Voeckler's tongue, Darth Vader sans helmet, and the "fourth Grand Tour"

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If you really want to get the most out of Voeckler and his suggestive tongue maneuvers, simply play this song while watching him over and over again. You'll thank me later.

As you can see from the beautiful animated GIF that I lovingly made for all of you, I've been watching the Tour de France very closely. If you need further proof of how attentive I am, I'll say the following in order to prove my point: Have you noticed that as the years go by, Levi Leipheimer looks more and more like that first shot of Darth Vader sans helmet in Return Of The Jedi? I certainly have, and I hope my insight demonstrates how knowledgeable I am about this important race, which is currently being contested in Europe somewhere. France I think. It's because of how smart and attentive I am that the people at Universal Sports have asked me to share my wisdom with the world through a blog during the race. You can read that blog (which critics such as my wife have called "readable" and "almost coherent") here.

My nearly-adequate writing abilities aside, I'd like to take this moment to remind you that the Tour de France is one of three "Grand Tours", with the other two being the Giro and Vuelta. Before you leave a comment saying that I'm a fool, and that everyone know this, allow me to remind you that there are now other races being referred to as "Grand Tours". In fact, just days ago I saw a video where non other than Darth-Vader-sans-helmet-Leipheimer claimed that his victory at the Tour de Suisse this year was very important, since that race is "the fourth Grand Tour". As it turns out, being the fourth Grand Tour is a bit like being the fifth Beatle, or al-Qaeda's "number two". By this I mean that there are more "fourth Grand Tours" than there are Grand Tours, and there are more fifth Beatles than there were Beatles. Not to be outdone, the Tour of California is also queuing up to become the "fourth Grand Tour". In their case, they're relying heavily on commentators to make their case.

Don't worry, the video is safe for work, despite the fact that it features Phil and Paul sans shirts.

Speaking of commentators, have you noticed the almost absolute lack of Armstrong mentions during this year's Tour on American television? It's eerie, and I imagine that to some it surely feels like something very important is missing...like an episode of Designing Women without Delta Burke. And speaking of important people with great hair, how come the only rider from Katusha that we've seen at the Tour this year has been Karpets letting his mullet fly as he tried to get back to the peloton? I have to admit that when I first heard about Katusha fielding an all-Russian team, I imagined them training in high-tech facilities intended to create superhuman athletes, much like those used by Drago in Rocky IV. In reality, it seems that all the team has at its disposal is a third rate in-house barbershop that specializes in frosted highlights and cornrows.

Sadly, Karpets' flowing mane can only take the team so far. Katusha's riders will eventually have to do something to show that the idea of having an all-Russian team (and thus excluding worthy riders from other countries) made at least a tiny bit more sense than that one book that didn't use the letter "e", or that other one that didn't use any verbs. Even if they fail at the Tour de France however, I guess they can always prove themselves at another one of the Grand Tours this year. I hear there's about twelve of them left in the calendar.

(Update: Clearly someone in Katusha must read this blog, because the team has finally done something to make their trip to the Tour this year worth it)