Stage 12 and it was the final day in the Pyrenees Mountains on a tough 195km ride to Plateau de Beille.
As we know Gabs is the consummate locavore meaning he’ll often go foraging for food items at hand in the regions visited by the Tour. Curiously he went with a stew from Normandy, lamb navarin with mushroom and peas. Out of character for Gabs but the peloton appreciated the hearty feed after three tough days in the Pyrenees.
The day started out stinking hot but it was a different story at Plateau de Beille where buckets of rain and hailstones awaited. The Pyrenees appeared to have taken a leaf from the Melbourne weather book and delivered four seasons in day.
Thor really put the hammer down at the finish and a storm caused the power to out and grounded the Tour choppers.
Phil and Paul dashed outside to try to get the old diesel generator going. Usually a tap with hammer does the trick but not today. Probably would have paid to check it had fuel in it.
There was a big cheer after the lights came on when a quick thinking Jensie pulled out a bicycle powered generator and started pedalling like a man possessed. He’s not as fit since he retired from racing and was soon to be heard muttering under laboured breath, “shut up legs”.
After power was restored Tomo and Robbie reported they were alive and well, although Tomo is still assessing the damage to his hair. Don’t worry Tomo, have a word with John Degenkolb, he might be able to give you a special discount on shampoo.
The peloton managed to avoid the tempest at the finish but soon the rain started. Despite this the riders settled into a steady tempo and some riders even adopted time trialling poses. Michal Kwiatkowski, according to Phil, adopted a ‘relaxed fish position’. Did I really hear that? Not sure if I’m starting to suffer aural hallucinations, but you never can tell listening to Phil.
Movistar's away jersey
It was in the final 16 km climb on 7.9% average gradient that the race started to get really interesting. Kwiatkowski abandoned the relaxed fish position dropping Sep Vanmarke at 14 km to go. Romain Bardet had a better day but cracked a little as Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriquez took off after Kwiatkowski.
Purito caught Kwiatkowski at 7.5km to go and grimaced all the way in the driving rain to the finish.
Meanwhile Chris Froome was under attack from the remaining fantastic four. First it was Alberto Contador’s move. Then Nibs did something apart from dangle out the back. The team with the ‘big Ms on the jersey’ held back until Alejandro Valverde launched Nairo Quintana.
The Skybots aided by Chris’s mate Richie Froo...Porte fought off the concerted attack with Valverde picking up only one second. Jakob Fuglsang and Romain Bardet tried to catch up with Rodriguez but had to settle for second and third.
Another cigar for Purito who took his second stage at this Tour but chapeau to Romain Bardet who looked really crook with heatstroke the day before.
Post race there was talk of Asstana giving Nibali the arse. That may have been Asstana team owner Vino’s position before the stage but changed his tune after Nibali’s performance today.
As Rodriguez climbed the podium Tomo named Purito ‘Minister for Funny Faces’. Tomo, no one, but no one gurns like Thomas Voeckler.