Nearly 2019, how did that happen? It seems just like last week were sitting in the Vivaldi bar in Gent having watched Dane Michael Valgreen win Het Nieuwsblad - or Gent-Gent as us auld yins would have it - but another year has indeed almost gone.
Alex Kristoff wins in the town which used to be the heart of the French bicycle industry – St. Etienne. We also managed to get our paws on L'Équipe, again - for the day of Nibali's second coup, on La Planche des Belles Filles. The front page features a satisfied Nibali, a devastated Contador as well as Bardet and Pinot - at last French guys with realistic GC ambitions. C'est bon!
It couldn't go on like that. Men can only 'death race' for so long and then they need a 'blaw.' Today, on the stage out of Chambery, they took the chance to lean on their shovels and left the minnows to grab the glory. I really didn't expect to see the finalé but when the box kindled up, there it was - with 12 K to go and a race average of 34 kph.
There are time trials – and then there are time trials.
Dual carriageways with high traffic counts on balmy Essex afternoons are one thing; Limburg in the autumn rain with a parcours which includes the Cauberg is another.
The VV camper is parked on the road race parcours on the opposite side of the circuit from the finish/press centre tented village.
The elite TT parcours merges into the road race circuit just 200 yard from the campsite, making it easy for us to pick up the route and walk perhaps the last seven kilometres.