Blazin' Saddles: Stuffed foxes, La Bamba, spooning – comedy cycling moments of 2017
The start of our 2017 season retrospective series sees us reflect on some of the funniest moments of the 2017 cycling season – from stuffed foxes to premature celebrations via galloping ponies and ample Tom Dumoulin-themed toilet humour.
What better way to ease into this special series of season reviews than run through some of the moments that made us all chuckle over the past 12 months.
So, before we look at far weightier issues – such as the best riders and teams of 2017, the unsung heroes, breakthrough stars, unluckiest riders, disappointments, surprise packages, shocks and scandals – sit back and enjoy this run-through of cyclo-comedy and peloton puerilities.
Premature celebrations: Pibernik, Turgis, Barguil
They happen every year and 2017 produced another vintage crop of Beaujolais way-too Nouveaux as riders a plenty punched the air in abject humiliation at being pipped to the post.
First out of the block was Slovenian Luka Pibernik, who must have thought his fellow Giro riders had laid it on a plate for him after he rode clear on the home straight in Messina to "win" stage 5 with 6km still remaining.
If the bell sounding out the final lap didn't give it away, then the lack of photographers awaiting him at the finish certainly would have – that and being overtaken by the rampaging peloton while his arms were still in full Titanic mode. Here's the full video...
Now, the Bahrain Merida rider may have got away with it had he been team-mate Vincenzo Nibali trolling his local fans in Messina – but sadly for Pibernik it appeared his gaffe was a genuine oversight, not a cynical ploy to make headlines.
One lap later, Pibernik finally crossed the line… in 148th place. And that wasn't the end of it. Later in the race, en route to the Stelvio, Pibernik was still the butt of many jokes from his colleagues – even ones from Cannondale-Drapac.
Luckily for Pibernik, he wasn't the only rider with egg on his face this season. And if his effort didn't quite reach Pippo Pozzato standards from the Roma Maxima a few years back, then Anthony Turgis delivered peak Cofidis with his face-palm of a finale in the Tour de l'Eurometropole in October.
Indeed, Turgis didn't even finish second in the race – instead being pipped by both Dan McLay and Kenny Dehaes at the death.
And here it is again from above…
Between Turgis and Pibernik's embarrassments there was also the moment Warren Barguil punched the air in Chambery after erroneously believing he had nicked a Stage 9 Tour win from Rigoberto Uran.
Tears of joy soon turned to tears of despair – but we'll forgive the Frenchman for he managed to bounce back and win on Bastille Day in Foix before making it two on the Izoard and snaring the polka-dot jersey in Paris. No such luck for Pibernik or Turgis.
One rider didn't disguise his joy when actually crossing the line in first place. Take an overly elaborate bow, Damien Gaudin, of the third tier Armee de Terre team, who went bat-sh*t crazy when he won Tro Bro Leon in April.
Here's the longer video version...
Crazy like a fox
Back at May's Giro d'Italia, eyebrows were raised when Julian Alaphilippe was accompanied by a spectator brandishing a stuffed fox on a plinth on Monte Grappa. We have to give it to the chap – full marks for adorning his creature with a pink scarf.
Of course, it took six months before the episode started to make sense – once it was brought to attention that veteran Italian Davide Rebellin, 63, had once experienced a "magic encounter" with a fox called, er, Fox.
Fantastic Mr Rebellin, eh?
From foxes to bunnies, and some cyclists showcased their bike-handling skills this season by deftly launching themselves over obstacles at top speed.
Veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, 51, rolled back the years with this effort in the Ruta del Sol in Andalucia while on the attack…
But the showboating award went to Tobias Ludvigsson for this bunny hop over a sleeping policeman in the Vuelta.
Para bailar la bamba (out of Theuns)
There once was a time when cycling was more about La Bomba than anything else… but today's clean-living riders are more into spontaneous singing than anything quite so nefarious. Ain't that right, Alberto? Eat your heart out, Ritchie Valens…
We've all been there. One minute you're riding in the gutter of the Oude Kwaremont in pursuit of Philippe Gilbert, the next you're being spooned by Oliver Naesen on the cobbles after snaring a handlebar on a spectator's jacket.
Dog days in Tirreno
Sticking with that man Sagan, and the world champion had showcased his bike-handling skills far better a few weeks earlier when swerving to avoid an oblivious pedestrian out walking their dog during the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial.
But Happy Days on the Giro
When Giuseppe Fonzi was named in Wilier Triestina's squad for the Giro d'Italia there was always going to be scope for some bad TV puns – especially seeing that the Italian kept on getting in breaks. Fans went crazy when Fonzi one day found himself riding alongside compatriot Simone Ponzi in a break, but things went pear shaped after the schemer, Ponzi, was dropped.
Still, such was the proliferation of Happy Days jokes this May that Fonzi even donned a leather jacket in homage to The Fonz ahead of the time trial to Montefalco.
Now had Fonzi won the ITT that would have really been jumping the shark…
Castles in the Sky
Team Sky inadvertently provided regular doses of humour all season – whether it was Mikel Landa leading out his rivals to victories twice in the Giro before the same shackled Spaniard frequently dropped his leader Chris Froome during the Tour to prompt the whole #FreeLanda guerrilla campaign (which gave the Spaniard an obvious Halloween costume).
And nothing quite beat the sight of Sky's general manager being hit on the head by a falling barrier during a live TV interview.
Aru having a laugh?
After Chris Froome's ninth mechanical of the second part of stage 9 to Chambery on the Tour, the yellow jersey raised his arm to signal yet another go-slow. It was, of course, the perfect cue for the underhanded Fabio Aru to launch an attack on Mont de Chat.
Aru claimed he never saw Froome raise his arm: a curious statement, given the Italian national champion actually seemed to fill the void occupied by Froome's arm. In the unwritten rule confusion that followed, Froome's former team-mate Richie Porte encouraged his fellow GC riders to take their foot off the collective gas. Fat lot of good that did: karma was hardly in force when the Australian hit the deck on the subsequent descent and crashed out of the race… a moment that was far from funny for Porte or the unfortunate collateral, Dan Martin.
Aru and Froome banter...Eurosport
Attaque de Pony Gallopin!
With Lotto Soudal's dependable Frenchman Tony Gallopin on the offensive most days – but with little end product – during the Tour de France, it was left to a miniature horse to show him how to do it in the Tour de Pologne. To hilarious effect…
Like Tony, however, the Pony seemed to run out of steam.
It wasn't exactly Billy Connolly levels of hilarity, but the LottoNL-Jumbo mechanics who issued their Tour team with dry tyres for the Grand Depart in Drizzledorf were clearly having a laugh, as Dylan Groenewegen, George Bennett and Primoz Roglic all hit the deck on the same wet corner.
And then there was the showdown between Robert Gesink and Lilian Calmejane in Stage 8 of the Tour – a battle, admitted the rangy Dutchman, "between two dead guys". As Gesink, his mouth gasping for air and his nostrils flared, did his best impression of an overheating laptop with its fan on overdrive, his French rival kept calme and, er, carried on. That is, until he suffered severe leg cramps on the final dig to the line – and almost came to a dramatic standstill before eventually finding the inner strength to continue.
Romain Bardet's final time trial in Marseille was quite laughable – although in a painful way, as the Frenchman did his best to drop off the podium on the penultimate day of the Tour. And don't get us started on Brian Cookson's re-election campaign, which started bullish yet ended in a hilarious rugby score of a defeat to David Lappartient, who won 37 votes to 8. Ouch.
But none of these stand-up routines could beat this year's funniest moment…
Down in the dumps Dumoulin does a Paula
When was the last time you saw a Grand Tour winner skid to a stop and drop anchor on the side of the road and still manage to sail to victory? Take a bow, Tom Dumoulin, who singlehandedly proved that toilet humour is in fine fettle with his best Paula Radcliffe impression in Stage 16 of the Giro.
While it may have been Dumoulin who was caught short, it was the attacking antics of his rivals – including Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali – which caused a right stink on the Stelvio.
But Dumoulin kept his cool and followed through with his earlier promise by retaining the pink jersey. Sure, he lost it with two stages remaining – but was able to use his superior time trialling skills to win the race in Milan. Although, Dumoulin was subject to inevitable trolling from fans along the way...
With Quintana twice losing the race lead after days donning a pink skinsuit, whichever Movistar employer who decided to issue the entire squad with pink trainers on the final day of the Giro clearly had a bad sense of humour…
Next year's Tour has already been billed as a showdown between Froome and Dumoulin: one rider famous for having run up the road against another known for having the runs on the road. Who will end up number one and number two?
Did we miss anything? Have your say below…