Sunday, July 08, 2012

Britain in yellow

It may be a washout in Blighty with rivers in danger of bursting their banks but on the La Planche des Belles Filles it was sunshine and bright yellow for one Brit.

Yesterday’s stage in the Tour de France could have gone different ways.

The peleton could have chosen to allow the breakaway group of riders to fight it out between them, after all none of the riders at the front posed a challenge to the potential race leaders.

That didn’t happen though as the teams at the front of the peleton drove the cyclists behind them on. Teams like BMC and Sky wanted to protect their leaders from the possibility of being involved in the crashes that have occurred further back so that tactic made good sense.

What we did not expect was that Sky would launch an attack on the last climb of the day. It was only 6kms in length but was brutal in sections with very steep gradients up to 14% that even a car would have difficulty coping with in anything but a low gear.

The attack paid off as Chris Froome surged ahead at the end to win the stage and Bradley Wiggins moved into the yellow jersey.

The first Briton to wear the yellow jersey was Tom Simpson, the last Briton to have this honour was David Millar who won the prologue time trial in 2000. Chris Boardman, a prologue specialist,  had the yellow jersey in 1994, 1997 and 1998. The other Brits to wear it were Sean Yates in 1994 and Simpson in 1962.

Could it be that Wiggins, who came fourth in 2009, will be able to carry the jersey to Paris? There is a lot of racing yet to come and some serous challengers in Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali who are only 10 and 16 seconds behind him and look better in the long mountain climbs.

Wiggins has already won the the Paris-Nice in March, the Tour de Romandie in early May, the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race in early June and is the bookies favourite.

PS Spare a thought for Brice Feillu who, after one week, is 55 minutes and 24 seconds behind Wiggins.

PPS Before anyone points it out, Wiggins was born in  Belgium and Froome was born in Kenya. 

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