So Corsica is done and La Grande Boucle is back on the mainland. Not that anyone should have cause to regret the three days offshore. We have been treated to sumptuous scenery, occaisonal high farce, and none too shabby racing.. Plus all the press pundits’ expectations and predictions have had to be tossed overboard on the ferry journey to Nice.. Nice.
No wins for CVNDSH or Sagan. Kittel comes through the confusion and carnage to claim Stage 1. The breakaway’s breakaway Bakelants holds off the raging horde for Stage 2. Orica Greenedge, having got all the headlines for all the wrong reasons on the opening day, come out of the shadows to sneak Stage 3 by the narrowest of margins. And then come out of even greater shadows to take the Stage 4 TTT and the Maillot Jaune. I’m not sure what the Aussie for ‘Chapeau’ is but they deserve it. With corks on. Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas, Tony Martin and Ted King keep the ‘Toughest Sport on the Planet’ flame alive whilst the whole peloton dodges loose dogs, dropped caps and very flimsy-looking final kilometres barriers. Even Chris Froome chucks out the pre-programming and has a quick pop off the front to show that improvisation is alive and well at Team Sky. Heady Days, my friends, Heady Days.
On the downside, we have been subjected to some of the most horrendous full kit abominations seen since Cipollini last hung up his zebra-hide skinsuit. I’m not just talking about the ongoing, season long horror shows that are the AG2R and Lampre kits – we have almost become inured to their awfulness – no, I’m talking about the modern penchant for leader’s jerseys to spread beyond the confines of the jersey itself onto the shorts, onto the helmet, onto the gloves, glasses, socks and even onto the fricking bikes themselves. The sight of Pierre Rolland yesterday, turning what was undeniably (according to me and my brother in the late 80’s anyway) the coolest looking jersey of all into what one enlightened viewer termed ‘an anorexic Mr Blobby’ definately took some stomaching. He did tone it down a little today but probably more through a lack of the requisite patterned aerosuit than through overnight aesthetic enlightenment. No so Jan Bakelants, who unashamedly went Full Banana today.
Last year I was initially quite supportive of Wiggins’ relatively restrained co-opting of yellowness ‘beyond the jersey’ (for a long while just the glasses, then glimpses on the saddle, the internals of the forks and the belly of the downtube) but felt that even he was overdoing it come the final time trial at Chartres with the full fruity skinsuit. But no! Bakelants and Radioshack Trek have shown us that you can go one better than Wiggo, that you can go much deeper into the yellow – even if its only Day 4, you’ve never won a senior Pro race before and you are 98.54% certain not to be holding the jersey after the 26 minutes racing you will do today. Yes, go on Trek, crack out those yellow overshoes and really go to town.
Maillot Jaune. Maillot Pois. Maillot Vert.
The clue is in the title, lads. Calm down, eh?