RAGT's final glorious charge into gay Paree

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Clovis Lark, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. Clovis Lark

    Clovis Lark Guest

    Stage 21

    The ruination of all perpetual motion machines is when they inevitably
    stop. And, en fin, so too the churning spokes of the RAGT retinue finally
    slowed and stopped. It was a day for graciousness, as they let off the
    brakes for one day to allow Domina Vacanze and US Postal, one of the true
    nonentities of the competition to battle for team honors. In the end, it
    wasn't even close, the glue in the brake calipers of Domina Vacanze
    thoroughly defeating the American interlopers. The day was not just for
    hard fighting, unlike the previous 3 weeks. It was a day for a moment's
    reflection. As they bid au revoir to the city of Victor Hugo and headed
    toward the cathedral of his most famous misshapen hero, RAGT showed it was
    capable of joviality, camaraderie. Perhaps most magnanimous, they allowed
    their team director to offer the peloton some of their recovery drink
    stock via Director LeBlanc's auto. Director Jean-Luc Jonrond was
    uncharacteristically candid as he remarked that everyone had wondered what
    secrets RAGT and Veuve Clicot had hidden in their elixir that had
    destroyed the field in the team competition. Indeed, the effect was so
    pronounced that when cameras turned on the man in the banana shirt and
    asked him to count to ten, he was only able to get to six, using his
    fingers and fumbling when forced to employ his left hand. No doubt, the
    embarrassing moment added to the concerns as to whether RAGT's recovery
    drink was up to UCI specifications. Nonetheless, seeing the Posties
    suddenly contending for stage honors following meager sips of this
    seemingly magical concoction, nobody can deny that it is effective! And
    speaking of specifications, what were those Posties thinking? Not content
    with being shackled with the canary t-shirt, they decided to illegally
    modify their outfits, secretly flying in Martha Stewart's latest insult,
    hand decorations in gold leaf! This miserable display was surely in bad
    taste, for they must have known they would be parading 8 times later in
    the day past the gleaming gold effigy of Jean d'Arc, which could only make
    their outfits' modifications look tawdry. And with Postal staying out on
    the Champs Elysees 38 seconds longer than all but one team, this foolish
    change was surely rubbed in the faces of all who lined the streets.

    But there was some minor racing during the course of the day as well. An
    hour 11 minute lead over the field at the start allowed RAGT some freedom
    to settle some small scores. First off, RAGT showed that they controlled
    the peloton. Since their patron had fallen short and had already no
    chance at the Lanterne Rouge, they manipulated the peloton with clever
    moves. Tiring of the attempts of other teams to dilute the spotlight on
    them by dallying, RAGT brazenly sent one of its riders up the road.
    Amazingly, the other teams lost their heads and chased. It was only later
    that they realized they had been taken for fools and RAGT was again
    comfortably in the rear. Then Jean Luc saved his best for last: the
    humiliation of Jimmy Casper, leader for the Lanterne Rouge. As discussed
    yesterday, mediocre time trialing by Frederic Finot had made Casper a
    virtual lock for this. However, Sebastien Joly might still have a chance.
    Thus, Casper was duped into the final sprint, while Joly was permitted by
    RAGT to trail back among the elite. The result, a stunning loss of over 2
    and a half minutes for Casper. Nothing to shake his ultimate triumph, but
    certainly he'll be working hard for weeks removing the tarnish from his

    But enough of the cynical side of sport! There is a special feeling when
    the riders sprint into Paris down the Champs Elysees. As they make that
    first turn and one finally sees Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, and Andreas
    Kloeden pedaling in the magnificent shade of those beautiful trees, one
    wonders whether they were planted just for them!

    Following the closing ceremonies, we were invited to the RAGT team
    celebration. There were quite a few local women at the gay event who
    never appeared on the podia, but who were extremely fond of declaring
    "Oui, oui!" As is well known RAGT had, in addition to a large stock of
    baked beans and Veuve Clicot, but 5000 Euros for this event, and it became
    clear that party supplies were running short. This threatened the
    continued presence of the women whose inclination to declare "Oui, oui"
    was drying up. Thus the hat was passed around and a couple team members
    went looking for additional partying materiel. Luckily, they spotted Jan
    Ullrich, still luxuriating under a splendid elm on the street and he
    agreed to go in search of some recreational drugs for a nominal
    honorarium. As he sped off on his bicycle, Greg Lemond, who happened to
    be passing by, wagged his head disapprovingly at how easily Ullrich was
    persuaded to help, muttering:

    "On peut transformer un etalon en une mule"