Have you been keeping up with the Tour? With one rest day and over a week of racing down, Chris Boardman returned to give his thoughts on the race so far and the stages to come!
Chris is the creator of our range of Boardman bikes, as well as the Boardman elite range. As an Olympic gold medallist and multiple Tour stage winner, his attention to detail and know-how have made him a renowned expert the world over.
The story so far…
“Almost halfway through the Tour now and it’s flown by thanks to some fantastic racing instigated by the organisers’ brilliant route design and a bit of weather. It’s also not been bad for us, away from the media area at the finish line by 7:30 and at hotels before 9:30 – which for us is good!”
Behind the scenes
“As usual, we’ve encountered some strangeness on our travels. Stage 7 saw us parked up inside the grounds of a Napoleonic fort next to a dilapidated caravan that had been fully converted to a luxury chicken coop! The occupants wandered around as usual but for one day only they had to stroll around the media hordes as they broadcast the world’s biggest sporting event. While we were on air, several feathered visitors pecked between our feet!”
“Hotels have been equally mixed, from standard small-chain budget hotels to some local throw backs with carpeted walls and showers that don’t hang well, anywhere! Along with sausage pillows, these are perennial bug bear of mine.”
The shape of the race
“Racing has been spectacular, with crosswinds livening up what could have been fairly mundane stages and some strategically placed steep bits in the form of the LeHavre finish and the dual Murs, (walls) Huy and Bretagne making the final minutes of racing spectacuarly unpredictable.”
“The 9 days finished with the much anticipated team time trial where, despite the rolling terrain, fatigued riders and depleted teams, the result couldn’t have been any closer. The win went to BMC by less than a second from a well drilled team Sky, who have been preparing for the event all season. The result also gave us some insight into what to expect as the race heads into the mountains.”
“Although he lost time in the crosswinds, Nairo Quintana has acquitted himself well on his least favoured roads and will be a force to be reckoned with. The fact that he is almost 2 minutes in arrears also means he will have to be one of the aggressors. His team, not always the strongest in the team trial, performed admirably – showing they might have more than one card to play too!”
“Tejay van Garderen, who most have come to consider as the nearly man, looks to be in the form of his life. If he is ever going to make the breakthrough then this year is it. His team matched Sky pedal stroke for pedal stroke in the TTT too, so he will have support.”
“Contador remains an unknown force but he is definitely there or thereabouts. He will probably ride aggressively and benefit from having several riders in contention this year, perhaps allowing him to get away when others are being marked.”
“Of the famous four, the big loser so far has been the defending champion. Despite their being just hundreds of metres long, Nibali lost time on both of the Murs last week. Although his team rallied in the team event, he still haemorrhaged time to his rivals. The upside is he will now be forced to do some audacious attacking in the mountains to get back into contention or, more likely, on one of the many key descents. Such are his descending skills; he’s probably the only rider who’s praying for some rain.”
“So that’s about it, we are on our long transfer down from Bretagne to the Pyrenees and the riders are already there, preparing to reengage each other tomorrow.”
“With no team or individual looking strong enough to dominate affairs, the next week looks as if it will be as spectacular as we were all hoping for. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the most interesting editions for many years.”
There’s plenty more exciting racing to come as the riders head into the mountains! Stay tuned to the blog (if you can get away from the TV!) for more updates as the race goes on.
If you’ve been inspired to head out on your own bike and show them all how it’s done, head over to our site to take a look at our range of bikes and cycling kit! We’ve got everything you need, whether you’re going on a grand tour or just down to the shops.