One thing that I like about days like today, when there is a mass sprint for the stage win, is that you don’t have to study the results very much to write about it. Things are simple. Yellow jersey the same, nearly all the time gaps the same. Nothing much happens in those terms. Although I was particularly sad to see Mauricio Soler give up the struggle today.
Nevertheless, the sprint finish was a very good one. Edge of the seat for the last few minutes. I was emotionally there. The last breakaway guy got caught maybe
Details. I was delighted that Mark Cavendish won his first Tour stage, even though it surprised no one. In the interview afterwards, he seemed a “very nice young man”. In addition, he claimed that he was going to try and go all the way to
Just found this. “Cavendish has often been referred to as the new Robbie McEwen, but with his dedicated lead-out train is quite something else. The
Thor Hushovd got well beaten, but finished second to take the green jersey from Kim Kirchen. He said he was beginning to get a bit worried about Kirchen as a competitor. I doubt he worried about Cavendish yet, as no one knows if he is sticking it out or even if he can handle the mountains. I also note that if Robbie McEwen does not win VERY soon, he is going to have NO HOPE at all of winning the green jersey. Certainly Geert Steegmans, a favourite for some people, is completely out it now. Otherwise the race is open, and is almost certain to be open until after the Pyrenées, maybe even after the
The pre-Tour show that I watched before I took my nap had a short feature on the feeding zone, the “ravitaillement”. They had Gerard Holz there with the camera waiting for the peloton to roll by. Only one of the escapees took the musette, the small cloth bag that contains food and drink. The other escapees would have taken nourishment from their cars, as the cars can ride near them when they are way ahead of the peloton. The other riders have to watch for the team helpers, who wear distinctive team garb, and stand in roughly the same place in each feeding zone. The feeding zones have a start and end, no one can pick up musettes anywhere else without small fines. As they ride by at maybe 40k per hour (everyone slows down a bit) they grab the long straps of the musette (little cloth bag) which is hanging from the outstretched arm of the helper. They then stuff the food into their pockets as fast as they can, and throw away the musette and any old water bottles. The best place to collect the discarded musettes is less five hundred metres from the end of the feeding zone. They are really fast getting rid of them. The zone is quite long, several hundred meters, but inside the zone there is lots of competition and a bit of what might be called organised chaos. The one time I tried to pick up the discarded stuff, I stood too far away from the end, not realising they were so quick in stuffing the food and drink into their pockets, and the water bottles into the cages. But I did, thanks to Naurika, manage to pick up a genuine Tour de France
One odd thing about Gerolsteiner, Schumacher and the yellow jersey. These days most teams have a special all yellow uniform, a bike, a helmet, gloves or something that is flashy, ready for riders that might win the jersey. Schumacher simply has the jersey and nothing else. I guess they really didn’t think he would win it. You can make a
Saw another example of folk art today, even though I didn’t watch much. It was in Indre, which apparently has four regions. The outline was of a heart, pretty big, with individuals on the border of the heart, waving various umbrellas. The inside had four divisions with symbols in each for the regions. One had cheese and wine, but I really didn’t recognise the others, nor did the announcer. Day after day, the people of
Once again I enjoyed watching the changing shape of the peloton as they “decided”, or not, to chase the breakaway. They never want to catch the escapees too far away, otherwise some rider will try to breakaway again, and they will have to work harder at the end. Today it was mostly Credit Agricole (Hushovd), Gerolsteiner (Forster, Haussler) and
Toward the end, about 10k out, Hincapie got a puncture. Watching him ride from the back to the front of the peloton, as he has responsibilities for Cavendish, was a wonder. Even though I only saw a few seconds. For young riders just maintaining their place is hard enough. One false move and suddenly you drop back forty positions, at the end of the race. And you have to be a bit strong too, as you have to ride faster than guys who are already riding fast. He just drifted through the cars to the tail end of the peloton, slid off to one side, and suddenly he was a third of the way up the peloton. I would love to watch a feature on how he (and the other experienced riders) do it. How can you glide up a huge group of elbow to elbow riders going at maybe 60kph? Experience, strength and a bit of respect gained over a few years of riding!
By the way, I might have been hard on Ricco the other day, claiming he did a terrible time trial, same time as Thor Hushovd, a sprinter. On reflection, maybe he is a clever guy. You will recall I said that anyone wanting to be let loose in the mountains to either win a stage with a long attack, or to notch up loads of points for the mountain jersey, will have to do a terrible time trial. Then they are no threat to anyone in the General Classification for yellow. Well, maybe that is just what he did. Maybe he really has NO HOPES AT ALL for the yellow jersey this year, and merely wants to make a huge splash, do something dramatic in the mountains. The proof will be if he attacks in the mountains, while still four or ten minutes behind the big guns.
Samuel Dumoulin is married to the daughter of his old team director. She smothered him in kisses when he won.
Four of the top five young riders are likely to stay there until the end. We just have to figure out what the order will be. Although the French guy Montfort (the fifth one) might be better than I think. Ricco might move up if he attacks, which he will. He will be the fifth before long.
The mayor of the village Feillu is from said he would give him a hectare of land opposite his parents if he won the yellow jersey. Apparently the mayor is keeping his word and Romain is really happy. Not everyone I know would want to build their new house opposite their parents. It has building permission, not unrelated to the mayor owning it, as he gives permission. You must all have heard about Romain Feillu overcoming a leg being shorter, a long recovery from the corrective operation and toxoplasmosis to win the jersey. If not, look it up, as it’s a good story.
This stage was the longest of the Tour. Naurika worked out that it was the distance, as a crow flies, from Bédarieux to Clermont Ferrand. Awesome. In the middle of the afternoon! Even if it was flat.
I am feeling a bit poorly today. I woke up with a dry throat and it has not gone away. I get colds often that start this way, so I might be a bit out of it for a few days.