Sunday, July 10, 2016

Stage 8 Pau / Bagnères-de-Luchon - The Hare of the Dog

Stage 8 and day two of the Tour’s weekend adventure in the Pyrenees for a tough 184 km in the saddle from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Gabs had a lovely dessert in mind to mark the first week of the Tour with apricots and peaches poached in wine. But wait, no butter! Gabs, you made a good start in the early days of the Tour but you can’t just go for a few days without ‘the butter’ and make a token gesture with 20g here and 20g there and expect us not to notice. We want to see a big show of the butter in the coming week.

Before racing got under way, Paul gave his thoughts on the stage. He thinks it’s one to separate the “men from the boys”. Robbie had a more bucolic view and said it was one to separate, “the wheat from the chaff”.

By the way, Robbie should do the ‘Ask Robbie’ on camera segment by opening an envelope like they did in Ask the Leyland Brothers.

There’s an adage that goes something along the lines of ‘between a conspiracy and a stuff-up it’s usually a stuff-up'. Investigations into ‘Kitegate’ revealed this wasn’t the result of a lone-wolf trying to sabotage the Tour. Turns out a hapless spectator got the power cord caught in a belt and unplugged the machine that blows air into the arch to keep it up. Mr Bean. Can’t take him anywhere.

Tour Director Christian Prudhomme apologised profusely and said Adam Yates, who ended up receiving a number of stitches in his chin, was ‘elegant’ about the whole incident.

Prudhomme announced that security would be beefed up around the flamme rouge arch machine. Since Gabriel Gate’s gendarme brother Francois is no longer with us, the army is sending a hand-picked elite team of the toughest Legionnaires instead.

Out on the road there was no early breakaway. On the first big climb of the day, T-bone Pinot was determined to pick up the KOM points on the hors categorie Col de Tourmalet. There was a big turnout of spectators and the cafe on the corner of the climb was charging prices that’d make baby Jesus cry.

Once over the summit of Col de Tourmalet, the riders descended at break-neck speed on roads that look like knock-yourself-out-stupid fun. Robbie and Mattie recounted the time Tour boundary rider The Jensie crashed out after hitting an ‘invisible bump’.

The latest from the rumour mill is that Alberto Contador will go to Trek-Segafredo but The Jensie doesn’t think so.

There was a startling development in the ongoing mystery of ‘Gantrygate’ from the opening stage of the 2013 Tour. Robbie confessed to being on the Orica-GreenEDGE bus that hit the gantry.

Let’s put it this way. If I was the boss of a bus company I’d be hesitant about giving Robbie a job as a driver, particularly in South Melbourne in the vicinity of the Montague Street bridge.

Still, the mystery remains - was Robbie the ‘magic bullet’ in the OGE bus incident? Might write a book about that.

Robbie was talking about how riders stay hydrated when they’re racing. He cautioned that, “when you start on the coke, there’s no stopping”.

Assessing a cat. one climb.

From the ‘Ask Robbie’ mailbag, he fielded a question about how do they categorise the climbs? Robbie explained it was all done with spirit levels and protractors. Really? That’s not what I was told. You see, they get a bunch of cats to wander up the climbs and they rate them when they’re done. Now if the cats can’t be arsed with a climb they just rate them as hors categorie, even though they don’t know what it means.

Robbie noticed, “the strap around the chest of Mikel Landa”. Look, we don’t want to know.

Second question from the mailbag was why do riders appear to open up the brakes on a climb? Well, you see it’s all to do with rim rub...OK, I think we’re done Robbie.

A big mountain stage like today can bring some surprise attacks, even the clouds lurking behind the mountains are known to spring a thunderstorm with no warning. Mattie noted the work of the Skybots around, “number one protected man, Chris Froome” Does he get taken up hill in an Armaguard van?

Mattie and Robbie were inevitably caught by Phil and Paul. Paul said, “the Tour de France leapfrogs to Rio de Janeiro in August”, so clearly the race isn’t ending in Paris this year.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Paul, has anyone else noticed his obsession with practicing water sports?

On the final climb of the day, the Col de Peyresourde, Sergio Henao (you know the rest) was guiding Chris Froome to the summit. In a move no one saw coming, Froome launched himself from the summit adopting a ‘hareodynamic’ position and took off like a dog that just stole a link of sausages from the butchers shop.

Paul thought Froome, “has thrown caution to the wind and tactics out the window”. The Jensie reacted with, “crafty move, talk about British understatement”. Spot on Paul and Jensie, that was one hell of a descent and it was enough to secure a stage win and the golden fleece from the shoulders of GVA.

In the post race wrap-up Robbie was understandably wowed by Froome but warned, “riding on the tube top, don’t try this at home kids”.

ME: *drops mic*

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