My cheeky review of the 2014 Tour de France is still playing catchup – thank the maker (and ASO) for the second rest day. The second stage in the French Alpes was just as riveting as the first stage and there was much redemption dished out.

A Breakaway with Stones

A huge group of riders jumped into the breakaway from the peloton, and even more wanted to crack it. There were 17 in total and they included the Big ‘G’ (Geraint Thomas – The Empire), The Terminator (Peter Sagan – Cannondale) and his teammate lizard friend AGAIN(!) The Chameleon (Alessandro Di Marchi), Nico (Roche – Tinkoff Saxo) and his teammate Rafal Majka AGAIN(!), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida), and a certain Purito (Joaquim Rodríguez – Katusha).

The Terminator chased Green.

Purito chased Spots.

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Both were rewarded, firstly for Sagan at the intermediate sprint before the 1st category climb up the Col du Lautaret. Purito got the points up that climb as the breakaway started to break apart.

Behind the breakaway group the peloton was wilting down to a few small groups, for the non-climbers it was hang on and haul butt to the finish.  The hard men in contention for the GC hammered on in the chase.

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The breakaway, down to 10, then assaulted Col d’Izoard – the highest point of the race. Purito was gifted the points by the rider who finished second yesterday, Majka.

Let’s Try and Crack It!

The move of the day was definitely from the young French gun Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and his partner in chocolate Jean-Christoph Peraud. They bombed it down the 30km descent off the back of the Col d’Izoard. I was watching on my couch at whatever ungodly hour it was and I was salivating at the fun that those guys were having. Can you imagine a 30km descent? I have to get to France to ride the Alpes, preferably in July. Not only did the chocolate soldiers bomb it down, they put the fear of god in the rest of the peloton. But the Shark in Yellow (Vincenzo Nibali – Astana) along with his teammates would not be fooled…

No doubt Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was crapping it given his dislike of descending at speed. But Pinot with the assistance of his teammates was able to catch back up.

As they hit the final climb into Rissoul it was on for young and old, a small breakaway only a little distance ahead with the GC hunters in a rampaging pack behind them.

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Try and Try Again!

Two of the riders from the breakaway, The Chameleon and Serpa, decided it was time to distance the group and go for it. Bravo to the Chameleon, but more importantly how cool are the sideburns that Jose Serpa was sporting? Awesome facial hair. The Polish man who missed out on yesterday’s stage, Majka, jumped out in pursuit. Serpa’s facial hair started weighing him down, and he cracked. Majka caught him while gunning for The Chameleon. Purito tried for the last spotty points, but cracked as well.

Majka finally took the lead and a despondent Chameleon just couldn’t keep up. Majka went off for glory!

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The chasing group of the GC hunters had all the contenders foxing each other until the Shark decided that it was time for Majka to be reeled in again. Peraud, chocolate soldier #2, was the only one who could match his efforts (not bad for a 37 year old).

This time Majka would not be denied. He crossed the line to take his first ever win in the pro-peloton. What a way to do it! Awesome stuff.

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The Shark would put some more time into his rivals, but at least the Gen Y bunch had a crack. As for the Green Bullet (Valverde – Movistar) he cracked and would proceed to blame a mechanical incident. Tut, tut, tut…

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 final day in the Alpes, and tough riding for all. But there were some clear points winners.

5pts – The Chameleon, at it again but falling agonisingly short.

5pts – Majka, who cracked his maiden win in emphatic style – so tired that he couldn’t even zip up his jersey for a bit of showtime for his sponsors.

4pts – Bardet, for trying to explode the race open on the descent

4pts – Peraurd, for keeping up with the Shark when nobody else could

3pts – Purito, for going after the spots even though it is clear that he is not back to full health

2pts – Serpa, for challenging for the best sideburns in the peloton.

-1pt – Balaverde (AGAIN), for blaming everything else other than himself for his struggles. As the TanMan quite aptly said, “this is what riding clean looks like!”

 

The current table is:

14pts – Panzerwagen (Martin)

13pts – Chameleon (Di Marchi)

9pts – Majka

8pts – Fuglsang

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

6pts – Purito (Rodríguez), Bardet, and Voeckler

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

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

3pts – Van Garderen, Pinot, Bakelants, Gautier, Langeveld, Dumoulin,  Spartacus (Cancellara – DNF), and Clentador (DNF)

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

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

-2pts – Balaverde

 

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

Cycling News – Stage 14 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 14 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 14

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