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Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 14: Blagnac – Rodez, 181.5km. Michael Matthews makes it two in a row for Sunweb

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Mont-Saint-Michel

Yes, there are days when we’ve criticised the racing – those endless ‘sprinter stages’ where only the last five minutes saves the day.

But we were puzzled by the comments we saw about yesterday’s stage to Rodez on social media; the “Bore de France” and the break “allowed for purely commercial reasons”?

Yes, it was a ‘breakaway stage’ but after two days such as we’ve had with Bardet then Barguil’s wins on tough stages in the Pyrenees it would be difficult to expect another big GC battle.

Michael Matthews
Eventual stage winner Michael Matthews stays safe in the bunch. Photo©Martin Williamson

But even then the stage did dish up a great finale with Matthews’ win and the maillot jaune changing hands.

And remember that this isn’t some pan flat trundle across the plains; these are tough roads; rolling, surfaced with chippings and there was a stiff wind under a hot sun.

Michael Matthews
BMC and Sunweb work to get Tommy within sight. Photo©Martin Williamson

We were at around an hour to go and the ‘finiseurs’ teams had the wick turned up, with BMC for Greg Van Avermaet and Sunweb for Matthews particularly active aided and abetted by Sky for Froome who can finish well on the ‘ramps.’

And when you see the state some of the riders are in then you can have nothing but respect for them – and it’s all got to be done again tomorrow.

We missed out the start and parked up on the parcours early, we wanted to see the caravan for the first time this year.

It’s obviously a purely commercial venture but a highly entertaining one too and some of the tat that’s catapulted out in to the crowd is actually useful, like the McCain’s shopping bags or edible, like the Haribo sweets and Cochonou sausages.

The vehicles that are on the race do a great job of catching the eye and product association, here are some of our favourites;

Michael Matthews
BiC pens in the caravan. Photo©Ed Hood

BiC pens and lighters have supported the Tour for years; it was in the colours of the professional team sponsored by Bic that Luis Ocana scored his Tour de France win in 1973.

Michael Matthews
Skoda support the Green Jersey competition. Photo©Ed Hood
Michael Matthews
Tim Harris. Photo©Martin Williamson

Skoda cars pump huge amounts of money into the race with an armada of vehicles; ex-British professional champion Tim Harris drives one of their VIP cars – his job is to give individuals invited by Skoda a memorable day on the race and if they’re really lucky they get up in the helicopter.

Skoda invite successful dealership owners, competition winners and folks they’d like to influence on to the race for the day.