Tour de of Britain, Stage 3. Normanby Hall Country Park to Scunthorpe.


David Cameron showing his usual great conviction on the helmet debate.

Well, before I  update you on today I should update you on yesterday. I reported that Edvald Hagen-Boss had won the stage but after the umpires reviewed the finish they quickly came to the decision, after 3 hours 17 minutes, that “Eddie” should be declared OUT. Team Skye riders Elia Viviani was declared the stage winner and overall leader of the race. I’m not sure if the rumours of David Brailsford-Sir entering the umpires room with a stuffed padded envelope for protecting fragile items in the post is true.

What a splendid setting for stage start! Normanby Hall Country Park is a sprawling structure of gardens, meadows and buildings belonging to a gentleman going by the name of Reginald Sheffield-Sir. Reggie m’lud, as he is known locally, is one of the top toffs in the country but also happens to be the father-in-law of the former High Emperor of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain David Cameron. Keen cyclist and and advocate of wearing a helmet, on his handlebars, Mr Cameron had his father-in-law construct some lovely fields of wheat on the property for his work mates and was also responsible for the erection of a pig sty.

I took a stroll around the sty and other farm buildings before the stage start and soon became overcome by a tremendous pong. I looked around for the source of the stench, expecting to find a pile of manure somewhere, but all I could see was a tall bald man with glasses lurking in the shadows. I asked the fellow “Did you just trumpet”? But he just scuttled away embarrassed and muttering something like “It was Emma Pooley”.

On the route there were three climbs on the way including Wrawby Hill, “The Lagos de Covadonga of Lincolnshire” before we finished up in Scunthorpe.

Towards the end of the stage we passed the Humber Bridge. Blimey! What a corker! The 2220 metre long building is the longest bridge in the world and what’s more, the busiest with daily traffic of 120,000 vehicles per week. I saw a long line of lorries going over it heading in our direction and I asked one of the guys if it was one of those driverless truck convoy things I’ve been reading about but as it got closer I realised it was the Team Skye cavalcade. And who was driving the lead vehicle but the phantom farter from this morning. Brailsford-Sir! I should have known!

The Austrian Caleb Ewan won the stage and retakes the overall lead of the race.

Tour de Past, Stage 3. 2009, Contador gets double crossed in the cross winds.

Lance Armstrong’s return to cycling in 2009 seemed very strange at the time. Sure, he probably couldn’t stay away from the sport and a few other clich├ęs but at 37 he surely couldn’t achieve what he had in the past. Was he going to be happy playing a support role for Alberto Contador in their Astana team?

After enjoying taking part in the Tour Down Under and the Giro d’Italia, getting massive appearance fees along the way, the question of whether Armstrong was a team player or not would be answered within days of Astana’s main objective of the year starting.

With only 32km of the stage to La Grande-Motte left the peloton encountered some unexpected crosswinds. HTC-Columbia with 8 riders at the front immediately realised what the scenario meant and started drilling it in order to distance Mark Cavendish from his sprint rivals. There was quickly a split in the pack with only 28 men in the first group. As well as the 8 HTC riders Lance Armstrong was there along with 2 of his Astana team mates. Alberto Contador wasn’t in that number. While everyone was expecting the Astana men to allow themselves to get pulled along and hope that Contador’s group would catch up with 20km to go Armstrong ordered Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia to the front. This was a direct challenge to Contador at best but it could also be called a mutiny. The one thing you can say in the Texans defence was that there were no GC men in the front group so he wasn’t aiding any other dangermen. But this is typical Lance, he does everything for himself. He was also needlessly burning out two Astana riders with a Team Time Trial coming up the next day and introduced an atmosphere of mistrust to the team.

In the end HTC-Columbia got their reward for their superb team play as Mark Cavendish won the stage with his famous mobile phone celebration.