Tour de France – Stage 1

by Old Bone Machine

Seeing the Orica-GreenEdge team bus wedged beneath the finishing line gantry in Bastia, Corsica, immediately reminded me of the Robert Rauschenberg work, Monogram (1955-59).

wedged bus at tour

The mixed media work made of Angora goat, a car tyre and a tennis ball upon a haphazardly painted raft, for me symbolises the stubborn male ego. Our ability to get stuck in our single-minded pursuit of pleasure and gain. A drive that disregards all consequences. A drive to obtain and conquer, whether the prize be sexual or otherwise.


So the goat, I mean the bus, moved forward then tried to move back as the gantry, which appeared to be made of cardboard, threatened to topple. The bus driver covered his eyes and wished himself elsewhere. His pulse raced faster than that of the riders with the fury of the peloton less than a dozen kilometres from the finish.

Chaos ensued. Something more difficult to understand than modern art. And the order of events becomes confused in my mind. Communication that the finish line was moved back 3 kilometres was issued by race radio to the team cars and riders. Then with 5 kilometres to go, a crash. Casualties included fancied sprinters and GC favourites – Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Alberto Contador, Tejay van Garderen, Tony Martin, Geraint Thomas and others. In the meantime the goat was freed. Deflating the bus tyres allowed the escape. Communication that the original finish line had been reinstated was sent.

Marcel Kittel, the last sprinter standing, took the stage win and with it the yellow, green and white jerseys.

Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born on the island of Corsica, once said:

The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.