Today’s stage started where yesterday’s ended, in the city of Tours. The flat 173km parcours to Saint-Amand-Montrond was meant to be a ‘stage of transition’ (another day in the office in other words) and at best a ‘sprinter’s delight’ on the closing few hundred metres. But some days turn out quite different to what you expected them to be.
For the superstitious, the day is Friday and the stage number 13. Would there be a lot of bad luck for the riders or would (despite Froome Dog in yellow) the horror show continue for team Sky? Earlier on the signs were ominous. It was windy, grippy and ‘stabby,’ according to Paul. What he meant by this is unclear. Was it shower scene from Psycho stabby or just plain old PMS stabby?
Whatever it was there was an evil lurking on the parcours in the shape of the wind, and you never want to be caught out by wind. These ‘ferocious crosswinds’ wreaked havoc wrenching the peloton apart and from then on it was drop, split, chase.
A split in the peloton
Movistar looked like being the stars of their own horror movie when at the creepily named ‘feedzone’ at the 84km mark Valverde punctured. Thankfully he wasn’t alone at the side of the road on a dark and stormy night (we all know how that ends) and soon he and his team mates were charging back to the peloton.
From there it was on with Belchin and Oooomega Farmers really pushing hard up front. Paul banished any thoughts in the minds of the riders they'd been Morris dancing all day by declaring “they'll know they've been in a bike race”.
And hats off to Alberto Contador and Taxo Sinkoff for their effort. At the 32km to go mark there was the moment the Taxo Sinkoff bunch had a bit of a look around, sensed an opportunity and then all five hammers came down like five furious cats set among the pigeons. Wonderful stuff.
Oooomega Farmer Quick-Stop’s Mark Cavendish won the stage adding it to the previous 24 Tour stage wins under his belt. Froome hung on to yellow but I’ve never seen someone look so unhappy on the podium accepting a stuffed lion. I suspect it’s the worry about his team and its ability to take him into the mountains for the final week of the tour that got to him.
Post race Gabriel Gate had some poached peacheswith a strawberry and sparkling Vouvray sauce waiting for the riders. Fruit now! This health kick is getting out of hand. No butter of course, so the Beurremetric counter is stuck at 286g.