After a day of beers and sightseeing in Vaucluse, the riders hit the road for the 168km ‘pre-Alps’ stage involving a death-defying 10km descent into the town of Gap.
Froome Dog (Sky) spent his rest day defending himself against claims of drug cheating after his performance up the slopes of Mont Ventoux the day before. Seems in the post-Liestrong era any top rides from cyclists will immediately attract finger pointing. A bit sad really. However, there’s a part of me that wishes a cheeky SBS Troll Dj would play 'When the Drugs Kick In' by the Del Lords to a montage of Froome’s climb, just the once.
According to Paul the early morning breakaway happened early in the afternoon. The peloton wound its way through more gorgeous gorges. There are some lovely rivers and streams in the area. Phil was convinced one of the helicopters grabbed a rod and some bait and had ‘gone fishing’.
Poor Phil and Paul. I think in this year’s Tour the two have finally cracked. Perhaps they need a ‘gap year’, in Africa, studying geological formations, spotting buzzards and commentating the mountain biking.
Back on the road seven French riders went out front. Apparently people are beginning to talk about the lack of a stage win from a Frenchmen. But the real talking point is whether we’ll see a Rupert Guinness troll shirt in the SBS post-race analysis with Tomo before the end of the Tour.
But we just knew Troll DJ had to respond to seeing the French out front with the theme from ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Whenever I hear it I get a strange urge to ride horses, smoke ciggies and drink beers. That’s subliminal advertising for you.
After the final climb of the Col de Manse, there is a long, tricky descent into Gap. And whenever you hear 'Cadel' and 'tricky descent' uttered by Paul the inevitable 'mountain biker' will follow. I’m surprised after all these years Phil is not finishing sentences like these for him like an old married couple.
At 18km Rui Costa from Movistar went out front and led all the way into Gap. He had such a lead that he almost had enough time for some SaganWagon style stunt team antics – or a spot of gardening, like that other Costa we know. A nice stage win for the Movistar team.
A thrilled Costa after his stage victory
Further back in the field Froome and Contador (Taxo Sinkoff) nearly came to grief on the descent. Contador ‘overcooked’ the corner in front of him, according to Froome. It’s moments like these you realise Le Tour could be over for a rider in a split second.
Froome finished as the leader again in the general classification. I bet he and the other riders are looking forward to sitting down to a big feed from Gabriel Gate of Selle d'Agneau Rôti aux Herbes or a roasted saddle of lamb. There’s 50g of butter in the recipe which nudges the Beurremetric counter to 336g.