PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Erik Dekker: The Dutchman, winner of a hat-trick of Tour stages in 2000, might have been thought to have been a spent force in the breakaway stakes after his long recuperation from injury, but on the long, flat roads leading to Tours the Dutchman revived past glories with his powerful attack.
Security companies are increasingly in demand on the Tour, with mixed results. What could best be described as lax security in the start area this morning made it easy for some of the Tour's crazies to meet their heroes. Sometimes it's easy to see why Big Tex hired a bodyguard. In contrast, on the finish line in Tours, too many of the media (and even some team personnel) were manhandled by over-zealous Tour security while trying to do their job.
Schoolboy humour: Tittering English fans of top Gallic brands like 'Pschitt' lemonade were on fertile ground on today's route du Tour through the Loire Valley. Situated at around kilometre 10 of the alternative itinerary for journalists was the splendidly-named village of Pissotte. English-speaking members of the peloton itself had an even more rib-tickling time at the first feed station in Coq Hardi.
Australia: Twenty-four hours after singing the praises of our antipodean cousins, today we can only commiserate after Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen's patriotic greeting gone wrong in the final hundred metres: the French kiss cheeks, the Aussies butt heads... "Stuey and I had a little tangle," said master of understatement McEwen. We say, roll on the Ashes.
Lance Armstrong: No sooner has Lance professed his undying love for France and its inhabitants - "great country, great people" he said the other day - than his July hosts start accusing him of being a killjoy for not signing autographs. Then those nosey neighbours from over the Alps go and fine him 200 of their Swiss francs for the same offence. Ok, so the paper Lance failed to grace with his signature was today's start list, but still, some gratitude please...