We’ve always had plenty of motivation to help us look forward to summer riding and the big 3-week races of the Grand Tour. And the Conchords never fail to get us in the right mood…
(click on the youtube link on the right, to access video – sorry folks, but it’s worth it)
“Come on. It will only take five minutes. We’ve been out here talking about this for two hours now.” – Start wobbling your head, cos the Tour’s here!
Yes, it feels like ages, but before you know it, it’s here. The Tour de France is what got most of us on our road bikes, seeking out great climbs, good food and aspire to the euro-chic lifestyle. Now it returns in the form of the 2015 le Tour. Here’s what got us talking in the first week.
Rohan’s Revolver – Stage 1
The man who lost out to Ritchie Porte in the Australian time trial (TT) national championships enters the Tour on the opening individual time trial (ITT) as a quietly confident favourite . A former hour-record winner and the 2014 ITT champ, he knows his job. Setting the benchmark early on in the prologue, Rohan Dennis sits at the edge of his seat; watching his rivals try, but eventually fail to succeed. His nationals disappointment is consoled by winning the Yellow Jersey on the opening stage the Tour.
Welcome to the world of Yellow…
So much, and it’s only day 1. And let’s not forget the Women’s Tour with the GiroRosa2015!
Green and Yellow – Stage 2
Stage 2 was never going to be easy. A change in weather, and the exposure that comes in the form of strong gales, sweeping in from the North Sea, means you either need to be a specialist team, or a tough-hombre to control this peloton. It is Cav’s first opportunity for a stage win on this GT. Looking at his best and with a formidable team behind him, he is in great shape, but is brought up just a touch too early. It is the man in red who takes the Green Jersey, Andre Greipel, to peg Peter Sagan to the line. Closely followed by Fabian Cancellara. It is enough to put Andre – the Gorilla, into the Green Jersey, and for ‘Fabu’ – Spartacus, to take the Yellow from Rohan Dennis.
And World Champ, Michael Kwiatkowski, wins the the Combativity Award!
Neutralised – Stage 3
Cote de Cherave and the battle up the Mur de Huy is what everyone is looking forward to today. The weather is back on our side. The stage taken away from the sprint-specialists, and into the realm of the puncheurs – with the likes of Valverde, Rodriguez and Dan Martin, to name a few. Instead, we are stunned by a horrific crash that hurls a dozen across the tarmac, and ending in a pile up. It repeats itself again, and with the medical teams stretched beyond capacity, the commissars have no choice but to neutralise the race, before continuing up the climbs. Certain riders have no choice, but to abandon – sad to see Fabu out. Bravo to stage winner, Purito. The Yellow went to another’s heavy shoulders, as it would’ve have been preferred to be won, rather than inherited.
*Warning – the following video is not for the faint-hearted. The sounds let alone the images are strong:
We know the frustration of the BMC rider at 0.33. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating capture of the action that day:
The day started so magnificently:
Then things turned ugly:
The long Huy home
Urban Spills to Cobble Skills – Stage 4
If Stage 3 was presented as a mini Flèche-Wallone, then Stage 4 was the return of the mini Paris-Roubaix. Before we get to the mountains, this is the colossal stage of the Tour. At 220km, it leaves Seraing, Belgium in the sunshine and gets wet just as we leave the cobbles and race into Cambrai, France. Thankfully, for the most part, the cobbles aren’t a problem and blesses the peloton with good weather, but not necessarily comfy. As expected, with everyone, including Froomey preparing well in advance, Nibbles doesn’t perform as well as last year. Everyone gets in the mix for the team – with Cav leading out the peloton to get Etixx up the road and in control. The surprise is seeing Quintana keep with the leaders; later being described as the ‘Little Ninja Warrior’.
Another warrior, went on to win the Yellow Jersey outright. Chapeau, Tony!
Dont’ be fooled by the colours; as spectacular as it is, it’s mind-body-and-spirtually crushing:
Tony Martin gets dropped, only to steal in from them later:
Beans – Team – Wobbles:
Martin dons Yellow:
Rush Hour – Stage 5
Smothered with punchy ascents, the ride from Arras to Amiens demands the combatants to spread their beans over a 189.5km field. It isn’t going to be easy. Much of the day sees spills and slides across what seemed more like ice-rinks than tarmac. The technical run in requires excellent placement, before a lead out can carry a sprinter to the finish. Stage 5 takes the very best right up to the line, and everyone of them made it perfectly. From Van Avermaet, to Couquard, The ‘Bos’ Hagan, Kristoff, Dege, Cav, Sagan, and the bold winner, Greipel.
Rush Hour, Greipel style:
Savage Beauty – Stage 6
The run from to Abbeville to Le Havre can change the fortunes of the pure-sprinters. The punchy-bunch, like Sagan and Dege see a chance for some first-week success. Help comes in the form of undulating roads, and 3 KOM points are up for grabs on the 3 Cat4 climbs. Once again, this isn’t going to be smooth sailing. In fact you may need sails on this one, because it’s not far from the coast, and the gales are going to be yet another challenge. However, the opportunist can command the day and take the first polka-dot jersey of the season.
We cry for Tony Martin, cheer for his teammate – Zdenek ‘Styby’ Stybar, and Daniel Teklehaimanot makes history!
Bravo Dan-Tek: H-I-S-T-O-R-Y!
It can change very quickly on le Tour:
All the way to the top:
Vite! Vite! Vite! – Stage 7
Cav comes into stage 7 as an outsider. He’s not been able to better his opponents in the last sprints, but this is no ordinary stage – it culminates uphill. And as much as Cav tries to disguise his frustration that Tour organisers are trying to make things ‘entertaining’, or ‘safe’, we all know he’s been training for such battles. In fact Stage 4 show him leading out his team and the whole of the peloton on a ramp.
From Livarot, we take on some minor bumps to Fougeres. From here, it’s the usual array of obstacles – roundabouts and similar street-furniture. Has Cav learnt to hold back before pouncing? Will Greipel hold onto his Green Jersey, or will the Slovak, Sagan nip him to the line? On the last stage Coquard’s been close, will he now get even closer, or will the Giant’s from Germany take Dege all the way to the finish? All we know is, it will be fast!
Four men have now worn the Yellow Jersey in the past 7 Stages. Some for the first time ever, and a few who have to give it up because of the need to abandon. At the same time history has been made by the triumphant bearer of the Polka-Dot Jersey. And with technology taking us ever closer to the insides of the peloton, it’s not always a shoal of fish, but a bit of a fire-breathing monster in-between.
There are two more stages over the weekend before we can take a breather and watch the pros take a temporary break from official racing on Monday. In the meantime they’ll likely regroup; do recoveries and settle down for a good nap before the party begins “On ze road and on ze dance floor.”
Come on, you know we don’t take ourselves that seriously. Take it away, Robin Moore!
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