‘Cav sez; “Gotcha!” to Baz’, as the:  Sun might say if it were to cover Le Tour de France.

It took Barry Hoban a whole career – two decades – to notch up eight Tour stage wins – but they didn’t all come from bunch gallops.

It’s taken Cav just two-and-a-bit Tours to equal Barry’s record – but every one of those has come from a mass purge for the line.

Le Tour de France
Mark Cavendish.

Pro cycling is a sport where “ifs,” “buts” and “maybes proliferate, but if Barry had Renshaw and Co. to support him, who knows how many he might have won.

But it was different back then; it wasn’t until Post’s Panasonic team started to make a science of it that we had lead out trains, “as we know them, Jim.”

The Bill Gates of the sprint train was Cipollini; on his day, few were the men who could come round him at the end.

Le Tour de France
Barry Hoban.

When he won the Worlds at Zolder, every bike rider in the pro peloton had known for a whole year that all they needed to do to wear the rainbow jersey was to come off Cipo’s wheel, at the end.

Neither Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel or anyone else could do it.

Cav can win the Worlds, if the parcours suits him. And it wouldn’t have to be pan flat; his win in Milan-San Remo proved that.

It’s impossible and improper to demean Cav’s achievement, but I think Lady Luck has paid her part in the rise of Super Cav.

He’s on the scene at a time when there’s not a proliferation of rapid finishers.

Hoban was grazing his elbows against all time greats – Van Linden, Sercu, Karstens, Maertens.

Le Tour de France
Freddy Maertens.

Not just fast men but madmen – Van Linden and Karstens were of the “win or crash” school.

It’s all a lot more PC, clinical and much less physical these days.

In this Tour, Cav is only being troubled by Hushovd and Farrar.

Hushovd is a great pro but suffers from the “too many cooks” syndrome at Cervélo – the same one that Zabel used to succumb to at Telecom; if you have a GC guy to look after (Ullrich or Sastre), there can’t really be enough horse power left for your sprinter.

There’s no such confusion at Columbia – just like Bruyneel would never contemplate wasting his time with a sprinter at Disco and Postal, when the GC was to be won – there are no overall or KOM notions with Stapleton’s team.

You won’t see Columbia (or Astana) ‘up the road’ there’s only one job to be done; leave the show boating to AG2R, Agritubel and BBox.

Le Tour de France
Tyler Farrar.

And what about Tyler Farrar? He doesn’t fit in with the typical “hyper” sprinter image; he’s cool, calm, polite and laid back – ’til the flame rouge, that is.

He’s in the Cipo mould, a ‘drag racer’ he needs it to be long and fast – no one knows better than Farrar that if you let Cav get his kick in first, then it’s over.

Farrar’s Garmin guys are fine on the run in; Wiggins, Pate, Zabriskie, Hesjedal – all big strong chrono guys.

Bur when it comes to those vital last couple of kilometres, he doesn’t have a Martin or a Renshaw or a Big George.

Matt White, DS at Garmin says that building a train for Tyler is a priority at Garmin this winter, let’s hope so – we want to see Cav challenged and not making crass statements about; “how easy it is to win.”

Anyway, enough of my sprint based rant – that’s Vik’s job!

Ailsa Craig has just disappeared under the wing tip, off to the right; next stop France – and le Tour.

We’ll be there, live and in full effect ’til Cav wins the last stage on the Champs Elysées – and I promise to try and not rant too much.

Ciao, ciao.

Le Tour de France
Tour 09 Stage 11 Map.
Le Tour de France
Tour 09 Stage 11 Profile.

Al Hamilton

The back page of AS sets the pace for all the “race” reports, yes the ban on race radios, or as they are called in Spain “pinganillos”, of course the photo is quite nice to look at also!

Le Tour de France
AS’ back page today.

Fourteen of the teams were against the decision to ban the race radios, six were in favour of the ban, but in the end they rode till the last 30 kilometres and then they raced for “Cav’s” stage win, this didn’t stop the fans coming out to enjoy the spectacle.

Carlos Sastre enjoyed the day; he said “today was a journey of tranquillity in the Tour. Without attacks. Without nerves. Without orders.” Maybe he was referring to the fact that they didn’t race till near the end, than not having a radio?

The yellow jersey wearing Rinaldo Nocentini was visited by his girlfriend Manola. She says: “Me llamo Manola y soy la mujer del lider” (my name is Manola and I am the woman of the leader). She has been his girlfriend for five years, likes to wear cowboy boots, rides in the AG2R bus and waits near the sign-on area to be there to the last second.

Le Tour de France
“La mujer del lider.”

Nocentini has been sharing a room with Spaniard, José Luis Arrieta. Rinaldo says of the man from Navarro “he is very Italian” and “on the day in Andorra he paid for the cava”. The Tour leader loves his football and is a big fan of Milan and of Ronaldinho, the Italian press announced that “Rinaldinho is the leader of the Tour”.

Contador has reiterated that Friday’s stage to Colmar will be the “dangerous” stage, so more wins for Cavendish and then ¡BANK! Looking forward to Friday.

Mañana, Al.