Chava!

A great day for him and QuickStep – their second stage, the maillot jaune regained and the polka dot jersey retained in gallant fashion.

Chavanel and Pineau mess around with their 'French' bikes.

And maybe the corny jokes about Footon-Servetto will stop now – with two riders in the top ten and Valls Ferri well there in the maillot blanc overall.

He hails from Cocentina in Spain and is only 23; he was 10th on GC in the L’Avenir in 2009 and won a mountain stage in the Tour of San Luis in Argentina earlier this year – Nibali won the GC, so it was no ‘soft’ win.

We first noticed Valls when he finished second to Gerdemann in the Inca stage of the Vuelta a Mallorca in February.

But Patrick Lefevre’s lawn must be full of four leaf clovers – just when it looks black for him, the clouds roll back and out pops the sun.

Before the Tour it looked disastrous, with the loss of Boonen but the team could home right now, after one week and they’ve had a great Tour.

There’ll be champagne and cigars at the QuickStep marketing director’s table tonight.

Jérôme Pineau'
We met Jérôme Pineau at last year's Tour.

Pineau’s ride was cool; he speaks good English and is affable and quotable – Martin and I chatted to him at the Tour last year.

He’s been pro since 2002 when he won the Tour of Normandie and went on to the ride le Tour that season – something he’s done every year since.

Geraint cracked today; but ‘the boy’s done good’ and he’ll be back – he’s young, resilient and very talented.

A bad day for Basso – but it’s so difficult to transport that Giro form over the Alps.

It’s sign of how hard the Tour is this year that the break was allowed to go so early and relatively easily – it was sometimes taking nearly two hours racing last year before a jealous bunch would let the move go.

The Paper Run?

Saturday’s was a fruitless trip up the Royal Mile to the International Newsagent, ‘nae L’Équipe,’ grim, but so as not to waste the trip we bought La Gazzetta to see what they were saying about Ale’s second stage win.

Today's Gazzetta.
Today's Gazzetta. (click for the full image)

According to them it’s his 158th win (but there are more in non UCI races) and his ticket to the Melbourne Worlds will be getting booked shortly.

The Gazzetta ranks this as one of his three most beautiful victories, along with the 2005 Milan – Sanremo and beating Cipollini for the Giro points jersey in 2003.

Gazzetta apart, the other thing about my trip to the High Street was I spotted that Hume, the legendary philosopher, had an iPad – jings, all those years ago, too.

Hume - with an iPad?

Consistency?

One man who patently isn’t a philosopher is Pat McQuaid, it seems that the UCI is ‘happy‘ that Valverde was nailed over a four year old enquiry.

You can put your faith in Pat. Er...

But despite lurid claims from Landis and tales which are so bizarre that they almost have to be true, we shouldn’t pursue them.

Nor should we get alarmed about large sums of money floating around between an active rider and the UCI; we shouldn’t get upset, just leave it all to wise old Uncle Pat.

Not happy with that, he helpfully explains that the Balco investigation did little [except expose a huge sporting fraud and cause an unprecedented overhaul of the US Major League Baseball rules, that is].

‘Joined up thinking?’ – not from the UCI.

Polka Paint Schemes?

And a plea to King of the Mountains contenders – get some nice little mountain graphics done by all means – à la the Pennine frames of my youth – but please, don’t, under any circumstance get a small pox spray job – they’re wrong, you hear me ? Wrong!

Pello in happier times - at last year's Tour, heading for the Mountains win.

Quote of the Day?

Goes to Viktor;

“What about those podium lasses in the black boiler suits?

“Could they not at least get them ones that fit?: They look like they work for the corporation cleansing department!”

ASO could take a leaf out of Sean's book!

Moyenne montagne today but haut montagne tomorrow – like Stephen Roche says, ‘we’ll see who’s not going to win the Tour.’

Until tomorrow.