Tour Stage 9 Review

Sunday, 12 July 2015

BMC Racing

0.62 seconds separated BMC Racing from Team Sky, nothing at all but a useful lesson in team work. The two teams were obvious picks for the day but such a close margin added some thrills to what could have been a boring procession of teams.

BMC Racing win thanks to team work. They were equal with Team Sky at earlier time checks and then Sky pulled ahead at the last time check at the foot of the final climb. Normally you’d back Sky’s climbers to scale the hill faster than BMC’s one day riders and this is what happened, Sky went too fast and lost their shape while BMC were a tighter and more even unit. They win the stage but don’t get Tejay van Garderen into yellow. Sometimes yellow is burden because of the all the duties that accompany it, certainly Monday’s rest day puts plenty of demands. But for the team the publicity gains and for van Garderen the lessons to be learnt surely mean they’d have wanted to take the jersey.

Team Sky

Nicolas Roche was apologetic after the finish feeling he’d let down Team Sky but it doesn’t work like that, for a rider to be dropped the others have to be going too fast. Chris Froome looked very strong with many long turns.

Movistar had a mini meltdown midway wbut they regrouped in time to finish third. They’re just four seconds off BMC Racing and could have won were it not for the mishap. All three teams are so close.

Astana were splitting up on the hills too but just about kept things together to finish 5th, 35 seconds down. The time loss isn’t big but it means Vincenzo Nibali slips to fourth of the “Big Four”, ending a poor week for him. The likes of Lieuwe Westra and Lars Boom have been solid but not as effective as we have have expected.

The surprise: Lampre-Merida finished 8th and had the second fastest time up the final climb. Rui Costa is 5.20 behind Chris Froome so the result is anecdotal but not the wipeout you could have imagined.

The disappointment: Katusha finished 19th. They’ve lost their sole Russian, rouleur Dmitry Kozontchuk, and Luca Paolini slipped away in the night but for a large budget World Tour team they still got beaten by Bretagne-Séché.

Tour de France sunflowers

The rest day awaits. Teams travel in three aircraft from Lorient in Brittany to Pau, the earliest teams going in the first plane and the last ones to finish in the third before buses ferry them to the hotels. If all goes well all the riders will be in their hotels by before dusk. Meanwhile the rest of the race has a 700km transfer late into the night. When they wake up tomorrow if they’re lucky they’ll see fields of sunflowers and the Pyrenees on the horizon.

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J Evans July 12, 2015 at 7:33 pm

As always, the small teams are unduly punished. All of Barguil’s good riding in the first week taken away.
And, as is usually the case, the race is significantly less interesting following a TTT (Froome’s lead increasing does not add to the spectacle and is that how we want to see the Tour won?).
Been saying both of those since the route was announced and I’m far from being the only one.
Good for sponsors and bike manufacturers; not good for the race.
At least it wasn’t as flat and dull as they usually are.

Anonymous July 12, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Barguil looked very fresh among the others, when they arrived. Loosing Dumoulin, one of best current TT riders, sure didn’t help at all.

AK July 12, 2015 at 11:46 pm

I agree. To watch on tv I like TTTs better than ITTs, but this long and difficult they spoil the race for the underdogs on smaller teams. Perhaps they should have switched the opening day and today in the individual /team aspects?

Ronin July 13, 2015 at 2:22 am

I like the fact that Froome is out in front of Contador and Nibali by non-trivial margins. This puts the burden on them to go on the attack and make up the differences. And, these two, as well as Quintana, being champions, will hopefully not settle for a podium place but will go for the win in dramatic ways. Sky, of course, will try extra hard to control these three. But since Sky has never had to control so many good riders in the Tour before, there opens up the delicious prospect of Sky imploding. I’m counting on Roche and Porte to go down soon and hard. No, I’m pretty happy with the current leader board and the way the TTT helped set it up.

Barguil? Who’s that?

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Barguil? No one a cycling noob like you would have to know of. Keep on sleeping.

GTGTGT July 14, 2015 at 4:53 am

I think he was trolling for the bite that he got, Anon.

SirDave July 13, 2015 at 9:28 am

Nonsense. To win a Tour you need a team around. If you have a crap team around you tough luck, you won’t win.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:28 am

To have a good team around you, you need money: a lot of teams who lost time yesterday just don’t have that.
One wonders if you’ll have the same attitude if Sky pull out and Brailsford’s team suddenly has to get by on half of what it does now.

SirDave July 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

One wonders if you are aware the teams didn’t finish the TTT in order of their financing. Don’t be so simplistic.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

But of the teams with a GC contender, only the rich teams can also afford to pack their team with riders who are good enough to excel in a TTT.
Less rich teams can focus on the TTT, if they don’t have a GC contender.
Good riders on poorer teams have always been punished in this way in a TTT – one example Samuel Sanchez at Euskaltel-Euskadi.
You might think the financial differences are OK; you cannot deny that they play a massive role in how the GC is affected by a TTT.

noel July 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

J. – doesn’t the mis-match between the relative resources of teams show up in a myriad of ways (eg the big 5 or 6 teams on the recent flat stages have lined up at the front and effectively blocked the road for lesser squads). It’s a fact of life throughout most sports that the better resourced teams tend to rise to the top… I’m not sure the TTT is a lot different to having Sky/Astana/Saxo lining up 5 guys at the front on a mountain stage and burning off 95% of the competition… in fact the example of Orica over recent seasons (obvs not this Tour) is that it’s given them a discipline to focus on and excel at, and that has given them an opportunity to win jerseys that they wouldn’t otherwise have got with their relative resources…
personally I like it, and I like the fact that in a race with 7 tough mountain stages, the bigger squads haven’t been able to just pack their squads with skinny climbers…

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:56 am

I see the advantages you mention.
As you say, I think the bigger teams have enough of an advantage in crosswinds, up mountains, etc. without adding this. And at least under those other conditions riders from smaller teams can hang on to the big teams’ coat tails if they have the talent.

UHJ July 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

Advantages come in many shades… If they weren’t there, would we have a race at all?

Tom July 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

It can be hard to separate cause and effect – funding follows success follows funding. Anyway, the TTT hasn’t settled the race at all, and the big 4 have become the big 5. The first week has been so much more engaging that it was a few years back, and the race is nicely poised.

gabriele July 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Nibali himself was maybe worrying in Mûr-de-Bretagne, but, unlike the Italian, the Astana team *as a team* constantly performed well below par till now, and I have the feeling that most of the captain’s woes and headaches depended on his team’s behaviour.
I’ve said this before, but truth is that their lack of cohesion impressed me several times…
The team matters a lot in stages like those we’ve seen, but, unlike most may think, it’s paramount in the mountains, too, especially if you’re trying to set some definite riding conditions as the frame for your personal performances (see how Astana rode last year in multi-climb stages… which was also the reason because of which the leader looked *too alone* during the final hour/40′).

RonDe July 13, 2015 at 9:43 am

What I don’t get is why Astana seem to have sent a worse team to the Tour than the Giro. And a worse team leader. Nibali better do something on at least one Tour stage or last year’s win will fall into more disrepute than it already has in some people’s eyes.

Nick July 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Perhaps the level of their competition has changed more than the level of their own team?

ccotenj July 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

+1… the level of competition is *significantly* different…

as far as “worse tour leader”… the astana leader at the giro was comprehensively stomped by contador… i find it difficult to believe that the result would be any different at the tour…

as far as “disreputable”… there is nothing disreputable about the shark’s win last year… did he achieve it against lesser competition than there may have been in other years? sure… but that does nothing to bring it into disrepute…

gabriele July 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

A lot of people’s eyes aren’t very acute, indeed, but I guess Nibali has got other worries.
They didn’t send a worse team to the Tour, they just rode better during the Giro. Nonsense about the team leader, quite obviously.
Maybe during the Giro they became aware that this year any remotely decent ride would call upon them a wave of critics and suspicions ^__^ … in some people’s eyes, it goes without saying.

ccotenj July 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm

one would have to be a VERY big aru fan to even put him in the same category as nibali, let alone “better” than nibali….

i gave up on being suspicious a long time ago… i’m a much happier cycling fan because of that… if someone gets busted, i realize that some humans are going to cheat if they can, and i move on… this isn’t naivete… but i find it pointless to watch anything (not just cycling) if i’m going to torture myself constantly…

basically, there’s 2 things that are different this year…

1) all the big guns are there and ready, and tvg appears to be getting close to becoming a big gun… although i still think bmc is gonna regret not putting more time into quintana the other day when they easily could have…

2) everything came up roses for the shark last year (did he even flat once the whole tour?)… this year, he is having his share of poor luck… that’s sport…

The Anon July 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Hate to do this, but…

“ending a poor weak” … ” the result is anecdotal” – week? incidental?

The Inner Ring July 12, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Ha, not this time no. Fixed, thanks.

Augie March July 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Interestingly, close finishes seem to be a hallmark of recent Tour de France TTTs. In 2013 OGE beat OPQS by under one second and in 2011 the top five teams were separated by just 5 seconds.

Special Eyes July 12, 2015 at 8:22 pm

That was a tough stage.
It must have been agony for OGE.
I did not see their run, who (if anyone) dropped off ?

The Inner Ring July 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

They all rode together to stay with Michael Matthews and ensure he didn’t miss the time cut.

StevhanTI July 12, 2015 at 9:10 pm

They stayed together, Weening & Mathews going on the record after the finish that this was percieved as a rest day for them, they’re sole ambition to make the time cut. A bit sad but understandable given the circumstances. Weening also said that the Yates bro’s and himself are motivated to hunt for stage wins in the mountains.

StevhanTI July 12, 2015 at 9:10 pm

* their sole ambition

Matt July 13, 2015 at 1:23 am

The weird thing is OGE are now hopeful Matthews will recover which seems a massive longshot. There are two sprint stages left, which he wouldn’t win even in good health, which leaves only mountainous stages, which surely the Yates’ will target in tandem.

Ferdi July 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

I was surprised to see Sky only finish with 5 guys. I’d expected Poels and Kennaugh to remain there till the end.

Johnny H July 13, 2015 at 12:04 am

They only need five riders to finish (with Froome), so why burn Kennaugh and Poels with the mountains coming up?

Ferdi July 13, 2015 at 1:42 am

In order perhaps to let Roche save some energy and not to lose the stage?

Augustas Pablo July 13, 2015 at 8:56 am

You have it the wrong way round Johnny, they only need five to finish so the ones that don’t can go into the red early on and then peel off.

dave July 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

Sky were disappointed to lose Kennaugh and obviously expected him there at the close – see the cycling podcast.

Richard July 13, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Totally agree with Augustas Pablo – I saw an interview with Rohan Dennis before the TTT and he said if they finish with 9 riders, it means that some people haven’t been doing their jobs properly and giving 100% at the right times.

Lanterne Vert July 13, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Kennaugh has been generally disappointing. At first I thought Sky had been using him to pace in the early part of stages, the bits that don’t get shown on TV or in the highlights, but the cycling podcast suggested not. Maybe he’s peaked too early in the season.

Special Eyes July 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm

What are readers feelings on this stage, was it unnecessarily tough ?
It was made quite long and hilly to possibly shake up the GC.
But has it done that ?
No major time losses for the GC and, in fact, there was only four seconds between the first three teams.
After the tough first week, it rather seemed like a lesson in cruelty, watching the agonies up the final 2km hill.
That can be saved for the mountains in my opinion.
Just an opinion anyway ; I like to watch the shorter faster flat TTT’s, admire the classic techniques and the sheer speed.

GB July 13, 2015 at 7:02 am

I get the impression casual TV viewers aren’t as interested in individual or team time trails? I was very ‘meh’ at first but I’m appreciating them more as I watch more races.

I liked this stage, but I did feel by the end that the final climb was far more sadistic (on the part of the race organisers) than the cobblestones ever were. I really feel sorry for Roche and Dowsett.

I would have liked to see how full-strength Orica would have handled it, but oh well!

Also, I saw some comments from riders that the roar of the crowd made it so hard to hear the radio/each other that it led to communication problems and bad formation, which was interesting. Were they making excuses or does that seem plausible to anyone else? An unexpected side-effect of the climbs, or even of making the TTT more popular than usual??

The Inner Ring July 13, 2015 at 8:08 am

The crowd is very noisy. Imagine riding past people screaming “allez, allez” non-stop, a helicopter overhead, motorbikes around. The aero helmets can press on the earpiece too and resonate the sound even more into the ear.

Francisco July 13, 2015 at 11:17 am

Next marginal gain: louder earbuds?

UHJ July 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

I did notice the other day that Lars Bak was using some kid of ear plug in his left ear. His not hearing impaired as far as I know. And if musicians can use these and still play great music, it is well possible to produce something for sports like this.
Come to think of it, sound is energy and the wind noise as well as any other noises will tire you so why not try to reduce this impact? Marginal gains…

Joel July 12, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I really don’t think a TTT is fair.

Some riders lose bundles of time and an individual GT should not penalise those riders. An ITT is fair enough but keep them realistic. A TTT is a nonsence.

TEA July 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm

There was 4 seconds between the top 4 I think? The teams know what’s coming and have the opportunity to pick the team/ prepare accordingly before the start of the tour – casualties in previous stages not withstanding. I think the closeness of the teams today demonstrates that. You might as well say the cobbles aren’t fair or the mountains. I’m gratified to see that there is still everything to play for. Personally this is one of the best first weeks in a tour I’ve seen in a long time. And the TTT only added to that.

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 12:17 am

It is no individual GT. Instead it is a team that works together to get one of theirs as high as possible in the GC. And the fact that it is uninteresting for most teams where the majority of a team is seated, as long as the leader is highly placed in the GC, shows this very clear. So although individuals are seated, it is no individual GT. Like TEA wrote, you can argue as well, that the mountains are unfair to those who can’t ride them up fast. At it’s best a Grand Tour is a test of ALL aspects of riding bikes on the road. And riding as a team belongs there. You just have to take a simple situation where your leader punctures and the team brings him back in the peloton. Thats nothing but a TTT. The problem isn’t the TTT, it is the imbalance between rich and poor teams.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:33 am

‘The problem isn’t the TTT, it is the imbalance between rich and poor teams.’ True, you get rid of that and all objections to the TTT are dealt with.

Dave July 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

This sounds like sporting communism.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:53 am

And why not?
Works in America.

RocksRootsRoads July 13, 2015 at 11:08 am

No Money = No Sport. Get used to it!

Francisco July 13, 2015 at 11:29 am

@ J Evans, I’d never thought of American sport franchises in that light but yeah, they do pool a large part of their TV/sponsorship money…

Lanterne Vert July 13, 2015 at 12:37 pm

But the lack of sanction for poor performance makes American sport less exciting. Money follows performance, which follows money. I find sports with this dynamic far more interesting.

LDR July 13, 2015 at 12:18 am

Big thumbs up on the first week. I’ve been following the tour for a long time, and I don’t remember a more exciting first week then this year’s edition. And the TTT was the cherry on top! It is, to me, the most beautiful road event in the sport. And it forces team management to make difficult decisions regarding team make up. BMC has been the dominant team this week, but what will happen when they get to the big mountains? Too many rouleurs? Enough climbing support? Who knows, but it makes it exciting and engaging to watch. I haven’t missed a stage. Great stuff!

Larrick July 13, 2015 at 5:16 am

+1

Maglia Nera July 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

+1.
Also thanks to Inner Ring for the insightful previews and analysis and to all you commenters for the lively debate and for keeping it polite and positive. I don’t post much but have learned a great deal from you all over the last few years.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm

You can’t mean me then: I try to be polite, but I’m never positive.

Johnny H July 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

It’s a team sport.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 12:19 am

Only to an extent. The individual rider has to perform alone when it comes down to it – usually at the top of a mountain – and I think that’s how it should be decided. The team should – and do – play their part, but the rich teams have plenty of advantages in all the other stages, where team work is already of the utmost importance. Better to limit TTTs to, maybe, 10km in order to not penalise the poorer teams too greatly.
TEA, Nibali and Contador both lost around half a minute: that’s quite an impact on GC. You mention ‘the closeness of the teams’, but AG2R lost 1.24, Giant 1.37, Katusha 1.53. And although the teams knew what was coming, there was little that many could do about that, because they don’t have the funds.
Historically, a lot of riders’ hopes have been shot down in flames by one TTT: same in this one.

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 12:26 am

Of course they perform alone. That’s a nonargument. But it is a team effort. Everybody has his role to fulfill. May it be getting bottles, sheltering from the wind, go in breaks, filter the breaks, be there in case of a puncture.

LDR July 13, 2015 at 6:44 am

I’m not buying the budget argument. At least not completely. Sure big budget teams can, theoretically, have more complete teams with more, better riders to choose from. But look how the early “superstar” team of early BMC struggled. Money doesn’t guarantee success. And early Garmin and Orica were & are relatively modest budget teams and both have come up winners in the TTT. And is there a better funded team then Katusha? I think teams make decisions based on their goals. Katusha has no legitimate GC threat. Hence they load up on stage hunters and don’t worry about the TTT. For some teams it’s an important goal and they practice the discipline and bring appropriate riders. Some of the teams admitted to having practiced the TTT with their TdF squad one time plus the course recon. Budget or no, the team needs to want it.

SirWiggins July 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

That’s a very one-eyed view of how a cyclist wins a race. In reality its more like firing a rocket. Some bits get jettisoned and the capsule is all that remains in the end but without the engines and the rocket boosters you wouldn’t be there in the first place. Make no mistake, winning a Tour is a team sport. As I’ve just read Geraint Thomas saying in his new BBC website piece anyway.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:35 am

That’s how Sky presently do it. It’s not always been the only way – although it was used – sometimes, riders go on long-range attacks.

GingerTart July 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

The rich-poor teams argument doesn’t work.
The TTT is useful for 2 reasons: (1) a stage win for an individual team, or (2) high placing for a GC rider.
For (1), if a team is interested in the stage win, then it can load up its team with TT riders and rouleurs, like Orica usually do. Poorer teams can do this just as much as richer teams, and can target the TTT only without caring about placing for a GC.
For (2), if a team is interested in placing a GC rider, it will already be a richer team (how many poor teams can afford a real GC rider’s salary?) and will have enough cash for strong riders who can perform well.

Poorer teams cannot place GC riders from a TTT, so they have a choice to aim for the win by loading their team with TT specialists. The only area where poor teams suffer in TTT is that they cannot aim for BOTH a TTT win and a GC placing, but then poorer teams don’t have GC riders anyway. If a poorer team wants to aim for a couple of puncheur stages, or a mountain stage, then they choose their riders accordingly and of course will sacrifice their TTT ambitions. Same as if they want to aim for a TTT win, they must sacrifice their mountain stage ambitions.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

‘poorer teams don’t have GC riders anyway’ – Bardet, Pinot, Peraud, Barguil…
It’s interesting to note how many posters here seem to regard the financial inequality between the teams as a perfectly reasonable state of affairs.
Is this because we are constantly told in our society that such inequality is both fair – and – inevitable?
Is it also down to many posters here being British and the British team being – currently – very wealthy?

Lanterne Vert July 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Proper, full equality would require every racer to cross the line at the same time – negating the point of the sport. Besides, some sort of inequality in human endeavor is indeed inevitable, as a cursory examination of every human society since 10,000BC will show. That’s not really a cycling discussion however.

Taking your argument to the logical extreme, one might wonder why Petrochemical Tabriz and Barloworld-Valsir aren’t being invited to the Tour. After all equality would demand that all UCI teams (maybe even amateur teams) get a crack at the season’s marquee event. Maybe it’s because we want to watch the best riders (and the best – ergo expensive – teams) compete.

GB July 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

I try to avoid analysing people through internet arguments but there is some serious reductio ad absurdum in a few of the responses, I’m kind of impressed.

Othersteve July 13, 2015 at 2:06 am

TEA, has got it in my opinion.
The nuance of the teams and the individuals involved is the essence of selecting teams for a 3 week
stage race. Big money or small money teams can and do make significant gains and mistakes for us all to witness.

I can’t imagine watching a GT with all teams under a salary cap, that would be boring!
We all want too witness the implosion of a big money team, conversely all would like a rider step out of the shadows of a small team to achieve greater accolades then most thought him capable.

Augustas Pablo July 13, 2015 at 9:10 am

I agree to a certain extent but when teams like sky/saxo can hire domestics on twice the money of a team leader from smaller teams it can sometimes feel like Garforth town vs Barcelona.

And when a rider does step out of the shadows of a small team to achieve greater accolades then most thought him capable, he gets bought up buy team sky and used as a workhorse, probably never to win anything again.

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 9:19 am

People always say, they want a level and fair race, when talking about doping. But when it comes to money, it is ok, that the riders have no possibility to perform on their talent alone and it is totally accepted that money makes of course a huge difference. Hmm…

RouteDuSud July 13, 2015 at 9:37 am

This may have passed you by but every cyclist everywhere who ever entered a race has always tried to find some advantage over his rivals. Its naive in the extreme to think that any race is ever people riding “on their talent alone”. Every rider will find an advantage if he can. Do you think the bikes are all exactly the same, for example? I doubt the manufacturers are spending large slices of cash just to be the same.

Albert Einstein July 13, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Time is relative.

Even la-di-dah Cofidis only lost two-and-a-half minutes in the TTT. No other team (except Orica, of course) lost even 2 minutes.

Compare that to stage 2; compare that to stage 4; heck, compare that to TTTs in this race not so long ago, within this millennium.

Ban crosswinds! Ban cobbles!! Ban EPO!!! Wait … what?

David P July 13, 2015 at 12:35 am

I think I’ve said something similar on here before, but what Orica did today was exactly what Cannondale should have done two years ago when King missed the cut and got chucked out the race. There was a twitter storm to end all twitter storms, much shouting and blaming the organisers, when his team had no GC contenders and no hope of taking the stage.

Cameron Isles July 13, 2015 at 12:52 am

If the over/under on time Froome lost not wearing his Bio-Racer suit was 0.62 seconds, I’m going for overs and would put my house on it. Didn’t Steve Hed once say if Laurent Fignon had only cut his ponytail off in Versailles he would have won in Paris?

Roger Federer played Novak Djokovic in the men’s final at Wimbledon today and so far as I’m aware the club allowed both players to compete swinging their own racquets whilst wearing their own shoes. Cycling? Uh… not so much.

Vitus July 13, 2015 at 1:39 am

You are aware that Froome could wear whatever high-tech lizard coustume he want, but nobody cares cause the time of the fifth rider is the only one of interest? Just asking….

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 5:41 am

following your logic, froome could have worn an eskimo suit and the team would have got the same time.

A faster suit for Chris meant Chris pedals faster when at the front which means the people behind him (including Mr 5th rider) move faster too.

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

roche wasn’t going to go any faster than he did.

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 8:15 am

He cracked on the climb. There’s nothing to suggest he couldnt have gone faster elsewhere.

Cameron Isles July 13, 2015 at 7:15 am

Correct. Drag squares with speed. As you go faster, exponentially more watts are required to go faster still.

https://youtu.be/LO0PgyPWE3o?t=111

When an object passes through air at speed the surrounding air behaves very much like a fluid. The reason dolphins and sharks, for instance, are so much faster through the water than humans isn’t simply down to power and streamlining, but is also due to the thickness and characteristics of their skin. High-speed photography shows it doesn’t ripple, unlike a human’s which is flapping about wildly. Sharks also have tiny scale elements called denticles which give their skin a kind of grain that runs from their head to their tale — breaks up surface tension and reduces drag. A good skinsuit and fit mimics these effects. It is essentially free speed.

You can’t send a seamstress to a rider’s room the night before the time-trial and knock out a suit that matches a bespoke offering that’s been tested in a wind tunnel. Froome was the tip of the Sky spear for a lot of that effort. Had he sat up on Mur de Bretagne and given Van Garderen 13 seconds, he could now be further in front. Sorry, but in the 21st century I’m going to call bullshit on a sport like that.

Ferdi July 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

You can also ban TT suits that are not made of the same material as the one provided by the TdF for the GC leader. Simpler, fairer, cheaper, less tech-focus. This would make the 21st century slightly better.

Augustas Pablo July 13, 2015 at 9:24 am

“Sorry, but in the 21st century I’m going to call bullshit on a sport like that.”
what does that even mean? tennis/golf/f-1 is waiting for you on the other channel.

Big Drag July 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm

+1

Maximizing potential is the point of sport. Keeping cycling clean requires training and technology to be two sides of the same coin.

GingerTart July 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

Wimbledon has very strict dress code – all white! That’s a comparatively bigger problem for the tennis players than the directive for Froome to wear the yellow skinsuit, because tennis players have sponsorship deals which rely on promoting them in the basis of their image, with sponsored clothing, colour choices, etc. The only way to tell Federer from Djokovic was Federer’s headband, otherwise they looked very similar. How can that be in the players’ (commercial) interests?

Cameron Isles July 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm

@GingerTart
Froome’s skinsuit has to be viewed more as _equipment_ than just mere clothing. Most riders I know would take a fast suit over a fast bike any day. That stands to reason when you consider the rider himself represents the largest object being pushed through the wind here. If you want to equate it to anything equate it to Federer’s Wilson racquet or his Luxilon strings. It’s just as personal to the rider and, to him, just as important. Yes, there are pretty severe restrictions on a lot of things at the Slams and even on the ATP & WTA tours. Four square inches is the maximum size for a sponsor patch in tennis I believe, which is why if you look closely at Novak’s shirt sleeve you only see “Peugeot” and not the lion logo beside it which, presumably, wouldn’t have fit. But no one at AELTC is doing deals behind the scenes with Donnay and making Roger and Novak play Borg Pros!

@Ferdi
Leader still at a disadvantage even if you do that. Remember it’s fit as well as material choices. They’re not riding stock bikes so what’s the big deal? Let contenders have a separate suit in 109C Pantone yellow and ASO stamp it with the Tour logo. Problem solved.

@Augustas Pablo
I follow all those sports and I follow cycling. I just don’t want the competition contrived or interfered with by the event promoter. That’s why the DRS is killing F1. You can’t open your rear wing but the guy behind you can? Bullshit. You’re winning the Tour so you get to ride in unfamiliar and more-than-likely inferior equipment and you’re going to promote this lender/supermarket/car maker/optometrist rather than your own backers who stumped up the cash to get you there? At the very least it’s not particularly hospitable given the risks these riders are taking for our enjoyment.

Joe K. July 13, 2015 at 5:24 am

And yet another exciting stage to this year’s Tour. A shame that crash outs and injuries knocked out OGE, one of the world’s best TTT specialists, even before they gave it a go. Good to see them sticking by Matthews and seeing him home in one piece. Shows the team work and loyalty demanded in this wonderful sport of cycling!

Alex M July 13, 2015 at 6:10 am

Why would the Tour put the TT and TTT on the first two weekends? I assume more eyeballs are watching on the weekends – why put the most boring stages then? Sorry for the gripe, but I’d rather watch the cobblestone stage than that.

LDR July 13, 2015 at 6:29 am

And others would rather watch a tight TTT then the cobbles. More likely to have significant GC changes in the TTs and TTTs then anything on the cobbles. Some like vanilla, some chocolate. That’s why they make both flavors . . .

MHD July 13, 2015 at 8:41 am

TV changes everything, and it depends on how you’re watching. When we had the 2012 Olympics come to my home town there was a build up of excitement for hours and then it was over in seconds, but with the time trials it was a whole day of excitement and entertainment.

Larry T. July 13, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I wondered the same thing too. My guess is ASO figures Le Beeg Shew will be watched no matter what’s on offer? I hope the next two weeks are interesting and entertaining but I won’t be holding my breath. As much as I dislike SKY they’ve ridden a great first week while Astana seems to be a team in chaos. Is Vino trying to run the show behind Martinelli’s back or just mucking around enough to screw up morale? Meanwhile BMC’s confidence is so high on their main man rumors are Porte will be there next year. Will they end up with two “stars” that croak in the Grand Tours?

gabriele July 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

I heard that Martinelli wasn’t on the team car during the TTT. And it wasn’t exactly his call. Does anyone else know something about that (if it’s true, to start with 😉 )?

A noneymouse July 13, 2015 at 6:16 am

Anyone catch the doozy by Porte in the SBS interview?

Porte: “It was good to get a good time in my last Tour de France with Team Sky”
(Reporter 1 stares at camera with eyes wide open)
Reporter 2 asks some silly question
(Reporter 1 still staring at camera)
Reporter 1: ahhhh, did you just say you were leaving Sky?
Porte: Its pretty much the worst kept secret.

GB July 13, 2015 at 7:22 am

I was yelling ‘I read about this rumour on inrng two weeks ago! Give me a job!’ at the television, it was good fun. The last part of this convo is here if anyone’s curious http://cyclocosm.tumblr.com/post/123895686017/porte-to-leave-sky-in-2016-from-sbss

A noneymouse July 13, 2015 at 8:37 am

I know, i was literally thinking the same thing haha.

When porte refers to rumours that he’s leaving, Tommo goes “we didn’t know, we had no idea”, then as soon as Porte leaves the interview Tommo says the rumours are that Porte’s going to BMC….bit confusing

Anonymous July 13, 2015 at 7:48 am
Rooto July 13, 2015 at 8:46 am

I suppose OGE’s performance yesterday was another example of the Aussie ‘mateship’ we heard so much about after the Porte wheelchange incident in the Giro. Put to better effect this time.

RonDe July 13, 2015 at 9:48 am

Well I wonder who had Chris Froome 2 minutes (and more) ahead of some of his biggest rivals at this stage? I certainly don’t recall anyone sticking their head above the parapet to make that call the last few weeks. But there he is. Personally, I had always said that Nibali probably needed a lead by now if he was going to win. I saw week 1 as his best chance to steal time. And yet of the “big 4” he has the most to make up.

Its Froome’s to lose for me.

Carro July 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

Is there a reason that none of the national champions were wearing their national colours in the TTT?

The Inner Ring July 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

Some were, like Boasson Hagen apparently. But yesterday was a TTT and the national champions are solo TT champions. The rules state you can only wear the relevant jersey in the relevant discipline, so no national champ jersey TT jersey unless it’s a a TT.

hahostolze July 13, 2015 at 10:46 am

Love the comment on Boom and Westra. Shows that training can only get you so far at Astana….

gabriele July 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Nonsense comment. Especially when considering that Boom was riding for a different team last year. And all the Giro stuff we happened to end up reading. But I probably didn’t catch what you are meaning with this.

mattia July 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

whom do you think is going to be on the podium in Paris? Nairo-Chris and? will Alberto resist till the end? what about TJ? will be Nibali able to reduce the gap and join them? if you have to pick thre right now who will they be?

Larrick July 13, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Froome from Q for 1st and 2nd and if there’s a surprise for third I’ll plump for Uran. Had his issues at the Giro which might allow him to be less fatigued, going along nicely with a team that hasn’t been focused on him and we know he can climb. Assuming Froome and Q blow the rest away in the MTF’s, third will be tight and Rigo has as good a chance as any.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

CF, NQ, AC, in that order.

Special Eyes July 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I’m going to stick my neck out a little :
1. Froome 2. Quintana 3. TVG

I think they over-egged the pudding a little yesterday, and made it too tough. There were interesting time gaps between GC anyway after the first week but I think it’s too much for AC and VN to make up now (barring crashes etc).

PT July 13, 2015 at 12:47 pm

I’m partly with you there. TVG’s best result is 5th isn’t it? I think he looks in better shape now than ever. Racing pretty smart too. No dual purpose/dual leader issues to manage either. Just got to get Jim Och to shut up.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I still can’t forgive TVG for training with Armstrong – and apparently seeing nothing wrong with that.
I’m hoping his usual three week form kicks in and he finishes off the podium.

PT July 14, 2015 at 1:02 am

I respectfully disagree. TVG is in a position to know exactly what training with Lance means and he does it anyway. Lance did some bad things but he knew how to train.

J Evans July 14, 2015 at 1:35 am

Yes, he did. Amongst many other things telling a woman ‘I hope someone breaks a baseball bat on your head’. Imagine having a very rich and powerful man say that to you.
And that’s what he was willing to say on voicemail: imagine what he’d say when he wasn’t being recorded.

It also breaks the rules to train with Armstrong, but that’s far less important.

UHJ July 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

From a viewer’s perspective I found the lack of times on-screen really annoying. Being a timed event the most important data to put on the screen is time.
Why didn’t the producer have the time running in any given picture but only at selected views?
These days it should be the proverbial piece of cake to do so. As a viewer (albeit an experienced and informed viewer) I use marks along the route to estimate time gaps and differences apart from the official timing points. It would make it a lot funnier to watch if every team had a running time shown. For additional data, the speed is fun.
Time, ASO. Please, next time (pun intended)

The Inner Ring July 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm

They’re working on this and we have the beta website for now but as the name suggests it’s under trial. (note ASO don’t do the TV production, that’s France Télévisions and they’re partly behind the tech with those under the saddle telemetry sticks).

UHJ July 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Yes, of course it is the television guys who should superpose the times on the screen but they are – hopefully – not running the timing as such. The official timing should be from whatever ASO as employed (Swiss Timing, Tissot or alike). Transmitting these times to the TV production van should have been an “easy” task.
I am also subscribing to these Dimension Data thingy but so far it is nothing but great fun to look at after the race. Prospects are promising, though; given they arrive at a form and data set that has any immediate meaning. I actually think they could benefit from 2 (3?) versions; 1 free version for the layman and more intricate datasets for those willing to subscribe and pay.

Tovarishch July 13, 2015 at 6:42 pm

You obviously don’t follow it on Eurosport, as you are told about 20 times an hour that Festina are the official timekeepers of the Tour de France.

UHJ July 13, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Actually I do watch it on Eurosport but I tape it to watch later and skip commercial breaks. But right you are, Tovarisch, Festina it is.

irungo txuletak July 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm

In terms of strength, I agree with you. I don’t really see how frog froome could loose it, he looks very strong. In turns Kontador does not look very fresh (I read he recognized that he has not the punch of others), so it is likely to see Kintana going ahead in the mountains.
The only thing is that with Kontador you never know. Even if he is not strong enough he is still to try something and may turn the situation in his advantage.

J Evans July 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

You mean Kris Froome.

Augustas Pablo July 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

You mean Fris Croome.

gabriele July 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Kroome.

Special Eyes July 13, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Did anyone notice The Devil at the side of the road yesterday ?
Apparently had two knee replacements and rumours of poor health.
Anyway he performed his trademark leaps as the riders passed.
Has he been at every stage this year ?
He must be confident in his new knees at least ; rather than a few leaps as a peloton passes, he had to perform on 22 x separate occasions yesterday !

PT July 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm

I didn’t see him yesterday but I did see him earlier in the week, out on a flat road in the country. He is mad but somehow fantastic.

Maglia Nera July 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Didn’t see him but will be watching out for him from now on.

The Inner Ring July 13, 2015 at 6:33 pm

He’s been at other races, for example the Tour de Suisse http://inrng.tumblr.com/post/121786206933

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 6:49 am

Haha, that is fantastic Inrng. Many thanks.
Sympathy For The Devil !?

Dan July 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Really enjoyed the TTT. I think Teejay might have expected to be in yellow on Sunday night, it was almost certainly his last chance to wrestle it from Froome.

Nibali the big loser, I can’t see him gaining much time on Froome, Contador and Quintana in their own terrain.

I think he lost a podium place yesterday.

Colbagger July 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Does any know why BMC weren’t in rainbow jerseys despite being world champions?

The Inner Ring July 13, 2015 at 2:06 pm
Colbagger July 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Thanks. The “distinctive logos” promised must be pretty discreet.

Vitus July 14, 2015 at 12:35 am

Did you catch any news about a fine for Boasson’s jersey in TTT, or point to a communique where they list daily fines?

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