VeloVeritas’ first Tour stage start of the year; Stage 10, Périgueux to Bergerac through the lovely Dordogne Valley countryside.
Our digs were well out in the quiet countryside with friendly hosts and eccentric but fun Dutch guests sharing the pension with us; pretty much perfect except for when the cicadas were in full effect – and the wi-fi could have been a wee bit faster . . .
But not before all them words were written and pictures edited, placed and posted from the VeloVeritas bedoffice.
Périgueux wasn’t the busiest stage start we’ve ever witnessed but we’re not complaining; we were in among the buses and riders in jig time.
Our first bit of anorakdom was to check out Chris Frome’s spare bike on the Sky car roof, he’s riding 38/52 elliptical rings – is that why his knees and elbows seem to be everywhere but where they should be, perhaps?
Perhaps prophetically, the Sky bus was parked outside the court.
If it’s the court which judges on style on a bicycle and race suffocation then they’re in trouble.
‘Danger, man at work’ as Eurosport’s Ashley House interviews Trek’s Alain Gallopin.
“Ashley is a former school teacher of Economics, Business Studies and Italian at Cheltenham College, who quit his job to pursue a career in sports journalism & broadcasting.”
So now we know where he gets his deep knowledge of the sport from.
Remember the days when we had Dickie Davies for five minutes just before Kent Walton and the wrestling?
Alberto’s white Trek looks sharp against the black Trek bus – just a pity Bert’s not looking as good.
We like the man and his ‘never say die’ attitude is sorely lacking in many of his contemporaries but it does seem like it’s one Grand Tour too many for the wee chap from Pinto.
The QuickStep bus next and ‘our boy” Jack Bauer and his lovely Australian wife, Sarah.
We reminisced about the first interview I did with him ‘back in the day’ when he was an up and coming kermis king in Flanders – and now he’s a key member of a World Tour team.
I swear that boy gets taller, slimmer and more handsome every time I see him.
And on the subject of sharp Kiwi’s, how about Lotto Jumbo’s George Bennett; he won the Tour of California and sits in 10th spot overall – very impressive.
Now, we’re sorry but Kittel’s bike just doesn’t do it for us, no matter how much it cost.
Not the lime green tape, not the graphics – and certainly not the discs.
Much of the feedback we receive suggests that most folk are of the same opinion as us; ‘if it’s not broke then don’t fix it.’
Big Marcel should have a word with Greipel’s air brush man – much cooler, if you ask us.
And it’s not ‘til you’re close to the big German that you appreciate just how robustly built he is – it must be hard work hauling that big frame over the likes of mont du Chat.
Gone are the days when the rider scribbled the day’s parcours on a piece of paper Scotch taped to his stem.
In place we have cool vinyl stickers; here Thomas de Gendt applies his – but today was too flat for him, really.
Stevo was looking great in his British Champion’s jersey – but hard to chat to, he’s so much in demand for ‘selfies’ and autographs.
‘Next Big Thing’ stage winner Lilian Calmejane certainly looks the part – if only he can keep his feet on the ground.
Martin chatted to Wiggo’s personal photog, Scott Mitchell who lives in Edinburgh and frequents Ronde bike shop.
With the disappearance of Wiggins from the pro race scene, Mitchell is now with Dimension Data for the duration of this Tour.
In this picture Martin uses Nikon D3’s, Scott has a Canon 5D – one step down from thermo-nuclear weapons, as an amateur, I kept clear.
Boasson-Hagen has been getting up there in the sprints, looking sharp – when we saw him today he was in full ‘hurdy gurdy’ chat mode for Norwegian TV with perma-tanned former Tour stage winner, Dag Otto Lauritzen.
Former GC contender turned mega domestique, Roman Kreuziger ia another who may no longer be a big winner but looks terrific.
Simon Yates is fortunate to have a man like that at his side.
Carlos Betancur isn’t Mr. Charisma and he still looks a tad porky to us but on his day and at the right weight he’s a brilliant rider; it’s hard to get a ‘lucky win’ in Paris-Nice.
Dan McLay is cool, big, strong, fast but affable and laid back, he was telling us that Sunday in the gruppetto (the stage Uran won) was horrible, he was ‘done’ at the finish – just so hard.
Dan’s team mate Brice Feillu career hi-lite was a Tour de France stage in 2009 and not much else but the man still looks the part, tall, slim, cool.
We liked Andrey Amador’s way with the kids, a smile and a word for them all – simpatico.
We had talented Dane, Jakob Fuglsang down as a favourite but his lack of legs on the Planche des Belle Fiĺles had us worried – but he bounced back on Sunday and now sits in fifth place.
He’s multi-lingual and flits from Italian to German to English to his native Danish without missing a beat.
One of his fans brought him a nice bottle of vino, in exchange for a ‘selfie.’
Fabio was gracious and good with the kids too, a proper star.
Daniele Bennati oozes cool, Cipo lead out man turned Grand Tour sprinter and now hard as nails road captain – respect.
He looks like a real pro should.
Rounds done we pointed the car south to pick up the parcours at the second and final 4th cat. climb of the day where we encountered our ‘Janitor of the Day’ who wouldn’t let us re-join the parcours to the extent of pointing us out to a cop who looked at us with a, ‘wot evah’ look and went about his day as the janitor kept us under close surveillance.
A quick detour through an industrial estate and a couple of real human beings on the barriers soon had us back on course.
But when we tried to park up we encountered an English gentleman who advised us that the road was private and for emergency use only.
After much negotiation we were allowed to stay – but Boy! He could talk!
There were two away but patently ‘dead men walking’ and it was those Wanty boys honouring the race with Yoann Offredo, amigo-ed by Fortuneo’s Elie Gesbert, taking the pressure off Dan McLay’s boys to have to do any chasing.
Christopher was to the fore in the chasing peloton and it had ‘sprint finish’ written all over it.
The traffic off the parcours was dire and we were stuck in a jam on the bridge over the Dordogne when we heard that Big Marcel aided and abetted by our boy Jack had made it four wins and broken Zabel’s record for the number of stage wins by a German rider (now 13).
We did hear it was a bit of a paint drier stage but they can’t all be like Sunday, folks!
Another sprinter one tomorrow – but we have a plan…
But now – it’s PIZZA TIME.