EDITOR’S NOTE: It may not be cyclocross but it’s cycling and it’s the freakin’ Tour de France. So when the opportunity to have a reporter in the field arises, we are going to take full advantage of it. These reports come to us from Crosshairs Skinny Tire French Grand Tour and Chemistry Correspondent, John Kavouris. John is usually based in Boston, where he is usually an organic chemist. Occasionally, he gets to live in Europe, get press access to grand tours, and report for CXHairs. He is always a cyclist. All photos © 2015 John Kavouris.
If you were paying attention to Instagram (follow CXHairs and Kavouris on IG) or Twitter (@CXHairs and @johnkavouris) yesterday,
you should know that ‘day zero’ of TdF coverage went well for CXHairs. One harrowing journey* later, and I have all kinds of ridiculous access/perks.
Outside of the photographer’s meeting, ‘day zero’ was rather uneventful. All of the operations in Utrecht occur at the mammoth Jaarbeurs convention and expo center, which houses caravan parking, press center, race jury, etc etc.
There was a little gawking at caravan vehicles, a little visiting sponsor tents, a little seeing a cute kid totally have a moment with Miss WattBike, and a little of… whatever the hell this is, as seen while passing by a technical-zone tent.
Tomorrow, we get into it…
Stage 1: ITT (13.8k) This is every bit the circus you’ve heard it is.
There are: throngs of people, pros orbiting the start area like it ain’t no than, Thomas Voeckler’s (Europcar) inability to sit still on his bike, wacky promotional efforts, and a few Aussies getting the right kind of weird.
Shout out to Backstage Pass. We love your work.
There’s also plenty of hardware on display: yesterday I happened to notice Sram wireless totally existing yet not being announced, suspiciously Lightweight looking DT Swiss gear, and a reasonably hot design on this Look.
In light of gear announcements/leaks/suspicions, I’ll try to grab some more product shots in the coming days. Access to the team paddock affords more than just a look at gear, as you can also get access to riders . Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) – who is having a GREAT season, btw – was first off on the day, and I made sure to stop by and say hello and good luck.
Allegedly**, when asked what his favorite cyclocross news source was, a steel faced Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon18) replied, “CXHairs! What kind of a silly questions is that?!”
At the start-house the action picked up, with a range of pre-race nerves, rituals, and pain faces:
First Dutch rider off the line is Jos Van Emden (Lotto-Jumbo), to massive cheers. #hometeam
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge):
Lucca Paolini (Katusha):
Roy Curvers (Giant-Aplecin) is taking direction from team leader John Degenkolb with respect to proper facial hair choices for this years tour.
First documented sighting of Voeckler’s Tongue this Tour. Best start-house effort/pain face.
He truly is “the most expressive rider of the peloton.”
Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep) looked like he was having a rough day and simply wanted to finish. He was coughing a bit in the start-house, and sounded like he might be a little congested when chatting with the official…
Rohan Dennis (BMC) was the only rider I saw in the start-house who really got in the zone before setting off.
Meanwhile Richie Port (Sky) was all smiles and looked like he was having a blast.
More of that Look bike from earlier.:
Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) went HAM. While his pain face is, uh, quite the face, he finished a respectable 17th on the day, with the best time of anyone else who has a shot at winning GC. Finishing slightly ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) by 3”, ahead of Chris Froome (Sky) by 10”, so on, so forth.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar):
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Nice pain face.
Johan van Summeren (AG2R-La Mondiale) Are septum piercings the thing at this year’s Tour?
At the finish line, most riders were more interested in clocking their SRM immediately upon crossing the finish. Some came through smooth and strong, and a few looked a little worse for wear.
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) looked absolutely shredded.
Daniel Oss (BMC)
Adriano Malori (Movistar)
Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale).
Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin)
Koen de Kort (Giant-Alpecin)
Last year’s winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) – stops the clock at 15’39”85 to finish 22nd.
Rohan Dennis’ focus seems to have paid off, with him edging out stage favorite Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) by 5 seconds. He then won EVERYTHING on the day, except for the climbers jersey. This guy WAS an honorary awardee of the climbers jersey, but neither my Dutch or French is up to par, so I couldn’t tell you why.
And that’s that. Stage 1 – done. Stage 2 will leave Utrecht and wind towards Zélande, NL. It’s a pan-flat stage, so unless crosswinds conspire against the peloton, it should be one for the sprinters. Keep watching here for detailed reports, along with @CXHairs on twitter and instagram. You can follow me at @johnkavouris on twitter, and @kavouris on Instagram. (Each one was taken on the other platform. Jerks.)
*Moved out of Madrid to immediately hop flight to Tour (I’m technically homeless right now?), late arrival to Paris-CDG, bike box never made it on my flight from Madrid, overnight in CDG Terminal 3 [feet], and drive to Utrecht the next day.
**patently false. Just go with it, ok?