Jul. 4th, 2017

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Oh my G-d, is that the sun? Seriously? Well, isn’t that nice! We have six riders in today’s breakaway for most of the race. We’ve three riders giving chase— and hey! They’ve actually made the jump! So now there are nine riders out ahead by almost 50 seconds. Strategically, two of these riders now have teammates in this breakaway, which means organisation, which means the breakaway may indeed stay away today. We shall see.


Most fun bit today is the swing the Tour takes through, of all places, the Spa-Francorchamps Formula One racing circuit. I don’t really like that kind of racing, but I have to admit, it is cool as hell to see the peloton snaking around the track. Seriously, awesomely cool. Did I mention it’s cool? Cos it is. And then it’s over. Oh, well. 


Back behind, the peloton is waking up. There was a slow, small crash, but it doesn’t look like anyone actually hit the deck, thankfully. Today’s colour comments from Bob Roll were what I was talking about yesterday: sleeping on road rash is hell. You move every eight minutes, he says. Imagine rolling over on open wounds every eight minutes. Ugh. How about not?


Bad news is Taylor Phinney has lost the King of the Mountains Jersey. The good news is it’s been taken by Nate Brown, one of the other three Americans in the race this year. Well, good news for Americans, that is. 


There are two chases now: three, then two, following the four in front. We’re seven miles from the French border, and the fields are full of the most insane, huge-scale art. Dozens of people forming enormous, moving bicycles. It’s so cool! Especially with the sun shining and the peloton streaming past in technicolour.


Well, the hindmost chasers are swallowed back into the peloton, leaving seven to keep away: four, then two, with poor Adam Hansen of Lotto Soudal in the middle trying desperately to get up to the leaders all by himself. I don’t think it’s going to happen— there’s no one to help him with aerodynamics. He’s expending all that energy alone, and “Hey, guys! Wait up!” isn’t going to work.


Oh, UGH. Romain Bardet has had a mechanical, and AG2R is desperate to get him back into the race. He’s been booted from a race before for drafting the team car, so he and the two riders assisting him all need to watch what they’re doing. It’s okay if they leapfrog from one car to another while they’re working through the caravan, but to stay behind one car for too long is a serious no. Come on, guys. Move out.


Holy cow. There’s a really nasty finish today. Narrow road, 11% grade climb, and TWO hairpins.


Ouf. On a climb, now, and the leaders’ group has gone boom. Two have dropped back, leaving two to ride on. Watching these poor bastards struggle up an incline after all their hard work just feels sadistic. In fact, the two leaders have separated. Lilian Calmejane is all alone out front, with Pierre-Luc Perichon behind him. Oops— Perichon has been eaten. 


15km to go, now, and very long shots down the road show the colourful impressionist shadow of the peloton all across the road behind Calmejane. He’s all alone, which means his chances of staying away are, sadly, nil.


Oh no! A few riders have gone down in a crash. Not many, and everyone’s up again, but it’s a little scary, as ever. Looks like it was just a touch of wheels in the pack, and it actually doesn’t even look like anyone hit the ground too hard, if at all. Which reminds me: earlier today, seems yesterday’s breakaway rider Thomas Boudat had a fall, and, when last seen, was carrying his right arm at that distinct angle that says “I didn’t need that collarbone, anyway.” I hope I’m wrong,


Ohhh, the catch. Wow— sorry, Lilian. Everyone’s back together now, and the peloton is converging on and in Longwy. 3km to go. The streets are so narrow! Greg von Avermaet is in the front; so is Michael Matthews. They have a mile left— it’s not time for a leadout yet, but everyone seems to be scrambling nonetheless! Peter Sagan is boxed in— will he be able to get through? A moment of levity: Marcel Kittel waves to the cameras as they start up the 11% climb to the finish— he knows he’s not a climber, and he’s not even going to try. Y’all have fun.


The Flamme Rouge! 1km left! OH! Richie Porte is in the front! Contador is right behind him! Geraint Thomas is back there— Porte is multiple lengths in front— but Sagan is coming! Sagan is in front— Geraint Thomas is up there too, Dan Martin— Sagan isn’t having it! OMG, Sagan’s foot has come unclipped from his pedal! He doesn’t panic, clips back in, keeps going! Michael Matthews challenges on the left, but nope! Sagan throws his bike, and then sits up, arm raised in confident victory. He’s got it, and he knows it.


It wasn’t the most tortuous or brain-exploding stage, today, but it was good riding, and, finally, good weather. I can deal with that. 


Your treat for the day? A little bit of fun from today’s stage winner. No, I have NO IDEA why. Just enjoy it. 



Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan celebrates his victory. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
 Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan celebrates his victory. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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Guiilame van Keirsbulck. There’s a name. This guy took off from the first km, and stayed away for quite a while. 193km he stayed there, but now, ten miles from the end, he sees the peloton right on his back wheel. Aw, man. He shakes his head, makes a throat-cut gesture with a sigh. He did damned well.


Oh, man. There are two 90-degree corners at the end of the damned course today. Right before the finish! They’re inside the 3km safe zone, so yay for that, but that’s not going to help the sprinter’s leadouts. I mean, but definition, this isn’t the best sprinters’ finish, but everyone wants those points, so it’s still going to be crazy.


The peloton is out in the country, still, and organized into team lines, already. There are some tempers, too. Sky is staying to the right, keeping to themselves, keeping Froome safe. He’s tucked into the wheel of still-race-leader Geraint Thomas. He just needs to stay near the top of the standings for now.


Speed is cranked up, tension is cranked up. They’re under the 2km banner and fighting for positions. Cav is in third in his train, perfect. Where’s Greipel? Where’s Kittel? Not a lot of time! Oh, man, thank G-d, they’re through the — NO! NO! HUGE crash! Yellow Jersey is down! OH FUCK!


I can’t see who’s down! Sagan is the— boassenhagen! CAV IS THE— where’ this train? SMASH INTO THE BARRIERS! TWO MEN DOWN! FUCK FUCK! It’s Cav and Sagan! No— Degenkolb! And they’re not getting up!


Arnold Demare, French National Champion, has taken the stage, but the medics have run past up the road to the men still on the ground. Cav slammed so hard and so long into the barriers, and John Degenkolb had nowhere to go but a somersault straight over him with his bike. It looks like Cav was trying to get between Sagan and the barrier and it just— disaster. 


Fuck fuck fuck— Cav— oh FUCK. Helped back on his bike, crossing the line with a teammate’s hand on his back, because HE’S HOLDING HIS RIGHT ARM TUCKED TO HIS CHEST.


I am literally screaming. SCREAMING. You KNOW what that means in cycling. You know. It means bad bad bad. Most often a broken collarbone. Most often out of the race. FUCK. 


There’s a shot of Cav dismounting at his bus. His jersey is split wide open from shoulder to waist, and road rash on his shoulder. His right hand is already bandaged, and blood is already seeping through. He’s holding his right arm against him, someone takes his bike. Peter Sagan is right fucking there at the door, right there to try and see how he is. There is no usual grin, no bright goofiness from Sagan. He puts his hand on Cav’s shoulder, and Cav, face blank in shock, pats him on the back. No hard feelings. It looks on the replays like Sagan threw an elbow to shove him, but he did not— Cav tried to get through where there wasn’t a space at high speed, and Sagan reacted normally, trying to keep his balance. There are no hard feelings, and no complaints lodged. Cav took a risk, and it didn’t work. And it was a risk at 40mph.




So. Geraint Thomas is zipped into yet another Maillot Jaune. Demare, mage winner, is now points leader, so he gets the Green Jersey. He has 124 points, and Sagan only has 95 at second place, so that’s a pretty good gap. Nate Brown is still in Polka Dots, which is an amazing feat for an American. A good day for it, being the 4th. Taylor Phinney is still in third in those placements, with Peter Sagan in between.


Cav’s Sport Director Roger Hammond is talking to the press. Doctor is looking at him, then he’s getting x-rays. He’s throwing some shade on Sagan, but I get that. He’s probably very emotional. Not to mention Cav is absolutely their shining star. 


Fuck. I don’t want to go look at the news, but I’m gonna.


oh my g-d.


I literally have nothing to say about this. 


oh my G-d.




I don’t agree. I’m just…okay. Done for today.

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