Almost 200km across the glorious Ardennes, 198 riders, five Cat 4 climbs, paddocks and paddocks of cows, and a nervous uphill finish full of spills and thrills. There wasn’t much missing from this stage of Le Tour.
Gabriel took us to Callebut chocolate factory to rub in that he’s in Belgium and we aren’t (I’m totally going to lay in supplies of chocolate and waffles and all the good things for the rest of the tour).
Team Sky started off resplendent in their controversial yellow helmets, which look a lot like Movistar helmets, and GreenEDGE helmets, but not as bad as the RaboBank “stack hats” (that’s an Aussie thing from when they introduced helmets here in the mid-eighties with a truly appalling early computer animation).
We got a bit excited when mere minutes after the live coverage started we saw this:-
and these …
Then a slightly over excited, eagle-eye member of team Vache reported ed cows on a billboard and really – after that – it was anything all in.
Matty Goss from GreenEDGE took out the sprint in a brief respite from Vache spotting, then it was on to :-
Paul was looking for “horses for courses” (obviously has the wrong end of the stick) but went on to explain that highest point in Belgium is 606 metres, named after french fries and the place for this year’s feed zone. (No really – I’m certain that’s what he said). That’s about the highlight of the commentary tonight as the rest of it showed that Phil and Paul perhaps hadn’t been keeping to their training regime in the off-season. A bit rambling, some obvious mistakes, and some metaphors stretched so far and wide that they almost snapped (…like the elastic that keeps the peloton together) (yeh – I did HAVE to).
Having watched the GreenEDGE Backstage Pass for this stage perhaps it isn’t the highest spot in Belgium, or “Dad is full of $%#*”
Then Jonathan Vaughters tweeted this from the course, during the race, of the actually breed we said you might see in this area … *faints*
Well then we saw lots of Vache gathering in their own peloton.
And some having a rest – which Phil decided meant it was going to rain… umm… no.
And wide shots of Belgium featuring lots more cows
In the end, Belgium served us up so many cow sightings we started discussing the fashion of the new team kits, infamous yellow helmets paired with a green shirt and black shorts ala Bradley Wiggins (bad unless you’re a daisy), and inventing new drinking games.
Thank you Ardennes. Catch our round-up of the best of the tweets here.
A nervous bunched finish at ridiculous speeds gave us an anxious last 15 kilometres – spills, thrills and roundabouts. Team tactics were difficult to ascertain with Andre Greipel leading out the Lotto train for a while, Old Man O’Grady and GreenEDGE made some good moves and Cowdel took new lad Peter Sagan with him to the front end. Twitter was silent for quite a few minutes. What a finish. That last climb, over cobbles, looked mighty difficult. Cancellara and Sagan broke away (yellow helmet, almost yellow helmet, different yellow helmet – argh!) and were joined by Bosan Hagen for what was appeared to be a slow-motion sprint.
Peter Sagan brought it home winning his first stage, in his first tour. Cancellara remains in yellow ahead of Bradley Wiggins by 7 secs. A long flat day tomorrow… bring on the greyhounds!