Overall winner
Overall winner






Yesterday's tough stage winner

after he's just been handed over

his price by a representative of

Veuve Braquet's champagne shipper.

The effort still shows.









I'm not very keen on professional sport, of any kind, partly because of the financial aspects involved, but mostly because I, for one, am convinced most participants - whatever the category - cannot possibly be "clean". But this not the debate.


Yesterday, competition raged on the Tourmalet's slope. My partner - i.e. a 1,9 liter turbo-charged 4 cylinders Peugeot engine - had to climb this "col" somewhere in 2002 or 2003, one single slim passenger on board, and found it very hard, even in first gear and with one foot on the clutch, ready to help. The two of us averaged 18 km/h during the climbing.


But Jim Budd managed to clinch his "maillot bariolé" after a very clear win in Hautacam, though most of the Western press will preposterously claim Nintendo Barilla, the illustrious son of famous gameboy and pasta manufacturer, arrived first. Never believe newspapers and tele's alike, it's all Associated Press', Reuters' and AFP's intoxication.


Still, I've known Jim for a few years now. He managed to stay well and kicking after an extensive tasting at my place, together with none less than Andre Domine. He managed to slurp - and not blurp - a whole bottle presented to him by Coeliakos Papadopoulos (of FL fame) even before they went steinerian. He managed to remain in friendly terms with me after I pulled both his legs, quite a performance.


But the first sip of Veuve Braquet proved too much for him. What with carbonic gas or the acidic balance, or with the caustic humour of this Mr. Cobbold, Jim turned all puffed and reddish. Witnesses say he declined being submitted to blood sampling, yelling "Help, US Postal, help!". According to his lawyer, Mr. Budd's oenotocrit is well above normal range and no sign of hypertestosteronism show. Still, I wonder: this hypertrichosis, this huge ... appendage. I really wonder.


Anyway, three cheers for the good work, Jim,

and keep it that way till on the Champs Elysées. 



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