Stage 1 Porto-Vecchhio to Basita 213km
Welcome to the first edition of the Le Tour tipping report and well what was a stage that was going EXACTLY to plan went pear shaped soon after Orica jammed the venga bus under the finishing banner. Seriously, WTF you can't make this up.
But more on that later. Back to the start and a positive and motivated peloton were met by a cracking day in Corsica with all the latest fashions were out on show: Sagan's dirty goatie, Degenkolb's absolutely filthy mo and the master of ceremonies, Marcel Kittel, who looks like the lost BROS brother. WHAT A SPUNK.
$50 Bonus prize if you can pick Kittel*
Soon the race was on and Froome managed to stack it in the neutral zone. Awesome effort.
The break went ZUPER early ie basically once the flag dropped and it was Juan Antonio (who is riding for a new contract) and Lars BOOM the key agitators amongst the 5 that got away.
And that was really it for a while. The sprinters teams kept the gap acceptable and even bought it down to sub minute for a while before realising there was more work in store after catching the break than letting it sit out in the wind. And so it was the dance of the break and peloton continued.
The KOM was won by Lobato of Euskatel, who while he doesn't have an X or Z in his name (surely a pre requesite for any rider in Euskatel) does have the fullname of Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle which must have impressed the Euskatel management sufficiently to give him a jersey for the Tour.
It was now that we reached the bewitching time of the coverage and apart from a brief discussion of bovine economics from Sean Kelly regarding the opportunity cost of transporting cows won in competition we really were struggling to keep our focus on the TV and not the glass of '06 Nine Popes Shiraz sitting in front of us.
With about 40km to go the break was shut down and the GC contenders teams jumped on the front, heart starting the race and stringing the bunch out. Now it was starting to look like the first stage of a Grand Tour!
And any first stage would not be a first stage without a litany of epic stacks but apart from a brief Benny Hill moment for Johnny Hoogerland there was nothing.
Then the Orica Green Edge bus driver decided to take control of the situation and provide the excitement we all wanted, by jamming the bloody bus under the finish banner. Who knows how this happened, but for me,this was pure genius and one the greatest things i have seen in quite a while. This, as Paul Sherwen would say, was surely throwing the cat amongst the pigeons.
While the team Director Sportif's all had cardiacs trying to communicate the race finish was now 3kms earlier the crashes started. First Hesjedal went down and then, with 5km to go (which was actually 8km to go after the bus was moved), the mother of crashes occurred when Chavanel went down that caused Sagan and Contador to hit the ground hard. Apparently it was caused by a ZUPER efficient Greipel trying to squeeze through a gap that wouldn't allow two thighs wider than the Straits of Gibraltar through. The group was split to pieces and soon Cavendish was also out of contention. Add a mechanical to a ZUPER DUPER efficiently displeased Greipel and the race win was wide open.
Coming into the finish Terpstra took advantage of the confusion to launch a late attack and it was only a rapidly closing Lotto train that shut him down before Greg Henderson and Matteo Trentin opened the sprint. This was just the invite Kittel needed and he opened up the throttles to take the win easily. Showcasing the confusion of the finish David Millar came 5th. In a Tour sprint!
And so a sh1tload of you chose Kittel. Happy days. You get to share the prize money between about 20 of you. Maybe all kick in for a foot pump so Green Edge can pump up the bus tyres?
Special mention must be made of the tip by Mr Spencer who chose Lobato and now looks smoking in the polka dot jersey!
Remember to 1. pay the $50 into the kitty and 2. That people can still enter. You just get a default pick for last night and as everyone finished with the same time. No loss JA?
OK, I'm going back to bed.