And they’re off…The 2013 Tour de France kicked off to the usual annual cycling fanfare and it has already supplied us keen fans with some exciting, bizarre and breathtaking moments.
Firstly I’d like to get a quick word in about myself, the so-called journalist. As stated in the previous PBK Tour blog I will be chasing the Tour for the next three weeks. Corsica was beyond my meager budget, so the three days the pros have been ripping each other’s legs off in what looks like a cycling paradise I’ve been dashing the 1900km from “up north” to Nice.
Lets start with what looked like an Australia/French episode of the classic British comedy, On The Buses. You all know where this is going and if you don’t you missed one of the craziest stages finishes in a long, long time. Orica-GreenEdge were somewhat Orica-GreenWedged. In a sight that you would usually associate with a trainee Eddie Stobart driver, the Orica driver managed to get the team bus stuck under the finish line gantry of stage one. The French radio commentator I was listening to (remember I was driving) started to go in to meltdown. ASO, the organisers of the Tour, took the measure of moving the finish line to the 3km to go mark. This decision lasted for all of about five minutes until the bus managed to squeeze its way from under the gantry. This chopping and changing of news that was fed to the peloton must have had some impact on the multiple crashes that tore the field apart.
With the main stage favorites down and out due to being involved in these crashes, the German Argo-Shimano rider, Marcel Kittel took the stage and along with it the leader’s yellow jersey. Oddly the last time we saw a German win an opening stage that wasn’t a prologue was way back in 1966. For all you brits out there thats usually a year we like to gloat about.
The moral of the day was to never try and out-do Team Sky in the “How big is your bus” stakes. Those Aussies…always pimping their rides!
Due to the crashes ASO took the decision to neutralise the day’s time differences, much to the pleasure of the majority of the peloton. The question being asked by several riders and in particular a certain British Champion was ’if the time is neutralised then why not the points?’ Cav along with Greipel and Sagan missed out on points due to the crashes and bus fiasco.
Stage two saw the peloton tackle a more hilly stage and again I had to listen to the action from the inside of my Mondeo – a Mondeo dashing down the highways of France isn’t the cutting edge of the Tour. I’m sure you’ll all know the result, Jan Bakelants won. Nipping at his heels was a Slovakian that will surely take a few wins later this Tour, Peter Sagan.
Bakelants, the young Radioshack star, took the yellow jersey along with the stage win as Kittle, not a great climber, lost time. This would have been expected from any of the sprinters.
Along the way it was great to see some of the genuine contenders for the Tour take each other on. You don’t generally see this sort of action so early on in a Tour. It sure was good to watch though. Some of the shots on the front of sporting newspaper L’Equipe today with Contador looking back at a suffering Froome and Evans are fantastic. We should all expect something really exciting once they hit the proper mountains.
Stage three is underway as I type. It’s looking like another good one. By the time this is published you’ll know the result, tomorrow though its back to main land France. Back to Nice, a city where many of the professional peloton have made home. Here guys like Ritchie Porte or Froome of Sky have based themselves. The training is second to none. Nice holds the team time trial – will we see local knowledge help? I doubt it – It will be all about how well a team works together.
The day after though, stage 5 dashes along the coast, again using training roads that many of the peloton will be familiar with. Philippe Gilbert lives down in Monaco, will we see him light up the stage using local knowledge? I sure hope so.