Stage 20 and it was the penultimate stage before the peloton jumps on a plane for Paris on a 146.5 km mountain stage from Megève to Morzine-Avoriaz.
Over to the kitchen and Gabs made a potato and reblochon cheese gratin which Gabs says is a popular party dish for young adults. He also made mention of a ‘lizard trolley’. I don’t know what sort of wild parties you go to Gabs!
The gratin is also a speciality of the Haute Savoie Alps region so here was a chance for the peloton to savour some real savoie fare...
Gabs has made a late run on the butter. The recipe calls for 20g but the baking dish needs to be lined with extra butter. A whole block should do it, you’d better make doubly sure the gratin doesn’t stick to the base requiring a jack hammer to clean it off. This takes the buerremetric counter to 1.1 kg. Tomorrow’s stage will bring us the verdict on ‘the year of the butter’.
From the fall of the flag at the conclusion of the départ fictif the riders were off to a quick start with Sylvain Chavanel launching the first attack.
Mattie and Robbie engaged in a bit of hot air balloon chat but between you and me, best leave it to the ‘experts’, eh?
The peloton passed what at first appeared to be a chateau but turned out to be a convent. OMG, a real life flying nun school! Plenty of wind must blow through the Alps to achieve lift off.
The rain started pelting down, Some cows were seen standing and one seated at 101 km to go so only the seated cow got the forecast right. No goats were sighted on the stage.
Wet and slippery roads inevitably brought up the topic of tread on bicycle tyres. Robbie didn’t think tread would make much of difference as a car tyre is completely different. Surely Robbie the technology exists to make a bike version of a Computer Cat tyre? They were pretty clever back in the 80s and computers have advanced a fair bit since then.
The heavens really opened and even Thor made an appearance putting the hammer down.
Earlier Henk Vogels had been out looking for filthy roads and filed a report about a monster climb he found so apparently the monster climb is the new filthy road.
Race radio was playing up as moisture seeped into the valves and messages weren’t getting across to the riders. Well, that’s what *they* say – ‘my radio isn’t working’ is the equivalent of the dog ate my homework.
There was some nice work from the camera moto for the deft cutaway from a potential nude male roadside runner. Still in the cold wet conditions we wouldn’t have seen much allowing for shrinkage.
Robbie and Mattie were caught at 60 km to go, or there abouts, my TV screen is getting harder to read. Either I get my eyes tested or get a bigger TV for next year’s Tour.
One minute in to the commentary from the Ps and already the first ‘job of work’ from Paul. This was going to be a long 60 kms.
Please, do tell about this curious sport of 'cyclocross'. In your own time Paul.
Sure enough the mangling of idioms had commenced with ‘petal to the metal’ and ‘new man on the block’.
Chapeau to the French couch peloton contingent who out-Sherliggetted the SherLiggetts with ‘Julinson Pantaphilippe’ and ‘Jarlinsian Alaphitano’, for Julian Alaphilippe and Jarlinson Pantano who’d been riding side by side out front. Genius.
Phil and Paul broke the news Peter Sagan had been handed the must combative rider of the Tour award. The packing room begs to differ – sure he’s been impressive picking up the stage wins but he already had the green jersey in the bag in the first week. Personally I think Pantano should have got it but he did pick it up for the stage at least.
Alaphitano may have been working hard out there but Paul saw Daryl Impey ‘dishing out the stick’.
The end came for the Pantaphilippe duo on the Col de Joux Plane when the fin of the ‘Shark of Messina’ Vincenzo Nibali surfaced. That’s it, when the fin of Nibali appears you’re goooone.
By this time the rain was in Biblical proportions and Phil watched as, “Nibali on the flood waters is closing in”. Phil thought he saw Alaphilippe mouth his last words, “I’m Julian Alaphilippe and I’m from Belg...I’m from France”.
It was a massive mauling from Nibali who made the most of the wet conditions turning it to shark fin soup.
There was 9 km of descending to go under very treacherous conditions on a road that even on a dry day would have you reaching for a pair of FDJ brown knicks.
Nice bike wrangling skills from Pantano who saved himself on a tricky corner and managed to catch the shark that ripped his legs off on the climb.
Race radio was officially washed out as the valves went out one by one. It didn’t seem to matter now as Ion ‘Dizzyguirre’ had the lead and took on the vomit-comet inducing descent.
We got the lecture from Paul about the winter sport of cyclocross. Paul, just like ad breaks in the final 10 kms this really isn’t the time.
Ion Izaguirre soloed to the line and what a win for the Basque born rider who bagged the first win of the Tour for the Moviestars team.
Back in the GC group Chris Froome had a reserved booking for the top step of the podium but the rest of the top ten hadn’t been settled. Richie Porte’s throw at a podium step didn’t quite work and settled for fifth. Twelve year old Romain Bardet must be thrilled as the runner up and Nairo Quintana, who blamed his performance on allergies, still grabbed a podium step in third.
There was a delay in the yellow jersey presso and Tomo was getting worried that the meter on the satellite feed would run out.
We finally got to see Froome receive his golden fleece and podium lion. As it turned out the delay was not caused by a re-dressing of his wounds and a quick freshen up - the machine used by officials to detect heat generated by hidden motors in bikes picked up a Pokémon GO Vaporeon monster and there was a stampede to the Sky team bus.