My cheeky review of the 2014 Tour de France is finally catching up. And what should have been a boring transitional sprint stage turned into the stage that I was cheering the most, at some stupid time in the witching hour. Oh, and there was emotion and tears, and biblical references to boot.

Wind and Rain Came Out to Play – then Disappeared 😦

I like riding in the rain (not the wind – that sucks big ones). So when a deluge hit the peloton on this stage I was licking my lips at the racing action ahead. From the very start a small breakaway of two riders formed – Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp – my favourite team).

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Not that Jack Bauer!

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They rode strong. Then the wind kicked in and the two of them worked together to keep the breakaway going (Balaverde – this is a lesson for you). Back in the peloton, Team BMC lead by Tejay van Garderen tried to blow the race wide open taking advantage of the wind.

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The Shark in Yellow (Vincenzo Nibali – Astana) would have nothing of it. See how he forced his way into the pack. The chocolate soldiers of AG2R-La Mondiale were onto this attack too. So the break in the peloton never happened and the break continued to storm out in front.

Then the rain kicked in, as an absolute deluge. It was bucketing down onto the race route and pretty much rained the whole time in Nîmes.

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The inclement weather caused The Jensie to remembered times of his early childhood where he recalled that it rained less when the flood came for Noah.

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Then in the final 10km the bad weather all disappeared. The tricky entry into Nîmes with the slippery road surfaces aided the breakaway to keep ahead, that and the fact that they rode hard too.

So Close, Yet So Far

With 5km to go, the Panzerwagen (Tony Martin – Omega-Pharma-Quickstep) decided enough was enough and went out to show the peloton how to chase down a breakaway. He nearly did it too, but the breakaway still held out as they went under the flamme rouge (1km to go). The sprinters were revving up the motors in earnest, and it was line ball whether the two breakaway riders would hold out.

At less than 500m to go, first Elmiger cracked. Then within sight of the finish line Bauer got swallowed up by the rockets, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) securing his second win. Bauer finished 7th.

Bauer laid down in grief at the missed opportunity of a lifetime. I usually post a photo of the stage winner, but for me this stage will be remembered for Bauer being so near and yet so far.

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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.

Who gets the points are clear for this stage, with a few other smatterings

5pts – Bauer and Elmiger, who rode in a breakaway for 221.5km of a 222km stage.

1pt – Van Garderen for trying to create an echelon with his BMC team, which would have really lit up the race.

1pt – The Jensie for being old enough to have lived through the old testament flooding that swamped Noah.

1pt – The Panzerwagen for showing the peloton how to chase down a breakaway.

 

The current table is:

15pts – Panzerwagen (Martin)

13pts – Chameleon (Di Marchi)

9pts – Majka

8pts – Fuglsang and The Jensie (Voigt)

7pts – Elmiger, The Shark (Nibali)

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

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

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

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

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

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 15 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 15 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 15

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