Tour de France - Blazin' Saddles: Bak to the Future Pate II
Two HTC men got the better of a strong six-man breakaway to deliver Mark Cavendish to victory and allow Saddles to lead with this gem of a headline.
It has to be said, while the headline is far cry from the brilliance of last year's "Vino killed the RadioShack star", it's certainly a lot better than "Astanarama" and "Forlorn on the Fourth of July", while the less said about "Thor de Chance" the better.
When Cavendish wins, the plaudits usually go to the Manxman himself - or his lead-out mavericks Tony Martin, Matt Goss and Mark Renshaw. But on Wednesday's sodden stage through the Tarn, all the applause must go to tough guys Lars Bak and Danny Pate.
The Danish-American duo rode 120km of the 168km stage on the front of the peloton, holding the strong six-man breakaway around the three-minute mark like a farmer about to wring the neck of a chicken. What’s more, they did this over undulating roads and in heavy rain. It was a colossal performance from the pair – titanic even, for both riders did inevitably sink without a trace off the back of the peloton.
No matter: their man Cavendish delivered the goods. A day after the disappointment of losing out to his old foe (and now friendly rival) Andre Greipel, the pressure was on Bingo to make sure he did not make the same mistake twice.
But Cav never does. A slick lead-out from Renshaw paved the way for Tour triumph No.18 for Cavendish, who also (in his own words) "got my grubby little Manx mitts on the green jersey".
Despite his unjust reputation as a fiery, self-centred rider, Cavendish is always the first person to congratulate his team for their hard work and dedication – and Wednesday’s post-victory salutations were no different.
"Wow!" Cav tweeted. "Danny Pate and Lars Bak held six strong guys at three minutes. How could I not win after that? Mark Renshaw super cool in the last kilometre."
Praise also came from one of the breakaway riders, Frenchman Jimmy Engoulvent, who himself summed up the day's events in one succinct tweet: "Two HTC riders stronger than six escapees over 120km. Impressive."
Gaffe of the Day: An incident-free day – in fact, there wasn't even one crash to report. Cav's foot came out of his shoe 600m from the finish, but he still managed to win.
Plat du Jour: Saddles wolfed down some foie gras scrambled eggs for breakfast at Blaye-les-Mines, before trying some of Lavaur's famous fat duck with pink garlic for lunch. For dinner it was wild boar with truffles, followed by a heart attack.
Word of the Day: n. Bakboom – an obstruction. Eg. Vince tried to escape, but the locked door proved rather a bakboom.
Uses for… Alessandro Petacchi: an inanimate pink mascot.
Quote of the Day: "Just been informed that the Tour 'really' starts tomorrow... Well what the hell have I been doing the last week and a half?!" Sky's Geraint Thomas
Stage 12 prediction: It's Bastille Day and you'd be mad to think that the French are going to simply settle for a final day in yellow for Voeckler. The clear problem, though, is that it's also the first day in the Pyrenees, and since the retirement of Virenque, the French just aren't very good at climbing. Moncoutie has been ridiculously quiet, so maybe he'll have a pop along with Coppel. Given their gutsy Tour so far, perhaps Europcar will spring a surprise with Gautier, Rolland and Charteau all pacing their man up to Luz Ardiden to stay in yellow. Unlikely, though. Contador and Sammy Sanchez will combine to take a couple of minutes back from Evans. FSchleck in yellow, LL Sanchez and Cadel just behind. ASchleck, Basso and Cunego to crack.
Ever since he was bullied by his brothers into watching the Tour de France as an eight-year-old, Blazin' Saddles has been a cycling fanatic. As persistent as Voigt, as fast as Abdoujaparov, as voracious as Ullrich and as accurate as a Festina watch, Blazin' Saddles offers a lighter take on the oft-grave world of professional cycling. The self-styled best cycling-blog pedlar in the business, BS refutes sullied claims of doping levelled by his rivals: these nuggets are powered on Gerolsteiner fizzy water alone. Just ask BS's friend Bernhard Kohl for a reference.