Blazin' Saddles

  • Tommy the trickster makes light of ‘injury’

    If you say something long enough then people will begin to believe you. So goes the old adage — seemingly one that's big in the Voeckler household.

    For days, nay weeks, Thomas Voeckler's been harping on about the poor state of his knee — and then he goes and digs deep into the depths of his panache stash, pulling off an outstanding stage 10 win without even the use of a knee support.

    We were led to believe that every pedal stroke produced a stabbing sensation through his tendinitis-ravaged joint, that his very participation was in jeopardy. Heck, there was even talk of his French housewives

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  • Somewhere in Luxembourg, with his feet up and a cushion to support the fractured bone in his pelvis, Andy Schleck was probably breathing a huge sigh of relief on Monday afternoon.

    The sight of seeing his brother Frank lose four and a half minutes to Bradley Wiggins in the shorter and hillier of two individual time trials in the Tour would have been enough to make Andy realise that his own injury was perhaps a blessing in disguise.

    Seeing defending champion Cadel Evans — the man who took the yellow jersey from under the nose of Schleck last July — finish himself almost two minutes down on

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  • French toasts as vintage Pinot is uncorked

    Glasses were raised all over France as a new national hero came of age on stage eight of the Tour just across the border in the pretty Swiss town of Porrentruy.

    Last year it took until stage 19 and Pierre Rolland's mesmeric ascent of Alpe d'Huez before France could breath a sigh of relief. This year, thanks to the youngest rider on the Tour, celebrations even came a whole week before Bastille Day as local boy Thibaut Pinot took the spoils after another thrilling day in the 'medium mountains'.

    With Richard Virenque having retired and both Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel getting on (plus

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  • Froome enough for the both of us?

    Get a Froome, you two!Watching stage seven of the Tour de France was like travelling back in time to September's Vuelta as Team Sky pair Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome ran riot.

    In the undulating final 30km and then the first summit finish of the Tour, Dave Brailsford's Royal Mail were doing their best US Postal impression as they blew the field apart on the new Planche des Belles Filles climb ahead of its precipitous 20 per cent final ramp.

    Who would have thought the day could come when Australians Mick Rogers and Richie Porte were responsible for shedding seasoned climbers and GC riders such as Samuel Sanchez,

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  • Hulk, hospitals & hissy fits

    Peter Sagan show-pieced his latest celebration, team buses became hospitals on wheels and Brad Wiggins threw an almighty tantrum; stage six of the Tour de France went from routine pre-mountain jaunt to a GC bloodbath — all because of a pair of shoe covers.

    When Jurgen van den Broeck and Richie Porte crashed in the neutral zone in Epernay, champagne capital of the world, it set the tone for things to come. A breakaway quickly formed and — unsurprisingly for a quartet featuring David Zabriskie, winner of the Tour's fastest ever time trial back in 2005 — the peloton was under instant early

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  • A bridge too Farrar

    We've all had a bad day at the office and taken it out on somebody before, regretting it no doubt a bit later once the dust has settled. Tyler Farrar will probably feel that way on Friday morning — but then again, can you blame him?

    For most people, a "bad day at the office" involves a lousy commute, being so busy you have to eat at your desk while working on spreadsheets, a bit of overtime keeping you from the pub, and overhearing at the water cooler that Debbie, the girl you fancy in accounts, is going on a date with Marcus, one of the chiselled bike couriers.

    For Farrar and the other

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  • Pay day for Europcar

    Notoriously one of the most hard-up teams in professional cycling, Team Europcar are taking a novel approach to balancing the books this year.

    Rumours are escalating that Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's squad are relying on prize money from the intermediate sprints to fund next season's entire budget. So far, the French Pro-Continental team have been on the offensive each day, taking three of four sprints.

    Yohann Gene (stage one), Christophe Kern (stage two) and Yukiya Arashiro (stage four) have each earned the team €1,500 while Giovanni Bernaudeau added €1,000 into the tin for his second place in the

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  • Showman Sagan shot down

    The world of cycling was in uproar on Tuesday when Peter Sagan belittled the Tour de France by playing a game of Charades while coasting to another straight-forward win.

    Instead of raising his arms aloft and smiling sensibly after having already crossed the line — as is the custom in the peloton — Sagan chose the immediate moment leading up to his second stage win in his debut Tour to continue an on-going game with his friends watching back at home on TV.

    With the victory secure 20-odd metres from the finish after yet another display of brutal uphill sprinting, Sagan took time out to act out

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  • Cav rules HTC reunion

    Greipel and Cavendish cross the line (Reuters)Old boys' reunions always have an extra layer of frisson when involving competitive thoroughbreds filled to the gills with (legal) testosterone and much machismo.

    The 2012 HTC reunion — which just so happened to coincide with the climax of Monday's stage two of the Tour de France — was no different.

    With Manx world champion Mark Cavendish, German Gorilla Andre Greipel and Aussie speed trawler Matt Goss the main invitees, there was always going to be fireworks.

    Greipel, for one, was bent on getting one over old playground bully Cavendish — and asked a bunch of his new friends from Lotto Belisol

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  • Sarky Sagan says sorry

    Slovak Sensation™ Peter Sagan racked up another win — and no doubt could have bedded a podium girl too — after a typically bullish performance in the opening road stage of the Tour.

    A debut Tour win at the first attempt is just what we'd expect from the man some call The Terminator and others, the Velvet Samurai.

    As the 22-year-old crossed the line after hitching a final-kilometre taxi ride from chauffeur extraordinaire Fabian Cancellara — who looked a bit like a New York cab in his yellow jersey — Sagan cheekily celebrated with a nonchalant hand-on-hips routine, followed by a sheepish

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