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Tour Stage 19 Review

How do you define a champion? Maurice De Muer, manager of Luis Ocaña, described it as someone who was capable of acting alone to turn around a bad situation to their advantage. Does this fit Vincenzo Nibali? He’s been down out in France this July but was the only rider willing to take big risks today and earned the stage win.

The Skies opened on the Col de Chaussy. The opening climb saw a downpour that washed away a lot of Chris Froome’s helpers. Sky tried to filter the moves but got overwhelmed by the waves of attacks. Froome was almost isolated but nobody wanted to profit from it, it was early and there was a lot of climbing to come and before all of that a valley section to drain the legs of the bold.

A big move was clear and on the Col du Glandon Pierre Rolland went solo from this with 67km to go. Too much too soon? Not necessarily as he was climbing faster than the rest and it was better to make his move rather than hang around. But he’d fought hard to finish second yesterday, he’s accumulating efforts ahead of results. Three minutes later on the on the same section of road Geraint Thomas was dropped and saw his overall hopes wash away, another victim of the Glandon, a col that has ruined many riders over the years. At the finish he said he was “completely empty”.

The yellow jersey group started to get attacks with Alejandro Valverde going clear and the group shrinking. As they caught remnants of the breakaway Vincenzo Nibali attacked. The champion question posed at the top for Nibali is conditional because he jumped clear just as Chris Froome had a mechanical. Froome called it “unclassy”. Watching the replay you can see Nibali looking once, twice and then a third time at Froome before attacking only he said he didn’t see it on TV. Of course he did but he feels bad to admit it live on TV. Yet perhaps we should be grateful for the attack or for the stone that apparently lodged in Froome’s rear brake? Because the incident had no effect on Froome but at least made the stage come alive.

The French phrase of the day is la montagne accouche d’une souris or “the mountain gave birth to a mouse”, borrowed from a fable by La Fontaine, it means something big produces something small and today the giant Alpine stage didn’t deliver much. As the yellow jersey group rode up the final climb to La Toussuire the riders were in a long line with the likes of Ruben Plaza and Mathias Frank yo-yoing off and on the group, a sign that the pace was fast but not the fastest possible. Another clue was watching riders eat and drink a lot, Nairo Quintana was chewing solid foods and you half expected someone to pull out a sandwich, even a napkin.

It was with five kilometres to go that Nairo Quintana went clear and deployed his “double attack”, first an acceleration to get a gap and then as Froome came back the Colombian jumped again and began to distance Froome for good and take 30 seconds plus a six second time bonus. Vincenzo Nibali moves up to fourth place, 80 seconds off a podium place but he’s likely to pay for his efforts today even if Valverde is fading.

Romain Bardet wins the mountains jersey for a day but holds a slender lead and the double points on tomorrow’s summit finish tilts the competition to Froome. Meanwhile Peter Sagan wears green and André Greipel can only win if he wins the intermediate sprint tomorrow and takes the stage in Alpe d’Huez and then repeats with the intermediate sprint in Paris and the stage too. Put another way Sagan’s won the green jersey.

It sets up an action-packed final stage in the Alps tomorrow with the Croix-de-Fer and then Alpe d’Huez, all in just 110km. Nairo Quintana took 30 seconds in 5km on Froome which suggests he can ride away on the Alpe but for the stage win not the yellow jersey. All Froome has to do is manage a buffer of two and half minutes but without his team mates. Thomas cracked today, Richie Porte’s been on antibiotics, Nicolas Roche was dropped on the Glandon and only Wout Poels offers the guarantee of help.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sam I Am Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:40 pm

    Hate to say this, but why can I not get excited about Froome? Is he too good, or is it the too mechanical and almost ponderous way he has held on? Riding style? Who knows, but I don’t find myself (or anyone else I know for that matter) routing for him. I suppose it would be different and he were in 4th place and came storming back to win it all, I would feel differently, but for now call me “Uninspired.”

    • Watts Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:52 pm

      He doesn’t show his emotions. Think Anquetil Vs Poulidor – the calculating machine Vs the farmboy who cries when he rarely wins, thereby winning the public’s admiration. Anquetil was only recognized as the true champion he was, when he finally cracked in the late sixties and got beaten. Kind of true about Merckx too. The french hated him until he was made human by Thevenet on the 1975 tour.

      I think it’s admirable that he’s not selling himself to the cameras like Europcar do, grimaces for the camera etc. He’s just doing what he does best, no extra show.

    • calypso_king Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:08 pm

      You’re definitely uninspired.

    • Igam Ogam Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:09 pm

      It’s perfectly understandable that you are not inspired by Froome, totally normal behaviour. Personally I find his riding style is difficult to watch for very long.

      Last year, I stopped watching the tour after it became clear that Nibali would win, no matter how stylish his ride was it was not really very interesting because I don’t really trust his team and by association it’s rider. Similarly when Contador seems unassailable I can’t help but flick through the results online and watch a movie instead, a fantastic rider but he is also a sanctioned doper riding for a dubious team owner.

      It boils down to trust. You clearly believe there is some truth in the speculation going on about Froome’s performance. Myself, I take pleasure in seeing the success of his team, probably because I had a hint of what was coming when Dave Brailsford launched Sky. As it turns out Brailsford’s work has exceeded expectations and changed the face of the sport, hopefully for the good.

      For now I will give him my support and hope the team can find a strategy to diffuse the pressure they are under and perhaps persuade the media to take more interest in what other GT contenders teams are actually doing. Perhaps one day we will actually get to see the numbers for the likes of Contador of Nibali.

      If Froome is doping he WILL be caught and then he’ll be just like most other tour winner I can remember… For now I will give him the benefit of the doubt, he might turn out to be an exception the general trend.

      • jerome Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:28 am

        I think it just come down to the spectacle of sport, if the win is inevitable via an unassailable lead the joy just goes out of the event no matter the nationality or morals of the winner.

  • Tom Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:42 pm

    Think people are probably right about Nibali seeing Froome with a problem and then attacking, but when I saw the replay it looked like there was a rider between the two of them both times he glanced back. Worth double checking the sight angles.

    In any event, as someone not in GC contention I don’t see why he should have waited for Froome before pushing ahead. Presumably he and the team had planned the move beforehand.

    Maybe Froome was still miffed from being accused by Nibali of causing the crash in the earlier stages.

    Spats OK. Spits not OK.

  • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:43 pm

    Does the yellow stripe on his shorts represent last year’s overall?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:48 pm

      It matches his jersey, shoes, sunglasses etc

      • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:16 pm

        the above anon was maybe referencing nibali’s yellow stripe on his shorts? i’m curious as well. had not noticed that before.

  • TEA Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:47 pm

    Nibali knew exactly what he was doing, can you blame him in a sporting context? In a sportsman context it doesn’t look brilliant but neither does the issue with the spitting fans. Can’t help feeling that while today has improved the spectacle something of the soul of the race was lost today. I hope for a clean fight tomorrow and some charitable fans. Otherwise I’ll be remembering this tour for all the wrong reasons. Today should have been a day for rejoicing that we have some good battles ahead. I just feel a little bit depressed and to be honest despite having watched every minute on TV I’ll almost be glad when it’s over.

    • channel_zero Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:42 pm

      can you blame him in a sporting context?

      Once upon a time in cycling, yes. That courtesy is pretty much gone now. It’s very hard to have any empathy for him in the situation. He knows better.

    • Baroudeur Billy Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:10 pm

      “Something of the soul of the race was lost today”? Come on, it wasn’t the classiest move but it’s hardly the first time something like that has happened. The mechanical issue didn’t cost Froome that much time. His decision (and that of the other GC contenders) to let Nibali go was the bigger factor.

      • scomac2002 Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:37 pm

        Exactly! Froome just comes off like a whimpering choir boy! The only thing worse was the apologist imperialist, Phil Ligget dressing Nibali down on air for an insufferable length of time!

        • Bigringblog Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:59 pm

          Chaingate 2.0

        • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:03 am

          I thought Phil’s comments were pretty great, actually. What’s interesting is how he and Paul had seemingly forgotten why Nibali had won the stage when he crossed the line — “redemption for Nibali,” bah humbug!

      • Doubter Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:05 am

        Seriously, doesn’t this happen every TdF? Seems like we hear about it all the time.

        But I’m just here for the Anglo vs. Latin flame wars…..they hate us because of our freedom lol

      • Larrick Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:18 am

        channel_zero may have been talking about the spit that was captured by the cameras.

      • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:26 pm

        Even so, Nibali could have jumped off the front a handful of seconds later, or a handful earlier and people would be praising him for making the move. Instead, he chose to attack the yellow jersey during a brief mechanical. There were better choices to be made. To be honest, his conduct the whole Tour hasn’t been the most inspiring – mistaken hissy fit in the first week and so on. Slight surprise to me, really, I thought he was above all this.

  • weeclarky Friday, 24 July 2015, 7:49 pm

    a great stage! I think this has been a really exciting tour, breaks winning every day, followed by a GC race. The irony is that the fantastic first week we had means what could have been a last week of the yellow jersey changing hands is just a little out of reach. Still, great to see Nibali back, and someone finally beat Froome [and by enough for the doping questions to go to someone else for a change – come on cycling news et al, you can stir up some shit somehow!]. Gutted for Geraint though.

  • THWND Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:00 pm

    First hint of weakness by Froome in this year’s Tour, but I don’t think there is enough road left from Quintana to make up the difference. I would love to see the two of them go toe to toe at the base of the Alpe with the stage win and Tour on the line. After the debacle he had on the Alpe in 2013 I imagine Froome is amped to put in astrong performace. Froome will have to blow up badly tomorrow to lose the Tour.

    Nibali’s attack wasn’t the most sporting move, but he was attacking Valverde and Contador more than Froome.They were the riders who needed to worry about his move and neither of them had a mechanical. Why is Froome complaining about a rider 8 minutes behind? Nibali picking up a minute doesn’t matter at all for Froome. If anything it saved him some bonus seconds because Quintana finished second and would have had the stage win otherwise.

    • Special Eyes Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:20 pm

      That’s a fair point, I guess.
      It’s very interesting to see how a rider’s morale / psyche can make such a difference on their respective performance.
      Nibali was touted to, and no doubt was confident of, profit on the first week, yet (for a variety of reasons, some out of his control eg headwinds on the cobbles) came out behind with the race almost effectively lost.
      But he has dug in and today was back to the Nibali of last year.
      I actually hope he can maintain this form and that he rides well tomorrow.
      He’s a great all round bike rider to watch.

      Talking of morale, maybe that incident will provide extra steel and motivation for Chris Froome tomorrow also. He perceives an injustice. This feeling can be used to his advantage.

      • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:30 pm

        Frome was asked about Nibali’s unsporting move by the media: he did not volunteer an unsolicited complaint about it, but simply answered a question put to him.

        • Special Eyes Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:35 pm

          He was more explicit on an ITV4 interview shortly after the podium presentations. He was unhappy with Nibali’s move.

          • CM Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:43 pm

            He wasn’t bitchin. Froome was asked the question in that interview and answered when he was told Nibali denied seeing his difficulty, stopping with a mechanical.

    • ChuckD Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:34 pm

      The first hint of weakness from Froome because it was the first sign of a real attack from Quintana. Every other time he’s lept off only to sit up as if testing Froomie. This tour is Quintana’s to lose due to being overly cautious.

      • jerome Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:30 am

        +1

    • channel_zero Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:48 pm

      I would love to see the two of them go toe to toe

      That would not be to Quintana’s strength. The worst thing you could do with Froome is slack off enough to let him do his strange sit-and-spin attack.

      Froome is much, much stronger than anyone else. Either Quintana has found a weakness in pacing or something, or Froome “managed” the time loss. I’m inclined to believe the latter as it is normal stage racing strategy.

      • Doug Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:30 pm

        Agree, Froome is clearly targeting tomorrow and even said he was holding something back today for the Alpe. If there’s any chance of a stage win tomorrow then I suspect he will once again put a big gap to 2nd. Certainly hope it’s a lot more exciting than that though.

      • Foley Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:34 am

        Froome strongest, that’s the key. The cries of “Quintana/Movistar too conservative” are based on the assumption that they have little to lose, but in fact Nairo’s chance to win the Tour has been at stake every day, and he has protected it carefully and well. If Froome is the strongest, the calculation is that a long-range attack by Quintana is less likely to succeed than to result in a successful counterattack by Froome. No one is surprised that the opportunity for Movistar has not come, but it makes (made) sense to wait as long as possible for the odds to improve, rather than risk everything against bad odds before they were compelled to do so. We’ve seen enough of these new era climbing stalemates to know that a short dash to the line is often all that is possible without the risk outweighing the prospective reward. If one rider has any margin at all over the others (as Froome has now) it is a huge advantage for him, because given more road he can cover and then punish. Some might see this as self-defeating or negative approach (or just dull TV viewing), but the alternatives would very likely have resulted in a utter coronation scheduled days in advance.

        • ronytominger Saturday, 25 July 2015, 3:35 pm

          +1

      • ChuckD Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:07 am

        “found a weakness in pacing or something”? Wtf does that even mean.
        Froome was not holding back today and hasn’t held back throughout the tour. It’s made for a great race but what we saw today was a man strung out. Witness the brief stand-up he did. That wasn’t a search for more power as much as a personal ‘crack the whip’ to snap out of it. He did damage control today (yesterday) and the cards were on the table for all to see. If Quintana can get over the perceived awesomeness of Froome he’ll walk away from him at his own choosing.

    • bmj Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:51 pm

      But if Nibali drags along Contador or Valverde or Quintana, then Froome is caught out. I’m not necessarily judging Nibali’s actions, just making an observation.

  • Moyeen Islam Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:12 pm

    Great write up. Half remembered Latin lessons IIRC, the mountains and mice phrase comes from Horace?

  • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:13 pm

    We saw a great stage, a great fight by Frank, Rolland and others, a beautiful win by Nibali and how does it end? Many people are again more interested in the controversy, in “he did see it, he did not see it”, “he did lie, he did not lie” than in the actual racing. Instead of getting congratulations, a rider once more must explain his actions to us. And he could just as well say nothing, cycling fans will believe what they want anyway.

    • Motormouth Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:38 pm

      Agreed, I was going to make the same comment. I don’t get it. The interesting narrative is about a possible non-mechanical-mechanical issue?

    • Henrique Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:54 pm

      +1

    • ronytominger Saturday, 25 July 2015, 3:37 pm

      +1

  • Steve Billings Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:16 pm

    Was Bardet running wireless when he had the mechanical or was he on the same “traditional shift” bike as stage 18?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:18 pm

      The traditional version.

      • Othersteve Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:31 pm

        components Shram, Shimano, or Campy?

        • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:29 pm

          SRAM Red 22, according to a kind of “bike profile” elsewhere on a purply-coloured site I refuse to name 🙂

        • PT Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:28 pm

          SRAM. AG2R run SRAM this year and thats the only company with a wireless group in use (although not for sale) so far.

  • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:27 pm

    Quite hypocrytic from Froome tot call Nibali unsportive. Just recall the stage to Mur de Huy, the yellow jersey was involved in the big crash and it was Sky who didnot wanted tot wait and even start attacking.

    • Alex222 Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:24 pm

      Except it’s not hypocritical as that crash was within the last 3km so all the riders get the same time as the group they are riding with.

      • scomac2002 Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:44 pm

        There are countless incidents of big crashes resulting in attacks as “the race was on”. Perhaps the most egregious being OGE going full gas right to the line following the Massacre at Metz in 2012. To compare a stone in the calipers with some of the more questionable moves following pile-ups is simply ridiculous! Are you a professional bike rider or are you an amateur out for a Sunday friendly?

        • Alex222 Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:19 pm

          I personally don’t have an issue with Nibali’s attack, as you say the race was on.

      • Den Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:22 pm
      • Kyle Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:41 am

        No. He’s talking about Cancellara and that crash was far from 3k.

        Tony Martin’s was inside 3k but not on the Mur de Huy.

        • Alex222 Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:59 am

          Good point. Apologies was thinking of Mur de Bretagne

  • Motormouth Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:35 pm

    Here is my wild man forecast for tomorrow:

    Nibali just set off a grenade for the top 5 GC riders. I think Sky as a team didn’t look all that great, and neither did a few other indv. riders. I bet a lot of guys are nervous for tomorrow now and Quintana is the man who can blow it all up for the top 5. If Quintana got confidence from today (and from the team’s recon on the rest of Sky that I am sure they were checking out), maybe he makes a move that could actually get him into 1st. This blows up Sky’s pace setting forcing Froome to do his own work, and maybe he can’t hang and cracks, giving Quintana a gap on him taking over 1st. Qinty’s pace drops Valverde again, or maybe he set the move up, while Nibali continues his good form tomorrow and picks up another 1.20 and gets 3rd. And dark hose Contador out of nowhere makes a move as well, thinking he can make up 2.30 on both of them tomorrow and now we have a 3 way fight for 3rd-5th.

    Other teams contributing to stage pace setting: now the time gaps at the bottom of the top ten are a bit spread out and the only team seeming in danger of dropping off are Europcar with Rolland in 10th by less than a minute over Talansky (who he beat today), and I can’t see them contributing all that much to controlling the race in cahoots with Sky, even if they wanted to. That only leaves Tinkoff possibly acting as the “Movistar Wet Blanket of the Stage” if Contador is really struggling as they are still looking strong (though I don’t think Gesink is really a threat to him, but please let him prove me wrong of course).

    This whole scenario is predicated on Quinty being the one to make the strong gc attack, otherwise it’s a totally different game if say Nibali attacked again.

    ok, that’s all I got from fantasy land.

    • J Evans Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:21 pm

      Or they all ride conservatively, as they did today and almost every other day.

      • bmj Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:54 pm

        And why not? At the end of the day, the team needs to secure sponsorship. What better way to do that than put two riders on the podium? If Quintana tries a long range move and blows up, he tumbles down the GC. On the other hand, this parcours was uniquely suited to a rider like Quintana, with minimal TT miles. It may be a few years before he sees another TdF that is basically served to him on a platter.

        I think sitting in second or third in a grand tour is probably the toughest spot for a rider and team, particularly if time deficits are greater than two minutes. It’s pretty unlikely that someone can make up that time (unless the leader isn’t a strong climber or TT rider), but conventional wisdom says that rider should always look for opportunities to attack. As I mentioned above, I think the current climate of sponsorships means the team has to look for the best possible result, and not risk podium places for a shot at the top step.

        • J Evans Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:15 pm

          Why not?
          Boring.
          And not what sport is about.
          I’m not interested in the commercial aspects.

    • Motormouth Saturday, 25 July 2015, 3:55 am

      man, I hope not.

      • Motormouth Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:00 am

        hate not being able to edit!

        but to add: I do understand the conservative view in endurance sports (I also love motor racing), sometimes you gotta throttle back and save the tires even if the engine can rev.

        But on the other hand… it’s the last real contested stage, they have to make a real attack. “Waiting until the last climb” simply isn’t a valid strategy against these guys. The pace will be too fast to launch an attack and anyway, that is how Sky trains and attacks.

        An alternate take is: they don’t have the legs to ride any differently. The teams have definitely been probing but maybe they just can’t make a move stick.

  • J Evans Friday, 24 July 2015, 8:51 pm

    All the (over-hyped: too weak on the flat, as I said pre-race) talk about him pre-Tour and Quintana happily riding for second. Pointless, as I said above. (And predictable.) And just as pointless and predictable to leave his attack so late.
    Even when Froome unclipped, NQ did nothing. If you’re 3 mins back, you have to attack from long range.
    What if he had?
    And people criticise Froome for being a dull rider.
    It’s always tomorrow.
    No surprise that Valverde rode for top three – made a career of it.
    Fourth TDF running that the GC has been a non-event.
    I notice Sean Kelly is surprised that nowadays riders are focused on a top ten place. Seems to be for ‘getting a contract’ reasons: I don’t see any point in employing a rider who is a reliable 5th-10th.
    I’d happily ban spectators – at least from mountains. (‘How would you enforce that?’ you say? Savage beatings.)
    Someone wondered in the preview if Froome would be wary of the crowds if attacking alone and there seemed plenty of hostility (particularly illogical as he was behind Quintana, but there you go). Certainly, he should be on the cretin-fest that is d’Huez.
    Christ that was tedious today (after the initial burst): this is why I still like Contador – he attacks so much more than others.
    Why do they read out ‘tweets’ on the TV? I’ve never heard an interesting one. Today’s was ‘Is Thomas being saved for tomorrow?’ No, he’s not a grand tour top five rider and he’s knackered.

    • Garuda Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:02 pm

      5th to 10th on a good year could be 2nd to 3rd on a great year. See tdf 2014. And to some extent tdf 2013.

    • Baroudeur Billy Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:18 pm

      It’s easy to be a tough guy in your easy chair and say things like “Second place is the first loser,” but when you’re actually competing against the best in the world, a top 10 finish is pretty darn impressive. And often, the real difference between a top 5 guy and a top 10 is just the team around him. If you can land two top 10 guys on your team, you greatly increase the chances of one making the podium.

      Also, when you’re in the top 10, you’ll get a lot of television coverage, which team sponsors like quite a bit.

      • J Evans Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:42 pm

        So, you really don’t think that Quintana should have attacked earlier?
        You’re honestly not wondering if he could have taken more time?
        And you really didn’t think – this morning – ‘he should attack early’?
        He needed to go on the Croix de Fer ideally – no flat bits after that so it would have been mano a mano.
        Quintana’s had one 2nd place already, so another isn’t worth much. (It is if you’re a Peraud or a Pinot, but Quintana is no longer up-and-coming, nor is he achieving a late career high.)
        “And often, the real difference between a top 5 guy and a top 10 is just the team around him.” – hardly ever the case: in GTs, it’s almost always decided individually in the mountains and/or in TTs.
        “Also, when you’re in the top 10, you’ll get a lot of television coverage, which team sponsors like quite a bit.” – yes, as i say it’s “for ‘getting a contract’ reasons”. But do, say, Trek really get that much publicity from Mollema’s performance? Surely, they’d get a lot more from a stage win. Or a polka dot jersey. Like Kelly, I can’t see any great worth in coming 8th – far better to win something. And Kelly should know with his 16 2nd places on TDF stages.

        • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:06 am

          I do agree that Quintana should have attacked earlier. If he, a Giro winner, is fighting to protect second place, that’s pretty ridiculous. I don’t think that’s his actual plan but I don’t really know what Movistar is thinking.

          I was talking more in general about the value of a top-10 finish.

    • ChuckD Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:15 am

      “I’d happily ban spectators – at least from mountains. (‘How would you enforce that?’ you say? Savage beatings.)”

      I’ve had fantasies of some of our local high-cap snowplows….in formation.

    • Kit Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:14 am

      To be honest, I think NQ didn’t attack because he couldn’t – pace was vicious up the Croix de Fer and Q is not a great descender sho would have just lost it all again. And to me this fits the Nibali attack too – attacking any other time, Sky would just have throttled everyone again. The whole race has just been Sky throttling everyone. Nibali needed Sky to blink to get anywhere. Quintana needed the race to fit him and Sky to be depleted.
      The opening week of this tour was brilliantly exciting. The last two have been Sky strangling everyone, and whether one likes Sky or Froome or not, I’m sick of strangling.

  • Will Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:24 pm

    “The Skies opened”

    Very clever. Bet you’ve been saving that one for a while. 😉

  • Alastair S Friday, 24 July 2015, 9:25 pm

    Don’t have much of a problem with Nibali attacking when a rival has a mechanical (Froome probably wouldn’t have responded in any case) but I do have a problem with him lying about it afterwards. As someone might have said “not classy”.

  • the real jhutch Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:05 pm

    Nibali was clearly setting himself up for an attack when Froome had a problem, given that I think the attack was fine…but why deny that you knew Froome had an issue?? Nibali would not have attacked without knowing where Froome was, he’s far to much of a pro for that… Nibali man up, what you did was fine…not admitting was the TV clearly shows is weak!

  • Backmarker Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:05 pm

    I thought this quote from Nibali was interesting: “Before judging, you need to think and use your brain. We’re all nervous after the stage but he (verbally) attacked me. But I didn’t reply, I didn’t say anything.” I know stage 6 was a long time ago, but didn’t he do exactly that when he thought Froome caused that accident?

    Can’t wait for tomorrow.

  • Duncan Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:13 pm

    Another Rolland Energy Wasting Attack (TM) ? Shame, is there any news on Europcar future?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:56 pm

      Difficult for Rolland, he keeps coming close but each miss means heavier legs the next day.

      No news on Europcar, they don’t have a sponsor. At least one rider has signed elsewhere already and that’s making team manager Bernardeau annoyed. But the sponsor was courteous enough to inform the team it was ending its sponsorship back late in 2013 to if there’s no new sponsor by now it’s hard to imagine anything being rustled up this week. The team could continue on a reduced scale as a pro conti squad but without the headline sponsor many riders will leave, other sponsors will quit and that doesn’t leave much to run a small team on.

  • Lee Woodhead Friday, 24 July 2015, 10:45 pm

    I thought Froome looked vulnerable yesterday & today but Quintana has not been confident enough in his own form to attack. I hope he has a proper go tomorrow.

  • GeorgeY Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:06 pm

    Well, I guess that the Shark didn’t follow Mr Rimg’s advice and instead of a gelato he nipped Froomie. 🙂

  • Macca Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:35 pm

    When Froome gained his time on the first mountain stage the only way NQ was going to be able to get the jersey was by going on an attack early on, when there was enough road to cut the deficit. Attacking with only few km to go is only ever going to get seconds, not minites. Don’t think it’s helped that AV wants to cement that podium spot so is probably less willing to attack Froome and possibly blow up. Let’s hope NQ is a bit more adventurous tomorrow.

  • Anonymous Friday, 24 July 2015, 11:43 pm

    Is there not a chance that once Thomas cracked today and therefore the podium/top 10 was gone he was told to ride within himself and save his legs for tomorrow?

    • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:02 am

      Not what he said.
      Heard this a lot.
      Fans trying to make excuses.
      Totally unnecessary for him to do this – and why lose his placing?
      And if he had done that, he’d have said so.

    • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:13 am

      He’s never finished in the top 20 of a Grand Tour in his career. I think he simply hit his limit.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:54 am

    I don’t think Nibali was so much looking at Froome having a mechanical, he may have been communicating with his team mate who was in Nibali’s direct line of vision in front of Froome. Just an observation from the overhead camera. No great drama really, another mountain out of a mole hill really. Gives some of the gutter press something to chew over.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:24 am

    Wait….how was Nibali suppossed to know the Froome had an issue? All he saw was that Froome was dropping back. I guess next time there is an attack there should be an announcement over the radio…” Is everyone doing OK cause if so, Nibali is going to try to go off the front. Everyone OK with that?”

    • GB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:47 am

      I was thinking also, even if Nibali looked at him three times the nature of the mechanical (rock in caliper) seems like something that would be hard to identify as a mechanical from a distance, not like a dropped chain would be.
      Honestly, Nibali probably knew but I’m finding it hard to muster any indignation about it.

      • Kit Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:18 am

        Nibali looks back to see Froome looking down at his wheel with an odd cadence, why would he think anything was wrong? 😉

  • reb Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:35 am

    I think no one has pointed out the following:
    NQ did not make his attack till 5 Km remaining ,
    yet 3 minutes to make up.
    This was ” too little, too late” as they say.
    I suspect that he is NOT nearly 100 % and instead of going from 15 km
    out , had to wait till only 5 km was left.
    On another note:: Nibalis attack was perfectly timed
    and I think CF will regret his sour grapes , whiny reaction to it.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:43 am

    Froome: Powder dry. Check. Big finish tomorrow.

    • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:15 am

      I expect him to do well on Alpe d’Huez, but I thought he expended a fair amount of energy today, going solo to protect the jersey over those last 5K.

      • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:47 pm

        Yes but surely Quintana expended as much if not more in his attack to gain those 30 seconds or so? It’s set up for an intriguing final stage.

        As an aside, are the French newspapers going after Quintana? Yesterday Froome at least looked like he’d been riding hard for three weeks or so – Quintana has been with him most of the time, they’ve sparred on the climbs until now, but then off Quintana goes on this stage gaining 30 seconds. For the purposes of furthering my own knowledge (i.e. not accusing anyone of anything) how is it any less suspicious than stage 10?

        • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:58 pm

          The “French newspapers” didn’t go after Froome that much. Liberation and LeMonde raised questions but they have a long history of enjoying undermining the Tour which is, after all, owned by a rival media group. Jalabert was clumsy on his RTL radio show too. Most of the criticism comes from the internet around the world. We’ll see today, if Quintana wins then it’s probably a matter of seconds until someone says he trains in Colombia and doesn’t get tested there etc.

          • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:29 pm

            Jalabert was not ‘clumsy’ – he knew precisely what he was doing. Hence, he said that Froome was ‘on another planet’ – widely used as ‘code’ for doping during the Armstrong era.
            Taking out the ‘newspapers’ part (which was not the pertinent part of BenW’s comment) is the media – French or otherwise – indulging in the same reaction to Quintana’s performance yesterday?
            If not, how do they justify this? After all, Quintana put 30 sec into the almost superhuman Froome.

          • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:50 pm

            And then he didn’t even have the guts to admit what he said – stupidly, as he was recorded, obviously.
            I loved Jalabert as a rider – was so impressive to see him go from borderline sprinter to GC contender (how many riders have won the polka dots and green jerseys on the TDF and not the yellow – is this unique?).
            And I accept that he was only doping in much the same way as almost everyone else was.
            But his journalism is atrocious.

  • Doubter Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:58 am

    INRNG……you are peaking at the Tour de France as well, friend. Between this article and your montre/monstre quip yesterday, you are putting on a masterclass.

    Chapeau, thanks for all the time and effort

  • SilverSurfer8 Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:10 am

    I agree Nibs attack was not classy. However, this is not a ‘classy contest’, it’s a race. In other racing sports, do the racers wait for competitors when they have mechanicals? I think not!

    I do love the feud between Froome and Nibali though! Adds another facet.

    You can tell Froome really wants to win the stage tomorrow. Hold on folks, this is gonna be fun!

  • Anonymous Coward Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:52 am

    Unclassy? Didn’t Froome hit Valverde on this stage? Far worse offense, IMHO.

    Karma, I think, from two years back.

    • bb Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:59 pm

      @Anonymous Coward “Didn’t Froome hit Valverde on this stage?”

      Watching live it did look like Froome struck out at Valverde’s face. Did Valverde strike out also?

      Nick Bull (Cycling Weekly) tweeted that it was brought up at the press conference but Froome “shut it down”

      Is it within the UCI rules to strike another rider?

  • Baroudeur Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:54 am

    This a totally selfish and unnecessary comment but I will say it because I need to please my ego: I am glad Geraint Thomas cracked today. I do not like this rider, and felt he did not deserve to be treated like a worthy rider. He is now back where he belongs. I know this is a nasty comment but rest assured it only comes from a deeply immature man (to be). I feel better.

  • Luigi Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:28 am

    As Froome said last week “I won’t reply to Nibali attacks, he’s far behind”. Why should Nibali put Scarponi in front of the bunch and then avoid to attack because someone far away from him has a problem? Froome was unlucky to get that stone at the end of the Croix, all the lessons of fair play are ridiculous – I saw some riders attacking on the climb to pra loup, very unrespectful of Contador crash…

    I don’t understand Quintana. He prefers to use his domestiques to control the race and protect Valverde’s third place instead of daring on the Croix or the Mollard.

  • Flashing Pedals Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:03 am

    I agree that Froome was isolated yesterday & vulnerable, which is when Nairo exploited that. Unfortunately, perhaps too late in the race. Nibali exploiting a mechanical, no class. Yes, it’s racing, but it’s not in the spirit of le Tour, which is still alive, amongst some.
    Concern that as l Alpe d’Huez is the stage where every spectacular idiot try’s to get on TV whilst riders are racing past, Jalabert & Vasseur’s caustic comments, may incite further ugly incidents, which could determine the stage, or even races outcome.

    If, Prudhomme finally acts on anything, after this years race, let’s hope it’s improved rider hotels (because the race organisation wouldn’t stay in the same “quality” of “pull out sofa rooms” no air con, teams got) and rider safety, because mountain side “fans” are becoming more dangerous

  • Lou Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:08 am

    I was delighted to see nibali win, he’s been trying to put in an attack on each of the last few stages and races in an a far more entertaining style than the boring chris froome. Just cannot warm to froome, he reminds me a bit of Armstrong. Having a go at nibali after the race is exactly the type of thing Armstrong would have done. Nibali was no threat on gc at 8 minutes anyway and there was 60k to go.

  • Megi Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:21 am

    Intriguing cliff hanger at the end of third last paragraph. “…. even if Valverde is.” I’d love to know what Valverde is ….doing…..feeling….up to?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:36 am

      “Fading”, he’s falling off the pace right now and beginning to suffer. He lost a shot at the podium in the last mountain stages last year.

  • Simundo Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:39 am

    I can’t watch Romain Bardet without this going through my head. Just saying.

    SL2 – On A Ragga Tip https://youtu.be/9XFkqxafdPc

    • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:49 pm

      HAHA! So glad it’s not just me who hears that song.

    • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:54 pm

      Gold.

  • Macca Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:56 am

    BTW did anyone else notice Maika do a little cross-check in front of Froome and slow down when Quintana attacked. Not saying its good/bad, just something I noticed at the time that helped Quintana make his attack stick.

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