Well, the Vuelta a España is over, which marks the last Grand Tour of the year, as well as three weeks of no one paying much attention to the Vuelta. If the three Grand Tours were stooges, the Vuelta would certainly be Larry: peculiar, strangely-haired, easy-to-be-indifferent-about Larry.
As you can see from the following video, Larry, like the Vuelta, has a lot of problems with lobsters, which regularly mount an attack on the peloton during the race. Also like Larry, the Vuelta doesn’t contain very many big name riders. There are some, like Mark Cavendish and Frank Schleck, but I can’t escape the feeling that, as a whole, the rider list represents the B team.
But why should this be so? Why is it that the Vuelta is harder for me to care about than the other two Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia (the Curly of the Grand Stooges), or the Tour De France (Mo)?
Of course I shouldn’t forget our great American race, the Tour of California, which is most likely the Shemp in my Stooges metaphor, in that it is around enough to acknowledge but not the first one you’d think of. Shemp, as you may recall, was around from the beginning as a Stooge, but was greatly overshadowed by Curly in later years just as the Giro is overshadowed by the Tour de France.
I think it is mostly a matter of timing. The Giro happens in May, when I am just getting back on my bike. I’m excited about the season ahead, both for myself and for the professional peloton. This lends itself easily to laughing at the antics during the Giro, much as I might laugh at Curly, the most jovial of the Stooges. Curly’s girth also represents the extra pounds a rider finds attached to himself in the spring.
You may remember some of these hilarious peloton antics delivered by none other than the great Australian stooge himself, Cadel Evans. Here he is slapping at Daniele Righi for reasons unknown during this year’s Giro d’Curly
Once Curly has performed all the slapfighting that professional cycling can withstand, the Tour de France — or Tour de Mo — heaves into view, the unchallenged leader of the three. Though Mo and the Tour are both comprised of the same materials as their counterparts — cycling in the case of the Grand Tours and slapstick hijinks in the case of the Stooges — somehow they manage to be most important.
Sadly for the Vuelta, I find myself somewhat burned out on racing bicycles and ready for the year to be over, which lends itself much more successfully to going out with my friends and drinking beers than it does to waking up early and riding. This is not to say, of course, that I won’t be racing Cyclocross again this year, however, because as I proved during the last race of the 2009 season, that is a thing that a person can do while drinking a beer.
I did have to put my beer down to get over the barriers, but life has its little difficulties, does it not?
Still, congratulations to Vincenzo Nibali, who won Larry. Nicely done!