Chasing Le Tour: the surprises continue

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Stage one of the 2013 Tour de France was full of surprises and yesterday’s second stage was no different. No-one would have tipped Jan Bakelants to have won the stage and the right to don the yellow jersey for stage 3. His victory showed 100% commitment to the cause while his breakaway companions didn’t offer as much and we’re swallowed up by the racing peloton instead.

Driving the course today we didn’t think the climbs were going to be big enough to shatter the field and thwart the pure sprinters. The long swooping descents after the day’s main climbs seemed to suggest that any sprinters dropped while heading uphill could catch back on while heading downhill. And I figured that the final climb at 12km to go would force a selection that would see someone like Valverde, Sagan, Chavanel or Gilbert win a small bunch gallop.

But these predictions didn’t really bear fruit. The climbs were hard enough to see the likes of Greipel, Cavendish and race leader Marcel Kittel fall well off the back and it wasn’t a small group that contested the finish, but the lone figure of Jan Bakelants just 1 second ahead of a peloton of more than 90 riders — not far off half the field.

If you want to read more about how the race unfolded, you can check out our reports here and here.

Behind the scenes, today was another day of long drives and inevitable chaos.

It’s no secret that running the Tour de France is a logistical miracle, and today started out with a couple traffic jams for media cars, but nothing too serious. Nobody was allowed to park close to the finish so the ASO (the race organiser) decied to use two small boats to shuttle members of the press (and others) from the floating media center to the finish line — a 20-minute voyage.

It was quite nice on the way there, but complete choas on the way back. Hundreds of fans, VIPs, dignitaries, podium hostesses, and members of the media were lined up (it was more like a mosh pit than a line) fighting to get on the ferry after the stage.

It wasn’t particularly pleasant in the 31 degree C sun after a long day, particularly with a two-hour drive and plenty of work left to do after the ferry trip. It’s a wonder how anyone gets anything done around here with all the challenges of getting around, the long travel times and the dodgy internet access.

But what am I complaining about? We’re in Corsica chasing the Tour de France! With that in mind, check out these photos from stage 2 of the 2013 Tour de France.

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