Tour 2010: Stage 9

French cycling fans haven’t had so much to cheer about in years. Another sensational stage for the home riders saw Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) take the win, with Christophe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne) – riding his last Tour at the ripe old age of 39 – finishing fourth and Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) fifth. Charteau also took over the lead in the KoM classification from Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) while Moreau completed a French one-two-three at the head of the race for the polka-dot jersey.
Cadel Evans (BMC), riding with a cracked elbow sustained in a crash on Sunday, lost more than eight minutes and the maillot jaune he’d won on Stage 8. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) now leads the GC, 41 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Astana): the only two realistic contenders for overall victory finished together, just two seconds behind Casar.
Today’s poem is about none of them, however: my sympathies were all with Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel). By turning himself inside-out on the final climb of the Col de la Madeleine, and taking all kinds of insane risks going down the other side, he managed to get within 10 seconds of Contador, Schleck and Moreau on the final 5km run-in to the finish. But he just couldn’t make contact, and eventually finished 50 seconds behind them. I know what it’s liked to get shelled out the back of a group and watch, powerless to respond, as the gap slowly widens and they head off down the road. At least I didn’t have to see a possible Tour stage win go with them.


Ten seconds.
That’s all.
Count them, out loud.

Not much to make up
You’d think
When you’ve had
20 k downhill
And Olympic gold hung round your neck.

Yet that


Might as well be
Another mountain
An ocean
A trip to the moon.

Power leaks
From legs
Already screaming
Teeth grind
Eyes screw shut
Hands haul on bars
As if to bend them back

And now you see
That wheel through
The wrong end of the telescope
And you know
You have
To let it go.

Morzine-Avoriaz-Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, 204.5km
Won by Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux)
Maillot jaune: Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)

One thought on “Tour 2010: Stage 9

  1. Great poem! There was so much that stood out on yesterday’s stage, including Evans’ tears at the finish, and Schleck and Contador pulverising the peloton, but Sanchez was definitely one of the highlights. The pain was etched on his face towards the end.

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