Research is the cornerstone of this blog, as you can probably tell. I spend minutes scouring Google, Wikipedia and various cycling web sites looking for facts and figures. I was asked yesterday, what panache actually meant. Well, I let my fingers do the walking and off to Dictionary.com I went.
a grand or flamboyant manner; verve; style; flair: The actor who would play Cyrano must have panache.
an ornamental plume of feathers, tassels, or the like, especially one worn on a helmet or cap.
Now, given I am yet to see any member of the current Tour de France peloton with an ornamental plume of feathers or tassels adorning their helmets, I think we can safely say we mean to cycle with a grand or flamboyant manner, with verve, style or flair. I then went to Google to check out some images of said plumes of feathers. Lets just say I lost my train of thought for about 20 minutes.
Stage 7. Le Mans – Châteauroux Another stage for the sprint kings to flex their muscles. Given where we started the stage, I was really hoping for a Le Mans style start. Imagine it, 194 riders running to their bikes!
As usual, a FDJ rider is in the break. Strangely, it is not Jeremy Roy. It is Gianni Meersman and Mickael Delage. Two of them today. 25kms down the road and they have a 6 miute lead on the pack.
With out a hill to be seen, Hoogerland will keep the polka dot jersey tonight.
With about 130kms to go, afore mentioned Roy bursts from the peloton. Is he going to chase down the break? No, following Charteau’s lead, he has found his family and there are kisses and hugs all round.
Boonen pulls over to the side of the road pulls the pin on this years Tour. He didn’t look comfortable after his spill on stage 5, and I am surprised he has gotten this far. He isn’t know for his finishes in the Tour de France.
With 60kms to go, HTC-Highroad have upped the ante and are chewing into the breaks lead. With an intermediate sprint just 25kms from the end of the stage, Mr Cavendish must want to grab both bouquets today.
39kms to go and there is a crash that has split the peloton. Wiggins is down, amongst others. The whole Sky Team is waiting around to see if the Great English hope can continue. It doesn’t look like it, so they pedal off, heads down. Radioshack’s Horner is being put back on his bike. We find out later he was knocked unconscious, and ended up 12 minutes down on the field. When he crossed the finish he didn’t know why he had been chasing or why he was so far behind or where Lance Armstrong was.
Leipheimer is in a group behind the main bunch. Vinokourov was to, but he managed to bridge the gap.
Cavendish grabs the scraps at the intermediate sprint point ahead of Rohas, Renshaw and Gilbert. The break is still away, but the peloton will catch them for sure.
Leipheimer, still chasing the peloton, punctures and must be wondering what the hell is going on. He is still in front of his team mate Horner however. Bruyneel must be wondering where his luck has gone. Maybe it is fronting the Grand Jury like most of his past associates seem to be lately.
The HTC-Highroad train is on track today and as is to be expected, when they get it right, Cavendish rolls across the line first. Petacchi, Greipel and Feillu are the next three home.
Hushovd has another night in yellow, maintaining his massive 1 second lead over Evans. They were putting a screen up around Horner at the end, but Bruyneel managed to stop the doctor from giving him the green dream. It will be a miracle of he starts tomorrow.
Stage 8. Aigurande – Super-Besse Sancy The Super-Besse Sancy sounds like a burlesque dancer. It is actually a 1.5km ramp of 7% climbing. A nice way to finish a 190km bike ride.
It is no surprise to hear that Chris Horner wont be jumping on his Radioshack bike today. A broken nose and concussion from yesterdays meeting with the tarmac rules him out.
A break of 9 gets away, without a FDJ rider in the group. They were seem in the peloton playing rock, paper, scissors to see who would go into the break, and completely missed it. Expect Mr Roy to have a crack in the next few days.
Not a lot happening today. The break is away, and BMC are doing a lot of work at the front of the peloton.
35kms to go and the climb up the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert. The break is over the top and Vinokourov, the God of Froth, takes off on the steepest part of the climb. Vino will never die wondering.
Rui Costa is the first to hit the final climb. Vinokourov is about 15 seconds back with the main group yet to hit the climb. Can Costa hang on? 1.5km to go.
Costa manages to hang on by 12 seconds over a fast finishing Gilbert. 3 seconds back is a group with Evans, Contador, the Schlecks, Sanchez, Cunego and the God of Thunder has done a fantastic job to retain the maillot juane.
Considering the amount of people we have had rolling down the road over the 1st 7 stages, todays was a pretty sedate stage for the medics. Some running repairs, but no major spills that I can recall.
Stage 9. Issoire – Saint-Flour After the first 7 stages, I thought I had seen the worst of the carnage. Most Tours start of with a few accidents in the opening week, but this years seemed worse than ever, and sadly, more carnage was to come.
Stage 9 featured 7 categorised climbs. Yes, 7! No HC or Cat 1 climbs, but 3 Cat 2, 3 Cat 3 and a Cat 4 climb.
40kms into the stage and non of the break ways had stuck, but we have our first crash. Millar (Garmin), Zeits (Astana), Zubeldia (RadioShack) and Bak (HTC-Highroad) are all on the deck, but they all rejoin the race. Sadly, Txurruka of Euskaltel can’t rejoin and is out of the race. Over the top of the fist climb, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) takes the top point, followed by Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).
Contador is the next one to come off his bike. On live TV it looks like he just steers off into the crowd, but in a press conference after the stage, he had this to say…
“It was an accident. I got my handlebar tangled up with his (Karpet) seat,” Contador told journalists at the finish line. “I got knocked off balance and crashed. There were spectators on the road and I hit against them.”
Twitter was abuzz with accusations of Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) giving Contador a bit of a nudge.
What seemed odd was the vision of Contador changing bikes and pacing back to the peloton on his own. Where were his team?
Voeckler and Hoogerland again racing for KOM points, with Voeckler once again besting the Dutchman. They are still comfortably ahead of the field. Hoogerland is making the descent look a lot harder than it is. Sanchev is dropping like a stone.
Further back, on the descent there is a huge accident. Some riders have gone into a tightening left hander too fast and there is mayhem. An Astana rider is down the embankment in the forest. It is Vinokourov, and he doesn’t look well. Zabrinski is lying on the road side. Both have to abandon. Given the fact that Vino was dragged back up the hill by team mates with a busted pelvis and leg, I am not surprised he couldn’t be persuaded to get back on the bike. Zabrinski has a broken wrist. The Omega Pharma Lotto pair of Jurgen Van den Broeck and Fredrik Willems are both forced to abandon as well, both with broken collarbones. Four riders gone on one corner.
The peloton slows to let the people caught behind the crash catch up. Hoogerland gets the next KOM points as Voeckler seems to let him stay in front with out a challenge. Hoogerland is looking at getting the polka dot jersey tonight if things remain as they are.
36kms to go and possibly the most astounding thing you’ll see on the Tour de France, and you see plenty of jaw dropping moments every year. A French TV car runs out of road trying to pass the break away leaders, swerves into Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) who flies off his bike, but not before clipping Johnny Hoogerland and sending him off the road and into a barbed wire fence. You can see in this photo just how hard Hoogerland must have hit that fence post to snap it in two.
It says a lot about the sport of cycling that both these riders finished the stage. They truly are hard men.
It looks like the break will stay away today, with Voeckler, Sanchez and Casar maintaining the gap back to the peloton. Voeckler looks like he will be in yellow tonight, and Hoogerland in the polka dots if he can get across the line.
Sanchez wins the stage, Voeckler grabs the Yellow jersey from Hushovd, who, judging by the smile, is happy with the Frenchman taking it for now.
Sorry if this blog post wasn’t full of gags and giggles, but after the carnage, I didn’t think it appropriate to make light of the fact that a lot of riders got hurt and many had to abandon.
Hopefully, back to normal in the next installment.
Leave your comments and thanks for reading.