In Flanders Fields
"In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row"
That is the start of memorable poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, in commemoration of the World War I dead in Flanders. The red poppy blossom has since become the symbol of remembrance of the War dead. Belgian team Omega Pharma-QuickStep will today honour those who fell by wearing a poppy blossom emblem on their jersey.
Tony Martin movingly described today why it is important that "we never forget such atrocities."
"On tomorrow's stage our team will honor the memory of the many who died 100 years ago in the first World War. We will wear a replica of a poppy bloom, the official emblem of the 100 year memorial, on our sleeves," he wrote on his website.
"For our team, which is based in Flanders, this is an especially important statement. Countless people died in this region which we will ride through tomorrow. I find it important, that we never forget such atrocities and that we keep their memory alive."
"The cobblestone paths were used as channels of supply in the War, that it is the relationship. And Paris-Roubaix is called the Hell of the North, because the region was so destroyed in the first World War and so many people lost their lives."
Klier and present danger on the cobbles
Former classics expert Andreas Klier is a key component of Garmin-Sharp's plans for stage five with the route taking in several key cobbled sectors from Paris-Roubaix. The German, a DS on the team since his retirement, led the squad through a recent recon camp.
"We were there for two or three days so I hope we've done enough. The parcours isn't too different from Paris-Roubaix but I think today's stage is probably harder than the stage we had on the cobbles in 2010," he told Cyclingnews.
"You've got GC guys looking out for their position and then you've got the guys who think that they can win the stage. If you look at the peloton every team has one or two Classics specialists here at the Tour and that's just because of this stage."
Such a stage is difficult to predict and the weather has already played its part with the organisers ASO culling two of the nine sectors from the race.
"I think a few of the GC guys will ride a lot better than most expect," Klier added.
"Yes, there will be some riders who have problems, like fat cyclists on a climb, like me in the past but I think that the best riders, like Cancellara will go for the win and the best GC riders with good handling skills won't have too many problems."
German riders rejoice
The Tour de France isn't the only major sporting event going on at the moment, there's that thing in Brazil as well, where the Germans are equally successful...... and the German riders were ecstatic at their team's 7-1 victory over tournament host Brazil.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) had a simple tweet: "Finaaale...ohooo...Finaale...ohoooo!!!"
His teammate and multiple-stage winner Marcel Kittel tweeted: "Now watching movies of the cobblestone sections tomorrow because a) it's going to be more than crazy & b) #BRAGER is getting boring ... ;-)"
Even the retired Robbie McEwen chimed in: "the German soccer team promised @marcelkittel he could get an early night #delivered" At the Tour of Austria instead of the Tour,
Christian Knees (Sky) said on Facebook, "I just told my Team Sky colleagues at dinner, 'if it s 4-0 for Germany at halftime, I will go to bed. On that note, good night and have a good celebration..."
Also in Austria, BMC's Rick Zabel tweeted what many Germans felt: "Am I dreaming? #BRAGER"
Kittel avoids disaster
It was nip-and-tuck for Marcel Kittel the last two days, and he was lucky to squeak through successfully. Yes, he won those two stages as well, but we are talking something really important here – his hair!
"Yesterday my hair gel was confiscated at the airport security. What a disaster. But at least I had another one in my checked bag. The hairdo has to be right!"