This year's edition of Le Tour is not even halfway finished and already featured a lot of oddities, many of which have gone viral. Here's everything so far to catch you up to speed.
Danish fans were so proud that their capital was used for the Grand Depart that a record number of spectators came out to watch the peloton pass by.
Odd facial garments appeared on the first day of Le Tour, the grand departure ITT.
Some called it a face sock. Some people called it a snood. Nobody really knows what to call it, but the garment is designed to streamline the flow of wind around the sides of the head by pinning ears behind the fabric. And it looks absolutely ridiculous.
Specialized kept the technology top secret before unveiling it at the tour, to a crowd full of nothing but negative responses.
The snood apparently did not help as much as intended, as none of the top finishers were using it.
Geraint Thomas also made headlines, the rider completed the stage wearing a gilet that was supposed to be taken off after warming up. He still finished the stage in 18th place, out of a total playing field of 198 riders, the top 9%. Nonetheless, in post-race interviews, Thomas blamed everything from his gilet to riding like an inexperienced rider (his words, not ours, we believe he performed very well).
Every single day since the gilet minor mishap, Thomas has been posting to Twitter about his gilet. Every. Single. Day.
It is worth noting that at the time of publication, Thomas is 6th in contention for GC and Ineos Grenadiers hold all spots from 4th to 8th, as per the official Tour de France website. And the margins are paper-thin all the way down to the 25th place--more on that later.
Many odd scenes unfolded in this edition of the tour. Support riders pulling opposing team members. Odd multi-bike swaps as the peloton passed. And many more, here are some highlights.
Take a look at this highlight of Jumbo-Visma riders swapping bikes back and forth before the team car arrives, just seconds behind. And then getting passed by the main group due to losing precious time.
Neilson Powless, EF Education-EasyPost is currently in second place overall. Supporting team rider Alberto Bettiol made headlines after Robbie McEwen attacked Bettiol, exclaiming that the rider was pulling opposing team member Tadej Pogačar, the current race leader. McEwen was quoted as saying, "You've got Magnus Cort and Neilson Powless in the breakaway with a healthy lead - Powless is leader on the road. And then his team-mate [Bettiol] back in the bunch starts drilling it across the cobbled sections with Pogacar in his wheel."
Bettiol was of course innocent of the audacious claims and responded by saying, "I was feeling really good, and I actually didn’t know that Neilson was contesting the yellow jersey. Anyway, I was feeling strong, I just gave it one go to try and destroy the peloton, and then I have the opportunity not to pull because I have Neilson and Magnus in the front. In the end, it doesn’t affect a lot the GC race and Neilson was still in the front." Powless is currently 4 seconds behind the race leader--again, more on that later.
Cobbles did not disappoint this year, appearing on 11 sections halfway through Stage 5. And the cobbles did exactly what they were intended to do, cause chaos. Dirt and dust kicked up everywhere. Every bone in the rider's bodies shook as they raced full gas over the sections. Riders struggled to hear their radios. And if that was not enough, spectators managed to knock down some of the riders.
Jack Haig also suffered a horrible crash and dropped out of the race, images circulated of a muddy and sad rider sitting beside his bike.
Primoz Roglic was also taken out, albeit temporarily, by a haybale.
Stage 5 was so chaotic that it would require an entire article just to mention every incident. Riders were taken out. Dreams were crushed. And someone nobody expected took the stage win, Australian rider Simon Clarke of Isreal-PremierTech.
Wout van Aert
Spectators commenting over social media went absolutely crazy yesterday over Wout van Aert after Stage 6 and for good reason. The rider captured the most sprint points and took the green jersey. Those hoping Sagan would add another green jersey to his collection will be disappointed this year as he currently trails 110 points behind the leader. In fact, Sagan is currently closer to Pogacar than the top contenders in terms of sprint points.
Van Aert attacked full gas with 80km remaining, leading a three-person group that ultimately ran out of gas one by one. With 30km to the finish line, Van Aert was passed by the trace group, led by Pogacar, ultimately finishing 7m28s behind. Matt White was quoted as saying, “We had two options, one to put either Nick Schultz or Michael into a big break with one of our big guys ... Or, if it did come down to a sprint, which we didn’t really expect, it was to set Michael up for the best position possible. A lot of people didn’t and nobody wanted to ride on the longest stage of the Tour de France. It’s why we knew it would be aggressive, but as aggressive as it was, no. That was crazy, in two hours of racing we did 100 kilometers."
Although he had to surrender the yellow jersey, WVA showed the world that he has an inner beast that can be unleashed on demand. 100km in two hours is an extraordinary feat.
We previously wrote about Powless among other North American riders before the event even began. He finished fourth at the Tour de Suisse. He's great at both one-day and stage races. He's very versatile. But nobody (or at least very few people) expected him to be a contender for the yellow jersey. At 25, he's eligible for the young rider classification. He finished the tour in 56th place in 2020 and 43rd in 2021. In fact, in the last 3 years, the only win he has on record is the 2021 Clásica de San Sebastián, winning by just fractions of a second ahead of second and third place.
And he's dominating this year's edition of Le Tour. Powless has been slowly climbing the rankings. Take a moment to look at his profile on the official tour website. From 44th and 43rd place, he shot up to 26th and 25th place and now comfortably sits at 2nd overall, holding the position for two stages now. He is currently only 4 seconds behind the race leader, Tadej Pogačar.
And we love to see Americans succeeding at Le Tour. He also has a Strava profile you can follow his tour efforts.
With all the oddities, blunders, weird facial expressions, and strange comments ... This year has not been short of jokes and memes at all. We're going to wrap this article up with a few of our personal favorites.
#1 A very discontent post-race interview.
#2 The snood.
#3 Tom Pidcock's entire post-race interview after Stage 6.
"Stop playing with our balls," indeed Tom Pidcock.