Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stage 11 Avranches / Mont-Saint-Michel – True grit

Today’s the first of two individual time trials over 33km between Avranches and the eye-poppingly spectacular Mont-Saint-Michel. If you’re unfamiliar with the individual time trial, think of it as a team time trial but without the team.
Mont-Saint-Michel is an island close to the shore straddling where Brittany crosses over into Normandy. An abbey and monastery took centuries to complete on the site owing to the fact that the sea had a habit of filling up the land around it once a day. Apart from the weather being too hot, too cold, deliveries of the wrong type of tile and tradies not showing up on time, the tide was another factor adding to the delays of the build. After the French revolution Mont-Saint-Michel served as a prison until it closed in 1863 before its conversion into the tourist trap we know today.
As previously mentioned the other remarkable feature of the area is the extraordinary tide. This was not lost on Phil and Paul who worried about getting the bogged SBS commentary van off the mud flats before the sea came rushing back in. Try explaining that one to the boss.
Mont-Saint-Michel at high tide

Lambs graze on the salt marshes in the area that supposedly gives the meat a unique flavour and its high price tag. Gabriel Gate fired up the oven for a delicious Gigot d’Agneauaux Flageolets (roast lamb with flageolet beans). Three tablespoons or 42g of butter pushes the Beurremetric counter to a total of 286g.
Individual time trials are unique in that it’s one rider at a time in a silly helmet and a skinsuit hoping to complete the course in the fastest time possible. Some are specialists and  Olympic and world champions of the discipline. Others are not. Paul keeps on telling Andy Schleck (Radioshack Leopard) that he must work on his time trialling to improve. I’m sorry Paul, what you saw today is about as good as he gets. Perhaps it was the effect of that peculiar game cricket being played across the channel, but you could almost hear the cameraman utter ”can’t bat, can’t time trial” as Schleck limped in over the finish line.
Time trialling was no problem for Oooomega Farmer Quick-Stop’s Tony Martin who went like an Aston Martin to complete the 33km in 36 minutes 29 seconds. Froome Dog was the only one to cause any discomfort for Martin in the hot seat but fell short to finish second and hold on to the maillot juane for another day.
Speaking of discomfort, Martin rode with the injuries he's still carrying from a nasty crash on the first stage of Le Tour on Corsica that resulted in half an elbow grated onto the road and a heavy concussion. Mere mortals like us would go off on compo for six weeks for a paper cut. Guys like Martin just get on with it. Now that’s true grit.

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