Stage 8 and the Tour arrived in the Jura for a weekend of mountain racing from Dole to Station des Rousses.
Gabs was off sampling the very best ‘waiyne and chises’ the lovely Jura region has to offer. Looks like he’s hung up his chef’s hat and left the catering to the NBC. I bet the NBC caterers hadn’t banked on having another 193 mouths to feed.
Speaking of NBC Phil and Paul took some time out to chat with Tommo and the SBS team. Paul compared the day’s stage to tomorrows as the, “hors d'ouevres to hors categorie climbs”. Nice to see the Sherliggetts haven’t changed. Phil and Paul revealed they have started commentating on their drives to get to the next stage. Oh to be a fly on the windscreen.
Out on the road and several attempts to form breakaways were short lived.
Robbie seemed to have his mind on his new passion, golf, which is the new cycling for Robbie.
At the 75 km mark Robbie reported a 50 rider breakaway. What? Um, isn't that a split Robbie? One week in to the Tour and already Matt and Robbie's brains are going soft.
Over at the finish line Tommo was with an old friend of his and of the couch peloton, Rupert Guinness and OMG RUPE'S TROLL SHIRT IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A peak into Rupe's wardrobe. Don't forget the sunnies.
We haven’t seen the troll shirt for a few Tours by now and Twitter lost its mind as it appeared on our screens in all it garish glory.
No time for dancing for Dr Leo Sayer, who was kept busy patching up riders and applying magic spray from the medical convertible.
The riders hit the hills and the ‘laughing group’ of the big sprinters was way down the back struggling to stay within the cut off time. Strength and stamina was put to the test and you needed to be a... *lowers shades* ...Juracell bunny to survive the stage...
Robbie spotted Jan Bugalugs doing a job of work, and noted he was an ‘interviewers dream’. Hmm Robbie, only if your idea of an interviewers dream is enough idiotically controversial comments to feed the papers with.
Greg Van Avermaet was looking good for the stage but he was in among an increasing number of riders who in the words of Mattie were to, “pull the parachute” – which is the opposite of throwing out the sandbags.
After the bidons were thrown out to gain height riders were seen throwing out tiny sandbags in the form of energy gels.
More and more riders headed for ‘the exit aisle’ and all there was left was Lilian Calmejane calmly riding up front with Robert Gesink who looked to have thrown out the kitchen sink in bobbing pursuit.
The riding styles of Calmejane and Gesink couldn’t be any different with the young Frenchman tapping out a rhythm compared to what Mattie described as, “the knobby knees almost touching the top tube” style of the older Dutchman.
The quad wrestle turned to a wrestle with cramp for Calmejane at 5km to go and in an effort to fight through the pain it became, according to Robbie, a battle between Calmejane and himself.
As Calmejane continued to solo up to the line there was a tongue salute to teammate and Tour legend Thomas Voeckler and I could almost cry.
It’s France’s second taste of victory at this year’s Tour and as one legend rides off into retirement we may have seen the birth of another at Station des Rousses.
Before I go, another poem:
Gesink threw a kitchen sink
Calmejane calm enough
To see off Van Avermaet
To Voeckler he paid tribute
With a stirling tongue salute.