Stage 7 of this year’s Tour de France brought us another day of “La France profonde.”
We’re talking “deep France”; provincial, agricultural, local, and very French. You probably noticed the constant backdrop on your TV screen of rolling farmland, wild horses, and tiny villages displaying their hearts on their sleeves.
That is “La France profonde.”
Being English, and terrible at French, I hear: “profoundly French”.
There’s something to be said for these long, rolling, quiet days on the Tour – If every day comprised 140 kilometres of eyeballs-out mountains, then that would lose some of its thrill.
Days like Stage 7 are where the tension of the Tour de France builds; the riders are given another couple of hundred kilometres of “La France profonde” to dwell on the weekend of mountains that lies ahead.
Alternatively, as Roman Kreuziger revealed, for some it’s simply Groundhog Day:
So, a traverse from the Champagne of Troyes to the Burgundy of Nuit-Saint-Georges, a few lumps and bumps in the middle, but finishing with 50 kilometres of flat for the sprinters to get their ducks in a row.
It would have been nice to see one of these doomed breakaways un-doom themselves and hang on for a win.
With just over 100 kilometres to go, my new favourite data source gave them a doom-rating of 28%:
It was never even close.
If I’m honest, Stage 7 was a bit quiet even for me.
Apart from the threat of crosswinds (which never materialised), a rather exciting looking race between the peloton and a couple of Citroen 2CV’s in a field, and the inevitable sprit finish, the mood never progressed beyond serene.
The best was definitely saved for last as Orica Scott upped the pace in the closing kilometres. Marcel Kittel’s Quickstep team took control of the run-in, and Dimension Data snatched the front of the race as the finish line approached, leaving Kittel and Edvald Boassen-Hagen to lunge for the line.
Kittel won by 6 millimetres.
After more than 200 kilometres of racing.
Apart from that, nothing happened.
(Sunflower image: via Pixabay.com)