Stage 10: Round-up

Advantage Wiggins?

A new Col for Le Tour, but the stage didn’t pan out the way I expected. In the end I think the summit of Col du Grand Colombier was too far away from the finish line for it to truly be the game changing stage I’d hoped for.  Team Sky looked strong and were certainly strong enough to keep Wiggo out of trouble and he arrived home at the same time as Cowdel. Still we get to the see the longest, slowest “sprint” finish in memory.

A fast start to the stage at an average of almost 50km/hour for the first hour. Two smaller breakways, including one featuring green jersey holder Peter Sagan,  were caught up leaving a group of 25 riding out front and preparing for the first climb where early dotty points were won by MoreCow, Grivko, TheJensie and Veau-ckler.

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Stage 9: Round-up

The “Race of Truth” vs #tourdesnacks

Would we have enough snacks to see us through this time-trial stage?  Would we see any cows at all – or the same cows over and over again? Would Astana bring their shiny suits to the course this time? And of course – who’s golf-ball pitted helmet and super compression suit would reign supreme!

We begin our night’s viewing with a little peek at the goings on at Marcel Petite Comte – 35 kilo wheels of cheesy deliciousness. It’s fairly easy to get in Melbourne, look for the version with the Green Bell. At home we unpacked our snack packs, opened our bottles, foraged in the bottom of our musettes from last night and settled in for 3.5 hours or so of riding single, catching your “minute man” and finding interesting things to say as we passed the same spots time after time.

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Stage 8: Round-up

My final tweet last night was something along the lines of – what an amazing stage. And it was; full of dramatic moments, great moves, passion and despair. You can’t plan moments like this, and for better or worse, these kind of stages are a large part of why highlights packages can never give you the whole story.  Thank you SBS Cycling Central.

Gabriel went all “Will Studd” on us and showed some cheese making, but then went on to ruin all that good work to cook with veal!  Hang on is that good or bad? Delicious sure but … Oh, I don’t know anymore, extreme fatigue has set in. I do want to know though if he has any other tools in his kitchen apart from a fork, a teaspoon and a palette knife? #oldskool

When we joined the telecast Jensie had set off by himself, across the gap chasing Kruijswijk from Rabobank. When the motorbike camera man caught up to them I caught my breath when I realised just how close they were to the riders, and Kruijswijk himself looked mighty surprised (Jensie was having an argument with his bike at the time #drink!). What I’m not sure of is was Roy out in front already at this point?  Or did he really in fact leave the chasers, pass Jens and Kruijswijk, and then go out on his own? Seems unlikely but that’s what Paul Sherwin and Phil Ligget would have us believe. Anyway there was a large secondary group of chasers between those two and the peloton.

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Stage 7: Round-up

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.

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Stage 6: Round-up

So – well, we were all feeling a bit complacent about that stage weren’t we? Pancake flat, last chance for the sprinters to stretch their legs before the hills, not even a cross-wind to contend with.

Even #trolldj was in a relaxed, crowd pleasing frame of mind and gave us a redux re-edit of Cows With Guns.

(clip coming)

A large but basically unremarkable crash within the woods gave us a bit to talk about, but then – at 25km to go, there was a  problem.  A Frank Schleck delaying problem. A crash brought down half the peloton and took a long time to clear up. Frank is 2’43” behind the leaders and will find it awfully hard to make that up.

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Stage 5: Round-up

Well, well, well cow fanciers – what did you make of that long, virtually cow-less stage? It was the day the breakaway *almost* made it home, and there was yet another nasty crash within the last 3km.

The breakaway almost made it home, in my mind because the peloton just can’t seem to get itself very organised. Sky had it’s best stage yet but Cav couldn’t follow up his intermediate sprint action at the end of the race, but he was there. Cav, Goss and Renshaw riding for rival teams is not a sight I’m used to seeing yet.

Our lead up commentator Matty Keenan got a bit misty eyed recalling Nibblies track back through the peloton. He zigged, and zagged and slipped in between cars … sounded like Matty was wishing it was him out there. And Kittel, who hasn’t been well all tour finally packed it in.

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Stage 4: Round-up

Much like poor Rupert Guinness, I missed all the action in the finish, not because of security problems, but because I … umm .. had a snooze. Wups. The post race interviews all seemed to centre on the high level of desperation amongst the riders, and the lack of respect for other teams leading to the many crashes we’re seen so far. I hope they settle themselves down soon for this is not a good thing for a 3 week bike race.  I guess after tonight when we start to hit mountain stages the sprinters should be a bit less “on edge”.

Arashiro from Team Europcar did his bit for his team owners, getting the lion’s share of the TV coverage whilst in the breakaway for a few hours.

Lotto did a fantastic job in bringing Gorilla Greipel home, but you have to wonder how much less room they might have had if Cav hadn’t crashed out. Very pleased to see Veelers cross in third – moooo!  Spartacus is still in yellow with Wiggo 7 secs behind him and Cowdel running 17 secs behind.

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Stage 3: Round-up

Michael MoreCow (aka Morkov) showed us that he’s definitely the most aggressive rider in the tour so far by going out in the breakaway again today. Wearing the polka dot jersey, he proudly also displayed matching polka dots on his bike computer. Points were available for the first 15 over the intermediate sprint point and as the peloton, and the main contenders for the points jersey approached we saw a long lead out of GreenEDGE riders with Matty Goss at the end, but  it was all to no avail as Cav would.not.be.stopped and lectured on the way through – narky!

Things seemed to be settling into a chase rhythm then we had crashes, flat tyres, chaotic nervous riders, Gerro into some barbed wire, Sagan changed his bike, riders portaged their bikes around crash sites and Wiggo looked a bit sad to have *not* been caught up in a crash close to the line.

All in all – things are looking better for Cowdel and worse for Wiggo and GreenEDGE as the tour continues.

Sky’s in a bit of trouble really.

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Stage 2: Round-up

Tonight’s revelation was the reason for the absence of field art in the first few days of Le Tour. No matter how wide the shot, or how sweeping the vista … we saw no agricultural sculptures. I was pretty disappointed as there were some absolute beauties last year … until I remembered that they appear as part of a competition organised by the National Federation of Farmer’s Union of France,  and well … we’re still in Belgium!  I know what this year’s theme is, but it would be no fun if I told you all just yet.  We were very lucky with last year’s theme, it was cows 🙂 I’m very relieved to know that the prize for best exhibition hasn’t been swallowed by the GFC.

Gabriel Gate’s segment tonight proved us to be an easily excited bunch. Last night’s pre-emptive Vache spotting was completely outdone by Gabriel’s exploration of the countryside around Liege featured many lovely Vache, the excellent small goods produced and over 100 varieties of cheese, oh my! The most famous of which is Fromage de Herve,which we see being made, see it being eaten, have it explained to us that good pasture gives good milk ….but no mention of what kind of milk!  *sigh* so I googled and it is indeed made from Vache milk!  Hooray!

Fromage de Herve Source: Wikipedia

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JV Belgian Blues

Stage 1: Round-up

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).

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