The foxes alight upon the finish

The foxes alight upon the finish

Of Mother or Limb: First Week Wrap-Up

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As I sit here watching the Tour de France while resting comfortably in my armchair, I find myself ruminating on the risks of the modern professional Cyclist. Even from my perch of steel and cowhide, I find myself recoiling in fear as traffic islands are navigated at speed, shoulders and bumped on wobbly bikes, and the boney elbows of GC contenders are thrown about amongst the meat-covered arm-sausages of the spinteurs.

I hold my breath and pray silently to something I have yet to understand – possibly the ridiculous little chihuahua with a human allergy who sleeps soundly nearby – that the riders run the gauntlet safely. (How can a dog be so little and still be a dog? Does not compute.)

I generally sleep through the first week of the Tour; there are only so many Chateaux and rolling green fields that I can watch as the peloton mechanically reels in the doomed breakaway in the final kilometers. But this year has seen its fair share of excitement, including back-to-back sprint finishes so close that the riders themselves weren’t sure who had won. Not to mention that I love it when the riders are on their knees coming across the line; nothing like a little visible effort to make me feel good about sitting there sipping my espresso while nursing my morning stroopwafel.

Some highlights from this week include the following, in no particular order.

  1. Peter Sagan’s Stage 2 post-stage interview:
    Interviewer: How did you win the stage today?
    Sagan: Well, I came around the guy in front and then there were no more guys to come around, so I won.
    Interviewer: This is the first time you’ll have worn the Yellow Jersey, how does that feel?
    Sagan: Well, I like this jersey I have with the stripes. But yellow is also nice.
  2. Oleg Tinkoff’s finish line dance after Sagan’s same Stage 2 victory. The jovial fellow is a bit of a loose cannon, but what his celebration lacked in tact it made up for in raw rooskie enthusiasm.
  3. Bryan Coquard’s Stage 4 sprint was the first time I found myself being amazed that a bicycle could survive such savagery; I’ve seen bicycles get driven into garage doors that seemed to be having a more peaceful experience than his was. If he had gone in a straight line, he’d have won by a bike length. “A” for effort. Imagine how fast he’ll go when he upgrades from racing in his brother’s sneakers to real cycling shoes.
  4. Greg van Avermaet taking a beautiful solo stage win and riding into Yellow with a V minute lead. Then extending it to almost VII minutes over the first mountains of the Tour. I don’t think he’s going to win the Tour, but he’s definitely not reading from the same script everyone else has and people should be raising their eyebrows for sure. It was also very nice to see him still working for his team leader Teejay; it isn’t every day you see the Maillot Jaune working in the team rotation.
  5. The only thing more bizarre than the time the Orica team bus broke the finish line on Stage 1 of the 2013 Tour was having the ride kite come tumbling down over the peloton in today’s Stage 7. Did anyone else see Oleg lurking nearby with a shiv?*

* Thanks to @pmcqueen for letting me shamelessly steal his joke.

// Breaking The Rules // Etiquette // Racing // Rantings from the V-Bunker

  1. Nice! I’ll add a few.

    Dimension Data. For a team that hasn’t exactly been given its due respect in the past, who’s laughing now?

    Cav – for showing that he’s still got it in spades when it comes to a pure sprint. And wears a real cap.

    Dan McLay. Breakout star of the race so far.

    Greg van Avermaet. In yellow and getting in the break and then putting another 90 seconds or so on the main contenders on Stage 7. TJ and Richie must be going “WTF?”

    Big Steve Cummings. Style and class all the way. And wears a real cap.

    The increasing use of go-pro cameras. The highlights on steephill.tv are so great to watch.

    Basically steephill.tv At the end of the day, you can fill your boots on coverage, interviews, highlights. Merckx bless the interwebs.

    Bernard Hinault for showing such class in being passed by Cav in Tour stage wins. He was a winner and is French. Now a Manxman and a Merckxman are ahead of him.

    Stage 7 and no abandons. Hallelujah!

    Brits willing four out of seven stages.

    Bertie’s cojones in sticking with it. No one could have blamed him if he’d retired on stage 2 or 3. He’s never been my favorite rider but I have a whole new respect for him.

  2. And we remembered to pick up a replacement Stroopwafel jar in Valkenburg to replace the one we broke.

  3. The flamme rouge beckons, THEN ATTACKS! Hope Yates is OK. Of all the crazy ways to get hurt on a bicycle.

  4. Basically steephill.tv At the end of the day, you can fill your boots on coverage, interviews, highlights. Merckx bless the inter webs.”

    Indeed. And they had a working ITV feed. Their commentators are great – (Boulting and Millar?)

  5. Interviewer: How did you win the stage today?
    Sagan: Well, I came around the guy in front and then there were no more guys to come around, so I won.

    Hmm… I have to try that.

    Sagan flicking his elbow to get the camera moto to pull through on Stage 6 was fairly hilarious.

    Speaking of Stage 6, the route to Le Lioran was absolutely gorgeous. Watching scenery like that roll by is one of the reasons I love to watch bike racing… and ride my bike.

    van Avermaet! What a ride. It was great seeing him mix it up and extend his lead today when a lot of folk seemed

    Cummings! Loved his win last year, loved his win this year.

  6. @wiscot

    Bertie’s cojones in sticking with it. No one could have blamed him if he’d retired on stage 2 or 3. He’s never been my favorite rider but I have a whole new respect for him.

    Him finishing that stage last year with the broken leg was a pretty decent effort too.

  7. I like stroopwafels.

  8. @RobSandy

    Me too!

  9. And next to stroopwafels, I also really enjoyed the first week. Something to do with GVA and yellow and being third in the VSP standings. It’s obvious the second week started, no more yellow, no more third, but i enjoyed it as long as it lasted.

    Over to climbing (and descending)!

  10. @wiscot

    Nice! I’ll add a few.

    Dimension Data. For a team that hasn’t exactly been given its due respect in the past, who’s laughing now?

    Cav – for showing that he’s still got it in spades when it comes to a pure sprint. And wears a real cap.

    Dan McLay. Breakout star of the race so far.

    Greg van Avermaet. In yellow and getting in the break and then putting another 90 seconds or so on the main contenders on Stage 7. TJ and Richie must be going “WTF?”

    Big Steve Cummings. Style and class all the way. And wears a real cap.

    The increasing use of go-pro cameras. The highlights on steephill.tv are so great to watch.

    Basically steephill.tv At the end of the day, you can fill your boots on coverage, interviews, highlights. Merckx bless the interwebs.

    Bernard Hinault for showing such class in being passed by Cav in Tour stage wins. He was a winner and is French. Now a Manxman and a Merckxman are ahead of him.

    Stage 7 and no abandons. Hallelujah!

    Brits winning four out of seven stages.

    Bertie’s cojones in sticking with it. No one could have blamed him if he’d retired on stage 2 or 3. He’s never been my favorite rider but I have a whole new respect for him.

    five out of eight

  11. “brother’s sneakers” – gold.

    On Yates, I’m pretty sure it was this guy – trying to defend the white jersey:

  12. He rides this:


  13. Yates should have been wearing one of these (ok I’ll stop now):

  14. @Teocalli

    Hmmm…….stroopies……yum! Who knew they had their own special container.

  15. @Rick

    It’s been one of the best first weeks in awhile. But what about Steve Summings? Is he the heir apparent for Thomas Voeckler? May be as soon as he masters how to use his tongue to get some down force on the front wheel.

  16. Damn I hate auto correct!!!!!

  17. It’s been one of the best first weeks in awhile. But what about Steve Cummings? Is he the heir apparent for Thomas Voeckler? May be as soon as he masters how to use his tongue to get some down force on the front wheel.

  18. @Rick

    @wiscot

    Nice! I’ll add a few.

    Dimension Data. For a team that hasn’t exactly been given its due respect in the past, who’s laughing now?

    Cav – for showing that he’s still got it in spades when it comes to a pure sprint. And wears a real cap.

    Dan McLay. Breakout star of the race so far.

    Greg van Avermaet. In yellow and getting in the break and then putting another 90 seconds or so on the main contenders on Stage 7. TJ and Richie must be going “WTF?”

    Big Steve Cummings. Style and class all the way. And wears a real cap.

    The increasing use of go-pro cameras. The highlights on steephill.tv are so great to watch.

    Basically steephill.tv At the end of the day, you can fill your boots on coverage, interviews, highlights. Merckx bless the interwebs.

    Bernard Hinault for showing such class in being passed by Cav in Tour stage wins. He was a winner and is French. Now a Manxman and a Merckxman are ahead of him.

    Stage 7 and no abandons. Hallelujah!

    Brits winning four out of seven stages.

    Bertie’s cojones in sticking with it. No one could have blamed him if he’d retired on stage 2 or 3. He’s never been my favorite rider but I have a whole new respect for him.

    five out of eight

    Very happy to be corrected! Quite remarkable.

  19. If there was a prize for the classiest bike rider of the last 12 months then Steve Cummings would win it.

    Last years stage win was the highlight of the whole tour for me; off the back at the bottom of that climb, mugging Pinot and Bardet at the top 4 kms later.

  20. Froome doing a Sagan-downhill yesterday and Dumoulin doing a Rule #9 uphill today. Awesome.

  21. @Neil

    If there was a prize for the classiest bike rider of the last 12 months then Steve Cummings would win it.

    Last years stage win was the highlight of the whole tour for me; off the back at the bottom of that climb, mugging Pinot and Bardet at the top 4 kms later.

  22. Cummins has been in awesome form this year. Crushed them in the Dauphine and again in the Tour. Outstanding performance! Pure Rule #5.

  23. And caps make a comeback, particularly liked Pat Bulger’s tweet saying Cav was cool again and not sure how to handle it.

  24. Here’s something I thought I saw yesterday – did Valverde get dropped and then somehow bridge back to the GC group? He’s Nr 12, right? Impressive, if so.

    I think you’d have to say the TDF winner will come from that group – Froome, Quintana, Porte, Valverde, Dan Martin, Adam Yates…have I missed anyone? Did Bardet stay in touch until the top?

  25. @RobSandy

    Here’s something I thought I saw yesterday – did Valverde get dropped and then somehow bridge back to the GC group? He’s Nr 12, right? Impressive, if so.

    I think you’d have to say the TDF winner will come from that group – Froome, Quintana, Porte, Valverde, Dan Martin, Adam Yates…have I missed anyone? Did Bardet stay in touch until the top?

    Depends on when you saw it. If it was late on in the rain one of the two Movistar guys who were up the road dropped back into the GC group and the other finished ahead of the GC group on his own.

  26. @RobSandy

    Valverde was ahead in the break but it wasn’t going to get away with him there so he dropped back to the peloton to hang with Quintana and the other contenders. It wasn’t impressive, it was just him doing his job.

  27. @Oli

    @RobSandy

    Valverde was ahead in the break but it wasn’t going to get away with him there so he dropped back to the peloton to hang with Quintana and the other contenders. It wasn’t impressive, it was just him doing his job.

    Seemed a strange job. 2 of them hanging on no man’s land and Quintana on his own. Surely they should have been in the GC group attacking Froome or at least supporting Quintana. To me their tactics appeared a bit clueless (or at best disjoint), but what do I know. Maybe Quintana was going to attack to bridge and didn’t feel up to it or the weather changed their plan to attack.

  28. @Teocalli

    @Oli

    Valverde was ahead in the break but it wasn’t going to get away with him there so he dropped back to the peloton to hang with Quintana and the other contenders. It wasn’t impressive, it was just him doing his job.

    Seemed a strange job. 2 of them hanging on no man’s land and Quintana on his own. Surely they should have been in the GC group attacking Froome or at least supporting Quintana. To me their tactics appeared a bit clueless (or at best disjoint), but what do I know. Maybe Quintana was going to attack to bridge and didn’t feel up to it or the weather changed their plan to attack.

    Maybe that’s what confused me – it looked from a one shot like Valverde was struggling to hang on to the GC group, but actually he was dropping back off the break to join the GC group. Makes sense now. I thought he’d blown, and then somehow hauled himself back up the road.

    I have no idea what Movistar’s tactics are – they seem content to let Sky dominate the race and call the shots. I guess Movistar aren’t a strong enough team to do the same.

    I think we’ll see what everyone has in their locker on Ventoux. And Quintana really needs to take time there as he’ll almost certainly lose time to Froome in the TT the next day. It’s quite fascinating and Froome is definitely winning panache points over Quintana at the moment. And I really hope Yates can keep on doing what he’s doing.

  29. @Teocalli

    They had two guys up the road (once Valverde dropped back) who I’m guessing initially they thought would be useful in the event of an attack later, although of course the gap grew too big for that to be too useful…I guess they could have sat up in the event Quintana and/or Valverde was attacking across to them.

    And by doing his job I mean Valverde was then at Quintana’s side to help him/cover him/one-two Froome with him. As it turned out nothing really happened because either Movistar decided it wasn’t going to work, or because the pace Sky set had them too close to the limit to risk anything. I suspect the latter.

  30. Quintana was never on his own. When Valverde was trying to stay with the break there were two or three Movistar guys with Nairo, then when Valverde dropped back he obviously wasn’t alone then either.

  31. I coulda swore I saw the same thing: Valverde had bridged up to the group and it wasn’t that he’d dropped back. Valverde and Quintana were riding together when Martin, Froome and Porte had some digs. Valverde had to bridge back up. Maybe I have it wrong but that’s what I saw too like @RobSandy.

    After yesterday it would look like Movistar is racing for 2nd.

  32. Maybe you guys and I are talking about different parts of the race – I was talking about the early part of the stage when he went with the big break and dropped back, but you’re right he was definitely swinging on and off the back of the Quintana group later in the race (penultimate climb?) then got back on when the pace slowed and things came back together before being dropped with Aru etc. near the end of the stage.

  33. @Oli

    Maybe you guys and I are talking about different parts of the race – I was talking about the early part of the stage when he went with the big break and dropped back, but you’re right he was definitely swinging on and off the back of the Quintana group later in the race (penultimate climb?) then got back on when the pace slowed and things came back together before being dropped with Aru etc. near the end of the stage.

    I’ve figured it out – Valverde did get dropped from the GC group towards the end (last climb when it was pouring with rain). But I noticed another Movistar jersey with the GC group as they crossed the line and assumed it was Valverde – but it wasn’t, it was Herrada.

    Maybe Valverde was saving his ammunition or maybe he’s just not in as good a shape as he was last year – but Movistar’s main weapon last year was Quintana and Valverde both being in contention for GC and attacking as a one-two. With Valverde a minute down on GC that’s not going to be quite so effective (I mean, it didn’t work last year but they gave it a go!).

  34. I’ve been getting a bit jaded on the TdF in recent years (especially when it seem to be the only bike race that triathletes watch), but I have to admit that this year has been incredible. Some more highlights for me:

    1. Sky has never had much (or any) panache. Froome’s win on Stage 8 was pure panache and was incredible (and horrifying) to watch. (And I say this knowing that the spider monkey is just godawful to watch on most days.)

    2. Hail stones, attacks, and serious Rule #9 conditions on Stage 9 all day (heat and then pouring rain), and TommyD pulling off the win.

    3. Peter Sagan hanging with the breakaway group and finishing with the main group on Stage 9 in the Pyrenees.

    4. Oleg Tinkoff (thanks @frank for that clip- I missed it, and that was pure gold) on the NBCSN interview where he said, “Is this a U.S. TV show? Hello U.S. you have to come in and take care of the sport because these Europeans are worthless!” (http://www.nbcsports.com/video/oleg-tinkov-peter-sagan-future-owner)

    5. Dimension Data (Cav, Cummings) with the cycling caps on the podium and during interviews.

    Vive le Tour!

  35. @RobSandy

    @Oli

    Maybe you guys and I are talking about different parts of the race – I was talking about the early part of the stage when he went with the big break and dropped back, but you’re right he was definitely swinging on and off the back of the Quintana group later in the race (penultimate climb?) then got back on when the pace slowed and things came back together before being dropped with Aru etc. near the end of the stage.

    I’ve figured it out – Valverde did get dropped from the GC group towards the end (last climb when it was pouring with rain). But I noticed another Movistar jersey with the GC group as they crossed the line and assumed it was Valverde – but it wasn’t, it was Herrada.

    Maybe Valverde was saving his ammunition or maybe he’s just not in as good a shape as he was last year – but Movistar’s main weapon last year was Quintana and Valverde both being in contention for GC and attacking as a one-two. With Valverde a minute down on GC that’s not going to be quite so effective (I mean, it didn’t work last year but they gave it a go!).

    I’m with ya both on this… we were talking different parts of race and yea, it was Herrada that finished nearer to Nairo than Valverde.

    Anyways, best that Movistar can say is that Nairo stuck to Froome’s wheel and I’m not impressed by that after what happened Saturday.

    Let’s see what happens Thursday. That stage sure seems to be to me the one that fits the scenario of the yellow jersey putting his stamp on the race.

    Cheers all

  36. Don’t forget Sagan was only sprinting for 3rd on stage 2. He only found out later that the 2 guys had been reeled in. Alaphillipe was killing himself and Sagan was only giving it 80%

  37. Do yourself a favor and check out Tarzgan’s interview from today (Tuesday). Pretty damn funny ending.

    Also, not sure how to explain it, but Greg vanA seems to be wearing less clothing/gear than other racers. He’s just seems more aerodynamic and sleek.

    Someone needs to tell Michael Matthews to quit putting highlights in his hair. That’s bad, very bad.

  38. @Ron

    Do yourself a favor and check out Tarzgan’s interview from today (Tuesday). Pretty damn funny ending.

    Also, not sure how to explain it, but Greg vanA seems to be wearing less clothing/gear than other racers. He’s just seems more aerodynamic and sleek.

    Someone needs to tell Michael Matthews to quit putting highlights in his hair. That’s bad, very bad.

    And not wearing that hipser-style wide, flat brim cap would be a good idea too. Funnily enough, speaking of caps, I saw pix of Froome on the rest day – wearing a proper cap. Yet on most other occasions he wears a “baseball-style” cap. What’s up with that?

  39. @Ron

    Do yourself a favor and check out Tarzgan’s interview from today (Tuesday). Pretty damn funny ending.

    Also, not sure how to explain it, but Greg vanA seems to be wearing less clothing/gear than other racers. He’s just seems more aerodynamic and sleek.

    Someone needs to tell Michael Matthews to quit putting highlights in his hair. That’s bad, very bad.

    Link? Not sure which interview in which site you are referencing?

  40. @The Grande Fondue

    @wiscot

    Bertie’s cojones in sticking with it. No one could have blamed him if he’d retired on stage 2 or 3. He’s never been my favorite rider but I have a whole new respect for him.

    Him finishing that stage last year with the broken leg was a pretty decent effort too.

    He didn’t finish the stage. His DS told him to get off the bike. Not even his daily steak could help him there.

  41. The only thing more bizarre than the time the Orica team bus broke the finish line on Stage 1 of the 2013 Tour was having the ride kite come tumbling down over the peloton in today’s Stage 7

    And that both incidents involved Orica – Bike Exchange!

  42. @Ron

    Someone needs to tell Michael Matthews to quit putting highlights in his hair. That’s bad, very bad.

    Ozzies don’t know any better.

  43. @RobSandy

    @Ron

    Someone needs to tell Michael Matthews to quit putting highlights in his hair. That’s bad, very bad.

    Ozzies don’t know any better.

    Ouch.

  44. I have to say, so far I like the second week to…

  45. Dan Martin for the surprise stage win today. You heard it here first.

  46. @RobSandy

    Dan Martin for the surprise stage win today. You heard it here first.

    We did indeed but it’ll have to be something spectacular now.

  47. @chris

    @RobSandy

    Dan Martin for the surprise stage win today. You heard it here first.

    We did indeed but it’ll have to be something spectacular now.

    Bugger. Wrong!

    Yatesy is still hanging in there though.

  48. Something must be done by UCI for the use of baseball caps pre and post-race. Cycling has its own distinctive cap .. easily printable with whatever u want for marketing reasons.

  49. @Kupepe

    Something must be done by UCI for the use of baseball caps pre and post-race. Cycling has its own distinctive cap .. easily printable with whatever u want for marketing reasons.

    That must be something else we can blame Armstrong for.

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