If many things in your life are hard, nothing may be harder than tuning into the men’s road race, which was supposed to be a national celebration of a country improbably working itself to the top of a mountain.
The race, broadcast on Brazil’s Globo TV network, has become a hotbed of controversy. One analyst, Dani Rivas, criticized the site of the stage finish, which had been turned over to the national prison guards. The practice of writing messages on some of the world’s most valuable assets, such as a driver’s body language on a race track, is popular in Brazil.
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Another commentator said seeing a national medal hanging on a man’s neck violated the country’s heritage, and that the flag should be lowered to half mast during such an event. The woman who won the third-to-last stage, Edith Schippers, was only indirectly offended: Her buttocks were exposed, and she decided to cover them up with a pina colada.
Amid the commentary is a moment of primal horror: Almost a dozen cyclists were hospitalized following falls. One of them is imprisoned thief Robin Jacques De Koekhout, whose meagre means of transportation now include a five-day bike trip up the east coast. Before the race began, De Koekhout was stopped by three police officers at his traffic checkpoint and told he couldn’t ride. “I’m at my limits, I’m not going to take this anymore.”