Tour de France Stage 11 Preview

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


After the Vosges, the Jura. Today’s stage doesn’t get too mountainous but the finish includes several steep climbs that will eject the sprinters and let attacking riders take their chance.

There’s also a bonus climb after the categorised ones and just for fun it’s got running water, loose gravel and potholes on the way up… and down.

The Route

  • Km 141.0 – Côte de Rogna, 7.6 kilometre-long climb at 4.9% – category 3
  • Km 148.5 – Côte de Choux, 1.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% – category 3
  • Km 152.5 – Côte de Désertin, 3.1 kilometre-long climb at 5.2% – category 4
  • Km 168.0 – Côte d’Échallon, 3 kilometre-long climb at 6.6% – category 3

A flat start to Arbois, famous for Pasteur and its wines there’s a good climb that’s not categorised, it’s uphill for 6km but all in the big ring. After the intermediate sprint the race heads into the Jura mountains for the gradual ascent towards Les Crozets before dropping down to the Bienne valley. It’s here after 130km that things get harder with three climbs in a row that really make up a much longer ascent that the modest categories suggest.

The Côte de Rogna starts with a big regular road uphill and towards the top turns via a hairpin towards the village of Rogna, borrowing a much more narrow road. It’s followed by a rolling section before turning onto a small road for a brieft twisty descent before starting the Côte de Choux, listed as 1.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% but really 1.2km at over 10% making it that bit more selective.

The Côte de Désertin is up next and an easier climb on a long and wide road. It’s followed by an open and accessible descent to the village of Echallon. From there the route briefly borrows from the route of the 2013 Dauphiné with the Côte d’Échallon, aka Côte de Bugnon last year. It’s a twisting road uphill and briefly has the feel of a proper mountain road.

And that’s it, right? Actually the four climbs so far are selective but there’s a surprises. Look again at the profile at the top and you’ll see an unmarked climb after the four . To get there after the Côte d’Échallon the road plunges via a sharp left turn onto a narrow, shaded and rough road complete with potholes, gravel and running water streaming streaming over the road. It’s brief but twisty and emerges by a scenic lake. The road quickly kicks up and it’s very narrow, shaded by trees, covered in gravel and steep in places. It’s a 1.8km at 7% but hits 12%. It’s not fiendish but could be a nasty surprise for some.

After a brief section on a narrow descent the race picks up a wider road, returning to roads familiar from the 2013 Dauphiné and it’s fast descent into Oyonnax.

The Finish: flat for a sprint. The race drops into town and the roads gradually get flatter and wider. The finishing straight is 1,500 metres long.

The Scenario: a grand day for a breakaway. With many riders well down on GC many riders have a ticket to ride today without having to worry about Astana and the other teams looking to chase them down and today’s finish is too hilly for all the sprinters team’s to get excited. We can expect a big fight to get in the move because the upcoming days won’t offer escapees such a chance.

The only threat to the breakaway is Peter Sagan and his Cannondale team. The finish of the race is too much for most of the sprinters but could suit him. When the Dauphiné rode to Oyonnax in 2013 Elia Viviani won the stage and it was hilly but had less climbing and it was only Stage 2 meaning fresher legs; that said the race split and only 76 riders came in together, the rest found the climbing too much. With this in mind Cannondale could try to do what they did in Albi last year, namely set a pace that’s ruinous for the rival sprinters. But last year’s coup involved an early climb and once the sprinters were broken Cannondale simply had to herd the survivors on; not easy but today’s finish can see a team accelerate but it can’t control events so easily.

Even if there’s a break up the road the bunch could have it’s say. The final hills lend the stage the feel of a classic and could allow some riders the chance to go up the road and take back lost time. Probably not a big battle but some riders lurking in the top-20 could try it.

The Contenders: will Peter Sagan go in the break? If he does he’s an obvious pick given he’s likely to win from a group finish or maybe just ride away on the last climb.

Tinkoff-Saxo now have stage wins to aim for and their best rider seems to be Nicolas Roche but pick from others too. Other perfect riders for today’s terrain include Orica-Greenedge pair Simon Gerrans and Michael Albasini. Talking of pairings, OPQS have Michał Kwiatkowski and Jan Bakelants, the Belgian’s been quiet so far. The team has Matteo Trentin too but this might be too hilly for him; the same for Greg Van Avermaet. Given the climbing and descending menti0ned above, the likes of Yuri Trofimov could do well.

If not we’re getting to the point where we know the breakaway riders. It takes a lot to get up the road and once a rider starts doing it after the first week they’re likely to repeat. Watch Sylvain Chavanel, Blel Kadri, Tony Gallopin was third in Oyonnax when the Dauphiné visited. He was shattered after his day in yellow but could pop up in the sprint. Europcar will try again and the hills suit Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler and Cyril Gauthier. What of Team Sky? They could let Vasil Kiriyenka of the leash for once but he’s got a job to do in the coming days.

-
Peter Sagan
Simon Gerrans, Michael Albasini
Sylvain Chavanel, Nicolas Roche, Yuri Trofimov
Van Avermaet, Gallopin, Rolland, Voeckler, Rojas, Slagter, Rogers, Kadri

Weather: so sunny and warm the riders will be able to smell it. Yes summer is back and the tarmac is melting. Sunshine with a few clouds and temperatures of 25-27°C.

TV: the stage starts at 12.30pm Euro time with KM0 and the race at 12.50pm. The TV starts around 2.00pm just after the climb out of Arbois. The start of the climbing finish is around 4.00pm with the finish expected for 5.15pm.

History: the Tour has done it’s commemoration of war but Oyonnax (you don’t pronounce the “x”) and the hills hosted a different kind of warfare, namely the resistance to Nazi occupation. In 1943 some locals decided to commemorate Armistice Day, 11 November against the orders of the occupation government. The resistance came out in force to march and place a wreath at a war memorial, a bold move but with consequences: many were rounded up, deported to concentration camps and were never seen again.

inthedrops July 16, 2014 at 4:32 am

Oyonnax is the birthplace of Éric Barone, who holds multiple world speed records for descending on a bicycle. Lets hope some riders are inspired late on tomorrow.

AJW July 16, 2014 at 7:14 am

Given the way Greipel managed to get over the climbs yesterday, you don’t think there’s a chance Lotto will try and bring him to the finish?

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 8:11 am

If it was one or two climbs perhaps but the succession here might be too much.

Anonymous July 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Did you know Greipel was once German national hill climb champion as a junior?…

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Yes… and readers have in the past got bored of me mentioning this.

djconnel July 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm

That’s cool, but I suspect his BMI was a bit different as a junior…

Dodge2000 July 16, 2014 at 8:27 am

I’ve only seen glimpses of Coquard and he has looked promising. He’s a light sprinter, what’s he like at getting over hills?

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

In his own words, he’s the best climber of all the sprinters as long as you exclude Peter Sagan who isn’t really a sprinter and defies classification. He could do well today, maybe from a breakaway too. He weighs 59kg compared to reported weights of 78kg for Greipel, 85kg for Kittel.

Dodge2000 July 16, 2014 at 9:18 am

wow 59KG, is that a record low for a designated sprinter?

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

There’s probably no sprinter lighter at the moment. It helps explain one of his nicknames, The Mosquito.

David Leibowitz July 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I believe Samuel Dumoulin weighs 1-2 kilos less, but he’s a sprinter in a Colombian’s body.

KB July 16, 2014 at 11:20 am

so, Peter Sagan: hors categorie? :)

CK July 16, 2014 at 8:56 am

“The finishing straight is 1,5000 metres long.”

Wow – did the Romans come here? :)

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 9:04 am

Ha, it’s long but not that long, I’ll fix that. Maybe Romain Bardet or Romain Feillu will come, see and conquer?

denominator July 16, 2014 at 9:04 am

Orica will try to send someone, maybe Albasini, in the break. If they were not successful, they could help Cannondale to keep the break in limits and hope for Gerrans. He already managed to beat Sagan in similar stage a year ago. But if they don’t help, I doubt that Can. alone can do it. Even if Tony Martin wasn’t up the road.

Al__S July 16, 2014 at 9:40 am

So, why isn’t that last climb categorised? From your description it sounds enough to merit a 3?

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

Exactly. Perhaps it’s to cause a late surprise for riders/teams who haven’t studied the route?

PT July 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

Ergo your point in the piece earlier this week about how the climbs are categorised. Its not absolute at all, completely subjective and relative. Which is fine too.

Anonymous July 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Does any team not study the route these days?

Ben July 16, 2014 at 10:16 am

Here´s Lac Genin on google street view;

http://tinyurl.com/owymydd

what I can make out, this is the small lake mentioned with the rough road in and out. Very picturesque! for what its worth, I couldn’t see any surface water on a brief ‘scout’ of the road using street view, but that doesn’t mean much.

CK July 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

Mr. Rng has cycled a lot of these routes himself, so perhaps this is based on what he saw on a recent recce of the route :) Even on the streetview link you can see how a bit of rain could really mess up that road, what with so much gravel next to the tarmac.

ben July 16, 2014 at 10:57 am

agree totally. i’ve driven some of the Jura roads but not ridden them, and they are definitely sketchy! should be a great final hour or so today, bring it on!

Vince July 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Rode the second half of stage 11 myself last month, and whilst I can’t 100% gurantee I took all the right turns, I’m fairly confident in the directions around Lac Genin. I don’t remember any surface water here and the rain had been steady on and off all week, although hot and dry whn I rode it

Alberto July 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

How do you see Kwiatkowski for today? He could be a good name if the breakaway doesn’t get too much space, right?

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Yes, the finish isn’t Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he’ll like the climbing and descending and he’s got a fast finish.

Thomas July 16, 2014 at 10:33 am

I figure Tom Dumoulin will try and be in the break. Degenkolb suffers from the crashes of last week and I don’t think Giant will focus on him, so that would mean Dumoulin gets his chace. And usually, when he wants to be in the break, he gets there.

Bill Ward July 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

It’s Der Gorilla’s birthday today.. They could’ve given him a flatter stage.

He does climb extraordinarily well though especially in comparison to his no less well fed coiffed compatriot..

PT July 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

Compared to Kittel, Greipel is a legitimate grimpeur.

Richard Pasco July 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Sagan doesn’t have a stage win yet, hence the break is doomed

ave July 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Somehow I think maybe the profile pic is wrong. The Choux and the Desertin seem to be the very same “peak”.

RicRic July 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Just trying to get into TDF for the first time ever. Why did Sagan give up? If Gallopin can sprint on his own why is Sagan giving up, because he doesn’t want to tow others into the race? Silly no? Especially as his team bust a gut to give him that chance.

Elliot July 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

If Sagan had chased down Gallopin he would have towed Kwiatkowski, who would probably then have had the extra energy to jump round him for the win (which happened with Sagan/Kwiatkowski earlier in the season).

It’s becoming a real problem for Sagan, no-one else will work with him to pull back escapees, because they know he’ll rinse them in the sprint. Maybe he needs to use his team more wisely, to make sure he has someone to work for him at the end (easier said than done though, it was a pretty select group at the end).

RicRic July 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Cheers Elliot. I see. So riders didn’t go with Gallopin as they thought the group behind would pick him up and they wanted to tow behind Sagan who gave up as no one was willing to help him chase and he didn’t want to tow them, so in essence the tactical games and stalling behind Gallopin helps him win it. Really getting into the TdF and cycling, seems the more I watch the more facets there are to this sport then just a flat out race.

CK July 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

No one would want to tow Sagan along to be beaten by him at the line. Add to that he’s very obviously the hungriest to win a stage. They essentially said to him, “You want it the most; you’re probably the strongest at this point in the stage out of all of us; you chase him,” and he didn’t, because he knew by the time he got to the line he’d have already been out of energy and those behind him would thank him for setting up their victory. So in the end no one did anything. A gaggle of riders cut off their noses to spite their faces, ensuring their closest (as in, most visible) rivals didn’t win and by doing so automatically ensuring that none of them did :). It’s a funny old game!

P.S. By asking these questions you’re already demonstrating possibly more tactical nous than Sagan has, although he probably does better wheelies! Can’t believe he’s still doing interviews saying people aren’t working with him. Well, yeah.

RicRic July 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Sagan must be pulling his hair out. Chases Gallopin, Kwiatkowski takes a free tow and then outsprints him right at the end, doesn’t chase Gallopin and no one else picks up the mantle quick enough and he has no chance to win. Seems like he can’t win, why is he constantly favourite to win these stages then?!?!?!!!

Augie March July 16, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Sagan’s a victim of his own success. He’s always in the favourites to win because he wins a lot, but because he wins a lot he also paints a massive target on his back with the label: “Do not tow this man to the finish, you will get torched in a sprint”.

My personal view is that Sagan needs a new angle if he’s to keep winning races. As Elliot noted everyone in the peloton knows his tactics by now, so work against him. I think he should move away from making the Green Jersey the dullest of TDF competitions and focus on the classics where he could use his strength to break clear and win solo.

garuda July 16, 2014 at 9:56 pm

He tried that before, but Fabian was there. This year’s classics campaign was much the same; no one wants to work with him in a break, or someone attacks and everyone looks to him to close it. Seems like the competition has wizened up, which leaves him with “ride them off your wheel attack” as the only viable option for a win. Sadly or fortunately, depending on your view of Peter Sagan, he is not head and shoulders stronger than the others as in previous years.

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 10:28 pm

It’s an impossible position, nobody wants to take him to the finish.

We saw in Gent-Wevelgem in 2013 he was so heavily marked for the sprint… he soloed away for the win. He could do this and maybe a late attack today would have been an option but it’s not Playstation cycling, easier said than done.

If not maybe tomorrow, it’s a good chance for a sprint finish.

Foley July 17, 2014 at 12:34 am

Yes, “head and shoulders stronger than the others” has been the secret to his success, allowing him to win from less than perfect positioning, but that is not to say that he was guilty of bad tactics on the occasions when he has done so. His ability to be present for so many finales suggests at least a decent ability to read a race, and what looks like questionable tactics could reflect a fairly well-justified confidence in his ability to improvise the finish. Maybe he is working harder this year due to a weak team? On another note, we generally expect a rider his age to continue to get a bit stronger for a few years, but when a guy is as strong as he is that is not a reasonable expectation. He should have a great career, but he could be at his best right now. Maybe after winning 3 green jerseys he will shoot for the white one next year!

SeeingElvis July 17, 2014 at 4:37 am

Excellent points, all. Sagan has perhaps made it look easy until now. He might be moving to a model of getting into a late move while still retaining the wherewithal to contend in a sprint, even a bunch sprint if said late move is absorbed. This costs a lot of energy, especially with everyone sucking his wheel (and no formal team train). He has done this to his success and detriment; it is perhaps the rarified company of an on-form Cancellara or Boonen who have made this a stock in trade. Watching Sagan and Cancellara let the gap open late on Stage 5 was almost a strange and sad passing of the torch of “the Marked Men. ”
Chapeau to Gallopin for the second desperate dig. That split second of indecision and strife in the chase is all that is needed. Well, that and throwing down megawatts for a k or two…

CK July 16, 2014 at 10:19 pm

If you’re getting into the TDF for the first time you’re already at the best website on cycling there is on the whole internet. Mr. Rng really knows his stuff!

Mats July 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm

A classy win for Gallopin. Bravo!

I’m baffled about the Talansky/Garmin team saga. Talansky is clearly not well but when he gave up pedaling his team managers were seemingly angry about it and forced him to carry on in tears. Then came the odd looking but short lived acceleration from his team members. Was it a protest against Talansky or something else? Last year Garmin was my favourite team but at the moment it looks like something is rotten in their kitchen.

KB July 16, 2014 at 7:44 pm

No one here knows what was said so until we hear post-race interviews etc. I think it’s a bit soon to assume such a negative interpretation of the pictures. It would, for example, be reasonable to assume that the team was riding for Tom-Jelte Slagter and also had interest in chasing the break (if nominally, compared to Cannondale), and that Talansky was never going to make it back to the peloton in any case, thus waiting would make no difference and it would certainly throw away any chance, however slim, of a stage win, which they desperately want/need since the GC plan is gone.

In a strange, almost backwards way, it’s great publicity for the team: a “heroic” ride.

I’m more curious about team news…I thought Vaughters was hinting at an announcement on the rest day yesterday, but nothing…or did I miss it?

KB July 16, 2014 at 7:54 pm

OK, just seen the interviews…Talansky, swarmed by press, said he wanted to continue for his teammates who had ridden solely for his GC ambitions (Langeveld and Van Summeren said as much, a bit begrudgingly before the Tour). When asked how much pain he was in, he said, “A lot.” And turned and went into the bus.

DS Robbie Hunter said that he told Talansky that if he wanted to stop, to be sure it was a decision he wouldn’t regret (Hunter said he regretted abandoning the TdF himself). Possibly some pressure there, who knows.

T-J Slagter said that since the GC is gone the plan is to go full out every day, which is what they did.

I don’t know, it all seems fairly logical and nothing sinister to me.

Barodeur Billy July 16, 2014 at 8:44 pm

What a ride from Gallopin. I thought he was finished for sure when the chase group caught him with 3-4 km to go, and he shocked me with that finish. Good to see him continue his exceptional Tour. Also nice to see his fiancée again!

haps July 16, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I saw the stager on/off while working – a nice win for Gallopin – but for me the most admirable was Talanskys heroic ride – cha-fåking.peau!

The Inner Ring July 16, 2014 at 10:26 pm

It was impressive. He lost a lot of time when dropped, then more when sat by the road. But once he got going again he didn’t lose that much time to the bunch given he was solo, suffering and everyone else was racing full gas for the win.

Foley July 17, 2014 at 12:49 am

Hoping he makes it to Paris after that. Vaughters talking about Talansky before the tour quickly mentioned that his “temper” was one of the main concerns, so maybe AT was just getting a little tough love from the team car.

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