Monday, September 20, 2021
HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2014 - Stage 1; Leeds - Harrogate, 191...

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 1; Leeds – Harrogate, 191 km. Kittel from Sagan!



Welcome to VeloVeritas‘ coverage of the Tour de France 2014.

Stage one looked like a “truce” to VV – except for that finale, of course.

We give our views on Cav and a few other aspects of the 2014 “Grand Boucle” (with a bittie to Yorkshire tacked on, that is.)

Cavendish says ‘sorry’

You’d have to be devoid of a soul not to feel sorry for the man – even more so when he puts his hand up and says; “my fault!”

Last year he wasn’t at his best in le Tour, despite the stage wins.

He’d finished a very hard Giro – aren’t they all? – and then rode the Tour.

To finish a Grand Tour you have to go “deep” no matter who you are and really deep if you’re no climber – remember that sometimes the gruppetto is on the road 45 minutes more than the winner and that may be the case on at least half-a-dozen stages.

One of the reasons that Cipo stayed so fast for so long was that he rarely dragged his big torso all the way to the finish of a Grand Tour. Usually calling it a day before the mega mountain pain started.

Le Tour de France 2014
Mark Cavendish rides through Ilkley in the wheels of his team. Photo©Martin Williamson

As is the modern trend, Kittel hasn’t ridden a killing programme, picking his races very carefully and treading a line between lacking race fitness and staying fresh.

If Stage One is anything to go by – he’s got it just right.

Le Tour de France 2014
Kittel takes Stage One. Photo©ASO

Cav has ridden a similarly lighter programme to keep him sharper – all in vain, now.

Le Tour de France 2014
Cav knows it’s serious. Photo©AP

One of our VV pundits reckons Cav should have sussed he wasn’t going to win, backed off and lived to fight another day – but then he wouldn’t be the best sprinter in the world.

Or should that be second best ?

Le Tour de France 2014
Chris Froome is going to have his work cut out over the next three weeks. Photo©AAP

The Mod and the Dog or ‘who rules at Sky?’

To get to the root of this one you have to go all the way back to 2011 and the Vuelta.

At the start of that race Froome was “just another rider;” by the finish, when he stepped on to that podium he was the most sought after rider on the planet with anything between 13 and all of the Pro Tour squads after him, depending on who you listen to.

But he chose to re-sign for Sky.

When he made that choice he knew that Bradley Wiggins was ‘the special one’ and that the man from Kilburn would lead the Tour team.

Attacking your team leader – as Froome did in the 2012 Tour – isn’t cricket and Wiggins had every right to be displeased about Froome’s move.

I’m a better climber and could win if I was let off the leash” was what Froome was saying.

If he really wanted to prove that he shouldn’t have re-signed with Sky.

Last year, Wiggins struggled with motivation in the rain and guerrilla warfare of the Giro before recording a DNF.

Froome duly triumphed in le Tour as unchallenged leader of Sky.

Wiggins saved his 2013 season with a magnificent time trial win in the Tour of Poland, the GC in the Tour of Britain and silver in the World Time Trial Championship.

This season, Wiggins head was back on straight and from the start he said he wanted to ride the Tour in his home nation but in a support role to Froome.

He rode well in Paris-Roubaix and won the Tour of California.

But it was apparent that Froome didn’t want Wiggins anywhere near his Tour team – releasing choice tit bits from his autobiography which painted Wiggins in a less than flattering light.

Froome knows Wiggins better than most and knew his statements would negatively impact upon the Londoner’s often fragile psyche.

It demonstrates the clout that Froome has as a Grand Tour winner that he’s allowed to put divisive, negative comments about a team mate into print with no consequences from his team management.

What also surprises is that Wiggins wasn’t told early that he wouldn’t be on le Tour – he was left to figure that out by the fact that he wasn’t on the right training camps with the right guys.

There are faults on both side but personally, I think Brailsford made the correct decision – Wiggins in the team would divide it before a pedal is turned.

And if Froome didn’t have that streak of ruthlessness then he wouldn’t be a Grand Tour winner.

And as for having Brad on the team for ‘insurance’ – like Mrs. Thatcher used to say; ‘there can be no fall back plan!’

And with sixth spot in the bunch sprint Froome has already delivered a huge statement of intent.

Le Tour de France 2014
Huge crowds at ‘Tour Hubs’ across the country watched the Grand Depart. Photo©Martin Williamson

Le Grand Depart in England

Huge crowds, yellow sheep and cycling on the front pages – it has to be a good thing, right?

With even Viktor conceding that it was an amazing spectacle and our editor Martin enjoying the show, roadside.

We all know that the Tour is a big money making machine and the highest bidder usually comes up trumps but Yorkshire has got little to do with France or the Tour.

It’s all so commercial, so contrived (Cote de Jenkin Road ?) and against the natural order of things – and as for the presentation, well…

Le Tour de France 2014
Thousands upon thousands of spectators lined the route. Photo©Martin Williamson

The papers are full of it but when le Tour is over and the sheep have been rain lashed back to their natural colour, the public and media will forget all about cycling, again.


Have a look back at this year’s papers during the Giro and then tell me cycling is an important sport in the UK.

The Media and public are only interested in GB riders in events they know – period.

It’s not the sport, it’s Brad, Froomey and Cav.

Le Tour de France
The break hurtles through the early part of the stage. Photo©Martin WIlliamson

Le Tour de France 2014
Van Summeren shares a joke with JV whilst the radio is fixed. Photo©Martin Williamson

This Tour visit and the Olympics are like a wedding reception; everyone gets dressed up, carried away with emotion, drunk and loves each other for the day – but the next morning they all hate each other again only more so.

You’ll find few riders – for all the huge crowds and enthusiasm – who don’t breathe a sigh of relief when they start rolling on French tarmac.

But it’s good to see Brian Robinson getting recognition though – even though it’s taken 60 years…

David Millar was counting on riding one last Tour. Photo©PA

The Boy David

If you’re a regular reader then you’ll know we’re David Millar fans.

He looks like a pro should, is proud of his Scottish heritage and has some wonderful palmarès.

The ‘but’ is that it was no surprise to me when he wasn’t selected for le Tour.

In Andrew Talansky, Garmin have a real podium contender – the team has to be, ‘all for Andrew.’

When I saw that Millar’s every move on the Tour would be filmed for a documentary and that fans were to send in pictures of him in his farewell Tour, I thought to myself; ‘major distraction!’

Garmin’s Tour is about Talansky, not David’s arty swan song movie – and that coming on the back of the carry on with the different shoes for every race.

Charly Wegelius won the Giro for Garmin with Ryder Hesjedal – he knows what he’s doing and is only too well aware that he doesn’t need anything to take his squad’s eye off the ball.

And if Garmin needed a stronger reason not to include David in the team – his DNF in the British Elite Road Race and Time Trial Champs did just fine.

Le Tour de France 2014
Roman Kreuziger. Photo©Guiseppe Bellini

The ‘D’ word

Even if Kreuziger is ‘at it’ can someone please explain how it takes three years to bring it to a head?

The UCI really has to speed the process up; the Contador and more recently Tiernan Locke debacles should not be repeated – but here we go again.

By chance I came upon some forum comments on Kreuziger – one gentleman had it all down to Riis, despite the alleged breaches having occurred during Kreuziger’s tenure with Astana.

Another was saying that David Millar should have been banned for life – as should Kreuziger.

Before there’s any hearing or wastes of time like that, you understand.

Vik did make a good point though; there’s been the tramadol tremors, the TUE twitchiness, Ulissi, Kreuziger and others who we like too much to name.

He asks; “are all the teams sailing close to the wind?


Stage Two today – it could be messy.

Au revoir!

Le Tour de France 2014
The Tour de France caravan wowes Yorkshire. Photo©Martin Williamson

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Race Defining (Preview: TDF 2012 St16)

Ok. We’ve had our rest day, complete with (seemingly) obligatory drug bust, and we’re ready to dive into the final, defining week. More on Frank’s positive later. Now we see if the hard racing that has been inflicted upon the peloton has had any effect on Team Sky. It certainly showed with the break staying away and Fedrigo winning the stage over Christian “VDV” Vandevelde (DAMN I wanted to see him win one!) before the rest.

One More Sleep! time for the TdF 2010 to Start

One More Sleep! time for the TdF 2010 to Start. We are at the end of Day -1, which is the point where the whole team just want things to start already. Admittedly I’ve been in that mood since Tuesday afternoon when I headed out from the team Service Course in Girona. Now everyone else has joined me in night-before-Christmas-as-a-seven-year-old land.

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...

Another Day, Another Epic: TdF Stage 9 (mountains)

Another Day, Another Epic. Yesterday’s stage was a 204km monster through hot weather over a series of significant climbs, totalling about 4.5km (vertical) of climbing all up. The climbs were spread at the start and end of the race, with a relatively flat section through the middle of the day. Enormous by any standards.

The Final Efforts: Stage 18 (bunchie)

The Final Efforts. We’re on the downhill slope for this race now, and the fatigue is starting to show. It’s getting tougher and tougher to chisel our heads off the pillow each morning, and the coffees are having smaller and smaller effects.

Le Tour débute demain!

It’s that time, we go from being saddos to the ‘go to guys/girls’ for info; the papers even pay attention to cycling for a week or two; Viktor hates it but watches every stage and Dave Brailsford is spending a lot of time in church praying for ‘Froomey’s’ form to come good... yes, it’s Tour time. VeloVeritas will be bringing you a word or two each day about the greatest annual sporting event on earth.

At Random

From the Commentator’s Box, Tony Gibb; London Olympics Day Two

So the first day of track competition, and I am buzzing! It's all hit home, I'm here, at the London Olympics Day Two, it's weird, being so close, knowing all the people involved...

Tom Copeland – An Introduction

Here at VeloVeritas, we encourage you to submit your race results and stories to us, and young Tom Copeland recently did just that.

Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2015 – Peter Murdoch Takes Gold

On a windswept day for the strong of leg and heart on the Ayrshire coast it was last year's silver medallist, 'fresh' from that toughest of races, the RAS, Peter Murdoch (Neon-Velo Cycling Team) who's 52:13 was 22 seconds too quick for deposed reigning champion, Iain Grant (Fullarton Wheelers) and 49 seconds faster than bronze medallist and another former '25' champion, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys).

Scottish 10 Mile TT Championships 2011 goes to Arthur Doyle

On a cold Sunday morning of stinging squalls, along the dual carriageway south of Laurencekirk, Dooley's Arthur Doyle successfully defended his Scottish ten mile time trial championship crown in 20:41 from Endura's Evan Oliphant with 20:59 and surprise Rob Wilkins in 21:02. Once I discovered Tay FM's 'Classics Sunday morning' the trip up became less of a pain; The Proclaimers, Kraftwerk-can't be bad...

The VV View: Walker Brothers Wheels, Books, Zwift – and Beards

Let’s start with the price of wheels; £3,300 for a pair of Lightweights – as Woody Allen might say; ‘what ! are you crazee ?’ Men are winning kermises every day in Belgium on thousand euro bikes; if you’re a Grand Tour rider looking for every advantage on some horrible mountain stage – yes. If you’re riding Ingliston criteriums – NO!

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 17: Santander – Power 187.3 km

There were no ‘pistolero’ gestures in Santander – it wasn’t a moment for playing to the photo opportunity. Just sheer joy of a man being back where he belongs – if you’ve taken the knocks and clawed back, then you’ll know that feeling.