At one point in the tour, I walked out of the office to grab my new wooly jumper. When I walked in, this was on my screen and Twitter was going off like a wookie on Ald D’Huez.
When I had stopped trying to figure out how it was done and what would happen to it after the peloton left the area, I was struck by a clarity of thought not usual at that time of night. That wooden bike on a wire had just trumped the whole of the 2012 Tour de France as far as excitement goes. Sadly, that Frenchman’s superb piece of engineering wouldn’t even make it in to my top 10 highlights of 2013.
(I tried to write a review of what was going on in my head after stage 9 of the tour, but after bashing out 700 words, I sat back and reviewed what I had written. Not since the God of the yellow armband stood on the podium and told us all he felt sorry for the non believers, have I seen so much hypocricy, contradiction and utter drivel spew out of one person. Obviously, my head was a mess. I scrapped the idea and thought I would just do 1 massive write up over the week or so after the Tour finished. To be honest, it wasn’t much easier. And to make it slightly easier on all involved, I have broken it up into 3 parts, with 7 stages in each edition. Caution, lots of words ahead.)
So, here we were, the first Tour de France the the downfall of Lance Armstrong. The 100th edition of the great race. The presentation in October of 2012 of the par cours looked stunning. Could it live up to the hype?
This was how I would be spending the late nights and early mornings for the next 3 weeks.
Well that was the plan, sadly trying to absorb so much information became more difficult as each stage slipped by.
Stage 1 – GreenWedge
Normally stage 1 is a prologue, which means there is a select few who can realistically challenge for the yellow jersey. This time, stage 1 was pretty much a gift for the sprinters, which meant is was a different select few vying for the jersey.
Tour favourite, Chris Froome, caused some hysterics when it was reported that he had fallen of his bike in the neutral zone. Could this be a bad omen?
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) June 29, 2013
The usual break had gotten away at the start and not a lot was happening. Luckily, Corsica was the star of the show and no one was complaining. The lead break of 5 took the main sprint points and when the field approached the big boys came out to mop up the rest of the point. Greipel pipped Cavendish and Sagan at the line and we were set up for a belter of a finish. Johnny Hoogerland ended up on his arse after clipping an advertising sign and at the time I thought that could be the highlight of the stage. With 10kms to go, word came through on Twitter that there was a bus stuck at the finish line.
Then, all hell broke loose. The finish line was moved forward 3kms to narrow zig zag in the course that was bound to cause all sorts of action. You could see some teams had been told of the change as their trains started forming up at the front. With the bus moved out of the way, some say Hinault picked it up and threw it out of the way, the decision was made top use the original finish line. At roughly the same time there was a massive crash in the peloton with took out Cavendish and Sagan. Greipel managed to get around the crash but then had a mechanical. My twitter time line was a blur. Kittel eventually won the stage with a rampaging David Millar coming in 4th somehow. The whole peloton was given the same finishing time due to the confusion at the end. What a start to the 100th Tour de France!
Stage 2 – Bake Who? If stage 1 was for the sprinters, stage 2 wasn’t! Four categorised climbs were in store and that pretty much meant the sprinters would be coming home in the laughing group. Once again the break went away as riders scrambled for KOM points. The peloton wasn’t in a forgiving mood though, and didn’t give them too much room to move out front. Froome made a small attack on the last climb, but was reeled in. Over the last rise a small break took off which included Chavanel on a bright red bike he got for his birthday. Could he do it? Then, a dog ran out on to the road, right in front of a charging peloton! Again, why do people bring dogs to bike races and not tie them up? Luckily, he scampered out of the way at the last minute. With about 10kms to go, and with the peloton with in touching distance, Jan Bakelants went in to the drops and took off. On his baby blue trek he went like a lunatic and no one expected it to stick. It truly is one of the best things in bike racing when a guy solos off the front and manages to win the race, with the bunch 1 second behind!
Stage 3 – An Aussie wins! In another stage which seemed to be a long advertisement from the Corsican tourist agency, not a lot was happening (well not in my notes that I am working off, I am sure someone will point out something I missed in stage 3). About halfway through the stage Carlton Kirby and Sean Kelly were pondering the days potential winner when I plonked this one out there on the Twitters.
Don’t rule out gerrans #eurosportcycling
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) July 1, 2013
Now I don’t often blow my own bike horn, but this was a rarity for me, picking the stage winner out before the stage was close to finishing. That said, it did seem like Orica GreenEDGE where up to something with Clarke taking off up the final climb, only to be caught.
With only Sagan in the front group coming into the finish, it seemed a for gone conclusion that he would win a sprint, but Impey lead out Gerrans beautifully (if you have your doubts, check the video of Impey going into the last corner). Gerrans then got the win by inches as he threw his bike at the line. A huge day for the Aussie team. Their first Tour de France stage win.
Stage 4 – Yellow Gerro
A 25km Team Time Trial that had all the pundits expecting some scorchingly fast times over a pretty flat and hardly technical course. And they were right with the average time of the winning team being 57+kph.
Seeing Ted King get left behind by his team was heart breaking. The reaction to him missing the time cut was to see cycling fans at their very best. More on that in the stage 5 chat.
As much as time trials don’t do a lot for me, the team time trial is still interesting. To see a well drilled team smashing out the kilometres in a perfect line is a joy. Compared to some other teams who look like they are flat out holding each others wheels.
When the GreenEDGE team crossed the line, Aussie tour freaks stood up as one. What a moment.
Fastest ever TDF stage for OGRE, 57.8 kph, breaks Discovery’s record
— Dave (Dim) (@dimspace) July 2, 2013
Two stage wins in 2 days. Gerrans in yellow. What a start after BUSgate. Stage 5 – Poor Ted King. Despite a social media blitz from fans all over the world ( #LetTedRide),Ted King was eliminated from the 100th Tour de France. I would urge everyone to read his blog post about the situation. Really, read it! This stage featured an article by everyone’s favourite Saddle of Fire on the Ted King saga, which featured the quote below..
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) July 2, 2013
Who’d have thought that description of Armstrong would have been on the money 12 months ago? Well done Saddles old chap.
With four categorised climbs, it wasn’t exactly a flat stage, but still one expected to be cleaned up by the sprinters. With 25km to go a break of 4 riders were up the road but it was all but over for them. With 9.5kms left to ride, 2 of the break are caught and DeGent tells the group there is still 2 away.
Very sporting of him.
In a bunch sprint at the end, Cavendish wins from EBH, Sagan and Greipel. A bit further back, there was a massive pile up.
So Cav gets his first win of this years race and had a little shot at GreenEDGE in the post race interview.
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) July 3, 2013
He certainly isn’t shy of airing a grievance.
Stage 6 – Golden Shoulders Get it Right The peloton is obviously a little edgy on this stage as they refuse to let a break go up the road. The first one to feel the pinch is Bouhanni who has some intestinal discomfort which becomes too much with 90kms to go and he gingerly dismounts the bike and melts into the team car. With GreenEDGE controlling things this is obviously going to be one for the sprinters. 33kms from home, there is word on Twitter and the TV that Cav has hit the deck. Some time later there are shots of him coming back to the bunch with some road rash on the left side. It doesn’t look too bad though. Once again it comes down to a bunch sprint. With a slight veer to the right just before the finish, Henderson peels off and sits up, making Cav go the long way around him.
Would Cav had got closer if he went right instead of left? #sbstdf
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) July 4, 2013
Greipel wins it easily. An interesting point from this little incident.
You can see from the shot above just how badly Cavendish got moved across the road. Put this in your memory banks for later in the race. I wonder if it wasn’t Henderson, but, lets say Veelers, if Cav might have gotten a little closer with his pass. Stage 10 might test my theory.
— Peloton Watch (@PelotonWatch) July 4, 2013
Impey is gifted the Yellow jersey and some people seem awfully upset about it.
Stage 7 – Canondale Rip it up Another stage with four categorised climbs. It is pretty obvious from the time they hit the second Cat 2 climb that Canondale are going to try and shed the sprinters. In my humble opinion, this was the day that Sagan won the greeen jersey! On the seconds climb, Canondale went to the front and work like dogs. It wasn’t long before Kittel, Cavendish and Greipel all popped out the back. With their teams dropping back to help, and two more categorised climbs ahead, this would be an interesting day of racing. Voigt and Kadri jump off the front just to make it a little more interesting for those watching. Canondale work on their own at the front and the sprinters teams get organised to help bridge the 2:30 gap to Sagan’s group. Sagan checks off the first goal of the day by grabbing the intermediate sprint. The sprinters teams finally give up the chase 43kms from home. I thought this Tweet was a bit harsh!
— Todd Norbury (@norbs) July 5, 2013
The three man break is caught just 2.8km from the finish. Sagan out sprints a head bobbing Degenkolb to take the stage win and grab a bag full of points towards the green jersey.
The sprinters group comes home 15 minutes down. It was obviously a leisurely stroll into town for them.
Stage 8 – 14 to come later this week.
As usual, would love to hear your thoughts.