Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Pedals #TDF

When I signed off my Tour report on Wednesday after Mark Cavendish had failed on the road to Reims I said:

"Cav has been one to bounce back before when he hasn't won as expected with a double, Friday's stage is also for the sprinters. So we wait and see."

Well who needs Paul the Octopus?

Two stages later and in first Montgaris and yesterday in Gueugnon it was the Manx Missile that shot to the front in the final 200 metres and was never headed. He is now level on 12 stage wins in the Tour with other great sprinters from my memory:

  • Mario Cipollini (Italy) wins in 6 tours over 7 years (1993 -1999) Luçon -Les Sables [93]; Perros Guirec -Vitré, Alençon - Le Harve [95]; Hertogenbosch - Wasquehal [96]; Rouen - Forges-les-Eaux, St Valery-en-Caux - Vire [97], Cholet - Châteauroux, La Châtre - Brive [98]; Laval - Blois, Bonneval - Ameins, Ameins - Maubeuge, Avensnes-sur-Helpe - Thionville [99]
  • Eric Zabel (Germany) 6 tours, 8 years (1995-2002) Dunkirk - Charleroi, Pau - Bordeaux [95]; Wasquehal - Norgent-sur-Oise, Turin - Gap [96]; Vire - Plumelec, Marennes - Bordeaux, Sauternes - Pau [97]; Belfort - Troyes [00]; St-Omer - Boulogne, Antwerp - Seraing, Orléans - Évry [01]; Forges-les-Eaux - Alençon [02]
  • Robbie McEwan (Australia) 6 tours in 9 years (1999-2007) Arpajon - Paris [99]; Metz - Reims, Melun - Paris [01]; Charleroi - Namur, St Léonard-de-Nobat - Guéret [04], Chambord - Montgaris, Lunéville - Karlsruhe, Mirama - Montpellier [05], Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette, Huy - Saint-Quentin, Lisieux - Vitré [06], London - Canterbury [07]
Of Course Mark has won all twevle of his to match these sprint kings is just 2 and a third tours. So far:
  • 2008 Cholet - Châteauroux, Figeac - Toulouse, Lavelanet - Narbonne, Narbonne - Nîmes
  • 2009 Monaco to Brignoles, Marseille to La Grande-Motte, Limoges to Issoudun, Vatan to Saint-Fargeau, Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas, Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris
  • 2010 Épernay - Montargis, Montgaris - Gueugnon
He has also won back to back stages on four occasions 12&13 in 2008, 2&3 and 10&11 in 2009 and now 5&6 this year.

Today we start to really go uphill. We're entering the Jura region on the way to the Alps on Sunday (no not the Whisky producing Island). It is a rarely visited part of France for the Tour but the narrow roads and forested switch back up and down the six progressively harder clims of the day lie ahead. The toughest climbs of today are only category 2 so it shouldn't challenge any of the GC contenders, but a group might take a change to get away and stay away today.

After the last climb however there is a 4km roll along the plateau into the finish at the ski Station des Rousses. Which may be enough of a chance for Fabian Cancellera to maybe recover any time he may lose on the ascent to defend his maillot jaune. Although yesterday a break of more than a second in the peleton meant that Gerraint Thomas who was in the leading 14 clawed back 3 seconds to make Cancellera's lead down to 20 seconds. Bradley Wiggins and David Millar are also both Brits currently in the top 15. We'll soon be seeing what Brad has for this year and well as discovering what Gerraint might have in the Cols. Millar doesn't usually contest the mountains every day but can do the odd good one.

You can watch it all live on ITV4 from 2:30 this afternoon.

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