Monday, 2 July 2012

Cav wins his 21st

Stage 2 Quite good today. No Euro Final. Attac meeting must have been cancelled (must read all the emails). More time to write. Less hurried. Sadly there is not much to be revealed. I can't tell you about the wealth stored in the magnificent aristocrat and church buildings. Really you gotta watch. Loads of people by the side of the road, Belgians and others really love to watch the Tour go by. I know EXACTLY what “they” might mean, since I am one of them. Racingwise, it was great for me. Cav and Andre Greipel are the only two sprinters on my major Tour fantasy team. I think I even got double points for Greipel today. Some things were revealed. Cav does not need a lead out team to win a stage. He is flexible. He said he sent away EBH and Bernie Eisel five k form the end, and just did for himself. This new Cav could be a Potential Classics Winner. Anyway rather than ride behind Eisel until the last K and then ride behind EBH, without watching the replay, it looks like he just wandered around until he got on the right wheel, then another right wheel (a Greenedge leadout rider), then the last right wheel, Greipel's, popping out just in time to nip poor Andre at the post. These two were on the same team, they know each other well. I lost control of the TV for the afterchat, but I heard that Cav was dead happy to win his 21st sprint in the Tour. One more and he is joint third with Andre Darrigade and Lance Armstrong. At 26. That leaves Hinault and Merckx ahead of him. Whoever else might be good in this Tour, you gotta give it to this guy. He really is the fastest guy in the world. My British patriot bit is really happy, at last. But the rest of me just loves to see him pop up and blow by. I hope he wins another couple. Greipel, however, will beat him. Kittel, the other young German sprinter, was a bit ill today and could not take part in the sprint. I hope Matt Goss, the third place guy (winner of Milan-San Remo this year) will eventually win a stage. In fact, during the sprint, when I looked at it, he used Cav's wheel until the end, elbowing Sagan off (fluidly) near the end. But of course Cav borrowed Goss' leadout man, whereupon Goss borrowed Cav. It really is quite a dance. Sure would be nice to know what the green jersey competition will look like in a week. Tomorrow is one of those flat stages with a bit of kick. Hello Sagan and EBH, maybe even Fabian. Love that act. Unless Gilbert joins in, which would be even better. Who knows who might pop into the picture those last few K tomorrow? Goss? Nice thing about these flat stages, if you have something else to do, you can mess about a little, until the last 30k when it begins to warm up. If you do that messing about though, you would miss the tidbits of gossip, the cut and thrust of the two lads on TV (not as good as Laurent Fignon was, I say), the countryside with its built component. From a helicopter. On mountain days I simply do not do chores. Or write emails. Or surf. Today I noticed that Sagan did not win. He had a sprinter teammate for leadout, but he still didn't win. So his current weaknesses are flat sprint stages when every other good sprinter is present and flat prologue time trials with not many hills or curves. And, supposedly, high mountains. He doesn't LOOK like he can climb, does he? The run up to the sprint was a bit different. For one thing, the Sky Train is gone. The idea this year is for Sky to get Wiggo within three k on the flat stages and then relax. If there is a crash inside 3k, you get the time of the group you were in. Wiggo was at the front. So was Evans. Cadel had only one guy with him during the last five k, George Hincapie. It was up to George to keep him safe. I suppose if you took a poll of the entire peloton, and asked them what wheel to follow through the last 15 k, I reckon Big George might come up. Maybe Jens Voigt. You could trust your Tour to those guys. And people do. There was a four man group leading out Greipel. And some Greenedge guys leading out Goss. But overall, when you see the aerial shots, you don't see many longish trains in the last five k like we used to. In fact this lack of teams organising large numbers of cyclists to help their sprinters means the peloton looks a bit “disorganised”. Now or later I have to say something useful and creative about the “organisation” of the peloton. It looked a bit messy today, and yet pretty much the same guys were at the front, on the podium. If ten days ago, someone were to ask who might be on the podium today, I am willing to bet that these three would have been a consensus guess, although maybe not in the exact order they finished. Must watch the replays later. There is one which shows the last 1.4k, its the best, Basque language. This stage seems to me a perfect stage to study a genius sprinter in action. Find the Basque replay that shows the race for the last 1400 metres. Find the two yellow-hatted Sky guys, Eisel (usual Sky black jersey) and EBH (white jersey of Norwegian champ). They are vaguely seeing if they can help Cav, who is working on his own, further back in the pack on the other side. He is a bit hidden often, but has a yellow hat and rainbow stripes around the white jersey. Maybe this is kind of strange, but replay the video, watch ONLY one of the yellow helmeted Sky guys. See what they do, how they move around and move up. As far as I can see Cav could not possibly have ridden better. He was like one of those surfers with a huge wave, or a fish in water. Drifting with intent, from one rider to another, finally winning. Maybe I am odd guy, but I found it beautiful, the epitome of lone sprinting. They are all there, the sprinters. Never heard of Veelers before, the guy who finished fourth. Argos Shimano, a minor team, invited because of the French connection, although they are not French, but Dutch. Hmm, must do some research. They have a young fellow called Marcel Kittel who has already won loads of races, and is riding his first Tour. Apparently he had a bad tunny, and the team sent out another guy, maybe Kittel's leadout man. And this guy beat everyone but the podium. Worthy of attention. A very nice Danish rider called Michael Morkov is king of the mountains. He rides for Saxo/Tinkoff Bank, and they won't win much. So good for him. He was very happy. The top two on the green jersey are Sagan and Cav. With all the others nipping at their heels. Should be good. Nothing much changes in terms of jerseys or GC or whatever happens on flat early stages. Those kinds of stages are for the countryside and the last 20k or so. The young rider competition is waiting for the mountains and the first time trial. Until then, it is pretty much a list of young riders. Mind you, the best of them are already near the top, even though “nothing has happened”. But there is nothing to report. Goodness, unless I can think of something that's it for tonight. No bike ride to tell you about, it was market day today. I always go in for a couple of hours, after I go to the physio. We did have a minor household health scare, but its all right now. One day, I am going to find a way to just do the Tour, so that I am not at home, with all the regular activities of real life, AND a serious Tour obsession. Yeah, right. I am picking EBH for tomorrow, although I don't see how he can beat Sagan Cancellara, Gilbert, Valverde (he IS there), Goss and whoever else wants to join the party. Cav? You don't need a train to win this year.

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