PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : TDF’17 St.15 ROADSIDE: Bardet’s AG2R Bandits!

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TDF’17 St.15 ROADSIDE: Bardet’s AG2R Bandits!
Tour'17 Roadside: The AG2R-La Mondiale bandits were ready to ride down the canyon and attack the Sky wagons. But Chris Froome had his team in a circle to fight them off for another day. Ed and Martin hit the dusty trail for another day in the Tour de France saddle 'Roadside'.

Mollema wins, AG2R on the rampage, Froome defends, with status quo on the podium but ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ for Quintana.

Le Puy-en-Velay, - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Bauke MOLLEMA (Netherlands / Team Trek Segafredo) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 15 from Laissac-Sévérac l’…glise to Le Puy-en-Velay, 189.50 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Our last day on the 2017 Tour and there was only one place to go, the biggest damn hill we could find!

'Bardet connait bien' - "Bardet knows it well."

The Col de Peyra Tailade that is, today's 'sting in the tail' and our chosen spot. L'Equipe gives us the Bardet nugget; but also that the skinny Frenchman is saving himself and his AG2R banditos for next week's "grandes etapes alpestre."

The Tour has never raced this particular col before albeit we believe the Dauphine ascended it in the 90's. The stage on paper is for the 'escape artists' - the 'baroudeurs' who slip away with like minded souls and try to defy the peloton.

But the Taillide is a monster, 8.3 K @ 7.4% but with a kilometer at 12.1% between kilometers five and six.

Chambéry - France  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Romain BARDET (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale)  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 9 from Nantua to Chambéry, 181.50 km  - foto  VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

It could be an ideal ambush spot – would you believe Bardet if he said he was just going to have, ‘a quiet night in?’ Me neither.

From the summit at 158K to the finish at 189K the parcours is largely downhill but there is a 4th cat. climb of 1.9K in there too. We're just off the steepest section mentioned above, the Mur de Saint-Berain, we knew there would be a parking spot for us somewhere up there - and there was. But you have to spend five minutes pouring oil on the trouble waters, chatting to the little old lady whose parasol we skiffed and the two Belgian guys who we made frown. Once they could tell we knew our Belgian riders, we were fine.

The views are wonderful back down into the valley; on the way up we passed some fabulous rock formations; this is the Haute Loire region, famed for it's natural beauty and certainly living up to its reputation.

And no matter how small the village in rural France there’s always an immaculately kept war memorial – the country’s history matters here.

They've restricted the caravan's passage up the climb due to it’s steepness and narrowness - so it's largely Cochonou sausages and Bic pens and lighters getting the exposure. Cochonou’s fleet of 2CV’s chugs over every col in the race and we’ve never seen one break down – remarkable. Settle down, wait and try and piece the race shape together off the radio - Tony Martin is solo but a big break is in bits behind him.

Time to catch up with L'Equipe; Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal & Belgium) has gone top of 'Les Baroudeurs' on 587K to Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert & Belgium) 566K. And on the subject of numbers, we're down to 176 coureurs from 198 starters with Luke Rowe (Sky & Wales) holding up the classification.

There’s Norwegian former Tour de France stage winner, Dag Otto Lauritzen who works the race every year for his native Norwegian TV and is hugely popular with the fans.


Barguil – we didn’t expect him.

The Sunweb Frenchman is first to appear. More points to hold on that that lovely polka dot jersey - but there's still 30-odd K to go from the top and bar the cat. 4 most of it downhill. What we're seeing here is what's left of the break - albeit scattered over the hill.

Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) is there too in second spot, the Belgian Tour of Yorkshire winner is always a man for the break. Dimension Date’s losing Mark Cavendish was a disaster; Edvald Boasson Hagen has been good for them, third yesterday but a win is a win. . .

FDJ’s big French hope, Thibaut Pinot rode the Giro so has not thrown his hat in the ring here as a contender but a stage win would be nice especially with the team decimated as it was by Arnaud Démare’s missing the time cut along with another three of his team mates sent back to chaperone him – and former French Champion, Arthur Vichot has retired too.

Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal & France) looks good - Lotto badly need a win and can't rely on Greipel for Paris, not with Kittel as rampant as he is. And they've lost classy Tim Wellens to respiratory problems today.

On the subject of the Quick-Step Floor’s big German maillot vert, he was well back the hill battling gravity with Cav’s usual right hand man, Austria’s Bernie Eisel.

World Time Trial Champion, Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin & Germany) had been off the front coming into the hill but was slipping back through the group by the time he reached us.

The Baroudeur’s Baroudeur, Thomas De Gendt was there too – inevitably, adding to those kilometers off the front we mentioned earlier.

Yesterday’s Aussie stage winner, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) wasn’t looking as happy today as he was on the podium last night.

After the break victims it was former Tour winner, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo and Spain) leading ‘The Bigs’ and was looking in better shape on this day. Looking back to see what damage his dancing was doing. He would end the day in ninth place on GC.

Christopher held on to yellow but he did look under pressure – those AG2R-La Mondiale boys were frisky again, today despite what Bardet had to say.

Pez has spoken to Borut Bozic (Bahrain-Merida & Slovenia) many a time, a man of the Classics he’s also won a Vuelta stage; he was well down today but not going too deep.

And despite the multitudes streaming off the hill we waited – and waited for last man, Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Oscaro & GB) that boy just never gives up.

All that was left was to say ‘adieu’ to Obelix for the use of Gaul, again. We hope you enjoyed our words and pictures as much as we enjoyed getting them to you.

A demain.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.


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