Sometimes a stage looks interesting on paper, and turns out to be dull. Other times, a profile looks boring as hell and turns out to be quite the opposite.

Okay, I won’t go as far as to say that today was an all-time classic, but given the two sprint stages we’ve seen so far, where the majority of the day has been ridden like it’s a coffee ride, today was certainly more intriguing.

In fact, the only features of note at all on the profile – a category 4 climb and an intermediate sprint – were done and dusted after 31 kilometres, and after that, was when things got interesting. The weather was the source of all the problems, and it wasn't just the fact that it couldn't decide what to do, first dry, then wet, then dry again. And of course, the dreaded threat of crosswinds...

If you’re expecting the worst, sometimes the worst will happen. And it turned out that way today, as despite the fact that there genuinely was some wind on the route, and plenty of tricky points at which the peloton had to remain vigilant, it could have been a far less stressful day if everyone just chilled out a bit. The team radios were replete with warnings and doomsaying, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy as teams jostled for position, the nervous energy so electric among the bunch at certain points you could have powered a small town with it.

The crosswinds really weren't that bad in the end, but the reactions to them anticipated the worst, and while it was technically Paris-Nice in reverse, it had an air of a Belgian sprint classic, as teams sent rouleurs to the front to fight for space going into every turn. Lotto-Dstny tried an attack at one point, but it was pressure from Visma-Lease A Bike and Red Bull-BORA-hansgrohe that caused the only split of the day in the end, and at first glance it appeared as though all the main favourites had made the split, including the maillot jaune who was charging on at the front living his best life, until it transpired, he had zero teammates with him, leaving him exposed should anything happen to him.

It didn't, and the front group called off the charge, probably when they realised it really wasn't worth the bother given all the main GC rivals were there anyway.

So onto the sprint and it was another nail-biter, with town after town, roundabout after road furniture, and crashes for the polka dot jersey Jonas Abrahamsen and for a group of riders from EF among others. But the stage was set and the fast men went to work and for the first time in three sprints, it was actually close. But Team Jayco-AlUla's Dylan Groenewegen was declared the winner, with Jasper Philipsen second - at least at first, while the commissaires looked at his deviation which closed the door on Wout van Aert, who was up and sprinting for the first time at this race.

So, the streak of history being made has perhaps been interrupted today, unless you count 'first rider with a beak to win a stage at Le Tour,' but it's hard to imagine what else could possibly count as historical this year, on a sprint finish at least. It doesn't take away from the scale of Groenewegen's achievement, as in a year with an incredibly strong field of sprinters most of whom appear to be in extremely good form, the competition is fierce and to take a stage win at all, is a huge deal.

As for Philipsen, he was relegated for his deviation that shut out van Aert, the correct decision and one which will hopefully be a cautionary note to others that these infractions will (sometimes) be punished. Looking ahead, the slate is clean for the sprinters going into Saturday's stage, when they will all have another chance to take that precious victory.

Aero beak wins the day!

Outside of the main jersey presentations, which remained the same, spare a thought for poor Mads Pedersen, who was voted most combative rider on account of his fighting spirit following yesterday's high-speed crash in the final. It was a nice gesture but the Dane was unimpressed, as its meaning was somewhat diminished by the fact that the accolade required him to hang around until the end of the podium presentation, when what he really wanted was to go back to his bus and have his wounds tended to. Oops.

FEATURE: Chef's Special - Burgundy Edition

by Mathieu Fraisse and Jeanne Boireau

A Time Trial is always a special stage, so naturally it deserved a special edition…

174 riders will take part in this Time Trial, it means plenty of time to dive deep into Burgundy culture and especially its gastronomy 🍴

And what would be an awesome way to discover Burgundy gastronomy? With a local!

So I will take a rest day before the peloton and hand over the keys to this segment to close friend of mine and true Burgundy girl : Jeanne 🙌

Get ready to feast… 3, 2, 1… Ask for the Menu!

Here, in Burgundy, having a great time eating with friends or family is one of our most favourite activity (and then having a nap in front a TDF stage). I don’t know if we like it more, but we like it!

Food is almost ready but first let me offer you a drink (but responsibly, and not if you’re about to ride for 3+ hours on a bike) 😏

Don’t talk to me about peach, raspberry or anything else. The Kir, the real and only one, created by the Chanoine Kir next to Dijon, is made from Bourgogne white wine Aligoté with blackcurrant cream. Period. Add a batch of gougères (small cheese puffs) and you have the perfect match! Especially if my dad is cooking 😍

Then (sorry for our vegetarian friends 😬), let's have a taste of parsley ham with small pickles and, of course we're in Burgundy, a glass of Bouzeron. Simple but effective. 👌

Now, I will tell you a secret… You probably know about the bœuf bourguignon, this famous recipe made from braised beef, with a succulent red wine sauce (red wine from Givry for example), served with fresh pasta and little garlic croutons. Soooo yummy!

Well, I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you that the origins of that famous dish seems to be… Parisian! Damn… 😱

Don’t worry though, we’ll make up for it with cheese!!! 🧀

My favourite ones: Epoisse, Soumaintrain, Cîteaux, named after the Burgundian abbeys where they were created. Absolutely delicious to taste accompanied by a glass of dry white wine (like Puligny-Montrachet or my personal favourite : Meursault ❤️). BUT be careful! Woe betide you if you dare to touch them with your fingers!

Finally, to end on a sweet note, let’s enjoy a little nonnette. A small cake made from gingerbread, filled with orange marmalade, and with a very thin layer of sugar on top. A speciality of Dijon, you could enjoy this one with a Burgundian Crémant, a subtle sparkling wine. 🍾 To celebrate your favourite rider’s win for example 😉

Aaaand we're done! Congrats by the way! You reached the end of that pantagruesque meal 🥵 It certainly seemed as hard as Alpe d’Huez and its 21 turns but you’ve made it!

You clearly deserved a BAN BOURGUIGNON! (Yes it’s a real thing, and yes, we absolutely love to sing to celebrate literally anything). 💃

I’m very happy to have welcomed you to my region today! I hope you’ve enjoyed it! See you soon in Burgundy 👋

Hors Couture: The Renaissance of Visma-Lease a Bike

by Emma Bianchi

As has been the norm in recent years, Team Visma – Lease a Bike (TVL) have once again issued a special edition jersey for the 2024 Tour de France. Some teams do this voluntarily, to honour and celebrate the race. In TVL’s case however, general manager Richard Plugge has made it very clear that they would prefer to stay in their usual kit. Why design a different one then, you may wonder?

The team kits have to be distinguishable from any classification jerseys. TVL insist on designing kits in their well-established yellow. As they could easily be confused with the GC leader’s Maillot Jaune from above, they are required to change their colours for the Tour.

TVL have been known to give their Tour de France special edition kits a background story, designing them with not just different colours, but an idea in mind. This year, they went for a dark blue base, with highlights in form of a royal blue and yellow pattern. The first thing that comes to mind is: “How will I be able to tell them apart from all the other blue teams?!”, but there is actually more to this jersey than its impracticality in a blurry helicopter shot.

TVL call this jersey “The Renaissance”, because “the drive for innovation and progress from that era reflects the team's mission to push boundaries and strive for improvement every day.” (TVL website). The renaissance inspired pattern catches the eye: lily-flowers, embedded in hexagons made up of floral ornaments. Lilies are a well-known renaissance motif; they represent purity and are usually depicted with the Virgin Mary.

Many people will see the lily and think of the fleur-de-lis, the French symbol of heraldry and monarchy, that was used on the coat of arms of France until the French revolution. Perhaps a nod to the country that hosts the biggest cycling race in the world? Not quite. 

The keen observer will notice that this particular lily-flower has a more ornamental look to it than the stylised, minimal French lily. The three-petalled flower is interposed by two stamens, which identify it as Il Giglio Fiorentino, the Lily of Florence. When the birthplace of the renaissance was an independent republic (1119 – 1569), it adopted a red Giglio on a white field as its civil flag and coat of arms. The symbol remains to this day, amongst others as the symbol of Serie A football club Fiorentina.

By explicitly choosing the Florentine Giglio, TVL pays tribute not only to the city in which the renaissance was born in the 14th century, but also the city in which the Tour de France started in the 21st century.

The hexagonal pattern that the lilies are embedded in represents the typical shape that TJV have come to associate themselves with. Also depicted on their usual kit, the hexagons symbolise a beehive. TVL have been known to call themselves “The Bees” and are trying to establish the nickname “Yellow B” for their team in an attempt to build an identity independent from sponsors. To stick to the theme, these hexagons are not the usual straight lines, but renaissance-style flower ornaments, albeit a bit cleaner and more modernised.

The colours are not borrowed from Florence, as the city prides itself on white and red. This is where France gets its well-deserved recognition: Both the old Arms of the Kings of France featuring three fleurs-de-lis, as well as the modern-day coat of arms, show yellow-golden symbols on a background of azure. Sound familiar?

Blue colours are generally associated with stability, wisdom, faith, and truth, while Azure in particular represents clarity, calmness, and depth. Yellow adds the features of happiness, enlightenment, joy, and positivity. The particular honey-golden yellow that TVL use in their design is a reminder of the bee-motif. 

This kit design aims at depicting royalty, serenity, and hope. It pays tribute to common renaissance motives, as well as Florence, the starting town of the 2024 Tour, and the whole country of France. You could call it a masterpiece – but that is already the name of their 2022 Tour kit. 

Stage 7 - Nuits-Saint-Georges - Gevrey-Chambertin.


Stage 6 profile courtesy of official Tour de France website

IT'S ITT DAY! Everyone loves an ITT, right? RIGHT?! OK well I love an ITT and I'll tell you why. I love an ITT because the pace and the rhythm of the day is completely different to any other day on a Grand Tour, and if you're a person who thrives on watching every moment of every stage, that syncopation is like a cool shower on a hot day - it's refreshing, required, and just generally A LOVELY CHANGE.

The gradual ramping up of tension as the riders leave one by one, heading ever closer to the business end of GC proceedings but occasionally punctuated by the odd TT specialist who's randomly at like 83rd in the standings and completely shakes up the leader board. The chance to absolutely lambast the teams about their questionable head gear and fashion choices, whilst simultaneously drooling over their stunning machines, and the chance to see some new national champions in their jerseys for the first time - what's not to love?

And personally my favourite part of time trial day which is just the chance to slow down, watch riders as individuals, shine the spotlight on names who are otherwise hidden from view for three weeks in the service of others, regardless of whether or not they are going all out - it's the least they deserve, a bit of camera time, a chance to do their thing, man and machine against the clock. Poetry in motion.

In terms of the favourites world champion Remco will of course go into the race as the top prospect, given the lack of major climbing detail on the profile, but Pogacar and Vingegaard have both proven themselves against the clock under extreme pressure. TT specialists Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) and Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease A Bike) will hope to challenge the GC riders, and there are a handful of others who could challenge on their day - either way we will see a shake-up of the GC standings, come the end of tomorrow.

WBR Team Predictions: Mathieu - Stefan Küng, Katy, Lena, Anna, Alicia, Sam - Remco Evenepoel

Before you go...

It was a joy to scroll through social media last night and read all the plaudits, from fellow riders, journalists, broadcasters and fans, as everyone celebrated history being made. I loved this Tweet from Orla Chennaoui, who has such a way with words.

Now onto today's material and it turns out, Mathieu van der Poel is cooler than you. Sorry.

And the green jersey is looking great on the shoulders of Biniam Girmay - he took it for the second time today, and invited young African cycling talents up to share the stage with him - it's brilliant.

Until tomorrow, thanks for reading!

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