Blazin' Saddles

Tour de Farce: BMC woe, Vaughters anger, blue tongues

Blazin' Saddles

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There were talking points galore after a hectic finale on the streets of Nancy saw Andrew Talansky poleaxed and Peter Sagan miss out once again - this time by a matter of millimetres.

A small pile-up involving Lotto-Belisol's Jurgen van den Broeck happened as the streamlined peloton exited the final bend - but it was Talansky's dramatic fall on the closing straight that had spectators wincing.

Accusatory fingers were pointed towards Australia's Simon Gerrans, himself only just recovering from being taken out by Mark Cavendish in the opening stage of the race in Harrogate.

Jonathan Vaughters, the lusciously bearded Garmin-Sharp manager, was a bit hot under the (extremely large and checked) collar when he spoke to Eurosport after the incident - claiming the Orica-GreenEdge man had caused the crash by deviating his line, and demanding an immediate apology from Gerrans.

Talansky himself was supposedly incandescent with rage after he hobbled across the line - at one point almost marching into the Orica-GreenEdge bus. The pint-sized Team USA hotshot reportedly claimed he was moving out of the way to "let the sprinters do their thing" when Gerrans took him out. "It's bulls***," he added.

For his part, Gerrans apparently looked miffed when quizzed about whether or not he had apologised. "I'm sorry that he crashed," he said, "but I don't think I did anything wrong."

Looking at the replays and Gerrans clearly did dart across the road as he launched his sprint - a sprint that may have been strong enough for the win had the wind not been taken out of his sails by Talansky, who himself was sweeping to the other side of the road with complete carefree abandon - and clearly not looking where he was going. Just ask former sprint titan, Robbie McEwen...

Once the dust had settled, Vaughters took to Twitter to try and calm the storm, claiming he had spoken in the heat of the moment and calling for a truce.

Vaughters and Talansky were not the only people who suffered a bad day in the office. Tejay Van Garderen's BMC had a complete shocker - and again, seem to have only themselves to blame after a crash distanced the American and forced the withdrawal of Tour debutant Darwin Atapuma.

Judging by the aerial slow-mo it looks like Peter Stetina veered and slowed, forcing Van Garderen to take evasive action before clipping the wheel of a Movistar rider. Both fall and create a domino effect before Atapuma performs a horrible face-plant at he joins the melee. Nasty stuff. And it resulted in Van Garderen losing just over a minute at the finish in Nancy. Still, losing a minute is just a normal day in the office for Thibaut Pinot, so ho hum.

There could have been some tonic for BMC had Greg van Avermaet held on to take the win after his attack with Peter Sagan on the final climb - but the pair were swept up by the pack with just one kilometre remaining, leaving the Belgian to settle for tenth place in the sprint.

Having finished in the top five in all previous six stages, Sagan - judging by his Tweet before the start in Epernay - clearly felt that the stage to Nancy would finally see him mount the podium.

But in the end, Sagan was forced into covering van Avermaet's dash - and then didn't have enough juice in the tank to overcome a 24-year-old Italian suffering from a cold. Trentin now has two Tour stage wins to his name - but the Omega Pharma rider felt so groggy with 25km remaining that he told his directeur sportif that he wasn't going to contest for the win.

Despite the exciting finale, there was little else to get excited about during the second longest stage of the Tour with fans instead having to rely on culinary-themed displays viewed from the circling chopper cameras above.

A subsequent tweet moments later cast this Quiche Lorraine claim into serious doubt - perhaps the hay bale arrangement was actually meant to be a wheel of Brie?

Little did it matter when the Lorraine locals had also gone to extraordinary lengths to give not only their fountains - but the water that gushed forth from those fountains - a maillot jaune theme.

Here at Eurosport and Yahoo!, we're all sure the fans are looking forward to seeing the polka dot shower arranged for this weekend's visit to the Vosges mountains - provided it doesn't involve gallstones...

Meanwhile, Marcel Kittel was in no shape to add to his tally of three stage wins. The German had crashed during the cobble stage and then suffered in the final kilometre of Thursday's finish in Reims. True to current form, Kittel was shelled out the back of the first of two Cat.4 climbs near the finish. Perhaps the peloton's top gun sprinter had other things on his mind?

As for Team Sky - well it was a quiet day for Dave Brailsford's men, and a outing without that didn't involve bundles of road rash. With both Chris Froome and Xabier Zandio withdrawing on successive days, Sky needed a break and that is what they got. In fact, Richie Porte even had a little dig for victory going under the flamme rouge, which was promising.

Away from the actual race and Sky's social media campaign to get people to send in pictures of them in Sky garb while sticking out their blue tongues continued to gather pace. This zany interaction with fans came after Sky handed out a load of Sky blue lollies to roadside fans during the Grand Depart in Yorkshire - lollies which left a blue stain on the tongue.

These "blue tongue selfies" are all very well - but they do make you think whether or not anyone working for Sky has read any of the Asterix books. After all, didn't the Romans once famously drink a load of magic potion at the Athens Olympics believing it would make them superhuman only to see their tongues turn... blue?

Someone with ample time to chew on Sky lollies back at home is Chris Froome. Two days after crashing out of the race, the defending champion revealed on Twitter just why it was so difficult for him to control his bike on Wednesday.

Blimey - who can blame Froome being rather tentative ahead of those cobbles?

Felix Lowe (on Twitter: @saddleblaze)

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