Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio > Bastia, 212km. Kittel survives the Chaos


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Le Tour de France

It was Kittel today, but my son asked me today what the chances of Cav taking the win and the yellow jersey were; “95%” said I, confidently. But it’s that other 5% which makes it a bike race.

The bulk of the stage was a ‘paint drying’ job with the early break – which went in remarkably fuss free fashion – of Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Juan José Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Boom (Belkin), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) sitting up in the huff because they couldn’t get the gap; then the peloton doing the same to give the escapees some space and incentive to get back on the case.

It was pretty uninspired stuff – but then as the finale approached, with the huffy break caught, the GreenEdge bus contrived to get itself stuck under the finish gantry.

It reminded me of an Edinburgh roadworks scene, lots of guys looking, scratching heads, gesticulating and talking but nothing actually happening.

The ASO officials ponder just what to do as the peloton bears down on them. PhotoleTour

Meanwhile the Lotto, Argos, Cannondale, GreenEdge and QuickStep trains were all competing to see who could look most like the Cannonball Express with a jammed throttle (Google it if you’re too young to remember Casey Jones) and were closing rapidly on the comedic scene at the line.

Carlton Kirby (come back Dave Duffield, all is forgiven) informed us that the organisation had taken the decision to finish the stage at three K to go and this information was being radioed to the team cars.

At this point there did seem to be a ‘spike’ in the speed – venturing into the realms of crazy last kilometre velocities.

It’s hard to tell exactly what happened but a wheel was touched or bar’s nudged – it may have been Tony Martin who was taken out – and it was mayhem, madness and ‘Goodnight Vienna’ for Cav – albeit he managed to stay upright and Sagan – who didn’t, surrendering much of his jersey to the tarmac.

Big Greipel was left standing by the road with a flat tyre, his face the length of Leith Walk – as they say here in the Capital – as up ahead it looked like a straight shoot out between Marcel Kittel (Argos) and Matt Goss (GreenEdge) the two fastest survivors.

Niki Terpstra jumped late and almost stole it – and we’d forgotten that rapid Katusha man and former Norwegian champion Alex Kristoff was still there and it looked like it was going his way; but big Kittel was the man who wanted it most.


Left sprawled on the tar in the finish straight – it was that kind of finale.

And, as Chris Evans is prone to say on Radio Two; ‘here’s the thing’ – in his post race interview, Kittel said he’d been totally unaware of ‘Busgate’ on the run in.

Marcel Kittell proved to be the strongest of those left upright.

All very messy; but great television – and that’s what counts.

And please forgive me if the next of the piece is a bit pedestrian but I wrote it during the paint drying phase of proceedings.

Le Tour, to the man in the street, it’s the only bike race there is – Giros, Vueltas and Classics mean little.

As for the media, they lost interest in events in Italy when Sir Brad quit the Giro; Rigoberto ‘Duran Duran’ – they were one of those awful 80’s bands, weren’t they?

Le Tour and Olympics are when the papers ears really prick up.

The Guardian has pretty good cycling coverage.

The Guardian has a nice 24 page guide with contributions from William Fotheringham and Robert Millar – even though we must endure Barry Glendenning telling us that; ‘For sniffy cycling hipsters, it’s the Grand Tour that’s much easier than the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a Espana.’

Not in my book, Baz – or any riders I’ve ever spoken to, but that apart, it’s a nice piece of work from the Guardian.

And to get the D-word stuff out of the way…

It’s not often I disagree with Robert Millar’s assessments – but I really do fail to see the point of dredging up ‘who took what, why and when’ back in the 80’s and 90’s.

The tales of Jaja on Pot Belge for post race parties made me sick at the time and no doubt there will be more vomit inducing revelations.

But what’s the point?

When Lance fessed up, my jaw dropped, I never thought I’d see that in my life time – but it wasn’t enough for the hard core.

And if Jaja or any of his contemporaries do spill the beans, that won’t be enough – and in six months who’ll give a rat’s backside?

The Lance revelations all seem so long ago and tawdry; Levi has gone; Big George’s amateur team is doing well and Tommy Danielson’s writing about how to improve your performance – but we already know how you did that, Tom.

What’s of more importance is that the McQuaid v Cookson bout doesn’t take the spotlight away from the fact that there are still riders posting suspicious values in major races – and we don’t just mean Rolland.

And it’s disappointing to hear Carlton Kirby tell us that Frank Schleck is on the ‘naughty step’ – what you mean Carlton is that he’s suspended for a doping offence; it should not be trivialised.

Remember that this is the same Frank Schleck who paid Fuentes 7,000 Euros for ‘training advice’ – but he never met the Spanish Svengali.

Pros are like that, they dole out seven grand to guys they don’t really know…

Frank seems quite a generous chap.

Anyway, back to stage one of the 2013 Tour de France.

I’m writing this half way through the stage – and I have to agree with Vik that it’s not awe inspiring stuff.

His favourite line is that I ‘parachute in’ to the Tour do all the glam stuff whilst he sits in front of the box all day enduring hours of boredom for his love of the sport.

Today, I began to think that he has a point.

The breakaway sat up in the huff because the peloton was controlling them and they couldn’t get the gap; come on guys – that’s what pro cycling is like in 2013.

And despite the fuss about the Tour arriving in Corsica, bike racing is nothing new to the island.

There’s been a Tour de Corse since 1920 – albeit not continuously – it was amateur until 1958 then revived as a pro race in 1971 when classy ex-Barry Hoban Gan team mate Alain Santy won.

Through the 70’s and 80’s the likes of Michel Laurent, Regis Ovion, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, Bernard Hinault and Stephen Roche all took the laurels.

The last pro tour was in 1987 with the race revived as an amateur event in 2001 and is still running in 2013.

Tony Martin is hurt. Photo©Bettini

And now, with the stage over, we learn that Tony Martin is out with a broken collarbone*, Geraint Thomas has been taken to hospital, Ian Stannard was on the deck and so too was Contador – as well as Sagan and a host of others.

It would never have happened if they’d had a nice sensible prologue time trial to start with.

And a hot tip for the GreenEDGE driver – we believe Lothian Buses are recruiting, cobber…

* coda: VeloVeritas received this update from QuickStep on Tony Martin’s condition:

“Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Tony Martin crashed during the final kilometres of Tour de France Stage 1 on Saturday. He finished the race, but after the finish he was transported to the General Hospital of Bastia, where he passed a few examinations.

The CT scan excluded fractures. However, he has a concussion and a contusion on his left lung.

He also has soft tissue damages on his hip, chest, left knee and shoulder, and also on his back.

Furthermore, he has a very deep wound 5cm wide on his left elbow that reaches his muscles, which causes a lot of pain and a problem moving his arm. Tony Martin will join the rest of the team tonight after today’s examinations.

Any decision on his participation at the second stage of the Tour de France will be taken after considering how the clinical situation evolves during the night.”

Result - Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio > Bastia, 212km

Stage Result

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 4:56:52
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
3 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
4 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol
8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
11 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge
12 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Procycling Team
13 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
14 Nicholas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
15 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
16 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
17 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team
18 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
19 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge
20 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Procycling Team
21 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun
22 Jean Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
23 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
24 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
25 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
26 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
27 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
28 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
29 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
30 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
31 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol
32 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
33 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha
34 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
35 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
36 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
37 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
38 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Garmin-Sharp
39 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
40 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Team Katusha
41 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
42 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
43 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol