Stage 15, rest day tomorrow and the riders set out on a lumpy course from Laissac-Sévérac l'Église to Le Puy-en-Velay in the upper most reaches of the Loire Valley.
Prior to the race Chris Froome was interviewed about the preceding day’s stage that saw him back in yellow. He described the run through Rodez prior to the uphill finish as full of, "technical road furniture", which has got to be at least a double shot in the couch peloton drinking game.
Gabs (yes, we haven’t seen much of him lately) was up to the usual sampling waiyne and chiiises and also the green Le Puy lentils which, it was pointed out, are gluten free. Don't tell me the French are in on the ridiculous gluten free fad too? They’ll be off the butter next.
Phil and Paul stopped by for a chat with SBS. Phil noted that,"French people have fallen in love with the Tour". Well you know, it is held in France and it's only taken what, 104 editions?
Out on the road and looked like breakies too numerous to mention might have a chance. Michael Gogl was spotted and I wonder does he ever watch Gogl Box?
Tommo was bemoaning the lack of facilities and resources other TV networks enjoy including catering. SBS does a fine job because as Tommo says they do their job out of love but surely the NBC caterers invite everyone over on cassoulet night?
Field art standards had slipped somewhat with an attitude of ‘let's just hang some nice words from that stack of hay bales over there’. 3/10 for effort, lift your game!
Robbie explained as the peloton headed across the ’barren’ Aubrac Plateau that the lack of agriculture explained the lack of field art. Excusez-moi? Lack of agriculture? What do you call all the vaches and moutons?
Robbie spotted a mixed herd or have I miss heard? And wasn’t just vaches to keep things interesting, there were drystone walls too. If only to be a fly on the NBC commentary box wall...
Back to the race and Robbie watched riders working together and said there’s, "no two without three". Oh geez, Robbie, don’t even go there!
Mattie was concerned with not getting a good reading of wind direction with a lack of trees and flags. Well, you don’t need a wind sock when there's always the highly scientific lick the finger and it stick in the air method to fall back on.
It was Simon Geschke’s turn to step in front of the cameras as the man with the most lush beard in the peloton. The fashion hasn’t completely caught on in the peloton but you’ve got admire the work he puts in with careful trimming and the correct application of bespoke beard oils. Or maybe he's still getting through all the leftover boxes of (former team sponsor) Alpecin caffeine shampoo?
Jan Bugalugs took a turn in front of the camera and I must he's been quiet for a few days.
Troll DJ had the colour green on its mind inspired by a green river that flows through the area. Creedence Green Water Revival? Oh how clever! Later Troll DJ trotted out ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ in tribute to Marcel Kittel. Yeah, it's not easy being green, just ask Lee Rhiannon and Scott Ludlam.
Troll DJ turned it’s attention to yellow and we’re not sure if Donovan's 'Mellow Yellow' was a tribute to Froome back in yellow or the nature breaks.
Mattie spotted the chateau with the highest elevation in France. A chateau at altitude! That’s got be triple word score on the McKeeno bingo card. However, Primoz Roglic was mentioned without the ski jumper reference. Points deducted.
The riders went through the feedzone, no silly crashes but plenty of musettes stuffed as full as a show bag when I was a kid. Just hope the soigniers remembered to slip a couple of Bertie Beetles in there.
Word from the Skybots that there’s no tension between Mikel Landa and Chris Froome in the Death Star. Landa is reportedly in total support of Chris Froome. Yeah right, like when the coach or the CEO has full support of the board.
There was the usual assortment of roadside randoms and the Citroen 2CVs were back racing the peloton over the plateau. They've been chasing the Tour all over France.
Just as sections of the couch peloton started to abandon, the race got interesting with Panzerwagen Tony Martin attempting a solo time trial from 66 km to go. Martin went at it perhaps a little too hard and looked, according to Robbie, like a ‘goldfish out of water’.
The tongue was out on more than one occasion so do we start calling him Tony Voeckler now?
Just as we thought the field art competition was wrapping up for the day an hourglass with sheep dogs and sheep was spotted. Not quite tractors dripping through the hourglass but hats off nonetheless.
Tony Martin ploughed on and on one of the descents car tyres were squealing in pursuit of Martin. Are we watching the Tour or that movie ‘Hell Drivers’?
Good to see Henk Vogels joining the commentary team for the week and presented his findings after careful analysis of the climbs - nasty but not quite filthy enough for Henk.
At 40 km to go Froome had a mechanical and no one was stopping this time. Skybot Michal Kwiatkowski gave Froome his back wheel and AG2R threw the unwritten rules out the unwritten window and lit the afterburners.
Froome had a lot of work to do to catch his rivals and limit the damage to his lead. Amazingly Landa actually started working for Froome - must have had a really stern talking too in the Death Star.
Bauke Mollema soloed away to cross the line and, in the words of Mattie, "Mollema the Dutch book week ambassador has written another chapter".
Another chapter indeed with the title 'My first Tour win'. Chris Froome takes the yellow jersey into the rest day with an 18 second lead over Fabio Aru.