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Tag: Le Tour de France 2013
Chris Froome will go down in the record books as Great Britain’s second Tour de France winner. But whilst the slim man who now lives in Monaco may have GB next to his name in the record book – he’s originally from Kenya by way of South Africa and his win is a huge shot in the arm for cycle sport in the Dark Continent. But Froome was beaten to the punch as the first African in yellow by a man whose passport still declares ‘Republic of South Africa.’
Forget stories of barbed wire fences; that’s not what did the damage to our favourite Tour rider, Jack Bauer’s face. We know what really happened on stage 19 but gave our word to Jack that we’d keep schtum – suffice to say that it was a sore one and not his fault.
Marcel Kittel won today, but yesterday, Saturday night, was sore - 4.5 hours on the road after the race then straight into the best of two falls or a submission with the motel wi-fi. However a chance meet with the night porter and we were 'in' on the staff password - words and pics all safely on their way.
Whilst we did muse over the possibility as we supped our McDonald's coffee this morning, I was unprepared for it actually happening. What I'm talking about is the setting of Alberto Contador's sun - both Quintana and Rodriguez distanced him on the very last climb of the 2013 Tour de France to Semnoz to elbow him off the podium.
First we had Siberian snow at the Giro – and now, Rangoon rain at Le Tour. It’s never boring with VeloVeritas on the Grand Tours, and we saw Rui Costa take the win today.
I could never be a ski bum, 60 Euros per night for the room here at the top of Alpe-d’Huez - but you have to pay extra for sheets - and towels - there's no toilet paper - then you have to clean the place at the end of it. A bit like borstal really, with off-hand, condescending staff.
Chorges...this must be the place; Andrei Greipel’s pedalling back to his hotel, the road’s blocked with cars, buses and civilians. Yes, it’s the finish of the 32 kilometre mountain time trial – trouble is that we want to be at the start and the satnav is routing us through the finish area.
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.
It's the rest day today, and we're in Vaucluse, reading L’Équipe; ‘Naturellement’ says the headline. It’s ambiguous, to say the least. Does it mean that the Ventoux was always to be the place where Froome was going to place his stamp on things? – after all I wasn’t the only one who tipped him or Voeckler for the stage win. Or does it mean they think he’s ‘clean’ – natural?
It was a long day for VeloVeritas, yesterday. But it was a cracker – positioned 800 metres from the line on Mont Ventoux, we were there from when Froome spun past like a madman on rollers until Jonathan Hivert ground past us, oh so painfully, some 50 minutes later.
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.
Cav and Contador, how can you not respect them? We missed the mad action today and the anticipated Saxo Bank Ambush; we were driving from the stage start to the digs and thought we had nothing better to do than find a bar to watch proceedings.
We left Fougères this morning and Martin summed it up best; ‘normally you’d have expected Cav to be all but unbeatable in those circumstances.’ I felt the same, especially with Tony Martin winning the chrono, QuickStep morale being sky high and Cav being desperate to make amends after his brush with Veelers the other day.
Tony Martin was impressive, so was Chris Froome – Cadel Evans, Pierre Rolland, Nairo Quintana, Tejay van Garderen and a whole host of others, weren’t. Bonjour, from the Balladins Motel, ville de Tours, from Martin and Ed!
It's not often he gets it wrong, but he did today on the stage from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint Malo. Cav let Steegmans go and decided to go 'in the wheels' with Greipel and Kittel, tangled with Veelers - taking the Dutchman down - and ended up third.
This season, Dan Martin has dispelled any doubts about whether he was ‘doing a Danielson’ and being a ‘coming man’ for year after year – Catalunya, la Doyenne and now a Tour stage mean that we can file British Cycling’s biggest ‘one that got away’ firmly under ‘Big.’
Yesterday we alluded to the fact that a ‘break might stick’ and ‘Froome in yellow?’ We got the first one wrong but even we didn’t realise how spectacularly right we’d be on the second one finishing into Ax3 Domaines.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale & Slovakia) shone on today's stage from Montpellier - he's a breath of fresh air; he has the patter, the power, the speed, the will to win - and Cannondale have the airbrush work to back him up. And perhaps the scariest thing about him is that he’s still only 23 years-old.
Daryl Impey (GreenEDGE & Republic of South Africa) was in danger of always being remembered as the rider who suffered a horrific crash in the final metres of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in 2009 with the yellow jersey on his back – the podium substituted for an ambulance, that day.
When I heard it was going to be a bunch sprint at the end of Stage Five, I knew there would only be one winner. The anger would have been boiling inside Cavendish since yesterday; losing that TTT by less than a second would have killed him. The chance for him to be on the podium with his boys - gone. No one was going to get the better of him after that disappointment.
'GreenEDGE will be on a high' we said of their chances in the TTT – and they exploited it in the best way possible. There’s a lot of luck involved in professional cycling and it was Sky and QuickStep’s turn for that particular lady to desert them, this time around.
Hood junior had already clued me in on the stage winner by text (there's about 400 metres of road, just outside the beach airport where you can receive a text); Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge & Australia) the former Aussie champion is a cool guy - when he won Milan-Sanremo I tried to ring him for a quote but went to ansaphone.
Jan Bakelants today, but they couldn't resist it; "Tour de Farce" trumpets the headline in the Sunday Times. I'm not really a Times man, my dad wouldn't have approved. But I wanted to see what David Walsh had to say about Stage One.
It was Kittel today. My son asked me today what the chances of Cav taking the win and the yellow jersey were; "95%" said I, confidently. But it’s that other 5% which makes it a bike race. The bulk of the stage was a ‘paint drying’ job with the early break – which went in remarkably fuss free fashion - of Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Juan José Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Boom (Belkin), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) sitting up in the huff because they couldn’t get the gap; then the peloton doing the same to give the escapees some space and incentive to get back on the case.