After Stage 1 of the Tour de France, a saunter across the flat lands of the Vendee, Team Fortuneo Samsic’s Kevin Ledanois leads the Armchairtifosi.com Intermediate Sprints Competition (not sponsored by Chateau D’Ax furniture – more free advertising, if you want to send me a sofa). Local lad Ledanois will not start today’s stage in his team jersey, but it will be the polka dots of the King of the Mountains leader that will be on his back, rather than the (non-existent) Chateau D’Ax Sprints jersey, after he also led over the day’s sole category 4 climb. Ledanois, together with Yoann Offredo (Wanty- Groupe Goubert) and Paris-Nice stage winner Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie) had gone clear of the peloton in the opening kilometres and rolled through the seaside town of Les Sables d’Olonne without contesting the imaginary sprint, ensuring an all-French “podium”. They stayed clear until captured with 10km to go, though Ledanois, having secured the lead in two competitions, had dropped back to the peloton before that.
Kevin Ledanois is the son of Yvon Ledanois, whose career highlight was a stage win in the 1997 Vuelta for Gan. His son is already no stranger to being awarded jerseys, having won the U23 World Road Race Championship in Richmond in 2015. His best results in Europe (before yesterday) had been a win in the 2014 Tour of Jura and a 4th in the 2015 Paris-Camembert and he was 9th in last week’s French National RR.
To be fair to Ledanois and his 2 compatriots, it was hard to see where the sprint line was. The boys from Cycle Sport, who inspired this idea, had it easy with their chalk line across the road – trying to judge the race from my armchair was a much more difficult task. I was pleased to see that it was a break of 3 who were clear (this decided me to award 3,2 and 1 points to the first 3 across the line) but, as the race approached Les Sables, ITV4 decided to go to a lengthy commercial break; when they returned to the action, the leaders were already in the town. I don’t know if they went past the Shell Museum – there was a building that looked a bit like it, near a junction with a mini-roundabout – but the cameras then went briefly back to the peloton, so I had to award the points when their attentions returned to the break.
Strangely, ITV’s evening highlights programme didn’t feature my sprint, focusing instead on the hopefully finally resolved Chris Froome Salbutamol affair and then the messy closing kilometres where Froome (who went off-road and nearly crashed into a bollard), Adam Yates, Richie Porte and Nairo Quintana all lost around a minute (they say you can’t win the Tour on the first stage but you can lose it) before Fernando Gaviria easily won the sprint at the end of his first Tour stage (note to the Colombian footballers – Gaviria and Quintana show that you can win cleanly or suffer misfortune without complaining to the officials).
So to today’s stage, another mostly flat run across the interior of the Vendee. The sprint point will be somewhere in the intriguingly-named St. Andre Treize Voies.
CURRENT POINTS STANDINGS –
lst -KEVIN LEDANOIS (FR) (Team Fortuneo Samsic)3 pts; 2nd – Yoann Offredo (FR)(Wanty- Groupe Goubert) 2 pts; 3rd- Jerome Cousin (FR)(Direct Energie) 1 pt