Tour de France wild cards? Uhh, how wild?
Everybody knows how wild and crazy the French get.
Have you ever been in a French bakery when there’s a long line and the baguettes run out? Yeah, that kind of raving lunatic crazy.
Word out of the ASO, the company that runs the Tour de France, is that wildcards will be announced early. According to technical director Jean-François Pescheux, there are going to be “several surprises.” Oh la-la-la-la.
The 18 ProTeams are automatically invited to La Grande Boucle so that leaves 23 smiling and desperate Professional Continental squads waving their hands and shouting, pick me, pick me. Not an easy call to make and guaranteed to fire up a firestorm no matter how the wild cards fall.
This year ASO will supposedly announce the invites as soon as January, doing away with the normal “prove yourself” period. This opens up even more opportunity for outrage from spurned teams that race out of the gate in the early season to bag several wins.
Will the former B-B-B- Bbox boys, now called Europcar, make the drive? French National Champion Thomas Voeckler, the French housewives favorite, will want a return engagement. Will Team Type 1 sneak in on the strength of their unique Diabetes mission? They charmed Ernesto Colnago into supplying bikes this season — co-founder Phil Southerland is a persuasive guy.
Wild cards can get pretty crazy but surely the French will throw a lifeline to a French team or two, perhaps Bretagne Schuller since the tour launches in Brittany. Lottery team Francaise des Jeux is gambling on a invite and so is Cofidis.
There have been plenty of stories in the press about the internal battles at Geox between the footwear sponsor and team management. Will Carlos “chronic fatigue” Sastre and last year’s third place Denis Menchov get a return ticket?
It’s pretty difficult to anticipate what the French will do because they’re wild and unpredictable. After all, who can explain why the French insist Jerry Lewis is a comic genius? Why they think that aging playboy rocker Johnny Halliday is as talented as Mick Jagger? Why for that matter are they still obsessed with Freddie Mercury and Queen?
The French are wacky and nobody really has a line on how the French brain works. George Washington asked for help and Lafayette crossed the ocean with troops. George Bush asked for help with the Axis of Evil and the French laughed at him — which is what all smart people did by the way.
Figure out why the French are still wearing scarves and you might have a clue about this year’s tour wildcards. Remember, the national bird is the rooster, described an both arrogant and stupid. Winston Churchill said “no wonder the French took it as an emblem: it is the only animal who can sing with his feet in shit.”
Now Twisted Spoke majored in French way back when and we have a true fondness for the French style and attitude. We appreciate their charming quirks, their misguided sense of world importance and the fact that their women always smell good and dress with style — not overtly sexy like Italian women but dialed back just a touch so to speak.
Given our understanding of the French way of thinking, we can say with certainly we have no idea who the wild cards will be. Only that the selections with be justified with a certain je ne sais quoi.