Well, what can we say, what a dramatic stage. We always knew this would be really tough on the final day of the Tour’s foray into the Vosges Mountains before a well earned rest day. The 161.5km rollercoaster route had no less than seven categorised climbs with four tough cat 1 climbs and gradients that ramped up to as much as 20% in places.
But we begin as usual in the kitchen and Gabs whipped up a Red Fruit Gratin with Pear Liqueur. First rider across the line gets to eat the cherry on top. Dairy is represented in the grilled custard-cream but what, no butter? After a reasonable start the Beurremetric Counter has plateaued on 500g. Clearly Gabs has some work to do before the Tour reaches Paris.
The talk of the day was Sinkoff -Taxo’s Alberto Contador’s (yes, got his name right this time) crash and exit from the Tour. What happened was not clear. Initially it was thought his bike split in two mid-flight. In another version of events the bike broke when it hit the deck leaving a 70m long skid mark. Then the story grew to a T-Rex stomping on the bike smashing it to smithereens. Or was the CIA involved? Did the shots come from the book depository or the grassy knoll?
No, not that T-Rex
Well, if the real explanation is a choice between a conspiracy or a stuff up it’s usually a stuff up and a mundane one at that. As it turns out he was eating an energy bar at the time and with one hand on the handle bar lost control hitting a pothole.
Tough on Bertie, but that’s bike racing. He broke his shin bone and even then rode on for another 20km before abandoning. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for the Vuelta.
The other story of the day was Mega Farmer-Quick Stop’s Tony Martin and his amazing ride. He showed just why he’s called ‘Panzerwagen’ as he worked hard up front to the top of the second last climb before Paul Sherwen declared, ”Boom, boom and out go the lights”. Remarkable after his solo effort of the day before.
Rockin’ Rodriquez (Katusha Rockets) showed what he’s made of by going on the attack in the final 5km. Vincenzo Nibali (Asstana) was clearly not happy to see yellow on someone else’s back so charged up the hill to catch Rodriquez with a little over 1km to go. And with that Nibs flew up that nasty little 20% ramp at the finish to take the stage, the yellow and the cherry on top.