Ji Cheng battles to become first Chinese Tour finisher
Riding without due care and attention
Luca Paolini was given a warning by the UCI on stage eight after the Katusha rider was spotted using his mobile phone during the race. After each stage the organisers issue a document with all the sanctions given, from disposing of food wrappers in the wrong way to taking bidons at the wrong time.
At the bottom of the stage eight document, there was a small caution to all riders: "The use of mobile phones during the race by riders is not authorised in reference to article nine of the event and article 2.2.024 of the UCI regulations."
An Italian paper reported that Paolini may have been receiving sensitive information on the phone. Paolini responded by saying that the reporter should "put more tobacco" in what he was smoking, and explained that he had not been sending text messages at 50kph as one photograph may have implied.
"I forgot that my phone was in my pocket and I was switching it off and bringing it back to the team car," Paolini tweeted, followed by a truly Pozzato-esque array of emoticons to express his embarrassment.
Stomach churning day for Fuglsang
The opening mountain stage proved to be a much more difficult day than anticipated for Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Fuglsang was expected to be one of Nibali's last men on the Gérardmer but the Danish rider said that he was "suffering from diarrhoea. Last night, I felt feverish and I had cold sweats."
Fuglsang was dropped on the final climb and had to be paced up by teammate Tanel Kangert, who reportedly did so without the knowledge of his team leader Vincenzo Nibali.
The Danish rider held onto his second place in the general classification, but by a slim 14 seconds over Team Sky's Richie Porte. At the start of stage nine, team doctor Joost de Maesneer said that Fuglsang had recovered from his brief illness and should be ready to help Nibali.
"Jakob is feeling much better today. Not just a little but a lot better," said De Maesneer. "In my eyes, he did excellently. We had feared that he might lose much more time."
Cheng struggling to make history for China
Ji Cheng made history at the Grand Départ as the first Chinese rider to start the Tour de France. However he is struggling in the fight to become the first Chinese to finish the Tour after a tough first week of racing and working for team sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb.
Cheng finished 184th and last on stage eight to Gerdardmer La Mauselaine on Saturday, 22:04 behind stage winner Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale). He is now next to last in the general classification, only seven seconds better than lanterne rouge Ted King (Cannondale).
Vive Le Tour
According to the results of a survey published by the website Atlantico.fr and by L'Equipe, 49% of the French population say that they love the Tour de France, and 16% feel the race will end without a doping scandal.
The Tour de France is part of the French psyche, much like Wimbledon in Britain or the Super Bowl in the USA. State-owned television France 2 broadcasts the race with between 3-6 million people (up to 60% of the total TV viewers in France) watching the stages, with the highest numbers for the decisive mountain stages held during weekends.
When asked if they love the Tour de France, 49% of the people included in the survey said yes, 51% said no. According to the data, of those who said yes, 63% are male and 36% are female.
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