Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 13

Did I really say that?

12.22pm: Waiting for the start of stage 13 in Rodez, Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford tells Procycling, “We’re not putting anyone in a break today. What’s the point? It’d just be a waste of energy. Cav and HTC are well up for it, so it’ll all come back for a sprint.”

12.52pm: In the village of Flavin, 5km into today’s route, three men break away from the peloton, including Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha.

5.03pm: The break is caught.

5.43pm: Brailsford apologizes and says we’d better ask Flecha why he attacked.*

(*In fairness, Brailsford was smiling at the time, and said Flecha had probably ridden clear almost by accident, simply by virtue of following Pierrick Fedrigo and Sylvain Chavanel’s wheels. For a more comprehensive explanation/alibi from the Sky grand fromage, tune in to Stage 13’s Procycling podcast.)

Echoes of Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has not only vanished from the spotlight and the upper echelons of the general classification, but also from the press-room. Until Armstrong’s calamitous journey through the Alps in this Tour, and after every stage of last year’s Grande Boucle, former Astana press chief turned RadioShack mouthpiece Philippe Maertens made nightly visits to the media centre bearing recordings of Big Tex’s post-race interviews.

Maertens’s cameos had become an event in themselves, heralded by the jovial cry of “LANCE ARMSTRONG!” in tones which suggested a past life as a bingo caller or town crier, and invariably provoking a stampede of journos to wherever Maertens’s laptop was positioned.

As of about five or six days ago, though, the ritual is no more, and we’re left mourning the demise of a brief but somehow cherished Tour tradition.

A novel take on Contador versus Vino

Tackled this morning by L’Equipe auteur/artiste/Michael Jackson doppelganger Philippe Brunel on Alberto Contador’s apparent knack of superseding and ticking off team-mates (latest victim, Alexander Vinokourov), Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli frowned. “I can see how, with your writer’s brain, you could somehow arrive at that conclusion, but my imagination’s not that good,” Martinelli replied after a long pause.

Still a man’s world

If you needed any confirmation that sports journalism is still a male-dominated world, just take a look around the Tour de France press room. Saturday in Revel, the finish town of Stage 13, among a 300-strong crowd, Procycling counted fewer than 10 female journalists tapping away at their laptops inside the Salle Polyvalente. And they’re not afraid to chase a hard story, either: Juliet Macur of the New York Times and Bonnie Ford of have been reporting first-hand on the allegations of Floyd Landis and the subsequent federal investigation in detail since the story broke.

A lot, but not enough to buy another Sysmex machine

The communiqué from the jury of commissaires after Friday’s twelfth stage detailed a jaw-dropping list of fines. A total 53 separate infringements, ranging from a wheel change on the wrong side of the road to ‘incorrect behaviour’ (translation: a toilet stop in view of the general public) saw the UCI pocket a very handy 7,750 Swiss Francs for the day.

From Lance Armstrong’s US$100,000 donation to the UCI in 2002, $88,000 was used to buy a Sysmex machine (used to analyse a rider’s blood profile), according to president Pat McQuaid – so if they want another one before the Tour ends on July 25 and without Lance’s help (he’ll probably need the money for other things), cycling’s governing body needs to rack up some 81,000 CHF more.

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