HTC-Columbia laid bare
We've heard of team soigneurs, directeurs, principals and even psychiatrists, but until now no ProTour team had taken the bold step of employing their own streaker/stripper (or should that be strippeur?). That all may have changed in Gap, as a young lady (formerly) clad in HTC-Columbia kit treated the crowds to a racy Bastille-day treat alongside the finish-line. While Procycling averted its eyes, debauched fellow hacks feasted theirs on the most captivating action of stage 10.
An official HTC-spokesperson/spoilsport tonight denied that the female in question was a team employee. Someone, not us, said she should be.
Bernard's Gap year
It's been 24 years since Tour debutant Jean François Bernard won stage 16 of the 1986 Grande Boucle into Gap – but considerably less since Bernard got shot of the Porsche that La Vie Claire owner Bernard Tapie bought him as a reward for his victory. "I loved that car. Kept it for years…" Jef told Procycling this morning. Quizzed on Tapie's retreat from the public eye and professional sport, Bernard smiled enigmatically. "I don't think it'll be too long before we see Tapie again…" he said finally.
Cunego's confidence trick
Damiano Cunego's stingy contribution to the break which brought Sandy Casar victory in St-Jean-De-Maurienne on Tuesday appalled many and mystified the rest of us. If, as his agent Alex Carera had told us on Monday, Cunego was struggling with a pulled muscle, what was the Piccolo Principe doing in a breakaway in the biggest Alpine stage of the Tour, particularly if it meant ripping off those in the break who did their share of the toil? Also, if Cunego's sprint to take third seemed a tad half-hearted, was it because he was simply too embarrassed to win?
We politely requested an explanation from Lampre directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi in Chambéry on Wednesday morning.
"Damiano's usually someone who doesn't hold back but this time it was us who told him to economize a bit," Tebaldi said. "As you'll have noticed, he didn't come into the Tour in the best form, and now it's coming, but he needs to build up slowly. Yesterday he did what he could to stay with the group. If he'd tried harder, he'd have been dropped. As for the sprint, he wanted to win as much as everyone else in that group, Andy Schleck and Contador included."
So, in other words, it's OK suck wheels all day, say "Ta very much", then burn the poor buggers who have been doing your donkey-work all day. Good luck with that tactic for the rest of the Tour, Damiano….
Martin to target new goals
Bob Stapleton told Procycling in Chambéry this morning that HTC-Columbia wunderkind Tony Martin, nicknamed the Panzerwagen, would have to "refocus and come back strong" after a difficult start to the Tour which sees him languishing over an hour down on general classification.
"Tony had a tricky start to the season, with tendonitis, then he was really good in California but has suffered in the mountains here," Stapleton said. "Now he'll refocus, probably pick a stage to go for like he did last year [at Mont Ventoux], and try to win the last time trial, which I think he's likely to do."
Fall of the Roman empire
Roman Kreuziger believes a post rest-day hangover (non alcohol-induced, we presume), was to blame for a disappointing display on the Col de la Madeleine yesterday. "Andy Schleck and Contador and clearly better than the rest, but I still think I can finish in the top ten and move Ivan [Basso] up the GC. I paid for the rest-day yesterday - my legs were really hard," said Kreuziger, 11th on GC at 5'11" from Schleck this morning.
Gerdy on Kim's shopping list?
The composition of Kim Andersen's new Luxembourg team is suddenly the subject of rampant gossip and guesswork on Tour. While the Schleck brothers' signature with Andersen seems a formality, a sizable cull of the Milram riders contemplating the likely demise of their team is also likely. Linus Gerdemann is thought to be one of the riders near the top of Andersen's wish list.
Millar's brush with the gendarmes
The last time we can remember the gendarmerie descending on a team bus at the Tour de France was in 2008, when they were looking for Riccardo Riccò, to tell him he was under arrest.
A rather different scene played out at the Garmin-Transitions team bus in Chambery on Wednesday morning. There were two cops, and they were looking for David Millar, but the ambience was très sympa. When Millar appeared, brandishing a signed Garmin shirt, there were warm smiles and an awkward embrace - awkward because Millar was smothered in sun cream.
"He was in front of me all day yesterday," Millar said, gesturing towards his new friend. It seems that a bond formed between the rider who spent 180km on his own, and the police motorcyclist assigned to accompany him.
"On the last descent I was going ballistic and he was on his pegs the whole time," said Millar, "so he took a lot of risks for me as well. We didn't talk - he offered me water once - but he was about 75m ahead of me the whole way.
"I suppose he did kind of go through it with me," he added. Yet while Millar seemed to still be in pain, the policeman appeared sprightly: a great advert for motorised doping.