Am I odd for preferring Tour De L’Ain to the Olympics?

I know its only held once every 4 years and that I have loved watching Greg Van Avermaet in a gold crash helmet, but this Olympics has left me cold.

Whether it was the controversial build up with positive tests for Covid-19 across a number of sports that left me wondering if it would even happen, or my desire to visit the Jura which meant I was glued to the other race, I do not know.

But.

I relaxed more watching L’Ain and really got into the attacking riding in the moyenne montagne over the weekend.

Michael Storer of DSM was a worthy winner but each stage had everything I want in a bike race in France.

Sleepy stages going across beautiful farm land coupled with forested hill sides and a race that isn’t controlled by a super-team like Ineos or Jumbo.

Tokyo on the other hand was won brilliantly by Richard Carapaz, but on a deserted wide open car racing circuit.

Maybe it would have looked better with fans.

Even the sheer variety of events on offer doesn’t engage me. Its a really bizarre sensation.

Cycling to me is all about the dreams you have about riding your bike and the feelings and emotions it evokes.

It’s clear where my cycling desires lie isn’t it !

They come in rolling mountains and finish with a chunk of cheese and chilled white wine.

So let’s get stuck into the remainder of 2021 and love the fact there are races for all to enjoy !

Don’t get me started on how excited I am for the Arctic Race to start this week…

Tour De L’Ain 2021 Result

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
12▲1 STORER MichaelTeam DSM1251009:13:09
23▲1 VANHOUCKE HarmLotto Soudal85700:55
36▲3 BADILATTI MatteoGroupama – FDJ70501:01
413▲9 BAGIOLI AndreaDeceuninck – Quick Step60361:15
511▲6 SKJELMOSE JENSEN MattiasTrek – Segafredo50281:17
610▲4 CHAMPOUSSIN ClémentAG2R Citroën Team40241:23
71▼6 ZIMMERMANN GeorgIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux35201:29
84▼4 ROCHAS RémyCofidis, Solutions Crédits30181:39
95▼4 STEINHAUSER GeorgGermany25161:46
107▼3 DÍAZ José ManuelDELKO20141:57

Week 3 – Sleepy final week to the Tour

The final week of the Tour was a total non-event in terms of the general classification leaving many to wonder if the course wasn’t quite balanced enough to promote attacking riding.

Although to be fair when there was a summit finish it was generally either won by Tadej Pogacar or he gained time on his increasingly hapless looking rivals.

If it hadn’t been for Ben O’Connor and Jonas Vingegaard emerging from the shadows and taking the race on we would have been subjected to less action.

Pogacar was so far ahead after the final mountains that he and his team were able to let the latter stages play out with chaos on the road and breakaways ruling the roost.

Ineos Grenadiers had such a disaster with the fading of Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte that Richard Carapaz was their only hope.

Despite a couple of attacks he never once looked like dropping the other favourites.

His team also reverted to type after promising enterprising and attacking riding. They formed a train on the climbs and as mentioned in last weeks post, pretty much armchaired the yellow jersey to within a few kms of the finish on key stages.

I have no idea why they chose to ride in that way. Defensive and stifling they should have left more riders from lower down the top 10 to challenge in the way that Guillaume Martin did.

But they knew that if he hung on Carapaz was likely to get on to the podium and for Ineos that looked enough.

Contrast that with Jumbo/Visma who lost Primoz Roglic at the same time as Thomas faltered. They made sure that Vingegaard became a loose cannon, especially on the Mont Ventoux stage. The second prong to their fork was Wout Van Aert who became a stage hunter in the Sean Kelly, Peter Sagan mould.

Their tour will be a success, Ineos a failure.

I am not sure that the management of Jumbo is such that they showed great agility in adapating their planning. I put it down to the riders being strong on the road and mentality tough.

Despite getting boxed in by the Eddy Merckx mafia of Belgians in Paris (!), Mark Cavendish and Quickstep will be looking at this Tour as a real successs. He equalled the record and if thats as far as it goes then I am sure he will still be happy.

Julian Alaphillippe got his stage win and Cav the green jersey. Job done.

The main blot of the week 3 landscape was the police raid of Bahrain Victorious. This was the culmination of rumours since Rod Ellingworth left the team suddenly and they started winning.

Gino Mader and Mark Padun came from nowhere to win important races before the Tour and during this race Matej Mohoric and Dylan Theuns got wins (although neither was too surprising).

Foul seemed to be being cried over the sudden emergence of Sonny Colbrelli as a mountain climber, which was a little uncomfortable to watch at times.

But until there are charges from the investigation, and that goes for all stage and classification winners, not just Colbrelli, we will take the race and its outcomes at face value.

The good news for those of us who are down in the dumps this week with the race over is that the Tour of Wallonia starts today !

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
11 POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates100050082:56:36
22 VINGEGAARD JonasTeam Jumbo-Visma8003805:20
33 CARAPAZ RichardINEOS Grenadiers6753407:03
44 O’CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team57530010:02
55 KELDERMAN WilcoBORA – hansgrohe47528010:13
66 MAS EnricMovistar Team40026011:43
77 LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana – Premier Tech32524012:23
88 MARTIN GuillaumeCofidis, Solutions Crédits27522015:33
99 BILBAO PelloBahrain – Victorious22521016:04
1010 URÁN RigobertoEF Education – Nippo17520018:34

Week 2 belongs to Cav and Van Aert

The second week of the Tour de France offered only glipmses of a batte for the yellow jersey but was made famous for the wins of Mark Cavendish.

His two stage wins in Valence and Carcassonne book ended the week and gave us something to remember this race for.

His first stage win in 2008 was a “remember where you were moment“. I was in the car going to Skegness listening to Simon Brotherton on 5 live.

Friday I had it on in the background whilst working and from 2km to go to the finish was a nervous wreck.

He is level with the record now and its thoroughly deserved after his efforts in this race over the years.

At the other end of his Tour career is Wout Van Aert who was the other star of the week after winning the stage with a double ascent of the fearsome Mont Ventoux.

He was part of the breakaway for much of the stage before going clear with Kenny Elissonde and leaving him behind as Julian Alaphillippe tried to get across to them.

Behind Wout there was the merest hint of a battle for the GC with Jonas Vingegaard becoming the first person to drop Tadej Pogacar only to be pulled back on the descent thanks to some negative riding from Richard Carapaz and Rigo Uran.

Why those two didnt want to put the yellow jersey under pressure and leave him to chase Vingegaard on his own was beyond me.

It was a clear indication that they were only interested in riding for 2nd place. Which is poor.

In fact the whole Ineos tactical masterplan this week has been poor.

Short of giving Pogacar an armchair and slippers they have done very little other than keep Carapaz in with a shout of the podium.

What happened to last years pledge to go from long? be disruptive and shake up the race?

They have ridden the perfect mountain train for the race leader who isn’t in their team. Bonkers.

The second third weekend of the race took us into Andorra and saw some spectacular climbing and a deserved stage win for Sepp Kuss who continued the Jumbo/Visma comeback after the loss of leader Roglic.

Whilst I don’t see much changing in the top 10 this week, save Carapaz moving up to second or third, I will be keeping focus on Cav getting through the mountains within the time limit.

Fingers crossed he can make it to Paris.

NK.RIDERTEAMTIME
1 POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates62:07:18
2 URÁN RigobertoEF Education – Nippo5:18
3 VINGEGAARD JonasTeam Jumbo-Visma5:32
4 CARAPAZ RichardINEOS Grenadiers5:33
5 O’CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team5:58
6 KELDERMAN WilcoBORA – hansgrohe6:16
7 LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana – Premier Tech7:01
8 MAS EnricMovistar Team7:11
9 MARTIN GuillaumeCofidis, Solutions Crédits7:58
10 BILBAO PelloBahrain – Victorious10:59

The Tour is over…

The first rest day of the 2021 Tour de France has arrived with the race for the yellow jersey well and truly over.

History does warn us that we might see a change of winner of this race in the courts in 2025 but that is me being cynical and as of yet, other than being the best rider, there is no reason to accuse Tadej Pogacar of anything.

We are all just burned by the past.

The race has had so many great memories that even if the overall might be done and dusted (barring accident), we are not able to complain.

The first days steep finish saw Julian Alaphillippe soar from the front of a disintegrating peloton to win with ease.

A new father he took the time to add a baby sucking its thumb into his celebration, such was the dominance.

We were all waiting for Mathieu van der Poel to win that stage but a mistimed incident (not that crash the other one that took out Chris Froome) saw him with too much ground to make up.

He put it right on day 2 with the Mur de Bretagne being climbed twice.

It looked like madness on the first time up when MVDP shot clear only to be caught over the summit. But he had it under control having snatched a hand full of bonus seconds which meant that when he went up the climb the second time attacking in virtually the same spot he knew he could pull out enough of a gap to get the jersey from Julian.

As he flew over the line his arm shot skywards in homage to his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor. Multi times runner up in the Tour without ever getting the jersey.

Having sadly died before getting the chance to see Mathieu compete in the Tour, his grandson shed tears of joy and of grief at the end of the stage.

The other big story to come out of week one has been the resurgence of Mark Cavendish.

He had been long since written off and even threatened retirement in a tough to hear interview with Flemish TV at the end of 2020.

Quickstep rescued him from the Bahrain team and in the early season Belgian classics he was working hard and getting his nose into the wind as training.

He came close on a number of occasions before winning four stages of the Tour of Turkey.

He returned to that road captain, domestique role again for a few weeks before winning the final stage of the Tour of Belgium.

The injury to Sam Bennett opened the door for Cav to make another visit to the worlds biggest race and with 2 stage wins (including the symmetary of a win in Chateauroux where he took his maiden victory), he might not be done yet!

The second weekend of the race took us into the Alps and in protest at most of the famous big climbs being missing it produced some weather that even us Brits who are used to damp summers might complain about.

Dylan Theuns showed his Flandrien heritage by battling through the rain to win in Grand Bornand but the action was behind him with Pogacar romping away from everyone else.

After recent grand tours being settled by seconds, he is now minutes ahead of anyone else who could rival him.

And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again yesterday on the road into Tignes.

So the yellow jersey race might be done, but let’s look forward to some exciting stages in the coming days and hopefully some better weather!

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCITime
11 POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates2534:11:10
214▲12 O’CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team2:01
34▲1 URÁN RigobertoEF Education – Nippo5:18
45▲1 VINGEGAARD JonasTeam Jumbo-Visma5:32
56▲1 CARAPAZ RichardINEOS Grenadiers5:33
68▲2 MAS EnricMovistar Team5:47
77 KELDERMAN WilcoBORA – hansgrohe5:58
83▼5 LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana – Premier Tech6:12
912▲3 MARTIN GuillaumeCofidis, Solutions Crédits7:02
109▼1 GAUDU DavidGroupama – FDJ7:22

Great sporting day for the English…

…what do you mean “its coming home”?

I am talking about the Tour de France and the return of the 21st centuries most prolific stage winner at the race, Mark Cavendish.

As the sprinters chased down the ever hapless (he lost a race the other week by turning into a home owners drive way instead of crossing a junction) Brent van Moer in the final 300 metres of a close to 100 mile stage, Cav bided his time out of the wind.

All day the commentators had said that holding your sprint back on the uphill would be key.

Cav did it to perfection.

It was a dream return for the man who had been written off (even by me) as recent as last October.

One of the biggest sporting comebacks?

100%

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 CAVENDISH MarkDeceuninck – Quick Step1201003:20:17
2 BOUHANNI NacerTeam Arkéa Samsic5070,,
3 PHILIPSEN JasperAlpecin-Fenix2550,,
4 MATTHEWS MichaelTeam BikeExchange1540,,
5 SAGAN PeterBORA – hansgrohe532,,
6 BOL CeesTeam DSM26,,
7 LAPORTE ChristopheCofidis, Solutions Crédits22,,
8 PEDERSEN MadsTrek – Segafredo18,,
9 VAN POPPEL BoyIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux14,,
10 GREIPEL AndréIsrael Start-Up Nation10,,

I have followed his career since his first stage win at Chateauroux in 2008 (a town the race visits later this week) penning his name on the road in the mountains of 2009.

Is this the last hurrah?

I hope not, but what a way to go out if it is !

Tour of Cambs postponed again

Message from Tom Caldwell…

It is with a heavy heart that, despite the Tour of Cambridgeshire team straining every sinew to deliver this year’s event, we have been forced to postpone the event to June 3rd – 5th 2022.

As with all events – especially ones requiring road closures – we need to enter into some major contracts and financial commitments in the coming days if we are to deliver the event in September. We were hoping that lockdown restrictions on numbers of people allowed at a sporting event (4000) and social distancing would have been relaxed on June 21st. Sadly, this was not the case, and our risk assessments around a fair start procedure and control at feed stations make the event impossible to deliver in a compliant manner at this time.

Like all organisers, we are unable to insure our event for cancellation due to Covid restrictions. This leaves us in the impossible position of having to take a gamble that restrictions will be lifted in such a way that we can deliver the event. We are very conscious that the money we hold for entries is not our money, it is yours and we are not prepared to gamble with that. We’ve truly tried our best and put countless hours into trying to deliver the event without recompense as we are not eligible for government support, and we are determined to protect the events’ long-term future as we love this event, our sport, and the exciting plans we have in store for you at the next edition.

Having gone through a lot of soul searching we feel the sensible thing to do is put all our energies into organising a wonderful event in June 2022. We have put huge energy into upping our game in terms of the rider experience, expo, food festival, family activities, glamping and much more. In addition, you’ll also have the chance to qualify, in a timely fashion, for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in beautiful Trento.

We strongly believe that this will be the last time that we will have to ask you to be patient with us. All entries and services will be deferred until the June event and a copy of our key FAQs can be found below.

While we eagerly await next year’s event, we’ll host exciting challenges, competitions, giveaways and virtual events for you in the coming months, and we’ll be posting training resources, exclusive blogs and much more! We’ll be in touch soon with more details!

All of us at Team ToC look forward to seeing you in June next year.

Kind Regards,