Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rain Doesn't Mix Well With Le Tour and Cobblestones - Photo Blog

Today is Stage Six of Le Tour de France and the boys will look around the starting line and miss several very familiar faces. Crashes right and left in a very rainy cobblestone Stage 5 left the group much poorer by the end of the day. The withdrawl of Chris Froome, last year's TDF winner, was a big blow. This cracks the GC field wide open and leaves lots of opportunities. But with the fall of one came the determination of others and the stage was hard fought and wonderful to watch. Today's stage will hopefully have much better weather as we are back in France and heading toward the Alps. Here's the profile of Stage Six.

We start to get some topography in today's stage as the boys move from Arras to
Reims. Only two Cat 4 climbs, but lots of ups and downs to keep them
busy jostling. It will start to play for the King of the Mountains jersey
(which was so mud-spattered yesterday as to almost have the polka
dots obscured). 

Since it was a rainy Tour day, and since I'm really not in a mood to wax expansive today, I'm going to photo blog today's post with pics of rain - kindof.

The cobblestone roads have a high center that bends to each side
to slough off water. Yesterday's rain showed that in graphic style.
Here we have spectators and team assistants along with riders along
one stage of cobblestones.  Here, race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is
extending his lead. He's holding up well wearing the yellow and
he doesn't seem to want to give it up easily. Bravissimo! 

Lars Boom (Belkin) pulls away from Nibili here on his way to win the
stage for the day. His highest placement before had been 105th. This
was a fabulous moment for him and a hard-fought victory. 

Here's a closer look of Lars Boom as he pulls away to win the
stage. That's the face of determination, people! 

Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara were in the second group, slightly
more than one minute back of the leader. Sagan has really impressed
me so far on this Tour. He's been on the podium every day getting
the green jersey for sprinting. We'll see how he does in the mountains,
but he's turning into a very calculating and tough rider. 

Somewhere underneath all of the mud is the polka-dot jersey for
the King of the Mountains, currently worn by Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis).
I have no idea how he'll do when we really in the mountains, but
he certainly gave it his all on the cobblestones.  He finished
in 10th position, a bit more than one minute behind the leader. 

With Chris Froome out of it, Team Sky's hopes have
shifted to Richie Porte for their new GC contender. Here
Geraint Thomas pulls Porte forward to the finish line. Porte
ended the day  in 20th place, a bit more than two minutes
behind the leader. 

Here's the rest of the pack coming in to the finish. There were some surprising
times to come out of this group. Here is Alejandro Valverde followed by
Alberto Contador and Teejay van Garderen. Valverde and van Garderen
both lost 2:28, and Contador is now a whopping 2:54 behind the
leader and is placed in 37th. That may turn out to be insurmountable.
Contador may have been taken out of contention here on the
rain-slicked cobblestones of Belgium and France. 

Not quite the rainy pictures you were expecting? Well, it was a rather amazing stage, and I just had to share. So there you go - rainy pictures to start your day. Have a great Thursday. I'm on Day 4 of 6 so the crest of the hill has been passed and I'm on the downward slide. Thank goodness!

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