TOUR DE FRANCE PART TROIS: RECAP

Greetings, loyal bike brethren.

Blessings and good tidings be upon thee, oh innumerable hordes of the Cyclenation, as we settle into mid-summer and enter the final push of Le Tour 2015. Stage 21's finish line looms upon the horizon, but there’s still plenty of action left to watch, discuss, and wax snide and snarky over in the coming days, so stay tuned.

After a brief hiatus due to some unavoidable conflicts, the blog crew is back on the road and hittin’ it hard. Two words: binge spelunking—I’ll let your imaginations do the rest.

We know you were deprived of last week’s dose of MBR biketalk. We’re very sorry. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive us?

Awesome. Thanks guys, we knew we could count on—wait, what?

You... you don't forgive us?

Wha… I… But…

...

Buncha jerks.

We bust our butts for you guys, week in week out, and we accidentally to let one slip through the cracks? You would think we'd done something personally vindictive to all of you, like TP'd your houses or waxed your dogs, but, like, instead of toilet paper we used Saran Wrap, and instead of your dogs it was your parents. At the same time. On your birthday. Because you, uh... all have... the same... um...

birthdays?

...

Wow.

That was pushing it, even for me. (Cut me some slack—I'm rusty.)

Butmovingonthenanwaysregardless, you, my unforgiving friend, obviously learned precisely nothing from this guy:

Haters gawn hate.

What you’re probably feeling now is some good old-fashioned, capital R-Remorse. Either that, or you're already plotting my demise for the Saran-Wrap-slash-parent-waxing joke. Rightfully so, I suppose.

But seriously—

If you guys read this thing enough to be disappointed when it doesn't go up, many thanks. Really. The readership is very much appreciated, and it keeps us motivated to keep putting this thing out every week.

Now enough of this Sparksian-Notebook cryfest.

Let’s get rolling, shall we?

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To begin, we’d like to do a quick recap to shed further Internet-light on some big happenings from earlier this month. History has been made yet again at this year's TdF with a—nay—with several firsts.

Rewind to July 10th: The Tour is fully underway. The first-round jitters and shock of pregame controversies have worn off. Riders have just completed the 7th Stage of the race, a grueling climb up the infamous Col du Tourmalet, the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees. The day is done, the battle is over, and now, the whole cycling world looks to the Eritrean cycle team after a marvelous performance.

Not France, not Italy, not the US of A—Eritrea.

Sound a bit out of place for the TdF? It should. We’ll get to why in a moment.

Take a gander at the giddy-looking man atop the podium sporting the coveted polka dot jersey:

You'd be smiling, too, in that sandwich. 

That’s Daniel Teklehaimanot, one of two Eritreans competing in this year’s 102nd edition of the Tour de France. And he’s one hell of a climber.

For those not in the know, the polka dots don’t come easy. That jersey means that Teklehaimanot nabbed the top score for climbing Stage 7, granting him the illustrious title of “King of the Mountain” and confirming his status among the peloton as one tough son of a bitch.

Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus—his fellow Eritrean and teammate, a respectable rider in his own right who at age 21 already boasts an impressive backlog of wins and places around the world—are the first black Africans to compete in the Tour de France.

It follows, then, that this is the first TdF leader jersey to be worn by a black African.

Props, Eritrea.

The tiny East African country is already making waves and earning top-tier recognition in their cycling team's freshman outing at Le Tour, an event historically dominated by white Europeans.

Plus, Eritrea is small. Like, really small. To give you some basis of comparison, Eritrea's population hovers around 6,000,000. That's 2 mil less than New York City. And in a country that suffers from a considerable lack of paved roadways and cycling infrastructure for training (not to mention a class-based stigma surrounding owning and riding bikes), it's just damn cool to see these guys up on the world stage.

Gives a scrawny young cyclist in the wet, gray Northwest hope, ya know?

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That's it for this week, y'all. Keepin' it simple today. Stay frosty.

Now go watch Le Tour!

—TheBikeMensch


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