A cyclist just up and bailed in the middle of the Tour de France



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We throw the term “grueling” around pretty liberally in sports, but the Tour de France is grueling.

I rode about 17 fairly flat miles on my bike on Wednesday and I’m still feeling it in my legs Friday morning. Tour de France riders cover some 2,200 miles in 21 day-long segments over a 23-day period. That’s roughly the distance from New York to Albuquerque, traversed in three weeks, with stages in both the Pyrenees and the Alps, and not a lot of time to stop and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Oh, also: It’s exquisitely dangerous. You have to avoid crashing into other bikers, camerapeople, cows, and mountains. The event draws many of Europe’s craziest people, so you might have to dodge spit or urine or jackass daredevils.

This is why such an outrageously high percentage of Tour de France champions have been sanctioned for or at least suspected of doping. With due respect to the clean cyclists, it kind of feels like you need to be on drugs.

Rohan Dennis during the 2015 Tour de France (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

All that is an extremely long build-up to this story from the 2019 Tour de France, which is just past its midway point. During Stage 12 of the race on Thursday, Australian cyclist Rohan Dennis, in the words of the AP recap, simply “vanished.” His team put out a message on social-media saying it was concerned for his welfare, but he showed up again at the finish line and appeared to be OK. When his team’s director asked him what happened, he said, “I just don’t want to talk.”

My man bailed. And for all some might say he gave up too easily, I want to say: I feel this guy, Rohan Dennis. Dude had already spent two weeks in tight, tiny shorts riding 100 miles a day on his bike, and somewhere in the Pyrenees, for reasons unclear, he decided he’d had enough. Maybe he was just tired of being a cyclist, or maybe he was tired of all the associated nonsense. The only disappointing part is that he bothered to take the team bus back to the hotel. I imagine it would’ve been tempting to just ride off into the sunset in the Pyrenees, never to be heard from again. I guess you’re going to need your phone and your wallet and stuff.

My parents always taught me that you can’t quit anything while other people are counting on you, and there’s definitely merit to that. And Tour de France teams do all sorts of scheming over things like who’s going to bear the brunt of the draft so one selected competitor can win; they definitely compete as teams rather than as individuals.

But there are a lot of people on a Tour de France team, and it only takes a couple to protect Vincenzo Nibali from the wind. Whatever Dennis’ reason for quitting, kudos to him for doing it inventively and spectacularly.

Thursday’s big winner: Dan Le Batard

(Photo by Rodrigo Varela / ESPN Images)

The ESPN personality broke his company’s policy against political talk to rip the Trump supporters who chanted “Send Her Back!” about Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar. “Nobody talks politics on anything unless we can use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss the subject,” Le Batard said. “What you’re seeing happening around here is about race being turned into politics. And we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or (Gregg) Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through, when sports has been a place where this stuff changes.”

Quick hits: Yanks vs. ump, Cats, Tiger

– Microphones caught the entirety of the interaction that got Yankees manager Aaron Boone thrown out of a game on Thursday. I looked up some of the calls in question, and there’s definitely some merit to the Yanks’ complaints — the called strike to D.J. LeMahieu in the linked video was about six inches off the plate. And I don’t have a history of polite behavior toward sports officials myself. But Boone kind of comes off like a jerk, here. The umpire in question, Brennan Miller, is a rookie at the Major League level, and while Boone needs to protect his players, jumping down the ump’s throat like he does isn’t going to make him call a better game.

Cats screenshot

(Cats)

– Someone thought it was a good idea to make a movie version of the musical Cats. It has Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench in it. Also Idris Elba and Taylor Swift. They put together an incredible cast to make a movie version of the musical Cats.

– Tiger Woods’ back acted up in cold weather at the British Open and he had a rough first round. But when he did finally birdie his first hole of the day on 15, he had some fun with it.



Via OverwatchWire


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