My cheeky review of La Grand Boucle continues for what is the ninth day of racing in a row, continuing in the Vosges mountains. After the heroics of the hotly anticipated attack from Chava (Sylvain Chavanel – IAM) the day before, another of my favourite riders decided that it was not good enough to let him steal all the limelight.

Enter the Panzerwagen!

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A Panzerwagen Chased by a Chameleon

My second favourite rider in the peloton is none other than Tony Martin, otherwise known as ‘der Panzerwagen’ (German for armoured car). Not only does he have the coolest nickname in the peloton, but he is an absolute machine of a rider and he earns the nickname every time he rides. The car above is what the rest of the peloton thought they were chasing for the whole of stage 9.

But he wasn’t alone for much of this breakaway journey, with the Chameleon – Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) keeping him company for the first 100km or so.

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But let’s face it when you only have little legs, and you are a small lizard, there is no keeping up with a Panzerwagen. De Marchi did ride strong though and fought for the polka dots but to no avail, there are other riders eyeing that prize. Credit it to him, in the stages leading up to this he has been doing some big work for his teammate – The Terminator (Peter Sagan).

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With just under 60km to go, der Panzerwagen hit the throttle and was never seen again. Awesome display of raw power, up and down mountains and leaving his fellow riders in a blur behind him. And he rode faster and faster as the stage went on. Just revenge on the entire peloton from last year’s Stage 6 of the Vuelta.

A Frenchman in Yellow for Bastille Day

The other tale of this stage was a Frenchman hammering on his own to take the Maillot Jaune off of The Shark (Vincenzo Nibali). Tony Gallopin of the Lotto-Belisol team managed to breakaway from the peloton and into the chase group of riders trying to catch the German armoured car. He absolutely hammered out a lead that won him the right to wear the jersey on Bastille Day. I think that there was another reason that this succeeded. One of the GC contenders, none other than Mr Fashion Faux-Pas himself, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) rode himself back into contention in the chase for Yellow. While he does not know how to colour coordinate (have a look at how many rules he broke riding in polka-dot everything at last year’s tour) he is backing up from the Giro d’Italia and riding strong. I hope he animates things.

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Ultimately though it was once again a day for the French with Gallopin taking the top spot.

So the GC riders were playing coy and marking each other out. The Shark and Clentador content to wait and shoot it out in the big mountains – maybe even fire up for Stage 10. With Froome out of this race, this is turning into a real scrap of a Tour and I am loving it.

The Most Beautiful Stage So Far?

Why the race organiser’s don’t visit this region of France more often is beyond me. The racing for the last two days has been challenging, and tactical. But above all the race route has been absolutely beautiful. Check out this shot.

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I think I may have to go and visit this region next time I am in France, it looks spectacular.

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.

Big points again for the second stage in a row, and now the Panzerwagen jumps into the lead for the Grey.

5pts – Panzerwagen, what can I say – Awesome! And he inspired Germany to win the Football World Cup.

4pts – Gallopin, who hammered to wear Yellow.

3pts – Di Marchi, who should have at least earned some stripes for his efforts.

 

The current table is:

10pts – Panzerwagen (Martin)

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Kadri, Cheng, Lemoine, Boom, Kadri, and Barta

4pts – Gallopin, Chava (Chavanel) Bideau, and Fuglsang

3pts – Di Marchi, Dumoulin, Voeckler, and Spartacus (Cancellara)

2pts – The Shark (Nibali), Huzarski, and Elmiger

1pt – Edet, Van Garderen, Kwiatkowski, Mate, The Hornet (Horner), Froome-dog (now DNF)

 

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

Cycling News – Stage 9 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 9 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 9

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