the spotlight and leadership role. He is, after all, the Pistolero and anybody who ever say footage of the early Beatles rocking out in Germany with a snarling John Lennon understand that Chris Froome or Quintana aren’t up to front man status.

From there, the decision-making becomes instantly more difficult and confusing and Twisted Spoke begins to question if the whole Fan Four analogy really holds together.

Because, who would be Paul McCartney? We can quickly cross off Quintana for a number of reasons. He’s relatively new to the bright lights and only just hit the big stage after his Giro win last year. One could argue that Contador and Quintana both speaking Spanish would make them a natural duo like John and Paul. However, Quintana is still just too quiet and oddly Sphinx-like to rock the McCartney role.

At first pass, Chris Froome would seem the most likely candidate for the Fab Four McCartney position. Like Contador, he’s a proven winner and, with his active twitter account, it’s clear he doesn’t mind creating some social media buzz. (Nairo, step up to the twitter mic, bro.)

Froome and Contador have been squarely off in grand tour after grand tour, always side by side on the big climbs. They’ve got a little bit of that oil and water creative combustion thing going just like John and Paul. Alberto is the impetuous one, Froome the more methodical, stare at power meter one. Like McCartney, Froome is affable and well liked by all the lads at Sky. Froome and Contador both have stature and fame There’s a natural yin-yang here that feels right and yet …

We’re struggling. Because there’s a case to be made that Vincenzo Nibali belongs in the McCartney role. He’s a natural talent like McCartney and was tipped for stardom early on. He’s confident enough to go head to head with Alberto Lennon on any stage and can match the energy level and passion of the Spaniard. In that sense, they’re a strong duo. And let’s face it, the front man role also requires a bit of charisma and style and compared to the polite and understated Froome, Vincenzo has more flash.

Now the flip side of that argument is that Mr. Tranquillo might naturally fall in the George Harrison role, talented but not a front man, happy to play lead guitar but giving up the pressures of being the front man and principal songwriter. Nibali doesn’t seek the limelight and he’s happy and comfortable in his own skin so in the great Fan Four analogy he would slot nicely in the Harrison role.

It’s a devilish quandary and worth the opinion of every single top cycling journalist. Who is Paul McCartney — Froome or Nibali and our final vote is …. Vincenzo. That’s not an easy call to make and late in the Beatles trajectory, Harrison came into his own as a songwriter and personality which clouds the issue even more. However, we’re sticking with Nibali as McCartney just on basic, natural charisma.

That puts Chris Froome firmly in the Harrison role and that’s not a bad thing. If you consider that the success of Froome was largely unexpected, that he slowly worked his way up to stardom, then the Harrison connection works. Both are tall and skinny and it doesn’t take a wild imagination to park Froome and his guitar behind the Contador-Nibali duo. His wife Michelle might strenuously disagree but Froome-Harrison is our buy.

Now our cycling Fab Four is set with little Nairo Quintana on drums and channeling Ringo Star. Does the Colombian have any talent for pounding out a rock steady beat and anchoring the rhythm section of the most famous rock band of all time? In cycling terms, yes. We’ve seen plenty of evidence that Quintana can tap out a massive and steady beat on any mountain climb in the world.

Like Ringo himself, Quintana was the last member to join the Fan Four. Contador Froome and Nibali were already stars when Quintana hit the big stage. Yet make no mistake, Ringo and Quintana share an absolute confidence in their skills. The Beatles drummer was an accomplished sessions player before joining the group and Quintana’s climbing skills were in evidence early on. Both diminutive in size, this seems a solid choice. Yet to be determined — as Quintana’s English skills increase, is he capable of the off-the-cuff humor that Ringo always threw in the mix?

It’s ten days to go before the Fab Four play the Tour de France. Rock on.

 

 

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