Rinaldo Nocentini has died and gone to Tour de France heaven. There isn’t a happier man in the peloton or on the planet.
Have you heard the stories? Rinaldo singing in the tour bus, belting out Italian pop songs in the shower. His grin is unstoppable, he’s on Yellow Cloud Nine, he’s signing every autograph in sight.
He’s chatting up journalists, high-fiving the fans, practically bouncing off his bike with excitement. The son of a brick-layer, Rinaldo is enjoying every juicy moment of his time in yellow. His facebook page is probably ready to explode with well-wishers.
The official tour lore states that wearing the yellow jersey gives a man wings and the strength of two men. For Nocentini, it’s also taken him into a deep euphoric state that only hallucinogenic drugs or a dozen years of Zen meditation can take you.
Have you seen the pictures? The man cannot stop smiling. He’s tanned, he’s photogenic, he’s italian, he’s a bundle of lycra-wrapped joy. There he is with his beautiful Italian wife Manola kissing at the start line, kissing at the finish–for all we know, he stops mid-stage and they smooch a few more times. You’d think they were on their honeymoon and this was Club Med Maillot Jaune.
“I could go another three, four days at the head of the entire race,” said Nocentini. “It is every cyclist’s dream to reach this kind of glory. This is a very sweet dream.”
If the coveted yellow jersey was awarded not to the strongest rider but the happiest, Nocentini would take it all the way to Paris. Whoever wins the tour will have a big smile on their face standing at the top of the podium. But no rider will every enjoy the maillot jaune more than Rinaldo Nocentini.
As the French say, Chapeau. Hats off, man.