Tour de France Part 5: Norway…… Cycling capital of the world!!

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Last Sunday after Darren Clarke had won the Open Golf Championship Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) tweeted:

Northern Ireland…… Golf capital of the world!!

Today we have to say:
“Norway…… Cycling capital of the world!!”

Stage 17

Stage 17 went 179km from Gap to Pinerolo. The two biggest climbs of the day were the Cat.2 Col de Montgenèvre, which took the race into Italy and the Cat.1 climb up to Sestrières ( a stage finish in the past). A 40km descent to the foot of the final climb the Cat.2 Côte de Pramartino, followed. The peleton allowed a fourteen rider break-away to form and by the time they reached the intermediate sprint at 81.5 km they had a six-minute lead. The main contenders were content to bide their time on the first two climbs as any time gained would have easily been brought back on the long descent.

Edvald Boassen Hagen wins in Pinerolo

After losing out in the sprint yesterday Edvald Boasson Hagen decided that there was no way this was going to happen again. On the Côte de Pramartino he countered a Sylvain Chavanel attack, sat on his wheel for a few seconds then went himself. Chavanel couldn’t counter and Boasson Hagen rode away for a well deserved stage win.

Behind him in the Yellow Jersey group Alberto Contador was trying to attack the same way he did yesterday, but with less effect. He probably didn't want to go too deep today, bearing in mind tomorrow’s massive stage over three hors categorié climbs and finishing at the top of the Col du Galibier. I also think that Andy Schleck was a bit more with it today. That said Contador did manage to open a bit of a gap on the descent into Pinerolo, but the Schlecks and Cadel Evans closed it down in the last kilometre. Thomas Voeckler managed to lose a few seconds by overcooking a bend on the descent. Fortunately some one had left the gate to their driveway open so he got away with it, it could have been disastrous if they had left it closed.

The Tour organisers are probably hoping that tomorrows stage will define the Tour. My fear is that it is so hard that riders will ride very conservatively and only think about attacking in the final few kilometres. I would like to see someone take a chance and go on the Col d’Izoard and try to put 10 minutes into the race in the style of Coppi or Charly Gaul, but some how I don’t think that is going to happen. However in the meantime don’t forget;

“Norway…… Cycling capital of the world!!”


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