Sunday, December 5, 2021

Big Hitters’ Playground

-

Gaaaaaame on! Big Hitters’ Playground. It has finally become time for the big swinging cats to unsheathe their claws. It feels like forever since the race started — I reckon the first big climbs don’t normally come quite so late — so I reckon there’ll be a few lads (and their teams) wondering what their form is like and hoping that they earn the big bucks that they’re paid.

Today the race goes over three big bergs — a Cat. 1 to begin — the Hourquette d’Anzican, which has never been climbed before. This starts some 80km from the finish line, meaning time cut is going to be an issue for the sprinters if the race is on early. The boys are unlikely to be going quick at this stage, but it will still be really tough for the bigger lads (the sprinters and the like) to keep up.

Big Hitters' Playground
The amazing Tourmalet – you wouldn’t want to get it wrong when driving up here.

Next is the legendary Tourmalet, that climb from last year’s Tour, where Andy attacked Alberto, Alberto attacked: Andy, Andy then stared at Alberto, and they did… nothing more!

Well, when I say nothing more, I mean they went up the final few km of the hill blisteringly quick, and simply couldn’t shake each other. Truly brilliant bike racing!

Finally the Luz-Ardiden, where Lance had that crash back in 2003, where his handlebars were caught on aspectator’s handbag strap, he flipped onto the road, the field waited for him, and then he went on to destroy them all up the final part of the climb.

Two epic climbs with huge recent history, and a new climb. What a stage! Contador has a decent hit of time to make up on the Schlecks and Cadel, the Schlecks need to get some time on Cadel, and Cadel sits in the box seat wondering what tactics he should use tonight. If it were me, I’d realise that as good as the Schlecks and Contador are: going up hills, they don’t exactly descend with aplomb (despite the amount of training they do going up mountains — you’d think they’d have worked out how to get themselves down a hill quickly).

Cadel as a former mountain biker does know his way around a descent, and so if it were me calling the shots, and particularly if he’s exposed already with no team mates around him, he should attack the crap out of the others on the descent, putting himself a good: distance already up on Contador and the Schlecks for the final climb so that they not only need to put time into him, but also take time from him.

It would be an amazing thing to see him light it up like this. Who knows what’s gonna happen! Whatever it is, there’ll be some serious moving and shaking going on. I can not wait!

Bring it on.

Toby Watsonhttps://www.veloveritas.co.uk
Ex-Garmin Transitions physiotherapist and soigneur Toby Watson brings you inside the squad, and shows you what it's like to be working with a top team on the biggest races in the world. Through his regular blog updates, Toby shares his sense of drama and fun that were essential parts of his job. Toby is Australian, and currently lives in Girona with his fiancee Amanda. If he has any time, he enjoys reading and running, and occasionally skiing too, when he can.

Related Articles

Gilbert Gilbert

Gilbert Gilbert. That's Gilbert repeating. Geddit?? haha! Dad Joke if ever I saw one! Today, stage 4, is another one for the punchy power climbers, with Phillipe Gilbert being the red-hot favourite. The finale is a 2km 6.6% kicker which is still probably not hard enough to let skinny blokes like Contador and Schleck do their thing, and will be more up Evans or Gilbert's alley.

Cadel Evans – A Grand Victory?

Cadel Evans is going to win the Tour de France in 2011. Hahahaha! I'm going to say that again, just because I can. Cadel Evans is going to win the Tour de France in 2011. What a nice sentence to read and write! The time trial last night was expected to be a shootout between the world's best time triallist, Fabian Cancellara, and the next big thing, Tony Martin.

Le Tour de France ’11, Second Rest Day – or not

We're in the Dröme Department, and it may be a notional Tour de France Rest Day, but all that really means is that there's no racing today - despite what Ned Boulting might tell you about spending time in launderettes, almost everyone still has lots to do. For example, the riders - for whom the rest day is most important, still have to attend press conferences, talk to daft journalists and answer "f****ing stupid questions"(copyright Mark Cavendish), the team mechanics take advantage of the extra time to prep the time trial bikes for next Saturday's chrono, and so on.

Two Weeks Out

Two Weeks Out. If the energy was up a week ago, things have gotten even more hyped for all of the teams headed to le Tour now. Cyclists will have ridden themselves into or out of spots as the final places are essentially solidified based on a combination of form, usefulness to team goals and personality.

Attack! Attack!

Attack! Attack! After years of Lance Armstrong inspired sensible bike racing where the best teams would put all of their boys on the from to make life difficult throughout a stage and then have a final climb big gun hit out, early attacks are back. And we, the viewing public, are all the richer for it!

Our ’09 TdF Team Time Trial

So I'm back after a 2 night lay-off with a bit of a 'lergy-talk about bad timing! Last night sounded like a brilliant finale (although Gilbert winning is hardly a surprise). I can't wait to see what happens next in this race - the Team Time Trial is on tonight, and consequently there are a bunch of teams who are riding for a chance to hold the yellow jersey. Gilbert holding on by 3s over Cadel, and 6s over at least one bloke from every other team that can put together a decent TT means that the boys will be putting it all on the line in the hope of holding the yellow jersey at the end of the day.

At Random

Jody Warrington – How Riders Can Cope in a ‘Lockdown’

In the overall scheme of the world’s current predicament, guys not being able to race their bikes doesn’t even register but if you’ve been training all winter to realise goals you set yourself for the season and overnight they’re plucked from your grasp it’s not easy to handle. We spoke to one of the most respected coaches in the area, Jody Warrington about how riders can cope with ‘lockdown.’

Le Tour de France 2012 – Stage 7: Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles, 199 km

What a stage! But who’s the man of the day? Froome? Wiggins?Both produced performances that had me pinching myself to see if I was dreaming; but no, the man of the day wasn't part of that infernal train making light of 20% grades. La Planche des Belles Filles...

Time for R&R, and some Thank You’s

Dan Patten's 2012 season began way back on the 19/02 and with my final race on the 14/10, it is finally time to relax, reflect and look ahead to the rest of 2012, 2013 and beyond!

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 4; Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, 164 km. Marcel Kittel goes 3 from 4

I didn’t think Kristoff was as ultimately fast as that; I knew he’s a beast of a boy but didn’t think that a straight sprinters’ stage was tough enough for him - but he nearly proved me wrong in Lille at the end of Stage Four. The wily Paolini and strong-as-a-bear Russian Champion Alex Porsev dragged the Katusha Norwegian through the chaos and gave him a clear run – but Kittel was just too strong, again.

The Last Three Nights of the Rotterdam Six Day 2019

Kris heads straight for breakfast from the camper but I’m not man enough for that, I need the shower to bring me to life before I can face Rotterdam Six Day 2019, Day Four...

Incredible Mauricio Soler Wins Tour’s Ninth Stage for Underdog Team Barloworld!

Team Barloworld's Colombian climber Mauricio Soler won stage nine of the Tour de France today, taking his fourth and most important victory of his short professional career. "It was an incredible win, something I never expected to achieve. But with some great team work it all worked out fine," Soler, 24, told reporters. The Barloworld rider was awarded by the new President of French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, who followed the race on the Tour de France director's vehicle.