Ned Boulting's Tour de France column: Thoughts from the first few days

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

The peloton on stage two of the 2018 Tour de France (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

1. Is Thomas Voeckler the new Hinault?

It’s been interesting to see Voeckler replace Hinault as the Bloke Who Used To Race And Now Hangs Around Races.

Wonderful as his career was, and likeable though he is, the Badger’s often belligerent presence will be missed. I think.

Voeckler’s amazing spells in yellow, in 2004 and 2011, were memorable, but don’t compare with Hinault’s brilliance. The handing of the baton is a measure of France’s ridiculous wait for Tour success.

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2. Wanty-Groupe Gobert are worthy. Cofidis? Less so.

The Belgians are once again thriving on the race, and making the most of their invitation. But Cofidis continue to underwhelm, despite bravely not selecting Nacer Bouhanni. Instead, they have selected Christophe Laporte, who is, well, Christophe Laporte.

Move on. Nothing to see here.

3. The Vendée is salty!

I was handed a bag of salt, as a bribe, by the tourist office of the Vendée in 2005. I took it home, and only weeks later did I open it, and first discover the taste of Noirmoutier salt.

It’s extraordinary, and makes you realise that there is salt and there is salt. So, you see, the bribe worked.

4. Bob Jungels might need to move teams

I asked Bob, before the race got underway, if he still believed he could be a GC contender. He does still believe, and he might well be able to do just that, but might perhaps need to move teams. Quick-Step so don’t care about winning the Tour. If they ever actually did, they’d probably swap it for a win at the Scheldeprijs.

So, if Bob’s going to turn this Tour into a podium, he’ll have spent the first week nine days as a domestique for Gaviria, Gilbert, Alaphilippe and Niki Terpstra.

Good luck Bob.

5. Fabien Grellier was disrespected. Modern cycling sucks!

Direct Energie’s Fabien Grellier, born and raised near La Roche-sur-Yon, wanted to ride off the front to wave at his family and friends, during the middle phase of stage two. But the bunch didn’t let him. That was rubbish.

They should all be deselected for bringing the race into disrepute.

Richard Windsor

Richard began working with Cycling Weekly in 2013 alongside the then web editor, Nigel Wynn. Taking over as digital editor or Cycling Weekly and mbr in 2014, Richard coordinates site content and strategy with the team.