As the Tour de France hits its halfway point, the sports directors in charge of two of the pre-race favourites – Chris Froome and Alberto Contador – have been reflecting on their respective riders’ very different performances on yesterday’s Stage 10, and there's also on-bike video of the stage Meanwhile, for some light relief, we have a video showing the Tour de France in miniature.
While Chris Froome is only halfway through a Tour de France that he hopes will bring him his second blue and gold Sèvres porcelain vase awarded to the overall winner, one Briton is already guaranteed to return home with a trophy – Sean Yates, who as sports director at Team Sky was at the centre of the row between the current race leader and Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012.
One of just six British riders to have worn the yellow jersey – Tom Simpson, Chris Boardman, David Millar, Wiggins and Froome are the others – Yates, who is now sports director at Tinkoff-Saxo, was this morning presented with a trophy for his 20th participation in the Tour de France.
He also spoke about yesterday’s first stage in the Pyrenees, when Chris Froome stamped his authority on the race on a dominant day for Sky that left Alberto Contador more than 4 minutes off the race lead.
“It was Alberto's worst day ever in the Tour de France or any Grand Tour”, he told letour.com. “He's extremely disappointed. Now we have to accept Sky's domination and get on with it.
“I'm not surprised by Sky's performance. We know that Richie is strong. We know that G [Geraint Thomas] is strong. He showed it in the Tour of Switzerland.
“Alliances are fine but it's three or four guys maximum when a strong team defending the jersey is nine guys. So? That's mathematics!”
Nicolas Portal, sports director at Team Sky, also spoke of the effect of the team’s performance yesterday on today’s stage, saying: “We'll have to keep the situation under control and monitor everything today.
“We knew that after the rest day, there could be an opportunity. Today it's a difficult stage but a standard one with Aspin and Tourmalet that everyone knows. The final climb isn't very hard.
The stage is suitable for a breakaway. We'll look at preserving our advantage without spending too much energy because tomorrow it'll be the hardest stage of the Pyrenees and it can cause big damages if we spend too much today.”
We’ve featured this video before, back in 2013, but we know we’ve gained lots of new readers since then and after it popped up on Facebook again today, we make no excuses for showing it again.
Originally dating from 2008, it shows a miniature peloton snaking its way around a 227-centimetre stage of the Tour de France, and there are plenty of thrills and spills along the way, including a tribute to Lance Armstrong’s cross-country exploits during the 2003 race.
Ivan Basso – who pulled out of this year’s Tour on Monday after being diagnosed with testicular cancer – is the maillot jaune.
We’re reliably informed that if you follow the race on French TV, you’ll get even more out of the video thanks to the commentary which parodies some of the country’s cycling broadcasters and pundits.
Back to the real race, and Froome features prominently in this Velon on-bike video of yesterday’s stage.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.