It’s only been three stages so far in the 2015 Tour de France but so much has happened – good, bad and ugly – it’s downright Dickensian. We’ve had #HardAsNails, young cubs and the pride of an old lion who lost, won and lost again. It’s a long one, this week, so settle back with a drink as we go from the presentation to the hospital.
Fresh faced and leaner than lean
It’s a boat load of Giants greeting the crowds. Everyone looked so excited!
Well, Katusha’s Luca Paolini has even trimmed back his beard in honour of the Tour! His bestubbled look is preferred here at Fondue Towers.
And it’s the Tinkoffs with Baby Blackbird front and centre.
I guess the TdF organisers are not up on the nicknames – he’s Baby Blackbird not a canary, guys! Did all the GC favourites get a canary?
As we saw in the Giro, Juan Antonio Flecha brings something sparkly out of the riders as he interviews them.
I am obsessed with the Velvet Samurai’s mane of hair. The best he’s looked in quite some time.
Tejay Van Garderen, however, went in the opposite direction, do-wise. Possibly to feel the breeze on his scalp through the helmet vents as he rides through France. Considering the heat in Utrecht on the weekend, he might have had the right idea.
Romain Bardet, meanwhile, is still sporting the ‘seven-year-old’s-bed-head’ look. Cute.
My Beloved Cancellara was back and setting sail to what he said might very well be his last Tour de France. I wonder …
I would think that any rider who was claustrophobic would not do well at one of these press conferences. Cav and KwiatKrush in the midst of the press scrum.
A slightly awkward, kind of strange, photoshoot with the Big Four. They seem to have found a time machine to take them back to a 1950s camp site. Oh, if only we could turn back time …
“No, the memo said I could wear the aqua tee and navy shorts. I’m not going to change, YOU change.”
Feelin’ hot hot hot
Stage 1 was a hotly contested individual time trial of 13.8km. Not that long, but it was absolutely roasting out there. Warning: this section contains gratuitous pictures of men covered in sweat.
Cav in the start house.
The answer to everything.
I really wish I could set this column to play music … I would have loved the theme to Odd Couple come on as you scroll down to this picture.
Giants on the course.
If you wonder if the riders notice things in the crowd, Greg Henderson confirms that, yes, they do.
It might look a bit, well, crafternoon-y, the way the ice cubes were stuck to the velcro vest like giant fake diamonds, but needs must.
Thibaut on the turbo.
The lovely Alex Dowsett.
Some magnificent pics from Jered Gruber.
Fabs was targetting the win to go into the yellow jersey but couldn’t beat Rohan Dennis‘s time – or Tony Martin‘s. In case you can’t read that caption, it says “It was so hot, my tongue felt like sandpaper.” Please note the reverential Juan Antonio waiting for Fabs to collect himself.
Rohan really was in the hot seat for most of the day. But it was worth it. He was the first yellow jersey of the 2015 Tour.
Everyone knows it’s windy
Stage two soaked the riders while splitting them up all along the road. Just like a March classic!
One of the toughest riders in the race went down. From the TV pictures, you could see Adam holding his arm as if he had a shoulder injury, but gesturing for his bike. He was not going to let his 12th consecutive GT end in the second stage. (More on Adam in a minute)
And the Gorilla takes the day. Seems odd that it would be the first time Andre Greipel wore the green jersey. Fully deserved.
The old lion sprints for third to get the bonus seconds to take his 29th yellow jersey.
But, as seems to be the way of the racing, there was controversy. Cavendish controversy. Did he sit up? Who knows. Did he go too soon? Obviously. Did he realise that he was scuppering Tony Martin‘s dreams of the yellow jersey by coming fourth? Possibly not in the heat of the moment. Did everyone weigh in? Of course. Did Cav weigh back at them? Oh yeah.
At least Tony got a kiss before the stage.
Meanwhile, in other news, KwiatKrush picks up most aggressive rider.
“Dad, do you think we’re going to get to peewee racing in time?” “Yes, now do your homework.”
Sometimes you just need some sugar. (And, hey, isn’t Marshall Kappel getting some downright fabulous pictures?)
A bit of honesty from Alex.
It was a shoulder dislocation for Adam. But he’s still riding.
And broken shoes for Koen de Kort – only his pride wounded in this mishap.
And the final say on this stage:
A rage of a stage
One of the most controversial stages in the history of the Tour de France, I reckon. Some people – both riders and fans – acquitted themselves with grace and compassion. Some did not. Personally, I know what kind of fan I’d like to be – and the kind of rider I’d like to be a fan of.
It started with a premonition.
Then there was a massive crash – two in fact – which meant that the doctors and ambulances were tied up. The race officials decided to neutralise and then stop the race until bikes and riders and medical staff could get untangled.
There is one or two pictures in here from the crash sight but only ones where the riders were up – I’m not interested in publishing pictures of guys strewn across the road and in the ditches. If you haven’t seen the crash pictures, you won’t need to after you see the tweets from the guys caught up in it. Some were able to get up and ride to the finish with injuries that makes you wonder if that was the smart thing to do. Others went straight into the ambulances.
After that crash, the cars took the riders through a bollard-obstructed road. Miracle no one came down on those. What were they thinking?
As we all know, Fabian Cancellara came down in that crash and when he got up it looked like he was saying he’d hit his head and couldn’t see properly. But he got on his bike and rode the rest of the race, including the 20% gradients of the Mur de Huy. X-rays showed he fractured the opposite set of vertebrae as the ones he fractured in the spring.