Stage 21 Vesailles to Paris, Champs-Elysees 133.5km

Well finally after 3 long weeks we have reached Paris! It has been a long journey, with many ups and downs, both  literally and metaphorically. 

The last day is all about a bit of fun and the final group kick. Nothing beats watching the footage of the peloton doing the loop around Paris and then the group kick from the side angle running up the middle of the avenue. Yesterday's stage was a bit different in that it was scheduled more as a nocturne and didn't start until some god awful time on the western Pacific rim. At VT HQ we were hopped up on the best coffee south east Asia can muster. 

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Stage 18 Gap to Alpe d'Huez 168.5km

Alpe DUEX Huez.. 

Yesterday was the day, the stage from Gap to Alpe d’Huez but not just one ascent of the Alpe but two! To be honest, the potential for record times was minimal given the two ascents but the potential for explosive riding was off the charts. And hence, it seemed inherent that this stage was custom made for Contador: emotive, threatening and explosive. Resisting this would be The Froominator: Clinical and exacting. It was going to be a cracker. Rain threatened for several days and given the technicality of the final descent there was talk of canning the second ascent of the Alpe but the rain stayed away and the race kept its powder keg characteristic. 

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Stage 17 Embrun to Chorges ITT 32km

Back to the chrono racing today, a 33km hilly and technical (flash term for lots of turns) course that wouldn’t favour the pure chrono riders but the GC riders. Therefore, no point in selecting Der Panzerwagen. Great for the spectators though, most TTs are pretty boring in person but a hilly TT always gives you more enjoyment (ie the sight of pain on faces for longer)…and by the end of the stage we were fully on the edge of the seat, even to the point where we swapped the TT onto the big screen and relegated Iron Chef to the picture-in-picture. 

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Stage 16 Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap 168km

Costa stays away..

Well this part of France just gets us plain excited.. It’s an amazing part of the world! Once we at VeloTipper achieve world cycling tipping domination this is where we will have our HQ, climbing the cols, picking up a croissant on the way back with a sneaky little espresso before donning the beret for a good afternoon of gossiping in the town square. 

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Stage 13 Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond 173

Another stage from a area that dropped a bucket-load of cash to have a couple of stages swing through their region on the way to the mountains. You could call it a transitional stage but really this was all about honouring the great Le Blaireau. He probably paid the ASO to have the stage run through his hometown.. and why wouldn’t you? 

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Stage 12 Fougeres to Tours 218km

A lovely stage through the centre of France tonight. Ah the serenity. Can you FEEL the serenity? It’s funny, for most of us we probably envision France as this cavalcade of amazing sights pancaked on top of each other but I’m sure most of the population live in suburbs in big cities and don’t get to enjoy it that often. I mean, when was the last time you ducked out to Uluru for a picnic lunch or maybe the Great Barrier Reef? Geezus we haven’t been to either. Anyhow, we digress. 

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Stage 11 Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel (TT) 33km

Tour de France Stage 11: DER PANZERWAGEN UBER ALLES!

The first ITT of the Tour was made for the chrono specialist: flowing rollers with plenty of open fast roads. With the finish coming into the stunning Mont-Saint-Michel, the course was open and buffeted by winds. Incidentally, some MSM workers were striking in opposition to discontinuation of a shuttle service that saved them a 500m walk. The strike was an escalation of action that earlier in the week saw workers waiving fares for visitors to the site. And of course, record crowds were expected in conjunction with le Tour. 

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Stage 8 Castres to Ax 3 Domaines 195km

Questions were asked and answered on Stage 8. Big and important questions. We’re not sure what they were, but the answer was a resounding SKY. We’ll try to give this stage justice in the report, but Froome was so dominant that we’ll end up in hyperbole without words. It was surreal.

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Stage 7 Montpellier to Albi 205.5km

Amazing location for today’s stage, we spent a week in the area many years ago just riding day in, day out. It was a lot better than watching the Tour on dial up in Cambodia. Onwards and upwards, an interesting stage today, if the pace over the two main climbs of the day was sedate it was a shoe-in for a group kick. If the cat was thrown amongst the pigeons it had the parcours for a cracking one day classic result. 

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Stage 6 Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier 176.5

Well, today’s stage was almost as pancake flat as you can get. A couple of epileptic scribbles here and there but this one was an out and out drag race. It is cracking scenery in these parts of France though the riders were probably more interested in the roaring northerly that would be putting all the BIG TEAMS in the crosswinds. 

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Stage 5 Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille 228.5km

Now that the TTT is out the way (thank god) we can get back down to some real racing. Not to say we don’t love a good time trial, they are a vital component of a stage race, it’s just that they don’t make for the best TV viewing. We would prefer to see highlight packages of Ullrich or Jalabert or even Ullrich again over watching a TTT. 

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Stage 4 Nice to Nice TTT 25km

Well, Stage 4 is run and won. There really isn’t any way to describe a TTT that makes it seem interesting. It’s OK, but it isn’t great. Watch a pile of blokes ride in a line. Sure they are pumping the guts out of it, but this early in the piece there really isn’t much at stake. 

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