ysobelle: (Kayli)
[personal profile] ysobelle
Stage 6, Arpajon-sur-Cère to Montauban, 190.5km

Skidding into the live coverage right at the end. Ooops. So let’s see where we are: doesn’t seem to be a breakaway at this point, and the whole peloton is shaking down for a fine sprint finish. Peter Sagan is in green today, as he lost hello yesterday. So Cav moves out of green and into his regular Dimension Data jersey. Greg Van Avermaet is still in Yellow, of course, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Looking back, seems there was an early breakaway of two riders: Jan Barta of Bora-Argon 18, and Yukiya Arashiro of Lampre-Merida. They’re nowhere in the GC, so the peloton doesn’t give a damn. The commenters over at The Guardian are having a FIELD DAY with them, though.

Hugh Brechin @HughRBrechin
@LawrenceOstlere Quite a lot of people working at CERN have devoted decades to the frustrating study of Barta-Arashiro particles.

Neil Wellard @theneildeal
@LawrenceOstlere Barta Arashiro is a craft beer brewed by Buddhist monks. They only make 317 bottles a year.

geoffrey manboob @geoffreymanboob
@LawrenceOstlere name the breakaway - Barta & Arashiro: loveable lead characters from a Studio Ghibli film

Russ McClintock @RussMcClintock
@LawrenceOstlere Arashiro and Barta, two minor characters in the Graham Greene novel The End of the Breakaway.

Inevitably, of course, they’re caught, just as the cameras catch a woman, wrapped in a French flag, on a horse galloping alongside the road. They-- the cyclists, not including the horse-- had a lead of almost five minutes at one point, but just two guys on a long breakaway have very little chance of making it to the end from so early. Well done, guys.

55km/35mph right now, which doesn’t sound too fast until you’re in the middle of it. They pass a field filled with old cars and tractors in the shape of a bicycle. It’s kind of awesome.

11km to go. The peloton is lines, now: Sky, SMB, Lotto, Tinkoff, Dimension Data. Direct Energie has been pushing the pace hard— they want Bryan Coquard up there, and they’ll burn up the peloton to get him there.

10.4km. Paul and Phil are talking about the Giant-Alpecin team. I’d forgotten this: back in January, they were out on a training run when a driver going the wrong way on the highway smashed into them. Amazingly, no one was killed, but John Degenkolb nearly lost a finger, and has some pretty hardcore PTSD. There he is, though, in the peloton, after a very competitive year so far. These guys are tougher than their carbon fibre bikes, I swear.

Lotto comes to the fore, setting up Andre Greipel. They’re not starting the sprint or anything: they just want to make sure they set the pace, and have a clear shot for their guy. But all the other teams have the same idea, of course. Etixx wants Kittel up there. Dimension Data has their setup for Cav. Direct Energy, too, for Bryan Coquard. And hey, John Degenkolb is in there, and word is he’s going to try for this sprint, too. You know I have to root for him.

All of them are snaking into town— all, btw, we still haven’t had any abandons, and that’s amazing— and it’s really speeding up. Some riders are dropping back already, work done for the day. The leadout men and sprinters are getting into place. The front of the peloton is strung out from sheer speed. Under the 1km!

Sagan and Cav are in there front— Cav behind Kittel— go go go ! The sprint is on! GO MARK GO!!!


Jesus, this is like watching Cav from three years ago. He was perfect. He used Marcel Kittel as a leadout man, and WHAM— made it look effortless. He’s now a solid second for Tour Stage wins, and only Eddie Merckx is ahead of him. After the stage, Cav dedicates the win to his brand-new niece, born yesterday to his little brother. Welcome to the world, little Darcy!

Another amazingly wonderful thing about the Tour this week, though I know I’ve mentioned it before: we still have 198 riders. This is incredible. No one has abandoned. This has never, ever happened before. We’ve had crashes, of course— I’m used to the first week of the Tour being drenched in blood: the whole week is usually full of nerve-related pileups. And there have been injuries this year. Some guys are suffering through multiple incidents, any one of which would have felled a lesser human. But they’re all still there. That’s amazing. This is the kind of good news I really like.

Cav gets his Green Jersey back. He’s now 29 points ahead of Peter Sagan, and man, he’s happy about it. There’s a rumour he’ll leave the Tour early, to get ready for the Olympics. I hate to see anyone leave the Tour early, but I must admit it makes sense: there’s nothing he’s going to be able to do on the upcoming mountain stages except suffer. I’m also hearing a lot about Fortuneo rider Dan McLay, who is a young, talented British sprinter. As John MacLeary of The Telegraph puts it: “A place on the podium was a stunning reward for McLay, who is making his Tour debut this season and has now had four top 10s in his first six days.” He took a very impressive third today, so he’s someone we’re going to be watching, and seeing often in coming years.

So there we are. Greg Van Avermaet maintains his hold on the Maillot Jaune. Cav’s back in Green. Thomas de Gendt is in Polka Dots. I was wrong about Richie Porte: he’s actually over seven minutes down, which isn’t great, though he’s not exactly alone. His teammate Tejay Van Garderen is the highest-placed American, in eleventh place at 5.17 back. But none of that really matters right now, of course, because race leader Van Avermaet? Their teammate. They all have yellow helmets right now because of him.

As ever, though, it’ll all change the mountains. We’ll see.

Mark Cavendish, centre, crosses the line to take his twenty-ninth carpet Tour Stage win, while watching Marcel Kittel, right. Left, fellow Brit Dan McLay, in black and green, takes third. (Getty Images.)

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