Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 13: Tours > Saint-Amand-Montrond, 173km. Saxo Bank Ambush

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HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2013 – Stage 13: Tours > Saint-Amand-Montrond, 173km....
Saxo Bank Ambush

Cav and Contador, how can you not respect them? We missed the mad action today and the anticipated Saxo Bank Ambush; we were driving from the stage start to the digs and thought we had nothing better to do than find a bar to watch proceedings.

However, we forgot that we’re deep in La France profonde; rural, quiet, sleepy, hot and totally devoid of spots to catch Le Tour.

We tried one café and bar after another but none had a TV on the menu – it’s obviously not football territory.

We heard on the car radio that Cav had won after Belkin and Quicktep had split the peloton in the cross wind then Saxo launched a late ambush – when we got to the digs the team emails started to appear and we were able to join the dots.

Froome’s face on the podium said it all.

And so did Cav’s – he made the splits, battled in the echelons and then out foxed Sagan: 10/10 from VeloVeritas for Cav.

As Dave says; ‘how can you not admire him?

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It’s impossible not to respect Cav, his racing instinct, grinta and palmares demand it. Photo©Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Having worked the finish yesterday, we decided to work the start in Tours for stage 13 – all was calm, no one really expected that it would be a day of drama.

The first bus in the line up was Vacansoleil with interviews in full flow – including a ‘grungy’ Thomas De Gendt chatting to a fag wielding journo.

Thomas De Gendt talks to the journo whilst trying to keep his distance from the smoke. Photo©Martin Williamson

Euskaltel was next stop, we’ve built up a good bond with their number one mechanic Tomás Amezaga and he’s always keen to show us the ‘trick’ bits.

Team leader Igor Anton is riding the new Orca with new forks and super neat mechanical/electronic cable routing; new colour scheme and new forks.

Tomás Amezaga explains to Martin the new features on Igor’s updated Orbea Orca. Photo©Ed Hood

Tomás told us that they never use carbon handlebars because you can’t tell if they’ve survived a crash without cracking – just too much of a chance to take.

And all front forks must retain those daft tabs which stop the quick release doing their job; the UCi check regularly – don’t ask me why.

Tomas tells us that all the team forks now need to have the anti-muppet tabs. Photo©Ed Hood

Down at QuickStep, Chava’s Specialized looks the biz – it was a birthday present from the US bike company, sprayed to match his Dodge muscle car.

Chava’s Specialized’s paint job was a birthday present to him from the bike sponsor, coloured to match his Dodge muscle car! Photo©Ed Hood

Ed Pickering had a word with us on our travels; he’s the man who wrote the book about the Obree/Boardman duel – a nice guy.

Ed Pickering stops for a natter. Photo©Ed Hood

Meanwhile, over at the FdJ bus Thibaut Pinot was trying to explain to a journo how he’d gone from stage winner, top 10 finisher and French podium challenger to a ‘fairdy gowp’ on the descents.

Thibaut Pinot isn’t having the great time he did last year. Photo©Martin Williamson

And at Saxo, Alberto’s handlebar tape should have alerted us to what was about to come – tape can’t be that white for nothing . . .

Bert’s brand new spanking white tape – but it’s the same with every bike every morning at this team at the Tour. Photo©Martin Williamson

Katusha’s Dima Konychev still looks as cool as ever – I love the story about him being caught in the brothel by the police with young riders from one of his Italian teams and avoiding the sack by explaining it was a ‘team bonding exercise.’

Dima Konyshev is quite a character. Photo©Martin Williamson

Whether you like Sagan’s ‘Hulk’ paint job on his Cannondale or not you have to accept that the US bike company have their marketing spot on.

No bikes tucked away to stop them getting sticky finger marks for Cannondale; Sagan’s bike on a stand out front for all to see – we like that.

Sagan’s bike is out front and centre, to encourage photos. It works. Photo©Martin Williamson

Whilst the crowds milled around the Argos, QuickStep and Sky buses, the Cofidis bus was like the Marie Celeste; no one’s really bothered about teams that don’t win anything.

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There’s no crowd at the Cofidis setup, in fact there’s noone around. Photo©Martin Williamson

Sojasun get away with it because they go with every break – and they have Brice Feillu’s cheekbones, of course.

We’re just about getting used to the back brake on the new Shack Treks being under the bracket and do like the new baby blue livery – we just hope Vik doesn’t find out…

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The baby blue RadioShack Treks are lovely, full of trick touches. Photo©Martin Williamson

And the immaculate Movistar bus reminds you that we’re in a new era of communications with the team Website, Facebook page, Twitter handle and even on-line shop all displayed – a far cry from 60 words in the Daily Telegraph on a Monday morning which I grew up with.

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When we first started covering the Tour ‘New Media’ was lower class – now, it’s essential, and has many more readers than the ‘old media’. Photo©Martin Williamson

And the team Pinarellos are exquisite; but let’s do something with those batteries guys – all that talk of ‘aero’ then you zip tie a half brick under the down tube ?

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The Movistar Pinarellos are lovely, but there are certain aspects that look like after-thoughts. Photo©Martin Williamson

And exclusively, we can reveal that Eric Vanderaerden has shed his mullet – this news will have ruined John Stollery’s day but the truth must be told.

He looks much better for it.

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Eric Vanderaerden has had a haircut. Photo©Martin Williamson

And on the subject of Barnett Fare, what’s going on over at Argos with Kittel and Degenkolb both sporting extravagant coiffeur?

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Kittel’s hair is, erm, a cut above the norm…. Photo©Martin Williamson

But the fact is that when you’re winning you can pretty much get away with anything.

Kittel reminds us of Ivan Drago in the Rocky movie; ‘I crush Cavendeesh !

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Rudi Kemna is a top bloke, sat and shared his views on Cav and Veelers’ coming together. Like us, he sees it differently from the race jury. Photo©Ed Hood

And good to chat to Rudi Kemna, whose ‘voluntary doping suspension’ makes us laugh – we’re reminded of ‘Apocalypse Now’ where Willard says; ‘charging someone with murder in this place is like dishing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.’

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Martin mentioned to Ned Boulting that the comic aero-pieces on ITV4 with Boardman were his favourite – not sure if that was the right thing to say to an author / presenter. Photo©Ed Hood

Ned Boulting was scurrying around trying to set up an interview – but we soon interrupted that; ‘Ned, surely you’ve got time for a picture with VeloVeritas ?