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Dutch Snakes & Ladders

It is often said that bike racing is like chess on wheels with its complicated and sometimes opaque strategy played out in a wild chaos of a fast-moving peloton. A smart man would therefore analyze the Tour de France in terms of a chess game with all its complexities. I am not a smart man. So why not try and look at this thing like some board game I can actually relate to.


These guys really fit both the snakes and the ladder section really after a magically triumphant timetrial with every man, woman and child overperforming and giving themselves a grand depart indeed on home soil. But then someone really rolled the wrong dice on the way to Zealand, sending them shooting down the longest snake on the board. For Kelderman and ten Dam it was a catastrophic  five minute drop while Gesink stayed with most of the contenders, only conceding a minute and a half to Conta and Froome. Still, Wilco was surely their most trusted card and he now seems lost barring some miracle. After two stages.....

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The plan was to dominate everything early on and now they've walked away from two stages with nearly nearly wins and a missed yellow jersey. Expect Patric Lefevere to fire everyone in the near future in true Donald Trump fashion. More seriously the rest of the peloton should probably be very afraid of Cav after today's cock-up. It felt like one of those things that would rile up Cav into one of his "four-stagewin"-rampages. It won't help Tony Martin who missed his chance of yellow of course but it might transform Lefevere back into cuddly teddybear mode if they're lucky.


I made some jokes about Tinkoff being a team of old farts before this race but you have to give them credit once again. We hear a lot of buzz from everyone about crosswind-stages but when it comes down to actually getting it done it seems that the guys who are there saying "hold my beer and watch this" are always Tosatto, Bennati, Contador, Rogers and assorted QuickSteppers. Maybe the wise thing for Contador, whose main concern might be having enough energy to last to the end of this Tour, would be to hang back a bit and ride defensively and conservatively for as long as the opponents will let him but instead here he is kicking the hornet's nest and going for timegains wherever he can. It's admirable, not only because it gives us a more exciting race, and very possibly the smart thing to do because this is very much looking like the kind of race where the winner will have to take time where ever he can. Week three will tell us if wisdom trumps smarts or vice versa.

zealand tour de france

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Route planners
Plotting a stage that is counting on cooperative weather for excitement and then getting the exact conditions you planned for is either genius or dumb luck. I don't know enough meteorology to tell the odds of what we got today so I can't say which is which but all credit to the crazy loons that thought up Stage 2. That was good plotting and we thank you for it.