My cheeky review of the 2014 Tour de France continues with the peloton only one day away from the fireworks that will explode in the Alpes. I have to ask the question, is this the toughest Tour that we have seen in recent history? Really? Stage 12 should have been a flat and gently rolling one, but it still had bite. And there was more news in the GC fight.

The Pit Bull Out!

After a humbling, and monumental, display of cement mixing the day before by The Pit Bull – Andrew Talansky (Garmin Sharp) he has had to pull out. He rode with some nasty injuries, and unfortunately we will have to wait till next year to see him light it up in the chase for Yellow.

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While I am loving this Tour, I am feeling a bit robbed by 3 of the guys who should have finished in the Top 10 are scratched. The likes of Purito (Rodiguez – Team Katusha) have also misfired. There is a lot of quality sitting on the couch watching SBS now.

So it opens the door in a big way for the young guns to shine and maybe slay a Shark.

A Breakaway with a Bit of Bad Luck

This was to be a perfect stage to stick a breakaway, and a group of five tried to do it. Within the group were two very strong riders – Simon Clarke (Orica GreenWedge) and Dutch National Champ Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp). They were complimented by Gregory Rast (Trek) – no slouch himself, Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seché), and David de la Cruz (Team Netapp-Endura). The hard luck descended on de la Cruz, who blew his front tyre at the apex of a right hand turn when he was third wheel in the group and went down HARD! He took out Langeveld as well, who was fortunate enough to rejoin the group. Very hard luck for de la Cruz who busted up his collarbone and was obviously in incredible pain – respect. The flat blowout could have happened anywhere, but it happened at a position where he couldn’t have saved it.

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They were looking good, but eventually Clarke and Langeveld pushed on by themselves. Two riders from Europcar tried to chase them down, including Cyril Gautier (who does not poke faces). Langeveld cracked eventually as well and Clarke got caught. For a brief glimmer it looked like the two of them might have been able to nab the win, but when Gautier turned to Clarke to rotate him around to the front, Clarke’s response:

“I got nothing left in the tank”.

The peloton swallowed them up with 5km to go.

Messy Bunch Sprint… Again

We were robbed of a rocket for this finish with a bingle between two of the hardest men in the peloton – Chava (Chavanel – IAM) and the Gorilla (Greipel – Lotto-Belisol).

The Gorilla was angry!

Chava told him to get over it.

The Gorilla got angrier.

Chava told him to check out his tattoo and he had a cooler looking bike.

Clearly a cold beer was needed…

Anyways, back at the front, the finish was not straightforward and the sprint trains were fumbling. Finally it was AK47 himself (Alexander Kristoff – Katusha) who blew them all away and crossed the line ahead of The Terminator (Sagan – Cannondale) who just can’t win a stage. I don’t know if he was rubbing salt into The Terminator, but his victory salute was “Wolverine-esque” robbing Sagan of the celebration (my blades look a bit rubbish – but you get the idea). Purito was happy and the Russian oligarchs of Katusha had two visits on the podium for the day.

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The rest of the GC riders kept their noses clean, and I can’t wait for things to blow up in the Alpes tomorrow. What I am hoping for is The Shark to be checked and two young French riders in Pinot and Bardet to run rampant as they blow the race wide open.

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.

The whole peloton should be given a cement milkshake after this stage going into the rest day, but we have to be judicious.

4pts – Simon Clarke for trying to stick the breakaway.

3pts – Gautier for catching the breakaway and trying his own cheeky attack.

3pts – Langeveld for holding out with Clarke for so long.

1pt – de la Cruz for going hard and his bad luck

 

The current table is:

14pts – Panzerwagen (Martin)

7pts – The Shark (Nibali), and The Jensie (Voigt)

6pts – Voeckler

5pts – Pit Bull (Talansky – now DNF)Kadri, Cheng, Lemoine, Boom, Kadri, and Barta

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

3pts – Gautier, Langeveld, Purito (Rodríguez), Chameleon (Di Marchi), Dumoulin,  Spartacus (Cancellara – now DNF), and Clentador (DNF)

2pts –  Flowerman (Kwiatkowski), Huzarski, and Elmiger

1pt – de la Cruz (DNF) Edet, Van Garderen, , Mate, The Hornet (Horner), Froome-dog (DNF)

 

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

Cycling News – Stage 12 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 12 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 12

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