Tour de France 2014 best moments: Yorkshire, free baskets and the race’s new pain in the backside

Gallopin takes centre stage for resurrecting French pride

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The Independent Online

Best stage win Tony Gallopin in Oyonnax. Already France’s first race leader since 2011 for a day, at the end of a difficult stage 11 through the foothills of the Jura Mountains Gallopin launched a stunning attack for the right to wear yellow again. Caught by Peter Sagan and another two riders, Gallopin jumped away again with 2km (1.2 miles) to go, leaving Sagan stranded.

Best Tour start Yorkshire was, according to the race director, Christian Prudhomme, the grandest of Grands Départs in the Tour’s history – and with 3.5 million spectators and given the way the traditionally treacherous British summer weather behaved, you’d have to agree.

Narrowest miss Jack Bauer at Nîmes. A 222km breakaway ended with the New Zealander being caught 50 metres – seven pedal strokes – from the finish line. Cruel.

Most courageous ride Injured American contender Andrew Talansky’s insistence on finishing a stage despite severe back pain was very brave. So too Alberto Contador’s effort to stay in the race with a fractured tibia.

Best decorations On stage 20 in the village of Beleymas hung 12,000 mini green, white and yellow jerseys on a huge net above the Tour route.


Oddest journalists’ freebie A draw between a free beaker made of recycled hydrocarbon and wood, manufactured in Oyonnax, France’s plastic valley, and a wire basket from Périgueux, Gallic capital of foie gras.

Worst weather When the Tour made its way towards the Grand Départ’s finish in central London, it rained for an hour – and did not stop for most of the race, making it one of the wettest Tours ever.

More than 3.5 million fans flocked to Yorkshire for the Tour’s opening stages

Best mountain-top victory Vincenzo Nibali’s win at Hautacam more than settled the Tour’s fate – it suggested very strongly that the Italian could have given both Contador and Chris Froome a serious run for their money, had they both managed to escape injury.

Least likely phone call Katusha rider Luca Paolini checking Twitter on his phone while in the middle of the peloton. On the subject of phones, Geraint Thomas’s comment about the 2014 trend of spectators taking selfies without looking to see if the peloton is about to ride into them – “it’s the new pain in the arse” – cannot be faulted.

Most unexpected toilet stop On an Alpine stage the French rider Arnaud Démare powered ahead of the peloton, got off his bike and clambered into somebody’s camper van.