Stage 3, “Fourth of July” 201l
National Day for my Mother Country. Happy Birthday. Tyler won “for his country”, maybe.
Major bummer today. There was a strike with the distributors and there is NO l'Equipe today. It is just not a normal day. There might even be some rain here, so no ride.
Went to the market this morning, as all Monday mornings. Had a chat with a guy who is a “real cyclist”. He rides into the market, about 18k return trip, although I think his wife drives in, as they can't carry serious shopping on a bike, like a tray of peaches. They are NOT young. He is active in the campaign to get a cycle path in the area. He takes cycling holidays with others. A real cyclist. He hates the Tour. Just another example of “competition”, which he deplores. The Tour is totally penetrated by drugs, commercialism, consumerism and competition. He has no time for it. Watches almost no sports on TV. Yet there is no denying the guy will be a cyclist even if the Tour disappears tomorrow. Do does sports often. I admit I mostly listened, partly since I totally agree with him. And yet I love the Tour, every year. Even though I know all the stuff he knows and even say so publicly. We never got around to the next bit of the conversation, the part where I admit I mostly agree with him, AND also love both cycling and the Tour. I look forward to that conversation.
I also had a chat with my pal Joseph. We cycled together in the club a lot for six years or so. Both of us were always in Group Three, the older, slower riders. He was much stronger on the flat and the descents, but on the climbs I could almost keep up with him. He does not ride much now (76) as he had a heart problem and operations. He was probably the best competitive cyclist in the club, winning seven races in seven days across the South of France in his prime. Almost rode for Tom Simpson's Peugeot team. He has gone off the Tour too. He is not so keen to watch the finish of the flat stages. He was gardening outside when Gilbert won stage one. Joseph thinks there is too much money, drugs, razzle dazzle in the Tour today. He doesn't trust what he sees as being the real competitive cycling, which he knew very well. Too many deals, too much influence of sponsors. Every flat stage has a break, a long ride in flattish countryside, then they catch the break and have a sprint. The scenario for today? I think he will get more excited once we hit the mountains.
Maybe I can get a short ride in today if I take an early nap. I only need to watch the last hour. Didn't manage the ride in the end.
Can you imagine if, at the foot of “The Mur” tomorrow, not only Gilbert, but Contador and Sanchez launch an attack. Everyone tries to follow, including Thor, Goss, Tyler and whatnot. Now how about that for a little dream race lasting 3-4 kilometres. And then we should have a bit of argy bargy strategy in the ten k leading up to the final climb. Yes, that's what I would like for my Tour tomorrow, please. If Contador or Sanchez attacked, do we think anyone could follow? I'd like to see. Alberto won't. By now he has figured out that the lost time is not a disaster. He just has to attack near the top of all the big mountains.
It's kind of nice to see old customs respected, Anthony Charteau rode ahead a little so he could stop in his hometown to say hello to the family. He rejoined the peloton with no problem, as they came past. Almost got a shot of another traditional custom, pissing from the side of the bike as you keep riding. But they cut away.
Excellent little graphic for watching what is happening and having an up to date map to hand, so you don't need an atlas. And cool data for the geeky ones. Got this from my justcycling forum. http://data.srmlive.de/TDF/
HTC. Martin to last kilometre, Eisel, then Goss, then Renshaw. Not a bad train really. But they blew it.
At 9k the catch was made. Now riding at 70kph, I can't go that fast even downhill. No sight of HTC yet, 6k. 5K, HTC in front. Tony Martin left in front too soon. Marcato attacks. No one worried. Cav lost the wheel of HTC. Got it back. Garmin and Tyler. Fourth of July! His first Tour victory ever. Rojas and Feillu, nice one for the less famous guys. Thor, yellow jersey, World Champion, Tyler's own leadout man. Goodness where were the BIG guys? Cav fourth. No doubt we should study the tapes.
Today the event that distracts me from this writing is the first monthly meeting of the local Attac group (Google it), of which I was once president. I faded out for a bit, but only because they have meetings on Market Day, when I hang with friends. The meetings were also terrible, but now seem to be under improvement. Tonight they are starting the bigger monthly meetings after a two year break, and I want to check things out. So you get far less analysis time than you might. However, there is not much to say. HTC made a mess of things, Garmin did not. And a couple of lone sprinters did clever things and beat the rest of the big names. I still like Thor in yellow, leading out Tyler I expect Tyler will lead out Thor tomorrow. As he would love to beat gilbert, although I really have no reason to think ANYONE can beat him.
Back from the meeting, had dinner, ready to polish this off. The last few minutes of every finish are always on You Tube, so you can watch. Looks like in another Tour either or both of Cav and Thor might have been relegated or worse. Sprinting is a bit of a contact sport, so I reckon its no big deal. The GC is the same, the 'Mountains” jersey is the same, the young jersey is the same. The only real interest at the moment is the points jersey, the green one. Not a whole lot to say about it yet, we have to wait for a couple more days before making speculations. It does appear that a number of riders are keen to contest the sprints and the intermediate sprints. Until we see who is really going well, who keeps trying, we won't know for sure. Farrar has GOT to be going for the jersey. Hushovd maybe. Gilbert, maybe. Cav, probably. Gil seems to showing some enthusiasm. That is already enough for a good contest. We should just wait and see. One day when I don't have something better to do, I will take a You Tube clip of sprint finish and give a detailed commentary. Some of you will have noticed everything I say, but some will see something new. But not tonight. You can watch the finish again on the videos http://www.cyclingfans.com/node/2282
I originally picked Gilbert for tomorrow. Besides it being his birthday, he seems to ride up that kind of hill faster than anyone by along shot. However, due to heavy betting on Gilbert in my forum, I am going to try and figure who else might either win or finish second. AND be picked by no one else. So far I think Hushovd is way oversubscribed too. So maybe Thomas, EBH (everyone figures he is unwell, but I don't know), or Goss. Maybe Cav will lead him out. On the other hand, I had a quick vision of Contador sprinting like blazes up the hill, neck and neck with Gilbert taking thirty seconds on the rest, and putting Gilbert in yellow again. But it won't happen. I changed to Goss.
Are you getting warmed up? I feel like I am getting into the Tour, although having no l'Equipe was a bit annoying.