Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stage 17 Saint-Gaudens / Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet – Nudge Nudge. Wink Wink. Say No More

Day two in the Pyrenees and it proved to be another toughie on the 124.5km route from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet on three category 1 climbs with a ’horse categorie’ finish.

After 16 days of riding the body craves a bit of comfort food and Gabriel Gate had just the thing with a hearty Onion Soup with Pyrenees Cheese. 120g of cheese and 30g of butter completes the dairy double. The Beurremetric Counter is on the moove again to 870g.

Two and a half weeks on the road and you might expect tempers to flair and that’s exactly what happened with Orica-GreenWEDGE’s Luke Durbridge. He came off his bike after a collision with a Moviestar soigneur. Durbo got up and gave the soigneur a shove who bumped into a fellow standing behind him who turned and took a swing which connected with the jaw of another fellow standing at the bar. The piano stopped and at that moment a young chap in the corner flipped a table sending cards and drinks flying. Then it was on for young and old. Up the stairs a dude was punched and fell through a flimsy banister crashing through the table below. The bartender ducked as a chair hurtled into the mirror behind him.

After the floor of the bar was swept of broken glasses and whiskey bottles, Durbo got back on his bike and took off up the road. Every second off the bike is critical in the Tour and to get back into the race often means having to ‘ride like a man possessed’. Whenever I hear Paul utter those words I always wonder if he's watching a rider whose head is swivelling wildly spraying green vomit everywhere.

The peloton went on a little excursion to Spain before returning to France. A conga line of camping cars lined the route for as far as the eye could see. Camping cars come in an array of colours, white or off white depending on whether they've been washed or not. They’re a bit fancy too equipped with tellies to watch the Tour on. Some even have toilets.

Soaring high above all this were the ubiquitous Pyrenean vultures who, according to Phil,  have ‘the best seat in the house' to watch the race. When they're not picking over abandoned Sky team strategies they’re always looking for stragglers up the back of the peloton so it’s not a great idea to stop for too long.
But it was to be polka dot jersey wearer Rafal Majka’s (Sinkoff-Taxo) day. Thinking he was in a Monty Python sketch he launched a series of nudging attacks on the final climb. His boldest move came when his hand 'accidentally' grabbed hold of sticky aerial on the back of a TV moto as if to say, “Follow me. Follow me. I like that. That’s good. A nod’s as good as wink to a blind bat, eh?” He managed to free his hand and continued on turning to the moto camera with a cheeky wink.

With victory in sight he turned to the camera for one more wink and "nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more", Majka won the stage. Another feather in the cap of the Polish rider.

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