Tour de France Stage 9 – Germany wins while Tony’s Gallopin into yellow

Topical things that are/should be anachronisms in July 2014:
1. BT
2. The use of the word ‘candy’ to describe anything other than lollies
3. The use of the word ‘poofter’ to describe anything at all
4. LGBTIQ people needing to ‘come out’ or sometimes feeling compelled to lie about their sexuality in the first place
5. Overly enthusiastic fans on mountain roads making contact with / getting in the way of riders

On Point 5 – just get out of the bloody way. No rider wants a complete stranger to slap them on the bum, wave a flag in their face, stand directly in front of them with a camera or run alongside them in your jocks. Eventually some moron will ruin it for everyone else – hopefully a rider doesn’t get seriously hurt in the process.

With both my footy teams losing on the weekend and the unwelcome reminder of where Australian sport is at in relation to attitudes towards homosexuality, I was looking forward to a good night’s racing in France. The second day in the Vosges had plenty of promise in that regard. After Kadri’s impressive ride the day before on the first taste of an upwards incline, this day promised more interest with a variety of climbs spread across the day.

The Vosges are not real mountains. In terms of elevation they would be at home in an Australian mountain range. Compared to the oxygen thieving heights of the Alps and Pyrenees to come, you can imagine how BT might describe these mountains… mountain candy of course. But with the big hill of the day named the Grand Ballon (literally Big Balloon) and enough ups an downs for the contenders to test the yellow jersey credentials of Nibali it had the prospect of a good day’s racing.

Tony Martin (from Germany, not New Zealand) gets in a two man breakaway with De Marchi and they are able to continuously lengthen their lead. Eventually Martin senses the weakness in De Marchi in the lead up to the Grand Ballon and rides off ahead. Getting over the top with a decent lead gives him a reasonable chance of rolling down into Mulhouse as the winner of the stage.

The interest, however, rests in the chase group where a group containing yellow jersey possibles Tony Gallopin and Tiago Macahdo get away from Nibali’s peloton. Richie Porte and Alberto Contador’s teams are only interested in marking Nibali, not seeing the other two as threats in the higher altitudes.

Ad break – Twitter is giving me no joy as people argue about the extent to which it is inappropriate to suggest that Thorpe’s revelation was no surprise. Instead, as a student of history, I do some research on the Maginot Line – the massive fortifications the French built along the German border between the wars. The region the race is in is close to where the Maginot Line was (and in some places still is). As a student of military history my opinion was that it was not a massive waste of money. Rather the French ineptly deployed their resources along their unfortified borders and, better managed, should have been able to resist the Blitzkrieg.

Meanwhile, Martin goes over the Grand Ballon to take the lead in the King of the Mountains classification and starts the descent to Mulhouse with a three minute lead over the chasing pack. Gallopin moves to the front of the chase group as he sees the distinct possibility of at least one day in yellow, eventually riding off on his own. In a positive sign for people worried about drugs in sport, Kadri is struggling. In years gone by one of the most telling signs of dodginess was certain riders’ abilities to back up day after day. Kadri is paying for his big day the day before.

The chase group catches Gallopin with about 10km to go but he continues to drive the group as they maintain their lead over the peloton. Pierre Rolland is in that group and also gets interested towards the end. Martin is now so far in front he gets to start celebrating almost as early as his compatriots in the Brazil semi a few days earlier. For the second consecutive day a breakaway rider has won the stage.

Gallopin crosses with the group and will get to wear the yellow jersey on Bastille Day. Although the serious contenders kept their powder dry, preferring to test each other out in Stage 10 perhaps, the Vosges made for a good night’s racing. Not a trace of casual homophobia in sight. Aussie Richie Porte drops to fifth but maintains his proximity to the serious contenders in Nibali and Contador.

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"

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