Tour of Beijing 2012 – Stage 4
by Old Bone Machine
Yanqing Guichuan Square to Changping Stadium- 165.5 km
The personality of a stage can sometimes be determined by its profile. The hills near the end of a mostly flat stage suggested that a breakaway could succeed. We live in hope.
After 20 kilometres of racing, five riders escaped, including the Frenchman Jeremy Roy (FDJ). They persisted and after 60 kilometres their lead was over six minutes.
One notices that the base of trees along the Chinese mountain roads are painted white. Soldiers mark the route like fence posts and there are few spectators.
Thirty kilometres from the finish Roy attacked. A solo breakaway, seemingly futile. An emotional response yet one true and honest to his nature.
On the descent to the finish, Roy nearly collided with a race motorcycle. Bicycle and motorcycle crisscrossing paths like ice skaters. A pro cyclist can sometimes descend faster than a motorcycle. He swatted at the motorcycle like it was a fly.
Five kilometres from the finish and the boiling mass that is the peloton reached and caught him. Such is the fate of the breakaway.
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)
The stage inevitably concluded with a sprint finish. The winner a joyous and unbelieving Marco Haller (KAT). The young 21-year-old rider outsprinting the wily and experienced Alessandro Petacchi to take his first professional victory.
In the 2011 Tour De France on the stage from Pau to Lourdes, Jeremy Roy again lead a breakaway. He rode solo over the top of the Col d’Ausbisque but was caught on the descent to Lourdes, two kilometres from the finish, by the Norwegian Thor Hushovd. A miracle at Lourdes. Roy crossed the finish in third place with a broken heart. The mountain polka dot jersey some consolation for him.
Yet, we live in hope.
Images below are of Jeremy Roy and one of my favourite characters J-5 from the science fiction TV series Lost in Space.