Here’s the things that happened today.
5. Snooze-fest on the French coast
If you were going to explain to someone how the Tour de France can sometimes get a bit formulaic in the first week, this would be an ideal stage to do it.
A small breakaway containing little-known riders from small teams went up the road on a stage with no salient features.
The peloton rolled along a very nice coastline, enjoying the sunshine, allowed the break to dangle 5 minutes in front and then gradually started reeling them in as the finish approached. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
The break was caught within the last 10km. It was all set for the bunch sprint.
4. TV Time Tommy
Thomas Voeckler a.k.a ‘TV Time Tommy’ a.k.a. ‘Little Tommy Voeckler’ a.k.a. the alleged housewives’ favourite of France, made his first significant TV appearance, with a cheeky attempt to bridge across to the leaders with 44km to go in the stage.
Unfortunately for fans of Voeckler’s famous #voecklersexface, the Tour’s most effective gurner couldn’t get anything to stick and he was soon nestling back into the warm bosom of the peloton. Expect that to be the first of many sashays up the road for the Europcar man, who might be looking for a new team next year if his current one can’t find a new sponsor.
3. Teklehaimanot takes polka dots
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), the lanky Eritrean who spent a couple of years on Orica-GreenEdge’s squad, is having a great season and – courtesy of getting into today’s break and claiming all of the small KOM prizes along the route – he’s now wearing the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains.
He’s the first African rider to wear the jersey.
It’s a big deal for the photogenic 26 year old, and for his team (which is the first African team to ride in Le Tour). Hopefully it inspires lots of young Africans to jump on a bike, perhaps with help from his sponsor Qhubeka (a charity which provides bikes to people in Africa). I’m still of the view that if the Eritreans, Kenyans and Ethiopians ever get into cycling, it will change the sport forever.
Teklehaimanot is becoming a bit of a polka dot specialist, having won the jersey in the Dauphine a few weeks ago. He will need to pay attention early tomorrow and try to nab the KOM points again, and get a small buffer on his lead in that competition.
2. Tony, NOOO!!!
I swear this year’s yellow jersey is a curse. Tony Martin was the first rider so far to wear it for more than one day, and this clearly angered the cycling gods.
Tony was caught up in another bloody crash and broke his collarbone.
Anyone else getting sick of seeing so many top riders heading home with fractures?
This one looked suspiciously like Tony’s fault, trying to barge his way through a gap that wasn’t there, taking down Vincenzo Nibali and several others.
Excuse me while I watch replays of Tony’s Stage 4 heroics and sigh about what might have been. After Fabian Cancellara, Martin is the second yellow jersey to crash out of the race this week.
1. Etixx-Quickstep gains instant redemption, but has anyone told Peter Sagan he’s trying to come FIRST?
Another second place for Peter Sagan (he’s had 3 seconds and a third this week). I like to imagine his team boss Oleg Tinkov watching these podium presentations silently through gritted teeth, a vein in his forehead pulsing 160 times per minute.
A different rider to win, at least, and some joy for Etixx-Quickstep on a bittersweet day for the team, a victory to balance Tony Martin’s crash.
Zdenek Stybar (former cyclocross world champion – #drink) better known as a hard bastard who specialises in the cobbled classics, surprised the field with a full-gas attack on the uphill section with just under a kilometre to go. Nobody could (or would) follow, and he powered across the finish line with a small lead over the bunch.
Stybar’s known for riding hard. At the Tour of Flanders this year he managed to literally shake his false teeth loose over the cobbles, and he’s been extremely close to winning some big road races without quite breaking through (his win at Strade Bianche this year was outstanding).
It’s his first Tour stage win, and another one in the bank for his Etixx-Quickstep superteam, which needed something to smile about after losing its race leader only a minute before.