Stage 17: Round-up

Tonight – tonight we were promised a “Short stage, with a violent start” [cue spooky orchestral music, thunder clashes etc]. Tonight we would see the polka dot jersey decided and by the end of the stage we’d know who we’d be dining with in the Hall of the Mountain King!  Oh yeh! [cymbal clash, thunder crash]

But first, the convenors of this wonderful coverage of Le Tour would surprise, confuse and freak.us.out a bit. One of the little community games that has sprung up around twitter is calling the time when Phil and Paul will “catch” Matt Keenan on the commentary.  Last night though things were a bit shady, a bit “online betting bizarre”. Matt’s dulcet tones started the commentary as usual, to be replaced by Phil and Paul… only to be replaced by Matt Keenan again! wot? When P&P returned they casually mentioned going for a cup of tea.  Some of us mentioned that perhaps the horrible gastro bug that seems to be making it’s way around the peloton had reached the commentary team.  Right then – on with the race.

Today Little Tommy Veau-ckler proved time and time again that he was wearing that polka-dot jersey because he was the best climber. Kessiakoff tried many attacks; sneaking around him, a long sprint time, a short sprint time, just going as hard and as long as he could, waiting for TV to make a move, making the move himself. Nothing worked. TV crossed the summits first and cleared up the points. these two battled each other, fog and stupid spectators to finalise the polka dot jersey comp.

Wiggo did what Wiggo does, and Sky kept the peloton under control for most of the race. But I doubt if Wiggo had a happy day in the team bus as when the drizzle started he had to go and get HIS OWN RAIN VEST! woah!

Valverde took control of the race and won the stage convincingly.  Nibali and Leeky-gas (not a Welsh team as Injera reminded us) tried but were thwarted by the pure power and professionalism that is Team Sky.

Some parts of the stage featured no attacks, no fog, no Vache … thank goodness P&P had #chaingate to fall back on – remember the time when Andy Schleck’s chain slipped off and … *snore*

Vache!

(Thank goodness)

 

74.8

74.7

58.7

Closing Montage

 

#trolldj

  • “Days Like This” – Van Morrison “When it’s not always raining – there’ll be days like this” – Misty, foggy, and I reckon a bit cold.
  • “Here Comes Your Man” – Pixies with pics of Tommy Veau-ckler clearing summits
  • It’s Not Where You Start” Rowlf (Muppets) “Its not where you start it’s where you finish”
  • “Mission Impossible Theme” – pics of Cadel 🙁

 

And no … I’m not mentioning naked guy.

 

Stage 17: Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes

Today’s 143.5km, five climb stage is the last chance the climbers will have to grab big points and given that only 4 points separate Europcar’s Veau-ckler and Kessiakoff of Astana, they are bound to be hotly contested. It’s also the last chance the for the weaker time triallists to move up in the GC – Nibali’s moves were all marked last night and it’s doubtful that Sky will let him escape. Tejay might make a play for a higher placing, though, and I’d love to see Moobeldia having a crack. Evans, whilst conceding he’s out of podium contention, has suggested that he would like to make a move, but it’s probably unlikely that he will be allowed.

The course today is “short, but brutal!” according to Technical Director Jean-François Peschaux. The climbing starts early, just after 18km, with the Cat 1 Col de Menté. This 9.3km ascent has an average gradient of 9.1% but the first and third kilometres average 10.3 and 11% respectively and the rest of the climb ranges from 5 to 12%. The descent is described as “tortuous” and the Cat 2 col des Ares and Cat 3 Côte de Burs will no doubt come as a bit of a relief. The day’s toughest climb, the 11.7km of the HC Port de Balès, starts at around 100km. Expect narrow roads, the usual fan kerfuffle, and perhaps picture break-up because of the trees (although we’ve been pretty lucky with that this year). After descending to Saint-Aventin, the final climb of the day commences. It’s really two climbs: riders will tackle the Col de Peyresourde (about 9km), descend briefly and then climb again to finish at the ski station of Peyragudes. Finally – a mountain top finish! They seem to have been few and far between this year. I’ll leave the last of the stage overview to Cycling Weekly:

We can’t emphasise enough how hard today’s roads are. Crashes are a possibility; they’ve been frequent in the past when the Tour has been here and they’ve changed the race. And the climbs a all hard and unforgiving. Anyone who breathed a sigh of relief when they got to Luchon yesterday, thinking they’d got through the Tour, might have to think again.

Continue reading

Stage seventeen: round-up

Yesterday’s stage was not much for cows; in fact, the only non-human life we saw was captured in this image by cowrespondent Bill:

Life is probably the wrong word in these circumstances, as by this stage I think the life force had departed this little bug.

We did hear cowbells throughout the stage, which must mean there were cows around, right?  When I wondered aloud what the purpose of cowbells were, my viewing companion responded that they are so “the farmer can hear the cows running away”.  Now every time I hear the bells I imagine a farmer saying “there go the cows again, Beryl”.  This is what happens when I don’t have visuals to distract me…

Continue reading

Stage 17: Gap > Pinerolo

It seems like it taken an aeon but tonight … finally … the “incursion into foreign territory” AND The Alps!  Oh yes!

There’s also some nail-biting time as we watch descents and hope for a safe, accident free stage. Apparently the sun is shining in Pinerolo so that’s something to look forward to at least.  I don’t think any of the sprinters will be looking forward to today’s very lumpy ride. Four summits on the way to over 2,000m, then a long descent of 1500m, one more summit and a downhill finish.  I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Meanwhile though, as the peloton crosses into Italy, so we’ll take a look at the local cow, the Oropa also called the “Pezzata Rossa d’Oropa”. This red pied cow is said to come from Northern European pied cattle dating back to the fifth century Burgundi or Borgognoni, similar to Simmenthal.

 

Photo: Kranky Kidz

Continue reading