Tour Tweets of the Week: The best of times, the worst of times

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!

Pres Giant boat a Pres Giant boat Pres Giant selfie 2 Pres Giant selfie

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.

Pres Katusha selfie 1 Pres Katusha selfie 2

And it’s the Tinkoffs with Baby Blackbird front and centre.

Pres Tinkoff selfie 1a Pres Tinkoff selfie

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?

Pres Contador canary

As we saw in the Giro, Juan Antonio Flecha brings something sparkly out of the riders as he interviews them.

Pres Flecha 2a Pres Flecha 2

I am obsessed with the Velvet Samurai’s mane of hair. The best he’s looked in quite some time.

Pres Sagan 2 Pres Sagan 1Tejay 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.

Pres TvG 1 Pres TvG 2

Romain Bardet, meanwhile, is still sporting the ‘seven-year-old’s-bed-head’ look. Cute.

Pres Ag2r selfie 2

My Beloved Cancellara was back and setting sail to what he said might very well be his last Tour de France. I wonder …

Pres Trek Selfie

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.

Pres Etixx 1 Pres Etixx 2 pres Etixx 3

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 …

pres Four 1 Pres Four 1a Pres Four 1b

“No, the memo said I could wear the aqua tee and navy shorts. I’m not going to change, YOU change.”

Pres Four 2

Pres Wiggo

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.

St1 Cav 1

St1 Cav 2

The answer to everything.

St1 41

St1 Contador 1 St1 Contador 2

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.

St1 BMC warm

Giants on the course.

St1 Giant 1 St1 Giant 2 St1 Giant 3

If you wonder if the riders notice things in the crowd, Greg Henderson confirms that, yes, they do.

St1 Henderson

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.

St1 Nibs ice St1 Ice Contador St1 KdK ice 1 St1 KdK ice 2

Thibaut on the turbo.

St1 Pinot

The lovely Alex Dowsett.

St1 Alex Kappel 1 St1 Alex Kappel 2 St1 Alex booty

Some magnificent pics from Jered Gruber.

St1 Gruber pics 1 St1 Gruber pics 2 St1 Gruber pics 4

St1 Cance 1 St1 Cance 2

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.

St 1 Cance 2

St1 Cance 4a St1 Cance 4b

St1 Cance 5 St1 Cance 6

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.

St1 close call

St1 Yellow hug

Everyone knows it’s windy

Stage two soaked the riders while splitting them up all along the road. Just like a March classic!

St2 Gruber 2a St2 Gruber 1

St2 wind 1 St2 wind 2

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)

St2 Hansen 1After all the rain and the echelons, it came down to a small bunch sprint. Hmmm, can you call four guys a ‘bunch’ – perhaps a sprig sprint.

St2 bunch

And the Gorilla takes the day. Seems odd that it would be the first time Andre Greipel wore the green jersey. Fully deserved.

St2 Greipel 1 St2 Greipel 2 St2 Greipel win1 St2 Greipel win2

St2 Greipel green 1 St2 Greipel green

St2 Hansen 3 St2 Hansen 6

The old lion sprints for third to get the bonus seconds to take his 29th yellow jersey.

St2 Fabs yellow

St2 Cance 2 St2 Cance 5

St2 Cance interview 7

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.

St2 Cav 1 St2 Cav 2 St2 Cav 4 St2 Cav 5 St2 Cav 6 St2 Cav early

At least Tony got a kiss before the stage.

St3 Martin kisses

Meanwhile, in other news, KwiatKrush picks up most aggressive rider.

St2 Kwiat 1a

“Dad, do you think we’re going to get to peewee racing in time?” “Yes, now do your homework.”

St2 Kwiat 1 St2 Kwiat 2

Sometimes you just need some sugar. (And, hey, isn’t Marshall Kappel getting some downright fabulous pictures?)

St2 Sagan 3 St2 Sagan 2 St2 Thomas1 St2 Thomas 2 St2 Thomas

A bit of honesty from Alex.

St2 Alex

It was a shoulder dislocation for Adam. But he’s still riding.

St2 Hansen pain

And broken shoes for Koen de Kort – only his pride wounded in this mishap.

St2 KdK shoes

And the final say on this stage:

St2 Griepel like

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.

St3 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.

St3 aftermath 9

St3 Neutral 1 St3 Neutral 2 St3 neutral 4 St3 neutral 5 St3 neutral 7 St3 neutral 8 St3 neutral 9

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.

One of the worst was FDJ’s William Bonnet. Bonnet annouce

St3 aftermath 1

St3 aftermath 10

St3 aftermath 2

St3 aftermath 16

St3 aftermath 15

St3 aftermath 7

St3 aftermath 14 Henderson St3 aftermath Hend 3 St3 aftermath Hend 4 St3 aftermath Henderson

St3 aftermath 5

After that crash, the cars took the riders through a bollard-obstructed road. Miracle no one came down on those. What were they thinking?

St3 aftermath 6

St3 aftermath 13

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.

St3 aftermath 12a St3 aftermath 11b St3 aftermath 8

St3 aftermath 3

Fabs instagram

The last word

Last word STef scary

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