Monday, July 22, 2019

The Tour Stage 15 -- falling behind

Thibaut Pinot's big-jaw grimace
Okay, it was supposed to be a casual, low-key holiday, with time for the occasional post. But the weather was fine and the company congenial, and the pleasure of not opening the laptop all day was irresistible. So blog and Tour got neglected there.

Meanwhile the Tour gets terrific.  Our boy Michael Woods, a former distance runner, who took up competitive cycling in his 20s and lacks decades of muscle memory on the bike and in the peleton, has endured the crashes and misplacements that plague newer riders on the tour. Nursing some cracked ribs, he fell back far in overall standings.

Then no longer an overall contender, he began to perform individual feats with breakaway groups in two huge climbs, the glorious Tourmalet and yesterday's hilltop finish above Foix.  (Foix should be familiar to historians for its role in the indispensable Montaillou  -- would the Tour helicopters ever show us Montaillou? -- but I only learned yesterday that people who live in Foix are called Fuxiens.)  He's not quite keeping up with the very strongest leaders, and remains far behind in overall time, but he's showing his stuff.  Even Hugo Houle, very much the lowly domestique, was featured yesterday serving his team leader in the high hills.

Best thing about this Tour right now is how the French riders are performing. Both Thibault Pinot and Julien Alaphilippe are sailing, wining stages and contending for overall leadership.  No French rider has won the Tour de France since ... 1985!  Meanwhile Geraint Thomas and Egon Bernal of mighty Ineos continue to threaten, and any of five or six could turn one good day into victory in Paris next Sunday.   I'm rooting for the French at the front, and for Michael Woods to get a little glory now and then. 
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