I guess I have to face up to it: it’s a black and blue – and yellow, world.
I best get the hang of this ‘box ticking’ thing, then.
- Dominate traditional preparation races for the Tour de France, thereby demoralising the opposition and creating an air of invulnerability: check.
- Produce a cracking ride in the prologue to leave the opposition in no doubt as to your form and put you within spitting distance of the maillot jaune: check.
- Avoid the crashes in the sprinter stages and allow some of the team to help your star sprinter so as he doesn’t lapse into depression: check.
- Stay out of hospital in the even nastier than the sprinter stages, transition stages: check.
- Ride a scintillating first time trial to increase the daylight between you and any challengers – and keep any team mates with big ideas in their box: check.
Well, all the boxes are ticked, so far – but what’s left?
- Demonstrate the same climbing skills on the long Alpine and Pyrenean passes that you did on those short, steep climbs which aren’t meant to suit you, but which you were right up there in.
- Do not have a ‘jour sans’ – or if you do then don’t let any of those damn foreigners be aware it.
- Do not fall off – but if you do, land on something soft.
Joking apart, there’s an air of inevitability creeping into this Tour; Wiggins display against the watch today was masterful.
There are still two weeks to go but already he’s looking like the winner to me.
To use a Sean Kelly word, the others are going to have to majorly put time into him in the mountains – which just doesn’t seem likely – and the odds are that he’ll blast everyone in the final 53 K chrono, too.
But as we said yesterday, it’s by no means unprecedented for the yellow jersey to have to abandon – I mentioned in my lifetime, Ocana (71), Hinault (80), Simon (83) and Sorensen (91) but overlooked Stephane Heulot (96) and our own Chris Boardman (98).
And if you want to include riders who had to quit for ‘other’ reasons, there’s Michel Pollentier (78) and Michael Rasmussen (07) – but best not mention them, I don’t want an earful from Brad.
I invited myself to Vik’s to watch the stage; I was going to miss a chunk of it if I had to drive back to Portobello – I did smooth the invasion with coffee gateau, though.
We both couldn’t fail to be impressed by first Froome and then Bradley – both men had Cancellara well beaten, with Wiggins’ margin almost one minute.
Froome’s skinny frame makes him an unlikely ‘chrono man’ and he’s hardly poetry in motion but he’s excellent in Grand Tour time trials – first showing us this talent in last year’s Vuelta.
Looking at the others, it wasn’t that Evans was on a bad day, today – just that Wiggins was having a spectacular one.
The Londoner was smooth, focussed, rarely out of the crouch, keeping the cadence high – poetry in motion.
And respect to Paul Sherwen for reminding us that Bradley’s father, Gary was an excellent track rider – let’s hope he’s resting in peace.
Tejay van Garderen (‘van’ with a small ‘v’ please, or Sean the BMC press guy will be on your case) produced an excellent ride which bodes well for the future.
‘Chava’ continues to shine against the watch and both Nibali and Menchov produced solid rides, albeit dropping two minutes to the rampant Wiggins.
Peter Velits’ ride was another from the top drawer; he’s benefited from the ‘QuickStep effect’ this year – Boonen’s early season gave them all so much to live up to.
It wasn’t a good day for the ‘usual suspects’ among the specialists, Tony Martin punctured – again – and at this level, it’s over the minute the rim hits the tar.
Lieuwe Westra was 17th at 2:45 and Gustav Larsson 21st at 2:55 – poor rides by both men’s usual high standards.
Tomorrow is the rest day, so no need for predictions.
And VeloVeritas heads off to join proceedings tomorrow – God willing our next words will come from La Belle France.
Sunshine, wee bars with cold Pelforth and big televisions, scrambled eggs and coffee in the Tour Village for breakfast, L’Équipe the same day as it’s published… all that – and a bike race, too.
Result - Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 9
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:35
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:57
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:06
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:24
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:43
7 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:59
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:07
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:02:08
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:09
11 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:15
12 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:02:16
13 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:20
14 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:02:22
15 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:02:26
16 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:44
17 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:45
18 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:46
19 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:52
20 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur – Sojasun 0:02:54
21 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:55
22 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:02:58
23 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:08
24 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
25 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:03:09
26 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
27 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:03:20
28 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:03:29
29 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:39
30 Alexandr Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:03:47
31 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
32 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:03:48
33 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:57
34 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:01
35 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:06
36 David Millar (GBr) Garmin – Sharp 0:04:14
37 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:04:20
38 Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale
39 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team 0:04:23
40 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:04:25
41 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:04:26
42 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:30
43 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team 0:04:31
44 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:32
45 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:04:34
46 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos – Shimano 0:04:35
47 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:04:38
48 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team 0:04:42
49 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:04:44
50 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team
51 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin – Sharp 0:04:46
52 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:04:47
53 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:04:50
54 David Z