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— Anthony Pope (@Plastic_Peloton) July 12, 2022
Stage ten of the Tour de France came to a screeching halt earlier on the road to Megève, as a group of protesters sat in the road, placed nooses around their necks, and lit pyrotechnics, forcing the race to be paused for over ten minutes.
The climate change protest group Dernière Rénovation, who also staged a demonstration at last month’s French Open, claimed the protest, writing on their website: “Non-violent disruption is our last chance to be heard and avoid the worst consequences of global warming.
“The reality is that the world to which politicians are sending us is a world in which the Tour de France can no longer exist. In this world, we will be busy fighting to feed ourselves and to save our families.”
As the French police attempted to clear the protesters, 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, reporting for Eurosport and GCN from the back of a motorbike, described the scenes to viewers at home.
“There's obviously been a demonstration, much like they had in the UK a couple of months ago with the imbeciles sat in the road,” Wiggins said.
“They them sat in the middle of the road, two of them had a noose around their necks. I was watching the ASO, as the French are, get quite angry at things like this, dragging them off the road.
“You can see Pascal Lino, ex-Tour de France yellow jersey, he threw one down in the ditch and another lady had her legs under the car. It was quite crazy.
“Whatever they're protesting about, it's probably over nothing. We don't need that disrupting this bicycle race. A lot of people getting quite angry, some of the directeur sportifs got out the cars, stuck a boot in. It really was going off. Great scenes here.”
Wiggins’ typically forthright comments have since been criticised online, with many cycling writers and fans questioning the Olympic champion’s perspective in the midst of the climate change crisis, with one journalist even describing the former Sky rider’s monologue as “a live audition for GB News”.
I love cycling but I love the planet too. Not good to see Tour officials or team personnel ‘putting the boot in’ - as Wiggins put it - to climate protestors
— Jeremy Whittle (@jeremycwhittle) July 12, 2022
Climate protesters have temporarily stopped today's @LeTour stage. Uber twat Bradley Wiggins on commentary doesn't know what what the protest is about, "probably nothing" & seems to enjoy seeing the protesters being physically assaulted by Tour staff and police. #letour2022 pic.twitter.com/uYJDZAPVeO
— Limerick Cycle Design (@LkCycleDesign) July 12, 2022
And Brad Wiggins thinks Global Warming is ‘nothing’ and that people who protest it are ‘Imbeciles’
What a great guy 🙃 https://t.co/xhhASGZSca
— Kerry (@Kerry13_) July 12, 2022
Also they chained themselves together on their necks and were unsafely thrown off the road which Bradley referred to as "great scenes" which was met with laughter by the rest of the crew. Are you serious @gcntweet
— Did Vingegaard drop Pogi yet? (@1000Fahrenheit) July 12, 2022
Lot of time for Bradley Wiggins on @eurosport/@gcntweet coverage but not enjoying his glee at describing protestors at @LeTour getting kicked and thrown into ditches, while saying they were likely protesting over nothing.
It's disappointing to see the race paused but cmon guys
— Kadoomed (@kadoomed) July 12, 2022
@eurosport can we have an apology for Bradley Wiggins outrageous outburst on your #TDF2022 broadcast, please? It is, you might be surprised to learn, possible to love cycling but also not want the planet destroyed by a climate catastrophe
— noblecyclist (@noblecyclist) July 12, 2022
Wiggins covering himself in the usual glory covering the #TDF2022 protests.
— Calvin Jones (•_•) (@WelshEcon) July 12, 2022
However, not everyone was unhappy with Sir Brad’s Bernard Hinault-worshipping contribution to proceedings:
Protestors blocking the Tour de France route. Cameras go to Bradley Wiggins who comments that, as he's following the race, he saw some of the Director Sportives and Police put the boot in and said it was "great stuff". Nice one Brad. 🤣🤣🤣
— Captain Blue 🇬🇧 🏴 (@BlearyEyedMan) July 12, 2022
Bradley Wiggins on about the protesters blocking the Tour de France; "imbecile in the road", "Sticking the boot in" and "Great scenes" 😂👏
— Martin J (@MDJ86) July 12, 2022
Wiggins was hilarious, “imbeciles in the middle of the road” and some DSs getting the boot in! Good stuff 💪
— Aidan Somerville (@somerville73) July 12, 2022
— Trims (@Mrgrumpty) July 12, 2022
— Funky (@FunkyDisciple) July 12, 2022
Today, of course, wasn’t Wiggins’ first encounter with people looking to disrupt the world’s biggest bike race.
On the way to winning his Tour de France title in 2012, the Londoner called his own race neutralisation after tacks were strewn by saboteurs on the Mur de Péguère in the Pyrenees, causing defending champion Cadel Evans and a number of other riders to puncture.
I’m not sure there was any attempt to “stick the boot in”, mind you…
Stage ten of the Tour de France, the first since the rest day and finishing after a shallow 20km climb to an Alpine altiport, could easily have turned into a snooze fest, with the peloton keeping one eye on bigger tests, including the fearsome Col du Galibier, Col du Granon, and Alpe d’Huez, in the days to come.
It was anything but, however, as the Tour descended into anarchy, both in a racing and non-racing sense. The day started with the news of three positive Covid tests, two of which saw Luke Durbridge and George Bennett sent home, while Bennett’s UAE Team Emirates colleague Rafał Majka was allowed to stay, due, apparently, to the low chances of the Polish climber infecting others with the virus.
Perhaps the rest of the peloton were doing their best to avoid coming into contact with Majka, such was the ferocity of the opening hour of today’s stage to Megève.
Once a strong 25 rider group went clear, the peloton did eventually down tools – and then so did everyone, as a group of climate change protesters did what they set out to do: disrupt the race and focus the world’s attention on the state of the planet.
After the race got back up and running, and Tour-winning foots were removed from mouths, all hell broke loose in the break. The climb to the altiport in Megève is long and shallow – far removed from the gradients the riders will face tomorrow and Thursday – and thus allowed for a far more open, attacking contest with a broader range of potential winners.
Image: A.S.O., Pauline Ballet
With EF Education-EasyPost’s Alberto Bettiol – who showcased some impressive bike handling skills to avoid the demonstrators posing as road furniture – up the road on his own, Bahrain Victorious went to work. First, the impressive British classics rider Fred Wright powered a three-rider group across to the Italian; after some toing and froing, his teammate Luis León Sánchez attacked.
Behind the veteran Spaniard, Wright expertly patrolled attacks from Magnus Cort and the twitchy Lennard Kämna, who at one point looked likely to pull on the yellow jersey, such was the gap to the cruising peloton (a fact that may have played into the German’s uncharacteristic lack of assertion or confidence in a break that was watching his every move).
Finally, attacks from Movistar’s American hope Matteo Jorgenson and Nick Schultz (BikeExhange-Jayco) ultimately did for Wright. The duo, and then Dylan van Baarle, caught the fading Sanchez, and looked set to sprint for the win.
However, that long, long seemingly endless drag on the altiport completely reshaped proceedings once again. While a ten-rider group coalesced in the final 500 metres, Sanchez and Schultz remained the strongest, and sprinted clear again towards the line.
So, crucially, did Cort. The Dane, who wore the King of the Mountains jersey for most of this Tour's opening week, finally proved it on top of a real mountain, overcoming Schultz in the dying metres to cap a wonderful first ten days for the enigmatic and popular 29-year-old.
Cort’s win also capped a rather dramatic day for his EF Education-EasyPost team. As well as Bettiol’s brief encounter with local activists (which resulted in the Italian giving a statement at a local police station after the stage), the American squad’s massive pink bus caused a traffic jam at the stage start in Morzine after getting stuck while making a tight turn, and then a bird relieved itself onto DS Tom Southam’s head.
Maybe that was just the luck they needed…
Image: A.S.O., Pauline Ballet
Almost nine minutes after Cort’s battling win, race leader Tadej Pogačar continued to do his best to avoid any need for luck, sprinting for any glimpse of daylight, his perpetual shadow Jonas Vingegaard mere bike lengths behind.
The peloton’s fast finish didn’t really change anything in the race for overall victory, but it did result in Kämna missing out on yellow by just 11 seconds. Ouch.
“At first we didn't want to lose it then we were going to lose it kind of, but in the end it all worked out like it did and I'm happy I'm still in the yellow jersey,” Pogačar said at the finish.
Things, however, will get more complicated tomorrow, as the peloton takes on the first truly epic mountain stage of the Tour, covering the legendary Col du Galibier (via the Col du Télégraphe) before finishing atop the 11.3km, 9.3 percent average Col du Granon, making its first appearance at the Tour since Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault went head-to-head in 1986.
On that day, the dominant Frenchman – aiming for his sixth Tour win – cracked, and his younger teammate, and rival, LeMond went into yellow.
Will history repeat itself tomorrow?
Main image: A.S.O., Pauline Ballet
A new contender for Britain's worst bike lane.
I particularly enjoyed the instruction to smash your front wheel on a kerb before crashing into a lamp post.https://t.co/kBZIxOlaWX
— Glasgow Fietser (@FietserGlasgow) July 11, 2022
Another one to add to the ‘Completely Pointless Cycle Lane’ collection…
This 20-foot masterpiece, in Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, features six painted arrows and bike markings (just in case you missed the first five), and has been dismissed as “pointless” and “a glorified lay-by” by locals.
73-year-old Bill Priddin told the Metro: “Kidsgrove didn’t have any cycle lanes before. They closed that road down for about four or five weeks and that is what they put up.
“It’s only about 20 feet and that’s the only cycle lane in the whole town.
“If you look at the length of it, it’s basically just a lay-by. It only goes halfway up the road, and that’s the only cycle path we have – I just find it amusing.”
Going to stop taking so many cars in London. Traffic is just beyond frustrating. Twice as long to get from A to B compared to a bike or a tube.
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) July 12, 2022
Reading this tweet, you can almost hear the cogs in Mr Harwood’s brain whirring…
After a frenetic start to stage ten of the Tour de France today, it’s all calmed down (for now anyway).
So, while a massive, Filippo Ganna-powered break increases their lead over an ambling peloton, we can turn our attention to the burning news story of the day: Where have G’s glasses gone?
The 2018 Tour winner was spotted in the pack NOT wearing his trademark white Oakley Racing Jackets.
It’s probably the first time we have seen the Welshman without his (rather divisive, if we’re being honest) specs since that time he lost them in the woods off the Col de Manse back in 2015.
Does G’s new look represent a latent sartorial change of heart, or did he simply leave his glasses on the hotel room table?
Considering he raced the opening time trial of the Tour de France while still wearing a gilet, you can never rule it out…
Here’s something to entertain/confuse/anger [delete as appropriate] you over lunch…
Apparently, the fuddy-duddies here at road.cc have decided to embrace the wonderful world of TikTok (we have to pretend we’re down with the kids somehow…), and have //www.tiktok.com/ [at] road.cc?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc" target="_blank">created a page featuring lots of sharply edited, quickfire vids on everything from snippets of our features and interviews to pro cycling newbie question and answer sessions.
And… this Tour de France-Minions film fan thing mash up, apparently.
//www.tiktok.com/ [at] road.cc/video/7119142910943071494" class="tiktok-embed" data-video-id="7119142910943071494" style="max-width: 605px;min-width: 325px;">
//www.tiktok.com/ [at] road.cc" target="_blank" title="@road.cc">@road.cc GentleMinions. Make it to @letourdefrance! #minions #tourdefrance #fyp #gentleminions #cyclinglife ♬ Universal Fanfare - The Minions
Don’t worry, even the clip’s star Liam tells me he didn’t really know what was going on either…
(The fact that the blog is struggling with all the TikTok links makes this even funnier. Hopefully they'll be sorted soon!)
On Monday he was tested as per internal protocols of the team and returned a positive result. This was confirmed by a PCR test. pic.twitter.com/HCWDwWfgmD
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) July 12, 2022
Just when you thought EF Education-EasyPost’s beleaguered bus would be the most dramatic Tour de France story this morning, UAE Team Emirates have confirmed that the squad’s Kiwi climber – and key mountain domestique for defending champion Tadej Pogačar – George Bennett has tested positive for Covid and has withdrawn from the race.
“Sadly our rider George Bennett tested positive for Covid-19 and will not continue today in the Tour de France,” the team said in a statement.
“On Monday he was tested as per internal protocols of the team and returned a positive result. This was confirmed by a PCR test.”
The team’s doctor Adrian Rotunno also confirmed that Bennett had displayed Covid-related symptoms on Monday night, which led to his test.
Bennett isn’t the only UAE Team Emirates rider to contract the virus over the rest day – Polish climber Rafał Majka has also reportedly tested positive for Covid, but has been deemed to have a low enough viral load to continue racing.
The news means that Pogačar now only has five teammates to reply upon (including Majka) for the rest of the Tour, after Vegard Stake Laengen pulled out earlier in the race following his own positive test for Covid.
Bennett and Stake Laengen’s positive tests would have resulted in an automatic withdrawal for the entire UAE Team Emirates squad, including Pogačar, under the UCI’s previous Covid regulations. However, the new guidelines, which were introduced just before the 2022 Tour began, will allow teams to continue even if two or more riders return a positive PCR test within seven days.
Majka has also been spared an early exit thanks to the rewritten rules, which now state that the ability of a rider to continue racing after a positive test will be decided by a meeting between the team doctor, the Tour’s Covid-19 doctor and the UCI Medical Director.
While we’ve focused most of our attention on the form, trials and tribulations of the riders, it’s safe to say that team buses haven’t enjoyed the best start to the 2022 Tour de France.
At the weekend, we reported that the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert bus was forced to abandon the race (reportedly in floods of tears) after experiencing some gear issues, with the squad’s VIP camper parachuted in to provide a temporary refuge for the riders while a substitute coach made its way to the Alps.
This morning, a team bus again stole the show.
Channelling the spirit of the beleaguered Orica-GreenEdge bus, which wedged itself under the finish line arch at the 2013 Tour in Corsica, EF Education-EasyPost’s team coach has found itself stuck at the entrance to the stage start in Morzine today, after failing to make a tight right hand turn and connecting with the road.
The marooned bus has blocked access for both the riders and other team vehicles, while a rescue attempt – involving a digger – is currently working to retrieve the situation in time for the rollout.
Sadly, this is not a video of QuickStep's riders riding back from the shop with a backpack full of food.
They're riding to their bus because EF's bus is stuck and is blocking the passage. pic.twitter.com/xoNawO1Ola
— Chris Marshall-Bell (@cmbell310) July 12, 2022
— gael robic (@gael_robic) July 12, 2022
— Peter Cossins (@petercossins) July 12, 2022
EF's bus now has a very big hole in it that it didn't have before. pic.twitter.com/sVnh8KyEU7
— Chris Marshall-Bell (@cmbell310) July 12, 2022
I hear a certain Australian team are currently chuckling quietly to themselves…
It’s about time we passed the torch onto someone else…
— Team BikeExchange-Jayco (@GreenEDGEteam) July 12, 2022
The first nine days of this year’s Tour de France have worked out pretty well for Tom Pidcock.
The 22-year-old cyclocross world champion – the third youngest rider at this year’s Grande Boucle – is currently sitting an impressive seventh overall as the race resumes following its first proper race day, after expertly navigating the hazard-filled opening stages and putting in a string of consistent performances as the road has started to rear upwards.
The Yorkshireman, competing in only his second career grand tour after last year’s Vuelta a España, managed to cling on to the back of the lead group on Sunday’s mountainous stage to Châtel, losing seven seconds in the end to a fast-finishing Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard, and only four to the likes of Primož Roglič, Romain Bardet and teammates Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas (in comparison, Ineos’ other potential GC hope, tried and trusted climber Dani Martínez, lost over 15 minutes).
Despite Martínez’ collapse, Pidcock still forms part of three-pronged Ineos attack including Yates and 2018 winner Thomas, all currently ensconced in the top seven on the GC, which will aim to deploy its strength in numbers to good effect against Pogačar’s one man show.
“I think it's been a pretty successful start," Pidcock told cyclingnews.
“I mean, yeah, I kind of have high expectations of myself and judge my performances on other people’s – like Wout [van Aert], for example, is a competitor across the Classics.
“But in reality, he's already done two Tours de France so I can't expect to be at the front straight away. I have time to learn and grow and get there. Not been as near a stage as I would have liked, but I can only do my best.
“But if I step back, I'm top 10 in GC, I've been up there in a few stages. It's not bad at all.”
When asked whether his team had any tricks up its sleeve for the upcoming stages in the Alps, starting with today’s pretty benign summit finish to the altiport in Megève before two brutal stages over the range’s classic climbs, Pidcock replied: “Well, it's a surprise. So, if I tell you I'll have to kill you.
“For me, I think the most you can learn is in the first week for a GC rider. Once you get past the first week then you're going to the mountains where everything is simpler and I can kind of learn the aspect whether I'm in GC or not. So yeah, now it's great. But after today, we'll evaluate to see if I should lose some time, and maybe go for some stages.”
Lead image: Zac Williams/SWpix.com
While the rest day Covid controls may have yielded no positive cases at the Tour de France (more on that in a bit), one rider has already been forced to abandon the race this morning after contracting the virus.
BikeExhange-Jayco confirmed today that their Australian rider Luke Durbridge has tested positive for Covid this morning and will not take to the start of stage ten in Morzine Les Portes du Soleil.
31-year-old former team pursuit world champion Durbridge, who was coming into form at this year’s Tour after infiltrating the breakaway on stage seven to La Planche des Belles Filles, is said to have “very mild symptoms”.
He is the fourth rider to leave the race with Covid, after Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), and Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates) abandoned following positive tests.
Main image: Zac Williams/SWpix.com
YouTube driving instructor Ashley Neal, as regular readers of road.cc will know, tends to divide opinion within the cycling community.
Neal, the son of European Cup-winning Liverpool full back Phil Neal (but don’t mention the football!), regularly posts videos on his website and YouTube channel, which has over 109,000 subscribers, chronicling his experiences as a driver and instructor in the northwest of England.
While he often been praised for his level-headed and even-handed approach to cyclists on the roads, earlier this year one of his videos, titled ‘Cycling 2 Abreast and Overtaking’, caused a stir after some viewers claimed that Neal was criticising the cyclists in the clip for riding two-abreast before “unnecessarily” beeping his horn at them as he passed.
In May, he criticised the confrontational approach to road safety adopted by Cycling Mikey, another live blog favourite (we just need Jeremy Vine to pop up and we’re good to go), which Neal argued actually leads to more road rage incidents.
In one of his latest YouTube videos Neal, who runs his own driving school business, slams a van driver who appears to deliberately swerve at a cyclist.
“Without doubt, this was done as a form of punishment,” he narrates in the clip, which was captured last week.
Neal then says that – though it’s difficult to tell for sure – he reckons that a young child may be sitting in the passenger seat of the van.
“Is that kid being taught that this is the correct way to deal with a vulnerable road user?” he continues. “I surely hope not.”
“And if that is the case, that there was a child in that passenger seat, I would just like to pose this question to the driver: ‘How would you feel if someone did that to your lad?’”
Neal’s subscribers agreed with his take on the incident, with one commenter describing the manoeuvre as “Threatening with a deadly weapon is what that is, and it should be charged and prosecuted as such.”
Another wrote: “This needs to be reported to the police, and the video sent to the company. Seriously. Accidents and mistakes are one thing... this is quite another. Even if the van didn't make contact, it could have caused the cyclist to clip a kerb or drain and end up under the wheels of a following vehicle... or maybe mount a kerb and hit a pedestrian.
“Doesn't even matter if there's been an altercation or words exchanged further back... maybe a close pass resulted in the cyclist banging on the side of the van.
“Doesn't matter, there's no excuse for that.”
“The overall issue with a lot of society today,” one viewer summarised, “is that they're not taught ‘how would you like it if it happened to you?’ or of course ‘happened to your loved one/child/whomever’, so then you get silly twats like the van driver that think it's perfectly fine to behave like that.”
Another user noted the potential hand-me-down nature of anti-cycling attitudes.
They wrote: “I gave some friends of my daughters a lift to a birthday party the other day, and as we approached a cyclist one of them said ‘urgh, I HATE cyclists, run them over!’, to which my daughter replied ‘why? My Dad's a cyclist’.
“I told her that cyclists don’t hold cars up, I said even though we're driving slowly behind him waiting for a safe place to pass, we will catch the traffic up at the next junction and it will cost us no time. Then pointed out when we did!”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.