Well the North of the Empire showed the Southerners what it means to be true sports fans by completely swamping the race route for the first two days of La Grande Boucle. The spectators were out everywhere, and some a little too close to the action.

Unfortunately for Stage 3 we had an (another) incident that could have affected the outcome of the race for the GC. This absent minded observer thought he would get in prime position to capture the very quickly advancing peloton.

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He went down for the count in a bad way and the concertina effect rippled through the peloton taking down 3 riders including Aschleck (Andy). The question I have is whether this absent minded observer would have ever decided to play on the freeway?

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Newsflash – the pro-peloton goes fast, it is called racing. Repeating what ASO tweeted “Respectez les coureurs!”

Regardless of this incident, it was awesome to see the crowds absolutely swamping the race route. Where are all these spectators during the Tour of Britain (I forgot, it rained for most of the stages this year)?

Back to the race proper…

Let’s Breakaway – Where is Everyone Else?

Of course a breakaway decided to go, but when the two guys who jumped out in front at kilometer 0 and looked back to see who was going to join them there was… tumbleweeds. This breakaway was always going to be nothing but futile on this sprinter’s stage. It should be noted that the two brave coureurs were first time TDF participants – Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) and Jean-Marie Bideau (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). And there were a few complications for these guys:

  1. Barta is Czech and Bideau is French, and I don’t think either of these two guys could speak the other’s language
  2. Can you imaging riding and working with a guy for over 140km without even being able to say hi (and let’s face it, the international language of love is not used in the pro-peloton – EVER!)
  3. The peloton were always just going to toy with these two, like a pack of lions with two mice, and reel them in as they approached the big smoke of London.

But to their credit, they hammered! Much cement was laid out on this stage by these guys. Lesson learned from the Jensie no doubt.

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They both held off the peloton until less than 10km to go and worked equally hard together to keep them at bay. Barta, who is the national time-trial champion of the Czech Republic went for another 2km more solo and is bound to be chomping at the bit for a contract on one of the big teams for next year. He was clearly the stronger of the two.

Rocket Racing on The Mall

After the chase for the intermediate sprint points for the Green Jersey (still on the Terminator’s shoulders), the stage inevitably come down to a bunch sprint. And as if right on queue the English weather delivered the goods and coated the roads with some slippery glistening water. It was edgy in the final turns and a heap of teams were lining up to put their sprinters in the box seat. With no Manx Missile racing (did anyone see the sign that said “GO CAV” with the “G” crossed out?), his matador teammate Renshaw was the anointed sprinter. The rockets were released, there was a crash, The Gorilla (Greipel) misfired, and Vanilla Ice (Kittel) monstered EVERYONE to the finish line. He even dragged the Terminator (Sagan) along for the ride who could do nothing but observe the sponsor logo on the Kittel’s bib knicks.

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Oh, and there was no change in the GC. The Froome-dog spent time looking at stems, and The Shark (Nibali) is still in 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 and a demonstration of adherence to Rule #5). Former winners include Jens Voigt (multiple times) and Johnny Hoogerland. Maybe ASO could make a special jersey, grey, for this category.

5pts – Barta, who carried his breakaway colleague for the last 10km or so.

4pts – Bideau, who died a bit in the end, but chapeau.

 

The current table is:

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Kadri and Barta

4pts – Bideau

3pts – Lemoine and Spartacus (Cancellara)

2pts – The Shark (Nibali)

1pt – The Hornet (Horner)

 

For a more serious look at the first stage of racing check out.

Cycling NewsStage 3 Report

SBS Cycling CentralStage 3 wrapup

VeloVoices Tour Stage 3

N.B. the photos of the racing have been sourced from Cyclingnews.com and the copyright obviously remains with the copyright holder.