Friday, 13 July 2012

Millar Wins a Stage

Stage 12

This should be a short and relatively easy report to write. The stage really could be missed and no one much would care, except of course David Millar, who won it, and the hundreds of thousands on the roadside. Transition stages are often like this, especially when they put the two climbs at the beginning of the stage, and leave not much of interest for racing for the rest of the day. The peloton took a rest, as they say. Still, maybe most riders like riding some flat bits from the Alps to the Pyrenées, rather than having mountains all the time. I happened to be watching when they switched to “riding along” mode, from “control the breakaway” mode. Suddenly the shape of the group changed, Sky just stopped leading everyone and motioned to other teams at the front that they could take over. None of them did. So the racing just stopped. The escapees also slowed down a bit since they knew that they had been allowed to sort out the stage themselves.

And so they did. Five of them rode to the finish. There was one Frenchman, a very young climber from Europcar, Cyril Gautier. He is mentioned sometimes as a future great, but has not really showed it yet. Not like Thibaut. The French commentators went on and on about how if he won it would be three French stages in a row, three won by different guys on the same team and so forth. All true enough. But they really could have refocussed and said that if David Millar won, there would be four different stages won by four different British riders AND that those four British riders were all on the British Olympic team. The fifth member of that GB team is not riding the Tour, but rides for Sky. However, being French they went on, needlessly, since Gautier lost, about the French possibilities. I do understand, but it still disturbs me a bit. I wonder if they even realise how “racist” they are, how blatantly patriotic. Maybe they think that they are broadcasting to French people, who all find this attractive and perfectly OK. Maybe it is OK to nearly everyone. And I am an outsider yet again.

So Moncoutié had a crash and retired from his last Tour. Gesink left having not made a mark on the Tour, even though he was supposed to be in the top ten. And Veelers, who did well in a couple of sprints, because the team's real sprinter whom he was meant to lead out (Kittel) also left the Tour. At this point, stage 12, there are 164 riders left in the Tour. At the END of 2010 there were 170 left and the end of 2011 there were 167 left. And we have not got to the Pyrenees yet. I reckon we could say it has been a difficult Tour.

No change to the GC, that's why Sky let the break go, even though there were loads of riders in it. There was no one whatsoever to threaten anything whatsoever. Sagan snatched the points that were left, so he remains the Green Man in all respects. Although Rein tried to get in the break to gain many minutes in the young rider competition, in the end he failed. And Tejay keeps it (looking over his shoulder at Thibaut, the only guy who can realistically beat him. Kessiakoff managed to keep the mountains jersey too. If he actually wins it, we are back to the usual scenario, where no one who is a real best climber cares, so somebody, anybody, wins it. Like Anthony Charteau. They should just ban the competition since it never is one. Seldom does the best climber win, although last year Samuel Sanchez was very worthy. In the last 20 years, the “good climber” who tries to win the prize can win it, he is seldom in recent years, anything remotely like the best climber. Example, Jalabert won twice, and he simply is not a climber, much less the best.

Actually, although I will keep writing, the stage was on the boring side. Although The Escape Won.

Very glad Millar won. He is one of my favourites n the whole peloton. His book was good and I almost think he wrote it himself, although he probably didn’t.

When he peloton turned up, after Millar won the sprint from the breakaway, everyone just cruised in, except two who cared. Sagan and Goss are still fighting for the green jersey. I will be very surprised if Goss wins, but he is still trying. Full marks for him. He was leading out Sagan,who had found his wheel and followed him out of the peloton. Sagan started to come around him and maybe pass him or maybe not. But just at that moment Goss moved sideways (called switching), forcing Sagan to stop pedalling and make an incredibly skilful avoidance move. Watch the video. Really skilful. This last minute cutting off a rider in a sprint is totally illegal. And dangerous. It is even worse in a large group, but there were only two of them. It was totally obvious. The penalty is relegation to the back of the group, which would have meant Goss lost points at all, and virtually guaranteed Sagan the jersey. The judges, the commissars, looked at the evidence and relegated Goss to the back of the group. BUT they defined the group as being just the two of them. Then they docked him 30 points, which is quite strange. They should have just made him give up the points he lost by making such a bad movement. 30 points down does kill his chances for Green. I will have to read the details in the paper tomorrow, too tired tonight.

I went to he fireworks in town. Its the 14th of July, but they have them here on the 13th. I suppose every town cannot have good fireworks, if all the fireworks guys work only the one big day. Very good, but a bit overpowering. I am tired, wife returning, bike ride, its been a busy day. I think I will stop without outlining the new controversy about what the wives and girlfriends (The Brits call them WAGS) are Tweeting. Honest. Wiggo, Cav, Froome WAGS are involved. I am NOT joking.

Nor will I have time to describe the countryside, nor to outline my growing dislike for Pierre Rolland. They have this feature every day on the French TV, where a cameraman goes behind the scenes at Europcar. I think it might be “too much information”. I don't want to know how these guys kid around and make fun of things.

Tonight my major problem is that my plan for seeing the Tour was scuppered. I have to do some fast adapting and I don't know if I can do it. Might just watch it on TV. Or I might get lucky. We shall see tomorrow morning. But I am very upset.

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