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.

>>> Who are the commentators at the Tour de France 2018?

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.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).