The Tour Med finished on Mont Faron today with Jean-Christophe Péraud winning the stage and Stephen Cummings finishing close behind in fourth place to win the race overall. The podium photo shows riders each with a story to tell.
From left to right on the image there’s:
- Eduardo Sepúlveda, second on Mont Faron and fourth overall. The Argentine was a member of the UCI’s World Cycling Centre and then a stagiaire for FDJ before turning pro with Bretagne-Séché. He’s now won the best young rider competition and remember the name
- Next another South American with the unforgettable name of Jarlinson Pantano of Team Colombia who won the mountains jersey
- Stage winner Jean-Christophe Péraud of Ag2r La Mondiale, back with a good news story after he broke his collarbone during the Tour de France last summer but rode on only to crash and land on the broken bone
- BMC Racing’s Stephen Cummings is in yellow. Tipped for the win this week he confirmed this and adds to BMC’s solid start to the season
- John Degenkolb wins the points jersey after winning three stages in a row. Clearly the fastest sprinter in the race it’s a credit to his Giant-Shimano team because they managed to set up the sprint wins by reeling in several breakaways
Summit fever: if the Tour Med’s Mont Faron isn’t enough, next week brings the Tour of Oman, the Volta ao Algarve and the Vuelta Andalucia. All three are stage races with something for the climbers and stage race specialists. Better still they are all on TV although Oman is not live. The Tour of Oman offers the best field with Chris Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez and Vincenzo Nibali just three names from a stellar field.
Pompeiana: From climbs to descents and Milan-Sanremo’s new addition of the Pompeiana climb could be subtracted with concerns over safety. There are two reasons, first the road is twisty and there are few barriers by the road and second, it’s been a wet winter and roads all along the coast have suffered. Some have been washed away but here the terraced soil has just been washed onto the road. The first concern isn’t new and presumably RCS did their assessment prior to adding it to the race. Safety is always important but the descent of the Cipressa is always a scare too with blind bends on steep sections and crashes happen almost every year. A lack of guard rails is a cited as a concern for Pompeiana but they just stop cars going over the edge, a cyclist can either slide under or slam into the metal, neither a safe option. The second concern is real but a scout of the climb and descent reveals nothing unusual or unrepairable. What if this is a publicity stunt to hype up the risky ride? Maybe but if we’re playing cynical speculation games, this could just be a convenient way to drop the climb that’s deterring a lot of riders from starting. It’s probably neither but it all looks stupid with weeks to go. Sprinters can’t just decide to show up for this race like some celebrity criterium, it’s the longest on the calendar and requires planning.
Pantani overdose: talking of infernal descents, the tenth anniversary of Pantani’s death was a highly choreographed moment for sections of the cycling media but a lot of the coverage seemed unsatisfactory, a collage of memories but with few conclusions. There’s no definitive lesson but if you still want something more to read, the Velonews interview with Matt Rendell is worth the time. Rendell’s biography of Pantani is an excellent work and if it’s not a feelgood tale, worth reading and available in print and as an e-book.
The Armstrong Lie film seems to attract universal reviews expressing disappointment and frustration. But later this year the much awaited Pantani documentary is coming out and here is the trailer, it certainly looks more promising:
Sochi ski cam: from cinema to TV. It’ll be the subject of a full post some other day but TV needs to innovate how it shows the racing, a lot of the coverage from motorbikes and helicopters has barely evolved from the late 1950s when the technology first appeared to allow the first helicopter shots. We’ve said goodbye to black and white images and got microwave transmission and now HD but the filmwork is remarkably similar. One reasonably cheap suggestion is from Russia. If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics you might have noticed the way some of the outdoor events are filmed with a camera mounted on a cable. It’s fast enough to track the skiers at 100km/h and got me thinking this could be a great idea to import into the Tour de France. The footage on the Champs Elysée from a motorbike riding parallel to the sprint is excellent but all too rare. A cable-cam could be rigged above the final 500 metres with relative ease and provide unique footage. Assuming the Orica-Greenedge bus is kept out of the way.