Was the Maillot Jaune competition just decided On this stage of Le Tour?

The Evil Empire (also known as Team Sky) moved their Death Star over the top of the Pyrenees and not only crushed the Rebellion (in my opinion this is defined as Garmin-Sharp, Orica GreenWedge, and BMC) but all other teams as well. The first of the big climbing stages, also contained the first Hors Categorie climb [side note – it is very funny listening to English speaking cycling journos trying to pronounce the word “hors” – invariably pronouncing it as either “horse” or “whores”], the Col de Pailhères. This is where the Tour starts getting its cool photo opportunities and the snaking peloton is captured around switchbacks up mountains.

tdf_2013-stage_8-peloton

The stage kicked off with Johnny Hoogerland (of flying into barbwire fame and he should have won last year’s Grey Jersey) going on the attack. He had a few others with him, including Christophe Riblon who won the stage the last time there was a climbing stage through these mountains. These two demonstrated much cement in trying to launch attacks.

But the Evil Empire led the chase from the peloton. But they held off their critical move, allowing others to try it on for a bit of showboating. Robert Gesink (from the team formerly known as…) and then Tommy Voeckler (the gurning champion of the peloton) both went on solo attacks. But the most impressive solo jump up the hill was from Nairo Quintana (Colombian billy goat racing for Movistar who no doubt honed his climbing skills running away from drug lords or FARC rebels). Others jumped out as well, but couldn’t match the stunning climbing of Quintana. Quintana crossed the peak first but lost a lot of his advantage going down the mountain before hitting the stage’s final climb.

tdf_2013-stage_8-winner

Sky Turns On the Gas

The chase group was starting to thin out. Evans (Champion and Legend), Schleck (Radioshack Leopard Tank), and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) all conked out. This was a disappointing moment. The Froome-dog still had Contador with him (he told El Pistolero that he had some imported Spanish meat with him). More importantly, the Froome-dog still had Richie Porte with him and some other members of the Evil Empire.

With Contador and a couple of the others finally dropping off at 5km to go, the Froome-dog attacked and caught Quintana. Porte soon caught him too. These two put the knife in and finished it off. Froome-dog didn’t let off the gas and Porte is now clearly in second place for the Maillot Jeune.

Sky will now try and ride to Paris in yellow. Let’s hope someone puts some cement in their bidon and goes on the attack.

For a more serious assessment of the day’s racing check out:

CyclingNews – http://www.cyclingnews.com/tour-de-france/stage-8/results

VeloVoices – http://velovoices.com/2013/07/06/tdf-stage-8-sky-dominant-as-froome-storms-into-yellow/

SBS Cycling Central – http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/news/49874/Sky-and-Froome-destroy-Tour-field-to-take-yellow

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. The hunt for the Grey Jersey was on for young and old in this stage.

1. Nairo Quintana – solo attacking brilliance, though he eventually succumbed to the Evil Empire.

2. Richie Porte – doing all the work for the opportunity to gift the Tour to a teammate.

3. Christophe Riblon – tried hard to relive former glory.

4. Johnny Hoogerland – for not being able to win the Grey Jersey last year.

5. Jens Voigt – because he finished the stage and is the Jensie.

The Turbo Training Challenge

There has been a lapse in the challenge, due to sleep deprivation. The rest day may have to be a catchup day. Just like Cadel Evans I have blown up, but I will be able to catch up. I just need some sleep to recover from TdF induced insomnia.