Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stage 5 Arras Communauté Urbaine / Amiens Métropole - Battle on The Somme

Stage 5 and the Tour route took the riders through the First World War battlefields of The Somme on a day, as they say in the classics, that was ‘one for the sprinters.’

Gabs thought he’d been spoiling the peloton a little too much in the first few days of the Tour with treats like Belgian fries and crème brûlée. Time to get healthy, so Gabs threw together  a baby beetroot and walnut salad. Knowing not everybody likes beetroot Gabs put up a sans beetroot option, which happened to be just plain walnuts. No beer either, it was strictly ghastly kale smoothies today.

Butter was a definite no, no and after a terrific start in the first stages the Buerremetric counter has been left sitting on 90g.

The riders set off to dark skies that matched the sombre mood of the day. The rain and wind made conditions a little more uncomfortable for the riders, many who might have thought this would have been an easy day in the saddle after surviving the cobbles of stage 4.

From the start Phil and Paul detected nervousness in the peloton and if their commentary could be heard by the riders on race radio this talk of nervousness would soon have turned to annoyance. Also guys, we’re well versed in the dangers of the feed zone but a feed zone lecture twice in the space of ten minutes? I guess they don’t want us to miss anything.

Only 11km into the race and a crash claimed French sprint hopeful Nacer Bouhanni who was taken away in an ambulance. Later a crash forced Jack Bauer (the Kiwi rider, not the bloke from 24) out of the race.

FDJ's performance has Tomo worried

It wasn’t only the riders who crashed. A motorcycle cop escorting the race from, according to Paul, the ‘presidential guard’ managed to hit the lip of the tarmac and fell to the side of the road. The rider seemed all right but was obviously an ex-carrot from the now defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi team who had a tendency to crash all the time.

The SBS Troll DJ couldn’t help him/herself seeing the motorcycle chute and chimed in with ‘Sound of Da Police’ from KRS One.

As the race settled down the route was a sobering reminder of the real carnage that took place on the World War I battlefields of The Somme 100 years ago as the peloton rode by monuments and cemetery after cemetery of war dead. Such a shocking waste of young lives.

Troll DJ brought us back to the race from an ad break with David Bowie’s ‘Wild is the Wind’ and we caught the end of a phone conversation between Keeno and guest commentator the Jensie. What was that about? Intrigue? Plot? Phil and Paul will want to keep a very close eye on those two.

Poor Thibaut Pinot had another shocker of a day with a crash about 24 km from the finish. Last year’s third place getter and one of France’s best hopes could not bridge the 6 minute 30 second gap.

No such worries for the Gorilla who looks like he’s getting used to wearing green. In the battle for the line all the big guns were there – Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, the ‘Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel.

Seemingly out of no where Peter Sagan surged to the line to finish just behind the Gorilla. ‘Panzerwagen’ Tony Martin hung on to the golden fleece 12 seconds ahead of Chris Froome.

Meanwhile Henk Vogels found his way back to Amiens for the post-race analysis after he was picked up by a farmer in a tractor on the cobbles. Tomo was wondering what was going on with Pinot and his FDJ team urging Henk to come out and say they were soft.

Whether Henk thought FDJ is as soft as camembert cheese we’ll never know but if FDJ wants to remain even within cooee of the podium in Paris they’ll need to HTFU quick smart.

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