Monday, 1 July 2013

Gerrans whups Sagan

1 July 2013

Preface: I went to a meeting today (Attac, in case you wondered) just after the Tour ended. Kept me from writing or reading for two hours. So you don't get quite what you might have today. I am a bit tired.

Without wishing to gush, that road they were on much of today would be a perfect place for me to spend two days riding a bike. On the other hand, both one of my forum buddies and my wife say it is a complete drag for traffic, especially busses. Road is narrow, not much of a structure on the side near the drop. It would be fine for a careful cyclist, I reckon. My forum chum said much reversing in vehicles. But with an empty road it looked like a wonder. In fact, today I got a better idea how large Corsica is. You could see mountains stretching out in the distance. Big ones. I would say the “holiday advert” aspect of the Tour has been a total success.

As for the “Tour of Surprises”, it carried on. You could also say the the Tour of Gutsy Performance and Suffering also carried on. Apparently Cav has had bronchitis since the start. Geraint Thomas is still hurting, seems to think he has a wee crack in his pelvis. Told an interviewer his mother wants him to stop. So naturally he is carrying on. With Tony Martin having a few problems, he just seems to grin and bear it. I admit I hear more about the English-speaking riders, they get more interviews here and there in English. But Thomas and Martin seem to be riders that must be tempted to give up. As the incredibly talented Thomas said, “It's the Tour”.

One non-surprise was the almost entirely French escape which formed from the start. There is always one or another foreigner in those typical escapes, this time an Orica-Green Edge Australian. As is most often the case (but not on this Tour) the break got caught when “the peloton” “decided”. The surprise was that when the break was caught and a proper sprint happened, admittedly with not many big time participants, it was NOT Peter Sagan who won, but Simon Gerrans. Gerrans actually out-sprinted Sagan. Gerrans is a perfectly excellent rider who does have a sprint. Sagan admitted that he is hoping the effects of the crash go away as soon as possible, as he did fade in the last fifty metres. It must also be said that the Orica Team did a perfect job of supporting and leading out Gerrans. A worthy winner, and proof that Sagan can be beaten. Twice now, “only” second place for the Slovak Champ.

The aesthetic silliness of having polka dots on your shorts was displayed today. Apparently the Europcar team had jerseys of all possible types and sizes ready for Rolland and Voeckler, perhaps others. Pierre Roland decided to make something of a move today, attacking off the front near the top of the biggest hill, to take a few mountain points,. He then decided to carry on, until Sylvain Chavanel decided to descend quickly. Picked off Rolland in no time. Rolland does not seem to be a great descender, while Sylvain is ace. Anyway, it was good to see that Pierre was in good nick. He turned the pedals almost effortlessly, that is, very smoothly no chain, as he dropped the others with him. Mikel Nieve from Euskatel, one of the outsiders for the KOM, just could not keep up. Only a second category hill. Rolland does look like he will be one of the last ten in action at the top of the serious climbs.

I was wrong yesterday, predicting that the yellow jersey would have change today. Bakelants still has it, and is being trailed by only seventy some guys at one second, instead of the 93 or so from yesterday. The GC just looks warped, from another world. Unless Radio Shack win the time trial, which almost no one expects, Bakelants will lose the jersey tomorrow. While the rider in the jersey at the issue of the TTT might have it for a day or two, there is no way it won't change in the Pyrenees, could even change twice. Who knows? Might even be a break that gets away on the stage that goes past my house. Tour of Surprises.

Sagan is now in green, a few points ahead of unexpected competition and quite a few points ahead of expected competition. One scenario is that all these competitors will beat Sagan one after another and someone else will win the green jersey. My guess is that with maybe a blip once, Sagan won't take off that jersey until after the night-time finish on the Champs. Let's hope I am wrong and we won't know who will win the jersey until sprint is over on the last day. Sagan does look “natural” in green. Cav looks great in the UK Champs jersey. Who else is going to beat Sagan?

The young (23), short (1.76), Polish road champion, Michal Kwiatowski has been having a very fine season until now. His name has been spoken in several race results. He now wears the white jersey of the highest placed rider under 26. Quite a compact rider, sturdy, not skinny, he seems to be able to sprint pretty well, climb pretty well and ride along at a fast clip for a long time. His main job is to help Cav in the sprints, like the entire Omega team. But he also has some hopes to bring back the white jersey of “best young rider” home to Poland. Whatever happens, he seems to have been doing quite well in his first Tour, youngest guy on the team. Remember how to spell his name. Although I am pretty certain he will be beaten in the high mountains.

I heard a suggestions that the impressive success of Orica Greenedge is partly due to the return of director Matt White from a suspension related to drugs. White is a pretty bright guy, and seems to be inspiring the team to have more than one crack a day at “doing something”. They have no one at all for the GC, so they are going to spend time trying to win stages. One down already.

We are gradually getting more hints as to what might be happening in this race. Froome clearly has some form and friskiness. Haven't ever SEEN Valverde. Cadel Evans pops up at the end of every stage, riding safely and easily. Contador is hiding out, waiting for his injuries to heal and waiting for the hills to come. So far none of the favourites, none of the outsiders, have made a mistake, or made a move. All just getting ready for the big action. With 73 riders within one second of yellow, there is a bit of tension in the air.

The TTT tomorrow is a must for anyone who has been to Nice. Since the route is essentially an out and back along the Promenade des Anglais, there is no one on earth who has been to Nice and not walked or ridden up and down that road. The favourites are Omega (except Martin is poorly), Garmin (who if they win would put Daveed Millar in yellow), Sky (even if Thomas and Stannard are recovering from injuries) or maybe Movistar (who have so far done nothing but have a subtly strong team). I am thinking that maybe I would ride my bike in the morning, and rather than watch all the teams ride, cut the grass while also watching a bit of the TTT. Life does go on in this household in a very normal way, in spite of my obsessions.

Looks like the party on the Fourth of July might be bigger than I thought, more reason to check out the race and then get to my hostess's house early, write a bit and sort through the photos. I should have a few from the morning reconnoiter in Montpellier. Maybe just busses. Might liven up this blog a bit. Still, more than a couple of days before that happens.

Good night. They hired seven ships to take the stuff (all the stuff, the vehicles, all of it) back to Mainland France. According to the director of logistics, the last ship just left. What an operation!