Thursday, August 5, 2021
HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2015 - Stage 21; Sèvres - Paris Champs-Élysées

Le Tour de France 2015 – Stage 21; Sèvres – Paris Champs-Élysées


When we spoke to Cav’s personal soigneur, Aldis half way through the stage we knew it wasn’t to be; ‘And Mark, today on the Champs-Élysées?’

Aldis screwed up his face; ‘he’s a little sick…

So 4:1 to Greipel – and the rumours about Cav having to learn to understand Brian Smith’s accent at MTN get ever stronger.

We changed our system and didn’t drive race route for the last stage; instead we drove straight to the digs, got organised, had a shower and headed off across a wet Paris to the finish circuit.

The first two cops we negotiated with were fine, the third one was a jobs worth and the was NO ! way were getting on that circuit.

We drove a kilometre back up the road and the young cop waved us through with a nod.

We crouched down in the wee Nissan as we zoomed past Robocop and checked the mirrors for a kilometre or two.

Some of the police understand the Press Accreditation levels, others don’t ! Photo©Ed Hood

The route took us through the Louvre and along the Rue De Rivoli; the crowd was like the weather – grey.

Joan of Arc in the background. Photo©Ed Hood

But Joan was as gold as ever.

There were zero PDAFF (public displays of affection for Froomey) that we could see.

Heading to the underground carpark with all the other race traffic. Photo©Ed Hood

Le Tour de France 2015 Champs-Élysées
Grey skies above the tower and the VIP areas. Photo©Ed Hood

The atmosphere was flat with a capital ‘F’ – it was damp, which didn’t help, making the cobbles slick but instead of Sky roaring into Town with Froome in their wake, they ambled in.

GC times taken on the first lap meant Sky weren’t too fussed about the remainder of the stage. Photo©Ed Hood

It added to the air of anti-climax which hung over the whole affair.

Last man overall Seb Chavanel gives it a dig. Photo©Ed Hood

Nibali salvaged his race with a tremendous win on Stage 19. Photo©Ed Hood

The racing was predictable with a break of three going away until the mighty Lotto Red Guard turned on the watts and the gap vanished like ‘snaw aff a dike.’

And ‘The Bigs’ just wanting it over and done with.

Lotto take control. Photo©Ed Hood

Greipel takes four stages and secures a place in history. Photo©Ed Hood

Greipel it was – for his 10th Tour stage – but young Coquard was right there; Cav was too far back across the Place de la Concorde and didn’t have his usual winning face on.

Not a bad old Tour for QuickStep though with stages to Martin, Stybar and Cav and Martin’s truncated spell in yellow.

And we got the low down on why Mark Renshaw quit, from Aldis – on the really hot stages, the soigneurs pass up ice socks to the riders to put onto the back of their necks.

The deal is that the rider is supposed to move the sock around so it’s not on the one spot all the time – but the day’s racing was so fast that Renshaw couldn’t take his hands off the bars and the concentrated cold on the one spot on his neck was what sparked the crippling migraine which forced him out.

MTN’s Brian Smith and Louis Meintjes watch the finish. Photo©Ed Hood

On the subject of riders who were forced out, we met Brian Smith – and his wee boy, Joseph – on the Champs with a slight looking chap in a rain cape – Louis Meintjes.

His stomach problems hadn’t full cleared – despite two over night stays in hospital.

His next race will probably be the Arctic Tour in Norway – a wee bit of a change from the baking heat of Southern France in July.

Pizzas for the Tinkov/Saxo squad. Photo©Ed Hood

Sausages on the barbie for MTN – that equipment looks too wee to us for a team of hungry riders and workers! Photo©Ed Hood

Nibbles and fizzy stuff for the Belgian team and their friends and families. Photo©Ed Hood

There was the usual ‘end of term’ vibe around the buses – Saxo had the pizzas in; MTN had the barbie fired up and Lotto had the cheese and wine on the go but at some of the buses it was obvious that they just wanted to clear the decks, ‘soon as.’

Sky do things their way; it’s effective but not exactly popular. Photo©Ed Hood

I stalked the Sky bus at the end; if you’re Scottish – or worse still, a Fifer – the aura is very much, ‘Rapha/Sportiv/Vroomey/I’m a Daily Mail man, myself,’ at it’s worst.

False bonhomie, back slapping, belly laughs, ‘in’-jokes and an air of elitism.

The team has won the Tour three times in four years; a magnificent achievement which is largely down to the vision of Sir David Brailsford and has to be praised.

But as far as endearing themselves to the continental public, they’re non-starters.

Sure, it’s about winning but they seem oblivious to the fact that it’s the ‘people’s sport’ – you can hang over the fence at a French criterium or a Flemish kermis and all it will cost you is a Euro or two for a beer.

Just for one day a year teams are allowed to use UCI-approved “special kit”. Sky have not only racing kit but t-shirts, vehicle livery and – we imagine – Rapha undies. Photo©Ed Hood

You don’t need a £200 Rapha man bag or a ten grand Pinarello.

But listen to me – I sound like our guru Viktor on a bad day.

Fact is, they won the race and it’s not Froome’s fault that Contador and Nibali just were not on their game.

L’Équipe was still, ‘having a pop’ at Froome on Monday telling us – on the front page – that he’s had to defend himself even from the podium over ‘suspicions and criticisms.’

Let’s change the subject and return to safer ground …

Froome’s win in the GP Montagne – he wouldn’t have pursued that, it comes as a consequence of his being at the head of affairs most of the time over the high cols.

But he’ll not be disappointed with the contribution it makes to the team’s Euro tally for the Tour.

Peter Sagan. Photo©Ed Hood

Sagan; his fourth green jersey in four years with 42 top ten finishes in Le Tour since 2012 – four wins, 16 second spots, six thirds, seven fourths, three fifths, two sixths, a seventh and three ninths.

Remarkable – with his 432 points tally up from 431 in 2014.

Nairo Quintana. Photo©Ed Hood

Best young rider, Quintana; nothing is cast in stone as far as the future goes in cycling but if he keeps on the same trajectory, he’ll win the Tour, for sure.

But ‘IF’ is a big word in bike racing.

Movistar is the team for him – no question, bringing him along just right.

No stage wins for the ‘Telephone Team’ but second and third on GC; the white jersey and the team – not a bad haul.

Third-placed Valverde tops the latest UCI rankings, Movistar are second team to Sky and Spain top the nation ratings.

Thomas De Gendt – most attacking rider of the race. Photo©Ed Hood

The team with most distance off the front – but no stage wins – at 1,977 K was Europcar with Lotto’s Thomas De Gendt ‘le Baroudeur du Tour‘ with 679 K, ‘up the road.’

Lanterne rouge was Sebastien Chavanel @ 4:56:59.

And to close, Sky – who else ?

A McDonald’s brown paper bag caused Froome to changed bikes. Photo©Ed Hood

Froome’s ‘mechanical’ on the circuit ?

A Big Mac bag; a sign of our disposable culture, some might say – will they speak of Froome’s wins in the same tones as they still do of a young Merckx, Ocana, Thevenet or Hinault ?

I think not.

Sky crack the coolbox open. Photo©Ed Hood

But VeloVeritas certainly doesn’t grudge Wout Poels that beer!

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

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 19: Bordeaux – Pauillac 52km ITT; Schleck Surprises, But It’s Bert

"Sea, sex and sun," sings Serge Gainsbourg on Radio Nostalgi - all very well, but the boys have 640 K to drive, this Sunday morning, it's the TT from Bordeaux to Pauillac. Today's chrono is 52 kilometres, but Saturday's L'Equipe glossy magazine takes us back 30 years to a much shorter effort against the watch - the Olympic one kilometre championship in 'Moscou.'

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon, 191km. Trentin Takes It

Winner today: Trentin, Quote of the day: this comes from a gentleman of Ivan’s acquaintance; ‘It's not fair what Contador did to Froome, using his team like that in the wind.’ Damned Johnny Foreigner – no wonder they don’t play cricket.

Le Tour ’11, Stage 12 – the Tour on the Tourmalet

Looking for a nice meal in Lourdes with great service? That's too bad, you'll struggle to find it! We were lucky to come across the only half-civil waiter in the town after landing in the third restaurant of the night, after being variously ignored by staff and stared at at by local idiots in the first two places we tried. Today's plan: head up to the start at Cugnaux and get a Village Depart breakfast, then drive on race route until the famous climb of the Tourmalet, where we pitched up around 3km from the top.

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 16: Vaison-la-Romaine > Gap, 168km. Solo Win for Rui Costa

We left Vaison-la-Romaine this morning on Stage 16, and we got to thinking; if you’re in love with the sport, sometimes it breaks your heart. I can remember sitting in my living room watching Bjarne Riis and Luc Leblanc squabble by the roadside about whether the race should continue during the ‘Festina Tour’ – a race ultimately won by Marco Pantani.

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 10; Escaldes-Engordany – Revel. Bling When You’re Winning

The sprinters are denied - but it's a sprinter who wins. It was big smiled Aussie, Michael Matthews (Orica) kicking to glory from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in third spot – a podium of real quality from the big day-long breakaway. And whilst Sagan may not have taken the stage bouquet he took the stage by the scruff of the neck and thrust himself back into green – possible all the way to Paris, now.

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 5: Vittel – La planche des belles filles, 160.5km. Fabio Aru’s classy win

It may seem like scant evidence to base a major assertion upon but from what happened in the Stage One time trial – and yesterday’s first significant ascent of the race, La Planche des Belle Filles, Chris Froome (Sky & GB) has the 2017 Tour de France won barring disasters or acts of God.

At Random

Danilo di Luca, to the victor, the spoils…

When Sci'Con set out to celebrate the victory of Danilo di Luca in the 2007 Giro d'Italia, what better way than with an all-pink Aerotech Evolution Art. 70 rigid bicycle case, produced as a single specimen colored to match the Giro d'Italia winner's jersey.

Kyle Gordon – Hurtling to Rapid ’10’ Times!

Kyle Gordon doesn’t seem to have been phased by the disappointment of the HUUB team’s Bolivian record attempts falling victim to the Covid crisis. The versatile man from Alness has recently been knocking out some super-fast 10 mile times as part of his build-up to the CTT ‘25’ and ‘50’ Championships later in the year.

Joe Skipper – 27mph Average to Win the 12 Hour Championship!

Professional triathlete Joe Skipper, making up for the disappointment of ‘turning short’ and being technically "DNF" in last year’s CTT 12 hour championship has recorded the first 27 mph 12 hour time trial - 325.5 miles in the CC Breckland event in Norfolk. Here’s what Joe had to say just two days after his historic ride.

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 11: Stage 8, Saint-Méen-le-Grand – Lorient

Heading to Lorient today... There's a great old 70's film called, 'The Omega Man'. To cut a long story short, Charlton Heston is the last man left alive (by day anyway) in a post-viral world. He roams this completely deserted US city with not another living thing in sight.

The Job in Hand

I've been in Belgium for a week now, but to be honest I feel like I've never been away with the same routines already re-emerging into the day. It is really good to feel like a full time racing cyclist again as after months of spreading myself thin over winter, all I have to think about is riding my bike. I arrived a week past Tuesday, the 1st of March, which was simply a date plucked out of the air to maximise winter earning time, but get here in time for the start of the season proper.

George Woods – “happy to be back on my bike and racing again” (and winning in Belgium!)

It was back in July when we first heard about 21 year-old George Woods (Richardson’s Trek Racing Team) ‘doing the business’ in Belgium, we ‘had a word’ with him but with all that Tour carry-on we didn’t get round to writing the interview up. Then the other week we saw he was in the frame again, winning a 114 kilometre kermis at Deinze. High times we gave ourselves a shake and got the piece published!