A couple of years ago I was a mechanic on the Irish team during the Tour of Britain . Each day after the stage the riders would recount different events that had occurred . One of the highlights was the day that Paidi O’Brien , all 5 ft 2 inches of him , came up against all 6 ft 4 inches of Tom Boonen in a sprint finish .
2 k to go and the sprinters are jockying for position . The favourite and soon to be crowned world champion Tom Boonen sees the wheel he wants is occupied by a small amateur in a green Irish jersey . No problem thinks the big Belgian , that wheel is mine .
He moves up along side the little guy and leans down slightly against him to move him out of the way . However the little guy remains in place . ( Paidi at this stage had spent a number of years racing as an amateur in Belgium and was well used to holding his ground) . Boonen is confounded and decides to shout at the little Irishman in Flemish .
He says ‘krijg uit mijn manier de weinig mens’ ( get out of my way little man ) . Now Paidi had become fluent in the language of the bunch in Belgium so he just turned his head 150 degrees , looked up and said to Boonen ‘ kust m’n kloete ‘ ( kiss my balls )
Boonen looked shocked for a split second but then burst out laughing at the thought of this little Irishman knowing enough Flemish to put him in his place . Neither of them got up in the sprint but Boonen was still laughing as he crossed the line .