Tuesday, September 21, 2021
HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2017 - Stage 15: Laissac-Sévérac l'Église - Le...

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 15: Laissac-Sévérac l’Église – Le Puy-en-Velay, 189.5km. Mollema in the mountains



Sunday, Stage 15 and VeloVeritas’s last shift on Tour – so we headed for the biggest hill we could find to remind ourselves how special and beautiful France and this race really are.

Today we’re in the heartland, perhaps not deepest agricultural ‘France Profonde;’ the rural, simple, beautiful heart of the nation, not with the gorges and cols.

However, it’s quiet, lovely and some of the simple, striking images surprise as you drive the parcours.

Religious iconography. Photo©Ed Hood

Amazing rock formations. Photo©Ed Hood

The countryside is so varied with wheat fields giving way to raw rock which has forced it’s way up to the surface of the planet eons ago.

Cochonou 2CV. Photo©Ed Hood

There are few things we associate more with France than the 2CV, Citroen’s low cost, reliable, simple transport for the masses with it’s high ground clearance and skinny tyre you can take one just about anywhere – and if you bash it, just unbolt the panel.

Lovely sausages. Photo©Ed Hood

Pork sausage manufacturers Cochonou’s fleet of gingham 2CV cars and vans has been on the Tour ‘since grass’ – long may they continue.

Warren Barguil. Photo©Martin Williamson

First coureur to appear through the throng was Sunweb’s born again Warren Barguil – this Tour has been excellent for him, there was that epic day to lose by a whisker to Uran, he has the polka dot jersey, he’s won a stage and here he was again netting more points to ‘stay spotty.’

Could these performances boost the self belief to make the Breton the GC contender many have always thought he could be?

Serge Pauwels. Photo©Ed Hood

Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data & Belgium) always prepares well for Le Tour and whilst there might not be stage win, he’s always one to ‘show the jersey.’

Barguil and Pauwels along with a score and more of others were in the ‘break of the day’ which was now spread all over this Col de la Peyra Tailade, a first cat climb with a brutal 12% centre section.

Thibout Pinot. Photo©Martin Williamson

Dashing – but lonely at the breakfast table with five FDJ team mates out – Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot was well to the fore when he passed us.

He opted for the Giro this year to duck the huge pressure the French favourites are subject to from the Media and Public so no GC hopes but a stage win would be ‘trés bon!

Diego Ulissi. Photo©Martin Williamson

Diego Ulissi (UAE & Italy) has never quite reached the level we expected him to; a good all rounder and ‘up there’ in the Italian semi-classics – despite those Giro stage wins of a year or two ago he’s never really broken through.

He was second on the day here behind big Dutchman Bauke Mollema who saved Trek’s Tour and who we contrived not to photograph – sorry!

Tony Gallopin. Photo©Ed Hood

Tony Gallopin is another classy Frenchman and a winner on is day but Lotto seem fated in this Tour and third was the best he could do behind Mollema.

Tony Martin. Photo©Martin Williamson

Katusha’s Tony Martin was away on his own at the foot of this climb but he’s no ‘grimpeur’ and was sliding back through the race when he passed us.

Can the German time trial world champion defend against Dumoulin this year?


Alessandro De Marchi. Photo©Ed Hood

BMC’s Italian work horse Alessandro De Marchi is another who likes the breakaway but isn’t built for this kind of terrain.

We see his eyes here searching for that summit banner.

Simon Geschke. Photo©Ed Hood

How does Sunweb’s Simon Geschke cope with the heat with that beard?

A key member of the Dutch squad he won his own Tour stage two years ago – but the genes are good, Dad Jurgen was one of the all conquering East German track squad back when I was a lad in the 70’s; he was World Sprint Champion and a demon tandem rider.

Laurens Ten Dam. Photo©Martin Williamson

Big Dutchman Laurens Ten Dam goes for the same look as his team mate – maybe it’s aero?

A marginal gain?

Froomey with a beard?

Too horrible to contemplate.

Michael Matthews. Photo©Martin Williamson

Sunweb were well represented in the break with yesterday’s winner Michael Matthews in there too – largely to snaffle sprint points along the way and narrow the gap on QuickStep’s Colossus, Kittel.

The Aussie did just that and you have to admire his failure to give up the fight against the big German.

Tsgabu Grmay. Photo©Ed Hood

When I were lad, if you’d said there would be guys from Ethiopia riding the Tour in my lifetime, I’d have laughed – but there’s Tsgabu Grmay doing his best for Bahrain.

Thomas De Gendt. Photo©Martin Williamson

Thomas De Gendt was leading ‘baroudeur’ before the race with way over 500 kilometres ‘up the road’ – it’ll be over 600 now.

The equivalent of three stages – the man certainly ‘shows the jersey.’

Dan Martin leads Fabio Aru. Photo©Martin Williamson

Still there, still looking strong but oh!

That team – Astana are all hardy boys, it’s hard to figure why they’re giving their Sardinian ‘Capo’ so little support?

It’s good to see an Italian ‘in the mix’ but hard to see him usurping Froome and the Skymatons.

Carlos Betancur looks after Nairo Quintana. Photo©Ed Hood

Carlos Betancur was on his best behaviour, chaperoning off the back Movistar team leader and fellow Columbian Nairo Quintana up the climb – it’s hard to see Quintana finishing though, more pummelling will do his already damaged morale no good.

Elie Gerbert leads Brice Feillu. Photo©Ed Hood

The Frenchman who looks great but no longer goes too clever, Brice Feillu was right on cue, looking well cool on his Fortuneo team mate’s wheel but well down.

We have seen quite a few missed feeds this week. Photo©Martin Williamson

And guys are getting tired – missing bottles…

Phil Gilbert has a problem. Photo©Ed Hood

And shoving each other…

Dylan Van Baarle. Photo©Martin Williamson

Cannondale are the youngest team in the race and on one of the lowest budgets but with Columbian Rigoberto Uran winning a stage and shadowing the podium it’s been a good race for the boys with the strip you either love or hate; Dylan Van Baarle here battles his way to the summit.

Stevie Cummings. Photo©Martin Williamson

Dan McLay. Photo©Martin Williamson

And bringing up the rear, two of our chums; Steve Cummings (Dimension Data & GB) and even further back than that – Dan McLay (Fortuneo & GB) – that boy has grinta.

And that’s it, time to bolt off the hill through the death wish ‘civilian population,’ always a chore – and as ‘our Dave’ would say at this moment; ‘your credentials are no good to you now!

We hope you enjoyed being on Tour with us.

No more live stuff but we’ll be pontificating on the Grande Boucle on the way to Les Champs…

Ciao, ciao.


Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed and Martin, our top team! They try to do the local Time Trials, the Grand Tours and the Classics together to get the great stories written, the quality photos taken, the driving done and the wifi wrestled with.

Related Articles

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 12: Pau – Peyragudes, 214.5km. Bardet confirms and Aru goes Yellow!

It wasn’t until inside the last kilometre at Peyragudes that the drama really unfolded; Bardet confirms, as does Aru, Froome cracks a little, Quintana cracks A LOT and much as it pains me; ‘one season too many, Bert!’ And Bennett and Martin impress, especially the latter who’s carrying injuries from that horrible crash with Porte on Sunday.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 7; Épernay – Nancy, 233 km. Matteo Trentin – Just!

QuickStep, you have to respect them.
They lost Cav but they've been contesting the sprints as if he was still here, with Renshaw grabbing places of honour.
And today again Kwiatkowski was there in the finale - yesterday he tried a 'long one' for himself, today he set it up beautifully for Matteo Trentin.
 Patrick Lefevre has seen it all; a good pro himself, he won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in his day, he manages to run a glossy, modern team which at the same time doesn’t forget that the sport belongs to the people.

Solid Kick-off

Solid Kick-off. Finally we’re underway! And what a start it’s been. Time trial days are always long periods of surprising quietness (and the quiet is always a surprise) punctuated by flurries of furious activity. As team mechanic-cum-philosopher Kris Withington (NZ’s finest mechanic) says, “it’s either full gas work or full gas wait.”

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 9: Nantua – Chambéry, 181.5km. Rigoberto Uran stuck in the 11

Many are the times that VeloVeritas answer to Nostradamus, the Legend that is Viktor, has discussed Warren Barguil with me; two beautiful stage wins in the Vuelta in 2013 – and since then? Two wins, one a criterium – Vik’s making assessment that; ‘he’s milking it’ hard to argue with. Forgive us, Warren – today makes up for those fallow years.

New to VV: Toby Watson presents Tobe’s Blog

We're very pleased to announce that Garmin Transitions physiotherapist Toby Watson will be contributing articles to his new VeloVeritas blog.

Le Tour de France – Day 2: Stage 15, Embrun to Prato Nevoso

Follow the road until further instructed... Hurray, the satnav is working again! Ahh ! pardon, bonjour mes amis en Ecosse, bienvenu au 15eme etape de la Tour de France avec l'equipe VeloVeritas a Prato Nevoso.

At Random

Gent Six Days 2011 – Now, to Zürich

It's a long way from Gent Six Days 2011 to Zurich, around 800 kilometres - so best get on the road early. We picked up Jesper at the Expo Holiday Inn - where Vik and I have stalked the mechanics at many's a Het Volk - and then we were offski.

Giro d’Italia – Day 8: Stage 19, Legnano – Presolana/Monte Pora

Buon giorno di Legnano! Another German stage win and the Gazzetta front page says - "three days of truth waiting to attack Contador" - old Jens doesn't get so much as a mention until the fourth page of Giro reports, deep in the paper - like I said yesterday, the Italians just love the Germans winning their tappas...

Jez McCann – First Elite Kermis win at Zedelgem

It’s a while since VeloVeritas last spoke to Steve Skuse; Vik and I used to bump into him on our trips to the kermises. Steve got in touch the other day to tell us about another young man he’s looking after and who’s pulled off that difficult trick of winning a kermis in the Flatlands. And the better news is, he qualifies to ride for Bonnie Scotland... Jez McCann is the man; 19 years-old, raised in Gravesend, riding for Richardsons-Trek.

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 10: Stage 7, Saint-Grégoire – Rennes (ITT)

How could I ignore my hero Serhiy here in Saint-Grégoire? If I’d had a proper thinking-head on when I did the revue of the course yesterday I would have mentioned him; ‘a strong man’s course’ I said and who’s stronger than the man who rides 56 x 11? Isn’t it a joy to see him forcing that ‘death gear’ along the road, none of that embarrassing high-revving nonsense; face a mask of pain, giving his all — awesome.

Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 18, Melide – Verbania; Gilbert Takes His Second

Monte Ologno, high above Lago Maggiore, Thursday 15:00 hours; we had to get up here early to beat the road closures; we got a slapped wrist from Vancouver for 'missing the cut' on the Mortirolo so no slip ups, today. The stage describes a big curve from Melide near Lugano to Verbania on Lago Maggiore; but there's a late surprise - which we're sitting at the top of. It's a nasty one; 10.4 K @ 9.0% average with a max of 13% makes it Category 1 and very tough. Where we are - 450 metres to go - it's scenic with wonderful vistas across the lago but lower down it's not unlike the Mortirolo in that much of it is a tunnel through the trees.

Volta a Portugal 2012 – Stage Five: Armamar-Oliveira de Azemeis

176.9km, 3000m ascent. This Volta a Portugal 2012 stage was a tough one, we had a huge mountain right at the start and several others to follow. The roads were crummy also, which made descending awkward.