Monday, July 2, 2012

Fancy Things Won't Ever Come In Between.

Stage One - Liege to Seraing.

Now that the tour has started proper, I figure I have to pay some attention. So I wander over to The Inner Ring, which has the best run-down of each individual stage, as well as the most insightful cycling commentary I've ever read. Whoever it is who is responsible - some cycling insider, no doubt - has suggested that this stage, though flat for the most part, has a nasty little kick at the end that will rule out the pure sprinters, and make things interesting. It sounds like a stage I should probably watch.

But I'm still wrecked from the Prologue the night before. FJ has gone over to his mum's house to look after the dog, and will be gone all week. I'm pretty sure I won't make it on my own. So I ring up Rolly, who I know will also be feeling a little worse for wear. He swings by on his way home from the laundromat. It's Sunday night, and he has to work the next day, so he reckons he's not going to stay long. When I show him the stage profile, however, his commitment to a relatively early night seems to waver.

The first few hours are pretty boring. We debrief about the evening before, delicately discussing the facts and gossip emanating from the evening. I make us tea and we kick our shoes off, settling in for the evening. There's a breakaway off the front, but it's nothing more than a TV break - no one thinks they're a chance of staying away.

But then, with about sixty ks to go, things start to get a little interesting - a good fifty ks before I thought they would. Trains of riders were sliding up the side of the peloton, trying to take charge of the chase, perhaps even attempting to shell some of the pure sprinters. I do suggest this to Rolly, but then before I can even finish the sentence Andre Greipel has come to the front, doing a mountain of work for (insert this year's product name) - Lotto. I have once again confirmed my status as the worst predictor of cycling tactics in the world. A bunch of teams are worried about the hill to come, and rightly so - when they hit it, the race breaks apart. Folks are getting popped out the back like popcorn. Cancellara hits it, but my favourite Peter Sagan is hot on his wheel. Eventually Eddie Boassen Hagen bridges, but he's spent from the effort, and when Sagan goes he can't follow.

Across the line the precocious kid does some weird chicken wing dance. I'm into it. He's young, he's destroying all comers, and he's brash as all hell.

Rolly calls it a night. He regrets nothing, but on posts a lot of instagram pictures of empty coffee cups the next day.

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