Monday, July 26, 2021
HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2009 - Stage 3: Marseille > La Grande-Motte,...

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 3: Marseille > La Grande-Motte, 196.5km


Le Tour de France 2009

Mark Cavendish soared to his second straight win in the Tour de France today to La Grande-Motte, 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.

La Grande-Motte
Apparently Cav worked on his ‘phone salut’ last night after dinner. That’s confidence.

Cav hinted afterwards that it was the team’s intention to use the strong winds today, and they had hoped to do so earlier than they did, in order to take a lot of time from the other favourites and prevent the rumoured multiple attacks that the other teams were planning, to thwart Cav’s amazing gallop.

In the end, Cavendish only had Thor Hushovd to watch out for when the sprint began, and the 24-year-old rider made a gesture of using a mobile phone as he crossed the line – he explained later that it was in honour of his team’s new sponsor HTC.

“This gesture was dedicated to HTC because they introduced a new phone last week and I said if I win I’d do that for them.

“There are eight sprint stages we have targeted here, so hopefully I’ll get a few more before the end of the Tour, and one of them will be a win on the Champs Elysées.

La Grande-Motte
Cav hides in his teammates wheels as they drive the move away from most of the other sprinters.

Speaking of the Columbia-HTC squad’s coordinated teamwork, he explained;

“It was brilliant. Saxo Bank rode at the front for a large part of the stage, but we were the only sprint team that wanted to ride today in the front group, and it worked out perfectly.

“The other sprint teams rode like juniors, they eventually had to ride hard, which they were hoping to avoid with the Team Time Trial tomorrow, but they were riding just to stay in the race today, where we were riding for the win.

“It was a hard last kilometre, but I had five guys around me in the last build-up for the sprint.

Mark Renshaw once again was the last lead-out man for Cav, and he kept his cool, leaving his effort very late because of the headwind.

The Columbia-HTC mass attack also allowed Tony Martin to move into the lead of the Best Young Rider’s classification.

La Grande-Motte
Tour 09 Stage 3 Map.
La Grande-Motte
Tour 09 Stage 3 Profile.

Incidentally, Cavendish completed a hat trick of victories for Columbia-HTC today after Switzerland’s Michael Albasini won stage two and moved into the overall lead of the Tour of Austria, and Mara Abbott of the USA scooped first place in stage three of the Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Al Hamilton

In all the newspapers, sports and normal, there was only one big story from yesterday’s Tour, yea!:  That man “Cav”.

La Grande-Motte
The Front page of AS today.

AS lead with a tricky one for translation purposes;

“‘Pichichi’ Cavendish – Es el triunfo de un equipo”

So what or who is a Pichichi? Well the nearest I can get is that you would call the top scorer in a football team a “Pichichi” – of course the headline is saying that it was a team triumph.

The crash 900 meters from the line has been put down to Koldo Fernández trying to go straight on when the course went right, he took sprinters Oscar Freire and Thor Hushovd out with him. Freire commented later that the course was badly signalled.

Other articles include an interview with Iñigo Cuesta (Cervélo) who celebrated his 40th birthday on the 2nd of July.

La Grande-Motte
AS again

AS refer to him as “Es el ‘abuelo’ del Tour con 40 años”, the grandfather of the Tour with 40 years.

Iñigo says about retirement;

“I won’t be back like Armstrong, when I go, I go”.

According to AS and Marca, the war between Contador and Armstrong is over – well, until after the team time trial.

Marca; “Contador y Armstrong firman la paz” [sign peace] and ASAstana ira a por todas en la crono”, a sort of ‘all for one and one for all’ for the time trial.

This is the end of the “morbo” and the only equivalent to morbo in English is to say ‘Rangers and Celtic’, or in Spain; ‘Barcelona and Real Madrid’, so let’s wait to see what happens in the mountains!

La Grande-Motte
AS’ back page for your entertainment!

The bad news is that Bouygues Telecom will be pulling out of sponsorship at the end of 2010 after 6 years of backing the team, and the Tour lost its first rider, Jurgen Van De Walle of Quick-Step. He crashed out and spent the night in hospital.

Sorry about all the football references, but…

¡Mañana amigos! Al.

* * *

Gordan Cameron

The drive in through Marseille’s rush hour traffic was a case of stay in lane, trust the Sat-Nav, and pray that the blue stickers on the car let us through.

The cops are happy, but not the driver of a giant artic rig, who’s jammed his trailer across a pedestrian crossing.

He didn’t look too pleased when we eased the rental car up onto the curb to squeeze by and take our place in the holiest of holies — the ‘Hors Course’ (Off-course) parking.

La Grande-Motte
Notre Dame de la Garde, the famous basilica church of Marseille, situated at the highest point of the city can be seen from just about anywhere in town. It has a gold statue on top which the locals refer to the statue as ‘la Bonne Mere’ (Our good mother).

What a day for Cav though … another blinding win, and it wasn’t really even close.

I was able to watch from the comfort of an air-conditioned hotel room just outside Montpellier.

Such is the lot of a Tour de France follower/journalist, today’s live viewing of the race was of the riders kicking back before the start, of them setting off from the Vieux Port in Marseille, and a brief six-second glimpse of the peloton steaming across a motorway flyover as we stewed in a traffic jam below.

La Grande-Motte
Look! There goes the race!

I got the chance to speak to Brian Vandborg, from Liquigas, before the flag dropped.

Brian is back in the big time after a couple of injury and illness-hit years had seen him vanish from the Pro Tour.

Today was all about the wind, he said … that the crosswinds could slice the riders up.

He was right. I was typing for my day job when my girlfriend/co-pilot/media producer Valerie said “Look up! Look up! Columbia is going for it!”, and she was right … the TV commentators in France were paying about as much attention as Alberto Contador was … it was a while before we heard “Attention …!”

Contador will need to wake up though.

What did Lance say on French TV after the stage? “I never subscribed to the theory that this team had only one leader.” Ouch.

… Surely he won’t be able to do too much more damage to Bertie in the TTT tomorrow? We’ll see.

Cheers, Gord

* * *

Ed Hood

The Steve Miller Band, ‘Take the Money and Run’ or Bobby Dylan, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ — which one is the correct theme song for stage three of the 2009 Tour de France?

I walked into a bike shop just in time for the last 35km or so of the stage, Viktor was on the phone; “I see that’s the excitement finished; the tedium has set in!”

Vik was referring to the four man break which had been away all day — containing Samuel Dumoulin; a man Vik dislikes almost as much as Davide Moncoutie – and the fact that the bunch had been a tad lethargic.

The state of torpor dissolved just a minute or two later when Columbia (not forgetting the “HTC”) ambushed the bunch a la Once/Rabobank; they had been riding to get the break back for Cav, the road changed direction, there was a bit of a cross breeze, the echelon was formed and they were gone.

Cancellara had a ticket, so did Hushovd — and for Astana, so did Lance, Popo and Zubeldia.

But Bert was sleeping or maybe dreaming about how nice it will be at dinner when Vino is back — whatever the reason, he missed the split, along with Sastre and Evans.

Initially Lance played the good team mate, but when he saw the gap start to grow, he gave a ‘wagons roll’ kind of gesture to his henchmen and Columbia suddenly didn’t just have the Skil guys helping them.

Did he ‘take the money and run?’ or was it the case, as Charly Wegelius explained to me tonight, that ‘sometimes, it’s easier to go through in the echelon rather than sit on the back and be left; ‘blowin’ in the wind?’

You choose.

Interestingly, Viktor and our man on the patch, Gord Cameron share the view that Bert should have been expecting Lance to pull a move like that.

I know I’m not the brightest, but I had thought they were team mates?

La Grande-Motte
Mario’s Scirea and Cipollini were great mates, and Scirea worked tirelessly for Cipo.

I grew up on Jos Bruyere dropping off the break to go back for Eddy in the Primavera; Duclos stopping by the roadside to wait for Lemond, and Mario Scirea riding those who dared infiltrate Super Mario’s train, into the barriers — I guess I’m just old fashioned.

Or have I missed something and there’s an Astana ‘A’ and ‘B’ squad?

Duclos Lassalle wa a big winner in his won right, he and Greg Lemond weren't really close, yet then he had to, Duclos worked selflessly for Greg.
Duclos Lassalle was a big winner in his own right, he and Greg Lemond weren’t really close, yet when he had to, Duclos worked selflessly for Greg.

I sent a text to Brian Smith; ‘I thought Lance was there to help Alberto? Discuss!’  He was saying on Eurosport on Saturday that Lance was there to do that very thing.

And Brian said:

“He is, but you cannot fall asleep in the bunch. If Lance gets himself in the position then who knows what will happen.

“Contador needs to lay the law down on the first mountain stage. His mistake today is letting Lance in. If Contador fails at any stage like he did in Paris-Nice then Lance will take control.”

“I cannot see Contador make many more mistakes. Good for the team that Lance gained time on other contenders.

“He needs as much time as possible and took advantage today. Contador will fly in the mountains.

“All good stuff really. Zubeldia rode in front group. If he didn’t ride then you would be correct to speculate on who is the boss.”

I guess it’s me, then — it seems it’s fair enough to wage war inside the team.

And to close, as Colombo would say; ‘just one more ting, sir’, with battle lines drawn between Lance and Bernard Hinault, could it be anything to do with the fact they are so alike?

The scenario developing reminds me of the 1986 Tour when Hinault gave team mate Lemond a hard time all through the race, then explained it was to make sure that the American ran out a worthy winner!

And let’s not forget, “Respect!” to Cav.

But the last word goes to Brian; ‘All good stuff really!

Martin Williamson
Martin is our Editor, Web site Designer and Manager, and concentrates on photography. He's been involved in cycling for over 42 years and has raced for many of them, having a varied career which includes time trials, road and track racing, and triathlons. Martin has been the Scottish 25 Mile TT and 100 Mile TT Champion, the British Points Race League Champion on the track, and was a prolific winner of time trials in his day, particularly hilly ones like the Tour de Trossachs and the Meldons MTT.

Related Articles

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 10: Saint-Gildas-des-Bois > Saint-Malo, 193km. Kittel’s Second Win

It's not often he gets it wrong, but he did today on the stage from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint Malo. Cav let Steegmans go and decided to go 'in the wheels' with Greipel and Kittel, tangled with Veelers - taking the Dutchman down - and ended up third.

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 3; Granville – Angers. Cavendish by an inch!

After a gruesomely boring stage where one man – albeit latterly assisted by Tommy V – held off the pack for 200 K it was another day of joy for Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish; just too quick for Greipel, Coquard and Sagan on a slightly uphill finish into Angers. Kittel looked to be well placed at the red kite but got it wrong on the final right hander to finish well out of it. Greipel reckoned maybe he was one cog too high in the finish on 54 x 11 – Cav’s choice of gear was just fine though.

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 9: Stage 6, Lisieux – Vitré

Much of the cynicism I have built-up about the commercialism and rampant ‘janitor-mentality’ of many of the officials on Le Tour de France 2006 evaporated on Friday as we drove the full race route from Lisieux to Vitré.

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 8; Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon. Froome Surprises Everyone!

As with last year when he was jousting with the pave specialists in the first week, Chris Froome again confounded his critics, descending like a man possessed, leaving the demon descenders glued to the macadam, taking all the risks - but more importantly taking the stage and maillot jaune. A terrific ride, no question, no caveats. But the dreams end for GVA, Bert and Pinot; no jaune for Yates but he consolidates blanc - whilst our friend Michael Mørkøv climbs into the team car.

Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 7: Stage 17, Pau – Castelsarrasin

Pau, Thursday morning, the sun is out, so that's a good start. How do we feel? A tad flat, it has to be said, but the show must go on. Over to our left, the publicity caravan is rolling-out, headed for Castelsarrasin. It's a day for the "baroudeurs" today - the breakaway specialists. There are five fourth and one third category climbs today, so it's a hard day's work - maybe a French win? That would be nice, this Tour could do with a 'lift'. The Pez guy is out of the office today, checking-out the 2008 Look frames and bikes launch in San Jose - a dirty job, but...

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 19; Albertville – Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Bardet Saves the Tour for France

We chose the wrong mountain - but little did we know there'd be a big rain storm on the last climb to give the race the jolt it's been requiring for three weeks. A great day for Bardet and AG2R. A good day for Quintana, Mentjies and Martin. A bad day for Mollema, Yates, Dumoulin, Rolland and Navarro - the latter three all crash victims. And Froome and Porte have had better days. . .

At Random

Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship 2015 – Iain Grant Takes it Again!

On a dour, grey morning by the banks of a brooding River Clyde Iain Grant (Fullarton Wheelers) reminded us why he's Scotland's short distance king with a stunning 19:38 in the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship on a sodden, cold Westferry course.

Commonwealth Games 2014 – Road Race, Elite Men. Geraint Thomas the Biggest Bear

We were there, walking the streets and parks of Glasgow - until the Monsoons came and discretion became the better part of valour at which times the words of Doctor Samuel Johnson have never rang more true; 'There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.' Especially if it has an HD tele.

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 11: Stage 8, Saint-Méen-le-Grand – Lorient

Heading to Lorient today... There's a great old 70's film called, 'The Omega Man'. To cut a long story short, Charlton Heston is the last man left alive (by day anyway) in a post-viral world. He roams this completely deserted US city with not another living thing in sight.

Matt DeCanio – Unchained!

Somehow Matt DeCanio and his 'Stolen Underground' website had passed me by. You may think that I keep abreast of all the forums and Twitter feeds which bang out the latest kitting gossip - usually behind half baked aliases - but I don't. I'd much rather talk to Michael Nicholson about how he's doing in Belgium or Doug Dewey about his new team in France.

John Lee Augustyn – Getting Good Guidance from the Right People

John Lee Augustyn is probably best known outside of the African continent for his head-first lunge down the scree slopes of the Col de la Bonette-Restefond descent to Jausiers in the Tour de France a couple of years ago, and this after leading the race over it's summit in glorious solitude - only Frederico Bahamontes and Robert Millar share that particular accolade. Last season was difficult for John Lee, but now though, things look like they're going to change for the 23 year old, and we recently chatted to him to find out more...

Dan Patten Blog: Raring to Go!

The season is here and so I thought it was about time that I posted my first Dan Patten Blog entry of 2012, to fill you in on whats been happening over the winter months and what I am up to in this coming season.