Crazy, crazy, crazy, has Le Tour been so far. Spills, spills, buses, spills – mayhem. It wouldn’t be Le Tour without a bit of “grand spectacle”. I suppose this is par for the course for Corsica, as I learnt reading Asterix books in my youth – those crazy Corsicans. Stage 2 set out to be a stark contrast to the first stage for the sprinters. With three Category 3 and one Category 2 climb, the guys with the big legs were always going to struggle. Still the sprinters gave it a go at the intermediate sprint and the Gorilla laid the smack down once again on both Cav and the Tourminator. Lars Boom entertained us again in the breakaway once again giving airtime for the team formerly known as Blanco formerly known as Rabobank. But the guys really looking to showcase their sponsor and court them to stick on were the boys from Europcar. First it was the turn of Veilleux who went away with Boom. Then the current “gurning” champion of the peloton, Thomas Voeckler, decided to give it a crack. This ignited the crowds lined on the mountain but he didn’t eat enough jelly beans – subsequently not pulling enough faces – and was pulled back into the peloton. The FDJ boys were setting a pace at the front of the peloton resplendent in their newly painted blue livery and it was probably in the aims of putting the sword to the fat leg fast boys – who were already dying at the back and starting up the grupetto congo. In the grupetto, poor old Tony Martin looked like an impersonation of a Mummy but we know that the Germans are made of tough stuff. A valiant attempt at continuing the break was provided by AG2R’s Kadri who was challenged by a mechanical which was very disappointing for him.

Early Signs of Fight from a Young Frenchman

Pierre Rolland, again from Europcar, jumped on his pedals at the base of the Cat 2 climb up ‘Col de Vizzanova’ taking off like a rabbit on fire. He caught and passed Kadri (who rode well) and laid down the gauntlet. The other GC contenders were watching in earnest knowing that the tour was not to be won here, but there was no point in giving valuable time away. BMC and Cannondale, with their respective potential winners of Gilbert and the Tourminator tucked in the peloton, took over the chase duties from FDJ. Over the crest of the col and it was time for the first round of downhill bombing at this year’s Tour. I love watching these guys hammer it down the slopes. Rolland even nearly wiped himself out taking a line too wide, saved by a bit of sideways rear wheel action. The Froome-dog also jumped from the peloton only to later say that it was so he could get a clear run downhill. The peloton was nervous, but with the descent about 30km from the finish Rolland would not be able to hold his lead – sorry mate, the only guy who can do this is sparring in his gladiator outfit at home this year. Spartacus would have lit this stage up even more.

The Final Climb – This is a Real Tour Stage

With the peloton all regrouping again, coming up to the final climb at around 12km from the finish was where all action would happen. This is what the Tour is about, not wedged buses and banana peels! In the mix were all the major GC teams, with the Sky Empire bashing it out at the front. Radioshack-Leopard Tank, Movistar, BMC, Katusha, Saxo-Tinkhoff, and Garmin-Sharp were all heavily represented which was good to see and no doubt a sign of the action to come. At the base of the climb it was on – first Juan Antonio Samaranch Flecha jumped in an awesome move and joining him quickly was the final Europcar rider Cyril Jean-Paul Gautier. The pace was super quick up the climb. They got halfway before another attack by one of my favourite riders Sylvain Chavanel put the hammer down and made the jump past them. A few others joined in the fun and Flecha was able to hold on to a group of five including a dedicated but largely unknown domestique known as Jan Bakelants. These guys were working together and could smell the sweet aromas of victory, but it was Bakelants with just under 2km to go who made the big move. He launched himself from the bunch and put his head down. Going under the flame rouge he knew it was all or nothing and that the Tourminator was coming. It was not just the Tourminator, but also Eddie Higgs-Boasan Hagen-Daazs, that were giving chase – Gilbert mysteriously conking out somewhere in the peloton. On the final straight Bakelants was blowing up but could probably hear the Jensie yelling out to his teammate “tell your legs to shut up, I will inflict much pain on the rest of them”.

Bakelants crossed the line 1 second ahead of the rest of the pack, euphoric. And I cheered too! It was awesome to see a guy roll the dice and win. This is what a real Tour stage is about.

TDF_2013_Stage_2-Winner

So Radioshack Leopard-Tank are in yellow for the first time this year in the Tour, and it is not for Spartacus. A well deserved win.

For a more serious and professional assessment of Stage 2 check out:

Cycling News – Tour de France Stage 2 Review: http://www.cyclingnews.com/tour-de-france/stage-2/results

VeloVoices – TdF stage 2 Bakelandts scorns script: http://velovoices.com/2013/06/30/tdf-stage-2-bakelants-scorns-script/

SBS Cycling Central Stage 2: http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/news/49646/Bakelants-in-yellow-after-Tour-stage-win

The Turbo Training Challenge

So I have set myself the challenge of riding on the turbo trainer while watching every stage of Le Tour. 2 days down and 21 to go. I am not riding during the whole coverage, otherwise my wife would ask for a divorce, but I think that a minimum of 45 min during each stage at least would be the go. For stage two I pumped it at just under 100RPM for 45min and sweated even more. Faster than the night before, but for a shorter duration. Will see how I fair for stage 3.