Tour de France: live at the Birchwood

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So far, the 2008 Tour de France has actually been interesting. At the end of 15 stages, five men are within 50 seconds of the overall leader, Frank Schleck. Now, if you’re part of the minority who actually yell at the television set when Denis Menchov slips and falls around an uphill bend, then there is no reason why you should do it alone. There are others like you in the twin cities and they like to gather at the Birchwood café in all their chamois padded glory. The cool little south Minneapolis eatery have set up a big screen for the entire race, and even though it’s more than halfway done, the best two stages will occur this Tuesday and Wednesday mornings starting at 7:30 am.

These stages will see if the clean-team of Garmin-Chipotle can actually do some damage without the nourishment of hyped-up blood. Yeah, yeah, like all tours, this one has also been full of doping allegations and some convictions. The most glaring was the banishment of the Riccardo Ricco, the next Italian star who proved why modeling himself after the legendary Marco Pantani was stupid, although mildly entertaining.

But whatever, cheating is part of the tour. Lance’s dudes were doped up, as were his competitors, as was his heir… and well, maybe the Texan who left his wife to bump Sheryl Crow will someday turn into a Clementic figure (I copyright that phase, as well as Bondantic). The thing is, who cares? It makes for a good story full of passion and betrayal, and juicy stories are what make the tour, and the country of France, tick.

And combining the backdrop of contemporary tour history with the take no prisoners approach to dopers the current tour directors are using is making this tour exciting. So order up a plate of Birchwood’s sweet potato millet cakes, sip a cup of fair trade coffee and watch the manly men in tights power up hills toward history, and or, infamy.


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