Sunday, May 19, 2024

Le Tour de France – Day 6: Stage 18, Bourg D’Oisans to Saint-Etienne


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Guten dag! We honoured Carlos yesterday, so we best pay tribute to Big Marcus today. It’s been a great Tour for Columbia – and it’s not over yet. We had to be flexible today, the plot was to do a bike feature – the top GC riders plus points and mountains leaders – but the start at Bourg-D’Oisans was so tight for space, with team buses in the village streets that there was no room for the team trucks. These went directly to the hotels at the finish in St. Etienne, so it wasn’t the best day to bike skek.

Thinking on my feet, I decided to do an opinion piece on “has Sastre done enough to win?”  for words of wisdom from among others, Patrick Lefevre, Roger Legeay and Claudio Corti.

I also did a wee interview with my journalistic idol, Philippe Brunel;

“the winner must CONQUER the Tour.”

Bourg D'Oisans
Philippe Brunel, more philosopher than journo. Photo©Martin Williamson

Cycling journalism as philosophy, I love it!

Bourg D'Oisans
Tom Boonen’s boss, Patrick Lefevre. Photo©Martin Williamson

I could have left it at that, but with so many of our interviewees talking about another CSC ‘blitz’ we decide to go to the last big climb of the race, the 2nd cat, 14 K Croix de Montvieux.

Bourg D'Oisans
Claudio Corti, one of the ‘old school’. Photo©Martin Williamson

Just maybe there would be an ‘explosion’, or if not, then we’d go ‘local colour.’

Bourg D'Oisans
Chris Froome talks to VeloVeritas. Top bloke, he gave us his time when pushed to get to the depart. Photo©Martin Williamson

When a break of two hustled past, we knew it wasn’t going to be a ‘mega’ day and settled for that ‘local colour’ – probably a lovely brown, the skin colour of two charming local ladies who we were chatting too, Laetitia and Noemie.

Bourg D'Oisans
Our lovely new friends in Pelussin. Photo©Martin Williamson

It was a great hour or so, Tour watching at its best – it was good to be almost, ‘just a fan’ again.

The big drama was Cunego, he crashed early, gashing his chin and would finish the day 20-12 down, not bad for having ridden a near 100 mile time trial with four of his squadra.

He was being pushed up the climb, when we saw him. Just while I mention stats, the bunch did 55.7 kilometres in the first hour – wow!

Bourg D'Oisans
Cunego gets a push. Photo©Martin Williamson

We nipped right in behind the breakdown truck – you daren’t let a gap open or you’re on open roads with hundreds of cars and camper vans setting out for home.

Despite Cunego’s injury, the five Lampre guys were riding at 40 to 50 kph on the flat, and touching 80 on the descents.

I didn’t see much of it – I was sitting tapping the keys on Martin’s BlackBerry.

It’s 8.40 pm in the press room at St. Etienne – which is actually located in the St. Etienne football stadium – the pieces are away, the pics are away and Martin is getting our VeloVeritas pictures up to date – sorry about the lack of them, but it has been hectic: 2.00 am we got to bed this morning.

I’m on a Tour motorbike tomorrow – wish me luck!