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Tour Stage 20 Review

The first will be last and the last will be first. FDJ’s Alex Geniez attacked first and was the last of the early breakaway to be caught while Thibaut Pinot was sat at the back of the peloton at the start and was the first to win the stage.

Nairo Quintana took the fight to Chris Froome with a series of attacks, his last chance to take first place.

Geniez was the first to attack and was joined by three others who quickly rode away with the bunch happy to take it easy for as long as possible, to save themselves for the intense efforts ahead. On the Col de la Croix de Fer Ag2r were pulling for Romain Bardet to help his bid to defend the polka dot jersey with Jean-Christophe “Tutankhamun” Péraud leading the pace. It’s a long pass and the action happened once the race reached the small road that winds up beyond the ski resort. Alejandro Valverde made the first serious attack from the yellow jersey group, the move was perplexing for those expecting him to defend his podium place, a bold gamble. It all became clear when Nairo Quintana attacked: Valverde was acting as a replay point. José Serpa helped Quintana too and conspiratorial types will note a meeting with Quintana last night.

Sky chased and Froome assumed the work himself when Vincenzo Nibali attacked, their rivalry spurring the yellow jersey into what looked like a personal pursuit. If anything Sky could have let Quintana go it alone with the long descent and the flat Romanche valley section. Keep him at 30 seconds so that by the time the Colombian started the Alpe he’d be fried.

It was just over the top that the race split and Thibaut Pinot surged past Richie Porte to join a move with Ryder Hesjedal, Pierre Rolland, Ruben Plaza – a 35 year old revelation of the Tour – and others. With Geniez up the road Pinot could sit tight in this group as Lampre-Merida and Cannondale-Garmin chased along the Romanche valley. Onto the Alpe and Pinot could still sit tight but this time with only Ryder Hesjedal left to follow. With its smooth surface and wide bends sitting on a wheel helps even on this slope.

In the second race of the day Nairo Quintana launched the early attacks. To use words like “jump” or “attack” is to attribute too much action, he lifts the pace and pulls clear, if caught he repeats this. Movistar got the team work going again with Valverde up the road and Quintana rode across to finally distance Sky. When Valverde couldn’t stand the pace Quintana soon picked up Winner Anacona, his Colombian team mate, named after an Alpe d’Huez stage winner*. It was a day to underline the importance of teamwork:

  • With Geniez up the road Pinot could sit tight and force others to chase
  • Sometimes accused of racing for himself Valverde was an exemplary team mate and Anacona was a great help for Quintana too
  • Froome was paced by Porte and Poels for much of the climb

Pinot finally ditched a valiant Ryder Hesjedal, once again the Canadian seems the type who’d lobby for a four week grand tour as he’s often stronger the longer a race goes on. Pinot too has staged a recovery after a bad opening where many wrote him off. He’s got a tattoo on his arm of solo la vittoria e bella and today he took the beautiful win he wanted. He certainly picks them having taken the Queen Stage of the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse this year too.

Nairo Quintana threw everything he and Movistar had at Froome but the yellow jersey rode a safe race, if Quintana wanted to ride away then so be it, Froome had a cushion of time to give away and set about pacing himself. He was losing time but not drastically so and his lead never looked under threat.

No mention of Alpe d’Huez is complete without the crowds. It’s rowdy in places and you could hear the boos as Froome rode up but at the finish you could hear the cheers when he collected his yellow jersey. Bocht 7 was as packed as ever with the beer flowing free. Adam Hansen finished 124th today and there’s just some laps of Paris before completing his twelfth consecutive grand tour.

Peter Winnen

* Dutchman Peter Winnen won two stages on Alpe d’Huez in 1981 and 1983 (pictured beating Jean-René Bernaudeau, the Europcar manager). Anacona Senior named his son Winnen but the story goes that hospital staff were confused, Winnen is hardly a Hispanic name. Maybe the form said “Winner”? This was what got written on the birth certificate.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:26 pm

    At least Quintana can now say to himself ‘I tried’.
    But what if he’d tried a bit more often and a bit earlier in stages/on final climbs, and with more commitment? (Easy to say from my sofa? Yes. Easy and obvious. Movistar’s tactics were dreadful – far too conservative, as Quintana proved today.)
    And, indeed, Quintana must be thinking what if I rode for a team with more gumption in crosswinds – I’m sure the arithmetic won’t be lost on him (or others). But he also has to take part of the blame for that: nothing to stop him riding on the back of other teams (same goes for all the others who lost time in Zeeland).
    Quintana’s ride today made for more interesting viewing, but no real GC drama – it was impossible to delude oneself into thinking that he could take 2.5 mins.
    Clever tactics by Sky (words I never thought I’d say a couple of years back) to rest Porte yesterday.
    Can’t wait to hear what Jalabert thinks of Quintana’s ride. (Or Froome’s relative weakness: over the three weeks, Quintana was faster up mountains. Or perhaps this is all part of Sky’s strategy to cover their doping.)
    Most incredible sight of the day for me were the pictures of Alpe d’Huez from 1984. The crowd standing well back, clapping. No runners, nobody getting in the way.
    I said it when the route was announced and since, it’s time to have a good few years away from d’Huez, in the hope that the idiots will go away.
    The riders should not have to go through the likes of Dutch corner – Froome seemed to take a lot of ‘encouraging slaps on the back’ – and why is that area not barriered (it’s known as the worst bit of crowd in the world)?
    Respect to Froome for the bravery to ride through all that – not to mention the flobbing – I wouldn’t fancy it.
    Chapeau Pinot.

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:57 pm

      JE,
      It was a great stage, and fantastic viewing.
      Races within races, breakaways, jerseys up for grabs, team tactics and Latin conspiracies, crosswinds, moves, descents, mechanicals, and finally that epic and brutal climb – was Quintana actually smiling as he was driving upwards !?

      Quintana has taken about 2′ in the Alps. Nothing more, with the background of an oppressive heatwave, could have been achieved here.

      Possibly in the Pyrenees. Movistar may look back at opportunity lost there, though Froome and Sky were still very strong at that point.

      No, the race was lost on the flat Zeeland stage 2.
      A freak wind / rain storm that descended on the stage like an Act of God. In a matter of 1-2 minutes, to have failed to have been in position at the front of the peleton at that time, was to have been blown off the top podium spot.

      • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:02 pm

        You can mitigate against the crosswinds – Movistar didn’t.

      • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:19 pm

        And you don’t know – no-one does – what Quintana could have gained (that’s just a belief) if he’d been more adventurous. He might have come fifth.
        He might have won. Could he have gained 1 min 20 sec if he’d have attacked on Croix de Fer yesterday? Don’t know. What you did know was that if he attacked too late, he could not win.
        Today’s stage was good, but it was one of only two stages in the mountains where anything significant happened on GC.

        • haps Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:58 pm

          I tend to agree that a more adventurous might have…
          I also think that Unzue and his gang were speculating in – 2nd and 3rd place plus team qualification is not too bad, a more agressive Nairo might have cost Valverde his first podium in the tour.

          last thursday this was a rather disappointing tour, today some of the spark came back – already looking forward to next year…

          • dave Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:19 am

            *(Movistar like Nibali were caught behind a crash Stage2 – I think the performance in TTT shows they’re unlikely to be that weak in cross winds if well positioned – they’re not exactly FDJ-weak. & you’re far too harsh on their tactics, until the last week when illness swept through the Sky camp, Sky & F were extremely strong, there was only so much Movistar could do? Froome’s has been relentlessly attacked the entire last week (Quintana himself rode on the first climb three days ago) and he’s been magnificent really? Only so much Movistar could do – I don’t think protecting 3rd has ever come into their race plan? Valverde’s gone again and again and again this last week. Pretty selfless)

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:57 am

            dave, we just don’t know. If Q had attacked early on Croix de Fer, who knows?
            This illness in Sky: are they actually saying the Froome is ill or are people just assuming that because of his performance the last two days?

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:00 pm

            Also, were Movistar caught behind a crash – didn’t hear much about that at the time.
            Nibali wasn’t: we all saw he was there and told Dennis to do the work, as he was in yellow.

          • Special Eyes Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:16 pm

            JE, there was a crash on a roundabout just before the storm hit.
            As I said, it was almost an Act of God.

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:30 pm

            Doesn’t mean that Movistar were blocked by it. Nibali wasn’t. People lie.

          • Special Eyes Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:10 pm

            Astana and Movistar were within / towards the back of the peleton, as I recall, just before the crash.
            The crash delayed their ability to react just as the storm came in.
            At this point, Tinkoff Saxo put a surge in at the front. I presume race radio communication was updating them and told them it was good to go.
            Nibali was split from his team mates and tried to bridge up, but found himself in a small group where no one would do the work, least of all himself. Several team mates did get to him but too late. He also had a later puncture to compound things.
            Whilst Movistar were in a second group split up off the back.
            Chance, ill-luck and the elements combined, but their initial mistake was to have been riding at the back. A mistake that they did not repeat thereafter.

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:19 pm

            So, you agree: bad tactics by Movistar, and by Astana and Nibali.

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:19 pm

            No proof that the crash caused the split.
            One thing for sure; it wasn’t the baby Jesus or any other gods.

    • Dour Scot Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:18 pm

      Presumably Quintana would have tried earlier if he had the energy to do that – clearly he didn’t.

      • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:14 pm

        Do you know that?

        • Augustas Pablo Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:29 pm

          do you know that he did?

          • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:33 pm

            No. That’s why I said ‘But what if…’, rather than stating facts I can’t possibly know.

          • Augustas Pablo Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:06 pm

            True that.

    • Augustas Pablo Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:28 pm

      “it’s known as the worst bit of crowd in the world” – hardly,
      http://tiny.cc/9y010x
      http://tiny.cc/m0010x
      http://tiny.cc/x1010x
      http://tiny.cc/d2010x
      http://tiny.cc/g3010x

    • Tom Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:01 pm

      Certainly it’s true that to have won they would have needed to go faster!
      As a team though Movistar made a superb effort today. First time I’ve seen Valverde ride for the greater good.

    • BenW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:43 am

      “Can’t wait to hear what Jalabert thinks of Quintana’s ride. (Or Froome’s relative weakness: over the three weeks, Quintana was faster up mountains. Or perhaps this is all part of Sky’s strategy to cover their doping.)”

      This times 1000. I’d say I’m looking forward to the clamour for Quintana’s data for the past couple of days, but I’d be waiting a lifetime. That’s not to say I think he’s clean or otherwise (not a clue, and I don’t let it get in the way of enjoyment), just I know he won’t face the same media scrutiny. Speaking of which – I’m now totally undecided as to whether the release of the power data was a good idea after stage 10. It shut the media up a little bit, but also didn’t seem to satisfy them either because some still doubted it, and it was also giving them what they wanted which puts them in a position of power for the next time.

      You’re right, it’s a big no to Alpe D’Huez, for a little while at least, from me as well. The runners, slappers and spitters aren’t what the sport needs and its the one thing I really dislike about the sport – I simply can’t understand the mentality of the fans to be honest.

      Chapeau to Pinot though. Fabulous ride and a well-deserved win after the travails of the past few days. And to Quintana too, for doing all he could. He looked on the limit. Shame that Garmin came up short though, they’ve been close several times this Tour.

  • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:59 pm

    Funny thinking back to the cobbled stage and the sympathy I felt for the little guy bouncing around the road, today he was nothing short of majestic. If Quintana could get a team to ride solely for him for the full 3 weeks, barring mishaps/illness, surely he’d be unstoppable. I wonder how many Grand Tours he’ll have by the time he is 30?
    I’m very happy for Pinot after the disappointments he’s suffered at this year’s Tour. Despite the flak he’s kept fighting. Terrific performance by Ryder too.
    I must admit to being incredibly tense watching Froome and seeing the gap to Quintana growing inexorably, albeit never fatally. For a man criticised as a bit of a robot it was his aggressive riding in the first half of the race that proved decisive, after that it was all about the ticker – and a superb team.
    That Winner story is ace!

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:12 pm

      So was the ‘Tutankhamun’ line !

    • Dour Scot Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:21 pm

      Quintana looks like a great in the making but he still has improvement to make – he’s average at time trialling and his descending is suspect. He also needs some experience defending the jersey and taking flak – it’s easier to come from behind than to defend from the front because you have nothing to lose.

      • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:17 pm

        If the time trial is hilly I don’t see too much of a problem but there is of course definite room for improvement. Also, I agree with you about it being harder to defend from the front, however Quintana appears such a natural talent that with any kind of form I believe he will trust his ability to prevail. For me the only question involves the team around him. It’s exciting to think what he could achieve.

      • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:33 pm

        Quintana successfully defended the pink jersey in the Giro in 2014, so I don’t know if that’s an issue. Time trialing could be though.

        • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:48 pm

          TT will be the big issue. Name the riders who have won the TDF since the early 80s (I don’t know before then), whilst having a not-so-good TT.
          1988 – Delgado (Lemond and Fignon not in the race)
          1998 – Pantani
          2006 – Pereiro (gifted 30 mins)
          2010 – Schleck (if you count that)

          • Baroudeur Billy Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:41 am

            On the other hand, I’m not sure who his rivals will be over the next five years. He’s 25 and everyone else in the top five of this year’s Tour is 30 or older.

          • Baroudeur Billy Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:40 am

            I imagine Aru and Landa are the most logical candidates, but I’m not 100% certain they’re as good as him in the mountains.

          • ronytominger Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:27 am

            theyre not, just some weeks back contador showed them their right place.

          • BenW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:49 am

            @ Barrodeur Billy the Yates twins are in with a shout. The next couple of seasons will be exciting – they’re what, 22? A little younger than Nairo was two seasons ago on his breakthrough in the tour so time is on their side.

    • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:25 pm

      This was potentially Quintana’s best shot in a long time: his time trial is poor for a GC contender (lost a bundle to Uran in the Giro, 2014) and, as he showed here (and in other races), he’s vulnerable on the flat.

      • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:42 pm

        Will Quintana do the Vuelta this year ?
        That race is surely made for him.
        Even Froome could not hold him there.
        I think that revenge could be a dish served very hot in the Vuelta.

        • Joel Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:03 pm

          Valverde is leader for the Vuelta

          • CK Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:25 am

            He seemed to think he was the leader here too.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:23 pm

        who else (below 30) was then even close to him? if i should Name a likely future tour winner (who hasnt yet won) theres really just one Name.

  • Chris Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:46 pm

    I saw that picture of the Colombian riders and it cracked me up, because I had a feeling that they were going to hatch something for today. Serpa and Quintana are buddies, and Quintana and Pantano were teammates for a few years in the same dev squad. It’s good to have friends in cycling. Just ask Contador

    • Foley Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:25 pm

      Where was Uran (for the photo, and for the stage)?

      • el mismo Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:25 am

        Uran @19:26
        Arrendondo @23:22

      • BenW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:51 am

        Ha! Probably modelling for his clothing line or something.

  • Redeye Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:50 pm

    For me the star of this tour has been the route. I was a little skeptical at first because of the lack of time trialling, but it’s been a genuinely interesting Tour pretty much every day (which is a shame for the sprinters!). In the end Quintana was a slightly stronger climber but Froome had a bit more strength in depth in his team and was a little smarter on the flat.

    Incidentally I have a hunch Froome has been a little ill for the last couple of days. After stage finishes he’s been coughing like a man who doesn’t want to let people know he’s feeling a bit rough. Not sure it’s affected his performance much, but it must have been on his mind a bit.

    • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:06 pm

      Good point, the route has been excellent.

    • Foley Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:38 pm

      The hacking cough sounds like the symptom of exercise-induced asthma that Froome cited when he was called upon last year to explain his use of a puffer on the bike. He explained it to my satisfaction.

      • Duncan Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:07 am

        I agree, he often sounds like this after summit finishes.

        I note also that Richie Porte said after the stage something like: “if truth be told, I think he (Froome) hasn’t been that healthy”

        • RocksRootsRoad Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:15 am

          I think even Froome, in the stage interview, said that he was in trouble on the last climb. Hence they probably rode just below threshold to the top and relied on the time cushion.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:28 am

      The course was bad, and the race was pretty poor, with very little agony about it. The whole thing felt like 0,5% beer, compared to the real McKoy.

  • BC Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:14 pm

    Been a very exciting event to watch and I tend to agree that Froome’s health has looked a little suspect for the last few days. It could of course simply be the third week taking its toll.

    As an aside. I have found the actions of a significant minority of moronic spectators rather unworthy of the event. When did it become acceptable to spit, throw urine or even boo a rider who was simply doing what he is paid to do. It is sport, not a ‘C’ list celebrity contest.

    I do hope this increase in totally unacceptable behaviour doesn’t set a precedent.

    • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:18 pm

      +1

    • Alastair S Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:00 pm

      +2

      • Steppings Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:03 am

        +3

        • Maglia Nera Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:09 pm

          +4

    • RayG Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:01 am

      I notice someone spat at Froome again last night. Idiot in a polka dot shirt and cap. Just before Froome went under the 4km to go banner. Moto camera couldn’t have got a better view of him if he tried.

      What a prat.

    • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:41 am

      It’s completely fine to boo. Many of the booing fans are booing because they believe the sport is again being tarnished. It’s OK to have an opinion.

      And I continue to say, you all haven’t been around long enough. It’s always been this way. Even if you think it’s a problem, it’s a problem for every rider in the front groups. Trust me, the ‘bus and riders off the pace love the crowds, especially in the mountain stages.

      And if you think you can change it, go to some races and talk to the crowd about changing. It ain’t inexpensive to rent/own a camper car, or take off from work for 5 days to be on the Alpe. The crowds in cycling are some of the best and most engaged fans in sport. And lovers of their sport, in particular. You think you could think you could put spectators right on the side and goal lines of a football pitch and see better behavior?

      • ChuckD Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:45 am

        It’s a shame they couldn’t do a better job self-policing….

        • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 7:05 am

          Go to a race. You would be surprised how well it is self-policed.

          The thing the Pros hate is mostly an American-originated thing. Euro fans have always run next to, and behind riders. I’ve personally heard it from them: they don’t really care about the side and behind running. And this is always what seems to look bad on David Harmon’s (oh, how he is missed, by Sean too, I bet) camera-foreshortening to a couch or newbie fan and what people gripe about on message boards. But watch the US Pro and ToC and you will see what bothers pros. The American fans are just too new and they run IN FRONT of riders. I think some of this has rubbed off on Euros. And I agree, this should be peer pressured out.

          But there isn’t much else that qualifies as total crap about roadside cycling fans. Even if front-running is a minor doo doo.

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:36 pm

            Look at old videos – e.g. 1984. Yes, there are some runners, but fewer. Also fewer fireworks. And the most noticeable thing is that most of the fans are standing much further back – so the runners also have much more room. There is also a much less aggressive air and much less slapping and spitting than we saw yesterday.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:51 am

        Thank you, Anonymous 2. When I read the comments here, I have to say, it gets every day worse and I hardly think it is worth writing anything anymore. But now that you have said your piece, I have to support you and it.

    • Fignoner Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:27 am

      +4.
      Spectator behavior was my biggest disappointment in otherwise great race. Its not OK to have flares and smoke bombs mixing with slow drunk runners and people with flags blocking the entire alley on climbs

  • Keith Warmington Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:32 pm

    If someone told me thirty years ago that Brits would have won the tour three times in five yrs I d have laughed. I think it’s wonderful so well done Froome , Wiggo , Sir Dave , Cav , Geraint , Cummins and all the rest of the Brits who’ve done so well. Let’s not forget Froome got KOM too not a frequent occurrence

    • John W. Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:44 pm

      In other words, the Brits were fortunate to have Froome switch nationalities. There are no British maillot jaunes without him.

      • Tom Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:56 pm

        Wiggo would have won with or without Froome, IMO. At least you can’t say he definitely wouldn’t have – just speculation vs actual result.

        • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:47 pm

          But against Froome?

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:47 pm

      + 100%.
      I can remember being so thrilled when Boardman won the TT at the Tour.
      But an overall British winner, on a British team, was absolutely unthinkable.

    • Joel Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:05 pm

      The frogs seem particularly chuffed about it

  • Merino Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:43 pm

    I would like to congratulate Froome, I can honestly say apart from the riding aesthetic he has proven beyond any question what a fantastic bike rider he is. We knew he was a tremendous athlete with a cool personality but I sensed through commentary and online comments people preferred to wax on about Nibali’s descending, Contadors climbing or Valverdes racing nouse. Sky are vilified for tactical incompetence and general lack of flair. What this 3 weeks has shown me is how I can appreciate different aspects of professional performance and how hard it must be for a favourite to step up and steal the show.

    Bravo Froome and Sky and let the others step up their game and stop whining.

    • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:20 pm

      And it looked like Froome gave Valverde a slap too!

  • ronytominger Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:34 pm

    what an interestig results. as it turns out, Quintana took 30 secs out of froome in the mountains combined. instead the race was won in the most unlikely of all places; the dutch flatlands. froome clearly had the superior Team and it won him the race.

    • ronytominger Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:38 pm

      that said, froome seems also the more balanced rider. yet Quintana seems stronger whenever it gets real tough

      • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:48 am

        Great name, don’t agree a word with it, though. Yes it was a short stage, but I simply cannot believe Sky could ride at the front and set tempo through as many mountain stages as they did with so many riders matching Froomie’s riding. I’m skeptical. Sure, the last couple days it was a little of a rotation of riders, but G(rand Tour) Thomas sets off my alarm bell. Call me a frog.

        • BenW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:02 pm

          Thomas had a solid two weeks, and faded in the third. Seems about right to me, and it’s what he’s been working towards.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:07 pm

          Sky actually didn’t set tempo much this Tour, as other teams were doing it for them. It was actually quite clever tactics from them after they capitalised on Movistar setting the hard pace on stage 10. They kept letting riders in the break who didn’t scare them and Froome, but would scare other teams in terms of protecting a top 10 place. As a result teams like (say) Trek ended up doing a lot of pacing. (And that’s not mentioning the number of time Astana (in particular, but others too) tried to make the race hard for their leaders to attack.

          Also, GT has always looked like he could be a stage racer. He’s had a number of good finishes in 1 week stage races, and has always been one of Sky’s mountain train. If you think this has come out of nowhere, well, you obviously can’t have watched much cycling…

      • dave Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:08 am

        *(note Froome was ill as were Sky in the last week – I also think you can’t under estimate the mental fatigue of dealing with all doping pressure on Froome, not sure we saw his best hand in the final two days)

        • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:32 pm

          ‘Froome was ill’ – where are you getting this? I’m not saying you’re wrong: I just haven’t read it anywhere else.

          • DNAtsol Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:57 pm

            his post race interview

          • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:11 pm

            Ah, thanks – I never watch interviews (does any sportsperson ever say anything interesting?)
            However, I’d never trust what they say anyway – it’s all too possible that he is just making excuses, just as it’s all too possible that Movistar are making excuses when they claim they were caught behind a crash in the Zeeland stage. It might well be preferable for Froome to have people believe he was sick, not inferior (on that day); just as it might be preferable for Movistar to have people believe that they were unfortunate rather than incompetent.
            (I’m only saying ‘possible’, on both counts.)

  • leonn Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:36 pm

    @inrng,

    thank you from the bottom of my heart for your delightful texts!

    the positive points of today:

    *Geniez, Péraud, Narvadauskas, Poels, Porte and Anacona. Definely they deserve a bonus for huge efforts for today (maybe Poels more yesterday than today).

    Interesting moments of today:
    * Ryder and mainly Narvadauskas are the main help for Pinot victory. If Narva hadn’t sended back for pulling Ryder, I think Pinot hadn’t had enough buffer for overcoming Quintana.

    *Nibali mechanicals. If it didn’t happened maybe Valverde had lost his podium place. Nibali rode much better on the last 2-3 stages.

    I really question myself about Astana selection for this year. I think the best domestiques stay out at the end. Nibali had 3 team mates after his mechanical on the bottom of Huez, 3km later he was alone. It seems to me that Landa, Tiralongo, Sanches are by far better in the Giro than Scarponi and Fulgsang on the Tour. The big rollers of the team (Westra, Taaramae and Boom) for the Tour were almost invisible. Bad luck or poor mannagement (at choosing little climb force)? Another thing Vinokourov was not on the cars on Giro, maybe this helped the team rides better?

    *About Quintana I think he needs to get better on his descend skills. Froome catches easily on downhill of Croix de Fer. I got the impression of Valverde’s work was led Q on the descend, but AV blew up before of the summit of Croix and “messed” the plan.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:16 am

      As regards the Nibali mechanical – it really as if someone upstairs had said:

      “Attacking the MJ (or any GC contender) when they have a mechanical is bad form!”

      It’s funny how many little stories like that have happened inside the 3 weeks.

  • noel Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:29 am

    Well done to Froome.. I don’t think you can underestimate how much leading the race for a 2 weeks must add to the general strain. If they want a suggestion for another not-so-marginal gain, then Sky need to spend a couple of months this winter working out how to just become a bit more likeable somehow, so the Yellow jersey doesn’t have to become this burden to be endured…

    overall I have absolutely loved this race from start to finish, chapeau to Inrng for keeping up an incredibly high quality of output to help us all follow the story. And Chapeau to the vast majority of commentaries on these threads for adding to the enjoyment and avoiding personal bickering.

  • inthedrops.net Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:44 am

    Winner/n’s middle name is Andrew, as in Andy Hampsten…

  • reb Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:25 am

    Thanks again to INRNG for really terrific previews and reviews.
    It was always a “MUST READ” throughout the past 3 weeks.
    Also,
    I maybe naive , but i really , really believe that Froome,Quintana, etc
    are racing completely clean. They are ingesting, injecting NOTHING
    illegal IMHO. They are just truly rare, exceptional athletes , with God
    given genetics we all would wish for. Cant we , PLEASE , celebrate
    and honor their achievements ? Thankyou if you aggree.

    • GTGTGT Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:31 am

      +1 to that!

      Someone said somewhere that you don’t see guys just ride off the front like they’re a train anymore. Or, if they do, they struggle the next day or so.

      That to me, is the indication of ‘cleanliness’…

    • ChuckD Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:30 am

      ++1!

  • Steve Potts Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:54 am

    Instant karma for Nibali? He attacks when Froome has a mechanical and then the next day punctures at the worst moment. The Tour is like a bad movie plot sometimes. A thoroughly deserved win for Froome and a very enjoyable race. Thanks, inring, for the entertaining and interesting updates.

    Steve

    • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:50 am

      Yes, congrats to Sky, but this was hardly an enjoyable three weeks or racing, all biases aside. So, not so sure you watch much racing.

      • calypso_king Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:14 am

        Hey Lance!

      • GB Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:36 pm

        Good thing we have true fans like Anonymous 2 here to tell us whether we’re actually enjoying things or not. 😛

  • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:52 am

    I love how this review ended. Agreed: big kudos, ahead to time, to Hansen. He crashed pretty badly this year. I didn’t think he’d make it.

  • Il Brontolo Sunday, 26 July 2015, 7:02 am

    I find the concept of not attacking the yellow jersey quite interesting. Why is that one rider is given such an elevated status? Tradition? To me all is fair in love and war. I notice the general sentiment is “karma” for Nibali, not unsportsmanlike behaviour from the other riders. No one had any intention of waiting for him. Or when Contador crashes by the side of the road. After all these where important riders who were part of the excitement team. Everyone seems happy enough to take them out of the equation.
    The only time I can perhaps understand why the riders would sit up and wait is for when something exceptional happens from outside the race, like a banner from a fan by the side of the road. A stone in the rear brake (is there any proof of this?) is part of the road surface, a level playing field for the entire peleton.

    • Anonymous 2 Sunday, 26 July 2015, 7:21 am

      It is a beautiful sport. There will always be some unwritten rules that will never be re-written. That’s one of the reason it’s a beautiful sport.

      A crash is different than a mechanical. Unless the crash was like Fuglsang’s yesterday: not his fault.

      The stone in the wheel is a mechanical.

      And there is a difference, you don’t stop riding, you just simply don’t attack the mechanical. If the pace is hot, you stay hot. You don’t reset a gap. Contador attacking a Schleck he could see directly in front of him fits much better than this year’s Nibali, in spurring the ensuing attack/not attack discussion. In absence of this specific year’s context, Nibali may have appeared to have attacked or not attacked. It is marginally debatable; but the was not attacking Froome. He was not a contender at that point by any stretch. He was attacking other potential stage winners, each of who had well spinning wheels and working bicycles.

      You don’t attack a leader that’s around you when you could thus become the leader. Place number 53 does not worry about attacking place number 52 if he sees 52 flat. He rides right by. Maybe going even harder if he chooses.

      • Nick Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:09 pm

        All of which would make sense if (a) Nibali had been checking Valverde or Contador’s position before his attack, rather than Froome’s, and (b) had said he was attacking them rather than denying he’d seen Froome’s mechanical.

        Either way, the concept of not attacking in particular situations (when the leader has a mechanical, during the feed zone, during a neutralised section) seems to be one of those things that the person being attacked always complains about, yet the person doing the attacking sees as a normal part of racing. And when their positions are reversed, their viewpoints seem to reverse too.

  • Liam Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:12 am

    This is the first tour I have followed from start to finish and have loved every day!

    Really enjoy the 3 week narrative and how it allows the race to organically unfold. Also the various side stories and how they effect the overall (e.g. leaders jerseys, top tens, stage wins etc.)

    Highlights for me were Steve Cummings stage win (and the variation in stage winners) and Nibali’s majestic descending on his stage win. Good descending is much more gripping than a climb IMO

    Lowlights have been the general abuse of Sky (which as a Brit has made me appreciate them more)

    • Mike J Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:43 pm

      This was also the first tour I’ve followed closely from start to finish; what a thrilling event. That the winner of the GC was pretty much a foregone conclusion after the first mountain stage did take some of the thrill away, but there was enough variation in the stages and enough battles-within-battles-within-battles to keep things interesting.

      My two biggest takeaways are:

      1. Froome, while somewhat boring, is an outstanding ambassador for the sport. I was a bit disappointed with him calling out Nibali (to me this is the sort of thing done privately, not publicly) but for all the crap he and his team endured, I can allow him an indiscretion or two towards the end of the race. I have no doubt he and his team are clean.

      2. Peter Sagan may be the most entertaining racer to watch. He’s a little daredevil on the descents. In the break day after day, always right up front at the line, even if he doesn’t win. Very funny and self-effacing in the interviews post-race. Sagan provides the spice to the sport, which Froome is lacking.

  • Mike Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:31 am

    You could hear the boos as Froome rode up – is it wishful thinking to hope that at least some of what sounded like boos were Brits shouting “Frooooome”?

    • BenW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:17 pm

      “I was shouting Boo-urns!”

      • Bilmo Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:57 pm

        I do love a Simpsons reference. Boo-urns to Froome and all of Sky. A great team effort in my opinion.

        Think Movistar gave it a good go, some great individual stage winners and if not the greatest Tour ever, in my opinion it’s been thoroughly entertaining. Bring on the rest of the season.

  • sifter Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:38 pm

    Thanks inrng and commenters for enhancing and interesting tour.

    I particularly enjoyed the three mountain trains on Alpe d’Huez. 2 x FDJ, 2 x Movistar one minute back, and 3 x Sky a bit further down the road still. Nibali was in amongst Saxo unfortunately!

  • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:25 pm

    Was interesting to see Poels (I think) weaving his bike through Dutch Corner, trying to make space.

  • Ken Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:07 pm

    As the 2015 TDF comes near its end, thank you Inrng fro your wonderful, astute commentary. You greatly enhance the experience.

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