Tour de France - Zabriskie's 69er provides saucy start
Blazin' Saddles gets rather saucy with his first blog of this year's Tour de France by tackling the curious start of Dave Zabriskie.
Fabian Cancellara may have smashed it to nail a 22nd day in yellow after a trademark sweet-smelling prologue performance - but the alternative story of the Tour de France opener in Liege was Dave Zabriskie's sumptuous double 69er.
Just 24 hours after the zany American professed to being the "happiest rider at the Tour" after being balloted the race's number 69 bib, Zabriskie emphasised his commitment to the cause by finishing 69th in the 6.4-kilometre leg-stretcher.
For someone who specialises in solo riding with as swift a climax as possible, you could argue that this 69er kind of sucks. But that's taking it as a given that Zabriskie simply rode one place slower than 68 other riders on the day.
Zabriskie being Zabriskie, he probably intended to finish 69th — no small feat considering he had to time his ride to a matter of milli-seconds to ensure not coming too early.
"Came in 69th today. I'm 69ing this race to death," Tweeted Zabriskie after his achievement — prompting Saddles some pre-sleep unsavoury visions involving lamb-chop sideburns, cycling human centipedes, vanilla ice cream and large, flaky chocolate rods.
The thought of anyone being "69ed to death" — especially by Zabriskie himself — is quite disturbing. And there was Saddles thinking the American was a vegetarian. (Obviously he's one of those veggies who can eat fish.)
Perhaps Zabriskie's penchant for the 69er marks a new head-to-toe approach to the Tour for the madcap veteran? Could we be seeing Zabriskie turning this race upside down and going for the jugular while everyone else is happy to go on with their regular missionary duties?
Saddles just hopes that the man behind DZNuts lubricating chamois cream for saddle frottage doesn't get carried away with his penchant for all things 69.
You see, that odd Captain America-inspired national time trial champions skin-suit he was wearing on Saturday was designed by comic-loving Zabriskie himself. What if the Garmin-Sharp maestro decides to bring out his own personalised range of number 69 bibs?
Supposing Zabriskie did not actually intend to finish where he did and it was all just a coincidence, then Saddles is sure that we can all agree that his ride hardly merits being one of the talking points for an opening day Tour blog.
But what else can you say about Fabian Cancellara? Saddles could have plundered the archives from previous prologue blogs about Spartacus through the ages … but where would the fun have been in that?
The Swiss veteran's win was a boon for his struggling RadioShack outfit, who have entered the Tour in disarray following a catalogue of soap opera-like occurrences which threatened to turn the team into the biggest comedy collective since Monty Python.
Not many conclusions can be made after a short opening day on the road.
Cancellara has clearly recovered from his Flanders collarbone snap; Bradley Wiggins looks strong — but we already knew that; Denis Menchov surprised; Cadel Evans, choosing not to wear the yellow as defending champion, turned up to the office and did a decent enough job not to pick up a P45; Tony Martin was unlucky in needing a bike change — but probably was not going to better his rival Cancellara anyhow.
Vincenzo Nibali and Ryder Hesjedal were solid; Jens Voigt and Andreas Kloden — despite a combined aged of 97 — came home in the top 20 to complete a nice opening day for RadioShack; oh, hang on, was that Frank Schleck Saddles saw trickling over the line in 136th place?
Hmm... losing 38 seconds over a 6.4km course doesn't bode well for Frank — especially with more than 90km of time trialling still on the agenda. Still, he can make up some time on all those summit finishes, can't he? Oh, hang on...
Besides Martin's bike change, the drama of the day came from Peter Sagan, who although not coming anywhere near repeating his Tour de Suisse prologue perfection, did show his total domination in avoiding hairpin crashes by brushing off a potential spill with considerable dexterity.
Even when messing up, the Slovakian sensation looks good. If anyone deserves the 69 bip, it's Sagan.