Organisers of the Tour de France have caused controversy on the eve of the race by declaring that the penultimate stage, the individual time trial, will be ridden on 1970’s classic Raleigh Chopper bikes.
Stage 20 on the final weekend was seen as a pivotal one in deciding who wins the famous yellow jersey, but this latest ruling has thrown things wide open.
“We decided to spice things up a little” a Tour insider told Paddy Power News, “We want all the riders to have an equal chance, so they’ll all be given the same cocktail of performance-enhancing chemicals at the start line and a bike with only three gears instead of those stupid time-trial things with wheels that look like flying saucers.
“The biggest problem we’ve had is trying to find 200 Raleigh Choppers on eBay, because collectors are asking for a ton of money for them these days.”
We managed to grab a word with top British hope Geraint Thomas before Friday’s Grand Depart in Copenhagen, as a decent time-trialist himself, he wasn’t impressed with the last-minute alteration
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“It’s not great” he explained, “We’ve had no chance to ride one of these to try to get used to the handling.
“Luckily, Dave Brailsford’s managed to find an old one in his garage the other day so he’s chucked that onto the team bus so the lads can at least have a go.
“He’s warned us not to dick around and try descending Mont Ventoux on it though cos if a tyre blows he hasn’t another one.”
And the 36-year-old explained how the last-minute change will affect their preparation for the race.
“We’ve been watching some old 70’s videos on YouTube to try to get the right look.
“I can’t wait to stick a big aerial to the back seat with a flag tied to it. I’ve also asked if we can put some card in between the spokes to make that flutter sound.”
Thomas’s Team Ineos bosses were also surprised by the late rule change, a spokesman told us that;
“We think it makes a mockery of the whole event. You have great riders like Geraint, who’ve targeted Stage 20 as a key one and now this.
“It could have been worse, however,” they continued. “At one point there was talk of scrapping the yellow jersey completely and making the leader wear a beret, striped t-shirt and a bunch of onions around their neck.
“Thankfully, the UCI were concerned that if the rider got the hunger knock and started scoffing the onions, it could give them terrible heartburn.”
The Tour de France gets underway on Friday. In Denmark, naturally.
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