Tour de France Stage 21 Preview

Sunday, 23 July 2017

An evening sprint where a lot of sprinters who have not won a sprint so far get their last chance.

Stage 20 Review: it was Pole position with Maciej Bodnar and Michał Kwiatkowski going first and second with Chris Froome in third place. Froome has yet to win a race this year but is now on the brink of winning the Tour de France. Elsewhere Rigoberto Urán made the top-10 but the real tension of the day was between Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa. The Frenchman was on a bad day and it showed, he seemed to be stalling on the climb to Notre Dame and with legs like that he struggled to get a big gear going. With a kilometre to go it was clear his podium finish was in jeopardy but he saved it for one second. There was one other change in the top-10 as Alberto Contador climbed up to ninth place at Warren Barguil’s expense.

The Route: a morning flight from Marseille to Paris and Orly airport, then the stage starts in nearby Montgeron just where the inaugural Tour de France started in 1903. There’s a 48km procession around the dormitory towns outside Paris and time for the ritual photo opportunities before they ride into Paris and 58km around the now usual Champs Elysées-Tuileries circuit. As ever there’s a slight rise to the Champs Elysées and it’s cobbled, the urban variety of pavé but enough to make it that bit harder. After weeks touring rural France here is the capital’s seal of approval, a finish fit for a visiting head of state.

The Contenders: a lot of sprinters and none of them have won a sprint so far. André Greipel won last year and could pop up again but is without his trusted leadout rider Marcel Sieberg now. Michael Matthews (Team Subweb) can win and his leadout Nikias Arndt is in roaring form. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) must be extra confident now.

Next there’s a second wave of contenders, a list of riders capable of winning but but they have had problems in this Tour. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has been ill and on antibiotics but over that and getting faster, on his day he can beat the best in the World Tour. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is sore from a crash and hasn’t shown us what he’s capable of this Tour. Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) is 24 years old and on the up but yet to win a sprint in the World Tour. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) is the wildcard pick, often out of the sprint but equally capable of the win.

FAQ: Can Mikel Landa pip Romain Bardet? Yes, for all the antics this is still a race and there are time bonuses. In 2005 Alexander Vinokourov attacked, won the stage and moved up to fifth overall, an example that it can be done. But Landa has his work cut out to win a time bonus, he and his team can hope Bardet is caught on the wrong side of a split but even that is hard to do and unlikely.

André Greipel, EBH, Matthews
Nacer Bouhanni, Dylan Groenewegen
Degenkolb, Kristoff

Weather: sunshine and clouds and the possibility of a rain shower. A top temperature of 22°C. Note if it rains then the rules allow for the finishing times of the race to be taken on the time of the first passage across the Champs Elysées finish line.

TV: live from the start at 16.40pm CET with the finish forecast for 19.20pm CET. Tune in for the final half an hour as the speed picks up and the sprint approaches.

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Brian July 23, 2017 at 7:01 am

One second! Of course you have to race for that one second.

lukasz July 23, 2017 at 7:05 am

Really happy for Bodnar after his near win on11 stage when he was caught just before finish line after solo breakaway. Glad that Kwiato confirmed his great form in this years Tour – has been great domestique for Froome. Polish day in France!

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 8:23 am

Will the Sky train try and burn off all the sprinters on the run into Paris and destroy the TV schedules?

Diablo July 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

Absolutely not. See discussions below for reasons.

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm

OK, it wasn’t a very good joke.

Dominic July 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

No Ben swift? He will rarely get a better chance than this , looked strong in the dauphine on that climb and made the break this week I think.

Justice July 23, 2017 at 10:56 am

Really? Where is the climb on the Champs that makes his ride in the Dauphine relevant?

I wanted Swift to grab a stage but today he has absolutely no chance. A quarter speed Greipel would have him on this finish. As would EBH, Matthews, Bouhanni, Groenewegen, Kristoff and Degenklob.

If he’d beaten any of those names in a flat sprint in the last five years where they hadn’t had an issue I’d be be inclined to say why not, but there’s just no chance all of those names will be off form or whatever to allow Swift to sneak it. It would be a gigantic surprise. Although one I’d be happy to see, he’s just not possible to name as a favourite in any way.

Dominic July 23, 2017 at 12:42 pm

#43 I didn’t say there was a climb merely that by being there on that climb he was looking strong. The comments thread here used to be much more pleasant.

Justice July 23, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Apologies if this was overly aggressive – I do agree with you I wanted Swift to nab a stage.

larry g July 23, 2017 at 10:57 pm

+1 for bringing niceness back

The Inner Ring July 23, 2017 at 11:21 am

He very rarely wins straight bunch sprints.

Dominic July 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

That’s a fair point. Thank you as always for the time and effort you put into this blog. I saw Cavendish was joining Di Data today, EBH will have the best tactician in peloton to coach him which should shorten his odds

piwakawaka July 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

Firstly thanks for an excellent site, I have enjoyed the racing at this years tour, it’s been diverse, complex, dramatic and tense, the route made a big contribution to this and worked well overall, I am always surprised when people complain about how boring this particular race can be, and wonder if they even watch the same thing!
Congratulations to Froome AND his team, clearly the best, again. Great seeing AG2R taking it to them, they seem like a squad on the rise, and Romain Bardet the man with the most he can improve. I look forward to Tom Dumoulin racing for Sunweb another team who rode excellently, alongside Warren Barguil, a very deserving winner of the polka-dots, in 2018, Michael Mathews was also a worthy winner of the green jersey. If Landa can improve his TT and get the ride he seeks at Movistar the field for the next edition could be even better.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:52 am

Agree on everything great comment – except Landa has improved TT, see below.

Nigel July 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

If it does rain…tradition dictate that Sky will lead the yellow jersey onto the Champs meaning Ag2r would be somewhere down the line. Rest of the Sky train sit up and let a gap to Landa with GC times taken as they cross the line?

Tom L July 23, 2017 at 10:03 am

GC times are taken when they cross the finish line, not when they enter Paris…

It will probably be a sprint, but it full gas, and with cobbles and a lot of puncturing, so there could be drama or gaps in the peloton…

Expect team sky near the front, and expect Naesen to be there as well with Bardet in his wheel…

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:52 am

Sorry this is the wrong answer – if it rains it will be neutralised – this happened a few years ago, they will not risk changing the GC on some rainy cobbles during the final stage – especially as it’s Bardet who’d be most likely to lose out.

The Inner Ring July 23, 2017 at 11:25 am

See the “weather” section above.

jc July 23, 2017 at 8:48 am

I thought the stage yesterday was a good idea with the finish in the stadium. Hopefully it will be repeated in the future.

It was difficult to know who to feel more sympathy for, Romain Bardet or Mikel Landa. It was painful watching Romain Bardet, he clearly had completely exhausted himself and the thought that he might be overtaken by Chris Froome was uncomfortable. Much like Nairo Quintana in the Giro you have to wonder how much damage this experience will have caused. Never has the name “race of truth” seemed so apt. For Mikel Landa there is the thought that he could have easily picked up a couple of seconds on one of the mountain stages and would now be on the podium.

I would assume that they wont race today for the last podium place (presumably the times are not being taken at the entry to the circuit today?), if the yellow jersey was still in play then yes otherwise it would seem better to let the sprinters play. However I guess it would be easy for a split to happen, maybe unintentionally, so we may yet see more drama around Romain Bardet.

Tomski July 23, 2017 at 8:59 am

It must be tough for both Bardet and Landa although Landa can take consolation that next year he will be leading a team that is arguably as strong as Sky. What next for Bardet? It is apparent that he needs to improve his TT skills in order to stand a realistic chance of victory. He would definitely be off the podium if Landa hadn’t followed team orders and possibly a couple more positions down had Aru not lost team mates and Martin losing time on the crosswinds day (must be awful for martin knowing so many of his teammates were supporting Kittel in vain).

A thrilling tour nonetheless. Chapeau Froome, Barguil, Matthews, Yates, INRNG and all who commented below the line on this, the best blog bar none. Here’s to Paris and after that, the Vuelta!

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

@Tomski

What is this team that Landa will be leading next year that is “arguably as strong as Sky”? It can’t surely be Movistar since Quintana has come out during this Tour and said he’ll be doing no more Giro-Tour doubles and its all for the Tour next year. And why would even the inept management of Movistar, if that is the team, sideline Quintana, a two time grand tour winner, for Landa, who has one podium to date? (I don’t expect Sky to try and make it two. Terrible PR if they did.)

Its arguable if there even is a team “as strong as Sky” when it comes to the Tour in any case. Look at the team classification standings. This was definitely a team win by Sky and it was shown in clearest relief on the Peyra Talliarde when Froome broke a spoke and needed to swap a wheel. A team mate changed the wheel, three others helped relay him back and another dropped back to receive him once more into the GC group. He climbed that mountain 40 seconds faster than the whole AG2R team working together. But then the leader of that team is the only man to have finished either first or second in a grand tour for the last 7 years running .

This probably sounds very fanboyish but, like it or not, these are facts. You can’t beat Froome if you can’t beat his team. But you can beat his team sometimes. Formigal, Vuelta 2016. When Sky haven’t quite got the focus or team members they have in France.

Ecky Thump July 23, 2017 at 9:18 am

Whilst it’s understandable that comments above would encourage Landa to race for the podium, surely it would be a (yet another) self-inflicted PR disaster for Sky if they were to do so?
The last stage has become a procession to honour the yellow jersey, so it’s best to leave it to the sprinters. Of which, Sky has none here.
Bardet and his team have ridden very well, and illuminated plenty of the race, and deserve that third spot in front of their home crowd.

Oracle July 23, 2017 at 10:02 am

My opinion is the opposite.
Sky can show Bardet/France that you need to attack and take the chances.
It’s a form of respect to go for it.

Death wobble July 23, 2017 at 10:16 am

I’m with Ecky, it would be disastrous PR with the French public, very tough on Bardet and team who have been trying everything to challenge sky and it would be massively hypocritical given previous reliance on unwritten rules.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

When did Sky rely on unwritten rules? It wasn’t Sky telling Aru to stop his attack on the Mont du Chat. It was Richie Porte and Nairo Quintana. On the Peyra Talliarde when Froome had to change a wheel no one told anyone to stop at all and no one complained afterwards. Even on the Peyresourde when Froome and Aru took a detour via some camper vans no one in Sky told anyone to wait. So to suggest they showed “a reliance on unwritten rules” is a bit disingenuous. If other people in the peloton believe that the yellow jersey wearer deserves some respect and to be beaten fair and square then that’s a matter for the peloton as a whole not individual teams.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:41 am

Surprised everyone’s chatting about this.

Sky won’t do it – (read Froome interview, and even Landa’s, they’re not that stupid) – even if they did AG2R would send every rider forward to outsprint Landa @ halfway sprint and likewise the finish (we all know Landa hasn’t exactly got the greatest sprinting mind!), plus 3secs gaps on finish make it unlikely a gap will help either. It’s just not going to happen.

Also that’s proper armchair punditry @Oracle – maybe you try riding the Tour and attacking Sky/Froome? From what I saw Bardet absolutely rode an attacking race being very clever in how to use his team to hurt Sky/Froome, and only didn’t on Izoard because he was really starting to struggle, as we saw in the TT. It’s easy to say attack hard to do.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:47 am

Also +1 to RonDe on Landa getting a team as strong – although from the comment Landa made post race about coming back as sole leader it did make it sound as though he might be going to Astana rather than Movistar. I cannot fathom why he would go to Movistar – why share leadership plus sure Astana can pay more? Plus Astana’s a-team for GC is better than what they’ve shown this year.

Wut July 23, 2017 at 6:51 pm

It was Bardet himself in 2014 trying to nip van Garderens GC position on the Champs…

Megi July 23, 2017 at 9:39 am

When was the last time that a team led the team category from start to finish, as Sky have this year? Considering they had the leader’s jersey to defend on all but two stages as well, that is quite some achievement.

Johnson Johnson July 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

I think the team category only came in a few years back, so this is probably the first time.

Richard S July 23, 2017 at 9:53 am

Bardet is safe in 3rd, Sky will sit up for the choreographed all holding hands in special yellow kit photo op. Also as mentioned above it would be a catastrophic PR move, the whole podium ceremony would get booed. That shouldn’t be a consideration in sport but still.

It’s hard to see Bardet as a future Tour winner after yesterday. I know he had a bad day and wasn’t feeling at his best but in a TT at the end of 3 weeks you never will. Im sure he can improve his TT a bit but coming from so far back the best he can hope for is to be on a similar level to Quintana et al and lose around a minute over that distance instead of 2. I did a bit of rudimentary maths after the stage and at the rate he lost time to Froome if there had been 90km of TTs like in 2012 instead of just the 33 here he’d have lost 7 and a half minutes to Froome (so probably over 9 to Wiggins). If there had been 210km like in 1992 he’d have lost 17 and a half minutes (probably over 20 to Big Mig). This comes with the disclaimer that I’m not good at maths. Froome is a good time trialist but there have been and there are better ones in terms of GC men. If they put in a longer TT next year and Dumoulin rides then he’ll be in trouble. I feel like for the French to get a win they somehow need to merge the talents of Pinot and Bardet. Bardet is consistent and seems mentally strong but has a poor TT. Pinot seems to me a bit more inconsistent and less mentally tough, but can pull out a decent TT!

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 10:32 am

The bad news for Bardet is that this is what a low TT year looks like in the Tour de France. Next year we can surely expect a few more TT kilometers and given Tom Dumoulin’s interest in starting next year the organisers will have to decide if they want to make it a Froome vs Dumoulin showdown or favour the climbers which might surely put Dumoulin off. We did have a climbers course back in 2015 of course. Bardet finished 9th but he’s improved since then. But he’ll never win a grand tour that involves even an average amount of TT kilometers unless he improves that drastically and goes into them with minutes of lead.

The Inner Ring July 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

More TTs next year isn’t certain, there were few last year and even fewer in 2015 (just 15km). Given the way Froome pulls out big time on his rivals and the way TTs flop in TV ratings the old days of 45-60km time trials are probably gone for good.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 11:53 am

There was also a 28kms TTT in 2015 which Sky lost only as Nico Roche dropped in the final meters. Of course, I’m not suggesting we will go back to 60kms ITTs in the Tour. But if they want to even pretend its an all round race they need to include some. Maybe a mountain ITT will be seen as something of a leveler allowing time triallers to do their stuff but limiting the possible gains. There’s a 42kms ITT in this year’s Vuelta and the Vuelta still uses ITTs as a lure to the better time triallers. In contrast, the Tour has become time trial phobic.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 11:55 am

I meant to say “the Giro still uses ITTs as a lure to the better time triallers.” The Tour is the odd one out.

Augie March July 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

2015 did feature a TTT but doubt Bardet can expect much support from his AG2R team for that either.

Also, if a 60km TT is a ratings flop do 25km TTs rate much better? If not then you might as well have a longer one to provide a decent challenge before Miguel Indurain dismisses another year’s route as “soft”.

Ishisht July 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Please correct my reasoning if you think I am wrong, but if there is merit to the notion of an allrounder, shouldn’t that imply that even the best allrounder should be inferior to the specialists in each or at least most of the disciplines? If you think the GC should be won by the best allrounder, then I think you would want to design the course so that indeed a specialist cannot win it. That would mean accepting that the very best climbers (Bardet? Quintana?) probably won’t win, and ideally, neither would the very best time trialers (for example Tony Martin – not now, but previously).

As it is, the specialist climbers cannot make any differences with the allrounders (GC contenders) because the best GC riders are as good or better on the climbs than they are. On the other hand, they can’t be allowed to ride away because if you let them go, there are no TTs to win back the deficit. If you would put a bigger weight on TTs, then of course Bardet would never win but he could actually specialize as a climber and win mountain stages. In addition, the real GC contenders would probably have to emphasize TTs more at the cost of becoming (slightly) weaker in the mountains.

As for TTs getting poor TT ratings: I’ve heard that before and yet it seems to me that they are often planned for weekends, which doesn’t make sense. Also, would a longer TT get significantly poorer ratings than a shorter one? So why not schedule TTs on Mondays or Tuesdays, make them longer and more varied (including TTT, mountain/hilly TTs, etc) and allow the specialists to win their specialty?

On a side note: is it just me or do the French have very few good TT riders in the last…30?…years, Dennis being the one exception that comes to mind.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 10:11 pm

I believe there is merit in the race being an all round test and in the best all-rounder winning the race. Its my view that that man currently is Chris Froome regardless of who else turns up. If the course is a true all round test I think a fit Froome would win regardless. This probably does imply that this all-rounder won’t be the best climber, time trialler, etc., and, indeed, I don’t think Froome is. There are some better climbers and some better time triallers (but not many) and some better descenders, etc. But none of this means that these best all-rounders don’t try to push their all round skills to their limits. Indeed, this is both how and why they win. The other thing to note is that during a grand tour form and ability can shift. These best all rounders have the better ability to recover and retain their form too.

Tim July 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Pretty sure mountains don’t faze Dumoulin, he’s just won the Giro, and his win in the pouring rain at last year’s Tour into Alsace was stunning.

Junker July 23, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Dumoulin is coming. He’s so blatantly the next great following the Froome era – although I suspect his climbing is a little more vulnerable so could make for more exciting TDF’s once Froome has gone.

Basically Froome is too good. He won here at a canter, and to be honest, even though his team was good, it’s him being a level above that counts. Soon he’ll be standing next to Anquetil as the great unloved Champion. I doubt we’ll ever see him loved for his feats as he probably should be.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 1:24 pm

It remains to be seen. I have my doubts. He showed vulnerability to changes of pace, especially at the back end of the Giro, and he only won by 31 seconds with 69.5kms of time trials included (alright, as well as a poo). Would he have won at all with 36.5kms of time trials as we had in this Tour? Prudhomme does not like time trialists killing the contest. As for wins where he is not a GC threat, well, they don’t count. Win in the mountains when you have the GC boys on your tail. As Froome shows, you need to be the best AND have the strongest team. Sunweb aren’t there yet.

Augie March July 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Prudhomme might change his tune on time trials if a genuine challenger to Chris Froome appeared. If there was 100km of TTs Dumolin could put minutes into Froome, which would force the Sky leader to attack early and often in the mountains, creating the sort of thrilling and unpredictable racing that Sky’s management loathe but we fans crave. It must be obvious to everyone that even severely unbalancing the parcours to include minimal TT kilometres and lots of technical descents still can’t deliver Bardet into yellow, so perhaps the answer is to go in the other direction.

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Angie, not convinced Dumoulin would take minutes of Froome. Last year he was concentrating on TTing for the Olympics but only took a minute in 50k off Froome on the Tour. If there was that amount of TTing Froome would work a lot harder on that discipline.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I’m skeptical along with Tovarishch. Even in explicit ITT events such as the Olympics in Rio, a 54.6kms course, Dumoulin beat Froome by only 15 seconds. In the first ITT in the 2016 Tour Dumoulin beat him by over a minute but the Dutchman had been rolling round in preparation whereas Froome was chasing GC. Remember that for a grand tour GC attempt Dumoulin has to keep the mountains in mind. He cannot just tailor his training for the ITT otherwise he will suffer on the climbs. But tailor yourself to climbs alone and your ITT form suffers. Dumoulin is for sure the better time trialist but Froome is the better climber and, I think, all-rounder. At least for now.

PS I’m fairly sure they’ll continue with the low TT kilometers in the Tour because to not do so means giving the title to Froome on a plate. Or whoever the next Froome-like rider is (probably Dumoulin).

Richard S July 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

I fancy Boasson-Hagen today. He seems to be in great form whilst none of the others seem to have any. Matthews is an excellent alrounder now but maybe at the expense of his top speed.

Johnson Johnson July 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

Yep, agreed. Although want Griepel to nab a stage.

AP July 23, 2017 at 10:24 am

Bardet was ill yesterday. Personally I don’t like the idea of the GC race continuing to the line in Paris, where wet cobbles and champagne alcohol content will be far more decisive than differences in ability.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

+1

+it won’t happen – if it’s wet race will be neutralised as it was a few years back.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 10:50 am

Final note on the actual TT – Landa’s time was very respectable, 51 secs off the win, beating Kiriyenka, and fastest of the ‘climbers who can’t time trial’ bracket – seems like his stint at Sky has really helped his TT whilst not drastically affecting his climbing. It was the sort of time you’d expect of Nibali which must be great for his confidence. (Although I did expect him to pull further away on the Isoard).

Bardet needs to follow suit now.

Ryan Davies July 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

The Casatelli suit?

Bardet wasn’t good yesterday but was maybe 30 seconds from par. Whereas Landa was 30 seconds above par. Considering the time loss he suffered at 2015 Giro in the TT, his improvement now makes him a genuine GT threat. But will he sustain this TT performance at a different team?

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Ha – glad that debate got put to bed with Froome non-enhanced suit TT yesterday! It’s amazing how people will use anything to batter Team Sky despite other teams using similar suits!

Yes it will genuinely be fascinating to see whether Landa sustains it… whether tech etc makes a difference also. INRNG mentioned Uran TT bike being a little below par yesterday but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference, I still subscribe to the mind and man making the big difference.

BenW July 24, 2017 at 1:43 pm

It’s true people don’t rate the Crackandfail. I’d like to see a genuine windtunnel test of the various bikes, but that would never happen.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 11:03 am

I don’t know how others feel but I find it clearly shocking that Thomas de Gendt hasn’t been given the Super Combativity award. Instead, in a total homer decision, its been given to Warren Barguil. Now I have nothing against Barguil but he’s won 2 stages and the mountains jersey. What incentive is there for non-French riders in future if such crass decisions are made? De Gendt apparently was in breaks for 1280kms of the race and was clearly trying to win something. Its a terrible decision to simply pick the most attacking person… SO LONG AS THEY ARE FRENCH.

PS On a similar theme Landa would be on the podium now if the jury hadn’t decided to avoid their own rules as much as possible in order not to penalise Bardet 20 seconds for an illegal feed.

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 11:15 am

Ps RonDe – the time taken from Uran was given back, so alls well that ends well on the illegal feed controversy, no one lost time.

Also obvs yes on super combatively.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

Come on Dave. You don’t resolve the issue by deciding to look the other way. They should all have been penalised but doing it to Bardet was a step too far. Weak and partisan.

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 12:02 pm

They didn’t look the other way, they didn’t even see Bardet taking a feed. If the jury are going to reach decisions based on social media postings the Tour will end up like the X-factor.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

If the jury are going to selectively see things in an age where everyone else has a camera and can show the world what happened then its a diminished sporting contest.

Peter July 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm

…except Bardet taking a bottle and a single swig was visible on the TV footage.

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Just imagine what you could get up to with video editing software if the jury started accepting road side camera phone evidence.

The Inner Ring July 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

The commissaire was on the moto behind. Only in contentious cases do they turn to video evidence.

Eskerrik Asko July 23, 2017 at 9:33 pm

I could be mistaken but isn’t the great overlooked point here that the jury can only penalize for things that they (or whoever competent official may participate in this on the road) actually observe with their own eyes? In this respect it is like soccer, if the ref or the assistant ref doesn’t see it, it doesn’t matter than 60 000 spectators or 600 million television viewers can see it.

PS Take the infamous case of Nibali and his exceptionally sticky bottle. He was not thrown out of the race on the basis of video evidence but only because a commissar saw it – or am I wrong and/or is my memory in error (again)?

PPS I also believe the rules for judging what happened during a sprint can be essentially different from those during the rest of the race – just like the rules about what sanctions to give for “the same” infringement in different phases of the race.

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Eskerrik Asko I actually think you are wrong. It was when TV suddenly started showing the carp of Messina whizzing along holding onto the car that suddenly the commissaires realised they’d be ridiculed forever if they did nothing. And Nibali isn’t Spanish so no problem.

hoh July 23, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Well, rational behind the rule itself no withstanding, from a pure fairness in rule application point of view, Landa lost 20 secs to both Barbet & Iran.

hoh July 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Uran

DAVE July 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Sorry – just to clarify, the time taken away from those riders was restored? So no one was penalised? You’re arguing they should have been? To be honest if we’re debating such a small issue it really shows it wasn’t the most gripping tour as I don’t really care either way… it’s not a big deal…

RonDe July 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Why is cheating “a small issue” Dave? I don’t recall it being small in 2013 when Porte handed Froome some gels he had thoughtfully collected. Penalties were given. Uran, Bennett and Bardet should have got them too. No point in rules if your eyes close when its inconvenient or the person to be penalised is from the wrong nation.

Valverde's Knee July 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

De Gendt is so upset by it he has said he wants to go home. But he will fulfill his duty by completing the race. He clearly signaled he believes its a nationalistic decision since 5 of the 7 votes are by Frenchmen.

Tim July 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I hope DeGendt goes for one last breakaway – he lit up the race for me.

Nick July 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I’m shocked that you’re shocked; super-combativity has long been an extra opportunity for the French. The only real shock is that it didn’t go to Voeckler.

Valverde's Knee July 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm

If they rename it “Extra Prize For Anyone French Award” I will happily let my shock fade away.

Othersteve July 24, 2017 at 1:41 am

Nick, Voeckler is sticking his tongue out at you right now!

Thanks Inrng.

Anonymous July 23, 2017 at 11:04 am

Might Mikel Landa go for a time bonus at the intermediate sprint?

Luda July 23, 2017 at 11:16 am

Ahhh reeeeaaaaddddd other people’s comments before posting!!!!!!!! This has been answered….!!!!!

Hoh July 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

Hope Gripiel can keep the record going.

FR July 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

Great coverage of the tour as ever. I always come back to this site partly for the excellent insight but also the comments sections; knowledgeable and well thought out, just had a gander on the CN news comments…a mudslinging contest by (possibly overweight) armchair keyboard warriors.

Not a classic tour despite smaller gaps at the top, chuffed to see Uran up there, really hope he stays put and can make another serious attempt at a GT next year. Now, what shall I do until the Vuelta?

Billybob Thornton July 23, 2017 at 11:45 am

Uran is apparently doing the Vuelta. You might not have long to wait.

Tovarishch July 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Lots of racing next weekend. Glad to see Landa as protected rider on San Sebastián.

Anand July 23, 2017 at 11:25 am

Luda: Do you maybe think team Sky will try to get the podium for Landa by, say, ride hard in front?

Megi July 23, 2017 at 11:54 am

For every poster in Landa fantasy land. This is a sprint stage, so gaps have to be 3 seconds long to count, and on the Champs Elysees a second lasts for a kilometre if a French rider is on the wrong side of a gap.

Monty July 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm

On the point that the tour organisers couldn’t make a tour with time trials is in my opinion wrong. Surely they could try to have an ITT up and/or down a climb like mont du chat and then have a TTT that suits ag2r like in the massif central stages and then maybe have a HIlly ITT to satisfy TT specialists. However, I don’t know if they could do that.

Monty July 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm

*make a tour with time trials that suits Romain bardet

Oracle July 23, 2017 at 4:59 pm

25 km team time trial.
15 km mountain time trial.

GrahamG July 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

25km downhill TT (wet technical descent)
30 times up Peyagudes

Monty July 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I have a question for you tour de France experts. Why do the organisers not use the cobbles of France or the tro bro Leon ribinou of Brittany?

GrahamG July 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

On the former they have, the latter (or similar) maybe in the pipeline. Rough roads trialled at Paris Nice (…,from memory)

The Inner Ring July 23, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Yes, the ribonou could feature next year. The cobbles have been used in recent years and the desire for spectacle probably means the race can’t visit France’s Nord (north) without borrowing some of these sectors.

MeisterBrau July 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Congrats to Chance Froomestrong on another TDF victory.

Duncan July 23, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Hilarious. How long did it take you to think that one up?

Matty July 23, 2017 at 10:25 pm

I’m not sure much thought went into it.

Douchecan July 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Not too long I’m guessing. (Duncan) What have you got? We need a Monday morning chuckle.

Slo_cyclist July 23, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Why didn’t landa attack today when the rest were drinking champagne?

BenW July 24, 2017 at 1:48 pm

He did ride alone off the front for a bit.

Tom July 23, 2017 at 8:14 pm

well dull final stage, dull speech to go with a dull tour…

Steve July 23, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I can see a job opportunity opening for me, writing victory speeches for sportsmen (and women- I’m not proud. Or sexist ) for talented athletes who disappoint keyboard warriors with their pathetic post-event output after days or weeks of physical effort. Let’s welcome these athletic losers to the twenty first century

Cochisecito July 24, 2017 at 3:04 am

So guys, interested in your thoughts here. It’s been almost 40 years of Colombians showing up at the tour and mixing things up, with various degrees of success yet with what you could fairly call an upward-sloping progress line.

I’m inclined to think that the Colombian that eventually wins the Tour is not going to be a pure climber a la Quintana; instead, it is going to be someone such as Gaviria (not him, just someone similar) who starts out in track or TT competitions and only later focuses on climbing. It seems that even as the number of TT stages has decreased over the last 3 decades, the Tour (and the Giro this year) is always lost in TTs.

Botero and Soler are probably the closest in terms of body structure and thematic focus to the type of cyclist I’m thinking about. Urán probably a close third, but in that spectrum Quintana, Herrera and Parra are perhaps too much of pure climbers that you cannot make good time trailers out of them.

The opposite, creating a better climber, appears to be a more plausible path. Any thoughts?

Strictly Amateur / The GCW July 24, 2017 at 5:36 am

Cochisecito,
And all,
Good point, however, isn’t there more to it?
Uran had a darn good time trial, could have been better but, in there.
A tour winning Columbian will also need to be on a team with the biggest (or at least HUGE) budget.
Money doesn’t always translate to wins but in Froome’s case, is there any argument, team budget was not a factor?

?What would have been the outcome if Froome was on Cannondale’s team and Uran was on Sky’s team? -If the table’s were turned, would Uran have won?

What if Uran had the tricked out suit for the 1st time trial and wasn’t forced to change bikes right before that 1st time trial?

My hat is off to Uran and Cannondale.

Joe Saroni July 24, 2017 at 4:48 am

Great TdF. Lot of insightful comments. We’ve seen a glimpse of the future this tour. Bardet hopefully will continue to grow and challenge. While Doumolin will surely be challenging for the top spot on the podium in the near future. Froome has a 1 maybe 2 good tours left in him. The lingering question is what Porte could have done to the overall. Everyone’s speaking about Bardet, but Porte looks like he’ll be a real challenger if he can stay upright. Already counting down the the days till the next Gran Depart! The future looks good.

RonDe July 24, 2017 at 9:19 am

Bardet and Dumoulin already have a problem since stage 3 of the 2018 Tour is a 35kms team time trial. Will they be able to match Team Sky?

Dai Bank July 24, 2017 at 9:05 am

Thanks for all your efforts and blogs over the last 4 weeks, been excellent.

Daniel July 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Thank you Inner Ring foe great blogging as always.
Unfortunately it was IMHO the worst Tour in years.

Dave E July 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

How about Bardet to SKY, what a conundrum that would present to the French public? Would either party seriously consider this?

The Inner Ring July 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Not really because Bardet has a long term deal with Ag2r La Mondiale, he’s signed a 4 year contract last year.

hoh July 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Sky would love it. They turned Landa’s ITT around, no reason can’t do the same for Bardet. Though I suspect Barguil looks more attractive at the moment. Cheaper, better on ITT, potentially as strong on a climb, just need to work the consistency issue.

From Bardet’s prospective as a national Tour GC hope, less so.

Anonymous July 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Congratulations to Chris Froome.

Oracle July 23, 2017 at 11:15 am

The strategy of Sky is to ride hard in front of the group, at least till 2 km to the finish line.
AG2R has copied that strategy a couple of days, but that’s not “a plan” or trying to win the Tour. It’s more a way to defend podium. I have no problem with that, AG2R is free to ride how they want. Also Sky is free to organize a 8 km team time trial to get that last needed second. That’s in no way disrespectful.

hoh July 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

That said, it would be fun to have Landa do a troll and send Ag2R sprinting at one of the sprints.

Luda July 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

Likewise…. aggghhh rreeeaaadddd above, this comment is so silly! It will not happen!!!!

Oracle July 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Silly? I was describing my preferred scenario. That can’t be silly at all.

Luda July 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

You didn’t say it was your preferred scenario, it read as though it was a realistic option or in someway likely.

GrahamG July 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm

He had an injury in the Olympics after crashing in the Tour – important to add that context. Sad thing in the Giro was not seeing whether Dennis had the makings of a GT rider (certainly has the class). With Jungels and Dumoulin it could mark the return of the rouleur all rounder. I would put good money on Dumoulin kicking Froomes arse in a TT- hopefully we will see.

AP July 23, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Well, Froome won’t want to get too close to Dumoulin’s arse, that’s for sure.

Nick July 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

The people who didn’t take an illegal feed were penalised by the non-application of the rules. But plenty of other rules weren’t applied over the course of the race.

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