Sunday, 7 July 2013

Stage 9 - Pyrenees Shake Out

Today was the last big Pyrenean mountain stage before the Rest Day, which is followed by a sprinter's stage to Brittany's beautiful Saint Malo. Dan Martin's win today was a great display of strength and finishing skills for an Irish/Garmin  victory.
It was expected that Froome and Sky would be attacked, in an attempt to reduce Froome's lead or to at least put Sky under pressure. Froome survived the attacks from Movistar but Sky suffered some serious wounds. Richie Porte lost time and is now out of the Top 10. It was interesting to seem him try to bridge cross to Froome on the last climb, after being dropped, however he was either suffering or the team DS ordered him to conserve energy once it was apparent that he wasn't going to make it across to Froome?
Peter Kennaugh, a hero with Porte on the previous stage to get Froome into Yellow, had a big "off". He hit the road hard and ended up a long way down a bushy ravine and from the way he looked when he finally scrambled back to the road, he may have injuries serious enough to take him out of the Tour, or at least reduce his level of support for Froome.
Contador rode solidly and he may be able to ride himself into condition and possibly be in a position to attack in the Alps?
The new Belkin team, ex-Blanco, is doing a great job with two riders in the Top 5.
For all the contenders, the Time Trial two days after the Rest Day will be the next big hurdle to manage. Its only a short flat TT of 33 km, however this part of the Brittany coast from Mont Saint Michel  can be windy. Maybe Richie Porte and pull back some time, or possibly "Turbo Durbo" can give Orica Greenedge a victory?

My First 10 Days - Cote d'Azur & Corsica
Part 2 - Corsica
After a relaxing and enjoyable few days of cycling on Côte d'Azur, we took the 6 hour ferry trip across to Corsica to see the first 3 days of the Tour. The weather had been superb on the mainland and it continued on Corsica, days of mid-20's and cool evenings meant we rode and slept in comfort.
Our hotel was well located on the West coast at L'Ile Rousse, mid-way between the key tour towns of Bastia and Calvi. We were all struck by the geography, with beautiful coastal beaches and headlands and a severe and austere hinterland which seemed like a cross between the agricultural and urbane Pyrenees and some of the more remote French Alpine Cols.
Although Corsica is a French island there is a strong independence movement, evident by many Corse flags with the bandana clad Moore head in each quadrant, see pic below.
We were at Bastia for the finish of Stage 1 and witnessed one disaster after another unfold. Firstly the Orica GE bus got stuck under the finishing barrier, some say any publicity is good publicity but this one was a shocker.
The riders were initially advised that the finish would be at the 3 km mark and then at the last minute they were given the all clear to race to the finish. What unfolded was hard to believe; first their was a crash 5 km out which took out a number of the top contenders. Then Greipel jammed his chain at 4 km (right in front of me, see the pic) and then after being positioned perfectly by his team, Matt Goss touched a wheel and hit the deck within striking distance of the line.
For Stage 2, we rode to Corte mid-way along the race route and I got some fantastic close ups of the riders as they came through a roundabout. By amazing coincidence, as I walked back to the bus, I ran into our next door neighbour, John Brannock. Crazy that you can go halfway around the world and randomly run into your neighbour.
On the final day in Corsica we rode to the finish in Calvi, riding the last 12 km of the course to the finish line, and watched Gerro take an exceptional Aussie OGE win.
Random pics below.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pete, thanks very much for the posts ... I know it must be hard in your very busy schedule.

    We loved the scenery of Corsica and have put it on the bucket list. Problem is the bucket of funds the list sits in does not reflect the list!

    We are trying to keep up with the Tour between the appalling rugby game last weekend (Deans was finally sacked today, and it looks like Ewen McKenzie will be the new coach, to be announced tomorrow) ... and Murray finally winning Wimbledon. However, it is wonderful to see OGE doing so well in only their second year. As you said it will be interesting to see what they can do in the TT.

    Hope you get a rest day too! Keep up the blogging ... wonderful to read. Love, D&G