Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 19

Bjarne Riis looking grim.

Bjarne Riis looking grim. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Quote of the day

“Did Bjarne Riis make good tactical decisions for Andy Schleck at this Tour? I don’t know…I thought it was Cancellara who decided Schleck’s tactics.”

A mischievous Cyrille Guimard, winner of seven Tours as a directeur sportif, clearly alluding to Cancellara’s controversial role in “Wait-gate, Vol.1” on stage 2 to Spa.

Time definitely up for bonuses?

With the battle for the yellow jersey so tight at this year’s Tour de France, we’re not the only ones to have wondered whether the reintroduction of time bonuses might have made for an even more exciting spectacle. Those who share that view, though, shouldn’t hold their breath. ASO Competitions Director Jean François Pescheux told Procycling tonight that his organization wants to see “the rider with the lowest time on general classification win the Tour.” Pescheux added that, although the subject hasn’t yet been broached, it’s unlikely that time bonuses will return to the Tour in 2011 after a three-year absence.

Bed & Dope-fest?

The lack of any doping scandals at this year’s Tour has led some to speculate that cycling is winning the war on drugs.The experience of one Dutch journalist earlier this week, though, suggests that conclusion may be a tad hasty. On checking out of his rest-day digs on Friday, the reporter in question got chatting to the owner about a group of American amateur cyclists who had used his bed & breakfast as their base when in Monein, near Pau, to ride the Etape du Tour the previous week. Suffice it to say these weekend warriors were more “amateurish” in some regards than others: among the debris they left behind was, allegedly, a handsome collection of used syringes.

Baroque in Bordeaux

Following the calamity that was Procycling’s horrific Friday in bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to Bordeaux, when the day’s work was done around 10 p.m., the teams from Procycling and Cyclingnews – minus Richard Moore, who, with his refound pair of Paul Smith shoes, was already on the TGV to Paris – dumped off our luggage at a nearby hotel and headed for a suitable establishment that was willing to serve five fatigued hacks something resembling food. A hundred metres to our right along the Garonne river waterfront, we found a restaurant offering a ‘Menu du Tour de France’ – and in we went.

It was quite a surprise, to say the least: darkly lit, Baroque-themed, and playing a beguiling mix of ballads that before too long, had the mesmerising effect of transporting us weary writers into another world. The service – and those who served – was equally enchanting, the food highly original and tasteful, and the bottle of Bordeaux red very… well, bordelais. Then, just before midnight, as the music ventured towards the highly surreal, one of the fetching wait staff threw off a black drape which unveiled a mannequin, sparsely covered in glistening silver sequins and showing plenty of faux-flesh, spinning slowly on a turntable. Had we entered a strip-club by mistake? What was next? Depending on your penchant for this type of stuff, fortunately or unfortunately, that was the end of it. Regardless, Anthony Tan wasn’t the only on left enraptured and spellbound till dawn the following morning. When he returns to his home in Sydney, Australia, Tan Man’s thinking of opening up a similar establishment *à la bordelaise*, so fascinated was he by the experience.

Pauillac popular as ever

In a number of respects, Pauillac was well-known even before Tour de France organisers decided to use this vibrant village halfway situated between Bordeaux and the Pointe de Grave as the finish town for the penultimate stage of the 2010 Grande Boucle. In 1777, the French aristocrat, Major-General Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Montier – a.k.a. Marquis de Lafayette – sailed from Pauillac to America to help obtain its independence. Today, however, Pauillac is better known for its 37 châteaux that include 1,200 hectares of vineyards and being the wine capital of the Médoc region. This, and its enviable location close to the Atlantic coast, make this town one of the most visited wine destinations in France.


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