Monday, July 6, 2015

Stage 2 Utrecht / Zélande – I do like to be by the zee-side

With the ITT out of the way stage 2 saw the peloton take to the road on another pancake flat course and you couldn’t get a stage profile flatter than this. In fact it was so flat that sometimes even the raised bits were flat. At just 6m at its ‘highest’ point the riders needed to bring their best climbing legs.

The riders set out from a sunny Utrecht to the heart of the Zeeland delta. An easy day in the saddle? HA! There was a lot of Dutch road furniture to negotiate, particularly on the outskirts of Rotterdam, home to one of the world’s busiest ports.

Race organisers did their best to tame the road furniture, and when it comes to traffic management the Netherlands is basically the Franco Cozzo of road furniture – in other words completely over the top.

Normally this road furniture serves the purpose of helping to keep cyclists nice and safe separated from cars. Great for commuters in a country where the bicycle is a main mode of transport but crap for racing when you’re trying to funnel a large peloton moving at high speed safely through a city.

It’s not just curbing and roundabouts to worry about. Road markings can become slippery when wet and Paul mentioned that ‘white lines are very precarious.’ Just ask the Gold Coast Suns, they know all about that.

Factor in the coastal crosswinds and nerves in the peloton and you’ve got a recipe for carnage. Did I mention the chance of the heavens opening up on the race?

Back in the Tour kitchen Gabs cooked up a storm with the mussels he collected from around the barrages protecting the low lying Zeeland polder from being swallowed up by the North Sea. The mussels with beer sabayon gratin were a hit with the riders washed down with Dutch beer after a hard day in the saddle.

The recipe contained 50g of butter. Gabs is off to a flying start this year pushing the Buerremetric counter to 90g.

Some magical kites in the sky

Out on the road sunshine turned to storm clouds and pretty soon the dreaded cross winds sprung up causing splits in the peloton. Along with the wind came the rain, and lots of it, making it hard to see.

As I watched the race, I was starting to think the beer was making the TV screen blurry but quickly realised it was only the rain. It soon dawned on me it was probably a good time to move the TV inside…

Crashes in the wet conditions were inevitable. Aussie workhorse Adam Hansen - who’s completed more Grand Tours than he’s had hot dinners - was ouching from a chute but got back on the bike.

Good thing there are mobile medics out on course. Paul spotted a rider having a ‘free consultation with the doctor. ‘ I dunno Paul, looked suspiciously like a free tow from a team car to me.

After crashes punctures became a bit of a problem.  Flat tyres in quick succession had us wondering if the douche that’s been laying tacks on Yarra Boulevard has gone abroad.

As we know the Netherlands is famous for its windmills which were used extensively for pumping and grinding. But with so many windmills I’m wondering if Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is planning a holiday there anytime soon since he declared wind farms to be ‘visually awful.’
Holland would have to be the holiday from hell for Tones. As the race neared the coast those ‘visually awful’ wind turbines loomed into view. Oh no, I hope Tony didn’t see that on the telly, he’ll be calling for heads to roll at SBS.

Despite the wind Phil spotted a windmill that wasn’t moving. He thought it was still because the engine had been turned off. There we go, just when we thought we were starting to get over the hidden motor conspiracy.

As the race drew to a close Phil caught sight of ‘the magical red kite in the sky’ causing us to question what meds he is on.

Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Peter Sagan battled for the line. Cavendish’s lead out catapult Mark Renshaw went just a little too early but Greipel’s  lead out timed it to perfection delivering  the stage and a green jersey for the Gorilla.

Rohan Dennis who'd dominated the ITT the day before surrendered the golden fleece to Fabian Cancellara whose surprising  finish in third and with time bonuses pushed him into first place in the GC.

No comments:

Post a Comment