It’s no secret that cycling is a highly charged sport, and emotions are frequently on display. For sure, the honesty of raw emotion is one of the many great things about the sport. It’s hardly surprising when guys are in the saddle giving it full gas for hours at a time, day after day, that riders sometimes struggle to keep a level head, and emotions boil over. It might be tears of celebration, the anguish of defeat or the pure comedy of a full on strop, but from time to time, most riders will ‘lose their sh*t’, and I now intend to celebrate this with a pick of some of our favourite undignified moments from cycling’s video vaults. (As some of these have been in the vaults for a long time, the quality is less than pristine, but it’s worth persevering.)
Rider v Bike
So you’re being watched by throngs of people along the roadside, and millions more on TV, when you have a mechanical. You instantly transmute from sleek, speeding zephyr, to waddling duck out of water, tottering on your suddenly useless cleats, and the only thing stopping you from looking like a questionably dressed guy in the middle of nowhere is the expensive carbon contraption you’re propping up. So what do you do? Well, if you’re a multi-gold medal winning Tour de France champion, you embrace the sheer ridiculousness of your predicament and do this:
In the past, David Millar has referred to the Team Sky bus as the Death Star, and there was certainly something in that throw that suggested a mastery of The Force. How else could the bike have come to such an elegant resting position? But Brad has form in the bike-throwing department. Remember the World Championships a few years ago?
David Millar himself is also familiar with The Force and has been known to use his bike in a re-enactment of Darth Vadar throwing the Emperor down a ventilation shaft.
Before I go on too much, I should confess that I’m no saint myself. No, really, I’m not! In my teenage years, I felt the need to throw my bike across a French lane after suffering its fourth puncture of the afternoon, and I have let out some pretty unholy outbursts at the weather. This is while sober as well!
Anyway, back to the chase, and what is almost a blooper reel for cycling. There are some fearsome characters in the sport, and when it comes to taking your frustrations out on your steed, I’m afraid my teenage petulance comes nowhere close to this little gem from Bjarne Riis. I love how nobody is sure if it’s safe to approach him!
Choose your weapon
It’s not all about the bike though. Sometimes riders show a bit of bottle, and start on actual people. Did I say show a bit of bottle? I meant throw …
Captain Caveman had a club, Jedis have lightsabers, Thor had a hammer, and Joan of Arc had a sword. Making the most ridiculous choice of weapon since Joe Pesci picked up a pen, Carlos Barredo decided to use a wheel to attack Rui Costa at the end of a Tour de France stage a few years ago [stage six in 2010, fact fans – Ed]. I also quite like Robbie McEwen’s candid appraisal of his experience of the sprint, and of course, I know Kitty’s going to like the closing couple of seconds! [Ant, I love the closing seconds! – Kitty.]
Put ‘em up!
Quite often things take a relatively conventional route, it just comes down to a good old-fashioned punch-up, and here are a few gems I’ve found. There is a lesson in this for all of us.
Firstly Cadel Evans kicks off in the Giro, although this is more like aggressive waving than a Chuck Norris-style ass-kicking.
But Cadel has shown his short fuse before. Remember the 2008 Tour de France, when he was protecting his injured shoulder from those who wanted to touch it? From a smile to a shout in a split second.
Hard man of old, Sean Kelly was renowned for mixing it in the physical arena of the bunch sprint, often with Eric Vanderaeden, with whom he had something of a touchy-slappy relationship, exemplified in stage six of the 1985 Tour de France, from which they were both relegated to last place because of some irregular sprinting. (Fast forward to 11:20 to start the knuckle action.)
And then there are these two guys. This is a proper ding-dong from the Vuelta a Espana in 1995, with a fight breaking out mid-peloton, and finishing up on the floor. I’m not sure that the wee pirouette 40 seconds in is a Bruce Lee signature move gone wrong. It’s like watching two new-born giraffes having a fight on a waterbed.
I’m gonna bus’ you up
Under normal circumstances, a lot of this senseless violence would be avoided if riders would count to ten, keep calm, and wait until after the race, when they can have an adult conversation about perceived wrongdoings in the comfort of a team bus. That is, unless one of the parties involved is Tyler Farrar. [That would be Tyler Farrar, student of Buddhism – Ed.]
The first rule of Fight Club is: never start on Bernard Hinault
And finally, I couldn’t complete this little selection without a nod to the Badger. Bernard Hinault loves cycling, and hates those that get in the way of it. In 1984, a bunch of guys on strike tried to break up the Paris-Nice as a demonstration, and Hinault delivered a demonstration of his own.
And more recently, when somebody jumped onto the podium at the end of a 2008 Tour de France stage, he showed that he’s still got the magic. (I think the intruder was actually pleased that he’d been thrown by the mighty Hinault.) Total genius.
M. Hinault, I salute you. As for the rest of you, a course of anger management sessions await.