Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Crazy Contador Graffiti at the Tour de France

Over the last decade, I've become a follower of road bike racing in general, and the Tour de France specifically.  It's an amazing event, unequalled by any other sport in the world.

I've read about the legendary Mille Miglia road race, and I remember reading race reports of the Spa 1000 km race.  One of the fascinating things for me was the way the tifosi would paint their favorite driver's name, or messages of encouragement, on the road.  In the Tour, it's similar - you see messages painted on the roads, particularly on the narrow roads in the mountain stages.

This Saturday I was musing on this while watching the 14th stage from Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille, in the Pyrenees.  Most of the messages are hand-painted, and I thought it would be cool to use a stencil to make something really arty, maybe even in different colors.

Almost on cue, near the end of the stage, there were these stencils all over the road encouraging Alberto Contador!   I snagged these pictures off the tv while the lead group was passing them.  Contador is wearing the number 1 (as last year's winner...) and is near the center of the picture.

Compare the stencils to the "Aitana Arnau" message above it.

There were dozens of these painted in the area.

But the best was just a few meters later.

This is art!

Check out the picture of Contador, and the little gun painted on the road!  (The 'pistola' is the motion he makes when he wins a stage).

Since the Pyrenees are right on the Spanish border, a lot (as in thousands) of Spanish fans are on hand to cheer Alberto on.  Really great stuff.

As for me, I need to somehow get to France for the Tour next year so I can paint on the road.  And who would I make a sign for?  Well, I think I have a new hero: Thor Hushovd. 

Thor is a sprinter, but he won Stage 13, from Pau to Lourdes, also in the mountains.  He rode the downhill section into Lourdes to capture the win.  He made up a big time gap on the downhill, and it was amazing.  His team director later said that the rest of the team (Garmin-Cervelo) peaked at 80 kph on the downhill - about 48 mph, which is amazing.  But Thor's peak was 112 kph - about 69 mph!  It boggles the mind.  The guy is amazing.


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