So today it pissed with rain and was colder than a Christmas card from Lance Armstrong to Paul Kimmage, so no bike riding for me.
We are just over 2 weeks in, so I thought I would have a look back at the 2011 Tour de France, just as we hit the Alps.
So far this years La Grande Boucle will be remembered for the accidents. The first before the flag had been waved on stage 1. Andre Greipel decided it was time for a lie down on the road in the neutral zone. This was a sign of things to come. It took all of the blink of an eye for the first attack. Jeremy Roy (FdJ), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Perrig Quemeneur of Europcar took off. Fantastic to see 2 of the 3 riders from wild card entries. Christian Prudhomme really showed some plums by selecting 4 French teams as wild cards this year. It really was one in the eye for the Geox-TMC team who has Sastre and Menchov on their roster. I will actually miss seeing Menchov flying off his bike every 2 days though. As it was, there were at least 4 accidents in stage 1, with names like Van De Walle, Goss, Roche and Gerdemann from the ridiculously named Leopard Trek team. Leopard? Surely the Cheetah is faster. Maybe the Cheetah Trek Team didn’t sound so good.
With under 10kms to go there is another huge accident and half the field gets stuck behind it, including Contador. All of the worlds cycling fans, excluding the Spaniards let out a collective cheer! He is the biggest name in the group at the rear of the field. The rest of the pre tour favourites are in the first group.
After another mass pile up with 2kms to go, the field manages to straggle across the line, with Philippe Gilbert first across the line and Cadel Evans coming home second 3 seconds in front of a group that contains Hushovd, Kloden, Horner and Martin. Contador is 1m 20s down on the leader already. Steaks for dinner tonight for Bertie.
Stage 1 really did set the scene. It was a bloody crash-a-thon!
Stage 2 was the Team Time Trial. What made it even more interesting was the fact that the current title holder was in the team going first! Team Suxobank Sunburnt were expected to tear the road up, and that did just that. They went out very fast and faded towards the end. They looked ordinary the whole 23kms. The highlight for mine was Suxobank Sunburnt being booed the whole way along the course. Well, Contador being booed I suspect. The French crowd were fairly giving it to him. The bleeding carrots from Euskaltel-Euskadi were next and they did what was expected, went slow. Rabobank hit the road and actually went faster than Suxobank in the battle of the financial institutions. Garmin, lead out by Julian Dean, went like their collective arses were on fire. They set the fastest time and JV’s sideburns are erect! Europcar and other teams then go, with Paul Sherwen calling Astana, Katusha, an easy mistake to make considering one is red white and blue and Astana that day were wearing a skinsuit that looked like it was straight from Mardis Gras. RadioShack, looking a bit like the cast from Cocoon, take off, but even they can’t manage to haul in Garmin. Team Sky went out and spent 22.8kms behind Wiggins and still couldn’t best Garmin. HTC hit the road, and so did Bernie Eisel. Leopard Trek are away. Cancellara must be looking forward to dragging the Schleck sisters along for 23kms. BMC roll down the ramp and as expected, Cadel is out front with his chin acting as a flying wedge. They come home 4 seconds slower than Garmin. JV may as when pop the champagne, they will have finished a few magnums before Gilbert drags the Omega Farmer Lotto players team home. The day ends with JV on the shoulders of his team and the God of Thunder in yellow.
Stage 3. After the usual break from a FDJ rider, Anthony Charteau jumps out of the front of the peleton only to stop just down the road to say hello to his family waiting by the side of the road. Excellent!
The HTC lead out train falls apart when Matty Goss chases Marco Marcato like a dog chasing a tennis ball. Renshaw is the only one left with a kilometre to go. Thor Hushovd leads Tyler “Transitions” Farrar to a famous victory for the American on the 4th July.
Stage 4-6 coming some time in the next day or so.
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