Sunday, September 19, 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 2009 – Stage 8: Andorre-la-Vieille > Saint-Girons, 176.5km

Clever and strong, Luis Leon Sánchez won this afternoon in Stage 8 from Andorre-la-Vieille into Saint-Girons, adding this to his win at Paris-Nice earlier this year.

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 15: Pamiers – Bagneres-de-Luchon; Tommy Gun

Voeckler, you have to admire him, he's a racer. Whatever happens, it's been a good Tour for Bbox, Charteau in polka dots for a good stretch and now Tommy takes a big one. Going down to Pro Continental doesn't seem to have affected them one bit - and it's saved them a fortune. It was a tad mad up on the Port de Bales today but great to be there - Monday afternoon, high in the Pyrenees under a clear blue sky with the world's best cyclists just inches away.

All But… Brad Wiggins Already! (TDF 2012 St 9)

Holy crap. Brad Wiggins has just shredded the Tour to pieces. In the first time trial of the race he has put himself close to two minutes in front of his nearest rival, Cadel Evans. After that is his own lieutenant, Chris Froome, then Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali.

Le Tour of France 2017 – Stage 10: Périgueux – Bergerac, 178km. Kittel makes his fourth look easy

VeloVeritas’ first Tour stage start of the year; Stage 10, Périgueux to Bergerac through the lovely Dordogne Valley countryside. 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...

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 2: Brussels – Spa; Tour Feminine?

Le Tour de France 2010 'Ride to rule,' 'rider protest,' or 'strike' - file all under, 'PR disaster.' Once again it was Viktor with the quote of the day; 'Tour Feminine.' Dave Chapman only needed one word; 'farce!'

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 21: Montgeron – Paris Champs-Élysées, 103km. Dylan Groenewegen strikes early

Former Dutch Champion, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL) struck out early on Stage 21 and held on for his seventh win of the season after stage wins in Dubai, Yorkshire, two in Norway and two in the Ster ZLM Tour. He’s had two sixth places, a fifth, a third and a second in this Tour but with that big hurdle called Kittel out of the way, this one belonged to him.

At Random

Alexandre Blain – “By the summer, I’ll be used to Scots!”

When Cofidis slid from Pro Tour to Pro Continental, they shed a few riders; it looked like it was the end of his pro career for Alex Blain. Enter Brian Smith and Endura - followed by some strong performances from the man from the South. He spoke exclusively to VeloVeritas after his excellent ride in the Tour of Murcia.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 7: Huesca – Alcaniz. Motorland Aragon 164.2 km

Not for the first time, Vik took the words right out of my mouth whilst discussing the La Vuelta a España 2012; "You can’t have a bike race finishing on a motor racing circuit, it just doesn’t work!" And he’s right; too wide, too bleak, no atmosphere and almost no spectators. Degenkold was mightily impressive, again.

Frank Schleck, One For The History Books

If you were lucky enough to watch Stage 18 last night, you saw one of the best days of bike racing in years. Andy and Frank Schleck finally attacked and got it right, using their double-threat to maximum advantage, and as a result achieved another stage win, jumped in the GC to now be in a dominant position, and Andy has ridden a stage that will be talked about for years.

Peter Schep – “I’m happy to look back on my results with pride”

If you’re a Six Day fan then you’ll have your favourite stylist – maybe it’s the spectacular but so smooth Iljo Keisse or perhaps the robotic ‘Big Bob’ Bartko or the physical style of Wim Stroetinga? But there’s a man missing from the boards, this season who for me was the most stylish rider of his generation – tall, slim Dutchman, Peter Schep. We caught up with Peter as battle raged in the Rotterdam Six Day, a race in which he was victorious twice.

The VV View: LanceGate is divisive, no question

LanceGate is divisive, no question. Our editor, Martin and I have similar views on many things in cycling – but not on this one. Martin thinks that the boil must be lanced; (pun intended) get the puss out before the healing can begin. My feeling is that what’s happening is the equivalent of dropping a nuclear depth charge into a huge cesspit – spectacular, very messy and with no real positive effect, unless you’re a tabloid editor or a ‘forum sitter.’

Luke Roberts – Former World, Commonwealth and Olympic Champion Winds Down

Two decades, twenty years, it's a long time - especially to ride a bike at world level. But it was 1994 when Australia's Luke Roberts won his first world title in the junior team pursuit. The following year he twinned another victory in the team event with the world junior individual championship for good measure. Two Commonwealth, three world and an Olympic team pursuit title followed. He's ridden Pro Tour with CSC, Milram, Saxo, the Grand Tours, Classics and just about everything there is to ride - including the Six Days.