Tour de France

Tour notebook: Hail and handy umbrellas

The VeloNews Tour team reports on umbrellas in the peloton and traffic jams atop Arcalis after the thrilling stage 9 in Andorra

Our Tour de France reporters already bring you the biggest stories and best analysis every day. But what of the notes they scrawl in the margins, those little bits of gossip and narrative that are as much a part of the Tour as Chris Froome and the color yellow, but which rarely see the light of day? You’ll find those here.

Notes from the margins

Raining cats and dogs and balls of ice
The weather at Sunday’s finish was exceptional, but not in a good way. A mountain storm blew in about 20 minutes before riders hit the final slopes up to Arcalis and dropped heavy rain and penny-sized hail just as the lead riders came across the finish line. The riders had no buses at the top, so they had to change into dry kit and either hop in a team car or, for the less fortunate, ride down the mountain to their waiting team buses. One of our reporters has a lump on his forehead from either hail or a TV camera, he’s not sure. Many press and team staff were caught out without jackets, and it took hours for the Tour entourage to get off the mountain (one NBC staffer arrived back at his hotel after 10pm, five hours after the stage ended).

Don’t worry, your intrepid VeloNews reporters escaped with an unofficial police evacuation that was set up for a small part of the publicity caravan. It was relatively painless.

A pragmatic parasol
Rain isn’t so bad if you have an umbrella. However, most riders forgo such devices due to aerodynamic concerns. On Sunday, IAM’s Jarlinson Pantano did not. He grabbed an umbrella from a fan and rode into the finish holding it over his head.

A page in L’Equipe
Thibaut Pinot is out of the GC picture and has turned his attention to the king of the mountains competition. He took the polka dot jersey by three points on Sunday, and will surely get a few stories in French sports paper L’Equipe for his trouble. “That’s all the French teams really want, a page in L’Equipe,” said one French reporter for a different media outlet.

A day of extremes
It was a tough day for two Americans at the Tour.

“It was 100 in the valley, and now it’s hailing on the climbs,” said Cannondale – Drapac’s Lawson Craddock. “It was just a brutal day. There was so much climbing, horrible conditions. It was an epic stage, just ready for the rest day.”

“I think I’ll go race in the U.S. next year,” said Peter Stetina (Trek – Segafredo) as he pulled his soaking wet jersey off at the top of the climb. He was joking.

Coming up

Monday’s stage: We’d love to sleep in on the Tour’s first rest day, but BMC has its press conference at 9:30. Alas.

Weather update: Who cares, Monday’s a rest day and the whole Tour needs it.