Monday, July 20, 2015

Stage 15 Mende / Valence - Griller Hot to Trot

Stage 15 and the Tour headed for the lovely Rhone Valley as the days in the high mountains of the Alps rapidly approach.

Being a Sunday Gabs decided to treat the riders to a delicious dessert of chocolate cream with glacé chestnuts and raspberries. No butter in the recipe so the buerremetric counter is still on 200g. But heck who needs butter when you’ve got chocolate? Milk and cream do represent the dairy but chocolate!

The riders hit the road and Daniel Teklehaimanot, whose surname still gets my tongue tied in knots, was the first to go on the attack and a sizable bunch of breakies went with him.

The damage was done to the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish on the first climb leaving ‘Group Cavendish’ dangling out the back.

Jean-Christophe Peraud gallantly rode on with his arms bandaged up like a mummy and a reinforced pair of knicks.

As the race wore on and the chase for the breakies continued, news came in over race radio that surfer Mick Fanning punched a great white shark at a surfing comp in South Africa. No, not ‘The Great White Shark’ golfer Greg Norman, but a real life one with some really sharp teeth. Fanning had a lucky escape and that’s one lesson in how to deal with feral fans who get far too close or want to throw cups of urine at you.

Speaking of the fans, did anyone get a glimpse of that group of people perched very precariously on a limestone outcrop? Maybe they were fledgling vultures, I’m not sure.

It's goodnight from me and it's goodnight from him

We’re familiar with the competitions for the jerseys in the Tour but did you know there are lesser known but as equally important contests? Paul noted,“there’s a competition among riders for the best full set beard”. Did they get permission from the captain Paul? As we know, to grow a full set beard in the navy you have to get permission from the captain, which in the context of a bike race makes no sense at all.

Katusha took charge of the chase for the breakies that included Peter Sagan, with flying mullet, Thibaut Pinot, Michael Rogers, Lars Bak, Simon Geschke, one of the Yates twins (couldn’t tell which), Ryder Hesjedal, Michal Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin.

With the climbs come the descents and although not technical in the bike sense of the word they were twisty enough to be a lot of fun. The only technical challenges posed were by the traffic furniture and Kwiatkowski pulled off a brilliant move bunny hopping over a lane divider at very high speed. You have to take your hat off to bike handling skills like that.

At one point Sagan stopped to what looked like a swap of a broken bike for a less broken bike. As it turned out it was a planned bike change from one that wasn’t broken to one that would go faster.

All the breakies were gradually caught by the peloton and at about 30km to go Trentin and Hesjedal were swallowed up with a, “and it’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him”.

Then at 3km to go Zdenek Stybar took off. We told him he was dreaming but refused to listen and was reeled in with 1km to go.

In the end ‘The Griller’ Andre Greipel was too good for John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan, and notched up win number three.

Despite Greipel’s big win, Peter Sagan accepted yet another green jersey on the podium. It’s clear he’s very popular in his home country Slovenia and his fans were out in force. A female fan caught the attention of Tomo who thought added, “a bit of colour from the Slovakian supporters”. Tomo, we hadn’t a clue what you meant.

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