In the first day in the Pyrenees, and the day after the rest day, it was going to be tough for some. It started off tough for everyone as farmers blocked the road striking for some reason. Pepper spray was used and the riders copped the aftermath, a lot of them affected by the spray.
Once the race got going, and it took over 100knm for a breakaway to start, Demare got dropped early and rode by himself all day, personally cos I think he has no mates, not even his team wanted to ride with him. But Quelle surprise, a large breakaway went away, and stayed away, while the GC contenders all kept their powder dry, especially the Colombians, for tonight’s stage. So it was a stage where Tour salvage was on the cards for Yates and Mollema, and points were up for grab for Alaphilippe.
The first casualty was Philippe Gilbert who got a bend wrong on the 2nd last descent and went over a wall into a ravine. It looked bad, but he climbed out of the ravine and gave a thumbs up to the camera before climbing back on his bike. He only broke his kneecap so anything else would have been soft right?
The final descent was always going to be decisive. Fabio Casartelli died on this descent 23 years ago, so we all hoped for a safe descent, especially as some bends were a bit damp. Yates made the big move on the final climb of the day. He needed at least 30 seconds on Alaphilippe to have any chance of the win, and as Alaphilippe went over the top in 2nd place, 23 seconds down, the race was on. Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess, and moderation in descending is not something the descending artist Alaphilippe has, he has skills in excess. But Yates is a pretty good descender himself. He was holding the Frenchman at about 15 seconds and looking like he had a chance, but then on a bend his front wheel slipped out and dumped him on the road. Alaphilippe went round him, and showing what a top bloke he is, he actually sat up a bit to try and let Yates get back on. However he could see Yates head was no longer in the game, so went on by himself to take his 2nd victory of this Tour.
In the comp, Sicknote 3 keeps surprising by his tenacity thanks to Gesink. Sam Green Machine and Heartthrobs09 swap places again and Team Red Eye and Babel hold firm in the top 5. At the bottom Il Papa is back where he belongs, in the cellar propping up 280 other competitors. However the bottom 3 are only separated by a single point. Today’s big mover was Cat Six 1 up 74 places from nowhere to 74 places above nowhere.
Tonight’s stage should be interesting, 65km, some weird grid start and two cat 1’s and a HC climb. If you haven’t watch a stage yet, tonight’s is the one to watch.