Game faces for Gaudu and Froome. No pixels required

Tour of Catalunya: Stage 7 – Barcelona to Barcelona

Froome powers away to a 12 second lead down Mont Juic

If you’ve ever played Cycling Manager, you’ll be familiar with some of the effects the final stage of the Tour of Catalunya had on some riders today.

The game allows you to play as any rider in Le Tour, some being stronger than others.

Pick Chris Froome for example, and you can ride up mountains with relative ease. Choose any of the sprinters on the other hand, and as soon as you start the climb the controller starts to vibrate, the screen goes red, and the graphical version of Cavendish or Greipel starts visibly labouring, forcing you to slow down – or for those with a short attention span, select “exit game” and start again with someone better.

Stage 7 of the Tour of Catalunya was reminiscent of this. There were the riders who could tackle the laps up Mont Juic on the circuit around Barcelona, and those that couldn’t – or at least not on the seventh time of asking.

The latter was David Gaudu of FDJ, who suffered the indignity of bonking on live television. He’d kept pace in the break, and put great effort into keeping it ahead for so long. But with the break down to three – with Thomas De Gendt and Jay McCarthy still pedaling towards the finish – the 20-year-old FDJ rider had had enough.

Gaudu turns away from the camera as the screen goes red and the controller vibrates

With 23 km to race Gaudu blew up. One minute he was on the screen, the next he’d vanished, spotted a moment later, his graphics visibly labouring, his screen going red, and looking for a mussette bad full of pixels to cover his face before the camera passed by.

There was no shame for Gaudu, who showed talent and promise in his ability to slog, but watching from home it was time to “exit game” and pick someone else – like Chris Froome for example.

Hoping to restore some pride to Team Sky (which rolled in 27 minutes down on the race leader yesterday), Froome attacked over the top of Mont Juic with a lap and a half to race, top-tubing his way to a 12 second lead that looked like it might just hold.

He reached the climb for the last time but his lead was cut short by an effort on the front by AG2R and Alejandro Valverde – one of the riders who can keep up with Froome in the 2013 edition of the game for those moments, like now, when Froome, for some reason, doesn’t make it to the line first.

That happened, and Valverde, his graphics in perfect condition, sealed his overall win, and a third stage win.

Froome though had done something to spark the imagination. No pixels required.

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