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Tour de France Stage 18 Preview

A tricky time trial with some fast moments and some surprisingly steep sections making harder than a classic mountain time trial. How much will Chris Froome extend his lead by today?

Stage 17 Wrap: ideally the stage would have got a separate write-up yesterday evening but it wasn’t significant enough. Not that nothing happened, the breakaway took a long time to form as they did 51.8km in the first hour but finally a 14 rider move went with the two breakaway picks of Rafał Majka and Ilnur Zakarin among them. Others gave chase but Peter Sagan was in the move too and got work on behalf of Majka to keep them at bay.

Over the top of the penultimate climb Majka jumped away with Jarlinson Pantano and the two started the final climb to the Emosson dam together with Ilnur Zakarin quickly bridging across soon afrer. On paper it looked like a contest between Majka and Zakarin as the two best climbers but the Pole seemed fried by the heat and so it was a battle between Zakarin and Pantano and the Katusha rider cracked his rival. He might have gone solo for the win but it seems Zakarin cannot escape a positive doping test from 2009, he is one of the five riders in the race to have a past doping suspension hanging over them.

Behind the GC battle was another exercise in suffocation. Let’s not confuse this with a parade, it’s not that nobody would attack it’s that nobody could. Dan Martin tried, did a boomerang and it was only in the final kilometre that the top riders were split apart with Richie Porte proving the strongest and so far keeping the “he can’t do a grand tour” maxim at bay. Alejandro Valverde slipped two places to seventh overall while Tejay van Garderen was the big loser of the day, not just falling out of the top-10 but coming in 18 minutes down after cracking on the Forclaz. Once again Wout Poels was instrumental in locking down the race. Chris Froome is in a commanding position but isn’t running away with the race, he only put eight seconds into Adam Yates and 11 into Romain Bardet but in these small margins there’s still a gulf.

The Route: a 17km uphill time trial with 765 metres of vertical gain. The course is in five parts:

  • First from the start is a fast section, downhill and then flat. It’s 3.5km and on a freshly surfaced road. It’ll pay to have aero bars
  • Next is the Domancy section, 2.9km long, aka the “Route Bernard Hinault” as the road has been renamed in tribute as it’s where “The Badger” won the 1980 World Championships road race. It’s on fresh blacktop but that’s the only help as the road pitches up and if this section is 8.9% on average it’s often 10-12% with irregular ramps and hairpins with steep apexes. There’s a €5,000 “Bernard Hinault prize” for the fastest rider through this section
  • The third section is 5km long and on the main road through Combloux. It’s a steady drag, the slope varies but gradually and is typically 5% for most of the way. This is a chance for the powerful riders to up the pace, get into a tuck and use aerodynamics
  • The fourth section is the hardest, it’s 3.5km at 4.8% average which sounds fine and looks banal but it’s a reminder that the map is not the territory because there are two “wall” sections not visible in the profile, the first is 350m at 13% but with a middle part reaching 16% and then, after the third time check, an 800m section at 9% with portions at 14% and this irregularity makes the course much more awkward than it looks on paper
  • Finally there’s the 2km at 6% descent into the swank ski resort of Megève and it’s fast and nothing too technical.

The Contenders: it’s hard to see past Chris Froome to the point of wondering how great the margin of his victory will be. He was second in the Ardèche time trial stage last week and is obviously climbing well. His only problem today is having to cope without Sherpa Poels.

Richie Porte is the momentum pick, he’s on the up and as long as he can pace himself better than last week should set a big time. He was climbing better than Froome yesterday or as least looking more explosive in the final moments until Froome spun his way across.

Can Tom Dumoulin win? Normally this is not a course for him, if it looks rolling on the profile the reality explained above should make it too hard for him. To his advantage though he came in 30 minutes down yesterday meaning a relative rest. Still it’s likely the steep parts take their toll compared to the likes of Froome and Porte.

Bauke Mollema gets a chainring today. I got some flak for not giving him one yesterday but if a top-5 place seemed within reach on the stage the win seemed out of the question. However today he can ride at his own tempo rather than respond to attacks and his ability to suffer could see him haul himself to a result.

The local pick is IAM Cycling’s Jérôme Coppel, strong in the Ardèche time trial and able to climb well in conditions like this, a top-5 is possible.

Chris Froome
Richie Porte
Thomas, D Martin, T Dumoulin, Mollema, Quintana

Weather: the chance of rain early on but dry for the later starts. It’ll be a hot 32°C at the start in Sallanches and humid 25°C higher up at the finish in Megève. There will be a southerly wind meaning a headwind in places but much of the course is sheltered.

TV: riders off in reverse GC order with Sam Bennett at 10.51am CET and the full list of riders and times can be found here.

TV coverage starts at 2.00pm CET and Chris Froome is forecast to arrive in Megève at 5.30pm Euro time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ocaz Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:14 am

    Yates had looked to be clinging on in before rest day but did really well yesterday. It was Mollema struggling in GC group, like they switched roles.

    Quintana not firing again, he has been hugely underwhelming in this tour and it’s not clear why. I mean in the past Valverde has been accused of not working for him, but his attack cost him time as he tried to isolate Froome plus Quintana has not exerted himself as such normally sitting on a wheel but when he has attached it’s not been sustained and easily closed down. Woet Pouls was hugely impressive once again as he helped shut down attacks and reel them back in.

    Seems Martin was hoping they’d let him go but no such luck and his efforts caught up with him.

  • Travis Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:49 am

    Says something about this tour that I am more excited about the time trial than the mountain stages which have been largely uneventful. The giro was awesome this year.

    Hoping Porte can put in a big one like the dauphine tt and prove the haters wrong. Because tvg proved them right yesterday. I honestly think without the puncture and crash he’d be second right now.

    • StevhanTI Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:27 am

      Indeed, so far the only surprises in this tour’s GC battle Quintana being not a contender and Porte not cracking despite some bad luck and not too great support.

      • Dave C Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:26 am

        Is Yates not a surprise? I would not have expected him to be so close to the top of the GC so close to Paris.
        Were you not surprised by Froome’s downhill attack or the green-yellow breakaway in the wind?

    • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:44 am

      Are people who don’t think TVG is up to it ‘haters’? Or realists?
      BMC making TVG co-leader with Porte was purely down to his nationality. We see this time and again – Movistar with Valverde last year, the constant chatter of Thomas becoming a GC leader when Sky have so many better GC candidates, Aru being favoured over Landa in last year’s Giro. I always find it deeply disappointing.

      • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:09 pm

        +1! Shows how, in some respects, cycling is still an “underdeveloped” sport.

      • routedusud Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:08 pm

        +1

  • BC Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:21 am

    Thank you very much for the detailed route description IR – down to road surfaces. I guess you have also ridden this section of the route. Makes the TT appear a little more interesting and demanding than one would have expected from the official race presentation.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:32 am

      Very much so.
      It should be a good competition this, I fancy Porte and Mollema to do well.
      Mollema, in particular, seemed to suffer with the heat yesterday, but the shorter effort should not affect him as badly.

      Telling that Quintana does not even merit a mention, never mind a chainring.
      An Alpine irrelevance, who’d have ever thought that?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:34 am

      All of the important stages have been checked out in advance, this one was a surprise as there’s a main road between the start and finish and at first it looked like it’d be this all the way but the turning after 11km to the smaller road and the “wall” sections was a nasty surprise.

      • Nevis the Cat Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:43 pm

        You’ve described it perfectly – it’s a road I know well.

        The pull up to Domancy is a real test. Narrow, winding, and it seems to never have a constant gradient – like a back road in the Dales. It will be difficult to get into a rhythm on that section.

        Combloux will drag, be hot but it has a cracking backdrop of the Bionassay face of Mont blanc.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:36 am

      Oops apologies, Quintana does indeed get a chainring. Tagged on the end.
      Quintana v Dumoulin – who’s your money on there?

  • JHutch Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:30 am

    I’ll be interested to see how Yates goes today. At his own admission TT is not his strong point but today’s must be more to his liking that a longer flat TT.

    • Tovarishch Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:49 am

      I guess it depends on the relative impact of the climbs. Yates placed very well on Les Gets on the Dauphine, beating Mollema quite handsomely.

  • Jorge Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:47 am

    Thank you for a great review, I did the course a few weeks ago and it’s exactly as you describe it. There will be little flow today for the riders. Just one thing, it should read “swanky ski resort of Megève” (not Morzine).

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:35 am

      Thanks, luckily having done the course a few weeks ago I also finished in Megève rather than Morzine, that’s Saturday.

  • Rusty Chain Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:51 am

    Well … Good for Froome he seems to want it more than anybody else this year or has something that allows him this new found panache cause according to Le Mond there are still no miracles in cycling. No one else deserves to win. Same predictable race, tracking wheels hoping Froomey will have an off day. I think the only way to beat Sky is to actually hit them hard from stage one ie race bikes not just Tour de France

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:37 am

      I really don’t think the riders are sitting and waiting for Froome to crack, they’re holding on for the best they can. Froome is strong but look at the results yesterday, as said in the piece above Porte was stronger and Yates, Bardet were only seconds away too. It’s different to, say, Nibali in 2014 when he’d just storm off solo on every summit finish.

      • Chris Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:43 am

        But you get the impression, had he wanted to, Froome had enough in reserve to do a “Nibali” style ride too. It’s sad (for the race spectacle), that he can ride around the course within himself and still finish 3-4mins ahead of his nearest competitor.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:11 am

          Indeed. As others pointed out, it is not helpful to pull wool over eyes (I don’t know a fitting phrase in english, sorry) and always look on bright sides or pull out favourite villains like Russia, Nibali, Katusha and Astana, while other questions are more or equally pressing.

          This deflecting just makes people doubtful and angry, as can be increasingly seen here in the comments. The pressure to say nothing negative about certain things in the comments here is high, so if people say something anyway, it means something. It also spawns things like the reopening of the discussion about the identity of inner Ring, as one at times is left wondering about reasons/intentions (btw:I wish this discussion would subside, I don’t think it is a good one, but that’s another debate). This is not in the least meant offensive or accusatory, it is solely an observation about dynamics.

      • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:51 am

        Was Porte really stronger or is that just your inference because he was the attack that got away? Froome spun over to him easily and crossed the line looking like he’d done nothing. Froome does not have the burden of having to attack anymore so we won’t know what he could or couldn’t have done.

        • noel Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:23 am

          I heard somewhere that Mollema often struggles after a rest day – hopefully he’s back firing today, otherwise he’ll have Yates eyeing that second podium spot

          …if riders ‘often struggle after the rest day…’ why don’t they just go for a decent ride instead? (ok, I’m sure it’s not that simple…)

          • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:13 pm

            Maybe because being good after a rest day regularly immediately sparks “blood bag!!!” insinuations? 😉

          • Motormouth Thursday, 21 July 2016, 3:42 pm

            I would love to understand the dynamics of a rest day and why some riders and teams seem to handle it better than others. Is it strictly individualistic/physiological or do people’s routine really vary so widely on their rest day?

            Is this info closely guarded team secrets or has anyone ever compiled the different approaches people take?

          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:49 pm

            Bardet said that he tried to treat the rest day as a normal day, eating meals at the same time of day, going for a ride at the same time of day etc. Then just add as much rest and sleep on top as possible.

          • Mani Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:39 pm

            Maybe Mollema needed to be hanging out with the Quick Step boys to refresh himself. Watching them fly down the river one wonders if anyone thought that maybe they were about to lose their riders to the current.

            http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/07/tour-de-france/tour-notebook-boredom-breathalizers-and-a-rest-day-swim_415211

      • Rusty Chain Thursday, 21 July 2016, 5:33 pm

        I agree once they get to the climb it is hang on but what about the getting to the climb – same old race let the escape go and wait. It has gotten too predictable and too comfortable for the contenders. They loose anyway why not put in a valiant challenge.

    • another dave Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:40 am

      As with any rider you can have the best team in the world but YOU still have to stay on their wheels till the final moment then attack and that’s exactly what Froomes able to do
      Ritche just hasn’t got the team and TJ was cooked from stage one

  • David P Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:09 am

    5 riders with a ban, I make it 6 (including contador, no longer in the race of course). Zakarin, Contador, Valverde, Costa, Richeze and Schleck

    • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:53 am

      Rui Costa? I’ve no recollection of that. Is there another Costa?
      Inner Ring says:
      ‘it seems Zakarin cannot escape a positive doping test from 2009’ – should riders escape their positive dope tests?
      Particularly since there is some evidence that he might still be benefitting from his previous steroid use.
      I suppose it’s a balance between tiresomely banging on about it and sweeping it under the carpet.

  • RooBay Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:19 am

    Can we re-open the discussion of “who is the Inner Ring”? The first hand analysis and first rate commentary on a part-time blog raises more questions than it answers.

    Great preview as usual. Go Porte!

    • hoh Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:31 am

      Regarding that question, we know that the maillot jaune knows who inrng is.

      • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:54 am

        How do we know that?

        • hoh Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:48 am

          Mr Inner Ring said somewhere that he’s met him. And commented on how Froome is pure leg muscle.

          • Francisco Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:05 pm

            There is a very essential difference between ‘he met the person who is inrng’ and ‘knows inrng was the person he met’…
            I think it is wise to refrain from speculating about our host’s identity.

    • noel Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:25 am

      ha! we should never be complacent… if it’s too good to be true…..

    • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:57 am

      It’s actually me. Obvious really when you see how considered and neutral my comments are.

  • Nicolay Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:19 am

    Do you know why Froome was training with his TT-bike on the rest day Mr. INRNG?

    • hoh Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:32 am

      Bike switch?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:46 am

      No, I’m afraid he didn’t tell me 😉 Maybe he wants to use a TT bike all the way. You can try this and climb the steep parts standing on the pedals. The course climbs like a staircase, there’s no one flat section and then an uphill part to change on and having the TT bike would be good for the final descent into Megève.

      • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:54 am

        I saw a video with Doctor Hutch this morning saying that he expected the serious riders to use road bikes with tri bars. So I too thought it strange Froome had been on the TT bike on the rest day. The good doctor also said a bike change would be stupid on this course and would net you little to no advantage.

        • routedusud Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:12 pm

          Sky now spotted preparing a yellow TT bike so he’s going full aero it seems.

      • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:00 am

        Seems odd to risk it when he doesn’t need to. Road bikes handle much better (so I’m told), so why not just stay on one of those?

        • Vedrafjord Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:00 pm

          I’m sure they’re testing both the road and TT bikes on the course right now. Famously Froome won the 2013 TT by switching bikes at the top of the climb when Contador didn’t, but the final descent is a lot shorter this time.

          • Zephyrus Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:38 pm

            Not to mention keeping rivals guessing/putting doubts in their minds

  • hahostolze Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:27 am

    Think you’re underestimating Dumoulin. Think he’ll win this. Like the Basque TT he won or the TdS TT he won this has some real walls, he did very well on those. His margin to number two won’t be over a minute like on Friday, though.

  • hahostolze Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:29 am

    Also, a chainring for Dan Martin? He’ll lose half a minute on the first flat section alone…

  • Ferdi Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:37 am

    Morzine is not that swanky… Today it’s Megève.

  • pedaldancer Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:57 am

    “He might have gone solo for the win but it seems Zakarin cannot escape a positive doping test from 2009, he is one of the five riders in the race to have a past doping suspension hanging over them”
    While this tour is testing new levels of boredom, I still as always enjoy these reads and (mostly) also the comments on it.

    Sad thing is, the results prove passive riders right, those who try and ride agressive, usually get dropped in the final part.

    One thing: Sorry but I dont get the meaning of “might have gone solo BUT it seems..”

    he cracked the colombian, went and finished solo, so why the conditional?

    Also on a sidenote, regarding the “origin” of today’s winner…
    (and i know this is prejudice, but I just cant help… history with Rusvelo etc. doesn’t bleach the records either…)

    I was shocked to read the conclusions of the McLaren report on the russian doping system. detailed analysis here in german: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/sport/dokumentation-mit-tafelsalz-um-mitternacht-hinter-dem-mauseloch-1.3085900

    bottom line: when the secret service is involved widespread in tampering urin samples this is just another level….

    • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:07 am

      I was also shocked when I read about the Los Angeles games, Prince de Mérode, the missing papers and a lot of other things. I am shocked by a lot of things.

      There are no good and bad ones in this. They are the same. Just the timeline was more helpful for some. Tables may turn soon. And after that turn again.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/04/sports/sp-1984-olympics4

      • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:05 am

        No, no, the Americans didn’t dope – it was only the commies.

        • noel Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:06 am

          nor the Brits… (cough…)

      • pedaldancer Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:14 am

        While I guess i understand what you are trying to say: I slightly disagree if there are good ones and bad ones… (and I totally dont care if its russian american or else)

        But if there is evidence on such a large scale that comes to the surface (as this Mc-Laren report), than I think it needs to be mentioned at least.

        but different topic and enough of that from my side, this will be the talk anyway leading up to the olympics…

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:13 am

      It’s a perfect “guilt by association” given he’s got history, is Russian, rides for Katusha which has had more positive tests than Astana: all this can explain why trust is low but doesn’t equate to guilt.

      • Nick Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:56 am

        His own personal history isn’t really “guilt by association”, it’s guilt by guiltiness. Agree re the rest.

  • Richard Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:06 am

    Dumoulin vs Froome: Belgian tv showed a comparison between Froome and Dumoulin in the time trial (stage 13). Dumoulin was a lot faster on the last climb than Froome. Of course the TT today is a different cup of tea, but it makes me wonder if the time that Dumoulin no doubt will loose on those very steep (but not very long) sections described by INRNG, is not compensated by his faster riding on the less steeper ones and the descent. I think it will turn out very cloose between the two, with a very good Porte that will join them. The ‘freshness’ of Dumoulin will be of importance too, like INRG mentioned. And he is literally all dressed up for the TT (with his special skinsuit, designed at Delft university). For me Dumoulin is the favourite, with Froome coming very close, Porte third.

    • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:57 am

      Dumoulin is just much better rested and has put in less effort over the course of the Tour as a whole. He might win but its not a true test man against man for the reason already given. The Olympic ITT will be though.

  • JEB Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:49 am

    I was a little confused by Astana’s tactics yesterday. Sky want to sit on the front and set a high tempo to limit attacks. So why did Astana think that if they did it that it would benefit them? They said they wanted to make the race hard but all they ended up doing was burning their two top domestiques and helped Sky preserve 3 of their own. Also I thought Aru liked fast/slow hard/easy tempo where as lots of the top 10 like constant effort, so if anything it benefited everyone else!

    Also, looks like Movistar have the only super domestique that can break sky domestiques. His was the only ‘attack/effort’ that saw sky lose a man. Cant help but think that if Valverde Sat up more often on other days like a propper domestique then he could really take it to them on key days.

    • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:00 am

      Valverde is very predictable on climbs when in tandem with Quintana. When he attacks you know he is cooked and this is his “looked at me, at least I tried for 5 minutes” effort. He then predictably falls back. I genuinely think Sky do not fear his climbing at all.

    • Alan Mc Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:17 am

      But if Valverde sits up on other days, he becomes zero threat on GC, so Sky can just let him go, so they lose the (perceived ?) tactical advantage of 2 GC threats.

      Having said that, Frome/Poels/Nieve/Landa/Henao – nobody else has the stength to compete with that.

      Yesterday saw Nibali and Rosa act as 2 extra climbing engines on the Sky train, as someone else pointed out above – strange (non) tactics from Astana.

      • leonn Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:07 pm

        Yesterday it seems Rosa hasn’t legs to stick to the plan. It was hilarious Aru’s face and Rosa pull a couple hundreds meters and give up. It was Anacona leading when TJV was dropped. I sensed there was plan with Astana and Movistar but their leaders didn’t finnished the job.

    • Razorback Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:20 pm

      yep – there is not a lot of strategies you can do if you dont have the legs.
      I also see a lot of comments requesting this kind of attitude from Movistar and Astana, but in the end it only helps Sky.
      A possible, suicidal strategy would be to do something similar in an early climb to try to isolate Froome, but still hard as 1) Sky has a strong field that can crawl back time and be back to the contenders group and 2) Froome dont need to match every attack as he has a buffer and Porte/Yates/Mollema would also help with the task

  • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:58 am

    Will Wout Poel’s become what Froome came to Wiggins?

    • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:03 am

      If by that you mean will Poels become better and supplant Froome as Sky’s go to man, then I don’t think so. He made a choice to be Froome’s domestique (according to an ITV4 interview I saw last night) but hopes to get his own chances too. And Sky haven’t exactly stifled his progress. His stock has risen considerably in Sky colours. He has other strings to his bow that don’t involve Froome too (such as L-B-L) so he can take a few wins and still be the most trusted lieutenant as well.

      • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:29 pm

        Much of what you’re saying applied to Froome as well, in the Wiggins days. Froome also made the choice to be Wiggins’ domestique, and was awarded with opportunities to go for his won succes in other races (meaning: not the TdF). If anybody was “not stifled” and had his “stock risen” (incredibly much so) by team Sky, it’s Froome. So in that respect, there is a striking resemblance. The reason I think Poels is not likely to replace Froome is simple: Poels is not British (or, more specific: Can not pass as British). As J Evans commented elsewhere on this page, the nationality of your TdF GC guy is often still a thing in cycling.

        Of course, anybody who has heard the stories (true or not, I don’t know) of how Froome came to replace Wiggins after (during) the 2012 tour would have a completely different perspective on the team dynamics at play here. They would likely say Poels is just too much af a nice guy.

        • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:47 pm

          Froome didn’t get to ride his own race at the 2011 Vuelta – he lost that due to being incorrectly used as Wiggins’ domestique, even though it was obvious that Froome was stronger, particularly after he beat Wiggins in the TT.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:53 pm

          Do you have a link to these stories?

        • routedusud Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:21 pm

          Which races did Froome get to ride for himself prior to the 2012 Tour? Froome and Wiggins were too similar to co-exist and that is why, after that date, they didn’t. To that extent the Froome/Poels situation is not the same. Poels is a credible one day rider in certain circumstances whereas Froome has no form there. Poels has also been used in week long races as the team leader. I don’t recall that Froome ever was pre-2012 Tour.

          • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:00 pm

            Ok, I see I should have been more precise: It’s a fact that Froome was awarded opportunities to go for his own changes… (and now follows the point I obviously should have added:) … *in his contract*. That’s a fact.

            It is said that this is actually what started the whole Wiggins-Froome rivalry: Froome asked for what was promised in his contract (a change to go for his own opportunities), but Wiggins would have nothing of it. This then spiralled way way out of control into pure blackmail, backstabbing, etc. It’s probably best to leave the story at that, because (a) I obviously don’t know what I’ve heard is true, and (b) I don’t want INRNG or myself to face defamation claims.

        • leonn Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:27 pm

          @ebbe,

          I’m not so sure about nationality is the only criteria, maybe to make History too.

          http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/brailsford-would-like-to-win-tour-de-france-with-french-rider/

          Since that news I was expecting Pinot would go to Sky anytime, but with his progression and support from FDJ it’s not been likely for while, maybe Bardet on the next years.

          • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:36 pm

            Just PR talk?

          • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:54 pm

            Leon, good point… I did see that story, but honestly… I think that’s a publicity stunt.

    • hahostolze Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:07 am

      Doubt he’s quite of that level but does seem (by far) the strongest Skybot atm and the most likely to actually go for a GT (maybe Landa too if he refinds his form). Think they’ll go for a Pinot or Kelderman, someone who they can mold into the complete package.

      • hahostolze Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:09 am

        Or either Yates, now that jc below reminds me of them.

        • David P Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:20 pm

          Note sure about “either” Yates, their policy onprevious doping bans will likely put a stop to Simon joining. And who knows, if their loyalty/attachment is anything like the Schlecks, it might make Adam think twice too. Pure speculation of course.

    • noel Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:18 am

      I think he’d have to up his TT game by quite a jump to be a credible threat to Froome…

      also Sky have been clever at rotating their domestiques – Landa clearly has a job this tour to take the train up to c. 7km from the line, and then he rolls in, then Nieve then Henao/Poels etc… I imagine there is a big difference between getting the odd day off at the back, TTing without pressure, and the chance to roll the last few kms, as opposed to being involved in the pointy end day in and day out.

  • jc Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:05 am

    I thought that Froome did not look at the top of his game yesterday though it is often difficult to tell. He can look to be struggling just before launching a stinging attack. I had thought Richie Porte was a good bet for stage win as I had a suspicion that Chris Froome would not try too hard to beat him given that they are still friends and Froome clearly owes him a lot for past successes.

    The most impressive ride was from Adam Yates, unless either Bauke Mollema can recover or Richie Porte has a storming few days, second place must be a real prospect. Whatever happens from now until Saturday Adam Yates’ performance has stood out. He has not had any great support in the mountains from his team mates but he is showing far better than many others tipped beforehand. He must be a real prospect for a GT victory in the very near future maybe even a serious competitor to Chris Froome.

    • dave Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:34 am

      think that’s wishful thinking (but fair enough it’s a little dull at the mo) – I think it’s impossible to say whether F was weaker than usual or just being conservative with the next few days in mind as he didn’t need to attack. My money’s on the later.

      & those sorts of gradients do usually mean late attacks with small time gaps anyway, so not the place for a Ventoux/Aix3D/PstM demolition – seems a well planned route with Arcalis also unlikely to give large gaps (for opposite reasons) – guess Ventoux being shortened meant it came into this bracket as well. Shame about the TT!

      Think the later of the above F reasons is far more likely given the ease with which he came across to Porte once Q was gone (have a feeling he didn’t want to expend any energy dragging Q anywhere (but that ship may have finally sailed given yesterday’s result) so bridged in two halves).

      Just tactics as opposed to tiredness – shame the final stage is an uphill finish, we may have seen fireworks then if so.

      Yates phenomenal yesterday….

      • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:31 pm

        Agreed. I also think Froome has been saving himself. Oh, and he actually said that himself in an interview yesterday 😉

  • Jean Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:33 am

    Very poor tactics of Astana and Movistar. Really the inverse they should do.

    I agree Froome is not at his best, but this was planned. Last year, he was fading the last two mountain stages. Quintana didn’t recognise it, until 5 km from the arrival on Alpe d’Huez, where Froome was rescued by his teammates, in better shape that day than himself. So, this year Froome planned to keep his form till Paris. He is very lucky Quintana is a shadow of the normal Quintana. And grateful the other contenders are cowards and just defending their own place. Contenders not able to attack in the last km of the final climb, should attack and attack again in the early climbs and descends.

    The only contender at a good level is Porte. But he didn’t get the opportunity to attack early on the final climb. What he should have done. Considering he lost almost two minutes due to a flat in the first stage, he could be allowed to take some advantage.

    If Porte is not the better today, the Tour is done. Quintana, Aru, Martin and co are going to lose time. And not seconds. Maybe Mollema, if he has a better day, could limit the damage. And for the stage, a good and fit Dumoulin is the number one contender today.

    • LUCIFER Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:41 am

      cowards??? bit harsh…. if you don’t have the legs you don’t have the legs…. and bet you’d be pretty stoked with 2nd in the TDF??

      also ‘at a good level’ – come on? these are top professional athletes, not toys, they’re all at good levels, just sometimes some people are better than others – no need to talk about them in such a derogative way.

      hard to say whether Froome’s declining – could have easily just been conservative tactics with hellish upcoming days…… but thanks for telling us what we already knew (minus the crucial detail he may have been ill last year, as Quintana may be ill now…) about 3rd week last year.

      It’s very hard to castigate Quintana for his tactics last year – if you’d been absolutely decimated on Pierre St Martin, would you suddenly a week later think, ‘I can have this guy’? Give him, and everyone a break.

      They’re all good at what they do and giving their all, Sky and Froome are just better this year as Nibali was in 2014 – that race was over a lot sooner than this one!!

      • Jean Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:47 am

        When you are not as strong as Froome, but have good legs and good climbimg abilitys, you have to change tactics. Not attacking at the last 2 K of the final climb. But attack where you have a chance to attact. Where it’s not that steep, on a hill, in a descend. You have to talk with the other contenders, and attact one by one, or to or tree at the time. Even the at the limit (?) scientific prepared Sky-team could not ripost to all attacks. Once a small group formed with contenders, and the Sky-train splitted, it’l last a little before the real chase could start. Fresh teammates (not collaborating) in the break of the day should then wait en help their first man.
        What we see now is that all contenders are just riding for their place. The podium, the top ten. Wat a shame.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:51 am

          One problem with “all ride together against sky to then ride it out amongst them” is, that porte rides with sky. So there the phalanx has it’s first crack, as BMC can’t be counted upon. There may be, probably are, more cracks, that we don’t see from the outside.

          • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:35 pm

            Isn’t the issue more that the risk of missing out on a 2nd/3rd podium place is too high?

            Dan Martin had a stab yesterday & then suffered, fading.

            Mollema and Yates have played a relatively safe game & are wining, certainly against their expectations.

        • Bern Thursday, 21 July 2016, 3:55 pm

          “attact one by one, or to or tree at the time”

          Did anyone else hear Sean Kelly’s voice when they read this? Delightful surprise…

      • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:56 am

        ‘It’s very hard to castigate Quintana for his tactics last year’ – not at all. Last year, Quintana and his team sat up and waited for Valverde at times.
        If Q had tried sooner, more often and from a longer distance he might have won.
        The only way you can win is by trying to win.
        Same goes for the rest of them this year. Not saying it would work, but no-one has tried.
        Might be better for their CV, but I for one am not impressed by 3rd.

        • ebbe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:45 pm

          Movistar made the same, or at least very similar, ‘mistake’ this year in stage 8: After Valverde had all but eliminated himself by going after a feint attack by Henoa on the climb, Quintana sat up on the top before that final descent. Quintana was obviously waiting for Valverde to lead the descent for him, you even could see Quintana looking back trying to find Valverde “where is my descent lead?”.

          But of course in the 8 to 10 seconds that Valverde needed to get from his position at the back of the group to Quintana at the front of the group, Froome was already gone (well spotted by the Sky DSes). Froome gained almost nothing more during the descent. Had Valverde not gone after Henao, he (likely) would have been there with Quintana at the front of that group, Quitana (likely) would not have waited those 8 to 10 seconds, Valverde (likely) would have kept the group together and lead Quintana down safely, and Froome (likely) would not have gotten away (I believe).

        • Dave Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:00 pm

          Usually agree with you J Evans – but these are just words which are easy to throw around in hindsight – whether or not Quintana could really do what you’re suggesting (and no one but he could know what shape he was in) you have to concede it’s as likely to fail as succeed and not this nailed on success the way people comment about it now.

          Not even taking into account the above of the fear Froome would have installed post Pierre St Martin.

          Also I don’t think you’re not taking whether the routes suited this kind of raid – there was a long flat section preAlpe d’Huez last year that I think any tactician would have felt Quintana staying away would have been difficult in itself and draining for the attack on Alpe D’Huez + yes you can say he had a man in the break, but that was climber, who also wouldn’t have faired well across the plain and would have then have been less help on Ad’H.

          I think any sensible manager there would have said to do exactly what Quintana did….

          Finally – why is everyone suddenly saying 2nd,3rd etc is not impressive??? It’s a phenomenal achievement? Would you genuinely disagree if you were in their position not be happy with a podium in the TdF?

          People are getting too demanding….

          Same for @Jean above – you tactics are deluded, teams and people do not combine like that in a bike race, you’re asking too much. And like J Evans, you have to factor in it’s as likely if not more likely to fail than succeed – especially as you’re talking about dropping his team, not Froome himself. There’s every chance Froome can just hit back twice as hard once you get to squeaky bum time and bid them all adios.

          Your tactics do not add up in the real world – cycling isn’t football etc, you don’t have the space for inventive tactics in the same way, usually the strongest generally won out and it’s often just a tale of weight/power.

          • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:16 pm

            It wasn’t hindsight: I was saying it during the race – on these pages.
            All I’ve ever said is that it might have worked.
            And fear shouldn’t have stopped Quintana from trying.
            For me, it’s winning or losing – just my opinion. I can understand Yates and Mollema riding as they are, but for some (Quintana this year and last year) a podium isn’t really worth anything (another 2nd wouldn’t help Quintana’s career).
            As Jean says, teams could work together to combat Sky. Rarely happens, but it is an option – and has happened in the past.
            Cycling is often a tale of weight/power, but the strongest rider doesn’t always win. Tactics, team decisions, etc. can win or lose you a race.
            Examples of where this was possibly the case:
            2011 Tour – Schleck doesn’t attack Evans soon enough
            2011 Vuelta – Froome supports a weaker Wiggins
            2012 Giro – Rodriguez doesn’t attack Hesjedal enough
            2012 Tour – Froome supports Wiggins
            2012 Vuelta – Rodriguez and team let Contador escape
            2013 Vuelta – Nibali underestimates Horner
            2014 Giro – Quintana rides away whilst others don’t follow
            2015 Giro – Landa isn’t allowed to ride his own race
            I stress that all these are merely possibilities of where the outcome of the race could have been different – none are facts.

          • CA Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:57 pm

            Another example where power/weight was trumped by tactics and team decisions:

            2008 TdF – Carlos Sastre attacks on Alpe D’Huez

  • MrJonesDK Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:38 am

    Great preview.

    Oliveira have a chance today?

  • Megi Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:48 am

    Having seen you practically tell us the winner in your opening paragraph “……How much will Chris Froome extend his lead by today?” I half expected to see him mentioned twice in the chain rings: 3 chain rings “Froome(large win)” 2 chain rings “Froome(small win)” or vice versa.
    Let’s hope the race organisers manage to control the crowds properly or the steep sections are going to be an obstacle race for the riders.

    • jc Thursday, 21 July 2016, 10:52 am

      Chris Froome can extend his lead today and not win the stage they are not mutually exclusive

  • Tricky Dicky Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:19 am

    Yates lost 48 secs to Quintana in the Tour of the Basque Country TT this year (but was still top 5 or so). I wonder if the tables turn today. I think we now have a fascinating fight for the podium. If one goes with momentum, you wouldn’t be mad to suggest that there could be two Brits and an Aussie on the podium in Paris. Heaven knows what might have been if the OBE doctor hadn’t screwed up Simon Yates’ TUE application – could we be facing a “Brownlee brothers” scenario in cycling in 2-3 years time? (For those who don’t know what I’m on about, look up triathlon.)

    For the stage itself, I agree with posters here – Dumoulin is my 5* favourite ahead of Froome. I’ve ridden these climbs too – they are irregular but, to me, Froome just doesn’t quite look his imperious best to make the climbing count against a fresh Dumoulin.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:37 am

      Interesting point there, the inclusion of Simon to this race would have been a tasty scenario as the two seem to get on very well as you would expect of brothers. It may at times added a very good dynamic, sadly not to be! thanks Doc.

      • PaulG Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:58 am

        I presume that the ‘faux pas’ by the OBE Doctor means that there is no chance of Simon Yates becoming a Sky rider along with Adam…..Adam will not go where Simon cannot go, there is history there. With Adams stock rising daily, he has a bright future……I am hoping he doesn’t do a GeraintT like last year and blow up in the next couple of days…Chapeau to the fellah

        • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:49 pm

          Pretty sure that Sky would fudge that if they really wanted the Yates brothers (and if the Yates brothers wanted to join). It would just be put down to medical incompetence.

        • Tricky Dicky Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:50 pm

          That’s an interesting point. A clever journalist (calling Cyclig Podcast crew) should probably ask Brailsford what the offical line is to Sky hiring someone if they’ve been tripped up for an “unintentional infraction” or whatever the UCI deemed it with Simon Yates. I’d reckon Sky would still hire them (surely it’s not “doping” per se and so doesn’t offend their zero tolerance approach), but, hopefully, they stay where they are for a while anyway!

          • Sam Friday, 22 July 2016, 4:02 am

            Brailsford screwed up badly when he only offered Simon a contract – and he knows it. Already tried to hire both Simon and Adam when their original 2 year neo contract was coming to an end, but thankfully they turned him down and re-upped with OGE instead. Can’t see them ever accepting repeated offers from Brailsford

        • Nick Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:00 pm

          Sky have bent their founding principles before when they needed to(no doctors with cycling experience was one of them). No doubt they’d find a reason to do so again, if the Yateses generally wanted to come.

        • RJS Thursday, 21 July 2016, 3:35 pm

          I wouldn’t be so sure the Yates boys are bound to each other. They had different routes to turning pro (Simon with the GB Academy, Adam on the French amateur scene) and they said on the Cycling Podcast Friends’ Special that they hired different agents purposefully in order to not be seen as a package.

    • Red Hare Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:57 pm

      A more interesting scenario would be whether Chaves and the Yates brothers are willing to act as each others’ domestiques in a Grand Tour. OBE aren’t exactly bursting with climbers.

      • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:30 pm

        I for one hope that the Yates do NOT end up at Sky. I never have liked Sky and never will.

      • noel Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:30 pm

        Simon Yates success has been all the more remarkable considering the lack of support he’s getting – poor old Ruben Plaza must be knackered after the work he did in the Giro also. Let’s hope Yates avoids a puncture or such like over the next few days…

        • leonn Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:21 pm

          noel,

          Adam is on TDF, Simon was caught on “unintentional infraction”. Likely we will know if Chaves can work with Simon on Vuelta accordingly with Procycling’s provisional list.

      • Elliot Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:06 pm

        Quite. If they put those three together (and Ruben Plaza) you are some way towards a Sky-style mountain train, and with Hayman, Bewley etc Orica have the flat and windy covered. But the riders have to be willing to work in that way. And whichever of the Yates’s or Chaves was designated leader still has to actually out-climb and out-TT Froome.

        Maybe Orica might decide to full-on target Giro and Vuelta with their GC riders and in the Tour stick with stage hunting?

        • Tovarishch Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:44 pm

          OBE have said that they are trying to recruit more domestiques for next year.

        • CA Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:54 pm

          This would be a good strategy for OBE – develop the Yates and Chaves at the Vuelta or Giro, and then in the meantime target stages at TdF – which they’ve done with solid results in the past.

  • Matt Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:40 am

    Will be interesting to see what the Hinault prize does to the time checks. The overall contenders may end up being well down on the splits at that point.

    Will David Lopez lose his KOM? https://www.strava.com/segments/7390524

  • Wackynonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 11:51 am

    As an aside to todays TT, I was reading a fascinating interview with Raphael Geminiani in much respected cycling publication and he mentioned in the 1947 edition of the Tour, the individual TT was a mere 139km!! admittedly though NOT uphill ha ha.

    • Red Hare Thursday, 21 July 2016, 12:49 pm

      Tony Martin territory.

  • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:03 pm

    Should Cancellara have stayed in the Tour to help his team leader who is currently 2nd?
    The upcoming stages are mountainous, but the tendency this year has been for the likes of Stannard/Rowe/Kiriyenka to lead the GC contenders over the intial mountains quite slowly. Ergo, Cancellara could probably be in a position to help Mollema early in the stages.
    And he would seem to have very little chance of Olympic success.

    • routedusud Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:01 pm

      Can’t say that I have noticed Trek helping Mollema that much to be honest. He just tags on the GC group and hangs on. Probably not that much missed for his chances I think.

  • Paul Jakma Thursday, 21 July 2016, 1:57 pm

    Remind me, Zakarin is one of the new generation, right?

    (Kittel too – who has “never seen anything like doping” in his career, funny that for someone who appealed a ban all the way to CAS).

    • Eskorrik Asko Friday, 22 July 2016, 6:12 am

      Let us remind of that “all the way” in this case means two steps of appeal: first to the Deutsches Sportschiedsgericht and the second to the Court of Arbitration in Sport. It was Kittel who appealed to the first and when the German sports court ruled in his favour the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur appealed to the CAS and lost again.

      And we might just as remember, too, what that the “something like doping” consisted of: taking a fairly small amount of blood, treating it with UV light and giving it back to the athlete. Hocus pocus, of course, but if you’d lived in Germany you’d know there is a “small but vibrant community” of medical practitioners who take such “alternative medicine” quite seriously – and no shortage of patients or customers who believe that the treatments (many of which are covered by national or private health insurance schemes) are truly effective.

      A certain amount of cynicism is of course healthier than absolute credulity, but what I don’t like is knowingly mispresenting or not presenting fully facts for a purpose.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 2:55 pm

    Nice to see a TT on ordinary bikes.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:26 pm

    How about that:At the beginning of a stagerace with a TT riders have to apply if they want to ride the TT. Those that don’t want to ride the ITT get the time of the last finisher or a time calculated by n km/h and those that ride get the real time.

    This way you wouldn’t force riders to ride a few kms more, that don’t change much in the overall raceload and you’d have a real race against each other of those that want to win the race overall or the stage. I know an ITT is great for the people roadside, but is it really this good to see riders taking it easy and just hoping for it to be over soon?

    Racing has to get back some meaning. Brice Feillu said it yesterday: You must believe, that you really can win something – that is, what is motivating us. I don’t see much of those chances around. So why force riders to ride, when they don’t care in the slightest about it and they can do nothing in those ITTs? On a normal raceday it makes some sense – you’ll never know what will happen. But in an ITT there are usually no surprises.

    • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:34 pm

      It’s not exciting, but everyone has to do the same distance or they haven’t completed the Tour.
      Simple solution: just watch the last hour.
      I’d say a variety of Movistar riders have no good reason (the team competition is not a good reason) to ride as hard as they have – they’re never going to win today. (Same goes for Nibali.)
      Have they given up on Quintana or are Movistar unwilling to ever rest riders? They’re the only ones who care about that team competition – TVG seems to be doing nothing for BMC and Sky seem to be resting everyone.

      • Red Hare Friday, 22 July 2016, 12:36 pm

        Honestly, what’s it to you if they care? Quintana’s not going to win, and may well not podium. If Movistar want to salvage something from the Tour by going for the team competition, fair play to them. It’s not going to win them respect but they all get to climb on the podium in Paris, that probably means something to the riders. That’s a good reason to ride.

    • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:49 pm

      I agree with the first sentence of your last paragraph, though.
      There is the idea that the GC contests are closer than previously because the riders are closer together in quality.
      I think it’s because nowadays people attack a lot less. They mostly all follow each other and then maybe sprint at the end. This and the TTs produce the time differences.
      Certainly the case in this Tour, thus far.

    • CA Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:53 pm

      So defeatist – if any riders don’t feel like riding the ITT, there’s a desk job waiting for them somewhere! Thousands of guys or girls would take their place in a heartbeat.

      Everybody has a reason to ride the ITT.

      1. For riders who are close to Froome, today’s another chance to beat him down.

      2. For riders who aren’t in with a shot to win, but not on a GC team, today’s the day to lay down a PB.

      3. For riders on a GC team, today’s the day to rest because you’re needed tomorrow.

      4. For those guys who are sore or injured, I feel bad you are hurting, but you’re lucky to be at the Tour, so please grow up and ride your tail off – your professional cycling career won’t last long so enjoy it while it lasts! It’s very likely your next job won’t be 1/10th as exciting!

      • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 5:02 pm

        Wow! That was loud. Nevermind.

        • CA Thursday, 21 July 2016, 5:09 pm

          Ha, sorry. Just thought I’d point out that none of these riders are forced to ride the ITT if they don’t want… they can stay home if they don’t feel up to the task!

  • Anonymous Thursday, 21 July 2016, 4:42 pm

    It would be nice when riding a flat/uphill TT that the UCI weight limit on a “normal” bike could be somewhat reduced. The industry then would have some motivation to develop light weight stuff etc. and we could see some fancy bikes. Seeing riders like Burito swap bikes seems so stupid.

    • Tovarishch Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:41 pm

      Froome’s Bolide weighed in at 7.8 kgs. It is very difficult to get a TT bike down to the minimum.

  • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 5:42 pm

    I can see that there’s a certain almost ‘academic’ interest in how the riders went today – Bardet, Porte and Aru doing well, and Froome, obviously – but I’m perplexed as to why people really care.
    Obviously, it matters to the riders if they come 3rd instead of 5th, but why would a neutral fan care? Winner of the 1993 Tour – yup, I know that. Who came 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th? No idea and don’t care. I doubt that many here could name those off the top of their head.
    Ironic to see Froome do a ‘Wiggins single punch’ as he crossed the TT line in yellow.

    • RonDe Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:06 pm

      I’m not sure a single-fisted punch is unique to or patented by Wiggins. Its a common expression of joy at a victory. And Froome hit the ball out the park today every bit as much as Wiggins did back in 2012.

    • Chris Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:27 pm

      2nd – Rominger, 3rd – Jaskula, 4th – Mejia, 5th – Riis. Off the top of my head but I was a TDF geek in the early 90s so not a representative sample. I could probably do the podium for every Tour since 1988 though so would argue a podium place has sporting value.

      • J Evans Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:38 pm

        Wow.
        I could name every winner going back to the 70s, but barely any 2nds once you go back a decade, and probably none of the others.

        • Ferdi Thursday, 21 July 2016, 8:53 pm

          I can name every top-10 since Jean Robic. It does matter to be 7th.

      • Chris Thursday, 21 July 2016, 6:40 pm

        I lied, just tried to name all the podiums and failed. Surprisingly high number of riders who get one or two podiums which may explain why it does matter so much to those riders e.g. Parra, Escartin, Peraud etc

      • Ferdi Thursday, 21 July 2016, 9:10 pm

        But aiming for a placing other than winner gets no respect. Ocana always despised Zoetemelk for not challenging Merckx’ supremacy and instead scientifically maximizing his results by wheelsucking. Ocana made sure he lost the 1976 Tour to Van Impe, and didn’t like his fortuitous, not offensive, team-based, 1980 victory.

    • Red Hare Friday, 22 July 2016, 12:28 pm

      It’s possible to be neutral, a fan, and find what happens in the minor placings entertaining. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean you need to sneer.

  • Rocket Thursday, 21 July 2016, 7:14 pm

    Inrng, when are you going to offer the for pay version of the website that automatically deletes J Evans comments? Sign me up.