There is a mini feature in the ITV 4 highlights coverage of Stage 5 where Matt Rendell presents on Panini sticker books. The standard in sticker books for forty years, and normally the preserve of football teams and competitions, they cover the Giro but now have struck a deal for the Tour de France. The Tour inspires this kind of following. The riders, the teams, the stages, are all colourful and worthy of collection.
Writers and other creatives also collect. They collect ideas and techniques, stories and authors, for reflection and use later on. In recent years Haruki Murakami has written books very much focused on his influences such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Orwell’s 1984.
The Tour loves its legends and semi-superstitions and today this is fulfilled in the statistic that of the four times La Planges des Belle Filles has been a stage finish, the Yellow Jersey wearer has carried it into Paris. This statistic could be hampered by the extra gravelly kilometre added on and the remaining two weeks of the Tour with the Alps and the Pyrenees still to go.
Perhaps this is another reason that the Tour endures, because every day you get to try and predict the stage winners, the GC Jersey wearers, all with a weather-eye on your own preferred team and riders.
160.5km – Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles.
2x Cat3 climbs, 2x Cat2 climbs, and 3x Cat1 climbs, with the final one reaching a gradient to 24% on gravel at the end. A super tough stage which showed up a semi-surprise winner in Ciccone, leaving Dylan Teuns in the Mailot Jaune, but really shook the main contenders up; which was the point of the stage really, but just like cream rising to the top, Geraint Thomas proved that maybe he does have the form to defend his crown after all, moving into 4th.