Monday July 23rd, 21.55 in a Ryanair Boeing, somewhere over Northern England.
They sell papers on the plane, these days – at inflated prices of course.
The whole outside ‘wrap’ of The Times is a Bradley Wiggins picture, yellow clad and taking the turn at the top of the Champs Elysees, l’Arc de Triomphe providing the background.
And the ‘The Thunderer’ isn’t too proud to pinch L’Équipe’s headline from two days ago; ‘Promenade des Anglais.’
There’s page upon page about Wiggins, some of it perhaps a tad too evangelical for my taste, but editors know what their readers want.
The Sun too, does Wiggins justice, with double page spreads and loads of colour. However, page three isn’t disrupted – the fall out will be settling and they’ll still be extolling the virtues of ‘Mandy from Rotherham’ – or wherever.
Pals Dave and Viktor warned me that it’s total media overkill in the UK.
In France, whilst it’s headline news if Tommy V or one of ‘les Jaunes’ (young ones) pulls a rabbit from the hat, in the main, it’s not as ‘mega’ as you may think, away from the actual race ‘bubble.’
But Britain, ‘Tour Crazy’ – I never thought I’d see the day.
The final Sunday night is always a late one at the Tour.
The laps of honour go on for an age – but as Tim Harris said to us; ‘by this stage you just want to go home!‘
By the time we ‘snapped ourselves out’ with pictures of Sky, next on the agenda was to meet Ewan Gowrie from Peebles CC, over on a flying visit to witness history being made.
To cut a long story short, by the time we dropped Ewan at his hotel, found our hotel, parked the car, checked in, found a restaurant and had a bite, we’d both had enough for one shift.
We were up at 08:00 on Monday and straight onto the words and pics until noon – despite the best efforts of the cleaners to empty us out of our room.
The good thing about working for the guys in Canada is that they’re on US time, at least six hours behind us – and Sunday isn’t a big day for site ‘hits’.
The final Tour stage piece always runs on the Monday – thank goodness.
First stop, once we’d left the cleaners to their gig was to head down to the Beaubourg Centre for our traditional end of Tour crêpe and cidre lunch.
And a chance to think about the last two weeks.
It has to said that whilst it was a historic race if you’re British, it wasn’t an all-time great Tour as far as the GC battle went.
Bradley won the first time trial, Sky shut the race down and only allowed the breaks of their choice to go.
And whilst the tempo they set, stage after stage didn’t look too hard, there weren’t exactly droves of boys left in the lead group at the death on the mountain stages.
But their method worked and whilst the stars aligned for Cadel last year; this year there were no ‘Roo’ shaped constellations – more like a Vespa.
Despite what the Sky spin doctors say, and what Chris Froome has been coached to say, there’s a picture in L’Équipe today which says more than words.
As Wiggins wrestles with silverware, flowers and team hat atop the podium, Froome looks at him as if to say; ‘make the most of it, mon ami – it’ll be me, next year!‘
Word is that Astana are already talking telephone numbers to him; and Vik’s statements that Cav and Froome will both jump ship for next season are looking pretty accurate to me.
But we take nothing away from Wiggins, Sky and David Brailsford – an epic show.
It was a good ride by Nibali to take third; if you’d said to Liquigas before the Tour; ‘will you settle for three stages and a podium place on GC?‘ they’d have bitten your hand off.
Nibali was never really going to risk that podium spot, but he had to play to the gallery – just a little.
Van Den Broeck has improved, no doubt and had to contend with the fact that his rouleurs had to honour major commitments for Andre Greipel.
But Lotto-Belisol will be happy – fourth on GC and three stage wins constitutes a good Tour for the Belgians.
As for Van Den Broeck’s ambitions – next year Contador will be back, Schleck, A should be back, Froome will almost certainly have his own team and the next name we’re about to mention will be team leader at BMC.
And that’s before we talk about Bradley.
Tejay van Garderen’s (with a small ‘v’ please) fifth place ride was one of the revelations of the Tour.
His white jersey saved the race for BMC and their big budget operation.
When Tejay didn’t stop for Cadel during the tacks sabotage – Jean-Michel Morin of ASO is adamant it was no accident – he must have known that it wasn’t Cadel’s Tour.
We’ll see more of the young American with the Dutch dad in Le Tour.
Zubeldia’s ride into sixth was solid – as good as he could have hoped for before the start.
It would be foolish to write off Cadel Evans – he’s too tough and clever to do that with.
But BMC aren’t paying all that money for seventh place.
I’d say he’s seen his last Tour podium.
French ‘white hope’ Pierre Rolland in eighth has to hope for hilly tours to come; Contador isn’t going to give him any less of a spanking in the chronos than Brad did.
Braikovic’s ride was a solid one for ninth, but he can only follow and it’s unlikely he’ll ever contend.
But in tenth position with a stage win to boot is a young man, who if he keeps his feet on the ground and works hard may just be the rider France needs.
Thibaut Pinot, just 22 years-old and with definite panache.
Of the 22 teams in the race, eight won a stage:
- Sky: Cav x three, Brad x two, Froome x one, = six
- Lotto: Greipel x three
- Liquigas: Sagan x three
- Europcar: Voeckler x two, Rolland x one, = three
- FDJ: Pinot x one, Feédrigo x one, = two
- Garmin: Millar x one
- Rabobank: Sanchez x one
- Movistar: Valverde x one
With five stage wins and the polka dot jersey, it’s been a great Tour for the French.
None of the wins could remotely be called ‘lucky’ and ASO surely owe a debt to Voeckler and his determination to animate the race.
Similarly, Sagan, with his trick paint job, wheelies and mad victory salutes added spice to the race.
And one last tidbit of gossip – Cav to Quickstep for 2013, courtesy detective work from Vik.
And, as Dave always says at this moment – ‘yer Tour creds are now use to you now!’
Result - Le Tour de France 2012 - Stage 20, Rambouillet
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
5 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team
7 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
8 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
10 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
11 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp
12 Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos – Shimano
13 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
14 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
15 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
16 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:00:04
17 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
18 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
19 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
20 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
21 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team
22 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
23 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
24 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
25 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
26 Julien Simon (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
27 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
28 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
29 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
30 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
31 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Sharp
32 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar 0:00:09
33 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
34 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
35 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
36 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar Team
37 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
38 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
39 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin – Sharp
40 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
41 Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
42 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
43 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
44 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
45 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
46 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
47 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
48 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
49 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
50 Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale
51 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team
52 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
53 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
54 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
55 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling
56 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
57 Roy Curvers (Ned) Argos – Shimano
58 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
59 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team
60 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
61 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
62 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
63 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
64 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team
65 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
66 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
67 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
68 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team
69 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team
70 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
71 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
72 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
73 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team