Belfast Telegraph

A French fancy, a banana and clips

Billy Weir’s wacky world of sport on television

I’ve been putting it off for three weeks but I finally dusted off the leather cycling shorts, shoe-horned into them and settled down for the final push in the Tour de France.

When it started there was still a World Cup on, de Gaulle was president and people were on the streets burning sheep that on closer inspection turned out to be Raymond Domenech.

I hadn’t been hopeful, as very little seems to happen in the race, but with boys getting thrown off for headbutting on a bike and James Richardson in the chair at Eurosport, I slid on the clips and saddled up.

And what a cracking decision. To be honest, the action was nothing to do a wheely about, but the commentary team are several spokes short of a wheel and comedy gold.

You know it was going to be good when Richardson, the hairy one from Channel Four’s Football Italia, completely lost it in the build-up to stage 19.

“Help me out here, I’ve completely lost it. Apologies for that rather confused insight into the state of play after stage 18,” he said.

Onto the action, or the lack of it, and as usual four hopefuls had gone off on their own only to be clawed back agonisingly like a three-legged gnu trying to escape the clutches of a peckish lion.

“There’s nothing going on at the moment,” commentator David Harmon told us, helpfully, but then from out of nowhere a man went completely buck daft on a white horse. I know the Tour started in Holland this year, but that’s taking it too far.

This seemed to pass David by but cohort Carlton Kirby was on the ball as the eccentric equestrian fan, with his lance (and not Armstrong) hammered along a ploughed field.

“Find some more even ground for the poor creature, for goodness sake. What’s he going to do if it throws him?, the equine-friendly Kirby mused.

“A round of applause for the fat bloke, see what I mean — nutter. Horsemanship zero, Zorro impression 10.”

From horses to biscuits and the continual talk of the breakaway at the front had the cycling shorts getting a tad clammy. Well, I suppose it is the blue riband event after all. I wonder if they went through Nice?

I digress. No biccies for Jerome Pineau, one of the four out in front, as he then produced something enormous from within his shorts.

“Pineau has just pulled a monster banana out of his back pocket, it must be the biggest on tour, there should be an award,” suggested Harmon.

Maybe he was trying to impress Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise (who seem to be everywhere, at any time of night and day, at the moment), and were interested spectators.

As was a woman from West Bromwich who emailed the Eurosport team.

“My poor mum’s had a brain haemorrhage and I’ve a broken coccyx, and we’re stuck on the sofa but we’ve been loving the coverage,” they said. Put the computer away and call an ambulance.

There was also one happy punter who wrote to say he’d ‘just been made redundant in time to watch the Tour de France’. Phew, that was lucky.

And as we closed in on the end, something happened, the fleeing four were wolfed up by the bronchitis-stricken Mark Cavendish.

“Mark Cavendish with a fever but leaving the others cold,” suggested Richardson, and he’s snot far wrong.

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