Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stage 11 Besançon / Oyonnax - The Bike is Mightier Than The Sword

The Tour resumed from Tuesday’s rest day in Besançon for the 187.5km route to Oyonnax. As Paul likes to remind us the day after the rest day can be tough for a rider. It’s crucial to keep the engines idling and ready to go for another big week of racing. Slack off and a big question mark can appear over the body on a break from its habitual daily pounding. Thankfully the riders had a somewhat gentler run than the ball-buster on Monday.

Still, there was time for some rest day  fun and frivolity. For once the weather warmed enough for a pool party, which was a rip-roaring success as the riders got to play with their inflatable toys.

A rest day should be a time for the body to take in vital nutrients and what better way than with a healthy Gourmet Cheese Salad prepared by Gabs. Well, it is a salad, right? Salads are healthy, right? The comte and morbier cheeses more than make up for the lack of butter. The dial on the Beurremetric Counter is beginning to rust on 500g.

Chapeau to Andrew Talansky (Sharmin-Garp) for showing true grit and finishing the stage. His back was giving him hell at 80km to go when he fell behind the peloton. After 20kms of battling on he stopped in front of the SAG Wagon. Talansky looked like he was about to abandon. With some encouragement from his directeur sportif he got back on his bike and at times looked to be in tears. He came in across the line to an ovation.

Here comes the SAG Wagon

Abandoning a Tour is a really big deal. Paul compared it to a military failure where an officer faced the humiliation of having his epaulettes ripped off and sword broken. This was the fate of Trekie Fabian Cancellara. He pulled out on the rest day to concentrate on other races. This begs the question if Spartacus intended to focus on other races, why did he start this one in the first place? I hope he had more than his gladius broken.

The punishment for abandoning the Tour isn’t as drastic as at the Road Nationals this year in Ballarat. If a rider abandoned he faced the muskets of the Sovereign Hill firing squad.

Peter Sagan (Cannonball) went into this stage as favourite but sagged at the critical moment. Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) emerged victorious after an attack of swashbuckling daring-do at 2.5km to go to gallop to the line. What a Tour Gallopin’s having. He got to wear yellow on Bastille Day and now has a stage win.

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