Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Break Stays Away, Finally

13 July 2013

Very impressed with the size of the crowds around Lyon today, and even in the towns and villages on the route. Nothing seems to affect the number of people that turn out for the spectacle, even if most of them have little interest in the Tour, as far as racing goes. The stage, for once, did not give us any surprises. I am happy about that, as more than two days of tension and surprises and I start to unravel a bit. No idea how I am going to handle the next few days. Certainly Ventoux always springs a surprise or two. One of my fantasy teams, in a strange French fervour has Thibaut, Peraud and Rolland. I hope one of them makes a huge move and wins the stage, although somehow I doubt it. Even though it is 14th July. Still, maybe Romain Bardet will attack from afar.

For once this stage went according to some kind of normal plan. Escape early on. 18 guys in it. Big teams happy with the composition of it. Nobody dangerous, so the big cheeses took the day off. Mind you, taking the day off means they ride the course only 7 minutes slower than the escape, but still. Happy Days for someone like me, I love a successful escape, although there was not much last minute tension related to whether they would be caught or not. So the escape was permitted to win, the peloton rolled along at a decent clip, with the big fellows resting a bit for tomorrow. Mont Ventoux is the longest stage in the Tour and at the end, they climb the big hill, a climb which many people say is the toughest they know. Not everyone, but many.

The battle for the stage within the escape was pretty good for the last few k. I really enjoyed it. Many attacks, some looking good, but only the very last one succeeding. I thought for sure Simon or Rojas would win, as they are both sprinters. I also figured that Albasini might take it as he has tendencies to win from a small break. I was keen that Simon had made a successful attack, as the French have STILL not won a stage (admittedly nor have the Spanish or Dutch). But alas, it was another member of Omega, one of the best financed teams on the Tour, who won again. A young lad, Matteo Trentin, so I was happy. I like young guys to win a stage, and then keep track of whether that helps their career take off or whether today was the high point for Matteo Trentin. Trentin said he always had a turn of speed, and had learned a lot about sprinting working for Cav. Mainly “Wait!”. So I was overall happy with the result and the unfolding of the result.

There was some effect on the GC. But not on any of the jerseys, which remain on the same backs. I might not be able to say that about either the young riders' jersey or the KOM spotted one after tomorrow. With forty point at stake on the top of Mt. Ventoux, several riders, assuming that Rolland will be beaten by several, could put the jersey on. But the main effect was the rise of Tejay van Garderen and Andrew Talansky. Each of them behaved a bit like young riders without much experience and made a complete mess of the first few stages. Tejay especially shocked many people. Talansky moved from 17th at 13 minutes to 12th place at 5.54. Tejay was not even in the top thirty, and now is STILL not in the top thirty. His Tour is a total disaster, except he is still in it and might be of some help to Cadel if he makes a move.

I note that there are only 3.28 between the second place and twelfth place. That is what I would call a very close race, so far. Admittedly Froome has his cushion, but a big attack or a couple small attacks and nearly anyone in the top twelve could be on the podium, and no one on the podium now can afford to make a mistake. Given that nothing is very secure, I am hoping for some wild efforts in the next few days. Froome might climb Ventoux 3-4 minutes more slowly than someone in the top ten. Maybe, but not likely. I have no idea if he will blow away all of them in the hilly ITT on Tuesday. If he beats them all on Ventoux and in the ITT, then one can still have hope for a surprise, but maybe it will be his race to lose, even after the ITT and Ventoux. AND he would still have two more very hard stages to lose time. He appears to be extremely strong, but this Tour seems a little bit more uncertain or surprising than most.

Bring on the big stuff. Blog a bit shorter tonight as as soon as the Tour was over, I went to a concert, a group called the Imani Winds. Then I drafted this, and grabbed a quick bite. Now, I am going to watch the fireworks. Probably too tired to do much after that except proofread for blatant errors. The fireworks were great, as usual. Not much blue, but this is a small town. The most popular entertainment of the year. Must have been two or three thousand people out along the river in the dark. I even stayed for the dance and the band. Fifteen piece group, five women dancers, two of whom sang. Two men singers. Two trumpets, Trombone, Tenor sax, guitar, bass, drum, keyboards. Good lights. Huge truck.

We know how to live. But I came back a bit early to post this off and get to bed at a decent hour.

Good night.

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