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Like a red with your Red Wedding? Game of Thrones wines are coming, maybe

Don’t mind if I do: Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones.There is no crisis in Game of Thrones that cannot be made better with a cup of wine but after another gripping and grim episode do we need a drink to go with our favourite character or house?
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A Sydney marketing firm of fans thinks so.

The firm, Common Ventures, has created a series of wine labels and marketing for a dozen red and white varieties of wine under the ruling label of ”Wines of Westeros,” dedicated to the houses from the George RR Martin books and television series.

But anyone hoping to throw down a Dothraki red and watch some reruns with the claret flowing on the screen will have to wait. The company is still in talks with some small, independent Australian wineries to make the wines. And then there is the small matter of approval from the show’s maker HBO.

Co-founder of Common Ventures, Damian Damjanovski, says the company hopes to follow the lead of beer company Ommegang Brewery and get permission to market the wines from HBO.

Ommergang Brewery’s most recent beer Fire and Blood, a red beer, was released in the US in March to coincide with the beginning of the fourth season. Common Ventures hopes to have its own HBO-endorsed wine ready for the fifth season next year.

Mr Damjanovski said the firm had begun talks with HBO over the project but will not proceed without approval – lest it get given the King Joffrey crossbow treatment.

”We understand HBO are quite open to approaches like this,” Mr Damjanovski said.

Labels include a dry Targaryen shiraz, a Stark white sauvignon blanc and a more calculating Lannister merlot. Each label is accompanied by a brief explanation about its name and wine association.

For the Stark wine, named after the stoic family, there’s a nod to the infamous Red Wedding: ”Winter is coming. Throw on your furs, summon your direwolf and reject all wedding invitations.”

Also in the sauvignon blanc is the Greyjoy, named after the tough seafaring family and their weak-kneed son, Theon: ”Pick fifty of the best killers, your fastest ship and sail up the Narrow Sea. Whether you’re Ironborn or a tortured plaything, it’s time to take what is yours.”

For the house of Lannister the tagline is: ”When your cellar is filled, you will know the debt is paid. Be wary of incest and betrayal – a sip of this wine may be your last.”

Mr Damjanovski said the project began as something fun to fill in the time between advertising deadlines and other work for staff who were fans of the show.

He said the response so far, without a drop of wine produced, has surprised him.

The wine varieties are not set in iron, with several houses sharing the same wine variety at the moment on Wines of Westeros website, and Mr Damjanovski said there was already some social media debate about whether a Stark wine should be a sauvignon blanc or a cabernet.

”One of the debates we have struggled with is whether to make them more generic or to get them to match carefully with the characteristics of each house,” Mr Damjanovski said.

He said the label designs were a modern take on the house names rather than mock medieval or from the TV series.

Expressions of interest for ordering can be made online only via a “send raven” email button. The average price of a bottle is expected to be $20-$30.

Police swoop on alleged taxi credit card fraud syndicate in Sydney

A fraud racket with the potential to steal the credit card details of hundreds of Sydney taxi users has been dismantled following police raids.
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Several members of the group were arrested last week in a card-cloning den set up in a motel room in Chullora.

Some 800 blank credit cards, as well as laptops, a skimming device and a card encoder were found at the scene.

Police will allege the men were part of a sophisticated fraud syndicate with the potential to net hundreds of thousands of dollars through skimming key details off the magnetic strip on credit cards as they were used in taxis and other locations.

While owners of the affected terminals may not be aware of the illegal activity, police said the technology used by this group was “readily identifiable”: a black device fitted across a standard eftpos terminal. The syndicate would create replica cards from the stolen information and make cash withdrawals and purchases.

Strike Force Hereford 2 became aware of their activities several months ago. The investigation is continuing, but police have confirmed dozens, if not hundreds, of Sydney residents have been affected.

Acting commander of the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Acting Superintendent John Watson, told Fairfax Media several members had ties to the taxi industry.

“They were certainly connected in one way, shape or form to the industry. One man was a taxi driver but the person directing the activities wasn’t connected in anyway,” Detective Acting Superintendent Watson said.

Police also raided a unit on Sussex Street in the Sydney CBD, where they say the 28-year-old head of the syndicate was living. Police seized two laptops, mobile telephones, and financial and identification documents.

Five men were arrested in total during the operations: a 28-year-old man from Sydney, a 28-year-old from Potts Point, a 24-year-old from Rockdale, a 29-year old from Moorebank and a 56-year-old from Greenacre. The Greenacre man has been released but will continue to be investigated by police.

The remaining four have been charged with dealing in identification information and possessing equipment for the manufacture of identity documents. The 28-year-old Sydney man has been charged with directing the activities of a criminal group and the other three with participating in one.

“We’ve dismantled this syndicate but we don’t suspect for a second this is the only one. The investigation is still unfolding and we’re asking anyone with information to get in touch,” Detective Acting Superintendent Watson said.

The men will face court later this month.

Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher no guarantee to return against Collingwood says Dyson Heppell

Dyson Heppell (far left) says Dustin Fletcher (far right) is no certainty of returning Photo: Joe ArmaoOmitted veteran Dustin Fletcher is no guarantee to return to the Essendon team this week in the opinion of teammate Dyson Heppell.
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While 39-year-old Fletcher was has been rested intermittently throughout recent seasons, he was surprisingly dropped for the Bombers’ trip to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval last Saturday night. Essendon recorded a stirring over the then ladder-leading Power.

While Heppell expressed a belief that Fletcher probably would return, he conceded that it was ultimately contingent upon an appropriate match-up being found against an undersized Collingwood forward line.

“That’s obviously up to the coaches to see if Fletch has a suitable match-up,” Heppell said on Thursday.

But the mop-haired midfielder- 17 years Fletcher’s junior – was backing the dual premiership defender to return.

“Fletch is an absolute champion and he’s been in some fantastic form this year.”

Essendon’s victory over the Power has pried open the possibility of a finals spot, and with the 10th placed-Bombers only a game behind the 6th-placed Magpies, Sunday’s clash at the MCG looms as a season-defining game.

Heppell was not playing down the game’s significance.

“You certainly do, you certainly have a look where we are in the scheme of things and obviously there’s a group of four or five teams that are still a realistic chance.

“[Finals] have been a goal for us from the start of the season, and that dream’s still alive so very exciting times around the club.”

With fellow midfielder Brendon Goddard out suspended this week, and Jobe Watson still sidelined with his rare hip tendon injury, Heppell is likely to face considerable attention this week from Collingwood tagger Brent Macaffer. Heppell said he was “looking forward to the challenge” posed by Macaffer’s close-checking game should that situation arise.

While agreeing that the absence of Watson and Goddard would be felt, Heppell was upbeat about the opportunity it presented to others.

“You lose that real leadership around the ball, I suppose it’s more so just setting up structures and it’s going to take a good player to stop those two as well.

“Losing BJ’s (Goddard) a massive loss for the club, he’s been in fantastic form but it’s going to give another guy a chance to come in and play his role for the side and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Stephen Dank, the sport’s scientist at the centre of Essendon’s controversial 2012 supplements program spoke on Adelaide radio station 5AA on Tuesday, outlining his belief that the Bombers players knew what they were administered during the period subject to the ASADA investigation.

Heppell declined to weigh in on Dank’s comments.

“With Steve, I actually haven’t heard the comments. I suppose it’s pretty boring guys but I can’t actually comment about the situation because it’s in the courts at the moment.”

Israel ambassador talks Hamas and hummus

Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Ambassador of Embassy of Israel, testing out the hummus flavoured icecream. Photo: Jamila ToderasIsraeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel says countries such as Australia should re-group into a coalition against dangerous extremists.
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At an ice-cream taste-testing in Canberra on Wednesday morning, Mr Ben-Shmuel said like-minded countries in the world should be in a coalition to deter terrorists.

He said Sydneysiders going to fight alongside extremist terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East showed “the entire civil world is under an onslaught”.

Palestinian militants have fired 150-plus rockets towards major Israeli cities in the past week and Israel has launched a major air assault on Gaza.

The escalation in fighting was sparked by the killing of three Israeli teenagers which Israel has blamed on Hamas and the alleged revenge murder of a Palestinian boy. 

Mr Ben-Shmuel said Hamas’ killing of women and children was driven by an ideology calling for the complete destruction of Israel.

When he made the comments the ambassador was taking part in an emerging tradition for Israeli envoys in Canberra: visiting 55-year-old father of one and ice-cream maker John Marshall.

Former ambassador Yuval Rotem visited often before he finished his posting last year. Mr Ben-Shmuel was invited to try the new hummus-flavoured ice-cream after interest was sparked on Twitter last month following news of the unique flavour coming out of Israel.

Making strange flavours was not new for Mr Marshall, who also has produced other off-the-wall concoctions such as pistachio and vodka and – reminiscent of a sketch by The Two Ronnies – smoky bacon.

He had not seen the sketch before but said he had also been thinking about making a potato chip and brown vinegar ice-cream blend.

Mr Marshall, who before the Israeli ice-cream rendezvous had no connections to the Middle East, said it took him about 30 minutes to come up with the right balance for the hummus ice cream, which was enjoyed by Mr Ben-Shmuel.

“It all started 15 years ago when I bought a two-litre ice-cream machine,” said Mr Marshall, whose home was “cleared” by security before the ambassador arrived.

In the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Cory Bernardi said the killing of teenagers had been treated differently by Israel and Hamas supporters. He said the former had pledged to charge with the full force of the law those who killed the Arab teenager, while Israel’s enemy had not condemned the murder of the Israeli boys.

How Ritesh Batra became a legend in his own lunch box

Nimrat Kaur stars as Ila in The Lunchbox. Photo: Supplied Irrfan Khan’s curmudgeonly widower Mr Fernandes in The Lunchbox.
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More on The Lunchbox·        Movie session timesFull movies coverage

Ritesh Batra started out with an idea for a documentary and was soon diverted into the world of fiction. His plan, he says, was to make a film about Mumbai’s dabbawallahs, the network of couriers who have been delivering hot food from kitchens to offices for more than 120 years, using bicycles and public transport.

Instead, he found himself thinking about the stories that lay behind these meals and the people who made them. This was the genesis of The Lunchbox, his debut feature, which has been a runaway success in India and overseas.

The first character he dreamed up was Ila, a young woman who lives in an apartment block and uses the service to send a midday meal to her husband every day. The efficiency of the service is legendary: but what would happen, he wondered, if for some reason her lunch box was delivered to the wrong person. From this premise he devised an intricate, beautifully structured tale of repetition and change, of nostalgia and immediacy, hope and expectation.

The meals cooked by Ila (Nimrat Kaur) are delivered – accidentally or providentially – to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), an isolated, lonely accountant headed for retirement. He makes contact with Ila, and notes are passed between them via the lunch boxes.

There’s lightness and darkness in Batra’s film, and developments play out in unexpected and quietly surprising ways. Establishing the right tone for each scene was a balancing act, he says. “Talking to the actors, we were always trying to work out how a thing can be both funny and sad.”

The performers brought different insights and approaches to their roles. Khan, for example, based aspects of Saajan on an uncle with whom he lived for a time. Khaur researched the lives of women who lived in apartments in the same Mumbai district as Ila.

His was a finely calibrated script, but it always left room for flexibility. He wrote the final words of the movie, for example, during the editing process. The scene was meant to be silent, “but the voiceover at the end made it come alive for me. There were a lot of subtle changes at the end.”

Batra grew up in Mumbai and is now based part of the time in New York. He’s not surewhat’s next for him. “Right now, I’m reading a lot of things, trying to figure out what to do next –  scripts, books, all kinds of things.”

The choice comes down to one thing in the end. “When you’re passionate about something, you’ll know it,” he says. “But I would like to make something universal, something that travels.”

Boral ‘black banned’ by union because of Grocon link

The country’s biggest construction union is engaging in cartel behaviour and masterminded a “criminal conspiracy” to blackmail concrete company Boral into not supplying a major developer, according to evidence before a royal commission.
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The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union was said to be running Melbourne construction sites to a point where the “law doesn’t apply”.

“The law is applied by the CFMEU,” Boral chief executive Michael Kane said.

Mr Kane told the royal commission into trade unions that Boral had been frozen out of almost all high-rise work in Melbourne’s CBD  after the union imposed a “black ban” –  a secondary boycott of its products.

The commission was told the boycott  started in February last year, fuelled by the CFMEU’s feud with one of the Boral’s key developer clients, Grocon.

Mr Kane alleged that after he refused to stop supplying concrete to Grocon, Boral was prevented from supplying about 70 other union-controlled sites. It is alleged to have sparked a massive slump in market share and losses of more than $8 million.

“This is a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the marketplace and to stop our ability to supply our customers,” Mr Kane said.

“It’s blackmail by any other definition that I’ve ever heard of and it’s been effective.”

Despite winning a Supreme Court injunction against the alleged ban last year, Mr Kane said Boral trucks were still being turned away from work sites and customers had stopped approaching Boral for quotes.

“We have complained to every federal and state government agency that would listen to us, [but] as we sit here today in the Melbourne CBD it is in full force and effect.”

Mr Kane said there seemed to be no legal recourse against the CFMEU’s “cartel behaviour”.

Commissioner Dyson Heydon said Mr Kane’s evidence that the court injunctions had been powerless to lift the boycott was “very disturbing”. Mr Kane also wrote a letter to the commission arguing that Mr Setka and the CFMEU should be criminally investigated for blackmail, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ jail.

In sworn witness statements, Boral executives Paul Dalton and Peter Head recounted a meeting with union boss John Setka  in April last year in which he allegedly admitted Boral was caught in the crossfire of the CFMEU’s spat with Grocon.

“We are at war with Grocon, and in a war you cut the supply line,” Mr Setka is claimed to have said.

“All wars end and once peace is established, the CFMEU will be at the table to divide the spoils. The CFMEU decides who gets what and what market share Boral will get.”

Boral did not agree to ceasing supply to Grocon, and several of Boral’s major long-term customers continue to be unwilling to order concrete from Boral for use on union sites, according to the statements.

Mr Dalton said customers would not breach the union boycott on Boral products for fear of industrial problems including work stoppages.

Speaking outside the commission, CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said he would not comment directly on Mr Kane’s accusations on the grounds matters between the union and Boral were being dealt with in “real courts” rather than the commission’s “show trial”.

He said he would “like to thank the royal commission for providing Mr Kane from Boral with a platform to make a political speech … that’s what you’ve heard today, a lecture in how to make Australia more like America, how to reform our legal system in the interest of big business”.

Counsel assisting the royal commission, Jeremy Stoljar, SC, stressed during the hearing that the allegations had not yet been tested.

“At this stage no Boral customer has given evidence,” he said. “The CFMEU has not had the opportunity to present its evidence, test the evidence of Boral, nor propound any defence.”

The royal commission appears to now be building a potential case against the CFMEU and Mr Setka by using multiple witnesses to claim he or his union have been involved in underhanded or potentially illegal dealing, intimidation and the abuse of the union’s industrial muscle.

The Boral allegations are potentially the most damaging because the concrete company’s staff allegedly recorded extensive contemporaneous notes detailing interactions with Mr Setka which could implicate the union boss in serious breaches of anti-cartel and competition laws or, as Mr Kane alleged, blackmail.

The union has sought to brush off the allegations made by previous witnesses about Mr Setka, including claims he demanded the employment of his associates and he or his union intimidated non-union workers, by pointing to workplace safety breaches involving Mr Setka’s accusers.

Developers of an $800 million housing project at the old Pentridge prison site in Coburg, where a worker was killed in 2009, has provided evidence of threats and standover tactics in the union’s campaign to control the worksite. Allegations have also implicated the union in links to underwold associations turned “union fixers”.

Melbourne builder Andrew Zaf also said in a statement that he provided a free roof to Mr Setka during the 1990s as a bribe to avoid industrial problems on a building site in Sunshine that the CFMEU was plaguing with work stoppages.

But Boral will require a different defence from the union because the firm was not involved in safety incidents.

Meanwhile, the Napthine government is continuing its relentless campaign against Opposition Leader Daniel Andrew over th Labor Party’s continuing association with the CFMEU, which is a significant ALP donor.

Snow falls near Ballarat

Snow falls near Ballarat Rachael Duggan,10, at Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
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Nigel and Sue Ward took this photo at Mollongghip.

James Duggan, 13, makes a snowball at Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Emma Busuttil took this great photo at Wallace.

This tree seems to have protected part of this paddock from the light dusting of snow near Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Nigel and Sue Ward took this photo at Mollongghip.

Rachael Duggan,10, at Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow at Springbank. PHOTO: Janelle Harrison

Snowing near Gordon. PHOTO: ABBEY CARTLEDGE

James Duggan, 13, makes a snowball at Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Taken at Clarke’s Hill this morning by Stacey Watson of Toby and Charlee Watson.

Nigel and Sue Ward took this photo at Mollongghip.

Snowing near Gordon. PHOTO: ABBEY CARTLEDGE

Snowing near Gordon. PHOTO: ABBEY CARTLEDGE

PHOTO: Kit McDonald. Taken at Lyonville near Trentham.

Emma Busuttil took this great photo at Wallace.

PHOTO: Kit McDonald. Taken at Lyonville near Trentham.

PHOTO: Kit McDonald. Taken at Lyonville near Trentham.

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

James Duggan, 13, makes a snowball at Dean. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Taken at Clarke’s Hill this morning by Stacey Watson of Toby and Charlee Watson.

Angela Watkins took this photo at Pootilla.

Angela Watkins took this photo at Pootilla.

Emma Busuttil took this great photo at Wallace.

Nigel and Sue Ward took this photo at Mollongghip.

Snow in the Ballarat region. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

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Dream job: Netflix hunts people to watch TV

Binge watching Orange is the New Black becomes lucrative. Netflix offers original content such as House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
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Yes, this is for real: Netflix is advertising for people to watch TV for a living.

The fantasy-level deal will mean the successful applicant will be paid to sit at home and binge on TV all day.

The online on-demand streaming giant is hunting for TV and movie lovers to watch content in the role of a tagger.

Taggers categorise content to help tailor recommendations for Netflix’s 48 million subscribers, personalising suggestions for viewers.

“Successful applicants will be responsible for watching and analyzing films and TV programmes that will be streaming on Netflix in the future,” says the job ad. “The tagger will deconstruct the films and programmes and describe them using objective tags.

“The role will offer flexible hours working from home and would suit those with a passion for films and TV programs.”

The content provider also streams original content such as House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, and Orange Is the New Black.

The successful applicant will also act as a “cultural consultant”, highlighting “cultural specificities and taste preferences”.

Bad news for Australian TV addicts, however, is that the role is only open to UK and Irish applicants. But since Netflix will likely launch in Australia next year, future taggers could be in luck.

For Netflix, the Australian market is ripe for the picking as it already has between 150,000 and 200,000 Australian subscriptions, according to unofficial estimates.

It could put a squeeze on more expensive services, such as Foxtel, since Netflix is priced at about $US10 per month. There are still some hurdles, however.

While Australia’s internet is carrying its present load without too many issues, the arrival of Netflix may pose challenges. And Australian capped internet “plans” are also an issue; in the US, internet plans are uncapped as an industry standard, allowing consumers unlimited data downloads.

But here’s to hoping.

– with Michael Idato

Nintendo patents device allowing 3D viewing on 2D display

An image from Nintendo’s patent shows a proposal to track users gaze and provide 3D images.Nintendo has filed a patent with the US patent office for a device that “enables 3D viewing on conventional 2D displays such as home television sets by tracking a person’s viewpoint”.
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As opposed to conventional stereoscopic 3D that sends a different image to each eye to make elements of an image appear to “pop out” (as in a 3D movie), Nintendo’s proposed system would employ gaze-tracking technology to alter the movement and appearance of 3D-modelled objects, giving the impression that the objects within a game or 3D animation occupied real space stretching back into the distance.

Users could manipulate the images while using the hypothetical device by moving their head to get a different view, the patent says, which could also provide “collision-related game logic benefits” such as allowing a gamer to dodge projectiles. In-game characters could also be programmed to meet a gamer’s gaze, or lose sight of them if the user ducked behind cover.

The patent goes on to give a long list of examples of other immersion-inducing technologies that could be integrated into such a device, which may give some insight into where the Japanese gaming company sees the future of gaming peripherals heading.

“Smell is a very strong sense. There may be some ways to produce aromas for a very strong experience”, states the patent, which also mentions artificial wind (possibly akin to tactile air technology, in development over at Disney), localised climate control, the projection of light around the television to simulate peripheral vision and “brain wave detection … eye movement [detection], heart rate monitor or the like” that could be integrated into goggles and provide game developers with an idea of the user’s emotional state.

While gaming contemporaries Sony and Microsoft are pouring resources into virtual reality, legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto is on the record as saying Nintendo will find alternatives to increasing immersion for home console gamers, telling Time they believe in people being able to enjoy games inclusively rather than “one person putting on some goggles and playing by themselves kind of over in a corner”.

The proposed device, while supposedly only following one user at a time, would provide the benefit of allowing anybody else in the room to view the images, and would even allow those without stereoscopic vision to play.

Of course a patent is no guarantee a final product will ever be released. Microsoft last year showed off a prototype projector that could fill a room with interactive images, while Nintendo itself was experimenting with augmenting displays as early as 2000, when they developed but ultimately scrapped a device that would allow their GameCube console to output stereoscopic images.

The company released their first stereoscopic device back in 1995 with the ill-fated Virtual Boy portable system, a set of goggles on a tripod infamous for its nausea-inducing black and red images, which was discontinued a year later. Their current portable system, the 3DS, can provide stereoscopic 3D without the user wearing any headgear at all, and is proving much more successful.

What a way to hit the Tour de France cobbles, knowing leader Chris Froome has fallen

Interactive: Pull of the pelotonTour indexLive coverage
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Stage 4: Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille, 163.5km

Lille: Learning Chris Froome had crashed in the Tour de France on the eve of Wednesday’s cobblestone stage was the worst possible scenario for us all on the Sky team before such a big day in the saddle.

Whatever the outcome in the 155.5km fifth stage from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut back in France, I can’t say how much our hearts were in our throats with the news he had fallen early in Tuesday’s fourth stage.

Similarly, I could not hide my relief after the stage from Le Touquet Paris-Plage to Lille when Froome walked through the door to the hotel room that we share several hours later that night, smiling.

Seeing him with a grin after a day that could so easily have ended his Tour there and then thanks to his crash that left him with severe abrasions and an injured wrist only affirmed my belief Froome was ready to rip in this Tour.

By the time you read these words you might have already learned of his fate in the aftermath of Tuesday’s crash, or you might not have.

Either way, the short-term impact of what happened to Froome on Tuesday and how it impacted the team remains the same.

Making the stress of Wednesday’s stage even harder for the peloton to handle was that the cobblestones came after some already tense days of racing – three in England, then in Tuesday’s stage to Lille.

The run in to Lille was particularly hard with a little bit of wind and everyone and their teams wanting to be at the front.

It obviously wasn’t ideal with Chris crashing – a moment I didn’t see, but chatted about with him soon after.

Froome said before heading off to have X-rays his legs were fine. His wrist was the problem.

And, dare I say, the situation was hardly ideal when he was in such pain.

But then, we all have to play with the cards we are dealt with and respond as best as possible.

And come night time on Wednesday, such a philosophy was uppermost in all our minds.

Most of us on the Sky team were to go into the stage a little inexperienced on the cobbles.

The general concensus was that there will be a fight for position in each of the nine sectors.

And it is true – as in any sport – that tackling such a challenge with anything less than 100 per cent commitment can lead to disaster.

Being a pro bike rider is about throwing caution to the wind. The more you think about it, the worse it can be.

All you can do is get on with it. If you have a crash, you hope you fall on the others guys and are not the first to do so.

Saying that, considering the potential for Wednesday’s stage to turn the Tour on its end, it was hard to think beyond the stage and to what awaits us all on the Tour route.

What I do I hope when the Tour reaches Paris on Sunday, July 27, is that every rider will have had the chance to fairly capitalise on the fallout from the cobbles with performance on their bike.

Of course, if anyone is to best capitalise on those chances, then I hope it is Froome or any of us the Sky team.

Richie Porte is a rider with Team Sky