Home Tags Le Tour de France 2009
Tag: Le Tour de France 2009
And now it's all over; it's Monday morning and we're in a cafe at Montmartre - lucky us, I'm taking care to savour the moment. Even though the coffees are four euros each. Yesterday was different for us, we decided to be "fans for the day", the crowd on the circuit was huge, but strangely thin on the Rue de Rivoli. We had a fight to get to what we thought would be a good vantage point - over beside the Seine, on the Quai. However, this year, it was mobbed, there were more policemen than ever getting in the way of the camera (thanks Lance) and it was hard to get good pictures - in the event, I think we did not bad.
Bonjour! Usually I start the VeloVeritas diary in the morning but then have to switch to Pezification for most of the day - going back to poor old VR late in the day, as Martin and I fight off le vieux homme, Morpheus. But today, you got me all to yourselves - at least until this afternoon, when le Tour hurtles into Paris; with Astana as winner's (and winning) equipe at it's head - as tradition dictates.
It's 9:00 pm and we're headed for the A7 "Autoroute du Soleil," and the drive north to Paris. Incidentally, the A7 is one of the most dangerous roads in Europe; so that's a comfort. It's been a day-and-a-half, albeit I think we were all expecting more from the stage. But perhaps it's unrealistic to expect that men are going to race like demons after three tough weeks around France.
Cervelo: their Tour has been a good one, Haussler and Hushovd have won stages and Thor has made himself a whole load of new fans by the way he has ridden in pursuit of green. Astana: their Tour has been marvellous - even better than that if you go on the "no such thing as bad publicity principle."
There's a little breeze fluttering the trees, it's mild at 25 degrees but rain is forecast - chrono day. The thing about a Tour time trial is that the conditions I have just described might prevail for first starter, at 11:10, F des J's Belorussian champion and lanterne rouge (now that Kenny has gone home) Yauheni Hutarovich. But when Bert bumps that Trek down the ramp at 16:47, the conditions could be completely different.
It had to be an early start, today. To get down to the Bourg-Saint-Maurice start, we had to drive against a section of race route and decided to get away early to beat the closures. By the back of 08:00 we were clear of the worrisome section; we grabbed a coffee then made our way down to the start. Bright sunshine, pretty girls, a free breakfast and a meet with a yeti - what more could you want?
Perhaps I'm going to revise my opinion that l'Equipe's Tour coverage isn't as good as the Gazzetta's Giro coverage. The Gazzetta looks better, but the L'Equipe goes so deep. Today, for example, as well as the usual stats, there's a big analysis of how the stage might pan out, with four options; a table of how Contador has built his lead and - one that Viktor will love - the best and worst descenders.
"Armstrong redescend sur terre," says the headline in L'Equipe - 'Armstrong brought back to earth.' Bert dominates the front page, smiling with his "smoking gun" finger held high - VeloVeritas says; "Chapeau, Bert !" It was a late start for Martin and I today, but it let us get loose ends tied up and plans made.
I've always admired Bradley Wiggins as a pursuiter, but as a roadman, he's never cut the mustard; the cycling saddo's bible, 'Velo' doesn't lie about his palmares - it's not bad, but it's not amazing. Today was amazing; he dropped Lance and was driving in front of Nibali and Schleck. I thought that maybe the Head's sedate progress through the Pyrenees had been responsible for his exalted GC position - but no, today was a death race with the absolute best on the planet.
"Bonjour," really that should be the German equivalent there of, but my German is even more limited than my French. We spent the night in Freiburg - just across the German border, the hotel room is huge, if a tad Spartan; but that didn't stop us from sleeping like bricks. It's very difficult to get digs close to the stage town; best to book around an hour away - which is what we did.
Bonjour! A couple of unrelated items first: I just noticed that the Rolex ad on the back of yesterday's L'Equipe is a picture of Turnberry, with Ailsa Craig in the background - ah ! the Auld Country ! The footwear of choice for Tour journos this year is 'basies,' as we used to call them - baseball boots; I'm gonna stick with my deck shoes.
Ca va ? What does the '0' stand for in 02:30 ? "Oh my God, it's early!" Four hours sleep, as Barry White would say; "it's just not enough!" It's 14:19 and we're on the motorway, near Metz; we just got lost - no excuses, but the signage is grim.
'Cav sez; "Gotcha!" to Baz', as the Sun might say. 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.
I didn't think that Cav could win the Primavera; now I think that he can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to; within the scope of his physical characteristics. He can win the green jersey; on the Champs Elysees; Paris - Tours and the Worlds too-when the parcours suits him. That said, stage win number three was no surprise; I didn't see it myself and had to rely on Vik updates... don't worry, I'll spare you.
'Armstrong admits "there is tension at Astana's table" - says The Guardian headline today; I'd never have believed that! I bought L'Equipe today - it was Friday's, but what the heck? The front page ignored the then yellow jersey, Cancellara, and concentrated on the favourites...
As Jean Rene Bernadeau kissed Pierrick Fedrigo after the sharp featured former French champion took the second Bbox stage of the 2009 Tour, I think what he said was; "well done son, we've all got a job, next year!" Again, I only saw the finale; maybe not a bad thing, I have a tendency to nod off during long, uninteresting breakaway stages. I caught the last 20k or so, and it was uncertain as to whether they would stay away; if it had been a flat stage and Columbia had been in full effect, then Fedrigo and Pellizotti would have been swamped.
Clever and strong, Luis Leon Sánchez won this afternoon into Saint-Girons, adding this to his win at Paris-Nice earlier this year. The stage today had three climbs, and began almost right away with the Port d'Envalira. Here, we saw lots of riders willing to give the race a shake, none more so than Sandy Casar, who jumped across to an earlier group of escapees then continued on ahead by himself to cross its crest first.
Neo-pro Brice Feillu (Agritubel) proved the strongest rider today from a group of nine riders who reached the Arcalis climb together after being at the head of the race for neatly 200km. The 23-year-old Frenchman, waited until the 6km to go banner before attacking the others in the break and hammering into the headwind to the summit finish.
Less than one week into its debut Tour, the Cervélo Team scored a sprint victory today with Thor Hushovd in the 181.5km sixth stage to Barcelona. Hushovd battled through rain and slick roads that saw team captain Carlos Sastre fall without major consequences early in the stage before attacking up a climbing finish to Barcelona's Olympic Stadium to claim Cervélo's first-ever Tour stage win.
Today's fifth stage saw the first successful breakaway of this year's Tour. Thomas Voeckler held off the chasing peloton by seven seconds to win out of a five-man escape in the flat but windy 196.5km course from Cap d'Agde to Perpignan. Russian rider Mikhail Ignatiev also held on from the break to claim second with British sprint phenom Mark Cavendish leading the pack snapping at their heels for third.
The team time trial, it's beautiful; speed, strength, skill, trust, unity, honour-everything that makes pro bike racing special. As my tele kindled up, there was big Den Menchov picking himself up off the tar-it was Rome all over again. But this time he wasn't picking himself up to finish in triumph just around the corner-it was only to continue the nightmare that is his 2009 Tour.
- By Rachael Aulich - This is no feminist rant about the Tour de France for Women, nothing like that, it's about love, actually. I stood on a hot street today, a long but tight curve, in Arles, for Stage 3. My first ever live stage of the Tour. I was hoping for the penultimate 'Ventoux' but with two small kids in tow, there's a give and take, and so Arles it was.
Mark Cavendish soared to his second straight win in the Tour de France today, winning the sprint from a small bunch and strengthening his overall hold on the green jersey. Cav''s victory was the sixth Tour stage win and 43rd victory of his career, and came after 27 riders, driven by the entire Columbia-HTC team, split away away from the peloton with around 30 kilometres to go.
Mark Cavendish blasted to his first victory of the Tour today, a victory that also places him in the green jersey as the leader of the race's points classification, for the first time in his career. The Columbia-HTC rider took his fourteenth win of the season and his 42nd career win with a powerful charge for the finish line that left him clearly ahead of runners-up Tyler Farrar of the United States and Roman Feillu of France.
Lance going off early surprised me, but there will be a reason-nothing happens by chance with the man from Plano. The cadence was high and he had the Jenson Button lines on the corners, but somehow he wasn't 'on it.' The Trek was cool, 'stealth' style, concealed brakes and cables, box girder chain stay with the down tube and seat stays parallel-not a look I usually like, but cool on this beast.
Day two in Monaco, and the excitement is starting to grow, even if some of the residents are trying too hard not to let on that they're thrilled to have the Tour de France kicking off here. Mind you, when they have the F1 Grand Prix, a big tennis tournament, the IAAF athletics Grand Prix finals, a major clay court tennis tournament ... they can probably afford to be a little blasé about Le Grande Boucle.
In previous years we've posted stories and interviews live from the Tour de France, but we usually haven't joined the race until it's into the second week. This year however, we thought we'd bring you our exclusive great coverage right from the very start of the Tour! We'll be posting daily diaries direct from France: starting today until stage nine they're from Gordan Cameron, then Ed and Martin take over until the finish in Paris. In addition, we'll bring you the Spanish view from Al, and from time to time we'll present Viktor's View as well!