The hot news from Day 1 of the Tour de France is that Kim Kirchen isn't going to win. Over the next three weeks, some riders' hopes will frazzle on slopes of Pyrenean climbs, others will see their ambitions cascading down Alpine valleys, but Grim Kim's have already ended at a pre-race press conference.
To be precise, they ended the moment the Team Columbia rider clasped the hand of Italian photographer known universally as "il Mostro" and gave it a good, hearty, Luxemburgish squeeze.
"il Mostro" translates as "The Monster". "Il Mostro" also happens to look like a Monster. Think Frankenstein wielding a Nikon. I'll say no more, except that "Il Mostro" is also said to bear a curse. Italian riders refuse to touch him in the days leading up to a major race.
Two years ago, in the build-up to the World Championship Road Race in Salzburg, Filippo Pozzato was feeling as fit and pleased with himself as anyone can when they look like a cross between a Top Gun-era Kelly McGillis and a poodle. But then calamity struck. Pozzato felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and spied "Il Mostro". And he let out a yelp. Or rather a little scream. Pozzato knew that his dreams of a rainbow jersey had just gone puff.
Click here to read Friebe's blog, and stay tuned throughout the Tour for more from Procycling's feature editor...