Well, it was a sprint stage.
It's one of those days where it's probably not worth labouring the point. A 3-man break went up the road. There was a deer, and a torrential downpour. And a bunch sprint in which no-one crashed, and Jasper Philipsen won.
And so, the 21-day rollercoaster drops once again. Cause and effect - for every action (a barnstormer of a day such as yesterday's stage) there is an equal and opposite reaction.
At least Cycling Twitter (and the commentators) had the coded UAE race radio message to discuss - and it's testament to our ability to amuse ourselves through the, er, less action-packed stages that we dined out on that coded message for the ENTIRE day. Great fun. On with some content - don't say we aren't good to you - even on the less intriguing stages we have fun stuff to entertain you. Let's go!
PRÉPAREZ VOS MUSETTES!
def: prepare your musettes!
Cuisine du Jour
Stage 12 - Roanne - Belleville-en-Beaujolais (168.8km, Hilly)
We move on to the Loire department of France for what looks set to be a very similar stage to stage 10, with multiple climbs and a strong likelihood of a breakaway winner.
With a new area, we can finally explore some new cuisine, and for a sweet change I have for you today a dessert, unique to the starting location of Rouanne.
Praluline is a delicious sweet bread consisting of a brioche infused with the flavour of pink, rose sugar-coated pralines. Created in 1955 by a renowned French pastry chef, the pastry itself typically boasts an incredibly soft, rich, and buttery texture. The crushed pralines are a combination of Valencia almonds and Piedmont hazelnuts, decorated with rose sugar. They add a distinct nuttiness, and crunchiness, to the dish.
So, how is all this relevant to tomorrow's stage, I hear you shout? Well, aside from being made there, it's absolutely not related at all, outside of the fact that if the riders are subjected to similar levels of punishment as they were on stage 10, this dessert will sound extremely appealing afterwards.
It's certainly a crunchy stage in terms of texture, and with the nuts hailing from Italy and Spain, perhaps a rider hailing from one of those nations might be in with a shot at victory? Personally, I feel Alberto Bettiol is nutty enough to have a crack at it.
The speciality is regularly featured in the patisserie window displays due to its appealing and appetizing visual appearance, and frankly, with the pink rose sugar, and one of the coolest kits in the peloton, it's high time for an EF victory tomorrow.
APRÈS L'EFFORT, LE RÉCONFORT
def: after the effort, the comfort
Taking a sideways look back at the day's action, to reflect, reconcile and remember.
Stage 11... in 11 words...
JASPER PHILIPSEN IS THE FASTEST MAN IN THE WORLD THIS YEAR
or of course...
I need a drink!
with mixologist Stine Momo Agerbæk
Not a lot of distinct things happened today to be honest. Not to deny that Jasper winning his 4th stage in this year’s tour wasn't impressive, but it does get a little same-samey, doesn’t it?
However; just as I thought I was stuck for inspiration today, the team radio shenanigans of UAE Team Emirates came to my rescue.
Tigers, crocodiles, jumping… that’s an exotic zoo party I wasn’t exactly expecting today. My department at university had a traditional party game called “the zoo” which involved alphabetically drinking one of each beer with an animal name available in the local corner store. For the record there are a LOT of Danish beers with animal names, and they are almost all of the strong+unpleasant variety.
Originally the game was called “drink with the animals,” and took place in the ACTUAL zoo in Copenhagen (same rules otherwise), but the year before me, a group of students apparently got thrown out from said zoo by the time they got to “I for Ice Bear”. So… yeah. I am making the adult decision to NOT go down this route for today’s bar menu.
Instead the whole thing turned a little bit tiki bar in places, so put on your best Hawaiian shirt and enjoy.
It has Midori in it… so it’s green! It’s one of those bottles you buy and then use for very few things, because honestly the taste is kind of a lot… like the colour. But I like it in this one and the colour tracks, plus it’s a not-too-sweet refreshing take on a tropical drink.
Find the recipe here.
This has all the ingredients of a tiki style cocktail, but is served as shots. This recipe is for 4 shots. So… one for each of Philipsen’s wins?
EASY TIGER // BEE’S KNEES
If you’re nursing a sore throat and rusty voice at the back of the peloton like a certain Mathieu van der Poel today, maybe this tequila, ginger, honey and lime concoction is exactly what you need? I do not have any tequila at home currently, but if you use gin instead it starts looking a lot like a gingery version of a Bee’s Knees… which would make it the Wout van Aert parallel I guess?
All of the recipes above should be sufficient for a pretty spectacular hangover, so as a closing statement I figured that a Tiger’s Blood could function as the proverbial hair of the dog (AGAIN with the animals) tomorrow.
It’s basically a simplified bloody mary with a clear Japanese lean, swapping vodka for sake and using wasabi, soy and lime as spices. It’s allegedly named after a Charlie Sheen quote, but please don’t hold that against it, it’s too delicious a hangover cure for that!
Vive la Lanterne Rouge
Vive MIKKEL BJERG!
It's time to welcome a new team to the Vive Lounge (yes, that's what I'm calling it) - who'd have thunk it? A UAE Team Emirates rider was the last to roll over the line today, and while we wait to hear how he feels about the honour, let's learn 3 - no, make that 4 - FACTS about the Danish rouleur.
- He's Mr Emma Norsgaard. Bjerg married the women's World Tour rider in 2021 and they are now Denmark's cycling power couple.
- His middle name (pre marriage at least) is Bækø (creek-island, literally translated).
- Bjerg won the under-23 individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019 – becoming the first rider to win multiple under-23 time trial world titles. But he didn't win an pro race at elite level until this year's Critérium du Dauphiné.
- Last year at the UAE tour he adapted his TT skinsuit himself because he couldn’t fit it over the brace he had to wear because of a broken arm.
noun: the refuelling
Features to enhance your Tour experience, and refresh your mind after a long day's cycling viewing.
Stat du Jour
by Sam Mould
So as the 169 remaining riders took to today’s start line, it occurred to me that with only 7 DNF so far, this is one of the healthier Tour de Frances for some time. With 96.02% of our original start list still in the race. That is the highest percentage since 2019, which at the start of stage 11 still had 96.59% of its participants.
You then have to look as far back as 1981 for the previous occurrence. In that edition at the start of stage 11, 96.67% of the peloton were still in the race.
1981 ultimately became the 3rd of Bernard Hinault’s 5 Tour de France victories when 80.67% of the start list crossed the line in Paris. Fingers crossed this year goes on to beat that figure.
Just to demonstrate how long ago 1981 was, here is what was topping the hit parade that year.
For today’s stage winner height of the highest categories climb we are looking at Côte de Chaptuzat-Haut, which, with a height of 490m, is 278.41 Jasper “The Master” Philipsens. With his 4th stage win, this might actually catch on as the default climb measurement.
A new feature for the second week is the speed check:
Bands of Brothers
There are 27 nations represented at this year's Tour, and coincidentally, 21 of them have two or more riders. Each day, we'll take a look at a different nation, evaluate their chances of success and throw in a random fact or two, and add to our 'National Standings' chart to see if numerical advantage translates to more stage wins. Dedicated to Justdiggit, Gino's charity of choice - the charity have set up a specific project in Gino's memory - please consider donating to them, during the Tour.
STAGE 11 - THE NETHERLANDS
With no changes in jersey wearers, and a repeat winner - quadruple in fact - for the first time since starting the Tour, there isn't an obvious new nation to discuss today. So we'll look to the nation that the rider in second place calls home, along with the rider who has set up almost all of the wins of today's winner.
The Netherlands is joint with yesterday's nation, Spain, in terms of number of riders at the race, with 14. With today's second place, Dylan Groenewegen came the closest of any Dutchman to winning a stage so far this Tour, but will anyone better that? With Philipsen looking nigh-on unbeatable, it's hard to see wins coming from the sprint side, even with the presence of Fabio Jakobsen, who despite some strong performances so far this season has not come close on a sprint finish yet. And with Cees Bol, Danny van Poppel, Mike Teunissen, Elmar Reinders and Ramon Sinkeldam also on the startlist, a whopping 50% of the Dutch contingent are either sprinters in their own right, or leading out other sprinters.
So who else can the country look to for success? Though Mathieu van der Poel is capable of the element of surprise, there's an air about him that suggests he perhaps isn't willing to go all-out in the style of 2021-MVDP in order to win a stage - he has his sights set on the World Championships and has learned the hard way, that emptying himself a few weeks before a major goal doesn't pay off.
Dylan van Baarle is no stranger to a big win, but he's ensconced in the service of the current race leader and is unlikely to be allowed to go for his own chances; the same goes for Wilco Kelderman.
This leaves four options for Dutch success, all of whom might have a chance, should they engineer themselves into the right breakaway. So, Lars van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-DSTNY), Nils Eekhoff (Team DSM firmenich) and Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) - hup, jongens! Your country needs you.
Pardon my French
avec Mathieu Fraisse
Last flat stage before reaching the Alps, and the sprinters wouldn't want to miss a last opportunity to win before suffering in hills and mountains for the rest of the week, would they? If they want to fare well and win today they might - no, they will - need today's French expression:
Poisson-pilote | pwasɔ̃ pilɔt
Literally, fish driver.
The last man of a sprinter's lead-out.
A poisson-pilote mission during the sprint is to protect his sprinter until the last few hundred meters so he can start his winning sprint.
Top 'poisson-pilotes' at Tour de
Bikini Bottom… erm France, I mean France!
You inevitably think about Michael Mørkøv who led Mark Cavendish to multiple victories, Danny van Poppel who is usually helping Bora's sprinter or the unlucky Jacopo Guarnieri who used to lead out Arnaud Démare and has been hired by Lotto to help Caleb Ewan.
But the main poisson-pilote at this Tour de France 2023 seems to be a rather unexpected one: Mathieu van der Poel 😮
After a chaotic start of the race where he couldn't find rhythm and wasn't able to reach his goal of winning stage 1 and wearing yellow, the Dutch superstar immediately switched in domestique mode for Alpecin sprinter, Jasper Philipsen.
Even if MVDP got the day off today, Philipsen still managed to bag another win in this Tour de France. Jasper really went from Disaster to Master this year! (Truth be told, the Disaster nickname wasn't deserved).
Let's hope sprinters enjoyed this one because they'll have to wait until stage 18 for another opportunity! Good luck for the stages to come and may the odds ever be in your favour, sprinti bois 💪
YéYé, c'est Le Tour de France 2023
with DJ Momo
Well, that was pretty much as expected.
34 + 35: Dedicated to Mathias Skjelmose, Wout van Aert, but most of all to the TdF media folks working hard to spread every rumour like wildfire… Nah, all jokes aside, it was a minor misunderstanding and I’m glad the two riders sorted it out. And that Wout’s still in the race today.
36: This race, eh? One day it’s completely off-the-chain bonkers and the next it’s more resembling a paint-by-numbers snoozefest… A girl might get confused, that’s all I’m saying.
37: Guess I might as well just leave this one on actual repeat for the remaining flat sprint stages? (What? Too boring? Well, now you know where I’m at in regards to this whole thing…)
def: The bits and bobs, the shiny things, the small treasures that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Rider doing something they’re not supposed to be doing of the day
With UAE speaking in code, arguably anybody could have been doing something they weren't supposed to be doing, but we'll never know until the code is cracked, so that leaves two candidates for this segment today.
- Neilson Powless, who is ruining this otherwise perfect family photo with his non-compliance:
and 2. Giulio Ciccone, who as we know from past experience, really shouldn't be singing (this is why he is a pro cyclist, no?)
Tweets of the Day
Kwiato with the question on everyone's lips...
Are you visiting a stage of Le Tour this year? If so, this is your chance not only to show your photography skills to the world, but also to win a prize courtesy of Jen's Cycling Art. Just drop me a message and send across your best shots, and those selected will feature in a gallery of the day's best photography. Spread the word and get those cameras honed and ready!
KEEP THEM COMING! I've had some brilliant photos so far and will feature the first gallery of the competition in tomorrow's Dispatch.