For fifteen years, TV viewers have glimpsed the devil, El Diablo, participating regularly, in a roadside fashion, in the Tour de France.
This role is played by a nice German guy, Didi Senft [click the photo].
In spite of this diabolical presence, the starting order for time trials in the Tour de France is inspired by the Gospels [Matthew 20, 16]:
So the last will be first, and the first last.
That's to say, the first rider to take off this afternoon for the 53-km time trial between the village of Cérilly in Auvergne and the city of Saint-Amand-Montrond in Berry, in the middle of France, will be the Austrian Bernhard Eisel of Team Columbia, in 145th and last position in the present overall ratings, some 3 hours and 47 minutes behind the leaders. This last position in the Tour, the so-called red lantern, is in fact coveted in an offbeat way, and riders often fight to retain this honor. Meanwhile, the action this afternoon will be out front, between Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans.
While there's little point in my making a prognostic, I refuse to imagine for an instant that the Australian can be beaten, because he's so solidly dependable in this kind of solitary situation.
OK, I'm a lousy cycling forecaster. And Cadel Evans is a tired finisher, forever incapable of the extra punch that might have made him a winner. It's sad, in a way, because Cadel got so close to the glorious goal... like last year. For the moment, disenchanted by this humbling defeat, I don't even wish to hear Cadel's "explanations" on TV, in primitive French. Clearly, something has always been missing in the behavior, style and performance of this cyclist, as if he weren't really designed for a n° 1 role. In any case, it's not today that Australia will be wearing yellow in the world road cycling domain.