The rest of the Tour de France grades are now posted. Only one F this year and even that failure comes with an asterisk of approval. Here we go, starting with the Frenchys.
The only ProTour team with an institutionalized stutter, the B-B-Boys took care of le bizness in le Tour. The rider with the biggest nose, Pierrick Fedrigo won stage 16th ruining Lance Armstrong’s last hope for glory. Then Thomas Voeckler, the French housewives’ favorite, got a second stage win. A story a few days later revealed that Fedrigo had been seeing a sports psychologist who’d given him three secret power words to give him confidence for a win. Twisted Spoke is guessing those three words were: “Double. Your. Salary.”
We don’t know how Voeckler got his housewife title but we’ll always remember him sitting in a team car with the window down as a French housewife in her best print dress wished him “bon courage” three times without him even paying the slightest attention. She now roots for Euskatel Euskadi.
And finally, Anthony Charteau finished the Tour in polka dots. Nobody ever heard of Anthony outside of France but what does he care — France is where he’ll score the free drinks. A fab tour the for stutter squad. A+
A stage win is the one and only brench mark for French teams. Get one, success, miss out, failure. Therefore, all is well is the AG2R world, saved from ignominy by Christope Riblon in stage 14. He did it in the classic French way, claiming the day before he was ready to drop out of the tour … but some how, some way, with a super-powered croissant perhaps, he was able to find the strength, the gallic get up and go, to pull off a superb win, bringing joy and honor to France and keeping the money from AG2R coming in. Grade: B
Francaise Des Jeux
Get your head in the game, as I like to tell the kids when I’m beating them in cards, ping pong and basketball. The French national lottery is a big game in the biggest bike game of all. They beat the odds once again with Sandy Casar winning stage 9 to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. What more can you say? The FDJ crew had reason to celebrate and when they hit the Champs Elysees. They could hold their heads high — which is more than you can say for the boys below.
The was an awesome Tour in general for French riders but sadly, Cofidis was the one team that arrived in Paris empty-handed. We’ll also add that among the French public — based solely on road side support, road chalk and paint and the number of flags and banners — the Cofidis crew is dead last.
When little Sammy Dumoulin quit the tour citing exhaustion, things went from bad to worse. No win, low fan support, a truly forgettable tour. Grade: F — which we round up to a D- in appreciation for the Cofidis mechanic who picked me up when I was hitch-hiking off the last section of cobbles in stage three.
Gazuntite. The Russian sneeze team did what it had to do: a stage win. While the crafty Bond villain Sergei Ivanov could not deliver, Joaquin Rodriguez of the Russian part of Spain got a big win with perhaps a little help from his buddy Alberto Contador. Props to 38 year old sprinter Robbie McEwan for giving it his best shot, picking up a third, I believe. Grade: B
When Samuel Sanchez went down hard on his face near the end of the tour, the entire crazed Basque world stopped mid-tapas and had a heart attack. Rightly so. He and Denis Menchov were locked in a death match to climb onto the podium next to Andy and Alberto.
It wasn’t to be as Menchov was the superior time trialer. Nevertheless, Sammy kept the orange faithful in the race. That’s worth something but no stage wins and that’s a tres grand no-no. We also have to take points off for being the team every other rider is afraid to ride next to — they’re blamed for half the tour crashes. For that we get out the red pen to downgrade the orange men. Grade: B-
The team formerly known as Alejandro Valverde, had a quiet Tour de France. What’s the cycling expression? They “animated” a few stages. 39 year old Christophe Moreau often rode at the front and the Caisse jersey was usually in evidence but the big stage win eluded them. In their defense, they were good at signing autographs and every morning they did an excellent job of parking the team bus. So uhh, where’s that leave them? Somewhere around… grade… C-