With the arduous battle of the Camargue cross winds behind them and thoughts turning toward the challenging Pyrenees ahead, the riders set out from Montpellier for the 205 km race to Albi. But this wasn’t going to be an easy coast-into-le-weekend-flat-stage kind of a ride. Race organisers made it a little more interesting, throwing in some lumps and a couple of categorised climbs to get them out of the Friday comfort zone.
The Cannonballs weren’t taking any chances with getting the Sagan Wagon first to the finish line forming a lead-out train some 140kms earlier than what was really necessary. But the stakes were very high. SBS cycling computer Anthony Tan’s threat to parade around the streets of Albi in the Tankini still stood if Peter Sagan didn’t get the stage win.
A crash 10km into the race resulted in Sharmin Garp’s Christian Vande Velde abandoning Le Tour. Apart from this the day was incident free and mostly about getting to Albi at beer o’clock for some Friday arvo frothies.
Somewhere in the world it's beer o'clock time
In news that’d slipped under the radar until Paul and Phil’s long suffering apprentice Matthew Keenan brought it up was Oooomega Farmer Quick-Stop’s Sylvain Chavanel being fined 100 Swiss francs ‘for eating in a way that damages the image of cycling’. Let’s think about this for a moment. With all the doping scandals that have rocked the cycling world in recent times it would be reasonable to expect the UCI to be out there day after day kicking down doors and taking down the real criminals. But no, they choose to come down like a ton of bricks on things like incorrect cutlery usage such as starting from the inside progressing outwards on a four course dinner.
We’ve since learned dining etiquette wasn’t one of Chavanel’s stronger disciplines in finishing school. What he actually did to attract the fine remains a mystery, but short of shoving a banana in his ear hole I can’t think of any other reason.
Tour fans breathed a sigh of relief as the Cannonballs safely brought the Sagan Wagon home for the win. Orica-GreenWEDGE’s Daryl Impey gets to wear yellow for another day. I must say the Ps were remarkably restrained in acknowledging the significance of yellow on the shoulders of a South African cyclist and what that might mean for African cycling in general.
The Ps were fairly quiet and restrained for the whole race come to think of it. This may have been helped by that plate of Croquants deCordes almond biscuits Gabriel Gate dropped off at the commentary box. But Gabriel, you left out the butter. Who the feck makes biscuits without butter?