Friday, July 18, 2014

Stage 12 Bourg-en-Bresse / Saint-Étienne

The Tour has passed the halfway mark but there’s still a long way to go. The stage 12 parcours from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Étienne is very similar to stage 11 but different. For starters it’s in a different place with roads that take in the vineyards of the oh so pretty Beaujolais region. 

In the Tour caravan kitchen Gabriel Gate has been really hitting up on the desserts this year. And why not celebrate summer fruits in season by drowning them in a delightfully fruity Beaujolais from the vineyards of the region? The cherries are plump and plentiful so Gabs put wine and cherries together to create Cherry and Beaujolais Syrup with Almonds. No butter. The Beurremetric Counter is firmly stuck on 500g. Don’t tell us you’re on a health kick again Gabs?

After a week of freezing cold rain the riders have been hit with a sudden burst of summer heat. As the temperature rises so does the need for water for drinking and cooling off.

Forget the hoohah of experimenting with on board bike cameras, I reckon the next thing teams will be toying with is a helmet shower system. All they’d need is one of those Tinkie bottle vests with some plastic tubing, a small battery powered pump and a shower-head mounted on the helmet et voila, automatic cooling system. No need for riders to fumble with bidons as they try to squirt fluids over themselves.

An early prototype helmet shower system

Vineyards, chateaux and pretty churches. This stage had all the elements of an all inclusive Scenic Cruise on a bike package. Whether David de La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) was distracted by the sightseeing on his first Tour or his front wheel slipped out on the taffy like surface of the melting roads, he came a cropper on a bend and went out with a broken collar bone. Ouch.

Clarke, Clarkie, Sims, Simo, knackers, whatever you call that bloke from Orica-GreenWEDGE was out in front with the likes of Gotye (Oooooropcar) until hunger-flatting at 5km to go. 

The run home wasn’t without drama. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM, YOUARE, WEARE Cycling) crashed and the Gorilla and Chava had words. 

In the final bunched sprint to the line Peter Sagan (Cannonball) was bridesmaid again pipped by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). 

It would be amiss not to mention the terrible news of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shot down over eastern Ukraine. Tweets reporting a crash of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine started to appear as the Tour stage was nearing its conclusion.

My initial reaction was to suspect a cruel hoax or a sick joke. Sadly the news turned out to be true and the cause of the crash, apparently from a surface to air missile, makes it even more horrifying.

These events are beyond words and sympathies go out to friends and families of the victims.

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