The First Weak

Three days in, and it’s already been a brutal opening week of the Tour. I’ve never heard of the Tour neutralizing part of the stage unless a Schleck was involved, but I was relieved to understand that the reason for the neutralization had more to do with how many doctors were available for the second crash than it did with the riders’ safety. That’s a load off; for a second there I thought the sport was going soggy on us.

Fabian broke his back for the second time this season, which makes me wonder what his plans are for the rest of the year. Appenzeller and blackouts seems like a good place to start; I don’t think he needs any more memories. Nibbles and Quintannaroo missed the split on Stage 2 and lost over a minute. Froome humped a lightbulb like a maniac up the Mur de Huy to take some more time on everyone but J-Rod. My Merckx, Chris can make a bike go batshit fast but fuck me if he doesn’t make it look absolutely horrendous. If everyone looked like him, I don’t believe I’d ever have gotten into the sport.

All this is to say that the opening week of the Tour de France sets it apart from every other Grand Tour; the large field, the level of competition, and the nature of the windy, mostly flat opening stages makes for chaos and chaos makes for crashes. How many riders have lost their chance at the Tour’s GC in a moment of inattention during the first 7 days on the bike? Even Hinault did a face-plant during the stage to Saint Etienne in 1985, although only he knows why he would be so reckless as to contest a bunch sprint in the first few days of the race.

Froomedog looks very good. On paper anyway, he looks horrible on the bike. I mean, look at him. He looks Nibbles in 2014 strong. Nibbles looks fit but seems a bit inattentive. Quintana looks overwhelmed. Contador looks fit tired. Everyone but Froome is looking for their peak; the only question on Froome is whether he’s peaking too soon. Remember that l’Alpe d’Huez comes on the Saturday before Paris.

The first signs of weakness are exposed in the first week of the Tour. And tomorrow we ride the cobbles. Fuck yeah cobbles.

Vive le Tour and Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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88 Replies to “The First Weak”

  1. Hinault crashed at St. Ettiene, 14 days into the 1985 Tour.  It wasn’t in an early stage, but the fact that it happened after he had solidified his lead, made his sprint all the more stupefying.  Bernie could never resist a fight.

  2. Good summary of the 4 there Frank. Bertie did look tired today, grimacing holding the wheel to the base of the Mur. I reckon Nibbles will ride into this, probably get time back tomorrow. Nairo, who knows, little fucker is invisible. Froome really does look a step above at the moment.

    On another note, Simon Yates got a great result whilst being pretty banged up and J Rod turned the clock back with an awesome display. Bring on the cobbles, the race will likely be turned on its head again.

  3. Also glad Andre the giant got up and is in green, couldn’t handle the frustration if Cav was there.  He’s acting like some of my tennis countrymen at Wimbledon.  Spoilt brats !

  4. God the Tour always disappoints me. I mean, no-one is going to beat Froome now. Good as over. But what are these morons doing getting caught out in a split on Stage 2 FFS?

  5. @Frank love your second line!  Shame Faboo’s out for tomorrow.  With Trek’s dearth of leadership I was looking forward to watching him smash it.  Looking forward to, to watching Cav try and find some redemption.

    Don’t think it’s over, by a long chalk.  Nibbles isn’t too far back; fatigue hasn’t yet begun to bite, and I sense that Quintana will let rip at some point, he just seems too relaxed not to.  Gallopin looked good – long shot for the top Frenchman?

  6. Froome was on it for sure coming up the Mur. Can’t tell with Quintana either, he’s bound to get some shots if he stays upright today.

    Should have gone US instead of France and picked TJ Hooker over Pinot. His team is stronger too.

    Did anyone sense a hint of schadenfreude when Degenkolb was interviewed by Lemond i.e. now that his GC leader is out he can go full gas on the cobbles?

  7. @GogglesPizano

    Spartacus’ face was white as a sheet after the crash, vision impaired – goes on to finish the stage – epic!

    Sorry we won’t see him in full fury today.

    Sagan giving the final climb a go with GC lads was well impressive too.

  8. @GogglesPizano

    and Spartacus rides in the last 59km of the stage with fucking a broken back!

    this is why I love cycling and hate football(soccer).

    Cyclist has a major crash, breaks some bones, rides 59 km to the finish.

    Footballer stumbles on a stalk of grass, falls down on the soft nice field. Cries to mama for help and gets carried out on a stretcher. Weichei!

  9. @GogglesPizano

    I like to think the conversation at the hospital was;

    “I’m right, I’ll keep going”

    “Mr Spartacus, Cobbles tomorrow Sir.”

    “Scheize! Ah, it will be ok, I’ll ride”

    “And you lost the Malliot Jaune”

    “No worries, I will ride”

    “To Froome”

    “Ach, I am too embarrassed to face the crowds, they will taunt me for losing the jersey to a rider with such poor style. I will rest, how will I face my family, my children will laugh in my face … ” (fade out muttering)

  10. @brett

    God the Tour always disappoints me. I mean, no-one is going to beat Froome now. Good as over. But what are these morons doing getting caught out in a split on Stage 2 FFS?

    So a young gun beats the old Lion and the World Champ on day one, Etixx and Tinkoff split the field and put time into two GC guys, and the Gorilla takes the brat on the line- he sits up and loses the yellow for his team mate, then the Lion hits the deck at 80 plus with a bunch of his mates, breaks his back for the SECOND time this year and rides it in, the main favourite puts time into all his rivals, (J-Rod is not a rival) and takes yellow by 1 sec to the cobbles today.

    You’re disappointed?

    Far from over, the fat lady hasn’t even seen the music sheet yet,18 stages to go, think it’s worth a watch.

    Fantastic racing, fucking loving it.

  11. To be honest, I doubt if Sky and Froome would want him to be yellow so early, I don’t think they planned it that way, but the two mass pile-ups put in a position to have a go on the last climb. It does give them the advantage of being car no. 1 today on the cobbles, if (or when) he punctures. I expect him to lose it today, as some mad fool used to pave goes flat out for glory. He’ll just want to get round in one piece whilst keeping a watch out on the other GC guys.

  12. @brett

    There’s 18 days of racing left. As much as I like Froome, I don’t think he’ll be able to go that hard all the way to Paris. Back in 2013 Quintana had the measure of him in the last week. Given the number of maountains in the back half of the race there’s a good chance that will happen again. And I think Froome doesn’t have the self control to not go hard in the Pyrenees. I could easily see him struggling up the Alpe while Quintana, Pinot et. al. are zooming up it.

  13. @rfreese888

    As much as I admire Faboo for the determination to continue with a knackered back, I’m a bit more reticent to cheer given that he seemed to have a concussion. I just might be a bit sensitive to it, as I’m a big fan of both American Football and Rugby, both of which are having to come to terms with concussion management. I had similar feelings in 2013 when Tony Martin continued on after a serious bang on the head.

    If Cancellara had fallen off the bike again yesterday and hit his back, it probably would have just hurt him some more (I’m assuming that he had just fractured some of the tranverse processes, as opposed to a potentially more serious structural break to the core of the vertebra). But if he’d hit his head again, it could have killed him.

  14. @LeoTea

    I agree – heroic but possibly stupid.

    In Rugby now I think they have stricter protocols about assessing for concussion and keeping players off the pitch when at risk. Am I right in saying cycling has not reached that level of assessing and decision making?  Seems it would have been pretty obvious to keep Faboo off the bike given his symptoms.

  15. @Barracuda

    Also glad Andre the giant got up and is in green, couldn’t handle the frustration if Cav was there.  He’s acting like some of my tennis countrymen at Wimbledon.  Spoilt brats !

    Another stat I couldn’t quite believe was that this is the first time the Gorilla has worn the Green Jersey at the Tour. I don’t think Cav can or will try to win the green – Sagan pretty much has it once the race gets bumpy, he’s so much quicker over the hills than the other sprinters – but he’s looking for stage wins.

    And him and his team completely threw one away on Sunday.

  16. Also, Hinault…what a hard bastard. He gives me the shivers.

    “as long as I have two arms and two legs it will be very difficult for them”

    Fuck yes. That’s a competitor.

  17. @rfreese888

    OGE had a go pro strapped to a mechanic’s head for their backstage pass, looking at the repairs he tries to do to Matthews’ helmet before getting him a new bike, then the “medical assessment” he gives him, the short answer is no.

    <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/7raIxrzodt4″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

  18. @brett

    God the Tour always disappoints me. I mean, no-one is going to beat Froome now. Good as over. But what are these morons doing getting caught out in a split on Stage 2 FFS?

    That’s my reverse psychology voodoo by the way…

  19. @brett

    @brett

    God the Tour always disappoints me. I mean, no-one is going to beat Froome now. Good as over. But what are these morons doing getting caught out in a split on Stage 2 FFS?

    That’s my reverse psychology voodoo by the way…

    What is done CAN be undone.  There’s many a kilometer to go yet.

  20. Froome and Quintana elbowing the Astana minions to slot into the train up the Mur de Huy? Pure gold.

    The crash was awful. Everything else was fucking brilliant over the opening three stages.

  21. @brett

    I thought it was down to the fact that you’re an old git who gets grumpy when it’s sunny and would rather be out moaning about shit weather, wind and mud.

  22. @Mikael Liddy

    That vid was fascinating. Watched it last night as well as the Etixx on  bike cam, and seeing so much of the Tour from a completely different perspective really makes you appreciate it all the more!

  23. @Mikael Liddy

    Hmmmm… I figured OGE would have had Australian mechanics.

    Looking forward… My money is on Tony Martin grabbing the Yellow today. He is only one second back, and he is a stud. The uncoordinated spider monkey that is Froome won’t hold it today.

  24. This is f’ing awesome racing today!

    Different mix of riders and feel to 1 day classic format.

    Edgy, pacey, big bunches crowding together after pave sectors.

    Wolf packs looking to shuttle the GC lads through.

    WInd, dust, rain about to fall.

    LUV IT

  25. @WindDrifter

    @GogglesPizano

    and Spartacus rides in the last 59km of the stage with fucking a broken back!

    this is why I love cycling and hate football(soccer).

    Cyclist has a major crash, breaks some bones, rides 59 km to the finish.

    Footballer stumbles on a stalk of grass, falls down on the soft nice field. Cries to mama for help and gets carried out on a stretcher. Weichei!

    I too hate diving in professional soccer, but I still love the sport. And, I love good games without diving. I still play twice a week, some of the guys are in their 60s, with even a few in their early 70s. None of them fake a thing and some of them can run for a full 1.5 hours. I hope to age as well as they have!

    But yes, I really, really want to see this part of the sport done away with. Coming from a background of soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, I completely don’t understand the diving in soccer. In hockey and lacrosse you pretend NOT to be hurt, even when you are.

  26. I’ve been thinking about it since Sunday but not sure I’ve ever seen Cavendish beaten in such a fashion. I’ve seen him lose a sprint, but don’t recall seeing him have such a lead and simply get reeled back in. He’s normally gone with that much of a gap. And not sure at all why he sat up. He’s tempermental, but not a quitter. Martin can’t be too happy with that.

    Also have to wonder if Cancellara’s first broken vertebrae made him more likely to do it again. Have to imagine that kind of trauma to the area destabilized and weakened his back.

  27. @AJ

    @Mikael Liddy

    Hmmmm… I figured OGE would have had Australian mechanics.

    Looking forward… My money is on Tony Martin grabbing the Yellow today. He is only one second back, and he is a stud. The uncoordinated spider monkey that is Froome won’t hold it today.

    Not bad AJ – jagged this screen-shot of the spider monkey nearly ending up in the gutter

  28. @asyax

    @AJ

    @Mikael Liddy

    Hmmmm… I figured OGE would have had Australian mechanics.

    Looking forward… My money is on Tony Martin grabbing the Yellow today. He is only one second back, and he is a stud. The uncoordinated spider monkey that is Froome won’t hold it today.

    Not bad AJ – jagged this screen-shot of the spider monkey nearly ending up in the gutter

    Thank you. I was breaking the rules and streaming it to my work computer just so I could properly watch it. Even after getting pushed into the gutter you think Froome would tuck those elbows in. Also, if I get in trouble for streaming today, it was totally worth it.

  29. @Ron

    @WindDrifter

    @GogglesPizano

    and Spartacus rides in the last 59km of the stage with fucking a broken back!

    this is why I love cycling and hate football(soccer).

    Cyclist has a major crash, breaks some bones, rides 59 km to the finish.

    Footballer stumbles on a stalk of grass, falls down on the soft nice field. Cries to mama for help and gets carried out on a stretcher. Weichei!

    I too hate diving in professional soccer, but I still love the sport. And, I love good games without diving. I still play twice a week, some of the guys are in their 60s, with even a few in their early 70s. None of them fake a thing and some of them can run for a full 1.5 hours. I hope to age as well as they have!

    But yes, I really, really want to see this part of the sport done away with. Coming from a background of soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, I completely don’t understand the diving in soccer. In hockey and lacrosse you pretend NOT to be hurt, even when you are.

    @Ron Hate is a strong word. maybe to strong. I don’t really hate it, I just despise the behaviour. I used to play football a lot as a kid. But were I come from ice hockey is by far the most important sport(next to cycling then, of course … ).

    So, to me, football is just not very interesting, but I do watch WC sometimes. Also football seems to draw the attention of a lot of hooligans, this I have never understood. I used to play rugby in high school,that was cool, and I have never seen any hooligans on a rugby match.

  30. @Ron

    I’ve been thinking about it since Sunday but not sure I’ve ever seen Cavendish beaten in such a fashion. I’ve seen him lose a sprint, but don’t recall seeing him have such a lead and simply get reeled back in. He’s normally gone with that much of a gap. And not sure at all why he sat up. He’s tempermental, but not a quitter. Martin can’t be too happy with that.

    EQS were in full on 2015 Spring fuck up mode.

    Martin drove the group far too hard. They wanted a gap to stop anyone else getting back, but a minute and a half was a luxury that only benefited the GC passengers of the group.

    This then led into Renshaw running a foolishly early leadout. The wind was no longer on the tail, they didn’t have that benefit. So he blew early, leaving Cavendish going from too far out. And he’s never been much cop at the first sprint of the tour. He went anyway, but blew. You can almost see him cursing himself as he looks across and sees Spartacus nip in for 3rd and the bonus seconds

    In all this, Lefervre was obviously fucking up too- to fuck up that well takes some special DS action.

    Cavendish was partly to blame. But so was Martin, so was Renshaw. No-one covered themselves in glory.

    But then again, boys did well today… Sky easing on the front, Giant-Alpecin expecting EQS to go for the Cavendish leadout (and I bet they were selling that as a plan for all it was worth with overly loud chat) and so not paying attention leaves the Panzerwagon to press the nitro button.

    More ugly but effective riding from Froome, making a bit of a point after Nibbles had had a dig. How on earth he stays upright is beyond physics, but it works?

  31. @Al__S

    But then again, boys did well today… Sky easing on the front, Giant-Alpecin expecting EQS to go for the Cavendish leadout (and I bet they were selling that as a plan for all it was worth with overly loud chat) and so not paying attention leaves the Panzerwagon to press the nitro button.

    I’m not sure that they were trying to sell it too hard. Cav seems to have been doing some fairly big turns on the front, perhaps trying to redeem himself for mouthing of so readily when he was a culpable as any one else for the lead out fuck up.

  32. @rfreese888

    @LeoTea

    I agree – heroic but possibly stupid.

    In Rugby now I think they have stricter protocols about assessing for concussion and keeping players off the pitch when at risk. Am I right in saying cycling has not reached that level of assessing and decision making?  Seems it would have been pretty obvious to keep Faboo off the bike given his symptoms.

    At least Spartacus will remember his (possibly final) ride in the yellow jersey. Horner doesn’t even remember getting back on the bike and finishing the Stage 7 in 2011.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/07/news/horner-abandons-tour-team-defends-decision-to-let-him-finish-stage_182840

    And yes, Froome knows how to win ugly. There should be some figure skating judges, deducting time for presentation.

  33. @WindDrifter

    @Ron

    @WindDrifter

    @GogglesPizano

    and Spartacus rides in the last 59km of the stage with fucking a broken back!

    this is why I love cycling and hate football(soccer).

    Cyclist has a major crash, breaks some bones, rides 59 km to the finish.

    Footballer stumbles on a stalk of grass, falls down on the soft nice field. Cries to mama for help and gets carried out on a stretcher. Weichei!

    I too hate diving in professional soccer, but I still love the sport. And, I love good games without diving. I still play twice a week, some of the guys are in their 60s, with even a few in their early 70s. None of them fake a thing and some of them can run for a full 1.5 hours. I hope to age as well as they have!

    But yes, I really, really want to see this part of the sport done away with. Coming from a background of soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, I completely don’t understand the diving in soccer. In hockey and lacrosse you pretend NOT to be hurt, even when you are.

    @Ron Hate is a strong word. maybe to strong. I don’t really hate it, I just despise the behaviour. I used to play football a lot as a kid. But were I come from ice hockey is by far the most important sport(next to cycling then, of course … ).

    So, to me, football is just not very interesting, but I do watch WC sometimes. Also football seems to draw the attention of a lot of hooligans, this I have never understood. I used to play rugby in high school,that was cool, and I have never seen any hooligans on a rugby match.

    Football – a sport designed for gentlemen and played by hooligans

    Rugby – a sport designed for hooligans and played by gentlemen

  34. I know he’s not one of the “big four”, but TJ is doing a great job managing the early part of the race.  He is in a very good position to improve over his 5th of last year, and if something untoward happens to Froome, he will be right in the mix.

  35. @Lukas

    I know he’s not one of the “big four”, but TJ is doing a great job managing the early part of the race.  He is in a very good position to improve over his 5th of last year, and if something untoward happens to Froome, he will be right in the mix.

    Yes, Tejay is what I’d say right now is sneaky strong. And yea, Froome is a spider monkey on a bike. Or maybe kinda looks like a squid falling out of a tree when he rides yes? Someone said it best earlier, it ain’t a figure skating contest. The only thing stopping the sky train, if anything does, is gonna be some bad luck.

  36. @Al__S

    @Ron

    I’ve been thinking about it since Sunday but not sure I’ve ever seen Cavendish beaten in such a fashion. I’ve seen him lose a sprint, but don’t recall seeing him have such a lead and simply get reeled back in. He’s normally gone with that much of a gap. And not sure at all why he sat up. He’s tempermental, but not a quitter. Martin can’t be too happy with that.

    EQS were in full on 2015 Spring fuck up mode.

    Martin drove the group far too hard. They wanted a gap to stop anyone else getting back, but a minute and a half was a luxury that only benefited the GC passengers of the group.

    This then led into Renshaw running a foolishly early leadout. The wind was no longer on the tail, they didn’t have that benefit. So he blew early, leaving Cavendish going from too far out. And he’s never been much cop at the first sprint of the tour. He went anyway, but blew. You can almost see him cursing himself as he looks across and sees Spartacus nip in for 3rd and the bonus seconds

    In all this, Lefervre was obviously fucking up too- to fuck up that well takes some special DS action.

    Cavendish was partly to blame. But so was Martin, so was Renshaw. No-one covered themselves in glory.

    But then again, boys did well today… Sky easing on the front, Giant-Alpecin expecting EQS to go for the Cavendish leadout (and I bet they were selling that as a plan for all it was worth with overly loud chat) and so not paying attention leaves the Panzerwagon to press the nitro button.

    More ugly but effective riding from Froome, making a bit of a point after Nibbles had had a dig. How on earth he stays upright is beyond physics, but it works?

    I didn’t understand, if he was going 100m too early, if Cav feinted to the side like he was out of gas, and picked another wheel, he would have had time to wind up and roll over in the last few metres again. No one else had a paceline, so he could have just slowed down then hit the gas again.

    I too think TaFroometula has been giving too much gas in the early stages. He was in the lead bunch on stage 2, hammered it on Huy, tried to make a break on 4 when Bertie was split off by a couple metres in the last 20k.

    None of the others have given so much gas, and they may seem like it is because they haven’t the form, but really they are saving energy the whole time.

    Smartest of all was Quintana on s4, he never hit the front, had no teammates, but still finished on the same time sucking wheels at the back of the front bunch, and thereby saving energy.

    Froomedog was hammering himself on the front (goodness knows why he was dragging Thomas so often, should have been the other way around). He may say he is feeling good, but all the adrenaline and match burning will take it out of him before the real hard stuff starts.

    So good to have the top GC contenders all so close, it will be a tale of who cracks first on the big threshold climbs, and attacking punctures (boooo)…

  37. @Beers

    yeah, interestingly there seems to be a bit of Contador’s Giro about Froome’s early tour tactics. I think the competition is gonna be a little stronger here than it was in May.

  38. @Oli

    @Beers

    Hey, if it was easy we’d all be doing it, am I right?

    I prefer Beers summation. If it were easy we would be complaining about it.

  39. @Ron

    @WindDrifter

    @GogglesPizano

    and Spartacus rides in the last 59km of the stage with fucking a broken back!

    this is why I love cycling and hate football(soccer).

    Cyclist has a major crash, breaks some bones, rides 59 km to the finish.

    Footballer stumbles on a stalk of grass, falls down on the soft nice field. Cries to mama for help and gets carried out on a stretcher. Weichei!

    I too hate diving in professional soccer, but I still love the sport. And, I love good games without diving. I still play twice a week, some of the guys are in their 60s, with even a few in their early 70s. None of them fake a thing and some of them can run for a full 1.5 hours. I hope to age as well as they have!

    But yes, I really, really want to see this part of the sport done away with. Coming from a background of soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, I completely don’t understand the diving in soccer. In hockey and lacrosse you pretend NOT to be hurt, even when you are.

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