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July 23, 2006

Ekimov: “My last Tour de France”

Eurosport.com | Video: Ekimov's last words

Ekimov at '06 Tour de GeorgiaIn a video clip on Eurosport.com, Discovery Channel's hard man Viatcheslav Ekimov said he closed his Tour de France career today.

Ekimov, an Olympic champion in the time trial and track pursuit and winner of stages in the Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Vuelta a España, and overall winner at the Tour du Pont, Three Days of De Panne, Championship of Zurich and other races, finished his 15th Tour in 15 starts.

He had previously suggested he wanted to go for Joop Zoetemelk's record for Tour participations, 16, next year.

“Actually, I can say that today was my last Tour de France, so 15 participations...I wish to do more, but I think it's pretty much done.”

Ekimov led the field onto the Champs Elysees, and waved to the crowd lining the course.

Discovery Channel's fan site, ThePaceline.com, reports that Ekimov will retire in September and become an assistant director for the team.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink

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Comments

Just when I thought this Tour wasn't going to make me cry yet again, there was Eki alone on the Champs taking a final bow. Oof. He will be missed. The memories that stick out are his powering in the TTTs and that day he got stung by a bee and his face was the size of a pumpkin, but there he was, setting pace at the front of the peloton for Lance and the boys. Glad to see he'll be passing on his wisdom to future Disco riders. And going out with a top-ten final TT, class as always.

Posted by: Julie at Jul 24, 2006 1:08:20 AM

It was really tough to see his classy wave and then Hincapie's and Popo's ineffective move on the champs. That summarized it all for me. Hopefully, they'll get it together behind a new leader.

Posted by: DL Byron at Jul 24, 2006 1:27:55 PM

Eki's got the best mullet ever. Absolutely tradebook.

Posted by: moxy at Jul 24, 2006 4:05:28 PM

Yeah, when I saw the whole peloton give Eki the better part of a lap on the Champs by way of an Ehrenrunde (German for lap of honor) and him waving to the crowd I knew right away that those were the actions of someone saying farewell, even though the OLN commentators didn't seem to pick up on it.

We'll miss you, Eki! Absolutely a class act, and in his own way, a cycling legend. Which of the younger Russian/Former-Soviet-Union riders will inherit the honorary Russian Mullet? Sure, big bad Vlad "Shag" Karpets (The "shag" nick is due to Locutus of dailypeloton.com, not me) has a great mullet, but has he really earned the privilege. I think Eki needs to designate an official Mulletistic successor to maintain the credibility of the bloodline - or in this case, the hairline.

Or perhaps we should conduct an official poll: who most deserves the honor of taking over the fabled EkiMullet?

Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 24, 2006 5:01:38 PM

Dave Zabriskie had some hilarious hair comments in his rider diary at Bicycling.com - apparently he and Robbie McEwen had quite the discussion one day.

Posted by: Julie at Jul 25, 2006 12:13:20 AM

In one of his podcasts, DZ talks about how funny it would be if they brought clippers to a race and shaved the mullets off some of the Russians, who wouldn't notice it until they got back to their hotel rooms at night.

"Give me back my mullet - put it back where it belongs!"

Posted by: moxy at Jul 25, 2006 10:43:23 AM

Breaking News!

During a secret midnight meeting last night in a parking garage in downtown Moscow, I met with a high-placed personage in the Russian Mullet Mafia (whose identity must of course remain secret - let's call him Deep Mullet) who told me a shocking tale of intrigue related to Russian members of the peloton. Turns out that those seemingly innocuous mullets of theirs are actually part of a secret scheme for world cycling domination. According to Deep Mullet, the Russian Mullet Mafia (RMM for short) actually has a strategic rather than a mere CoifTastic aim. Now before you start guffawing, pooh-poohing and ixnay-on-the-ulletMay-ing, hear me out as, without further ado, I give you the inside scoop:

*** THE FANTASTIC DIABOLICALLY CLEVER PLAN OF THE RUSSIAN MULLET MAFIA (RMM) ***

Exclusive to TdFblog.com

The Russians, as is well known, come from a long tradition of stoic, hard, manly men, who show no pain and only cry when they read Dostoevsky or see a Chekhov play. (Some also cry secretly when they listen to Beethoven, but post-WW2 they're not allowed to admit it in public. But I digress...)

Being manly men, they consider this whole helmet-wearing fetish of recent times to be rather an insult to their dignity and courage. So some years back they hatched a diabolically clever scheme which would allow them to regain their manliness, satisfy the UCI helmet regulations, and impress the ladies all at the same time. The plan is for all the Russian/former-Soviet-Union riders to grow their mullets until they achieve a sufficiently spectacularly bouffantness that by slathering them with gobs of high-tech hair gel (of the water-resistant variety, of course) so that the result, once the gel sets, has the same protective value as a helmet. Brilliant, innit? Even better was an unexpected finding from their early testing - with the proper amount and formulation of hair gel (they found that a multilayered application worked best, with a soft interior compound and a rock-hard out shell, and a custom mold shaped for each rider), the result was not only as protective and aerodynamic as a regular helmet, but significantly lighter and cooler, as it allowed more air flow to reach the rider's head. Thus, a properly-configured mullet-helmet (MH) would give its owner a signifcant advantage in long stage races, especially in hot weather.

Now, the RMM was all set to go a couple years ago with initial trials in local races and one-day classics, but quickly realized the flaw in their scheme: time-trialing. For the MH to provide both protection and suitable aerodynamics during a time trial, it needed to be at least a foot longer than the MH worn during a regular stage, and none of the riders acting as guinea pigs had grown their mullet - impressive though their efforts were - to the required length. No problem, says the RMM - let's just keep the riders growing their mullets out for a few more years until they're long enough. Problem was, most of the first wave of trial-mulleteers dropped out in the wake of the great mullet-helmet time-trial debacle of '97, and the few remaining ones had the bad luck of suffering from male pattern baldness, so by the time their hair was long enough in the back, there wasn't enough of it in the front anymore - you could say there was a falling-out amongst the members of the group. (Eki was one of these unfortunates, though his case was relatively mild and slow-progressing compared to some of the others.) So it's going to be a few years yet - in the meantime the RMM bides its time, waiting for the perfect genetic specimen - the one with the ideal combination of cycling skill and coifability - to present himself.

From the front (hair)lines, this has been your intrepid friend ewmayer reporting.

Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 25, 2006 12:34:20 PM