Thursday, July 6, 2017

Stage 5 Vittel / La Planche des Belles Filles - Aru All Smiles

Stage 5 of the Tour kicked off under sunny skies but a cloud of controversy over yesterday’s disqualification of Peter Sagan over that elbow knock to Mark Cavendish. Perhaps for the Manx Missile it was a bit of ‘what goes around, comes around’ with his history of playing rough in the sprint. Many fans and commentators were of the opinion that Sagz should have been disqualified for the stage but not kicked out of the Tour altogether.

The takeaway from all this folks is just don’t play rough in the sprint, someone’s going to catch you one day.

While we’re on the topic of takeaway, Robbie and Mattie were still fielding questions about how riders answer the call of nature. Again, without too much information, they explained what Mattie called a ‘takeaway nature break’, the nature break you take without stopping. I guess that makes sense when you order a coffee to go.

From the start an eight rider breakaway got away including seasoned riders Edvald Boasson Hagen, birthday boy Philippe Gilbert, Thomas De Gendt and ‘French housewives’ favourite’ Thomas Voeckler.

Jan Bakelants was in the breakaway too and much had been made of derogatory comments he made about podium women prior to the Tour. He apologised for the remarks but he won’t be able to play it down for some time yet. Interestingly I seemed to keep hearing Matt and Robbie call him ‘Bugalugs’. I’ll pay that, from now on its Jan Bugalugs.

As the peloton passed through Saint-Loupe-Sur-Semouse, Mattie noted it’s claim to fame was furniture production, hence the town is known as the ‘city of furniture’, not to be confused with ‘cities of road furniture’, which is just about everywhere else in Europe.

Ad watch: by now it’s hard to escape the Skoda ad doing the rounds (it’s a major sponsor of the Tour de France). At first we thought it was clever, playing on the car company’s slogan ‘simply clever’. It features the co-inventor of wifi pondering who was behind inventions and innovations such as the traffic light and who came up with roasting coffee beans. It’s starting to wear thin by now and I have a question - annoying ads on high rotation, who was the inventor?

From what I’ve heard these Skodas are pretty good and maybe it’s time for Robbie to ditch the old Citroen – all Mattie could smell on the long steep drive up to La Planche des Belle Filles was clutch.

Fabio Aru opens up on La Planche des Belles Filles

Troll DJ had been a little quiet, suggesting the Spotify subscription had run out. Once again my request went unanswered, that being anything by Elbow...

At the intermediate sprint Boasson Hagen got the points, which was wonderful.

It wasn’t long before the riders were, according to Mattie, "getting their tickets ready for business class at the pointy end".

Thomas Voeckler grabbed a bidon from the team car to cool off and performed all his checks for take-off;







Philippe Gilbert was enjoying his birthday breakaway and as the group headed uphill ‘blew out the candles and went for the cake’ taking Bugalugs with him.

Inevitably the attacks came and riders where being dropped left right and centre. The Skybots reeled in Bugalugs and Gilbert and with a quick hug their day was done.

At 2.4km to go Fabio Aru launched his attack with Chris Froome, Dan Martin, the twelve year old Romain Bardet and our own Richie Porte hot on his heels.

Aru proved too strong and soloed to his first Tour stage victory. The Sardinian couldn’t contain his huge smile and according to Mattie had his, “mouth wide open like a flip-top head for a toothbrush commercial”.

Geraint Thomas handed over the golden fleece to fellow Skybot Froome and Porte moved up to fifth.

No doubt Froome will be doing everything to stay in yellow all the way to Paris but it’s early days and there are many more battles to come.

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