the peloton rolls on through the mustard
July 13, 2015 2:38 PM   Subscribe

"The race starts after a presentation at National Flag Square, which is a square with a flag that is 70 meters wide billowing off a pole that is the third tallest in the world. Far below, EDM blasts while a man with an English accent announces each team. Horner is asked some rote questions that are hard to hear over the techno, and after some traffic-jam crockery, we are off. I'm in the front seat, Johnson is driving, and Purdy is in the backseat with the extra wheels.

Ten minutes into the race, the shit hits the fan. Race radio is peppering us with innocuous facts about the oil platforms, stadia, and mosques we are passing on our way out of Baku when suddenly, our worst fears come true. "AIRGAS! 51! Rear wheel! Puncture." It's Horner. Our plans for the day could be f****d." - Azerbaidjan On Two Wheels, a 5 Part Essay by Patrick Redford on Vice about the Tour d'Azerbaidjan
posted by Potomac Avenue (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This entire event reads like it was specifically held just so Vice Sports could have something to write about. None more Vice.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Should have named the team Safe-gas.
posted by shenkerism at 4:27 PM on July 13, 2015

When I went to Azerbaijan it seemed like Baku was filled with oil roughnecks and the sex workers whom accompany them while the rest of the country smelt like malathion.
posted by JPD at 4:55 PM on July 13, 2015 that's what happened to Chris Horner.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:49 PM on July 13, 2015

As someone who knew nothing about professional cycling ("you mean, they don't just try to ride faster than the other bikes?") or Azerbaijan, this series was certainly interesting and insightful. Thanks for posting!
posted by MetalFingerz at 6:39 PM on July 13, 2015

If you want to learn more about the principles behind road cycling, I highly recommend A Sunday In Hell, or The Stars and the Water Carriers (caution: these films were produced in the 1970s, or in facilities exposed to the 1970s).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:17 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was a good read. I love these tumbling insider looks into the logistical caucophony of bike races.

Also funny to see a few familiar names - Purdy's a man about town in NYC, and I didn't realize that Darville had signed with Airgas-Safeway. I've raced against him. He's wicked fast. Cycling is an interesting sport - you can rub elbows with people much faster than you, and they can rub elbows with people at the top of the sport. It's like being a competitive beer-league baseball player or team who occasionally plays an exhibition against the Yankees.

Horner... I don't know about that guy. The level of delusion that any team but a desperate one* would take chances on a 43-year-old who had slogged through two years riddled with injuries that in most cases would be career enders (let alone pay Grand Tour Winner-level salary!)... well, that seemed a bit out of touch with how things actually work.

*I heard that Airgas didn't even have all of their top guys on team bikes as recently as a season or two ago.
posted by entropone at 7:09 AM on July 14, 2015

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