Tour Stage 10 Preview

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The first summit finish of the 2015 Tour de France and a brutal change in pace as the race switches from the plains to the mountains. After all the projection and speculation we’ll finally see what everyone has got as attitude makes way for altitude in the first of a Pyrenean trifecta.

Don’t miss the stage and its earlier than usual finish.

The Route: a one hundred kilometre high speed procession before the sudden rise upwards. There are small climbs along the way and expect those peloton-riding-past-sunflower images to appear but otherwise the landscape is predictable as it arcs north around Pau before swinging south for the mountains. Things start in Arette of all places by which time the fight will be on as teams try to place their leaders into position, using up their flatland specialists in the race to the foot of the climb.

The Finish:  This is a very awkward climb and after 10 days in the big ring suddenly the legs have to spin from the start. It’s wide, a ski station access road and a minor road into Spain too but steep and long, this is a 50 minute effort which makes it greater than Alpe d’Huez.

It has long straight sections but the gradient varies a lot. The profile above tells most of the story but not all, there are ramps at 12% and riders will be working their derailleurs a lot on this climb. Note the way it levels off around the 11km point, there’s a breather section that’s softer than the graphic suggests. Here a rider sat on a wheel can save energy. Then it rises up again with 7% average but a section at 8-9% before easing right on the line.

The Contenders: before the names, let’s consider the scenario. It’s a big ask for a breakaway to stick because anyone capable of going clear early on is going pay the price on the final climb, they’d need to start with several minutes’ advantage just to hope of staying clear and that’s unlikely, even on the sprint stages last week we saw no-hope breakaways being given little space. Anyone hoping for a long range raid across the Pyrenees will be thinking of tomorrow and the day after.

The most likely outcome is the teams in mountain train formation pacing their riders into place for the climb and then chuffing up the pass for as long as possible to eliminate and weaken rivals before their leaders are left to get on with business. However the way the climb eases over the top isn’t conducive to a big attack from the main GC riders because to exploit the steep parts means to attack early and that’s risky. So we could see some cagey riding until late attacks in the final kilometre.

Chris Froome is the prime pick. Sky like to control things but he’s put in a few bold attacks over the years and could try a “long” move in a bid to put the race to bed, going clear on the 10% slopes and leaving the others watching, each hoping someone else will chase across the flatter parts. Even if he doesn’t go this bold he’ll be keen for a later move to bag the bonus seconds and put Tejay van Garderen under pressure. It’ll be interesting to see if Sky reuse the tactics they’ve deployed earlier this year (eg Andalucia) where they make a climber attack on the hard parts to force others to chase.

Tejay van Garderen has long been a diesel but like others his TT bike has probably had cobwebs at times. Instead he’s been working on the climbs and developing more explosive power, the means to turn him from nearly man backstreet boy into a front page man: a two second gap and the stage win and he’s in yellow. Easier said than done and as we saw in the Dauphiné Chris Froome was superior and risky too because if it fails he could lose time.

Nairo Quintana is tipped on reputation alone, the voodoo chile who can chop mountains down with the edge of his feet. He is a great climber but tends to win solo. Team mate Alejandro Valverde would be good for the finish if he can hang with the front group on the steep parts. Joaquim Rodriguez could be good for the finish, he had the zippy sprint up the Mur de Huy and the final kilometre today will feel just as hard or if he goes earlier the others may stick to marking each other.

We’ll get more answers from Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali today but this direct climb after the plains could be awkward, especially for Contador while Nibali said yesterday that he’s “waiting for a sign”, as if expecting some external source to help him rather than relying on his legs.

Outsiders for the win include Dan Martin who finishes well and this time his worry won’t be positioning but pacing as he tries to match the GC riders. Bauke Mollema took off when nobody was expecting in Tirreno-Adriatico and while former team mate Robert Gesink has shown promising form so far this in this race. The one nobody is talking about is Rigoberto Uran but he’s having a great race so far but you can count his road race wins on one hand in career that already goes back a decade. The Yates brothers are hunting for stages and both climb and then sprint well.

It might be Bastille Day but it’s hard to see a French win to end the 10 year drought since David Moncoutié won on the 14 juillet. Thibaut Pinot may still have the legs but he’s better suited to climbs yet to come although he’s got time on his side, at least a deficit which won’t worry the others too much. The same with Romain Bardet so perhaps Alexis Vuillermoz can surprise again? He good on the long climbs too but has said it’s all about supporting Bardet and J-C Péraud now, the latter is said to be coming into good form.

Chris Froome
Joaquim Rodriguez, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde
van Garderen, Pinot, Martin, Yates x 2,

Weather: hot and sunny with temperatures of 30˚C on the way to the climb and a light 10km/h breeze from the south.

TV: tune in around 3.30pm Euro time to watch the approach to the final climb which is due to start just before 4.00pm with the finish earlier than usual expected for 4.45pm.

If you can’t find it on TV, you’ll find it online with Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

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Jase July 14, 2015 at 5:48 am

Given the flatter part towards the top it will be interesting to see which teams can get to that point with a couple of riders to do some pacing. Froome with Porte/Thomas and Quintana with Valverde are both obvious possibilities but I am not sure for Astana, Tinkoff and BMC?

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 11:02 am

Fuglsang and Scarponi, if they’ve got some decent form, should be at least as qualified as Porte or Thomas (but don’t forget Roche, Koenig, Poels… 🙂 ). Taaramae and Kangert are very good climbers, too; Westra and Grivko can climb very well on a good day, but I’m not sure they would be with the best up there.
Same goes for Tinkoff with Kreuziger, Rogers and Majka, with the latter potentially way superior to everyone named above.
BMC should have Damiano Caruso and and Samu Sánchez who could help, but they’re a couple of step below the others. Ditto for Dennis. BMC should melt in the mountains, if everything goes according to known values, but you never know…
Other teams with less GC hopes are possibly better than BMC: in Katusha, someone among Caruso (Giampaolo), Losada and Machado could be there for Purito; Trek should have Arredondo and Zubeldia helping Mollema. Lotto NL could have the strongest collective, with Gesink, Kelderman, Kruijswijk and Ten Dam: they may become a machine gun of attacks (they won’t, obviously).

Sam July 14, 2015 at 11:10 am

Scarponi’s been sick for most of the race to date. Not sure whether he’s fully recovered yet (just been announced that Boom is sick and is a DNS today)

I expect Rigo to be short of support but still be there – he’s good at that!

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 11:22 am

I’d expect that, too, but Jase was speaking of team support, and Rigo won’t get much of that. Other “individual” riders could potentially be there, even if they’re not that high on GC… Navarro, Frank, Talansky (with Martin/Hesjedal?) etc., but I can’t see a *team theme* there.
Scarponi was sick, but he’s said to have recovered (he was among the five survivors in the TTT): I suspect he’ll suffer anyway because of the heat – he loves cold and wet weather as much as Froome loves summertime.
I believe that Vanotti should have been in the team… Astana’s Tour is looking more and more like Giro’s Sky. It’s not only about the watt, the mind and subsequently everything related to the human factor has a huge weight. Whereas Sky brought Porte and rightly so, just as Tinkoff team had brought Basso, despite his relatively poor performances.

Nick July 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm

As it’s a 10km climb at almost 9% just to reach that point, there might not be that many!

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Clearly it depends on how they ride it. We’ve seen plenty of harder climb with barely any selection made (doubt this will be the case). Again, just answering to Jase. If, say, Thomas or Porte are there, no reason – on paper – why Fuglsang or Majka couldn’t. Quite the contrary, I’d say. That said, we’ve seen so many things going way differently from “paper” that everything is more or less possible, within the superteams. Besides, if the big names decide to play it hard from the start, they could even arrive one by one. But that wasn’t the point above.

Pirenaica July 14, 2015 at 6:30 am

This is a hard climb that turns into an oven on hot days. I wouldn’t be surprised if a contender gets cooked.

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 7:04 am

Good information.
Nibali is surely the GC man most at risk.
If he has another bad day, that will probably be him out of contention.
That’s not to say he could still get a stage win as the Tour progresses, but he can’t afford another substantial time loss.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 6:39 am

i wonder if a team has ever had a person in civvies on the side of the road within the last ten kms, who holds a bottle out for the team rider, like a fan.

UHJ July 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

You needn’t conceal it in civvies.
1) ASO provides mcs that carry supplies/bidons
2) Based on the weather and terrain it is common to suspend the 20 km rule prohibiting supplies.
It is my informed guess that this will be the case. If any team can get any space/room for a person supplying, now that’s another story…

Joe K. July 14, 2015 at 6:49 am

You’re right, the weather will play a big part today. This is one of those climbing stages that won’t determine the outright winner, but it can definitely mean the end of the run for this year’s top podium for some, i.e., TVG, Nibali?

On a side note, just read CN article confirming Porte’s leaving Sky for BMC (although nothing signed yet). If Porte does go to BMC, then that means BMC team management has put TVG on the raft of no return for this year’s Tour: Either he reaches the other side–to the shores of Tour victory, where he will finally be hailed as a legitimate GC contender, or he will be forever lost in the Sea of “could of, would of, should of,” where so many past GC pretenders have been lost and forgotten. In the words of Elvis Presley, “It’s now, or never.”

The Inner Ring July 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

BMC are a big team and want two leaders, Porte is probably in the Giro/Vuelta captain role because the team really backs van Garderen.

garuda July 14, 2015 at 10:40 am

could have, would have, should have. Three in a row was too much

I still don’t get the Porte deal. He better come in cheap for BMC, otherwise, why take him over the likes of Fuglsang, Barguil, Landa for another. And for Porte talking like he didn’t get leadership opportunities with Sky. He had a good team in the Giro, and a good team in the Tour last year.

The Inner Ring July 14, 2015 at 10:44 am

There’s a lot of info at the moment I can’t remember the source now but the story goes that Porte was given his chances to lead Sky and it just didn’t work out (and for the money they can get others), not so much in the athletic aspect but the mental/leadership side. We’ll see, he’s probably moving from one giant budget team to another and a fresh approach with new managers could do him good.

Larrick July 14, 2015 at 11:19 am

Porte has had a column in the Sydney Morning Herald and today he spoke about leaving Sky. Thanks them for the leadership opportunity among other praise. Best to read it from the horses mouth.

http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cycling/tour-de-france/richie-porte-i-am-leaving-sky-to-become-a-team-leader-20150713-giarir.html

Tricky Dicky July 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

The linking factor is Alan Peiper. Porte rates him and Alan thinks he can get Richie’s head right. Dennis still has a couple of years to go. By all accounts, €2m was too rich for Sky for someone who doesn’t seem to be able to win Grand Tours. I wonder if Thomas will probably be persuaded to have a genuine shot next year at a 3 week race and they still have Koenig and Henao on the up-tick.

garuda July 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm

That’s what I meant. He speaks of becoming a team leader somewhere else, as if he wasn’t a team leader with Sky yet. I think I just gave up on looking at him as a GT contender after the giro.

Sam July 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm

His head fell off after that 2 minute penalty

That didnt impressed t’management (nor the actual act itself of taking the wheel)

whippet July 14, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Sam,

Not disagreeing with you, but I think the sky contract decision was already made before the Giro. The events there definitely didn’t change their minds.

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 7:18 am

Interesting that Inrng does not have Contador & Nibali as “picks of the day” above.
I agree with that but it is quite a telling statement in itself of both mens’ current form.
A very very interesting day ahead.
ps I hope that a Frenchman can do it today. I am an old romantic at heart.

SilverSurfer8 July 14, 2015 at 7:48 am

I think the GC favorites will play it tactically, and someone else wins. With the heat, I expect Quintana and Contador to gain a little time, but that’s about it. I think they’ll all wait for the 1K banner, then spar with each other for a handful of seconds at best.

Tejay “crazy eyes” van Garderen seems to have a smart plan. We’ll see…

jollygoodvelo July 14, 2015 at 8:20 am

Teeeejay reminds me of the Honey Monster.

I don’t see big time gaps here today. If Froome wasn’t already in yellow he would have looked to make a statement here, but I see him simply attacking on that last ramp after the easier part and getting matched by Bertie.

Pinot may well have a go though, as long as they’ve charged his DI2 battery today.

PT July 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Or even better, switched to mechanical DA like Bertie.

RonDe July 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Quintana may be Colombian but he lives up high not in tropical heat. The heat favours him no more than an African like Froome.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 1:46 pm

As per the Stelvio stage of 2014 Giro.

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Apparently, Quintana endures different kinds of extreme weather but favours cold, while Froome likes it hot. Nibali and Contador also perform well in hard weathers of any kind (usually), even if Contador tends to dislike cold with rain (makes him even more prone to hunger knocks he sometimes suffers from).

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 7:58 am

I’d be willing to bet that the time bonus is eneough motivation for the GC guys to set a furious pace on the lower slopes and eliminate the chances of an unexpected winner. Honestly this feels like a time where a Sky train circa 2012 might pulverize the race.

The one hope I hold out is Quintana, he has shown before that he can bring down Sky’s steady tempo.

cc78 July 14, 2015 at 8:11 am

there are no time bonuses available today, they stopped after stage 8

http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2015/us/sporting-stakes-rules.html

Paul Davies July 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

Apparently the rules changed on that one and there’s now bonus seconds on all road stages. Seems no one told the guy who updates the website, though. I can’t find a better source than http://www.cyclingquotes.com/news/tour_bonus_seconds_decided/

cc78 July 14, 2015 at 8:34 am

you’re right… should have checked the official rules

article 26

http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2015/docs/TDF15_Reglement-BD.pdf

Chris July 14, 2015 at 8:42 am

“Nairo Quintana is tipped on reputation alone, the voodoo chile who can chop mountains down with the edge of his feet.”

Will he also kiss the sky? I’m sort of speechless at how the Hendrix reference was re-purposed to velo-relevant.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

Is he experienced? Or will he just ride in a purple haze to the summit?

frood July 14, 2015 at 9:44 am

He’ll need to be Bold as love to win this one….

(i’ll get my coat)

Ferdi July 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

Outside in the cold distance
A wild cat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl

UHJ July 14, 2015 at 10:28 am

My god, that was priceless, great laugh and how I wish I could better you on that last one, Ferdi.
‘Twas in another lifetime…

the wee hon July 14, 2015 at 10:36 am

…… to quote, er, Bob Dylan….

UHJ July 14, 2015 at 10:30 am

Castles made of sand…

PT July 14, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Does he ride his bike upside down and left-handed? Or will Froome turn to him on an HC climb and ask: “Are you experienced?” Or will he set his bike on fire on the podium?

( still can’t better Ferdi above…genius)

alex July 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm

if 6 were 9 .

UHJ July 14, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Let’s not hope for any cross-town traffic

This is epic!

Lanterne Verte July 14, 2015 at 12:59 pm

apparently the night Nairo was born, the moon turned a fire red…..

PT July 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Quintana at this morning’s press conference;

“I might as well go back over yonder, way back yonder ‘cross the hill
‘Cause if my baby don’t love me no more, I know her sister will”

Richard S July 14, 2015 at 9:03 am

Isn’t Valverde famously good in the heat? I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he jettisoned Quintana and took off alone either, especially if it’s all together at the flat bit. I’m expecting a dull cagey stage with no attacks until 1km to go. These long climbs look good on paper but rarely deliver. Give me a punchy finish any day. I’m hoping a Frenchman gets away for a patriotic win. I’m saying Rolland, with a long attack from the base of the climb that no one will chase.

The Inner Ring July 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

Rolland will probably want to go on another day, maybe tomorrow, to harvest mountain points.

Most riders should be ok in the heat as it’s been warm for a while.

whippet July 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Richard, I hope you didn’t have a punt on any of your predictions!

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 10:10 am

Hopefully a breakaway will stay away and a lesser name can share the spoils. Nairo and Bertie will squabble for a few seconds here and there. Froome will observe from his high chair and jump on the hamster wheel to generate electric in the last km and Nibs will again look totally mystified as to why his legs won’t work right. Just my crystal ball’s worth.

Steve J July 14, 2015 at 10:32 am

Anonymous, your comment raised a smile. I hadn’t previously thought of Froome on a hamster wheel but now you say it the comparison is clear.

Just a thought, but given he is looking for an ‘external source’, maybe we should start referring to Nibali as “His Nibs”?

powergoose July 14, 2015 at 10:50 am

Hard to see past Froome-Dog today. Great opportunity to put a chunk more time into the GC. Would love to see Yates brothers up there too.

Steppings July 14, 2015 at 10:52 am

Sorry Steve J, that was my comment above, forgot to tag it.

Ben July 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

Is Nibali calling for divine intervention, or was Vino shopping for writing paper and fountain pen on the rest day?

It would be sensible for Rolland to wait for tomorrow, but we’ve not yet seen a ‘Pierre Rolland energy wasting attack’TM yet this year, could today be the day?

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 11:30 am

I’d like to listen to what Nibali said in Italian (he’s struggling with his English, to say the least, and rarely resorts to speaking it as an international language). For example, it’s commonplace in Italian cycling jargon to say you’re “aspettando dei buoni segnali” to mean that you’re eager to check how your legs react to different terrains and so, or to see if your training results in proper racing form… it’s not about “external signs” or whatever. But I couldn’t listen to the interview, so I really don’t know.

One Man Grupetto July 14, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Boom quit this morning because of flu. Won’t improve Nibali’s morale.

Sam July 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm

All in all, and given Nibali’s losses last week, not the most productive return for them ignoring the MPCC rules

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

See what I wrote somewhere around here about Vanotti (or whoever could work as a good in-race psychologist or director) 😉
Maybe they were keeping so far one from another because half the team was half ill and they didn’t want Nibali to get his turn of flu (if he does, goodbye top ten).
New sort of gregario: going coughing – not to say anything worst – near your rivals! 😀

Sam July 14, 2015 at 2:21 pm

^Astana might have more success having Nibz work on perfecting his bidon aim, Gabriele 🙂

Phil B July 14, 2015 at 11:15 am

Looking at a movistar 1-2 counterpunch to stop froome in his tracks, Quintana goes earlyish, froome/contador/Nibali try to match him, burn their matches then the Puncheurs take over and Valverde/Rodriguez jump on the flatter section after the GC boys cook? I’d love another J rod win.

Tejay gets dropped with about 2.5km to go and slowly sinks down the leaderboard for the rest of the tour. nothing comes from the french… except something from Pinot perhaps, but he’ll get gobbled up by the GC boys.

anyhow thats my $0.02…

Sam July 14, 2015 at 11:21 am

Tejay saying in his presser yday that his great strength is his consistency

Kiss of death if ever there was one….

RonDe July 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

What makes you think that Valverde could hang with a Quintana injection of pace longer than Froome could?

Dave July 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

I can’t look at a race profile like this without thinking of Eros Poli in the 1994 tour….I suspect it was a good deal flatter back then to allow him to build up a 20min advantage at the foot of the Ventoux; today looks a good deal lumpier and it’s earlier in the race 🙁

clipperton July 14, 2015 at 11:41 am

“Things start in Arette of all places”

Love it!

ave July 14, 2015 at 11:49 am

“if Sky reuse the tactics they’ve deployed earlier this year (eg Andalucia) where they make a climber attack on the hard parts to force others to chase”

Thomas is the only danger man, the other Sky riders are so low on GC, they can not force any chase.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm

No, but they could try sending Porte up the road for Froome to link up with later

diamondjim July 14, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Sorry – that was me

Jon L July 14, 2015 at 11:51 am

Always excited to see the first big mountain stage, as it sorts the wheat from the chaff, and reveals who the real contenders for the overall are.

It will be interesting to see how some of the smaller team leaders will do, the likes of Frank at IAM, Nerz at Bora, Rolland at Europcar and Sepulveda at Bretagne.

Some big riders have tanked time so far, so I expect they’ll be on the attack soon, Kruijswijk, Kelderman, Hesjedal, Navarro and Meintjes, but as Inrng says today is probably too early to escape the clutches of the big teams control.

Ak July 14, 2015 at 11:56 am

INRNG: “It’ll be interesting to see if Sky reuse the tactics they’ve deployed earlier this year (eg Andalucia) where they make a climber attack on the hard parts to force others to chase.”
Why would any of the GC candidates try to Chase Porte, Koenig or Poels? They are so far back that they could only steal away bonus seconds. Some of the stage hunters may chase though. Or did you mean Froome himself by ‘a climber’? A reason to send someone up the road early is to act as a bridgehead for later attacks or chases, of course.

Ronan July 14, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Any indication as to why breakaways have gone clear so early in almost every stage this year? Normally we hear about the first hour of the race being manic, but every stage this year (I think) the main break has been established within 10km of the flag dropping.

One Man Grupetto July 14, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I believe it’s because, Bretagne-Seche, aside a lot more teams arrvied with GC contenders and/or sprinters to have less riders and less interest in the breaks. Now that the sprint stages are (largely) behind us and with some teams having lost their GC hopes or – if you’re Cofidis – your sprinter then I would expect a lot more frenetic activity this week.

Ronan July 14, 2015 at 2:23 pm

But it makes sense equally for one rider from a team to get in the break so that the rest of the team can sit in and not work that day.

The Inner Ring July 14, 2015 at 2:54 pm

It was the same last year and before in the early stages of the race, everyone knows it’s going to be a sprint finish so the only reason to go up the road is to get the jersey on TV and the name in the press and few want to use up the energy.

All change tomorrow when we should have a wild start to the day.

Morten Reippuert Knudsen July 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Did this climb last year from Orlon st. Marie (down over the Lazar and back in to france over Port Larau down to Larau.

The first 10km up to Col de Labays is really nasty and irregular – i’d say its the most difficult mountain Pass in the Pyrenees. The first 10km are steep, irregular and HOT due to the relative low altitude, it’s really difficult to find a rythem.

(I did 30 pass’s last summer incl Pahileres, Perisyrde, Andora, Tourmalet, d’Abisque, Soleur etc.)

Max July 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Good read.
Allez Pinot!

Ken July 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm

That “easy” stretch starting 11k into the climb could be fascinating. Send a rider ahead, or pair up with a teammate (Quintana-Valverde? Froome-Porte?), and you get a draft to help extend or regain the lead.

c40jim July 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

I did this climb two weeks ago as our first climb in a two week trip to the Pyrenees. I last did the Pyrenees in 1998 and remembered them as tougher than the Alps and Italian climbs I’ve been doing in the interim. I thought this was the toughest climb I’ve ever done – tougher than the Madelaine and Glandon on the same day last year. I seem to recall the shallower sections as tougher than the profile represents since they consist of sections at 3-4% followed by more +/- 10% climbing within the same km.

I suspect the pros’ derailleurs will get a good workout but I just shifted into the 32 I’d installed for this trip and never wanted before and left the bike there with occasional ramps up to the 28.

Great scenery though and it was a lot hotter in the Pyrenees until last Wednesday than the current forecast. At St. Lary Soulan last week, Garmin was registering 44 in the sun, 39 in the shade.

cd July 14, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Quintana attacks. Sky pulls it back and Valverde sprints for win. $0.02.

Eric July 14, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Quintana, the “voodoo chile”!

Gavin July 14, 2015 at 4:10 pm

So hard to watch the NBC sports coverage when there is twice as many commercials as there is race coverage. Five commercial breaks with less than a minute of coverage is a bit ridiculous. Back to eurosport pirates I suppose.

Interesting that Boom is out this morning. coincidence? Or potentially proof that the MPCC cortisol testing is in fact credible. I’m not sure of the answer but certainly worth looking into.

another Tom July 14, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Gavin, just in case you haven’t already, do try the VPN/paid Eurosport option as an alternative to the NBC coverage. Generally works very nicely…
http://inrng.com/2015/03/tv-pirate-feeds-vpn/

tom July 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm

The profiles of the finish climbs are irritating in that they count up the kilometres from zero.
They should count down so that 5km to go is labeled ‘5’, even if it comes at the 3rd or 8th or whatever kilometer in the climb. It just makes mental math easier if you are watching the stage and they are at 5km to go (as indicated in the graphic on the TV) you can quickly reference that spot to the climb profile

Seems obvious!!

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 4:57 pm

The worst, that could have happen – for the race, as well as for cycling in general – really did happen.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 5:10 pm

aye!

whippet July 14, 2015 at 5:19 pm

I just watched my last stage of the tour : (

BB July 14, 2015 at 5:02 pm

That was hilarious

Mike July 14, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Who is buying this? Utter joke

Adam July 14, 2015 at 5:20 pm

why mike? because the others aren’t good enough? that was a masterclass by Sky & Froome today. I’m pretty sure Froome gets tested everyday in yellow. So either the UCI is corrupt as in the past or he’s just better than the rest,

Mike July 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

No. Because from the time differences it seems that the rest couldn’t be bothered to train for this. Those time differences are only comparable to Lance’s demonstrations. First mountain and it is game over. Tour is over for me. I’m waiting for the Vuelta.

Vitus July 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm

+1

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Nibali has not been in consistent form all year.
Contador was – but at the Giro. Legs gone now. With thanks to Mr Tinkoff.
Quintana has barely raced all year, undercooked ?
TVG did what he does.
Is that not a plausible explanation ?

Adam July 14, 2015 at 5:49 pm

+1

Alex July 14, 2015 at 5:53 pm

This.

Nibbles was struggling at the vuelta to hold on the big climbs. Contador raced the Giro, and being human that took abit out of him. And on Quintana – I’m not even sure if undercooked – completely untested, so unknown unquantifiable quantity up until this point.

There has still not been any evidence of sky doping – when I set it, however small I’ll start believing but til then this just sounds like sour sour grapes.

Alex July 14, 2015 at 5:53 pm

ergh sorry
Nibali was not struggling not at the vuelta but at the dauphine…

Mike July 14, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Someone who is looking for it always finds a plausible explanation. I’m just not buying this. Remember what David Moncoutie once said? About being on the same level as the elite at the Dauphine and then million miles away at the Tour? Just a month later? Well, that’s what is happening now. The likes of Bardet, van Garderen and plenty of others were all within reach of Froome. Were are they now? For sure, some of them might have had an off day. But not all of them at the same time. And Porte 2nd and Thomas 6th? The latter would probably have been able to make it a Sky 1-2-3 if it wasn’t for Valverde. It was a laughable stage and an absolute anti-climax to everybody’s expectations for this Tour. Sky will probably take it easy now and conserve the lead they had. But for everyone who has been following cycling for the last 20 years the alarm bells are ringing.

Adam July 14, 2015 at 6:13 pm

If you think everyone is juiced why watch? There is only one proven champion in the field who is Contador, he also raced the Giro. Quintana may have won a Giro but against who? Likewise at the tour last year, the 2 favourites didn’t make the mountains. I don’t think Nibali is at the same level as Froome or Contador in the mountains. last year he won against nobody!

Human performance will always improve over time. Improved understanding of physiacl performane through – Improved sports science, improved training methods, improved nutrition & necessarily better PED

Augie March July 14, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Perhaps, Mike, you haven’t been paying as much attention as you think you have. If you had actually been watching cycling this year you might have recalled Richie Porte winning rather a lot, and always up steep climbs. Then you’d think on how he left after week two of the Giro and has taken it easy over the start of the Tour rather than fighting for position every day. Then you’d realise that in fact the result today was not really that surprising let alone “suspicious”.

Richard July 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Care to explain the performance of Porte then? Someone who raced the Giro, terribly as hell. You seem to like to draw equivalency between Nibali doing poorly all year and doing poorly now, but gloss over the fact that Porte stunk up the Giro in pathetic fashion in his camper van. I guess he must have been doing some hardcore training and visiting a lot of hotels that don’t allow interruptions for their guests.

Team Sky stinks to high heaven and it just looks like history repeating again.

The Inner Ring July 14, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Porte was very good in the Giro until he lost it with that wheel change and banged his knee in Forlì. He was matching Contador, Aru Landa on the summit finishes.

None of this convicts or absolves but if you must make such virulent assertions, do check the basis of what you’re saying first 😉

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm

I do agree about Porte Inrng, I made the same point below.
In fact, Sky as a team have come into the Tour in excellent form and with problems behind them.
It’s a reversal of last year ; crashes, illness etc.
And now the ill-luck has hit their rivals.
Your preview summary suggested that AC & VN could have problems today, with even a question mark on Quintana, and so it proved.

panyagua July 14, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Refill errr rest day was a smashing success for Sky.

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

The Fabulous Five becomes the OMG One !

Giuseppe July 14, 2015 at 5:29 pm

And it’s not only Froome … Porte was 2nd and Thomas 6th!!

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm

= UK postal.

G. Thomas up there among the best climbers in the world – doesn’t sound right to me.

Alex July 14, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Olympic gold medals not showing anything about form…?

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Olympic Gold on the track is not exactly the same as climbing a HC mountain. I don’t see Cavendish anywhere on the board today either.

Dan Frost, Olympic Gold in 1988, never outclimbed the likes of Lemond or Indurain.

Tovarishch July 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm

I think another team pursuit gold medallist got a couple of good results on the Tour. Which Olympic gold did Cavendish get?

frank July 14, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Ssirdave , and I don’t mean brailsford, must be a very happy man. Just one big ramp does anyone think a proper mountain stage like to beille will make any difference? And why is Thursdays stage on so early?

Alex July 14, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Have people not considered the fact that Sky are incredibly wealthy – so can afford some of the world’s best riders, kit, training and science.

I don’t particularly like Sky but the constant refrain of success = doping is a little dull.

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 6:36 pm

as we know, the trouble with cycling today is that the better the performance, the better the negative fuel for doubters. The sport has made it’s bed over the last 25yrs, and now it has to lie in it. When the internet fills up with ‘what a joke!…Sky 3 in the top 6, what are juice are they on?’ type comments, there is no answer because you can’t prove a negative.
You just have to decide yourself if you believe whether most of the peleton is clean, or not. If you don’t believe it, either accept it and carry on watching as entertainment or go and watch another sport (and I’d be interested to hear which sport you think is cleaner…).
There will always be cheaters out there somewhere, ahead of the testers etc, but for me this era just doesn’t have the tell-tail signs of the Armstrong era, other than outstanding performances now and again, but if it’s only good performances that we use to make judgements, then we may as well all call it a day and do something else.

Lanterne Vert July 14, 2015 at 11:33 pm

It was impressive but not amazing today. Amazing is Floyd Landis riding himself back into yellow in a solo breakaway over 4 mountains, for example. Amazing is not a 4 man Sky mountain train sitting in wait for 2 Movistar riders to tire, then putting the hammer down, and winning by a minute.

noel July 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm

sry that was me, didn’t mean to be anon.

Augie March July 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

+1 regardless. Well said.

I wish all those who seem to enjoy throwing out random doping accusations would just go back to The Clinic where such posts are greeted with an unmerited standing ovation.

NancyA July 15, 2015 at 12:24 am

+1 If only they could be sent there automatically! How I miss those happy days before CN closed its comments section.

Larrick July 15, 2015 at 2:30 am

That’s ok. It was too sensible to be Anon 🙂

Richard S July 14, 2015 at 7:01 pm

I’m not one of those ‘so and so won so they must be doping’ doom merchants, but I have to say that made me feel uncomfortable today. It might have been the best performance I’ve ever seen on a mountain finish. Then with Porte jumping past Quintana and Thomas – a classics specialist – 6th. It doesn’t look great, that’s all I’ll say. We’ll see how the rest of the Tour goes but it looks as good as over now. It was a strange day with all those climbers popping quickly but with Gallopin in the top ten too.

noel July 14, 2015 at 7:07 pm

I think you answered your own point there… G came in behind Valverde (winner of 2 classics this spring) and not far ahead of Gallopin…
Richie Porte might give TJVG a few sleepless nights though… TJ won’t want to finish that far behind on too many mountain tops, thinking about next years BMC pecking order…

Special Eyes July 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Some of us had Thomas down as a top 6 contender this year.
He’s approaching his peak now. Improved year after year.
I don’t think that his performance today was a major surprise.
Nor Porte really, he was on a very hot streak going into the Giro until luck conspired against him.
Unfortunately, for the rest, the signs were there this year.
Don’t forget the terrible news about Basso. Contador may not have slept well at all last night after that. He may know his family, someone with cancer, whatever. These guys are human you know.
Sky and Froome are on the crest of a wave. Once the confidence is going, performance levels improve.
No doubt about that.

Tyler July 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Froome will destroy cycling

Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 7:47 pm

please elaborate

Anonymous 2 July 14, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Most of us know there’s no elaboration needed. And many of the most might agree. I sure do.

J Evans July 14, 2015 at 7:56 pm

So much hope for this race and it’s all but over already.
Nibali should go home and focus on the Vuelta – pointless to continue in this race. (Giro for him next year: we’ve seen his true level now that his rivals aren’t Peraud and Pinot.)
Contador is nearly at that stage too – I can see him going for the Vuelta (if Tinkov allows it).
(Rodriguez should always have been focusing on the Vuelta.)
Contador: the myth is shown for what it is. Post-ban, he’s never been anywhere near as dominant.
Quintana is still a prospect, but the hype has been too much – been saying that all year. (Same with TVG, but most knew that.)
It’s 2013 all over again.
Only the most rabid Froome fan could be happy about today – two weeks of non-racing to go. Hugely impressive, but a total non-event. Even if he fell off it would be hollow victory for anyone else.
I suppose after what so many people here said about Astana during the Giro, we’re now going to have lots of comments about Sky and nefarious activities. Or not.
Surely, some of the ‘failed French’ have to go for the the KOM now.
Gallopin did well.
Carlton Kirby desperately needs to spend less time ‘imagining what might happen’ (at one point he’d all but decided that Gesink was riding to glory; and apparently Froome was feeling bad because his head was hanging down – yup, never seen him ride like that) and more time reading the numbers of riders and telling us who is in the various groups. Bad enough on flat stages when you have to endure him laughing at his own jokes.
And why can’t the French police do what the Spanish police do?

Larrick July 15, 2015 at 2:33 am

In a nutshell

Froome was impressive as much for others being below par as his own performance.

Mats July 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm

What I’ve heard Lance Armstrong won the race today. Just the way he always used to do. After the first day of rest. His team was superior as well. Isn’t it just great!

Lanterne Verte July 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I don’t share the pessimism, today was remarkable but could just be post rest-day, first mountain stage weirdness. It’s a bit dissappointing that Froome has such a big margin already but I look forward to seeing if anyone can chip away at his lead and there’s always bad luck and bad days even for team sky. Still 11 stages to go….

AK July 14, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Doping innuendo aside this sort of performance does take the suspense away. All we can do is hope Froome has some sort of breakdown soon, and we can have a race again. Not saying this out of Froome hate or anything, I would just have preferred a tighter competition.

PT July 14, 2015 at 11:57 pm

I agree to a point and hope it tightens up somehow over the next few days. The top ten is still interesting . Nevertheless, taking it at face value; well done Chris Froome and team.

J Evans July 14, 2015 at 8:14 pm

To all the people who are – or will be – saying it’s definitely doping, or that it’s definitely not doping, there is but one response:

You have no idea.

razorback July 14, 2015 at 8:26 pm

I think it can become an interesting race…
it will be easy for Sky as now they are fighting for second, so Sky will have other teams to defend from attacks, but both Contador and Nibali will likely try long range attacks and Quintana/Valverde will try to create gaps in the mountains.
TJ is the only one that most likely will only follow/defend without fireworks.
My highlights:
1) Nibali: Regarding Nibali, I have never seen he ahead of a good strong field. Maybe in one Tirreno-Adriatico (2014?), but overall he was always clearly behind. Shame that Astana told Fugsang to wait for him.
2) Poor team strategies: Actually team strategies today seams quite poor:
– Moviestar tried to be ahead of the field, and although managed to reduce the peloton, Sky would have done the same and Froome would probably attached much later and would have open a smaller gap (also explain in part why Sky had so many guys in top 10 today). lastly, Valverde attacks were also very week, opening no more than 10-20m (it did broke Contador though)
– Astana should given Fugsang a go
3) Quite impressed by Gallopin: I would imagine that he would be looking for some stage wins, but after today would he look for a GC? Is just me surprised?
4) Expecting more from Mollema: he did rode well past 2 TdF, (specially in mountains where he could hold of until last 4-5 guys), but loosing a lot of time in the time trial. This year he did an excellent one (for his standards), but lost power in the uphills.

Alex M July 14, 2015 at 9:24 pm

That cycling fans must endure watching Froome’s grotesque riding style is the only tragedy in this. It would have been nice to see how Contador at 100% might have fared, but we got to see some of that this spring. I’m half-Colombian and rooting for Quintana, but one nice thing about cycling is how it’s less tribal/regional than ball sports – I just root for whatever individual I happen to like. Froome seems a nice guy and a worthy #1, though he is an aesthetic disaster. Makes me want to root for an unrepentant doper like Valverde who has some style! Counter-intuitively, I think a day like this will make the remaining stages more exciting – breakaways with strong punchy riders (or Ryder) will have a better chance of succeeding.

Larrick July 15, 2015 at 2:36 am

Why is style so important though? It’s not sycronishised swimming.

I look at other sports and the ungainly footballers or the weird actioned bowlers or pitchers are still as relevant as those with a pleasing ‘style’.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked July 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

If I believed a proportion of comments on here I’d get the impression that very few posters actually ride bikes or “train” for any specific bicycle event. From my lowly 7-8 hrs a week riding, and sometimes training (if I’m lucky!) I did 2014 Ride London in <4hrs, 2015 Fred Whitton <8hrs, Velothon Wales ~4hrs. I'm nearer 50 than 40 haven't "raced" in 18 months.

If I was 20 years younger and could put 20-40 hrs a week in it would be reasonable to assume I'd go significantly better than the times above. If I then did 5hr rides on Tenerife and then paced behind a scooter or teammates at threshold for 30-60 mins I'd be another order of magnitude above that already good level. If I was already an Elite level athlete and then started this training regime where would I expect my fitness to take me?

This is sports science, it's so obvious that every other big budget team does exactly what Sky do (using ex Sky staffers!). Isn't Sky's modus operandi to get get all riders on a team as close to the leader's level of fitness?

Because humans are involved however the uncontrollable variables are numerous so your training and racing still have outcomes that aren't guaranteed. Which is what makes the sport compelling surely?

Given the pointers so far this season, the performances of several "contenders" in previously weakened-field GTs, the Olympic standard "engines" of "lieutenants who could be leaders anywhere else", the historical format of almost every first mountain stage in a GT why is there such surprise at today's results?

In the words of Jimi " … so hard to get through to you"

High profile dopers nearly always get caught or repent eventually. I'm willing to wait for the fallout from this generation but I'm happier viewing this era than I was in the 90s & 00s and I loved watching that!

Can't wait for all the races within races still to unfold and the usual unpredictable incident along the way.

gabriele July 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

I get what you mean and I’ve got some sympathy for your POV, still a good number of the assumptions you listed above aren’t as reasonable as you think. A minority are, I’d dare say.

And the word “science” is someway, how could I say?, *overused* – these days.

Hard it may be to believe, the majority of high profile dopers in cycling’s history haven’t been caught, I’m afraid – nor most repenters *really* repented (sort of a wild guess).

Still I’m totally with you on the “let’s watch” line, even if I didn’t love (personally) a good deal of what I viewed, sometimes back then. Nor I expect to love everything I’m gonna see nowadays, but what are we doing with that? Cry on forums? Let’s take what’s good. Cycling tends to provide some of that anyway, that is, one way or another.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked July 14, 2015 at 10:53 pm

Thanks Gabriele. I should have included more conditional tenses up there (especially about performance gains I, never mind others, might expect!) but I wanted to get my point out quickly, and I was implying that human variables are self evident from the GC board.

Ref high profile dopers, I think we all have names (long list!) in our head who should have been revealed by now, so that was just wishful thinking on my part.

I’ll hang onto the notion that it is science in this specific case, not sure what other category it would come under?

Really though I want the “it’s doping” moaners (they never break any laws governing their day to day lives…) to carry the crusade to far more deserving sports and leave those of us who don’t care either way to be entertained regardless. Why watch something in the hope your disappointment will be verified, that can’t be enjoyable?

The 100+ year old edifice of pro cycling is ingrained with doping and other nefarious deeds, we’ll never get that expunged. Life doesn’t appear to be fair so why should sport be any different? If people watch pro cycling holding onto the hope it will ever be viewed as “clean” please tell me why, how and when that will come to pass? Until then I’m content with the current spectacle.

Over and out.

Lanterne Vert July 14, 2015 at 11:40 pm

The heavy doping days carried far more romance, for me. You don’t dope if you’re not driven by some demon riding you, and that made for interesting stories. The contenders these days (for any jersey) are far more well adjusted and professional, and more boring.

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