McChicken Nuggets of Wisdom

18 Jul

Pressure off Roche?

Another McChicken lunch, another blog post. The never ending quest for reliable air conditioned WiFi once again inevitably leads to McDonalds to enjoy the exciting battles on Ax3 Domaines. It’s the final pitstop before the Pyrenees proper for Les Poursuivants as we head for the Tourmalet unsure whether we’ll even be able to get up it.

As I write several thousand very red faced Etape du Tour riders are wobbling towards the crest of the big monster that is the Tourmalet ready to collect their medals and a bus down the other side.

That’s the side we’re hoping to go up some time later tonight. Not sure if it’ll be open when we get there but if it isn’t there are plenty of other big hills to camp on while we wait for les geants de la route.

Today’s stage made great viewing on the iPhone using the almost entirely excellent Eurosport Player.

Nicolas Roche produced another battling performance to finish 18th on the stage, within two minutes and 27 seconds of his stage winning team mate Christophe Riblon and just a minute and 19 seconds behind the yellow jersey group of Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador.

Riblon’s victory, greeted with an arms aloft celebration by Roche as he rolled across the line, takes the pressure off AG2R and surely means that Roche can focus on his own quest for GC glory without worrying about any team commercial considerations.

Roche’s response to Riblon’s amazing win will presumably be to feel pride and a shared sense of achievement in the breakthrough win but it will also be a useful spur to his own riding in the critical few days to come.

It’s really boiling up nicely in the Pyrenees – one uses the term advisedly given the temperatures are back up in the mid thirties after yesterday’s ‘rest day’ for the weather gods – and it’ll be interesting to see whether Schleck and Contador’s fourteen second gift to Sammy Sanchez and Denis Menchov turns out to be of any significance by the time they get to Paris.

Gut feeling says we’ll probably have forgotten about it by the time we get to Luchon tomorrow…

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