Seeing Paris and Mollemadness
Rain, rain, go away
The upcoming Tour stages in the Alps will be difficult enough, without Mother Nature doing her part to mess things up. Unfortunately, rain, even heavy rain, is predicted for later in the week.
Weerplaza, a weather forecasting service working for Team Belkin, said that “we have reported high risk of heavy showers. For Tuesday, the chance of rain at the end of the ride to Gap already increasing. Also Wednesday during the time trial I expected rainfall, especially in the final stage. "
The worst news comes for Thursday, when the peloton faces two ascents of the Alpe d'Huez, with a dangerous descent in between. “It is quite possible that the entire ride from Gap to Alpe d'Huez must be ridden in the rain,” said Michiel Severin. “I don't want to use the word storm, but there can be very heavy showers falling locally. That will really affect the ascent and descent of Alpe d'Huez.”
The good news? It is too warm for snow.
Gadret is not a friend of Team Sky
John Gadret (Ag2r-LaMondiale) has claimed that Team Sky has few friends in the peloton. Speaking in a long interview in L'Equipe, the shaven-headed Frenchman also suggested that there would be little sympathy or support for Froome if something happened to him during the final stages of the Tour.
"All the riders have turned against them because they're rich and because they think control the peloton," Gadret is reported to have said.
"At the Tour de Bavière (Bayern-Rundfahrt) they blocked the road behind the breakaway. But I went to the front with them. At the moment it's our fault, we just need to put our skates on and things would be quickly sorted out."
Asked if Froome could signify a fresh start for the sport, Gadret replied: "In any case, if something happens to him tomorrow (in the future), he will not have any support…"
Seeing Paris from the Alps
Riders often joke that they can start to 'see' Paris a after the second rest day, perhaps feeling that they have a great chance of finishing the Tour de France after surviving the first two weeks of racing.
However Paris still seems a long way away for lots of riders in this year's race, hidden behind a tough final week in the Alps and especially three consecutive days in the mountains on Thursday (l'Alpe d'Huez), Friday (Le Grand Bornand) and Saturday (Annecy-Semnoz).
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) summed up many riders feeling with an honest tweet about the battle for survival the gruppetto will face in the Alps.
"So if I want to get to Paris, now come 5 of the hardest consecutive days I'll ever face on a bike. In the best team to get through it though."
Bauke Mollema of Team Belkin is second overall in the Tour de France, and the new Dutch hero. So a Dutch cycling journalist set up a website and made stickers for “Mollemadness”, to raise funds for charity.
The idea was to encourage public support for the rider, and the stickers were a caricature of Mollema. However, Belkin has said that it has the rights to use Mollema's likeness, and the sticker campaign has come to a stop.
However he has received another honour, as a bridge near his home has been – unofficially – renamed in his honour. Members of the cycling club Vdw Voordewind have named a bridge over the Aduarderdiep canal at Nieuwklap as the “Mollema Bridge”. The new name has been pronounced with two large banners on the railings.
Bet on the Tour de France with William Hill and get a £25 free bet