9 July 2013
One of those days when the action that made some difference, the fast paced spectator oriented stuff was packed into the last few K, you might say the last 250 metres. But during the day, the riders took it easy, throughout the day, there were no crashes, I don't think anyone got dropped, the speed was low (although of course way faster than normal people ride), the schedule a little off, but nothing happened. Once in a while you get the idea that some days are so “exciting” for us, and therefore so full of doubt, change, uncertainty for the riders that they collectively, without even saying anything, just take it easy for the day. Pretty flat geography. Nice enough. Plenty of châteaux and big houses. This week we will be treated to a high class advert for the Chateaux of the Loire (and Versailles later). In fact, tomorrow we are due for a day of “seeing Mont Michel” for a long time, from many angles. That “Emerald Coast” they skirted for 30k, reminded me of holidays. I took a boat to St. Malo once. But that is another story.
Today, I am sure many people had a quiet time looking now and again at the countryside when they saw something they knew from their past. It was that kind of day on the Tour. I took a longer nap. People will have drifted out into the garden or out for a quick errand. There was a break, but the sprinters were so hungry they would not even contemplate letting the break go. Sure enough, the break was swallowed up a few k from the finish. It was not a frantic chase. Then the sprinters teams got set up. It is true that many riders were very concerned about the wind off the sea, which had a serious reputation. It might have blown the peloton into bits, with GC riders losing time on account of the wind and bad luck. So far the wind has not been a factor so we don’t need to talk about echelons, and how a rider can be caught out.
In the end, four teams and their sprinters were really keen on the stage. Same ones, the big four seem to have emerged. Greipel, Sagan, Kittel and Cavendish are the Big Four. Look at the places today, the Four followed by William Bonnet, who is the leadout man for Nacer Bouhanni (who is out of the race). Not sure what happened to all the other sprinters, as Bonnet should NOT be able to beat all the others. I keep wondering what happened to Matthew Goss, (Orica) especially since he is one of my fantasy team sprinters. He has done diddly the whole Tour. Maybe the others are really tired from the mountains or something. So Kittel came up behind Greipel and beat him to the line. Quite impressive speed and power, Kittel. Young. Sagan was well beaten, even before Cav and Veelers tangled right in front of him. He finished fourth, picking up enough points to make the green jersey his “obvious” possession for this year. The only event was the crash of Veelers, the Kittel leadout man who was drifting back after getting Kittel into a good position. Cav's shoulder gave Veelers a push, for sure. Cav didn’t have a leadout man, but his annoyance at his team will no doubt become common knowledge. Or maybe he made some mistake, for which he also be annoyed.
My story is that as Veelers' drifted back, he kept a good line (seen in relation to the white line on the road), until he looked back right and (consciously or unconsciously) drifted to the right. Cav was on his wheel, and decided to make his move (probably too late), he dived to the right and overtook Veelers, easily (Veelers was slowing down). Then, as Cav was more or less at Veelers' handlebar, the result of Veelers' veering slightly to the right, and Cav coming around him, led Cav to push his shoulder against Veelers' bike, more specifically his handlebar. Cav is strong, low gravity and compact, and if someone pushes your handlebars or your hands on your handlebars, you go down. Back wheel stable, front wheel easy to unbalance, gravel, a rock, a hole, or a shoulder on your hands gripping the bars. Bingo. But I would consider it a bit harsh if Cav got relegated to last. That would END his green jersey hopes for sure, too big a gap to Sagan. Anyway, I also saw Cav behaving rather badly, like he did when he was younger, at the informal media swarm outside the bus. He even grabbed a digital recorder. He was pissed off at himself, his team, life, something for sure. But you can't get busted for bad and angry behaviour. Anyway that was the event of the day.
A bit later. No action by the commissioners, that is Cav didn't do anything wrong. Except he behaved rather badly on video, my wife was a bit shocked how badly he behaved. But he has done that before and survived. As long as he wins on the Champs and maybe one more time. If he gets as many wins as last year I will be impressed.
No other jerseys changed. More and more are saying the given that time trialling and climbing ability of Quintana, the white jersey winner has been found. Tejay van Garderen, for example, could never make up the time gap he has on Quintana. And it is doubtful that Kwiatowski could do that well in the high mountains. Although everyone agrees the Kwiatowski being fully discovered is one of the events of the Tour. So the only uncertainty lies in the Yellow Jersey. Nothing much will be known until the climb of Ventoux, which is on Sunday, 14 July. But there is the time trial tomorrow.
Watching a time trial is not that exciting, usually. I tend to take a longer nap on those days. Although I don't miss them entirely. I picked Tony Martin to win, and I stick with it. I could be surprised, but I figure Froome will lose no time to any of his GC rivals. He might even gain time on them all. No idea if he will win, but I doubt it. I am quite curious what kind of flat time triallist Quintana is. I hope that Tejay or Cadel do a good ITT. There are others, like Contador, about whom everyone is curious. Me too. Can he ride a good one? In any case, most agree that there won't be big time differences. Therefore I am hoping some of the guys who have nearly dropped out of the GC ride very well. But I can't actually seriously make a case for any of the big rivals to beat Froome. If anyone much BEATS Froome, that will be an event too. Meanwhile, Martin by maybe 25 seconds.
I give a short tribute to those six guys who rode 180 odd k in vain. I do support the escape, always, but on flat stages, this year, it is not terribly likely. Jerome Cousin, whom my wife likes, is setting the record for the most k in escapes. He will win a prize at the end. The other guy she likes is Quintana.
We hear a lot about how poorly Voeckler is, photos of him knackered in the bus. Rolland seems to be suspiciously light weight, even with his ill-designed KOM outfit. Lose the shorts, Pierre. With Nacer out and Thibaut invisible, there is only Romain Bardet, the climber who might save the soul of the French. There is Jerome Pineau who is one of the big leaders of the peloton, and Sylvain Chavanel who deserves to be in a successful break to get his win, which he hasn’t got. That's it on the soul of the French. I hope it is saved, it is the French who have put on the show, so French guys should do well. It has been a long time for the French. Hope they at least get a stage. I fell quite sad for Thibaut Pinot and am shocked that Madiot didn't know about this and fix it.
Check out these photos http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2013/07/tour_de_france_100th_edition_p.html
This is what they use to clean the sprinting surface each day. All the way from the Vosges.