After a few days’ rest for the Velobrand writing team, we are back to report on what we have loved about this first week of racing. As the riders take their rest day we gear up for more action and, hopefully, catch up on some sleep!
Not only has the magnificent scenery failed to disappoint but the action on the road has kept us on the edge of our couches. Aussie Simon Gerrans did his team and country proud with his 2nd Tour stage win and subsequent wearing of the maillot jaune. Holding it for 2 stages his generous character shone through as he gladly passed it onto his South African team mate Daryl Impey in thanks for his support in getting Gerrans into the lead. Being the first South African to ever wear the yellow jersey, Impey’s pride and gratitude was evident, let’s hope this catapults African cycling into the big time and inspires a generation of young Africans to take up the sport.
As we moved from Corsica to the Mediterranean and then into the Pyrenees, the racing heated up with Chris Froome demonstrating exactly what he is here for; GC honours. Taking both the stage and the maillot jaune on stage 8 and hanging tough on stage 9, it was clear that his team’s focus and hard work was paying off. But have they peaked too early? The Sky team, looked unbeatable all the way to Paris after stage 8, and every post stage interview focused on the same question, could anyone stop Sky’s dominance, the unequivocal answer was “no”. But less than 24 hours later aggressive riding by Movistar, Garmin-Sharp and others changed the complexion of the race, showing that Sky was beatable and Froome could be isolated. A point to note here is the fact that riders appear to be having good days and bad days, something we haven’t seen in the Tour for almost a generation and is surely a sign of cleaner and more inspiring sport.
The race for the maillot vert has been unfolding at a frantic pace, with Sagan in the box seat, by virtue of his efforts to claim points at both the intermediate sprints and the stage finishes. While Cavendish, Greipel, Kittel and Sagan, have been shown they are the fastest sprinters at this year’s Tour, the much hyped shootout between these riders has not quite eventuated on any one day, thanks to a series of crashes and misfortune.
Pierre Rolland has raced to a solid lead in the mountain classification topping off a great week for Team Europcar, who made their way into break-aways on every stage since the stage 5.
We look forward to seeing how it all unfolds as we move into the second week of the Grande Boucle where two of the Velobrand team’s favourite stages will take place; the individual time trial against the magnificent backdrop of Mont-Saint-Michel; and the gruelling 20km climb up the mythical landscape of Mont Ventoux. Let’s hope the good weather, sportsmanship and quality racing continue!
*Photo courtesy of www.fontaines-escot.com