Friday, July 19, 2024

Le Tour de France 2012 – Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux, 220 km.

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HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Annonay Davézieux,...

Le Tour de France 2012 – Stage 12, and what a day; when we heard Millar was in the break, we knew he was definitely capable of beating three of his companions – Gautier was the only one we didn’t know about.

But when we saw him, we knew he’d win – it was there in his eyes, if you knew what you were looking at.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
We saw it in his eyes. Photo©Martin Williamson

During the stage, l’Équipe reminded us that it’s 45 years to the day since Tom Simpson died on the Ventoux.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
It’s 45 years ago that Tom Simpson lost his life in pursuit of his dream. Photo©Ed Hood

It would be magnificent if Millar won, today.

There’s no other word for what he achieved, today.

I was surprised that none of the French radio commentators mentioned the Simpson connection.

I’ve no doubt they will tomorrow in l’Équipe.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
Whoever said Dave isn’t a patriotic Scot is clearly wrong. He was wearing these shoes that day.

People give David Millar a hard time for being an ‘art school boy;’ or only being such an outspoken advocate for clean sport because he was caught – and of course there’s the ‘he’s not Scottish, is he?’ chestnut.

He may be well spoken, well dressed and come over as a little ‘arty, farty’ but he’s actually a cool guy who is anything but full of his own importance and always has time for folks like me.

I get tired of the ‘reformed drugs cheat’ label; surely it’s ancient history? – if he’d been convicted in a criminal court the conviction would be ‘spent’ by now and the press couldn’t mention it.

A few years ago at the Tour, when Millar was with Saunier Duval, Martin and I were taking pictures of his bike.

A fan was leaning over the barriers and exclaimed, ‘go USA!’ or some such, to Millar.

His reply was succint; ‘I’m f**king Scottish!’

But back to this morning – the Grenoble rain has turned to sunshine as we near the depart, Cockney Rebel’s ‘Make Me Smile’ is an ideal sound track for this Route National through the limestone gorges – it’s just a pity we’re late, again.

The exit of the autoroute was closed, giving us a 15 mile detour – but that’s the Tour; a few years ago I’d be stressed at this point, but not nowadays.

* * *

Later, that same day…

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The official race start: kilometre zero. Photo©Ed Hood

It’s as much about the ambiance of the tour as the racing. Whilst they like race pics, they’ll get more excited about a good atmosphere shot than they will about a cracking shot of Tommy V or Cav.

But here we are, waiting on the break to get some race shots and hoping for David Millar in splendid isolation.

We drove the race route to get to this point.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
We leapfrog the l’Equipe vans selling ‘Tour Packs’ to the folk at the roadside. Photo©Ed Hood
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
It’s not too bad being stuck behind these guys. Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The VIPs stop to have their lunch. Photo©Ed Hood
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The obligatory sunflower shot. Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The fans find unique ways to celebrate the race’s classifications. Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The GreenEDGE soigneurs get the drinks ready at the Feed Zone. Photo©Martin Williamson 
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The guys from Norfolk made a 40th birthday project of the family Skoda – bunnet to them! Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
See seem to see this Dutch nutter a lot – he’s hard to miss. Photo©Ed Hood
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
‘Ere Wiggo’. Clever. Photo©Martin Williamson

There’s no signal up her for the twitter so we’re not sure what the situation is; the last we heard there were five clear by around 12 minutes – including David Millar…

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
Dave drives the break. Photo©Martin Williamson

…as I said, we’d hoped for David ‘en seule,’ but instead, he was driving the break and looking as determined as I’ve ever seen him.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
He deserves a few pictures today. Photo©Martin Williamson

The gap back to the peloton was huge, 11 minutes, maybe more.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The blackboard guys had plenty time to get the time written up. Photo©Ed Hood

The Sky boys were at the head of affairs – Knees, Eisel and Boasson Hagen; their work rate has been phenomenal.

We’ll know next week, in the Pyrenees if they’ve done too much.

Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
The Sky boys work hard – again. Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
Wiggins is looking very comfortable. Photo©Martin Williamson
Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12
Yesterday’s winner Rolland takes a day off – like most of the p