Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles (199km) Click for route map
Back in 2005 we had a holiday in Alsace, staying at Wattwiller at the southern end of the Vosges mountain range, not long after the tour came through the area in its centenary year. On one of our most enjoyable days we visited Gérardmer, where the time trial had taken place and with the roadside decorations which had welcomed the riders still in evidence. We reached the lake towards the end of the day travelling across the Col de la Schlucht from Munster (famed for its cheese and with nesting storks seemingly on every rooftop). Gérardmer glittered in the afternoon sun and we strolled round the paved area on the lakeside near the town wishing we could stay longer and promising that someday we would return. It would make an excellent centre from which to explore this beautiful region. Today we also had good helicopter views of Plateau des Mille Etangs, not far from Gérardmer. This wooded and lake scattered area is at the watershed of the River Lanterne which rises in the parc naturel régional des Ballons des Vosges.
Yesterday’s carnage at 26km to go meant that there were big names among the non-starters today, some having suffered multiple injuries, including Txurruka, Hesjedal, Hunter, Freire and Gutierrez with Delaplace gamefully starting today riding with a broken wrist but eventually abandoning. Having visited the French/Spanish Basque country we have a soft spot for the Euskatel riders in orange, especially the wonderfully named Txurruka (pronounced cherrooka, rhymes with verruca!), who we are sorry to see leave. (My favourite named Euskatel rider is, of course, Oscar Gatto who is not riding this year – Gatto is Spanish for cat!)
On a very much brighter note we were delighted to see Team Sky riders continue to forge ahead today, with Froome both winning the stage and taking the climbers Polka Dot jersey and Wiggins in third place and overtaking Cancellara for the race leader’s yellow jersey. Having been involved in or behind crashes in recent days Cavendish has not been able to challenge for as many wins in the flat stages as was hoped. Sagan looks unassailable in the green points jersey, however Cavendish may surprise us yet even though it will quite be literally an uphill struggle!
The top five of Stage 7
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 10″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ at 16″
4. Rein Taaramae (EST) COF at 32″
5. Denis Menchov (RUS) KAT at 54″
Team placings after Stage 7
1. Team Sky Procycling
Jerseys for Stage 8
Yellow – Wiggins
Green – Sagan
Polka Dot – Froome
White – Taaramae
For more information on the cyclists, their teams and how they were placed see the Tour de France official site.
Read my TDF posts covering this and previous years.