Bastille Day at Le Tour, fireworks guaranteed

Tour de France, Valréas, 2004

Look at little Tommy Voeckler in yellow back in 2004, doesn’t he look full of boyish energy? Photo by by Simon Aughton, on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence.


Christian Prudhomme will be counting his blessings this Bastille Day, 14th July. I don’t think he could have imagined it working out so well when he put the route together.

Traditionally Bastille Day is like a secondary French Championships. All the other riders hate the first hour as the French teams beat each other senseless, trying to make sure their man is in the potentially stage-winning break.

As a national holiday, it guarantees big crowds roadside, exactly what organisers and spectators alike want to see. Barring bad weather, there are so many reasons that Thursday is going to be brilliant:

  • Tommy Voeckler, French housewives’ favourite, in yellow, “heroically” trying to defend the jersey against all-comers with (lack of) help from his Europcar squad. It’s a throwback to the heady summer of 2004.
  • First day in the mountains with a stage ripe for David Moncoutié to claim a farewell stage win
  • Luis Leon Sanchez with an outside hope of taking it off Voeckler if he can get in the break
  • Alberto Contador trying to take back some of his deficit on his rivals
  • Cadel Evans seconds off leading the Tour and in the form of his life
  • The Schleck brothers looking to place Andy in a winning position
  • Pure climbers off the leash as the King of the Mountains competition starts in earnest. Rigoberto Uran is my one to watch.

You just know it’s going to be worth watching.

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