The route of the Tour de France 2014 has been presented today and the news is that the Vosges mountains will again feature in the race and in particular a summit finish at La Planche des Belle Filles - the site of Chris Froome's very first Tour stage win in 2012. Our very own Gordan Cameron was there roadside that day to catch the action and atmosphere that we will expect to see again in '14.
Roadside Finale: 'A L'Heure Anglaise' - the 'Hour of the English' says L'Equipe. There's a huge image on the front page of Bradley Wiggins punching the air as he wins yesterday's final time trial. Any thoughts we entertained of Froome running his Boss close or upsetting the band wagon were quashed with a time trialling master class from the Londoner.
Ah what a finale, unbelievable. I’m not his greatest fan but Mark Cavendish, brilliant, four in four on the Champs and in the Rainbow Jersey too. It just topped it all off for Sky. An incredible team effort. But what about this race as a whole?
Roadside St.19: Bradley Wiggins punches the air; the English couple at the front of the bar where we’re watching the race on TV, applaud as the maillot jaune crosses the line at the end of the stage 19 time trial of the 2012 Tour de France.
Over the past 7-10 days, I had my doubts about Mark Cavendish. The World Champion had a great sprint to win Stage 2 of the 2012 Tour de France, but after that he faded out of the limelight as Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel led the sprinters’ brigade.
Roadside St.18: If you boil le Tour right down to the essence, the main purpose is to sell things - from sausages to washing powder by way of yoghurt, biscuits and newspapers. But the Tour also sells dreams – like being as cool as your favorite pro just by riding the same bike as him.
Roadside St.17: Luchon is from another age, a spa town with wide boulevards, old money, health giving waters, Pyrenean air, Salons du The, and elegant street cafes. On this final day of mountains at the 2012 Tour, we mixed it up with the teams as the circus got ready to leave town...
TDF St.17 What a difference a day makes. Yesterday he looked feisty but today the last big chance for Vincenzo Nibali to have a crack at Wiggins, or even to try to take second from Froome, failed to come to anything after he himself was dropped by the Sky pair. Froome was the strongest guy in the race and let everyone know, and a certain Spaniard with a certain past managed to turn back the clock and bring home the stage win...
PEZ spoke to Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank's Michael Morkov on the first rest day about his tenure in 'poids' - the red on white polka dots of the king of the mountains jersey which he made his own during Week 1 at Le Tour.
Roadside St.16: It's over for Evans; the gap back from a Basso driven group of 'heads' was over two minutes when he passed us with four kilometres to go on the Peyresourde; he drops from fourth to seventh. But that's just a small part of the action as Ed & martin drove today's Queen stage through the Pyrenees...
TDF St.16: Imagine the scenario. You’re tucked up in bed in some dingy French hotel after a hard day in the mountains. You’re racing in The Greatest Show On Earth. You feel good, great even. Your legs are recovering well and you feel stronger by the day. You are, in fact, quite possibly the strongest guy in the race right now. Lee Rodgers delves into the difficult life of super domestique Chris Froome and ponders the big question - attack the boss or no?
Analysis Pre-Pyrenees: As the peloton rests today in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the Tour de France is getting set for Act 3. We saw the chaotic flat stages and decisive time trial from Act 1 in the first week. A series of medium mountain stages and two big days in the Alps punctuated Act 2, and now the final act looms ahead. The third week of the Tour de France can be full of surprises, especially when it’s set up like it is this year.
Roadside St.14: There's no mistaking the noise - men down! Two Astanas and a QuickStep - it's Levi Leipheimer. One of the Astanas is up and away, it’s Brajkovic, he grabs his team mate's wheel - who sits, stunned, on the cold Pyrenean tarmac.
Analysis St.14: Well that was an unbelievable day’s racing on Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France. It might be easier to talk about what didn’t happen rather than what did. Three things are for sure: Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez is a happy camper tonight, Cadel Evans has reason to give a nod to Bradley Wiggins, and the Directeur Sportifs will be going to bed with a few more grey hairs than they woke up with. Lee Rodgers takes a deep breath and offers up his analysis of Stage 14.
Roadside St.13: On the day when L'Equipe magazine declared Mark Cavendish the best Tour de France sprinter, ever, PEZ decided to have a look at the fast men who are still in the race - and their bikes, too. There are eight men left in the race that it's fair to classify as pure sprinters – we haven’t included Peter Sagan; he’s much too versatile to classify as a pure sprinter.
Roadside St. 12: Martin parks the Renault, we have to hear this, properly. Our French isn't the best but we get the jist - Martinez goes away from the other four, they get him back, Peraud tries, all of a sudden it's down to two - Millar and Peraud, but the others get back to them, last kilometre - one name is getting mentioned more and more as the commentator's voice goes to 'auctioneer' mode…
Roadside St. 11: It’s fair to say we’re big fans of indigenous customs – especially when it comes to partaking of local libations. It’s a fine balancing act between stimulant and stupor, but Ed’s no newb when it comes to navigating the nearby bar… in this case an ol’ fave in Grenoble.
TDF St. 11: It was supposed to be a big day and it certainly was. Talking points galore on the first big mountain day that saw several GC hopefuls take a battering, not to mention a sublime ride by Pierre Rolland, France’s new darling, securing the second consecutive stage win for Europcar.
Roadside St.10: When I woke up this morning, there it was on the bed beside me - my polka dot jersey. But I didn't have to fight tooth and nail to get it - Michael Morkov did that for me. After our interview, yesterday evening, he presented me with it - the tears were close, I have to tell you. But enough of my sentimentality. It's Stage 10 today!
TDF St. 10: Arguably the most exciting day of this exciting Tour de France, Stage 10 from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine was action-packed and full of talking points, with two races going on at the same time, one for the stage and one for GC places. Lee Rodgers is back to cast a bloodshot eye over the proceedings.