What's Cool In Road Cycling

TDF’17 ROADSIDE St.10: Dodging The Dordogne Jobsworth!

Ed Roadside: After an afternoon/evening of mussels and rollers, Ed and Martin have hit the roads of the Dordogne to see some bike racing and catch up with some old friends. But every event has a ‘jobsworth’ and today he was on the Tour de France route, not to worry, the guys know the ropes and managed to see the French Grand Tour.

‘Deux kir, s’il vous plait monsieur.’
The bar is busy and smells of unwashed men, but it’s a sweaty job watching a stage depart on a warm afternoon in the Dordogne and the guys need a cool beer. And Martin needs a drink because he’s just been flicked by the Belgians – what’s new?

When we left the mussel party last night he had fastest time for the roller ‘derby’ – however, person or persons unknown have allegedly usurped his time so farewell to that weekend at Stybar’s B&B in the Czech Republic which was first prize for fastest on the night.

Still, the kirs were nice and our view of the ‘bike tree’ was uninterrupted.

Perigueux was the venue for our refreshment, the start of Stage 10 and our first look at the race with the team buses lined up in the main street and perfectly positioned for capturing riders, staff and bike pictures.

Our first port of call was the Quick-Step bus where our old Kiwi amigo Jack Bauer was looking longer and leaner than ever. And he’s a married man now, to the lovely Sarah. He’s a key part of the Kittel attack plan with his job to ride in from kilometer five to kilometer three in the finale at warp speed then drift in to the finish. He could well be in action today, Quick-Step DS Davide Bramati reckons it’s a 90% probability to be a sprinter stage, today.

After we’d said our ‘cheerio’s’ to Jack we couldn’t help but notice aforementioned ‘Big Marcel’s’ Specialized complete with ‘trick’ graphics – and discs. Being ‘old school’ we’re not big fans but the bike trade has to keep shifting units, we guess. . .

Cannondale-Drapac DS and former super domestique, Charly Wegelius is a man who’s always sound for a quote; ‘it’s always good to get a stage win in early in the race, it takes the pressure off. People are saying that Rigoberto Uran has ‘come back’ well but it’s not like he had a bad year in 2016, last year he finished his year off with good results in the Canadian World Tour races and third in Lombardia. But whilst Rigo’s stage win was great we’re still looking for opportunities.’

Charly has been joined at Cannondale by ex-pro and author, Tom Southam who was winning races in the UK as recently as 2009 and is now a full time DS with the squad. Tom was telling Martin that the French police have clamped down on driving on race route – with use of a mobile phone while at the wheel of a team car meaning banishment from the race for several days.

Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) is another who’s looking slimmer and stronger than ever, he can wear that nice red, white and blue jersey in every stage of this race, seeing as how he’s British road race and time trial champion. Watch for him at the end of this week. . .

Dimension Data head honcho, Doug Ryder wasn’t far away and whilst obviously deeply disappointed at the loss of Mark Cavendish, was keen to ‘talk up’ his Norwegian rider, Edvald Boasson Hagen’s chances. ‘Edvald has always been fast at the finish, we just needed to get riders there to support him.’ But now that they have South African Champion, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg on point for the affable former Norwegian Champion, he’s well in the mix, only losing Stage Seven to sprint king Kittel by six millimeters. As we left, Eddy BH was being interviewed by Norwegian TV along with compatriot and former Tour stage winner, Dag Otto Lauritzen.

Shimano’s Big Bert Roosems is never far away from le Tour de France, now that 17 of the race’s 22 teams run the Japanese company’s product. Bert was excited about Kittel’s win on discs; ‘the first in the Tour de France.’ But to the $64,000 question of whether the whole peloton will adopt the new ‘freinage’ there was no firm response. We asked if the current MTB trend for one chain ring and 11 sprockets will catch on for the road but Bert reckons it’s unlikely.

Fortuneo’s British sprinter, Dan McLay is an unusual example of the breed, polite, laid back and far from the stereotypical aggressive fast man. He’ll have his chance again today and whilst he’s happy he has a couple of good boys to take care of him in the finale he reckons it’s every man for himself in a finish which has two roundabouts in the last three K and two 90 lefts inside the red kite.

We were impressed with the stars today; all of them had plenty of time for the kids, even with roll out approaching.

Time to go for us – across the peaceful, rolling roads of the Dordogne. The fourth cat. Cote du Buisson-de-Cadouin at 135 kilometers with around 40K to go and we had to defeat the ‘jobsworth’ on the roundabout who wouldn’t let us on to the parcours despite us having perfectly correct credentials. However, we’re veterans of jobsworthiness and a quick deviation through an industrial estate, a simpatico cop and we were on the climb. Park up.

The cicadas play the only tune they know, spectateurs clad in their Direct Energie freebee T-shirts and Skoda hats study me carefully with my Tour creds around my neck and fancy camera sitting on the grass beside me. The sky is streaky grey with low cloud but the sun is doing its best to burn a hole. Motor bikes and cars speed by, air horns blast, even the cops wave.

The sound of rotor blades hacking at the warm air can be heard above the cicadas, the crowd stirs from its torpor – many will have been here for hours. ‘Two minutes, forty seconds’ is the gap to the almost certainly doomed break the information car tells us.

An armada of motos – why so many?

Two men, both Tour debutants, 205 Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert & France) and 214 Elie Gisbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro & France) – the old war horse and the ‘new wave’ Frenchman.

A gap. More cars, more motos.

The peloton, all 179 of them with Christopher in yellow and well to the fore. There are no waifs or strays, it’s not that kind of day. More motos, cars, vans, le voiture bailait – mercifully with no customers. And that’s a sprinter stage in le Tour for many; just a couple of minutes action – but part of the way of life. And did I mention the traffic chaos?

We get the news that Big Marcel has made it FOUR as we inch across the Dordogne – how appropriate. Another sprinter stage tomorrow but we’ll try to keep it interesting for you. . .

A demain.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.