After a day with their feet up (if you ignore the long training/recovery rides they’ll have done as well) the race is back on today. The big news from the race yesterday was the French police arresting Remy di Gregorio for doping offences. He’s been sacked by his team (Cofidis) and withdrawn from the Tour, though unlike when something similar happened in 2007, Cofidis won’t be withdrawing from the race entirely as it seems the allegations centre around Di Gregorio’s time at Astana. My favourite comment on the whole situation was this tweet:
Kudos to the French police who found Rémi di Gregorio because nobody watching the race has seen him.
And on that note as there’s no racing from yesterday to talk about, I thought I’d share a few cycling related links with you, so you can find where I get my information and opinions from. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but just a few things you may find interesting.
There are many cycling and Tour related Twitter accounts – it seems that everyone in the peloton has one, as well as their being one in every support vehicle. Most of the riders do seem to be running their own accounts though, so messages are honest without going through some PR filters – and I suspect someone in Sky’s PR team winces every time they see Bradley Wiggins with a phone in his hand. Some of it can be interesting to get a glimpse at what has to go on to bring the whole circus to life, especially in terms of the logistics involved in keeping a team of riders fed with the vast amount of calories and liquids they need to get through a day – see, for instance, Soren Kristiansen, Team Sky’s chef.
Some other accounts worth following are Jonathan Vaughters, boss of Team Garmin-Sharp, who’s refreshingly open with fans and doesn’t hide his opinions, Cath Wiggins, Brad’s wife and the amusing Tweeter Sagan, giving an insight into a fictional version of Peter Sagan, who’s only slightly less believable than the real thing. (“Many fan ask: ‘What Sagan do on rest day?’ Sagan: ‘Duh. Clue in name: Sagan do rest of Tour.'”)
For blogs, I heartily recommend The Inner Ring as a year-round resource on professional cycling. It has great race previews and reports, as well as a good insight into how the sport works – both tactically and as a business. Another blog, The Science of Sport, isn’t purely cycling-focused, but has some interesting posts on there looking at some of the data that comes out racing. This is where I’ve got some of the information about how the Tour has slowed down in recent years and how riders are now producing less power on the long climbs than they were 10-15 years ago.
Finally, I find Cycling News has some of the best reporting, as well as giving detailed results for all races. I also enjoy the Peloton community on Reddit, as both a source of information and civilized discussion.
Obviously, the riders want to ease back into it after a rest day so the race organisers gave them something easy with a 80 mile run including just one second category climb before an expected sprint finish in Beon. Then they realised that this was the Tour de France and it was about time the race went up the Grand Colombier. It’s the first Hors Categorie climb of the race – around 1,250m of ascent at an average of 7% over 17km of twisting roads hitting 12-14% at the steepest points. It’ll be where Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky come under real pressure on the way up and way down. Because there’s an extra climb after the Grand Colombier and it’s not a mountain-top finish, there’s about 1500m of high-speed descent in today’s stage as well, where small gaps can be stretched, and tiny errors can lead to big time losses. Nibali, Evans, Van den Broeck and others know they need to make up lots of time on Wiggins and Froome – and on each other, just to make the podium – so expect some interesting racing. Eurosport’s coverage starts from 12.30 (though the live feed of the race might not begin until 1pm) while ITV4 are on air at 2pm. The leaders should be starting the climb of the Grand Colombier from around 2.30pm UK time.