Today’s stage of the Tour de France is a very long, very hot affair, with air temperatures above 40 degrees and road temperatures above 60 degrees. In such conditions, the biggest challenge is staying hydrated, and to do that you need a lot of bottles.
In the ever-shifting organism that is the peloton, there are certain riders that are designated to ferry those bottles up from the team vehicles and on the road to Carcassonne today, one of those riders was Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujiņš. Fortunately for us, the entire process was recorded almost from start to finish, so we can count along.
At first, the camera is focused on flashier attractions in the form of Jumbo-Visma’s green giant, Wout van Aert. Do not be seduced. Focus on the figure in the blue, number 177, next to the white car. This is a man who is about to test the limits of Santini’s polyester and zipper technologies.
Van Aert gets out of the way and the show can begin. Sitting up with both hands off the bar, one hand holding his collar open and the other grabbing bottles from the team car, Skujiņš slams five bottles down his back in 10 seconds. There is a momentary pause as with his fingertips he taps one a little deeper.
In another brief flurry, a further three join them. Skujiņš now has eight bottles, or about four litres, down his jersey. The entire process has taken 16 seconds.
He is not finished yet.
His blue jersey bulging with red bottles, Skujiņš puts one hand on the bar for a moment and gets ready for the next round. Two more bottles slot into his drink bottle cages. This is a 10 bottle job.
Now for the food.
Four handfuls of gels or wrapped portions of food are pressed into Skujiņš’ hands, again going into the top of the jersey, on top of the eight drink bottles. Rounding the bend, Skujiņš accelerates away from his team car, past the race director’s red Skoda, and toward the back of the peloton to start unpacking his jersey.
But there is a twist. Shortly later, the camera later cuts to Skujins, revealing that there were an additional three down the front the entire time, sight unseen. 11 bottles in the jersey, two in the cages on the bike, and a bunch of food on top of it.
It is bulbous art, from start to finish. A+.