Today must’ve been a strange day for Richie Porte, Arnaud Demare, Geraint Thomas, and all the other riders who either abandoned, or missed the time cut following Sunday’s horrifically dramatic Stage 9 of the Tour de France.
One minute they are embedded deep in the centre of the pro cycling world – among the drama, the excitement, and several dozen decibels of controlled chaos – and the next they are in their hospital bed, or hotel room, or back home, and watching it on TV.
The race rolls on, and they’re yesterday’s news. Left alone to contemplate the jarring dislocation of being plucked from le Tour and plonked back into the real world.
I like to imagine Demare installed in front of the Eurosport coverage, beer in hand, and still kitted out in full French national champion sprinters skinsuit; legs twitching as the flat roads of Stage 10 meander through the Dordogne towards the inevitable sprint finish.
Geraint Thomas, being a Sky rider, and therefore a loyal ambassador for the Murdoch Empire, is probably not allowed to watch their rivals at Eurosport.
He will be tuned in to the UK coverage on ITV, with a whole stack of drinks bottles and energy gels on his coffee table, ready to dish them out instinctively to any mates who look like they’re flagging.
He’s probably also, like the rest of us, wondering what it says about the strength of the UK economy that a second-hand watch shop is currently sponsoring the TV coverage of the biggest annual sporting event on the planet.
Richie Porte has got a broken pelvis – that’s probably the main thing on his mind at the moment.
As for Stage 10, it contained all the tension of a badly de-tuned guitar string.
They pottered along flat terrain for a few hours, before turning down the flattest, widest roads in Bergerac, for an underwhelming sprint that Marcel Kittel won by, in sprinting terms, approximately 4 million miles.
If Thomas, Porte, and the rest were suffering any post-traumatic stress from their adventures in the Jura mountains, watching the soporific Stage 10 of the Tour de France was the ideal acvtivity.
Calming, uneventful, and sleep-inducing.
I was also disappointed not to see any visible escalation of the spat between Chris Froome and Fabio Aru out on the road today. With Alejandro Valverde departing the race after cuddling a metal barrier really hard on Stage 1, the race is desperately in need of a substitute pantomime villain.
When, half-way up the Mont du Chat on Sunday, Aru disrespected Froome, and Froome barged Aru, I thought something was brewing.
It looked like Aru was about to embrace the role of the ‘peloton rat’.
I thought we might be seeing the opening skirmishes of a classic cycling ‘feud’; two men, both of whom look like they might struggle to remove the lid from a particularly persistent jar of mayonnaise, attempting to physically impose themselves on each other whilst tottering around in cycling cleats.
(Image: TV via pexels.com)