Alexis Vuillermoz forces people to learn his vowels

Alexis Vuillermoz is the kind of cyclist I’m happy to see finishing sixth in La Fleche Wallonne. This is because I don’t have to write about the guy who comes sixth and therefore don’t have to try and wrap my brain around the typically vague, meandering French vowel sound that results from ‘uiller’ in the middle of a name.

Almost as if the world were goading me, Dan Martin finished second to old Vuillero (as I call him). Names don’t come much more straightforward than that. The only thing you really need to remember is the sequence. ‘Martin Dan? No, that’s not right – must be Dan Martin.’

Behind these two puncheurs was a larger group containing three of the big four. The missing man was Vincenzo Nibali. Just a few minutes after the race finished, this 10-second gap feels significant, but it’ll probably transpire that he had a puncture or broken gears or summat.

Points competition

Peter Sagan finished fourth today, enough for him to tear the green jersey off Andre Greipel’s teutonic shoulders. Cycling journo Daniel Friebe gave us a nice Sagan-related snippet on Twitter today. Apparently his old under-23 team-mate Matej Vysna told Pédale magazine: “Peter has never had a clue about tactics. He doesn’t like it.”

It’s hard to avoid warming to a professional with such an attitude. An absolutely vital aspect for any competitor and he doesn’t engage with it in the slightest on the grounds that he ‘doesn’t like it’.

And he’s in the green jersey.

Stage nine

This could be a bit mental. It’s a bumpy team time trial with an uphill finish. Team time trials are odd at the best of times, but when plenty of teams have already lost a number of riders, it’s likely to be weirder still. The one rule you need to know is that the clock stops only when each team’s fifth rider crosses the line.