Today’s stage from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier can be summed up in the words of Paul Sherwin as windy and nervous. These were about the only things on his mind today. For some such as Bouhanni (from French team All the Way with FDJ) it was all too much forcing an abandon of the great race.
It’s been five days of hard slog. You can forgive the riders for starting to find it just that little bit harder getting out of the cot in the morning. There’s nothing like a corpse-reviving-double-shot-strength espresso for petit déjeuner to get you going for the day.
All that coffee may explain (or perhaps the lack of butter in Gabriel Gate’s Salade de Cerises au Marc de Languedoc or cherry fruit salad with Languedoc brandy) all that nervous energy in the peloton as they took to a blustery parcours that skirts the Camargue which, as Phil Liggett loves to point out, is famous for its wild horses and pink flamingos.
A famous pink flamingo
The peloton gallantly fought the cross winds employing the oldest survival tactic in the book, the echelon. The Dutch and Belgians are very good at this riding technique coming from the flat empty wind swept lands of the north. What the wind was cross about was never determined. Did it get up on the wrong side of the bed? Or perhaps it was just nervous and nervous wind is the worst kind of wind.
But the nervousness didn’t end there. The fields and limestone outcrops looked nervous. Even the acrobatic Camargue bulls, smaller than their Spanish cousins, looked nervous.
We finally put the finger on the cause of this universal state of nervousness. It was Paul’s endless descriptions of nervousness that got on everyone’s nerves in the end.
However, the nerves soon evaporated at dash for the finish line in Montpellier. I suspect some riders may have discarded the cherries from Gabriel's special treat and stashed the brandy in their bidons for the run home.
The finish saw Greipel and Sagan skittle Kittel. Lady luck continues to smile for Orica-GreenWEDGE with the team's Daryl Impey becoming the first African to slip on yellow. We won’t hear the end of it from the Ps now...
Now that we are at the gateway to le weekend, I’ll leave you with a Friday fun fact; Did you know there’s a large urban habitation dedicated to making energy drinks for riders? It’s called the For Bidon City.