Archives for posts with tag: Tony Martin

Can this year’s Tour de France get any more eventful? Well of course it can, but it will be hard to top the first 10 days. My cheeky review of Le Tour continues, and wow what a stage 10 it was in the Vosges mountains. I have worked in sports organisations before, and I am pretty sure that the Tour route planners are a devilish bunch. Is it possible that for Stage 10 they were drinking a little too much cognac and champagne? A stage with four category 1 climbs, two category 2 climbs and a category 3 – oh and finishing off with the last 400m at a 20% gradient. As the French say, “c’est fou!”

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Did I mention that the weather was atrocious as well?

El Pistolero Out!

The third major shock exit happened on this stage, El Pistolero – Clentador – Alberto Contador (Tinkhoff-Saxo) crashed spectacularly not once but twice. And contrary to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen’s commentary during the race it was not due to failure of his Specialized bike frame. The riders around Alberto said he was taking risks on the downhill descents, dangerous risks. But I will call it what it is, bike racing at its toughest.

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As you have probably figured out I am not a big fan of Alberto due to part of his dubious past which no doubt was influenced by his team management at the time (Bruyneel et al). But he earned my mega respect by the huge demonstration of Rule #5. He broke his leg in the second crash, then got patched up, back on the bike and rode another 20km uphill to try and get back into the peloton. Alberto showed everybody how to HTFU! Maybe Arjen Robben and many other star players in the Football world can take a lesson or two from a tiny Spaniard.

Robben Falls

Alas Clentador had to pull out and join The Manx Missile and Froome-dog on the couch watching the SBS coverage of La Grande Boucle.

Races within a Race

This stage had action all around independent of Alberto’s troubles. The Panzerwagen (Tony Martin – Omega-Pharma-Quickstep), backed up his huge efforts from the day before to play domestique for his team’s Polish young gun, The Flowerman (Michal Kwiatkowski) – who went on the attack! The Flowerman tried to stick it to the Shark, but it was not to be his day. His breakaway group also contained The Terminator (Peter Sagan) who all but wrapped up the Maillot Vert sprint competition by scoring maximum points on the first intermediate sprint. This all but guarantees him taking a position on the podium on the Champs-Élysées. Then the action kicked off in the Polka Dot competition with Purito (Joaquim Rodríguez – Katusha) punching it out with the Gurning Champ (Thomas Voeckler – Europcar) on a number of the climbs. Purito came third last year but is out of contention this year after a poor start, so he is ferociously chasing another jersey. I have never seen uphill sprinting of this nature before – awesome!

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But ultimately the day belonged to the Shark (Vincenzo Nibali – Astana) who grabbed the stage by the horns and hammered past everyone. In a post race interview, Purito claimed that it was like he was overtaken by an aeroplane, such was the force of the overtaking manoeuvre.

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A warning to the Shark – your chasers are not far behind, this race is far from over. Porte, Van Garderen, Pinot, Bardet, Valverde were all less than 30 seconds behind him. The Pit Bull (Talansky – Garmin Sharp) crashed several times on the stage and is now out of overall contention. This year’s race has become a real battle of attrition. With the big Alpes and Pyrenees climbs looming there is more action to come – and I am loving it!

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.

5pts – The Shark, who grabbed the bit between the teeth and hammered.

4pts – Panzerwagen, backing up for the second day in a row with a phenomenal display of power and sacrifice.

3pts – Voeckler and Purito, for battling it out in appalling conditions chasing the polka dots.

3pts – Clentador, for racing, crashing, getting back on the bike, and riding another 20km with a busted leg – respect

1pt – Flowerman, going on the attack even though it was futile.

 

The current table is:

14pts – Panzerwagen (Martin)

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

6pts – Voeckler

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

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

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

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

1pt – 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 10 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 10 wrapup

VeloVoices – Tour Stage 10

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

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.

 

Finally we depart the shores of the heart of the empire and land back on territoire français. And while I salute the English hosts of the first three stages for an excellent show and fanatical support, it has had consequences. The muppet who caused Aschleck (Andy) to crash has also caused him to pull out of Le Tour. Aschleck can’t buy a trick at the moment and seems to be cursed. I just hope he can recover and get back to learning how to time trial so he can win a grand tour.

In a bizarre twist of roles, it was not until we left English soil that we have had bad weather – just in time to polish the cobbles of tomorrow’s stage 5. But this is about stage 4…

The Moment I was Dreading Would Happen

No it was not the Froome-dog crashing in the middle of the peloton because he was looking at his stem. But while I pick on Froome, I have to say “Ouch!” At least he has Gerraint Thomas in his team to teach him the finer points of Rule #5.

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It was that the gurning champion of the peloton, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), getting in a breakaway where the camera would be focused on his facial contortions. He was hoping that he would be joined by a few others, but in the end there was only one companion (much to his disgust) – Luis Mate (Cofidis). Now these two were able to talk to each other, albeit in French. Their initial conversations were captured on the race coverage. For those of you who don’t understand French here is how the conversation went:

Voeckler – “We can make this break stick if the two of us work together.”

Mate – “There would have been more riders joining us if you didn’t pull so many faces.”

Voeckler – “I promise that I won’t pull any today, let’s hammer.”

… the Cofidis team car pulls alongside the two

Cofidis DS (head stuck out of his car window) – “Hey Thomas, can you pull that funny face from stage 17 last year?”

Voeckler – “But I promised Mate that I wouldn’t”.

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So the two of them continued until they hit the town of Cassel, then Voeckler couldn’t help himself and BAM! – Mate has a mechanical. Mate was able to catch up on his new bike, but not before giving his breakaway companion a serve.

Mate – “You promised you wouldn’t pull faces!”

Voeckler – “I thought your bike wasn’t looking.”

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, for the fourth day in a row there was cement being laid out by the first Chinese rider to ever ride Le Tour. Cheng Ji (Giant-Shimano and newly adopted Argonaut) for the fourth day in a row was pulling massive turns at the front of the peloton. I suspect Jensie learned a Chinese dialect in the off-season so that he could tutor Cheng. Now I realise that as a domestique rider you have got to do your duty for the team, but c’mon Giant Shimano give the little guy a break. Maybe he can have a rest on stage 5, riding on cobbles.

Voeckler and Mate continued with their breakaway riding well together when Voeckler did it again, he contorted his face. Same result I am afraid – Mate’s front wheel punctured. Now it was left to Voeckler to ride by himself which he did so until 16km to go.

On with the Sprint

So the sprint trains formed, and Omega-Pharma-Quickstep and Giant Shimano were signalling their intent to win this drag race. It was in the final kilometers where the second big demonstration of cement laying for the day was shown. The Panzerwagen, Tony Martin (Omega-Pharma-Quickstep), got to the front of his sprint train and… proceeded to drop everybody. He turned around and realised he was riding too fast and that was naughty, so he slowed down to let the slow pokes catch up. The peloton kicked on and I thought there was going to be a change in the script when Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) jumped with over 300m to go. But he went too far out, and Vanilla Ice (Kittel) reeled him back in again. No change in the script, win number three for the leader of the Argonauts.

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Now I am salivating in anticipation of the carnage of Stage 5. There may even be some cement laying over the cobbles.

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.

4pts – Cheng, 1 point for every day he has pulled the peloton.

4pts – Panzerwagen, for dropping the entire peloton in his leadout.

3pts – Voeckler, would have got 5 pts but he caused two mechanicals.

 

The competition is certainly heating up, the current table is:

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Kadri and Barta

4pts – Bideau, Cheng, Panzerwagen (Martin)

3pts – Lemoine, Voeckler, 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 4 Report

SBS Cycling CentralStage 4 wrapup

VeloVoicesTour Stage 4

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

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