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Tour de France 2011 Stage 1 Passage du Gois -> Mont des Alouettes

July 3, 2011

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The Tour de France started again yesterday. I haven’t had time to watch much cycling this year, because I simply didn’t have the time. Graduate school, teaching a full load of classes, freelance blogging just got in the way. However, I never miss the Tour de France and I was happy to see it again on my computer screen. It took a while for me to get the stage, but I kept away from news feeds and watched it late last night.

It was a wonderful start to the race. The fact that they changed the way that the Green Jersey points are given out makes all of the sprinting teams jockey for position for their lead-out trains mid-race, which is something that I’ve never seen before. Like all stages, there were some crashes, but nothing too serious. Van de Walle (OLO) took the hardest crash, but was back up and racing to help his team leader Gilbert win the stage. It’s been 86 days since Gilbert lost a race, so he’s this year’s golden boy. Even the Schleck brothers couldn’t match him up during the season.

I don’t like seeing Contador in the Tour de France. If he gets banned, he will get stripped of a lot of race wins, from last year’s Tour de France to this year’s Giro. Hopefully Andy Schleck will beat Contador cleanly so this won’t happen with this year’s race. Since Contador was involved in a crash within 8km of the end, he’s already 1:19 behind the leaders, but it’s still early going.

Van de Walle from Omega Pharma took a nasty spill at 125.5km. He was trying to signal the riders behind him about a piece of garden furniture. At the same time, he hit a speed bump and went down. He hit his head nastily. There were also two others Omega Pharma riders who hit the deck. Van de Walle started riding again and trying to make it back to the front.

There are three riders at the front, at about 4:31. Jérémy Roy (FDJ 138), Louis Westra (Vacansoleil 209), and Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar 187).

There have been a lot of changes in the teams this year. I haven’t watched much of the other races, due to lack of time, but the Tour de France fits perfectly in the beginning of summer, so I will be able to watch all of the stages.

The Movistar riders are the only team rolling Pinarello Dogmas with the new Campagnolo electronic groupset. Team Sky is riding the new Dogma2. It’s good to see both Andy and Frank Schleck riding for Leopard Trek together. This year, there is no time trial to begin the stage, so Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) won’t have the Yellow Jersey to begin the Tour.

The gap is down to 4m at 115.8km. The first sprint is at 104km. We’ll see if the sprinting teams will bring the gap down to something manageable so that their sprinters can win some points.

The gap is slowly coming down. We’re at 3:45 at 113.4km. Europcar’s Colnago C59s look pretty good. I like the yellow fluorescent highlights on black carbon fiber.

I don’t think that Contador should have been allowed to compete. In fact, he should have been stripped of his titles and banned. It brings so much uncertainty this year. Hopefully, Schleck will win and put all of that to rest. There are more points available in the Green Jersey competition during the intermediate sprints. It’s supposed to force the sprinter’s teams to work harder for the points.

There is also a points subtraction rule for riders who get timed out. They can end up with negative points for this. The leading riders will make it first to the PMU intermediate sprint. They have a 3:49 lead over the peloton.

Petacchi and Cavendish are moving their teams forward. They want to grab some points to start the day. The lead riders are actually sprinting for the points. Roy beats the others initially and has them beat. He gets 20pts, Westra gets 17pts, and Quemeneur gets 15pts.

The pace has accelerated in the peloton. With the amount of points available, we are seeing something unusual. This is something we usually see at the end of a stage. They are really starting to accelerate quickly. It’s like a train at the end of a stage.

Cavendish goes for the sprint, but Tyler Farrar and Greipel beat him. Cavendish went too early and he was outgunned. Two guys from Movistar also got some good points. Farrar gets 13pts, Greipel gets 11pts, and Ventoso gets 10pts. Galimzyanov has 9pts, Bozic has 8pts, and Boonen 7pts. Cavendish got 5pts and Petacchi got opts.

At 102km, the lead is down to 2:38. At 99km, we see Vinokourov making his way back to the front. There are a lot of stationed riders no the side. The lead is back to 3:28.
There were a few mistakes in the lead out train of Garmin Cervelo for Cavendish. He lounged for a non-existent line and there were some miscommunications. At 97km, the lead is back to 3:44.

There are a lot of roundabouts toward the end of the race. The peloton has slowed down significantly, at least for now. The lead is back up to 4:15 at 95.2km. At 93.5, the gap is 4:44.

Sylvain Chavanel is the new French champion from Quick Step. The pace has accelerated again. At 89.1km, it’s 3:53. At 85km, it’s 3:20.

The peloton is going through a feeding station. The pace has slowed down a bit again.

The Omega Pharma Lotto team is accelerating the pace. At 81.2km, it’s 3:03. At 79.3km, it’s 2:48. Tomorrow, there is a team time trial.
Philippe Gilbert (the Belgian champion) from Omega Pharma comes back to the team car to talk strategy. The gap has gone down quickly and now the gap is back up again. At 75.8km, it is 3:40.

At 75.4km, there is a crash. The peloton comes to a stop. Team Radioshack and Katusha were involved. It wasn’t anything serious.
Gilbert is back at the front talking strategy with his team. Other teams are talking as well. The pace has slowed. Omega Pharma decided not to exhaust itself with the pursuit. They will let other teams take control. At 72.1km, the lead is 4:54. At 70.5km, it’s 5:29.

At 60.9km, it’s 4:14. At 53.7km, someone goes off the side of the road. A few others crash. The pace slows down. Linus Gerdemann’s bike is on the floor. A rider from Europcar also crashed. They just went into the ditch. On the other side, there was also a bit of trouble, but they managed to continue.

At 52.5km, it’s 3:14. At 45.3km, it’ 2:45. At 41.2km, it’s 2:15. At 39.1km, it’s 1:45. At 32.3km, it’s 1:06. At 32.2km, Perez from Euskaltel Euskadi hits the deck. At 29.9km, the gap is 59″.

HTC Highroad and Team Sky are using Di2. At 23km, it’s 33″. At 19.2km, the three riders are caught.

At 15.5km, the riders are jockeying for position. They are somewhat nervous. Europcar is at the front. The pace is pretty quick. The peloton is strung out.
In the last 6km, there are 9 roundabouts to negotiate. There is a big crash at 9.6km. An Astana rider in the front of the peloton took down a load of riders. It blocked the whole road. The Astana rider hit a spectator, who was looking the wrong way. 40 riders must have hit the deck. Now, the peloton must be split.

BMC and Europcar are in the front of the pack. La tête de la course hits the 6km mark and the roundabouts. The rest of the peloton is now 32″ back.
Contador was part of the crash. That served him well. The gap will stand, as it didn’t happen within 3km. Now, the interesting part starts to happen. The team riders are jockeying for position at the front.

The riders have started the small climb towards the end of the stage. At 2.7km, the Contador group is back 39″. Omega Pharma Lotto start to accelerate. They are in front.
There is another crash, at around 1.9km. A rider from Katusha takes off, but he’s brought back. Gilbert is 2nd. The front of the peloton has split again. Cancellara tries to take off. Gilbert is right after him. Gilbert overtakes him. Cadel Evans picks up the pace. He beats Cancellara. Gilbert makes it to the front and wins the stage. Evans is 2nd. Hushovd is at the front as well.

Omega Pharma Lotto is celebrating, even the riders who are still racing. The Contador is 1:19 behind the leaders.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 1:10 am

    The tour is a great event to watch. I am trying to find out how I can watch it with cable.

    • July 5, 2011 8:17 am

      I don’t know. I watch it using some European torrents.

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