Tour de France Stage 19 Preview

Friday, 21 July 2017

The race leaves the Alps behind for a stage that should see a battle between the breakaway and the sprinters teams because many team have yet to win a stage and this is their last chance.

Stage 18 Review: Warren Barguil rode out of the yellow jersey group on the final climb, caught the remaining survivors of the breakaway including Darwin Atapuma and took an impressive stage win to seal his polka dot jersey. Assuming he makes it to Paris he’ll be a popular and satisfying winner of the mountains competition. Other recent winners either went on a raid precisely because they could not match the overall contenders on the climbs; some like Chris Froome won the jersey as an afterthought as they raced for yellow. It’s Barguil’s second stage win and he was a photo finish away from a third and he’s delivered on the promise that saw him win the 2012 Tour de l’Avenir and take the points and mountains jersey along the way too.

Behind Team Sky and Ag2r La Mondiale both did their mountain train routine and it thinned down the field and helped eject Fabio Aru but it’s the tactical equivalent of a fire blanket, it smothers the race. Romain Bardet again attacked but was closed down before Chris Froome had a go and got a gap. This time Rigoberto Urán closed him down on the small descent through the Casse Déserte area and the ease which he did this does provide something to extrapolate for Saturday’s time trial. Bardet tried again in the final kilometre and once again could not shake his rivals but managed to get the last time bonus on the line, proof that the top three are so inseparable that the artifice of time bonuses is needed (Uran has collected 22 seconds, Bardet 14, Froome 12). With that the Alps are done and the overall classification has actually tightened among the top-3 while the rest, notably Fabio Aru, fell away.

The Route: 225km, the longest of the race. Like Wordsworth’s journey down the Simplon there’s a sadness as the race turns its back on the Alps for another year. They start in Embrun, home to the majestic artificial lake and then take two proper climbs rather than the easier valley road, the first is 4.7km at 6% but with a steep section over 10% along the way. Then it’s via Sisteron, a regular on the route of Paris-Nice, and more rolling roads.

The Col du Pointu, “Pointy Pass”, is listed as 5.8km at an unpointy 4.1% but it’s really a 10km uphill ride and if the average gradient is low it’s got some 7-8% bits on the way up where it’s 45km to the finish. There’s a reciprocal descent and is familiar from the 2016 Paris-Nice. It’s then around the Luberon and flat roads to the finish.

The Finish: a flat run through the town of Salon-de-Provence. The final kilometre has a criterium touch with two 90° left bends in the finish but they’re regular corners. Then there’s a 400m finishing straight that dips slightly before rising to the line. Again it was the same finish as Paris-Nice in 2016 when Alexey Lutsensko won solo that day.

The Contenders: half the peloton will fancy its chances today. Let’s start with the sprinters because now Marcel Kittel is gone suddenly a lot of them and their teams will fancy their chances today but only if they can contain the race so the likes of André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) are their team’s strongest cards to play with the first two often capable of getting over a climb like the Col du Pointu when others cannot. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) is more versatile and could go in a breakaway or wait for the sprint or perhaps his team mates go clear? The same for Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) who could be beaten in the sprint by the names cited above but Sunweb could hatch a plan on the Col du Pointu to suit him.

Many teams have not won a stage so far and it’s now or never given there’s tomorrow’s time trial and the Parisian sprint. So Bahrain-Merida, BMC Racing, Cofidis, Dimension Data, Fortuneo-Oscaro, Katusha-Alpecin, Movistar, Orica-Scott, UAE Emirates and Wanty-Groupe Gobert will try to flood the early breakaway, preferably with more than one rider to give them options and tactical cards to play. Other teams are bound to join in too. Given this it means the breakaway is going to be sizeable and therefore much harder to bring back. Who? Spin that wheel but three random names: Greg Van Avermaet and Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) and the versatile Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac)

Edvald Boasson Hagen, André Greipel
Bouhanni, Matthews, Degenkolb, GVA, Cummings, Küng

Weather: warm and sunny with a top temperature of 33°C. This is mistral country, the wind and not the font, but there will only be a 20km/h breeze from the south so the possibility of racing in the crosswinds looks low… update: this has changed and there’s no the chance of 40km/h gusts from the south so the section from Lourmarin onwards with 35km to go is exposed to crosswinds.

TV: live from the start at 12.15pm CEST with the finish forecast for 5.45pm CEST. Watch the start to see what happens and ideally tune in ahead of the Col du Pointu from 4.30pm CEST onwards.

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MrJonesDK July 21, 2017 at 8:18 am

You mention Stefan Küng for the breakaway, but ain’t he a contender for the TT tomorrow?

About André Greipel, does he like a tecnical finish?? Colbrelli like it more? Didn’t Kristoff crash hard the other day?

I’ll go for EBH for the sprint and GVA and Degenkolb in for the breakaway. It’s a long stage..

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

Maybe Küng can try for tomorrow but the climb doesn’t suit him and he’s taken some good wins from breakaways so we’ll see. Colbrelli hasn’t been very visible, apparently he’s very tired after a long string of races without much rest.

MrJonesDK July 21, 2017 at 9:05 am

Is the climb that hard, that it will even it out between the GC and TT guys tomorrow? I thought it was to short.

Michael July 21, 2017 at 8:19 am

As I have written even before the Pyrenees, Froome had this race sewn up by then. If he doesn’t crash or puncture in the TT, he will cruise to overall victory. It baffles me, how dull and predictable the Tour is year after year in comparison to the Dauphine. Despite the small margins in time, I never really got excited by the race. The route backfired on the organizers – they wanted to create something out of the ordinary, but it proved to be even worse than in the previous years.

David July 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

Completely agree. The Alps were a big anti-climax this year. The organisers need to think about ditching these setpiece mountain stages at the end of the race. The showdowns they hope for never really happen.
The Giro this year was, again, a more interesting race despite a dull first week. Putting a longish TT in at the beginning of the second week was a masterstroke – it meant the climbers had to come out and attack Dumoulin, given the final day TT. (And on that point, it would have been interesting to see how he would have fared in this year’s race – for me the best GT rider about; his Giro win was so impressive)
Here’s a suggestion for the Tour route: how about concluding the mountain stages with four or five days to go – and filling it instead lumpy stages, rolling stages, even a Paris Roubaix stage in the final week and then a TT.
They need to have a rethink for sure because backloading the route with these desired ‘epics’ just isn’t happening – and the riders are cooked by the time they get to them.
Ok, it’s not over yet but if someone had said at the start of the race that there would be less than 30 seconds covering the top three with a couple of stages to go you’d think it had been a classic along the lines of 1989 when Fignon and LeMond – even Delgado – were at it hammer and tongs. It hasn’t.

MonsieurLePompideux July 21, 2017 at 8:59 am

When they put more time trials in the race people complain its boring because Froome wins easily. See 2016 Tour which he won by 4 minutes. The mistake is thinking that any given course will provide a superior race. The best simply adapt. Bardet or Quintana will never win a TT heavy race. Dumoulin won the Giro BECAUSE it had 69kms of time trials. He could even afford to stop for a dump and still win. Halve the number of TT kilometers and that makes it a competition. That’s what the Tour organisers did here. I doubt Dumoulin would have won this Tour for just that reason. He must be hoping for more time trials next year but that will simply make it Dumoulin vs Froome.

Mark July 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

There is significantly less mountains in this Tour than the Giro, Dumoulin only began to crack in the mountains at the very end, before that and besides the toilet stop he was actually gaining time on the climbers regardless of the TT so who knows how he would have fared here.

Ronytominger July 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

Quintana attacked in the alps two years ago. He didnt manage to take enough time on froome to win but still.

MonsieurLePompideux July 21, 2017 at 9:20 am

That race also had low TT kilometers and most of them were a team time trial. But Quintana took his eye off the ball in two early stages, losing time in the crosswinds in Holland and getting spanked on La Pierre St. Martin. Quintana should have won that Tour which, if you recall at the time, was said to be the strongest kind of route for him that he could expect in the Tour de France. If fate gives you “your route” then its up to you to make the most of it. As I said before, the best simply adapt. All the best all rounder wins anyway. Quintana is not a true all-rounder at all. Or, at least, not the best one.

routedusud July 21, 2017 at 8:54 am

Michael is this the latest entry in an ongoing series of posts headed “This Tour/Giro/Vuelta is boring”? I’m increasingly realising that whatever happens there are always people for whom every race was boring. Check back to the Giro comments. That too was boring. I have no doubt a really boring Vuelta is coming up next month.

Is cycling now just boring?

Tom L July 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

Routedusud +1

Michael July 21, 2017 at 9:10 am

Cycling isn’t boring, there are a lot of exciting races on the calendar. The spring classics are brilliant every year, Paris-Nice and the Dauphine are full of excitement too and are in my opinion the best stages races at the moment. Giro and Vuelta have been great in the past few years, although I agree that this years’s Giro was a level below compared to last year for example (partly due to some bad stage planning). But the Tour… well, since 2011 it was a snoozefest. As David wrote above the organizers need to have a complete rethink of the route. One of them would be to split the mountains and throw in a summit finish right at the beginning, like the Vuelta has done on several occasions. A cobbled stage at the end is a great idea too, particularly as we are heading to Paris then and Roubaix is not far away.

BenW July 21, 2017 at 12:27 pm

It sounds to me like it’s tough to plan a route for a 3 week race to please Michael Off The Internet. You could, you know, stick to one week Stage Races or One Day Classics, rather than dumping all over the comments section nice and high up here.

Opinions are indeed like ars*holes though, and mine is that this race has been decent – small gaps, Froome riding into form, other contenders doing the same or dropping off unexpectedly. Porte’s crash didn’t help. Had he not binned it, we’d have an entirely different race. The Green Jersey contest would have been tighter too with Cav and Sagan involved.

Cilmeri July 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

This is interesting, because I disagree. I’ve been enthralled by it this year, the GC being so close with even Aru looking like a potential winner about a week ago then tailing off. I’m not a froome fan, but applaud the way he fought back from the mechanical the other day. The short stage in the pyranees was electrifying, and the race for mountain and green jerseys has been a very good distraction this year. The white jeresey has been the only “dull” contest, but even then with Yates cracking and meinjtes making up time that has had good points as well.

Yes, agreed, we’re not in a desired position now, as we were in the Giro. Ideally we’d have Bardet first, Uran a minute back then Froome a further 30 seconds, but to be fair it will still be an interesting TT. Nevertheless it’s been the best Tour of recent years in my opinion. (Agreed I also seem to prefer the Giro and Vuelta, but this has been a good race.)

David July 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Agree that the race for the green jersey for sure has been interesting – until Kittel packed.
I’m not suggesting that including more TTs, less TTS, more mountains, less mountains will change the result – for Sky it’s the most important race of the year so they pack their team with GT talent – but I do think a fundamental rethink of routes is needed to make it a bit more exciting.
I must confess I am one of those who thinks the best three weeks of the cycling year starts with San Remo and ends with Roubiax.
But the TdF is the TdF so commands the most attention. The last few years has been to backload the Tour with an expected ‘epic’ mountain stage and it’s never really taken off. It risks becoming a bit formulaic.
Rejigging the route with some high mountains in the first week, a TT the middle week and the rolling stages/cobbles/bergs in the last week might work. I don’t know – but I think it’s worth giving it a go.
To be fair, they have tried to minimise the impact of trains with this year’s route with limited success. There have been exciting stages in this year’s race – the Mont du Chat one and the one Matthews won after the crosswinds blew – but I just don’t think it’s been an exciting race, which seems odd to say I accept given three riders are within 30 seconds of each other.

Cilmeri July 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Fair points, my counter would be that they have tried lots of things, including stuff you’re suggesting, which I think adds to teh variety year on year. eg cobbles have been included twice recently, TTT in the second week of a recent tour (having had special dispensation), early visit to planche de belle filles this year, and early visits to mur de huy and mur de cherbourg in recent years.

I would argue that the races are actually less formulaic over the last few years than in previous years, but a set-piece mountain top is what the tour is all about as well. If we don’t like those then we have flanders, roubaix, san remo, paris nice period of racing instead (which I agree with you is a more favoured time of year for me!)

hoh July 21, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think the point is about where you place the Cobbles and various other stuffs. For example, Nobali would treat the cobble differently depending on whether it’s first week or the last week where he is 20 sec behind Froome for example.

Given how cobble stage was raced in the past 5 years, I don’t quite personally agree with this thesis. If a cobble do happen in 3rd week, it would be less exiting. Quintana & co. who aren’t that confident on cobble in the first place would get more intimated (if they are behind Froome) thus cautious about losing time. Froome, who is not bad on cobble would also relax since he’s got some time cushion. Overall, the stage will be muted, left to be fight over by cobble specialists who don’t have a team leader to shepherd (thus less of them competing).

Vedrafjord July 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm

ASO’s selected criteria for stage design include:
– make the race competitive (or at least give someone a chance to beat Froome)
– keep the gaps small going into the final week
– give the French guys a chance

At the moment Froome is way ahead of his competitors (except Dumoulin in future) in TTs, descent finishes lead to tighter racing (see 2011) and Bardet’s a great descender. This means lots of descent finishes and few TT km. But the few TT km mean there’s no incentive for the poor TTers like Aru to go from a long way out in the mountains.

noel July 21, 2017 at 3:49 pm

and don’t forget that Porte, Valverde and Thomas could have been right in the mix here… ok you always lose a couple, but I do wonder quite what people expect sometimes…

stevhanti July 21, 2017 at 8:20 am

I’m rooting for Styby today.

hoh July 21, 2017 at 8:27 am

EBH. Greipel on Sunday.

RonDe July 21, 2017 at 8:23 am

I disagree with Mr Inrng’s comments about yesterday’s stage. Froome pulled a gap but it was in exactly the wrong place… just before the descent! This was where Uran found the will to close the gap again. But I wonder what would have happened if there had been 2kms of climbing when Froome attacked? They didn’t immediately chase him. Uran looked to be hanging on at the end and lost 2 seconds. As to how this extrapolates for his time trial I have my doubts. Comments these last few weeks have ranged from turning Uran into Kiryienka or Tom Duloulin to arguing he’s one of the best time triallers around. These people clearly haven’t been to procycling stats and read his results. He has NO notable ITT results in 2015, 2016 or this year to date. He had one golden year, 2014, and before that at Sky was one of the better time triallers but by no means outstanding. This year he has been bumbling along in 33rd place or the like in ITTs usually 1.30 or so down on the winner. If consistency is a thing then this isn’t something Froome should worry too much about. On the other hand, if Uran suddenly does an ITT completely at odds with recent results isn’t that… suspicious? I expect him to be decent enough but nothing special. That has been his ITT form for the last 3 years.

A word about Froome. The yellow jersey is a consistency prize. Its not the best climber prize, the most attacking rider prize, the rider with the most panache prize or anything else. Its a prize for being consistently good over all terrains and multiple types of race. You cannot have any obvious flaws (such as not being able to climb, time trial or descend) to win it and you need to avoid the “bad day”. So the winner is the person who proves themselves to be the best all-rounder. In a way that’s quite a boring thing and I think sometimes people get confused and think that a consistency prize is something else more exciting. It seems clear to me that for a few years now Froome has been honing his consistency whilst others (Bardet, Quintana, for example) have obvious flaws which make them less consistent. Courses will differ of course but if the same man keeps winning then maybe that is proof that he really is the most consistent and so a deserving winner?

Michael July 21, 2017 at 8:36 am

Uran’s 2014 results in ITTs are probably connected to his move to Quick Step. He probably worked on his TT ability there, as they were a team who were putting their focus on the race against the clock. In the Barolo TT in the Giro they have placed 4 riders in the Top10! But ever since he wasn’t able to come even close to this exploits. I predict that he will do ok with the extra motivation of fighting for the yellow jersey, but I still expect him to lose at least 30 s to Froome.

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

Uran’s TT win needs to be seen in context, it was a hilly course where he beat the likes of Ulissi, Evans and Majka, Brambilla, Poels. As you say he had help from his team/Specialized with time in the wind tunnel and this time the Cannondale TT bike isn’t rated very highly… by some on the team https://soundcloud.com/cycling-central/zwift-tour-de-france-podcast-ep-21-barguil-van-vleuten-master-izoard#t=6:58

Dan July 21, 2017 at 9:29 am

I thought Froome’s attack was well placed. Bardet had just been hauled back and was badly placed, on the wrong side of Gallopin, and they were just about to crest the climb. It seemed perfectly natural to have a dig at Bardet in the off chance he might crack or at the very least would have to work a bit,to make the catch.

MikeF July 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

I did find myself wondering just how much the motos pulling out and accelerating in the gap once Froome passed helped Uran’s chase – every little helps when the limit is that close (I don’t think it was a deliberate move by the motos though)

hoh July 21, 2017 at 5:13 pm

I think it is a situation of geographically best arrack spot not agreeing with race situation best attack spot.

Richard S July 21, 2017 at 10:10 am

Froome will beat all his rivals in the time trial and then you’ll be able to relax safe in the knowledge that your 3 weeks of telling us that he would hasn’t been wasted. I think Uran’s lapse in TT results may be have been as a result of not being in contention for GC in stage races and so not trying as hard. Lots of riders are quite good at TT’s, most of the sprinters and classics riders have the power if not the well honed position, they just don’t need to try. But when they do in say Tirreno-Adriatico or 3 Days of De Panne when they are in with a shout they do pretty well. Anyway, even when Uran was at his peak in TTs he wasn’t as good as Froome. If he rolls back the years and does a good one he’ll have enough to secure second. if he stays at his recent level then he’ll have a fight on to beat Bardet.

Do we know if Bardet will even have a TT bike for this one? AG2R have had a bit of a habit of sending him and Pozzovivo out on road bikes in recent years. A bit like someone turning up for tennis practice with a squash racket.

Eskerrik Asko July 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

It hasn’t been all that bad, actually – your memory is playing a trick on you, if I may say so. It is true that on a couple of occasions he hasn’t ridden a Chrono but a road bike with aero bars – but that has been on courses with highly a typical profiles.
In other words AG2R has “sent their riders out on road bikes” only in situations where the pros and cons of the two different bikes had to be weighed against each other and the particular characteristic of each rider had to be taken into consideration and where AG2R certainly wasn’t the only team to send out some of its riders on road bikes.

Charles July 21, 2017 at 11:57 pm

As I remember it it was because Focus didn’t make TT bikes in small enough frame sizes and UCI regs said all bikes had to be available to public. Am I wrong?

The Inner Ring July 22, 2017 at 10:39 am

That’s right, Pozzovivo could not get a TT frame to suit with Focus, their previous bike sponsor. TT frames are a big problem for some sponsors, the market is very small and dominated by a handful of brands so for some of the smaller bike brands, even if they sponsor big teams, it’s something they can’t invest much in. In Focus’s case back then, that seemed to include a smaller mould.

Irungo txuletak July 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

I think Uran will make a good TT and will take 2nd without too much difficulty. Maybe he can make a time in the region of Froome’s. But taking him 30sec back? I don’t believe it.

Orba July 21, 2017 at 2:37 pm

I find it funny and fascinating how all the prediction “experts” here think to know how good or bad Urán will be in the TT, when none, none of them foresaw that he will be sitting in 3rd, only 29s away from yellow.

RonDe July 21, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Well since you mention it Orba it is somewhat of a conundrum someone (I mean you Mr Vaughters) needs to explain.

geiwerner July 22, 2017 at 9:22 am

I so agree re Froome. He adapts best and that, with the consistency, and of course a formidable team, makes him the best GC´er in the Tour.

Anonymous July 21, 2017 at 8:28 am

Kwiatkoski has to be a candidate for rider of the race – did you see yesterday how when he peeled off the front he had to unclip and stop he had worked so hard?

Chris J July 21, 2017 at 8:39 am

Agree. He’s had an outstanding race. A few others have also stood out for doing improbably long distances on the front. Always impressed by the sacrifices and sheer effort the donestiques put in for their leaders.

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 8:54 am

Likewise, Kwiatkowski has been very impressive although he’s among the best paid riders in the bunch so he’s expected to be. He’s also an interesting character who helps out junior cyclists in his home town with his own initiatives and money. Hopefully he can rest and come back to race for himself in the Worlds, Lombardia etc

Rupert July 21, 2017 at 9:08 am

Total agree, when Nieve peeled of on the Galibier stage I thought – oh Sky are saving him for tomorrow, turns out he MK has just risen so when he’s made Nieve and Henao redundant!

RonDe July 21, 2017 at 9:27 am

Nieve has done consistent work at this Tour, particularly on mountain days, and has regularly beaten Vuillermoz and/or Bakelants at the finishes which is why Sky lead the team prize by over 15 minutes. Henao, as I understand it, has been below par in this race for whatever reason but Sky have to work with what they’ve got.

Somers July 21, 2017 at 9:11 am

Also agree. He was certainly worth the money. Super domestiques who win monuments in their personal time are rare. Its scary to think that Sky has got Wout Poels and Diego Rosa to chose from next year too. I reckon Sky could comfortably win the tour with 6 – the above three, Stannard and another flat specialist (and Froome, of course).

Ecky Thump July 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

It’ll be an odd team double of yellow jersey and lanterne rouge, if it transpires?

Cilmeri July 21, 2017 at 10:28 am

Last time was 1964 apparently! (According to Cilian Kelly on twitter)

Nick July 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

Quite nice that there’s a cycling trivia question/combination of results to which the answer isn’t “Eddy Merckx”.

JM July 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Wasn’t Wout Poels a monument winner (LBL) and superdom last year?

What I find remarkable is that every year SKY seem to have a different superdomestique that can rise to the level… Froome, Porte, Thomas, Poels, now Kwiatkowski.

Thomas July 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

He is more a super Classics rider who plays domestique in his free time. Anyway it is great to see him in such great shape again this year.

TDog July 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Froome basically had a 5 man support team including Kwiato, Landa, Kiry, Knees and Rowe. Nieve and Henao were no shows this year. Impressive work by those five. Perhaps the race should institute a “handicap” system. Every three days in Yellow the race leader gets docked a teammate.

AP July 21, 2017 at 10:01 pm

For better or for worse, Sky will still somehow find a way.

Rt July 21, 2017 at 11:35 pm

Keiatkowski is Surely not a domestique. After Froome hes the other one at sky winning the important races this season.

Pablo Fleece July 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

Does it look like Froom is getting a bit sick or just a cough and mucus after a hard day’s effort?

Somers July 21, 2017 at 9:04 am

He’s been like that for years

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

He does seem to cough more and more into the third week but don’t forget it’s also normal after you’ve sprinted for the line at 2,300m.

STS July 21, 2017 at 11:33 am

How should they know 😉 ?

DAVE July 21, 2017 at 11:43 am

Yep it’s normal, but would love to know why, why do you cough after a big exertion?
I was coughing after a quick jaunt round the Eastern counties last night!

Foley July 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

@Dave- I don’t know that there is a “why,” and not sure it’s totally normal, but it’s colloquially known as “exercise-induced asthma” and like you I can testify that it is a real thing. Froome has long showed symptoms, has used a puffer during races, etc.

Mark July 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Sounds like he needs a decongestant delivered urgently…. Ahh better not go there.

ChasM July 21, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Coughing is also a symptom of his asthma

osbk67 July 21, 2017 at 9:43 am

Barring accidents or mechanicals I expect Froome to comfortably better the rest of the GC top ten, including Uran, in the TT Saturday, but to be outside the top three on the stage overall. I think he’s a master of preparing for the course at hand, and that has come at some cost to his previous TT ability this season. Never a fan, but I think Valverde’s presence would have made the race a lot more interesting. As would a true, traditional mountain TT contested between six or seven contenders within a minute or so of each other in the last week. One prologue, one c. 50km flat TT and a mountain TT always seemed a good balance to me across three weeks…

Irungo txuletak July 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

Agree on Valverde. This route really suited him. He would have been a good contender as he would surely have taken some bonifs.

Irungo txuletak July 21, 2017 at 10:17 am

Agree on Valverde. This route really suited him. He would have been a good contender as he would surely have taken some time bonuses.

DJS July 21, 2017 at 10:05 am

I agree with those above who state that changing the race (more/less TT; more/less mountains) is not going to fundamentally affect the outcome of the Grand Tours. The reason the TdF seems more boring than other GTs is that teams bring their A-game and that there are big differences in team budgets and therefore capabilities. This is not the first year Sky has brought two riders who could both take the top step on the podium in Paris plus a set of top-notch domestiques. Try all you want but if you’re on a team with lesser capabilities/funding, it will be nigh on impossible to beat Froome. Just look at how AG2R did not manage to drop the skytrain while offloading a lot of the rest of the pack yesterday. When the last helper of Bardet faded, Sky simply took over.
Well-funded teams that know they are still never going to beat Sky can exploit this as brilliantly shown by Quick-Step (5 stages, nearly the green jersey, and still someone high on GC who, however likeable and hard-working, is not a no 1 contender) and of course Sunweb. They simply ride a different race. Movistar on the other hand seem to target GCs but not just in the Tour de France, which is costing them in this race.

If you really want to change the race a US-style cap on total spending on team roster might work (although, as explained on this website before, this is going to be difficult with the differences in tax regimes for different teams). An alternative is bringing down team size – but this is something that sponsors will justifiably balk at. Given the fact that a simple mechanical on saturday can still cost Froome the top-step on the podium (remember the Menchov Giro final TT stress) I don’t think we should complain.

DAVE July 22, 2017 at 12:08 am

Please see F.Moser at Giro 84

tedba July 21, 2017 at 10:19 am

Seems to be a lot of people who have decided that Froome has ridden some sort of perfectly controlled tour, given that his victory has been assured since the opening time trial. Were that really the case he must surely be disappointed to have such a slender lead. The race I see at the moment has Froome only a mechanical or a crosswind away from losing yellow. Surely still the strong favourite, but not in the place he would have liked to be at the start of the race.

RonDe July 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

Not sure you think where Froome “would have liked to have been” but I think he would have liked to have been 1st and he is. Barring mishaps (which all riders must always say) he will probably still win by 1 minute plus which is comparable to 2015. Considering he once lost the Vuelta by 13 seconds I’m sure he is happy the small advantage is on his side this time. This wasn’t a course where anyone was ever going to win by 4-5 minutes. That needs to also be remembered.

Rupert July 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

Agree, I think that in the back of his mind he’s always had the Vuelta in the back of his mind and he’s been comfortable with where he is. I think he wanted 20/30 seconds to have a barrier for a mechanical in the TT. If he wins by 1 second on Sunday, he’ll consider it a job well done

Watts July 21, 2017 at 10:35 pm

Agreed. This was the “find a way to ambush Froome-course”. They did not find a way.
Sky seems to have timed Froome’s form differently this year. Which means he will go for the Vuelta as well, and probably succeed.
As for tomorrow there is talk about Uran somehow beating Froome in the TT to take the win. Unless I’ve missed the part where Froome lost one of his legs I’d think they are wrong.

RonDe July 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm

I think the scenario where Uran beats Froome in an ITT by leg power alone is wishful thinking at the very least. Given their recent history in the discipline (the last 3 years worth of results) its a fantasy.

KG July 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

The weather could play a role at the end of the stage as the forecast is for storms with 80 kph gusts from 17:00. the clouds are just beginning to build up and there is a risk of thunder storms from 14:00.

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 10:32 am

Thanks, it was forecast to be calm yesterday but as you say this is changing. I can only see gusts of 40km/h on Meteo France and the nearby Etang de Berre looks calm for today https://www.windguru.cz/334

Tom L July 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm

How is the direction? Could there be crosswind riding in the last 45k?

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm

There’s a map in the preview above 😉

Charles July 22, 2017 at 12:10 am

This is a great site for wind strength and direction
https://www.windy.com/

Bernie Victor July 21, 2017 at 10:49 am

I reckon this tour has been as good and exciting as any one in the past.

It has never been a walkover for Froome. Pity Sagan was disqualified, he would have livened things up even more.

Great riding from Landa. Future Tour winner I would think.

souln July 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Landa was impressive, but he has to leave Sky to have a chance to win a Tour

hoh July 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Froome has a year or two left. Landa would be 29 years old then. Still in his prime.

Landa improved significantly on his ITT during his time with Sky (he did extremely well in last year’s Giro ITT though abandoned abruptly right after). I think he is better off staying with Sky.

CN has been doing its best to play up the Landa vs Froome (no) drama. I suppose we will know by 1st Aug if at least the transfer part is true.

Rt July 22, 2017 at 1:15 am

Landa wont wait another year for leadership. He wasnt even sole designated leader at the giro. Its the second gt where he appeared stronger or as strong as his leader. He will end up spending his prime as superdomestique like porte, by waiting any longer. So i guess he will probablychange.

Nevman July 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

Sky’s ambition to win the Tour with a French rider looks doable if they can sign Barguil or Bardet.Anyone want to add Calmejane,Buchman,Yates and Yates,Landa Kwia and Poels to the 8 man team?

STS July 21, 2017 at 11:44 am

Does Team Sky really want to win the TdF with a French rider? Or was that just something big Dave sometimes said in order to please the French press / public when he was still talking to those?
I don’t know how popular Sky as a TV company is in France and what potential they have there. But from a marketing point of view that would probably make sense. But only if you look at the French market as most Brits surely would not like Team Sky supporting a French rider as long as there are Brits like Froome, Thomas and the Yates brothers (possibly) capable of going for yellow.
The current GB society seems to include a frightening big share of some of the most nationalistic people in Europe and that, somewhat astonishing for me, also includes a lot of cycling fans.

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 11:50 am

Sky have been interested in Barguil and Pinot before but they’re under contract, Bardet too. They’ve apparently signed Pavel Sivakov, the son of Russian parents and the most dominant U23 rider this season by a very long way, he grew up in France and the last I heard is applying for dual nationality, we’ll see if he switches his UCI nationality or not.

There’s nationalism all around and it is often expressed in sport. Pro cycling is often detached from this though, people cheer for laminated flooring, state lotteries or tour operators instead.

Tovarishch July 21, 2017 at 11:57 am

I was going to comment that they might win it first with a Russian rider but it seems that might not be true.

STS July 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for the insight!
Well, don’t they actually cheer for the riders because they like how they race, individually or as a team?
I, personally, don’t really care for what QuickStep (or any other sponsor from out of the cycling world) as a company actually produces but I sympathize with the inspired way the team most often races. Dan Martin perfectly fits into this team with his never give up fighting spirit and I would like him no matter if he was Irish, Russian, or Basque. But I’m one of the minority these days on whom the whole concept of nationalism is completely lost. To be honest it looks so dumb to me I can’t take anyone serious who believes in it.

Me and my Aru July 21, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Dan Martin couldn’t be more of a Brummie if he sang ‘Paranoid’ in every presser. ‘Resigned to his fate’ doesn’t get close. Top man. Great rider.

Schmilsson July 21, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Willing to “jump into the fire,” then? What’s the point?

DAVE July 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

Sky signing Bardet would be huge. One way ticket to becoming popular throughout the sport.

Although given perfect circumstances Pinot maybe actually have more raw talent (ie better climber and TT’er) – if Sky could translate consistency into Pinot’s riding he might surpass Bardet and Barguil.

Bardet is fantastic though, couldn’t be more impressed by him, now if he could just sort his TT…

hoh July 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Sky made Landa reasonable ITTer, no reason why they can’t transform Bardet. Sky winning with a French rider would however be salt on the wound for the French teams.

Charles July 22, 2017 at 12:19 am

They have “failed/underperformed” as much as succeeded – EBH, Steve Cummings, Kennugh, Dombrowski etc.

CA July 21, 2017 at 6:55 pm

WHAT? Sorry, Bardet signing at Sky wouldn’t make him popular throughout the sport… That’s the old American-centric viewpoint. Just because he signed for a Brit team wouldn’t make him hugely popular.

He’s already super popular in the biggest cycling market on the planet… and the rest of the world don’t need him to move to Sky to become even bigger.

hoh July 21, 2017 at 8:15 pm

I think what Dave meant was that Sky trying to French wash to gain popularity by buying Bardet.

CA July 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Oh, it’ll be very hard for him to really become great against the clock. His physique doesn’t lend itself to building the necessary power.

Digahole July 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm

I just don’t see how Pinot can win a GT while his descending is so poor. Apparently he’s worked on it but doesn’t seemed to have helped much.

The Inner Ring July 21, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Pinot’s descending is good. He had a problem once in the Tour de France and this image has stuck with him but see his ride to the podium in the 2015 Giro di Lombardia for example, or the Giro in May.

Rt July 22, 2017 at 1:19 am

I dont think the germans let buchmann become another domestique for the brits. If he proves caoable, bora will organise him a little squad, a gc-man is what they are waiting for so desperately in germany

STS July 21, 2017 at 11:48 am

Another great stage to ride btw. Not boring at all despite its epic length. But probably better in May or September when the sun doesn’t burn as much as it does right now and the number of tourists is so much smaller.

Michael B July 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm

If EQS are over the bug how about they let Stybar or even Brambilla have a go in the break? Or over the final climb. Although it might not be hilly enough for Brambilla. With no Kittel and Martin’s podium hopes gone they might as well, if their riders have the legs.

Eskerrik Asko July 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

A pointless but perhaps fun half-fact: Warren Barguil won a mountain stage in his polka dot jersey, a feat that we haven’t seen in Tour de France since Chris Froome in 2013 – and we didn’t actually see it on that occasion because Froome was wearing his yellow jersey – and he had already done it once.
I haven’t (yet) looked it up, let alone checked myself. but it would appear to be rarer than one would perhaps think. It is certainly far more common that someone wins a mountain stage and in doing so earns enough points to steal the polka dot jersey from whoever wore it in that stage.

Michael B July 21, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Did Rafał Majka not take a stage wearing polka dot in 2014 or 2015?

Michael B July 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Just double checked and he did: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/28449875

It has been a rare sight in recent years though compared to the Virenque and Chiapucci era.

Eskerrik Asko July 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Serves me right. I should have remembered that I am too old to rely on what once was my perfect recall of recent events.

Mark July 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Just wanted to say thank you to everybody for all the great comments here , an oasis of sanity compared to places like cyclingnews etc.

Also thanks to Mr INRNG , fantastic work

Foley July 21, 2017 at 9:57 pm

+1 Nice Wordsworth today. I don’t see a lot of sadness in it, so much as assurance that there will be another race next year, and a possible glimpse of the visage of…Christian Prudhomme?

Strictly Amateur / The GCW July 22, 2017 at 2:40 am

Mark’s

A+

James July 22, 2017 at 8:36 am

Amen to that – largely a crowd of non-tribal cycling fans, often with extra insight to add to the estimable Mr/Ms Rng. Thanks all.

A quick word also for the Lanterne Rouge thread on Bikeradar, which has been quite something. Can Luke Rowe hold on today?

Morten Knudsen July 21, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Nice route on the voucluse platau after Sisteron – the should have planed the backroad upto Signal de Lure and do the the down hill on the racetrack like decent down montange de Lure.

The backroad up to signal de Lure is as spectcular as mont ventoux – and the mistral wind can be even scarier.

Diamondjim July 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Eddy B!
Great tipping again, M Ring. 🙂

Mark July 22, 2017 at 2:02 am

Indeed , and what a win !

Biggest Cog July 21, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Who’ll best For next year?

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