The 102nd edition of the Tour de France kicked off in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on a hot sunny day with an individual time trial, the so called ‘race of truth’ (or clichés) on a pancake flat but twisty course in the heart of town.
SBS host Mike Tomalaris opened proceedings with a reminder of his twentieth year covering the Tour de France. Congratulations Mike for bringing the world of cycling into our lounge rooms and raising the profile of the sport down under.
Mind you back then Mike wouldn’t have looked out of place rocking a keytar in a Pseudo Echo line up.
Tomo all those years ago. Picture courtesy of @sitdowninfront
Our favourite chef Gabriel Gaté was back on duty and ready to feed the peloton for the next three weeks. On his way through Gouda he picked up a few wheels - of cheese, not bikes that is - and cooked up a batch of delicious Dutch Gouda tartlets.
"I Gouda been a contender. I Gouda been somebody". Picture courtesy of the Internet.
I think he’s finally heeded the complaints about the lack of butter in his recipes in the opening stages of recent Tours and the Buerremetric counter opens with 40grams.
Before the time trialling even got underway there was controversy with Asstana’s Lars Boom. As Paul Sherwen put it (yes, he’s back along with Phil Liggett), the Dutchman was pulled up due to ‘undulating values in his biological passport.’ I guess that’s Sherwenese for ‘suspect drug cheat?’
At issue were low cortisol levels detected in a health test which could suggest cortisone abuse. Asstana happens to belong to the group Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) and under its rules Boom should’ve been stood down for eight days. Asstana ignored the rule and let Boom start anyway, which says a lot about the credibility of the team’s commitment to the MPCC.
One by one the riders started from the start house, or the finish house, Phil wasn’t quite sure. One thing we were sure of after Aussie BMC rider Rohan Dennis finished his ITT was that we knew he’d broken Chris Boardman’s record for the fastest Tour time trial.
It was Rohan’s turn for the hot seat and there he sat for the rest of the race and he has the distinctive grill markings on his knicks to prove it. Fancied favourites ‘Panzerwagen’ Tony Martin, Spartacus (Fabian Cancellara) tried, but failed, to push Dennis off the BBQ.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin started his time trial with the full support and full voice of his countrymen and women. Paul reckoned the Dutch fans would be blowing on Dumoulin’s back, er, to urge him on to the win. Still it wasn’t enough.
And it looked like all of Utrecht turned out to watch the stage on the 13.8km course. As it turned out the turns were not as difficult as first thought. Paul described the corners as floaters. Yikes, don’t you just hate that? People should be reminded to flush.
As the afternoon wore on the temperature continued to rise. Phil noted riders were putting on ice vests much like heaters on F1 race car tyres. Paul spotted a golf ball helmet. Well, you know what they say about cycling...
Apart from the kafuffle surrounding Lars Boom’s start there were no major incidents to report. OK, there was a bit of a drama with BMC’s Dominik Nerz’s broken extension bar, and that’s not a euphemism by the way.
Paul noted every rider had been dreaming of winning the ITT. Only a rider, not a dreamer, can win and Rohan Dennis rode an amazing race to wear the golden fleece with pride.
I’ve been a bit busy lately penning a tune for the Tour. I can’t think of a better way of honouring the Tour by paying tribute to John Degenkolb who’s here at this year and is the winner of the prestigious Milan San-Remo – Paris-Roubaix double.
I guarantee after your little darlings hear this they’ll be singing it for the next three weeks, although by then you’ll probably wishing your offspring would just let it go...
Without further ado I bring you ‘Degenkolb’, to the hit tune from the Disnae movie Frozen.
Degenkolb (to the tune of Let it Go)
The red kite shows the finish in site
Not a soigneur to be seen
Paris is the destination
And the next stage is the queen
The cross winds are a howling and there’s an echelon to the side
The peloton couldn’t keep together, heaven knows they tried
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good rider you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, time to go
Can’t hold him back anymore
Pedal on and slam the door
He don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the race go on
The moustache jokes never bothered him anyway
It’s funny how some distance makes the peloton seem so small
And the nerves that once controlled him don’t get to him at all
It’s time to see what he can do
Test the red zone limit and break through
The way is clear for him he sees
Rides like the wind against Sky
On the straight you’ll see him fly
On the podium he stands and there he’ll stay
Let the race go on
His power transfers through the pedals to the ground
His chain ring is spiralling in a frenzy all around
And one thought as Kristoff tries to whiz past
There’s no looking back, he’s riding freaking fast
He’ll rise to train at the break of dawn
The perfect lead out has gone
On the podium he stands in the light of day
Let the race go on
The cobbles never bothered him anyway