Tag Archive for ‘Le Tour de France 2014’
If you rode the Tour in the colours of Lampre you’ve got €9,830 coming your way – but don’t get too excited, that’s to be split between nine coureurs and the staff. And if you then remember that’s for one month’s work – the shine comes of things a wee bit.
However, if you were one of Vincenzo’s hard working storm troops then you’d be splitting €539,330 with the Capo not taking his share. That’s better !
First mission was to have a good look at the chrono hardware on display. There’s a dazzling amount of tech on display from Canyon, Pinarello and the rest – it’s hard to keep up with the manufacturers’ claims and to get your mind round what’s the best solution.
Concealed front brakes, for example are a confusing one – whilst Trek’s Speed Concept conceals the mechanisms within the fork blades, which is perhaps the optimal solution, the likes of Giant and Ridley have the brakes behind the fork crown.
Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 19; Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour – Bergerac, 208 km. Navardauskas Solo (0)
There’s always drama when you work le Tour. We’ve followed Tour time trials for years; roll up at the start, tell the dude which rider you’re following, they give you a windscreen sticker, marshall you into position at the appointed time and off you go.
This year, however we were notified that we had to attend a meeting on Friday evening at the Permanence after the stage if we wished to follow a rider. Fair enough – but then they changed the venue a few hours before the meet was due.
Bonjour! The Pyrenees are in the rear view mirror as we head for the start of Stage 19 and the start of the long haul north towards Paris. We were on the Tourmalet, yesterday – a beast of a mountain.
But first, Lourdes – go, see it and then leave, quickly. At the bottom of The Tourmalet sits Sainte-Marie-de-Campan where – back in the days when men were men – Eugene Christophe had to fix his own forks but the commissars still nailed him because the blacksmith’s apprentice worked the bellows at the forge.
Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 17; Saint-Gaudens – Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet, 125 km. Majka Confirms (0)
Another great stage yesterday – Peraud takes a giant step, Majka confirms, Nibali consolidates, Konig stumbles… After breakfast we had a wander round Lourdes; it’s one weird place – but I said that yesterday.
We decided against the finish col to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet – dead end climbs are nitemares to get off after the stage and we figured that the action might just start on the Col de Val Louron-Azet. We got up there in plenty time, claimed our spot and waited ’til it was time to grab our caravan swag.
We’ve left Carcassonne and heading for Bagnères-de-Luchon. But first, our favourite picture of the Tour so far ? L’Équipe’s shot of F des J manager Marc Madiot kissing Arnold Jeannesson after Stage 16 for all the good work he did for Pinot during his six-and-a-quarter hour 16 shift.
Some folks poke fun at Madiot; we like his style – committed, passionate and outspoken. As a rider he was brilliant; a French Pro champion, two wins in Paris-Roubaix and top tens in Flanders – he’s got the T-shirt, in our book.
Jack Bauer; tall, dark, slim, handsome, polite, grounded, friendly – it would have been so nice to add ‘Tour de France stage winner’ to that description.
Dave and I were holed up in a nice old bar/restaurant attached to a genteel hotel in Carcassonne watching the finale of Stage 15 and willing the big man from the land of the long white cloud to cross that line first. It wasn’t to be – and our red wine fuelled chat died away as we watched the images of a heart broken Bauer sitting on the ground in tears as his team mates tried to console him.
Alberto Contador’s withdrawal was a huge shock to the Tinkoff team and immediately after it Michael Rogers said; “It’s the first stage without Alberto, and the sadness is not just something we can leave at the rest day hotel. But we have a strong team and we’re all in a good condition. So we’ll be setting new goals and ambitions and shift our focus to taking home stage wins.”
10 years ago we’d have been knocked out by Nibali’s riding – now we question. It’s not a case of cynicism or love of the ‘D-word’ gossip, it’s just that we were fooled for so long and so comprehensively that if a rider is dominating in the fashion of ‘The Shark’ then one does wonder – it’s impossible not to.
That said there’s another parallel track in my brain which runs along the lines of the fact that the man has slowly been coming to the boil for a dozen years, since the days of his win in the Italian Junior Road race Championships in 2002.
Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 12; Bourg-en-Bresse – Saint-Étienne, 183 km. Alexander Kristoff Takes His First (0)
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!
VeloVeritas owes an apology to the Frenchman who rides for that most Belgian of teams, Lotto’s Tony Gallopin; we thought he’d had his ‘day in the sun,’ wearing le maillot jaune on Bastille Day.
And if we may digress for a moment; since World war Two the jersey has been worn on Bastille Day by a French rider on 17 occasions, including Anquetil on five, Hinault three times with Bobet and Tommy Voeckler both achieving this feat twice – as well as Monsieur Gallopin, this year.
Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 10: Mulhouse – La Planche des Belles Filles, 161 km. Nibali Wins, Contador Crashes (0)
Epic. There’s no other word. In any Saga there are heroes and villains; but the only one of the latter to manifest herself on this day was Lady Luck.
Lashing out spitefully at Alberto Contador and casting a second Grand Favourite from the Tour. I can’t recall the last time I saw the Spaniard “chuck” a race so knew it was serious.
Patrick Lefevre said today it was one of the greatest performances he has ever seen; Tony Martin fought for more than an hour to establish a gap of 30 seconds and then go away from the second group of 25 riders with the whole Europcar team trying to get him back.
Remember that Lefevre has been one of the most respected managers in the sport for two decades and isn’t prone to throwing praise around.
But surely the last words belong to Tony Gallopin; asked about his dreams for 2014 he says h
He wants to see France win the World Cup (sorry, Tone) and, ‘a win in the Tour de France.’
Nice to see a man realising a dream – even if just for a day.
Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 8; Tomblaine – Gérardmer La Mauselaine, 161 km. Blel Kadri Enfin! (0)
‘Enfin un Francais!’ – ‘At last a Frenchman!’ said the caption on French EuroSport. And a highly deserving one – Blel Kadri won in the grand manner; in the break for most of the day; dissolving the partnership with his companions when they were no longer of any use to him then holding off the maillot jaune group to win ‘en seule’.
QuickStep, you have to respect them. They lost Cav but they’ve been contesting the sprints as if he was still here, with Renshaw grabbing places of honour. And today again Kwiatkowski was there in the finale – yesterday he tried a ‘long one’ for himself, today he set it up beautifully for Matteo Trentin.
Patrick Lefevre has seen it all; a good pro himself, he won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in his day, he manages to run a glossy, modern team which at the same time doesn’t forget that the sport belongs to the people.
A great day for QuickStep – at last – but the team press releases in general made for sad reading.