Wouter Mol picked by Australian fans

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Tour Down Under begins in a few days’ time and the last two editions have seen Australian fans adopt an “obscure pro” and give him special encouragement. In 2010 they chose French neo-pro Arthur Vichot and last year it was Angel Madrazo of Movistar. This year Wouter Mol of the Vacansoleil-DCM team is the pick.

Vichot was a bit stunned, he turned up to find he was getting more attention than most. Fans had T-shirts with his name printed and the roads of South Australia were painted with his name. Surprised, he enjoyed the experience and told his former amateur team about it:

“The cycling club in Adelaide decided to support a young unknown rider who didn’t speak English… and they picked me. Their aim was to encourage the rider and to support him all throughout the tour like a Lance Armstrong or a Cadel Evans! And that’s just what they did, they were mental, they wrote my name on the road, had T-shirts in my name and I heard “Go Vichot” everywhere…

…I never expected this, especially in Australia where I didn’t know anybody and I’d never been before. If it had happened in the Tour du Doubs [a race near Vichot's home] I would have understood it, but over there? I tried to enjoy it whilst staying focussed on the race and above all trying to be available and open to all the Aussies, it was the least I could do when I saw the effort they used to encourage me. And with the media, I was asked a lot and I started doing interviews in English.

Vichot seems to have enjoyed the experience. He took several top-10 placings in his first season as a pro and went on to win a stage of Paris-Corrèze in August too and last year he managed two more wins and sixth place in a stage of the Tour de France.

Last year’s candidate Angel Madrazo is also a rider to watch for and it’s very likely he wins something this year. A rider with a muscular riding style, he was seen on the offensive in the closing moments of several races last year and if these efforts didn’t work out, they’re a sign he’s got the power for the last half hour of a race.

Wouter Mol

Mol goes Down Under

Mol isn’t a star of cycling but he’s not totally obscure either. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, his biggest win was the Tour of Qatar in 2010 and he’s stood on the podium in a couple of other races but his main job is working for the team. He’s hard to miss being 1.95m tall (6″5′) and a solid 83kg. He’s from North Holland and his surname is Dutch for “mole”, as in subterranean mammal.

Some have said there are more obscure riders to support but this isn’t a contest to pick the most unknown rider, more a chance to pick a rider who doesn’t normally get the limelight so it’s all in good fun. Plus Mol is easy to paint.

Benjamin Hall January 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

This is such a good idea. The aussies seem to understand that sport can be both serious and fun at the same time. Good on them!

Bartek January 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Thumbs up for these crazy Aussies. Mol will have a race he’ll never forget.

Big Mikey January 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Love the idea, and it sounds like the go all out with it. Chapeau.

Estherhase January 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm

A Dutch national who doesn’t speak English…mad

EDnl January 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Perhaps their choice was also inspired by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mole_(TV_series)

bikecellar January 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm

A great idea rooting for the underdog, it should be a feature of every tour, a recognition of the hero status of all competitors, the grunts, “the convicts of the road”. As in the Lanterne Rouge.

Ron Matthews January 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm

From the website of the club that organises this:
Attention Trackies: The velodrome is not the road, so no blowing snot rockets or spitting lung oysters on the track, the ramps or the pits at training or racing.
Words to live by.

Grant January 14, 2012 at 4:36 am

Great idea! I wonder how they go about choosing a rider. What are the requirements or is it just completely random?

TotheBillyoh January 14, 2012 at 5:07 am

What a great idea. There is a subtle sub-text to this I assume; namely a piss-take of the tifosi who cheer on the big names. Australians love underdogs and go out of their way to snub authority* and/or the big names. Wearing Livestrong or Cadel’s BMC kit is seen as poor taste. We love the scrappers – like Jens Voight.

* There is a widely known story, possibly apocryphal (supporting the widespread view that Australians were notorious during the First World War for their refusal to salute superior officers, especially British ones who they saw as undeserving of a rank received solely through title and nobility):
An Australian soldier is walking through a French town. He passes a British Colonel walking in the other direction. Upon failing to salute, the Colonel stops, turns and pulls the Digger up. The following conversation was said to taken place:
“You there, don’t you salute in your army?” asked the Colonel
“Not a lot.” replied the Australian.
“But I’m a Colonel!” exclaimed the Brit.
“So you are! Best job in the army that, a Colonel – you make sure you keep it now” said the Aussie, who then walked off leaving a stunned Colonel standing there.

Estherhase January 14, 2012 at 6:26 am

TotheBillyoh, please control your anti-Pom feelings, your example has nothing to do with why they picked “The Mole”.

Brigit commandeur January 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

Great thing for Wouter, I know he is the best because I speak less englisch as him, but I know he go’s for what he want to do, so I think he is going to do a great job in Austria.

TotheBillyoh January 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Estherhase: I am an Anglophile. You are sadly wrong. I was trying to subtly point out that there is a good and not so good sub-text at play here. On one hand it is a funny pisstake on the big names and their devotees, on the other it is a not so funny pisstake on an obscure (in Australia) rider. In my opinion. As a Aussie I abhor nationalism and it’s twin, racism; I was simply trying to shine a light on the culture I come from.

Nick January 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Billy, I’m struggling to see how it’s a pisstake on the rider. Maybe it’s an interpretation thing, however as a fellow Aussie and a big fan of taking the piss I really cannot see how Wouter could be insulted by this (esp as it’s not in any way the intention).

jdmacdaddy January 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I echo Bikecellar’s comment. It’s an homage to the “every man”. His name inevitably reminds me of another Wouter and adds another layer of meaning. Cycling has a rich history.

jdmacdaddy January 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Nick’s right. The intention is of a giving spirit. This is from the PACC president who initiated the cause in 2010:

NOTE: The idea here is that we are cheering on a rider who wouldn’t normally receive a lot of attention. We are NOT taking the piss. Don’t go writing blatantly untrue things like “I have been following your career for years” on his facebook wall, that’s just stupid. Thankyou.

http://www.pacc.org.au/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2337

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