Sofa Sports



Steve Ryder was fluffing about rookie seasons for the ninth successive race: ‘Lewis Hamilton hasn’t made a mistake yet in Formula One, in fact (pause) .. he hasn’t in his whole career!’ Poor old golden wheels was doomed from that moment. Initially, he tore brilliantly towards Copse dodging Italian and Spanish armadas but later succumbed to TV’s kiss of death previously reserved for Murray Walker whose reveries for Nigel Mansell usually preceded the plonker policeman’s demise on the very next bend. Hamilton’s first pit proved that Ryder is indeed the new Walker as he stuttered beneath the lollipop. Just as he let out his clutch, it sank back down on his bonnet with a donk and without hesitation I hit 28 on my remote.

Unbelievably, I had turned over to another ITV channel where greater feats were being revealed: The Forty two teeth of ruffian Tour de France cyclist Robbie McEwen’s crank wheel were being churned around by sinew and tendon. At the 11 km mark from Canterbury, just when the peloton had their heads down for the final minutes of English routier, McEwen was rammed from behind by another rider. He skidded along the Kentish tarmac on his knee, recovered, hopped on to a spare frame then roared off, buried with the fierce support of his Predictor team mates (‘Kings of menstrual cycling’ says the Guardian). Between then and my coffee refill, the infinitely more capable Phil Liggett was predicting a near-impossible but characteristic return to the main group (and my return from the pot). But McEwan had vanished into the chaos of the peloton to then burst out of the seething mass of maillots in the last 100 metres and shoot past the sprinters who were already rocking their bikes from side to side like double-speed pendulums!

It was one of those sporting moments that leaves you inexplicably exhausted. Wound up like springs we were, gasping for understanding of how anyone can crumple their bike at the back of the pack and end up crossing the line first – all within 10 km. It was like Frankie Dettori dropping at Beecher’s Brook, finding another nag grazing somewhere in a meadow then head-butting his way to win the Derby. Myths like that only used to happen at Olympia but ITV News could barely find the breath to announce the winner’s name. The difference is that Dettori doesn’t brutalize his fellow-jockeys down the final furlong so we can assume that McEwen tried it once again today.

Earlier, my son and I had joined the wobblies on Tower Bridge. We watched the impeccable pale blue mounted Gendarmes scoot past on motorbikes and we caught the useless merchandising from T-Mobile and Champion. Bradley Wiggins stopped close-by to adjust a head-set and from behind me, I heard an American voice say to another, ‘So what did you say this river is called?’ It felt like another Steve Ryder moment on the sofa.


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