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Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 2: Bastia > Ajaccio, 154km. Jan Bakelants by a Second!

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Le Tour de France

Jan Bakelants today, but they couldn’t resist it; “Tour de Farce” trumpets the headline in the Sunday Times. I’m not really a Times man, my dad wouldn’t have approved. But I wanted to see what David Walsh had to say about Stage One.

The first part of the piece documents Saturday’s chaos but then – you guessed it – we drift into Big Tex and David’s role in his downfall.

What a surprise.

And here’s me thinking it was Floyd fessing up and all those millions of $US which nailed the ‘Man From Plano’.

However, one thing I do agree with Mr. Walsh on is, why the Hell is Virenque still allowed anywhere near the race ?

I haven’t got my race bible [the Official Tour Roadbook, ed.] yet but as Walsh mentions, we have a full page pic. of Old Tricky in a Festina advert in there.

Jan Bakelants
It’s bizarre, but Richard Virenque is still supported by Festina.

Some may say that he did his time and that’s that – fair enough, but in the (hopefully) post-EPO era surely we should not be celebrating a man who, until LanceGate was at the heart of the sport’s biggest doping scandal.

There’s more ‘kit copy’ too, about Rabobank and Michael Boogerd being directly transfused his brother’s blood the day before his 2002 Tour stage win.

Scary.

But it did remind me of the anecdote in Davis Phinney’s book when US Coach, Eddy B comes and sits beside Taylor’s dad on a plane flight; “Davis, you’re a big strong boy eh ? You have big strong brothers and sisters, eh ? . . . “

There’s also a pull-out supplement in the Times, it’s for the lay-man but they’re all there, Tom Simpson (RiP), Pollentier, the Floydster, Lance and you guessed it; ‘LA Confidential, a book once derided, now vindicated . . .

But what about the race?

Jan Bakelants
Jan Bakelants holds off the bunch by a measly, crucial second. Photo©AFP

My turn to fess up, I didn’t see it – there’s no EuroSport on the ferry to Barra – and had to rely on text updates from my son; he’s getting good at them.

But I did get the finale on the iPad on the CN livestream.

A lot of guys prefer to listen to football on the radio rather that watch on TV – yeah, I know, I’m kidding myself on.

The Tour press release saw it this way:

“Bakelants cooks up a surprise in Ajaccio.

“With every rider on the same time in general classification there was destined to be a shake up of the general classification in what was effectively a re-start of the hunt for the yellow jersey. If you nominated Jan Bakelants as the rider who would prevail in Ajaccio, take a bow.

“The 27-year-old from RadioShack-Leopard has been a pro since 2009 but has not won a race in that time. Now he’s the leader of the Tour de France. He held off the peloton after an attack that came on the long, flat run to the finish.

“On the weekend that another Tour de France – the sailing equivalent – began in Dunkirk, there’s a Belgian leader of the original Tour de France. As if to highlight the element of surprise, Bakelants not only won the stage to take the yellow jersey but he beat ‘The Hulk’ of cycling Peter Sagan today.

“The polka-dot jersey goes to Pierre Rolland, the white jersey to Michal Kwiatowski and the green jersey stays with Marcel Kittel… but only because stage two was rated ‘undulating’ and there were 35 points on offer the finish rather than 45 as there were for the ‘flat’ opening stage.

“The former race leader finished well behind and is no longer in the top 100 of the GC rankings.”

But surely Sagan will win tomorrow on the third-time-lucky principle?

And slag The Shack if you wish, but they keep notching those big performances up; Flanders, Roubaix and now the maillot jaune for Jan Bakelants – for an under-performing team they’re doing just fine, and the fact that Trek are taking the team on speaks volumes.

If the team was a dud then Trek wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – no bike company is shrewder at marketing.

They know what sells bikes to the ‘Rapha Sportiv Generation‘ – big wins in big races.

Before Lance came along, Treks were a bit of a joke, everyone knew that the best bikes came from Europe.

But year on year they learned the lessons from competition, developed the frames and now they’re right at the forefront with Look, Pinarello, Time and Colnago.

And those other upstart North Americans who’ve muscled into the market, Cannondale and Cervélo.

Hood Junior told me that Froome was on the attack in the finale; ‘a statement of intent‘ the commentary team informed him.

As I said to Junior; ‘it’ll take more than that to scare Wee Bert.’

And just one second separates David Millar from yellow, fingers crossed, but like I said – it should be Sagan’s day.

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codas:

Meanwhile, over in Austria, good to see Astana’s Kevin Seeldraeyers – who graced your screens on VeloVeritas a few months ago – taking the first stage and jersey in the Tour d’Autriche.

Jan Bakelants
Kevin takes Stage 1 at the Tour d’Autriche. Photo©Team Astana

And if you want the full SP from The Shack, here it is;

JAN BAKELANTS INTO YELLOW JERSEY

With 1800 meters to go Jan Bakelants seized the moment to attack his breakaway group and challenge for the win in the 100th Tour de France. Known as a rider who always attacks and willingly takes his chances, Bakelants, 27, took the win by one second and in doing so, earned the honour of wearing the yellow jersey in his first pro victory.

Jan Bakelants explained:

“I see in the final that it’s going to happen and I knew I would probably also take this yellow jersey. Maybe it will be the first and the last time in my career, but today I wear it.

“I saw in the last 500 meters that I still had a gap and I told myself, ‘Come on, hold this. It’s going to be the nicest day of your life!

“And then I did it,”

he said, chalking up his first win after five years as a professional.

After a knee problem this year, Bakelants is participating in his first Tour de France: