Stage 6 and the riders departed Vesoul for the 216km journey to Troyes through the gorgeous Champagne region. It was going to be a hot one which meant a raid on all the stores by the soigniers for pantyhose to make ice socks to keep riders cool.
Right from the start the three man team time trial of Perrig Quemeneur, Vegard Stake Laengen and Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s cow-milker extraordinaire Frederik Backaert made a break for it.
In the kitchen Gabs had been busy preparing the local specialty Andouillette de Troyes which a special kind of sausage filled with mystery ingredients and you know what they say about sausages being like the laws of pro-cycling - they are best not seen being made.
It goes without saying Champagne is famous for the grape but viticulture is not the sole agricultural activity in the region. There’s a fair amount of wheat production and many an active combine harvester was seen out in the fields, not as some field art show pony lying idle by the roadside.
The stage was looking just like another day in the office when a large beach umbrella appeared from nowhere and blew across the road. Thankfully the peloton avoided the catastrophe of having a stake through the heart or spokes.
Robbie reminded the folks at home that hazards can pop up when you least expect it and the number one fear? Dogs off leash. I agree and I find when I’m out on a bike it’s the sausage dogs you need to look out for, although I was once rushed at by a duck.
A cyclists worst nightmare.
As the race progressed more beach umbrellas where spotted by the roadside causing a little more wariness in the peloton. What is this? Take your umbrella to a bike race day?
The temperature had reached the low thirties, ice socks where being handed out and the domestiques were kept busy on bidon collection duties. When riders are done with a bidon they toss it to the roadside and are eagerly collected by fans as a memento of the Tour.
Robbie was more direct in his description of souvenir hunters who are, “on to bidons like a seagull on a chip”.
Chapeau to boundary rider Ant McCrossan for his job of work today in bringing us the pre-race interviews with the riders and the odd Directeur Sportif.
Consensus was reached in the couch peloton that the main field art theme is ‘time’ and we’ve seen a number of examples of clocks, a calendar château and even the odd wristwatch. If it gets any hotter at the Tour we’ll soon be seeing a melting Dali clock.
As the peloton made its way to Troyes the countryside got prettier and prettier. Mattie spotted a regional nature park, which would make a nice place for a break.
Out on the road fans used whatever they could to get the best view of their favourite riders. Cherry pickers were just the ticket and they're get bigger every year. There must have been at least a dozen fans way up in the air on a couple of them. How things change, in simpler a times a raised scoop on a tractor would do.
The day’s field art (or should it be field performance?) award went to the man on a bike on a tight rope. No mean feat, there was a bit of wind and he appeared to have no support from harness or cable. The rig looked very professional, so this guy really knew what he was doing.
As the race drew to its conclusion the heroic three man team time trial group was swallowed up by the peloton at 3km to go. Marcel Kittel and his team looked to have left it too late but managed to pick its way up to the front. Mattie's eyes where on elbows and Kittel crossed the line for his second stage win of the Tour.