Ned Boulting's Tour de France column: 'Dutch corner is rubbish'

ITV Tour de France commentator pens his weekly thoughts from the Tour de France

Dutch corner - don't bother going (Sunada)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Ned Boulting is touring later this year with his brand new comedy show, Tour de Ned. For more information and tickets, visit

Dutch Corner is completely rubbish

Let’s drop all pretence. We should consign any last, lingering, grand, romantic notions about the spectacle and passion of the Alpe. It’s just an uphill televised stag do without a groom-to-be.

If you really want to spend time and money hanging out with a bunch of semi-naked halfwits in a tent, living off tepid sausages from a tin and warm supermarket lager, then by, all means, go ahead. You might even get to decant some of your own urine and throw it at your favourite rider.

But if you have an ounce of soul, the last place you should ever go is Alpe d’Huez, on the day the Tour hits the mountain.

Let's just sick with 'Garmin' (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

EF Education First-Drapac is completely rubbish

Not the team, you understand (although they’ve not been totally un-rubbish). It’s just the name. I don’t think I’ve actually got through the entirety of this over-laden soubriquet correctly on air yet. And we’re two weeks into the race.

I’m sure that EF Education First design perfectly excellent language courses, and that Drapac make wonderful… whatever it is that they make… but I cannot be doing with the team’s title. Can we just agree to call them Garmin?

Antwan Tolhoek is 12-years-old

Antwan Tolhoek - older than you think (ASO/Alex BROADWAY)
(Image credit: ASO/Alex BROADWAY)

He may only just have left primary school, but LottoNL-Jumbo’s young climber is really good at riding his bike uphill. He made his Grand Tour debut on the Vuelta last year, and, within 30 seconds of starting the three week race, catapulted himself over his handlebars and somersaulted onto the tarmac. Then he got up and rode on.

Almost a year later, and the 24-year-old is hanging onto the GC group deep into the long form climbs. His progress is symptomatic of a team which appears to have found its raison d’etre.

Carcassonne is a bit overrated. Mende isn’t.

Avoid the suit-of-armour, faux medieval “splendour” of France’s most extensive 19th century folly. Yes, it has a drawbridge and turrets. But it also charges you about four quid for a cappuccino into which it pours caramel. Opt instead to stray from the beaten track and plough deep into the murk of the Massif Central, where you will find Mende, complete with its fusty, glorious cathedral, and market square featuring mountains of garlic and puy lentils. It’s the most French place you’ll ever go to.

Saturday’s time trial might be genuinely exciting

Time trialling is not sport, normally. It is accountancy. It should be done in private and then the results should simply be emailed to everyone.

Yet, I find myself in the curious position of actually looking forward to commentating on stage 20. The lumpy race route through baking, punchy roads in the bottom left hand corner of France will produce a winner from the select trio of Froome, Thomas or Dumoulin.

And from where I sit, in Luchon, on the rest day, it is impossible to call. But the wonder of the 2018 edition is that there is no bad outcome. Each and every one of these riders would be worthy winners.

Actually can’t wait.

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