For the first time in the 99 year tour history this stage took us up an insignificant sounding La Planche des Belles Filles (which is a named after a plank and some solders and some virgins or something) in the area of Great Nancy. A ski resort in winter, it certainly proved its worth as an interesting Tour destination this year. Although the climbs along the stage were only rated a modest category 3, and this was rated a transition stage to the “tougher” climbs of the Alps, the steep finish cat 1 climb after 199km of riding did the intended and forced those who were making a play for the GC to show their hand – or at least part of it.
Although you can be sure the teams with GC contenders checked it out before yesterday’s stage, they won’t have known how their competitors would fare on the challenging inclines. Christopher Froome kept pace for Wiggins till Cadel made his move, and although it appeared that Froome had done his all to prepare the stage for Wiggo to go it – mano-a-mano against Cowdel, he instead found the legs to make the stage his own. My read of it was that Cadel was waiting for Wiggins to go and was a bit surprised when he didn’t, but then corrected himself to not exert more energy trying to win the stage (which he doesn’t need to do right now), leaving Wiggins in yellow. There’s no doubt Sky had a great stage, but we may have to start watching out for Froome rather than Wiggins in the GC.
Eight riders didn’t make the start after yesterday’s almighty crash, and Anthony Delaplace withdrew during the stage. An 8-man breakaway speed off and worked well together catching #trolldj’s eye. DJ sent them a little song “Let’s Work Together” by Canned Heat.
The intermediate sprint saw Sagan grab a few more seconds lead on the green jersey after Matty Goss had another mechanical … Argh! And we hear that Andre Greipel finished yesterday’s stage with a dislocated should. Umm ouch!
The stage win went to Froome, with Cadel crossing second and Wiggins third. Wiggins will wear yellow tonight, Cowdel is 10 secs behind him, following by Nibali a further 6 secs behind him. Christopher Froome is 1:32 behind his leader.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Nibali deals with tonight’s hills, and to check if Wiggins is up to the task.
It was a lean night for actual real cow spotting – so I’ve included a few “ornamental cows” today.
At 103.2 @splodgenoodles managed to see though the static on my coverage to discern some cows.
At 54.7km we spotted another cow fancier’s handiwork.
42.9 showed us some cows running up the hill away from the riders, the helicopters and the crowds.
36.2km fleeting shot of cows sitting down in a field (and yet it wasn’t raining? who’d have thunk!)
Eagle eyed @splodgenoodles spotted a man in a cow suit (or pajamas perhaps?) beside the climb.
I love the Life I live -George Fame: riders relaxed and smiling early in the stage.
The World is A Picture – Josh Pike: scenes of bucolic foisted mountain beauty, lakes etc
Mess Around – Ray Charles: can’t recall -must have been a nature break?
Lets Work Together – Canned Heat: focused on the breakies
We’re Coming Home – as you’d think – near the end as the peloton amped it up.
I didn’t see any official field art this stage – but there was a pretty awful display of some kind on the way which freaked us all about a bit.
How are you all holding up? Seems like a long first week and I’m ready for a rest day, but first – tonight we take a lumpy ride to Switzerland, and then we have the individual time trial. Too excited to sleep anyway!
See you on the twitters tonight.