Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 17

Caught in the action! The sheep dog led his charges through the peloton after the break had passed.

Caught in the action! The sheep dog led his charges through the peloton after the break had passed. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tomorrow's Most Misleading Headline

"Black Sheep Gives Contador Scare on Col du Soulor"

For those who didn't see what actually happened, nothing to do with Alexandre Vinokourov taking revenge for what happened at Mende…

One week to wait

Greg LeMond's appearance before a grand jury in the investigation of possible fraud and doping charges against Lance Armstrong is now just a week away, and the anticipation is mounting. Asked by an AP journalist today what he was driving at last week when he told France 2 he hoped "Greg LeMond will tell the truth about 1989", Armstrong gestured in the direction of reporter Bruce Hildenbrand. "Bruce has been around a long time, so he probably knows better than I do," Armstrong muttered before making his excuses.

Panzerwagen sniffs Pauillac bouquet

HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin, aka "The Panzerwagen", hasn't enjoyed a particularly fruitful Tour in the mountains, but his team manager Rolf Aldag says it would be unwise to dismiss Martin's chances in Saturday's final time trial through the vineyards of Pauillac. On stage 13 to Revel, Martin was under instructions from his team and their star sprinter Mark Cavendish to hit the front at a roundabout with 10km to go, but Martin's own miscalculation provided the perfect opportunity to show his strength on the flat. "We'd identified a roundabout where Tony would start pulling, but he got the wrong one, which was 13km out," Aldag recalled. "Anyway, as soon as he started driving, other teams were trying to pull alongside but no one could get near him. It was incredible to watch…"

Back to Black?

Already featured once in our dispatches on this Tour, L'Equipe wordsmith Philippe Brunel is one of the more distinctive and distinguished figures in the press-room. Variously nicknamed "Gary Player", "Jacko" and "The Ref" on account of his favoured all-black habillement, Brunel's appearance in navy-blue slacks and T-Shirt for one stage of the 2001 Grande Boucle was regarded by many, alongside Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano, as the surprise of that year's Tour.

Indeed, it has taken nine years for some of Brunel's colleagues to recover from the shock – and today they were left reeling again as he plumped for a beige sweater to stave off the cold on the Tourmalet. Speculation was already rife tonight about what change of hue Brunel has in store for 2019….

The way to a hack's heart

It's been a long time since the Procycling crew got to spend three nights in one town, a veritable luxury at the Tour de France where everyone lives out their suitcases for close to a month. So what does a hack do with that little extra convenience? For a start, given Wednesday in Pau was also the Tour's second rest day, get in an hour or two more sleep.

Feeling refreshed, next up is hand-washing in the basin – the salubrious Première Classe (which really should be renamed Dernière Classe) hotels are great for that… Not! And then, with domestic duties out of the way, we traipsed around to the various press conferences on offer. By some margin, the most important (and nutritious) was Garmin-Transitions' presser, where delicious burritos and margaritas were served at the 5-star Hotel Parc Beaumont. Of course, we were there primarily to interview the riders and team manager Jon Vaughters; the thought of a free lunch hadn't even crossed our minds…

Anglophone scribes unite in Pau

A tradition at the Tour de France is a night out with all the English-language journalists. Wednesday evening in Pau,'s sports scribe Bonnie Ford graciously organised a dinner at Restaurant O'Gascon for those who write en anglais at the Tour, where some 20 journalists turned up for a hearty night of drinking, eating and because it was a rest day, a little more drinking.

After downing a bière pression, this writer ordered the 'Menu Tradition' that began with the Pavé de Saumon rôti sauce Amandine, followed by a main of Contrefilet de bœuf façon Madiran – which some sneaky hack stole from under Tan Man's nose, forcing the part-time chanteur to settle for the plat that someone forgot, Aiguillettes de Canard poêlées aux trois poivres (it wasn't too bad, actually), matched with a bottle of regional vin rouge. Dessert was tarte aux pommes with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top. Richard Moore's incontinence combined with a love of beer and fine wine forced him to go to the bathroom several times, but he enjoyed himself nonetheless.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1