Lest we forget
The brightly coloured carnival that is the Tour de France's publicity caravan will fall silent today in memory of the lives lost in World War 1. As they pass by World War 1 battle fields, between kilometre 111 at Bras-sur-Meuse and the Mémorial de Verdun at kilometre 123, no loud noises will be permitted.
More than 700,000 people were injured and killed during the 1916 Battle of Verdun, which lasted almost 10 months. It is considered one of the costliest battles in history, in terms of casualties.
Stage 7 is the second of three stages commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war. After 195km of racing, the riders will pass through the town of Toul. The town has special significance to the Tour de France, as 1910 champion Octave Lapize died here. The cyclist turned fighter pilot was shot down during a dog-fight on July 14th, and died later in hospital. Lapize rode six Tours de France in total, but only finished one. The Parisian won four stages by four points — the Tour de France was awarded to the rider with the least points. He also won Paris-Roubaix three years in a row.
Pineau doesn't like a rat
The Spaniard won the Prix de la Combativite' after fighting to be the last rider caught by the peloton but Pineau did not agree with judges who awarded him the prize.
"Mate is a rat. He didn't work well in the break but he's going to pay for it in the next few days," L'Equipe quoted him as saying.
It is not clear if Pineau was describing Mate's braided ponytail, his lack of collaboration in the break or his character.
Sagan avoids a second fine
Peter Sagan and his Cannondale teammates were amongst the first riders to sign on at the start in Epernay after being hit with a 200 Swiss franc fine yesterday.
Sagan and four teammates reportedly opted not to go to the sign-on in Arras to avoid the muddy cobbles on the centre of the Citadel. They kept their shoes and bikes clean but were hit in the wallet.
A new nickname for Nibali
The Italian media loves to give their riders nicknames that reflect their style or character. Vincenzo Nibali is known as the Squalo dello Stretto – the Shark of the Strait, due to coming from Messina, overlooking the strait between Sicily and Calabria in southern Italy. However, famed La Repubblica journalist Gianni Mura -- the last journalist in the Tour de France to still use a typewriter — has come up with a new name: Cirneco or Pharaoh Hound.
The Cirneco originates from the slopes of mount Etna in Sicily and is used for hunting on the slopes of the volcano.
"It's described as being elegant, lean but powerful, light but resistant. It is excellent for hunting, as a guard dog and for company," Mura wrote in La Repubblica, noting that Nibali will probably need all those qualities and abilities to defend the Tour de France leader's jersey.
According to Friday's L'Equipe, there are 446 ronds-point or roundabouts in this year's Tour de France. There were eight in just the final kilometres of Thursday's stage to Reims, with France reportedly the ronds-point champions of Europe with more than 30,000 of them in whole country.