The rest day offered respite from a difficult first week and riders chose to spend the day in a variety of ways. For some there’s no let up and go out for a hard training ride to keep the motor ticking over. For others it may be a leisurely coffee ride or a chance for some binge watching of illegal downloads of their favourite series.
The bombshell of the day was Tinkoff-Saxo rider Ivan Basso’s announcement he was quitting the Tour after revealing he had testicular cancer. There was a huge outpouring of support for Basso and we wish him a successful recovery.
In the kitchen Gabs looked at the forecast for a rather warm day in the Pyrenees and didn’t fancy having to slave over a hot stove. Cold cuts and salad seemed a bit too boring and thought salmon tartare would be the perfect summery dish. No butter in the recipe but a bit of crème fraîche is delightful with the fish. The buerremetric counter sits on 130g.
The peloton set off on the gentle rolling roads that would be perfect for a delightful cycling holiday in the French countryside. Not much in the way of the fancy looking chateaux of the north, just one of your more typical fortified castles you see in the south of France were you’d expect a medieval soldier with an outrageous French accent to appear on the wall and hurl insults at the English.
I throw a gauntlet in your general direction
The riders went though some pretty towns through the valleys of the Basque country. One town, Paul noted, not only produced Basque linen but also umbrellas because it rains a lot.
Meanwhile eagle-eyed Phil spotted a Pyrenean vulture soaring above the valley, looking for signs of weakness in the peloton. He thought the vulture had the, “best place in the house of a view of the Tour de France and if they fall off he may well land and help himself”. Lucky Lars Boom didn’t start, a fever put paid to that.
As the peloton headed skyward for the 15km climb to the finish, Paul delivered his standard rest day lecture about how the body can react in a ‘strange way’ after coming out of the starting blocks off the back of a rest day. In the heat a few bodies were reacting strangely and that was just the roadside randoms.
Eyes were on Frenchman Thibaut Pinot on Bastille Day but it seems at this year’s Tour he can’t take a trick and cracked early - boom, boom out go the lights, as Paul likes to say.
Nibs was the first of the ‘fabulous four’ to crack and was dangling out the back at about 10km to go. Phil said Nairo Quintana was up there in the front group, “but he’s so small we can’t see him.” An ‘Adams twin’ was there too, but we weren’t sure which.
Alejandro Valverde launched a short lived attack with a brutal burst of acceleration throwing a gauntlet in the general direction of the Skybots.
Alberto Contador started to crack at 6.5 km to go and Bertie looked like he was square dancing on the pedals. That was the moment Chris Froome decided to put the hammer down and pedalled away with a cadence that would put most of us to shame on the flat.
Quintana was barely able to hold Froome’s wheel when Froomey’s roomey Richie Porte closed in on the Columbian and overtook him to finish second. What was that about? It wasn’t as if Froome needed any help. All I can think of is Porte auditioning for a leading role with BMC.
Paul’s right about a ‘strange reaction’ after a rest day but none of us were prepared for Froome’s complete destroyation of all the riders on the way to La Pierre-Saint-Martin.