Yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France  was a stunning display of pain dished out by one team on their competition. The Tourminator’s (Peter Sagan) team, Cannondale, rode for 150km at the front of the peloton at 47km / hr to basically drop every single one of his competitors over the lumpy route from Montpellier to Albi. And they received no assistance from any other team in the peloton. This wasn’t just a brilliant race tactic, this was sheer domination of the entire competition. 47km / hr might not sound like much, if you are in a car, but putting it into perspective – the Team Time Trial stage in Nice averaged just over 57km/hr on a flat course on TT bikes for just 25km. There was 1 category 4 climb, 2 category 3 climbs, and 1 category 2 climb and they reached a peak altitude of 809m. The team singlehandedly dropped The Tourminator’s two main rivals in the Maillot Vert competition – The Gorilla Greipel and The Manx Missile Cavendish.

It reminds me of a quote by the great Laurent Fignon (former two-time winner of Le Tour in 1983 and 1984) – “Sometimes you have to just go out and meet the man with the hammer”. For the Missile and Gorilla the hammer was Cannondale.

Two Breakaways on an Interesting ride

There were two other impressive callouts for the stage. The first was seeing The Jensie (Voigt) go on a breakaway – YAY, great joy erupted amongst cycling fans worldwide. He told his legs to shut up, and I think he was trying to tell his breakaway partner’s legs (Blel Kadri – AG2R La Mondiale) to shut up too. Maybe it was lost in translation (Germans next to French caused two World Wars) because it didn’t work.

The second was seeing Jan Bakelants (he has to have a nickname), who won his first race in 5 years as a professional cyclists on stage 2 of this year’s Tour, try to get back the Maillot Jeune. He was joined by another rider who has shown bada$$ attacking – Cyril “Jean-Paul” Gautier. Their second breakaway was a lot more punchier, but eventually failed as well.

The Result was not Certain in a Bunch Sprint

In the end, Sagan still had to sprint and showed why he is an animal. If you can watch a video clip from the air of his sprint, watch how he was squeezed, pushed, and shoved, but still threaded his way through the competition to slam them all. Only disappointment was that there was no running man celebration as he crossed the line. He is now in the gun position for the Maillot Vert. Check out the smile on his face as he crossed the line.

tdf_2013-stage_7-winner

Daryl Impey is still soaking up his time in the Maillot Jaune and the other GC contenders kept their noses clean. The real action for Yellow will happen from Stage 8. Insomnia is hitting big time and I have got to work out how to prop my eyelids open to keep taking it all in. Maybe coffee?

The Cement Ladder – The Grey Jersey

Watching the toughest sportsmen in the world, I have decided to start a “cement” ranking that reflects truly great feats of endurance and the overcoming of pain (basically a bit of HTFU). Maybe ASO could make a special jersey, grey, for this category. Here are my ranking as they stand:

1. Team Cannondale – those guys must have had cement in their breakfast. They dipped into the well of pain and inflicted it on others as well.

2. Jens Voigt – the oldest rider in the Tour tried to make a breakaway stick! We love The Jensie

3. Jan Bakelants – was not content with giving away the yellow, trying to take it back – much respect.

4. Peter Sagan – the Tourminator is an animal!

5. Christian Vande Velde – crashed again early in the stage and was forced to abandon his last Tour. He could have pulled the pin yesterday like many of the other abondonees but showed much cement.

For a more serious assessment of stage 7 check out:

Cycling News – Tour de France Stage 7 results: http://www.cyclingnews.com/tour-de-france/stage-7/results

VeloVoices – The Day the Green Jersey was won?: http://velovoices.com/2013/07/05/tdf-stage-7-the-day-the-green-jersey-was-won/

SBS Cycling Central – http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/news/49850/well-planned-raid-hands-sagan-tour-stage-win

The Turbo Training Challenge

For the second day in a row, the turbo training challenge has been replaced by a proper road ride. This time I was joined by my riding buddy JB, who was off his game in a big way. We rode 80km and I had to put the hammer down a couple of time just to test the legs. I am feeling very strong on the bike, but still have a lot of work to do. I had a number of Strava segment PBs and some of them were on my regular climbs. That is now seven stages and seven rides. Will back it up again tomorrow and the day after before a rest day when I can catch up on some Tour induced sleep deprivation.