Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tour de France 2011 and this year's podium girls

Agent Triple P is enjoying this year's Tour de France thanks to ITV4's live coverage which he can watch in the evening with a bottle of wine from the appropriate region (where possible- we baulked at getting cidre for the northern stages).  Today's route up to the Pyrenees is in the Haute-Garonne and the Hautes-Pyrenees which means something like Vin de Pays du Comte Tolosan (We think Tesco has one, although its getting more and more difficult to get French regional wine in the UK given the primacy of New World wine these days).

This time shift is possible due to yet another kind technology transfer (its like the Royal Navy transferring their past-it frigates to India -something that soon, no doubt will be happening in reverse) from Agent DVD who has kindly given me his old Pace TV hard drive recorder thingy to replace Triple P's ancient video recorder. 

Cavendish gets the green jersey yesterday

The race itself has been unpredictable this year, partly due to the large number of unfortunate crashes which saw several favourites knocked over and either losing lots of time (Contador - good) or out (Wiggins - bad, Vinokourov - good) in the first ten days.  Rather more predictable has been the form of Mark Cavendish who, after mistiming it on Tuesday blasted to his third stage win and green jersey yesterday.  Lets hope he can hang on in the mountains to take it into Paris.  The grumpy wombat, Cadel Evans, actually looked happy for once when he won a stage and he is looking good for the mountains today but the Schleck brothers have stayed out of trouble, not exerted themselves and are looking cool and collected.  Evans will have to be less reactive and attack for once if he wants to win.  Maybe this year's stage win, where he did attack, is a sign of things to come.

Teen vampire friendly podium boy

More importantly, with relation to the tour, we haven't been that impressed by the podium girls this year.  Even worse, after the first stage the Tour organisers fielded a podium boy for the first time.  A spokesperson for the Tour de France stated, “We want to show that our sport has an equal following of both men and women. This will modernize our image by having both sexes represented at our podium presentation from now on.”  Er, yes but all the cyclists are men and although you garlic crunchers may be happy kissing other men I can't see that it would impress Cavendish that much.  Interestingly, we haven't seen another podium boy since the first stage so maybe they realise that they have made a mistake.  Our particular French friend N opined that at least the podium boy was more attractive (compared with most men) than most of the podium girls (compared with most women) and we have to agree, actually.

Thor Hushovd and the slightly disappointing yellow jersey girls (the one on the right is by far the best)

The podium girls are, traditionally, usually models and around 500 apply each year to be the Maillot Jaune girls.  50 are interviewed and four are chosen to present the jersey at the end of the race.  There are other girls selected to present the stage winner's prize, the polka dot jersey for the climbers, the green jersey for the sprinters (technically the most points won on selected intermediate "sprint" locations -only one in each stage this year) and the white jersey for the best placed young rider (under 26).

Welshman Geraint Thomas takes the white Jersey this year

Actually, the white jersey girls this year have been the best of the bunch, we think, whilst we like the green jersey girls' natty little dresses.

The ne plus ultra of podium girls: Julie Blanc

Certainly there is no-one this year of the quality of Julie Blanc.  The riders are absolutely forbidden to flirt with the girls but if they do its the girls, of course, who get into trouble.  Probably the rider gets fined.  The Tour organisers like to fine riders for anything they can think of.

Melanie Simonneau in 2003

In 2003, George Hincapie (this year riding his 16th Tour de France, amazingly) liked the look of one of the podium girls,  Melanie Simonneau, so much he tried to send a message to her through some people working for the jersey's sponsor, Credit Lyonnais.  Unfortunately this meant that she was kicked off the Tour.  Hincapie was persistant however and they married and now have two children.

Melanie Hincapie enlivens the Tour once more in 2007

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