Tour de France 2015: Stage 9 – Vannes to Plumelec

Cycling art, Tour de France, Watercolour painting BMC, World Champs, by Maxine Dodd

Bonjour! A team time-trial provided the excitement on Stage 9, before the rest day and the first real mountain stages in the Pyrenees on Tuesday. Time trials show the technique of riding so well and it’s a delight to see a well-practiced team moving like a machine, absorbing the air to go faster. This course was unusually placed in the Tour and with a sharp kick-climb at the end, really tested each teams’ skills. There are several masters of this discipline, including the current world champions, BMC – who are a joy to watch. They took the win from Sky by one second. Phew! On to the mountains…
Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2014: Stage 1, Jerez de la Frontera

Maxine Dodd, painting Tinkoff Saxo cycling team

Hola! So good to be back to cycling for the last Grand Tour of the season, which takes us round beautiful Spain. Stage 1 took the form of a team time trial around the southern city of Jerez de la Frontera – a lovely evening stage showing all the teams to great advantage. and whetting the appetites of fans for three weeks of great racing. Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 7 – Almendralejo to Mairena de Aljafare

Hola! Stage 7 of La Vuelta turned south and crossed into the heat of Andalucia. Riders coped with temperatures touching 38 degrees as they left the countryside for the tree-lined town of Mairena de Aljarfare on the outskirts of Seville. The race was a much closer affair than Stage 6, with a nip and tuck race between the two leaders Gilbert and Stybar to the cross the finish. Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 6 – Guijuelo to Caceres

Bullish! Tony Martin, by Maxine Dodd, watercolour, pen and ink

Hola! Stage 6 of La Vuelta explored further inland, into the plains of bull-fighting country. Certainly the theme carried over into the race with an incredible performance by Tony Martin. As the world time-trial champion, he set a blistering pace and led the stage by a great distance for 170km. In spite of huge effort, the peloton could not keep up. The sting came at the finish where the riders finally caught and passed him as they crossed the line itself. Martin finished in seventh place. Cruel sport indeed… Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 5 – Sober, Lago De Sanabria

Hola! Stage 5 of La Vuelta turned away from the sea and travelled inland through rolling countryside, fields and pine trees. Orange roofs gave way to dark grey and for the first time in this race there was rain. Sunshine prevailed by the end as riders came into Lago de Sanabria to a sprinters’ finish! Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 4 – Lalin, Estrada, Finisterre

Hola! Stage 4 of La Vuelta was a rolling course again taking in coastal scenery and pretty red-roofed houses. There was barely a flat road on the route but the test came with the climb to the Mirador de Ézaro. This was a test for everyone’s legs! Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 3 Vigo – Mirador de Lobeira, Vilagarcía de Arousa

Hola! Stage 3 of La Vuelta was a twisting, turning route through the Galician coast and hills. Climbs not as tough as Stage 2, but strong crosswinds off the coast to contend with not to mention narrow roads and tight space over the bridge to the Illa de Arousa. The surprise finish came in the form of 41-year old Chris Horner,  who after 4 hours of riding, sprinted uphill to take the win like a teenager, giving hope to us all! Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 2 Pontevedra – Baiona

Hola! Stage 2 of La Vuelta continued exploring the Atlantic coastline of Galicia with a dramatic climb from the coast road to the finish at Alto de Monte da Groba in Baiona. The day’s racing was led most of the stage by a breakaway of three riders but the stage was eventually won in style by Nicolas Roche. I confess that my eyes were distracted by the sea, with breakers and high hills – even a landlocked boat! Wonderful! Here are my drawings:

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La Vuelta 2013: Stage 1 Vilanova de Arousa – Sanxenxo

Sky cross the line, by Maxine Dodd

Hola! So good to be back in the saddle for the last Grand Tour of the season, which takes us round Spain. Stage 1 took place as a team time trial on the gorgeous north-west coast of Galicia. 22 teams began the race by crossing a glass pontoon at Vilanova de Arousa and riding their way by pine forests and vineyards until reaching the pretty beach town of Sanxenso. The stage was won by team Astana. A great start to three weeks of racing – Fantastic! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 21 – Versailles to Paris Champs-Élysées

cycling art, tour de france

Bonjour! Stage 21 is the celebration stage. Rolling out from the Palace of Versailles and heading for Paris in the evening for a twighlight sprint around the Champs-Élysées. Setting off in beautiful late afternoon sunshine, all the riders looked relaxed and in good mood. This year, the sprint went round the Arc du Triomphe and there was an immense battle, the win was Kittel’s. Sky came together to cross the line in support of their leader in yellow jersey. What a race and what a finish? Can’t wait until next year! Here are my drawings:

Tour de France 2013: Stage 20 – Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz

cycling art

Bonjour! Stage 20 was outstanding, from the weather and scenery to incredible racing. There were many highlights, including Jens Voigt showing the youngsters how to climb a hill and fantastic breaks between Froome, Quintana and Rodriguez, not to mention some handsome cattle suitably dressed. Most of the final places overall were resolved in this stage. Peter Sagan held on to the Green; Polkadot and White jerseys both went to the astounding Nairo Quintana and Yellow remained with the modest Englishman, Chris Froome. The stage is set for a fantastic celebration tomorrow in Paris. Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 19 – Bourg-d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornand

Bonjour! Stage 19 was a long stage, with five climbs overall. Sky had a better day and Chris Froome held on to his lead. Pierre Rolland, showed his metal in the climbs and descents for much of the race, but eventually overtaken for the win by Rui Costa. The real winner today perhaps was the rain, which in spite of the bright start came by the bucketload at the end of the day. Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 18 – Gap to Alpe d’Huez

Bonjour! Stage 18, the one with the notorious climb to Alpe d’Huez, lived up to expectations. An intense, gruelling stage, leaving riders not only battling the hill, but contending with arguably the largest crowds ever. The roads were chaotic all the way. Van Garderen led for most of the race and then with barely 2km to go, Christophe Riblon found a burst of energy and powered past, leaving the American in his wake. Making up for the disappointment of Jean-Christophe Peraud, Stage 18 was a fantastic win for Riblon. Magnifique! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 17 – Embrun to Chorges

Bonjour! Stage 17 was an action-packed individual time trial. The terrain was tough with climbs and descents – made all the trickier because of patchy rain. The big decision for teams was to complete the stage on one bike or to change mid-way for the fast descent. Chris Froome and Sky chose the second option and gained vital seconds to take the stage. Heartbreak and pain came for Jean-Christophe Peraud, whose fall during practice injured his collar-bone and elbow. He bravely chose to ride the stage, but fell a second time, compounding the original injuries. Pain and heartbreak for him and his fansHere are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 16 – Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap

Bonjour! Stage 16 saw the Alpine stages begin travelling through quietly dramatic scenery, through gorges and by rivers. The stage closed with a climb and hair-raising descent of the Col de Mense. A passing train briefly brought all the riders to a halt and likewise, Chris Froome was momentarily dislodged by a hurtling Contador. Rui Costa joyfully took the stage win, with the battle for yellow grinding on behind him. It’s still on Froome’s back… just! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 15 – Givors to Mont Ventoux

Bonjour ! Stage 15 was a fantastic, gruelling course leading to the summit of Mont Ventoux. Emotional resonance for British fans and arguably one of the toughest climbs on any Tour. Sylvain Chavanel showed wonderful energy early on, followed by the outstanding Quintana. But showing tremendous strength Chris Froome broke away brilliantly and almost sprinted to the finish. Superb! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 14 – Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon

Bonjour! Stage 14 was another long stage with seven hill climbs, practice for Mont Ventoux perhaps? Still, it was a good steady stage, with excitement at the end, after a great surge by Julien Simon of France. Sadly, he couldn’t quite get the win, which went to Matteo Trentin.  Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 13 – Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond

Bonjour! Stage 13 was another long stage crossing the farmland of central France towards Lyon. A few surprises as Kittel fell away along with Valverde. While Sky dissolved, Contador attacked Froome’s lead, but he clung on to the yellow jersey. This time though the stage belonged to Cavendish. Number 25 – Brilliant! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 12 – Fougères to Tours

Bonjour! Stage 12 was long and flat, carving inland across the country. Another stage for the sprinters. Generally a quiet stage until the end, when there was an awful crash, injuring several riders. Much was expected from Cavendish and he broke away brilliantly, duelling with Marcel Kittel, who took the stage by the length of half a wheel! Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 11 – Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel

Bonjour! Today’s stage was the individual time trial, against the backdrop of the stunning Mont St Michel. A steadier day for most, upsetting day for one, but steady progress for Chris Froome and a stage win for Tony Martin whose pace caused brief collapse at the end.  Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 10 – Saint-Gildas-Des-Bois to Saint Malo

Bonjour! The Tour moves north to Brittany for a relatively flat, peaceful stage. Not a bit of it, the scenery was rolling and green with beautiful coastal roads. Riders coped with unpredictable crosswinds and, at times, each other. Controversial and exciting, Marcel Kittel surged across the finishing line to pip Greipel to the win.  Here are my drawings:

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Tour de France 2013: Stage 9 – Saint Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Bonjour! A fluid start to the second and final stage in the Pyrenees, with Chris Froome alone to keep up with Movistar leaders Quintana and Valverde. This year the Col de Mente was in glorious sunshine where it was foggy last year and the battle commenced from there at great pace. All sorts of surprises, Sky fell away, Movistar were strong, Froome clung to his yellow jersey like a limpet and Garmin Sharp’s Dan Martin shot away to climb and sprint his way to Stage victory. Phew! Time to take a breath! Here are my drawings:

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