It’s been a busy year since I was last at Le Tour and even though much has changed in my life, I haven’t yet outgrown my love for the peloton. For the first time in a couple of years, I will miss more stages than I will be at but I will bring you, dear audience, race updates for every stage I attend.
Since I missed the first two stages and only caught highlights online, I was curious to see what had changed. Fortunately, none of my friends had changed and it continues to be such a treat to know so many people working at the race year after year. They’re definitely part of the reason why I keep coming back.
The gantry, unlike the people, has changed. Instead of the fiberglass panels used in the past, this year 96 small screens combine to make two large screens facing either side of the race course. Mario, one of the technicians I’ve known for a couple of years now, told me it’s more complicated to set it up but even he thinks it’s worth it.
Meanwhile, there was a race going on. Sort of. After two hard opening days, a 237km stage tomorrow, lumps on Wednesday and the Pyrenees looming, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the peloton took it easy on today’s lengthy transition stage, averaging just 33kph for the first four hours. Plus the breakaway situation was no cause for panic. Armindo Fonseca, the only rider from Brittany on a Brittany based team, attacked and went clear on the only stage that would pass through Brittany. He rode solo for hours until Frenchman Thomas Voeckler decided to join him. The pair were predictably caught and the sprinters’ teams fought to establish their lead out trains. The favorites all came rumbling up the slightly inclined finishing straight and two colors emerged at the front: Mark Cavendish in the sprinter’s green jersey and Andre Greipel’s white kit featuring the German stripes.
Poor Greipel, sneaking a peek over his shoulder. Moments later he would celebrate, thinking he’d outsprinted Cavendish, but the green jersey nabbed his second win in three stages. The win drew him equal with Bernard Hinault, tied with 28 stage wins and sitting in second place behind Eddy Merckx.
Michael Schär: a slow stage but a fast finish.
Jasper Stuyven in polka dots.
Adam Hansen and Marcel Sieberg.
Fabian Cancellara and his not so subtle bike.
Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg celebrating the team’s win.
Bernie Eisel looking pleased with the stage result.
Cavendish and Eisel celebrate.
Stage win: Mark Cavendish.
Race leader: Peter Sagan.
Sprinter’s jersey: Mark Cavendish.
King of the Mountains: Jasper Stuyven.
Best Young Rider: Julien Alaphilippe.