We have been eagerly anticipating the start of the Tour for weeks and months... while the cyclists have been doing their taper training, knitters (and at least one crocheter) from around the world have been choosing patterns, swatching, practicing cast-ons, and winding skeins into balls - all in preparation for this very moment! The excitement is enough to give me les frissons! So without further ado, let's talk about Bretagne!
The 2008 Tour promises to be a monumental race. Not only is the field wide open for a newcomer to take out the yellow jersey (last year's winner is not in the Tour this year), the Tour is kicking off in Brittany for the sixth time ever. What's so special about Brittany??? Well cyclingnews.com describes Brittany as "the hotbed of French cycling" and Tours that start in Brittany always produce momentous victories for their winners. As Christian Prudhomme, the Director of the TDF, said at the launch of the 2008 Tour route, "History teaches us that great things can be expected when the Tour takes off from France’s Celtic shores."
Celtic?! Je ne comprend pas? Indeed, Brittany has a fascinating history of settlement by the cultural group known as the Celts who are more traditionally associated with Ireland, Wales, Scotland, parts of England, and the Isle of Man. In fact, in the western part of the region of Brittany, a Celtic language, Breton, is still spoken - a close relative of Welsh and Cornish. Look closely at the road signs during the first three stages of le Tour - some route markers are given in French and Breton.
The Tour kicks off in Brest, practically the western tip of Bretagne. For the first time in over 40 years, there is no Prologue (time trial) at the start of the Tour and today's stage is a bit of a rude shock to those sprinters who are used to dominating the usually flat early stages of the Tour! Featuring four category 4 climbs and an uphill finish at the end of the 197km route, this stage is certain to wake the peloton up!
An early breakaway by eight riders, led by Francaise des Jeux's Lilian Jegou was finally captured by the peloton with just 7.5km to go. As they made their way to the uphill finish, Team Columbia looked set to dominate, with three or four riders leading the pack. They launched their yellow jersey hope, Kim Kirchen on the attack with less than a kilometre to go. He was caught in stunning fashion by Alejandro Valverde, widely tipped to win this year's first stage because of his reputation for strong uphill finishes, just 250m from the end. A thrilling finish to a long day in the saddle battling the cross winds!
Yellow: Alejandro Valverde (Team Caisse d'Epargne) by 1 second
Green: Alejandro Valverde, but 2nd place green finisher will start Stage 2 in green - Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux)
Polka Dot: Thomas Voekler (Bouygues Telecom)
White: Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval - Scott)
Team: Caisse d'Epargne is in front, but only 7 seconds behind are CSC, Columbia, Garmin Chipotle, Quickstep, and Liquigas!
And now for a team update!
Well, it appears some members of Team CSC had a bit of a slow start. EnnaVic started and quickly frogged all her progress with her Sunflower Tam. And, Teri couldn't find the right needles to start her February Lady Sweater (good thing there was a LYS sale today). We also start off with an injured team-mate, but Judy's going to help out by riding in the team car.
Sarah B. seems to have had a bit better start and is ready to go with her Verity beret (how French is a beret?).
From Team GCKC or Garment Crafters Knit CLean come news from the team doctor that anything with a French name is calorie free during the TDF. Chocolat, my friend, here I come.
Socks are popular, Emily is knitting Lacy Mock Cable socks, Romelda is making 1776 socks with a bulls-eye heel, Bridget is knitting Bon-Bon Socklettes, and Ann is trying her first pair, a pattern with stripes that is knit entirely on a pair of regular needles (no double pointed or circular) and the seam is hand sewn up the back of the heel. She says “Je serai tricoté des chaussettes.” We hope to see her on DPN’s or Circs in the future after this great start.
Denise will be finishing her Shoalwater Shawl.
Heather in Wollmeise Pfefferminz Prinz Dark and Jane in natural tone yarns will be working on Notre Dame de Grace from IW knits.
Norma is a polka dot jersey contender and found a wee baby polka dot jersey from an old French pattern book Mon Tricot.
Kira’s family in Hobart, Tasmania calls this the TOUR OF TIREDNESS because they get the tour live but at 10:30 at night. She has Eiffel in mind and we are anxously waiting her choice of Aussie yarn.
Nikki is attacking the Hourglass aka Monogamy sweater. She had a sweater set back and is looking for a cool tour.
Rosemary had a plan to do Antoinette from Rowan 39 for her daughter, for a Stage win. She is going on a school trip to Spain on 13th July and wants to take it then. It knitted up so quickly that she is already finished! Now, her knit is going to be the Lace Blouse from Jennie Atkinson's book "Beads, buttons & lace" published by Rowan. Sadly, it has no link on Ravelry. For the KAL she translated the name as Maillot Dentelle, which sounds quite nice.
As for Team QST - or Team Quick Stitch as Jennifer cleverly renamed us.
Gretchen, who's planning on knitting a Lacy scarf in a gold Maillot Jeune yarn and a market bag in red white and blue and even a beret if she can fit it in!
Jennifer, who apparently got stuck in the "mangle at the feeding station" but she's still on her bike and nothing's broken! Has been doing pretty well. Her project "Impressions of an Impression - Waterlilies by Monet" is coming on, she's been swatching and testing her fabrics and yarns.
Jessica, despite being a bit poorly has braved the lace and cast on for Piggle...keep going Jessica, you will get it!
Madalyn is sruggling a bit with her tension and yarn, but has made a start on her Lucy Shawl.
Knitted in pale lavender "Cascade Venezia".
Marge who is finishing a fairisle vest she started 9 years ago! At the moment she is patiently waiting for her inlaws to leave before she ends up in the shed with her knitting! Plenty of time to catch up Marge.
Shelley is going for the King of the Mountains and attempting her first Lace Pi, good luck!
And Whitney, we've had a few communication problems, but that's all sorted now, remember this?
She's now making a Whitney-sized Gansey, plenty of planning was done, ready for the big cast on using the Channel Island Cast On I'm impressed!
I haven't heard from Alli, Julie or Lauren please get in touch.
As for me, Angie, I'm going for the King of the Mountains again and made good headway in knitting “Diamants de Fougère” a self designed fine lace shawl in lambswool and silk. Not too many mistakes yet!
A short update from Team Liquigas
Betsydoodle has made a good start with her Ivy Leaf Stole
Rosemary has been swatching for Montparnasse in Pink Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed but her swatches are still wet. Amy is going to make Yarn Harlot's Earl Grey socks in Knit Picks Risata, colorway Burgundy. Burgundy is a beautiful part of France - aren't they all :-) and that's a good enough link for me ;-)
Hope that was everyone :-) I shall try for photos in my next update!
July 6, 2008
A quick update from Team Silence-Lotto:
Rosered has made a good start on her Lady Eleanor stole. Her first entrelac and she has "conquered" the mountain stage and is moving into the squares.
Ozknitter is off and running with her Tour inspired self designed socks.
Melanie is also working on socks and is off to a solid start.
Donna Lee is plugging along on her adamas shawl after ripping and knitting and ripping and knitting.
The rest of the team is knitting quietly and we'll update their progress as reports become available.
Bon chance !
Team Credit Agricole
Bonjour mes amies!
'Que faites les athletes de l'equipe Credit Agricole?' I hear you ask...
Well, we've been quietly getting down to business so look to your laurels everybody!
LynS has got off to a flying start with her Montparnasse. French style and speed - we expect great things from Lyn.
Susan was planning to finish three pairs of socks by the end of the tour and is already thinking, based on her Day 1 progress that the challenge may not be tough enough. I know who I will be tucking myself behind in the peleton! She even went without her celebratory French toast for breakfast to collect a new member of her household. Bienvenue Yogi!
Terri has chosen a beautiful project for her polkadot jersey challenge, lace. Hope your calves won't be burning as much as mine Terri...
Knittingtastic has shown great character as her cycle clips were only delivered minutes before the Grand Depart but undaunted, she has mastered the Double Start Cast on of her Canal du Midi socks and is pedalling confidently down the rib.
Gbina is working on a very colourful afghan and has already completed one square. At this rate she'll be freewheeling by the end of the Tour.
Ckknit has gathered everything she needs for a very elegant Breton Girl. Tres Chic!
Helene has been out on her bike and is planning to start Bellini to celebrate the parts of the Tour that goes through Italy.
As for me, I feel like I've earned my Polkadot jersey already with my self designed laceweight project, Le Germolene. I was last heard muttering 'How do people knit with this stuff????' There has been progress, however.
If I have missed anyone please let me know, but please help me out by labelling your blog posts and Ravelry Projects with a reference to Le Tour and I will find you.