Wow. Again. It’s a good thing Bastille Day is not a Spanish holiday, or that Alberto Contador is not French. The past champion and serious contender for this year’s victory– yet another big name of Le Tour overall– is out of the race after a serious crash and valiant yet unsuccessful attempt to continue on. A fractured tibia and bike racing, however, just don’t mix.
At least a Frenchman wore le maillot jaune on this Bastille Day, just before returning it to the man from whom he took it yesterday. With mountainous stage 10 largely considered the hardest thus far, safe to say tomorrow’s rest day hasn’t come at all too soon. From there, given the constantly changing dynamics of this crazy Tour, all bets are off.
On this Bastille Day, some 300 thousand die-hard spectators lined the path of what’s considered cycling’s most difficult climb. The fact it came at the end of Le Tour’s longest stage didn’t make the feat any easier.
As it happened, overall leader Chris Froome ascented to a first-for-Britain win atop the feared Mont Ventoux, not only retaining le maillot jaune which he snagged a week ago, but also earning the polka dot jersey while re-stretching his lead time to more than four minutes. Paris is clearly looking good for him, though of course an entire week remains. In any case, after the collective exhaustion of reaching this stage 15 summit finish, tomorrow’s second rest day must for everyone look as good as Froome did today.
France has yet to win a Tour stage this year, and today it came close to happening– screamingly close. Crowds lining the streets of Lyon cheered for their countryman to bring home the victory on this eve of Bastille Day, and Sojasun’s Julien Simon appeared determined to deliver here in stage 14. Unfortunately for him, the gap that kept getting smaller in those last stretches finally closed at just one kilometer to the finish line.
So goes the final attack in just about any flat stage finish. Ironically enough, seeing as there’s been no American stage win either this year, we came even closer to one in today’s last seconds with Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky finishing a strong third. The early 18-man breakaway stayed away– sans our usual sprint favorites– handing le triomphe du jour to the Missile’s roommate and first Italian stage winner since 2010, Omega-Pharma’s Matteo Trentin.
As usual, anything can change at any moment, as one more kilometer– let alone one more meter– makes all the difference.
I imagine the French might be a bit “agace” that on this Bastille Day, a Spaniard won stage 12 of the Tour de France. Fortunately for the French, their man Thomas Voeckler holds onto the yellow jersey, which should no doubt help keep today’s celebrations going.
It’s been said Le Tour really begins today, considering the first mountain stage of this year’s journey. Now we see the climbers really go to work. After all, there’s certainly a big difference between sprinting and climbing, while each rider has his own strong suit.
Today’s stage winner Samuel Sanchez weighs 140 pounds, as does defending TDF champion Alberto Contador, definitely a climbing advantage over other riders who weigh 165, 170 or more.
Meanwhile, congrats yet again to Mark Cavendish on his third stage win of the year yesterday. The leading sprinter lagged a bit behind today on those climbs, even though he’s down to 150 pounds apparently.
Let’s just say the climbs carry a lot of weight in the Tour, so to speak. At my weight I guess I’d have to drive up the mountain!