I have had a few people ask me what the title of the previous post means. Well, up until stage 16, there had been a distinct lack of panache in this years tour. There have been flourishes, but it has been more like a war of attrition. Stage 16 obviously changed that. My thoughts on that in a later post, for now, I believe we are up to stage 4, Lorient to Mûr-de-Bretagne.
The stage passes through Brittany today, so the crowds are expected to be enormous. Leaden skies and cloud burtss might dampen the spirits of some, but not Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Gorka Izagirre (Euksaltel-Euskadi) who take off from the peloton before the white flag is back in the commissaires car.
This stage saw the first abandonment of this years Tour de France. Poor old Jurgen Van de Walle, who, whilst trying to do the right thing on day 1, went flying into the not so loving embrace of the road surface and was pretty bashed up. So he is the first to leave the tour.
Cavendish seemed to sit up in the intermediate sprint fueling speculation as to whether he was actually interested in the green jersey or just stage wins. After he and Thor Hushovd were penalised for yesterdays heavy petting during the intermediate sprint, he may not want to be on the end of the commissaires whacking stick again.
With 20kms to go, Evans has to change bikes. In previous years this would have thrown him into a state of agitation, but this year he seems more relaxed than I have ever seen him, and he calmly changes bikes and sets off after the peloton with the help of his team mates. At the 5km mark, the peloton reels in the break.
They hit the Mur and the attacks start happening. Contador, F Schelck, Gilbert and Evans are all in the mix. Contador goes and Evans follows. Evans in front of a fast following Contador. They hit the line and Contador does a half celebration before he realises you look like a complete dick celebrating second and lowers his hand. So a stage win for Evans. A Schleck loses more time to his main threats for the top of the steps in Paris. Hushovd gets to wear the Maillot Jaune to bed again tonight.
Stage 5, Carhaix – Cap Fréhel. A day when the sprinters have a smile on their faces. The early break is away and the big news is there isn’t a FDJ rider amongst them. We have Jose Gutierrez (from Movistar, but with a name like that should actually be a movie star!), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis), Sebastien Turgot (Europcar) and Antony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun).
It was weird seeing Evans riding in the polka dot jersey, having earned it by amassing the grand total of 2 KOM points!
A crash and we have Wiggins, the great English hope, Chavanel, the great French hope and Leipheimer, one of the great American hopes all on the deck. They bounce back, apparently none the worse for wear. A collective sigh from both sides of the channel, and from the 3 people watching in the US.
Cavendish has a bitch at the intermediate sprint point, he thinks he is being blocked. So maybe he is interested in the green jersey after all. I don’t know if he knows.
Gesink and Brajkovic are down. Brajkovic has a massive gash above his right eye that blood is pouring out of at an alarming rate. Surely they wont let him continue, that was a heavy fall. Gesink is on a new bike and away. No, they load Brajkovic into the ambulance. Race over for him.
Bang, now Contador is on the deck. Are the riders in the break away dropping oil bombs on the road, Whacky Races style? He is back on his bike and giving the TV cameras the thumbs up. Contador is chasing with out any team mates?
Just when you thought things might settle down, a moto decides to steal Nicki Sorensen’s bike and deposit him on the side of the road, doing about 60kph on his arse! This is madness.
Have we had enough carnage yet? Apparently not, Boonen and Steegmans want a piece of the action as well. Boonen looks like he really muffed the dismount. He looks very sore. But this seems like it is a battle of the hard men, so he jumps back on his bike, about 4 minutes down on the peloton. He can barely hold the handlebars.
At this rate I expect to see a horde of Vikings at the finish ready to belt 9 shades of shit out of anyone who isn’t covered in blood.
Towards the end, Thomas Voeckler is french kissing the invisible woman, something he will do virtually anytime he manages to be in front of a TV camera. Save your energy Tommy! 3km from the end he jumps, but is quickly reeled back in.
Tony “The Zombie” Martin has a crack. Now it is Boasson Hagen. Cavendish gets it ahead of Gilbert and Rojas. So Cav gets the sprint, but once again Hushovd is in the yellow PJs for the night.
Stage 6. Dinan – Lisieux A lazy 226kms today. Another stage on the sprinters menu. A couple of Cat 3 and a Cat 4 climb, but it should be a sprint finish, as long as the whole peloton doesn’t end up by the sides of the road.
Things seem back to normal with a FDJ rider, Anthony Roux, in the break. With 160kms to go, the break is 9 minutes in front and it is pissing down. Hoogerland takes the KOM points at the summit of the 1st climb.
This Tweet pops up from Graham Watson, noted cycling photographer.
Just endured the most incredible rainstorms – the storm is just following us, won’t go away..! Hailstones hurt when you’re wearing shorts..!
At the intermediate sprint, Cavendish decides to go for what is left of the points after the break got the box of chocolates today. I think we can safely say he is pretty keen to get his mitts on that green jersey now.
Roux grabs the points at the top of the second summit by surprising Hoogerland with his kick. Westra took the KOM point at the top of the final summit of the day. Now it is time for the sprinters teams to get working.
Leipheimer hasn’t been on TV for a while so he throws himself off the bike again. Radioshack need the air time. Even Johan needs to remind us he is still around.
Vandendert goes out first. Voeckler chases, but to no avail. The bunch catches them. Now it is time for the real sprinters to come out to play. Surprise surprise, Vino thinks he can win it from 1000 metres out. He is caught. Boasson Hagen and Hushovd, that sounds like an exotic audio brand from Scandinavia, take off. Goss is there or there abouts, but Boasson Hagen gets to kiss the girls on the steps today, with Gossy just behind him and Thor coming home 3rd.
Thats it for this wrap up. More later. Once again, feel free to leave comments and thanks for reading.