We’re in the Dordogne, it’s a Tour de France Rest Day, and we’re at the QuickStep team’s mussels and beer bash. The deal is that they have four static bikes on rollers hooked up to a magnetic ‘cycle track’ – Scalextrix style – with little ‘Lego figures’ on tiny bikes on the track.
The harder you pedal, the faster your little figure goes.
Scottish honour was upheld by VeloVeritas with Martin posting the fastest time against Berteld Van de Velde, “the Moules Guy” at time of leaving, although the Davide Bramati v. Wilfried Peeters heat looked damn quick to us, albeit they’re unlikely to want to spend a weekend at ‘Penzion Stybar’ in the Czech Republic, the reward for being fastest on the day.
No surprise though to find out the following day that Martin “hadn’t finished the day with the fastest time”. Who had? difficult to find out… Flicked the Belgies, again..
Yes, despite being warned off by Vik, the VV boys couldn’t resist the lure of the QuickStep ‘mussel party’ – with moules by the kilo, frites and every sauce you can think off not mention Leffe by the litre and cool 70’s tunes, we couldn’t think of any reason not to go.
But let’s not talk chateaux just yet, let’s go back to dreich Edinburgh…
‘I have black coffee with honey then get into my vaporiser, that’s why I rabbit on like this !‘
Cabbies, don’t you love them?
So much for my ‘quiet run to the airport’ – but the man did share his proposals for Stages One and Two for when the Tour comes to Edinburgh.
I’ll be sure to mention them to Christian P. when I see him.
I bumped into James McCallum at the airport, unfortunately he ‘got a pull’ at security – those ex-pros all look a bit dodgy – VeloVeritas sailed through.
He did have time to tell me that he’s doing commentary work for Eurosport; sadly for James, not with Carlton…
‘Urban Cyclist’ mag got me through the flight to London City.
How do know you’re in London?
When a bacon roll costs £5.69 – but that’s with cherry tomato chutney though. The VV budget wouldn’t stretch to that so I settled for a cappuccino – a mere £3.95.
Deep joy, today’s L’Équipe with Froomey hollering, Porte on the deck and in pain and Barguil thinking he’d won, all in colour on the cover.
On the ‘classement’ page there’s a line through 198 – the new number of coureurs is 181 due to abandons or OTL (outside time limit) including green jersey contender Arnaud Demare and three team mates.
It was 1995 when four riders from the same team last missed the cut – four Belgians from Lotto-Isoglass.
Demare came home @ 58:48 with the last classified finisher being Astana’s Lutsenko @ 37:49 – Dan McLay was @ 37:26.
Dan was in same group as Ben Swift, Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and Nacer Bouhanni.
But what matters is that Demare was eliminated, he didn’t abandon; not in the tricolour jersey – you don’t dishonour that garment by ‘chucking it’…
Last man on GC is Demare’s team mate, Olivier Le Gac @ 1:56:56 – close to my 1980 ‘personal’ for a ’50.’
‘Take the risk or lose the chance’ is what it says on Romain Bardet’s top tube – his average speed off mont du Chat was 61.2 kph with a maximum of 86.8 kph – the man took the chances right enough.
The mountain of the cat gave Dan Martin one of it’s nine lives – it’s that lucky Irish blood in him but she was less generous to Porte who had yet another Grand Tour nitemare.
To climb aforementioned feisty feline ascent, the ‘Bigs’ choice of ‘braquets’ makes interesting reading: Barguil 36 x 28; Contador 36 x 30; Demare 34 x 30 and Froome 36 x 32.
With the big question being; ‘what gear would I need to get up there?‘
And finally, stats-wise, bearing in mind that it’s, ‘All About The Base’ – or in this case, ‘The Euros,’ Brent Copeland”s Bahrain-Merida squad are on 1,680 € whilst Patrick Lefevre’s QuickStep have 51,660 € in the coffers thus far.
The boys need a stage win, Sen. Colbrelli!
That said; a losing Wimbledon first round player receives £42,000…
The plane journey to Bergerac passed quickly and Martin was waiting for me at the airport with the hire car; our digs are well out in the sticks but there’s good wi-fi and a decent shower.
Despite VV soothsayer, Viktor’s ban on us mentioning the QuickStep ‘mussel party,’ it’s a great gig – no riders this year but Patrick Lefevre, Davide Bramati and Tom Steels were all there as well as 200 kilograms of mussels a ‘road block’ of frites and all the Leffe a man could want – being the pros we are we had but one glass.
We chatted to team press man, Alessandro Tegner who’s been with the team for 15 years now; DS Wilfried Peeters – who you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of – and much more simpatico DS, Italian Davide Bramati.
Peeters was Classics King Johan Museeuw’s right hand man for many years and won Gent Wevelgem in his own right whilst ‘Brama’ was also a Mapei/QuickStep man with stage wins in the Giro and Vuelta to his credit.
Despite Dan Martin’s horrible crash on Stage Nine the mood in the camp is good; with three stage wins courtesy the man with the fastest finale hair in the peloton, Marcel Kittel, it would be a surprise if it was anything else.
The Italian admits that it took him a wee while to get out of his rider’s mentality of only thinking of himself rather than thinking about ‘his boys’ but with 10 Giros and six Tours under his belt he has the hang of it now.
The unanimous opinion in the camp is that if Dan Martin hadn’t come down after Richie Porte ran out of road and had that horror crash then the Irishman would have won the stage.
The consensus – in agreement with how we see it – is that Froome will be very difficult to dislodge now and if he does have to pull back some time then that 22.5 K TT in Marseille on the penultimate day is made for him.
Bramati is optimistic about the rest of the race pointing out that there are stages coming up which suit Gilbert and Stybar and it’s 90% that the next two days will end in sprints for Kittel.
The ‘but’ is that with Demare out, QuickStep can no longer rely on FDJ for a ‘punt’ in chasing down the break – but Katusha for Kristoff, Cofidis for Bouhanni and Lotto for Le Gorille will all lend a hand.
The party was just getting into it’s stride when we left but with all those kilometres back to the digs and deadlines to meet we had to let Los Bravos and ‘Black is Black’ fade into the distance.
Sprinter stage today but we’ll try to make it interesting.
Wonder what’s for breakfast?