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Tour de France Stage 4 Preview

A stage for the sprinters, 200km before a likely sprint royale.

Stage 3 Review: there was a small battle to get in the day’s breakaway, a skirmish before six riders were away but they were never allowed to take much more than two minutes for most of the stage despite nobody representing a threat. Still the crosswind and hilly terrain seemed to keep the peloton on edge. With the gap falling a move went from the peloton, a counter-attack but it came to nothing and the promised uphill sprint awaited.

The early slopes were hard but there was still a big group. Richie Porte tried an attack, Contador tried to dance on the pedals but quickly sat back down. The final slope to the line was gentle but many were in the red. Peter Sagan seemed to be waiting for the others. Greg Van Avermaet jumped and as Sagan replied his foot came out of the pedal with all the casual routine of Japanese salaryman returning home after a day’s work and removing his shoes in the home hallway. The Slovak clipped back, checked what was happening and resumed sprinting to win the stage. It’s classic Sagan, while others need everything to go their way just to have a chance of winning, he can make mistakes, make amends and still win.

The Route: they leave Luxembourg via  Schengen, the town shared across the countries (Luxembourg, France and Germany) and no passports needed. It’s then due south and along the old border between France and Germany, or at least what we call France and Germany today, something for history buffs rather than cycling but otherwise there’s not a lot to say about the route, the ambitiously-named Saint Privat La Montagne isn’t really in the mountains but the Col des Trois Fontaines is the first mountain pass of the Tour, 1.9km at 7.4% in the roadbook but longer in reality with some 4% approach roads.

The Finish: flatter than the profile suggests and all on big boulevards. Vittel is not a big place and the final kilometres are in the countryside, it’s only with 3km to go that they enter town and then begin a clockwise sweep that pivots around… the Vittel bottled water plant, the brand of water belongs to Nestlé and is a big sponsor of the race. The route is less grim than it sounds, they sweep pass grand hotels, a swanky station and other lavish buildings that celebrate the town’s status as a spa town. Once under the flamme rouge – note it’s a floating banner these days, that inflatable arch has gone – it’s slightly uphill to the line, 1.5-2% in the finishing straight.

The Contenders: it’s hard to see past Marcel Kittel, he was the strongest in Liège on Sunday and the fast flat finish suits him once again. But this is not a time trial and no two sprints are ever the same so there’s plenty that can happen but his solid Quick Step team is here to redce

Every rider wants to win a stage but Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has been looking forward to today for a long time as he’s the local rider and this would be a win in front of home crowds. He’s in the mix and could pop up… but often when he hopes to win Arnaud Démare surges past and it could happen today as Bouhanni is still building his form. The FDJ rider’s train came off the rails on the way to Liège but he still finished second, if they can keep it tight then he’s in with a chance. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) should be close too if he can get a clear run to the line, the same for Peter Sagan (Borha-Hansgrohe), a certainty for uphill finishes but more likely to place rather than win in a bunch sprint. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) will be interesting to watch, his fourth place in Liège was a surprise and he did it the hard way with a long sprint in the headwind. Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) complete the first list of contenders.

Marcel Kittel
Arnaud Démare, André Greipel
Sagan, Cavendish, Kristoff, Bouhanni, Groenewegen

Weather: sunshine and a pleasant 24°C with a light breeze from the east, 15km/h which as a crosswind for most of the day won’t trouble the riders much but offers a tailwind for the sprint.

TV: live from the start at 12.20pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.10pm CET.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:10 am

    Great finishing speed from Matthews but his team was less than stellar and he had to launch from a long way back. Was amusing seeing Sagan following Porte’s wheel in the final, even more amusing was his post-win interview.

    • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 12:33 pm

      Or was Matthews dropped on the steepest part…?

  • CM Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:29 am

    Yes. I see Peter Sagan un-clipped early again. Left foot this time. Wasn’t it the right foot during the finale of the World Championships in the States? He is a pigeon-toed cyclist who twists under effort. As a mountain biker-turned-road racer he seems to economize on his natural Q factor. Inrng may have something: the man might be really good if he had a proper bike-fit. The Japanese salaryman image is a bit gnomic though,

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:58 am

      Just as a matter of interest, how inefficient are toe straps as opposed to clip-ins?

      • Michael B Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:38 am

        I’ve used both, toe straps in my youth and clipless ever since, but neither in a race environment. There’s a big difference in how much force you can exert on the upstroke though. Whether this matters is open to debate, I find it does, especially on steep climbs/sprints. Ultimately the fact no pro uses toe straps tells you which is better. I seem to remember Sean Kelly was one of the last to switch over?

        • TomButcher Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:08 am

          Clipless or toe straps all they do is hold your foot on the pedal, unless you actually pull a foot out there should be no difference once you launch your sprint you can push or pull with either and in a sprint you wouldn’t even think of that.

          • tedba Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 12:09 pm

            Has been a while since I rode with toe straps (and full disclosure I ride with MTB clipless even on a road bike these days)… but I think there will be a small difference… definitely psychologically I can’t imagine being as confident giving it full gas with straps… but I think there is a bit less give with cleats as well. Not huge, but definitely in the percentage gains that the pro’s care about.

            FWIW… I’m surprised Sagan popped out of his pedal… I just assumed that the sprinters particularly would have them set so tight that it would take a very deliberate action to clip out.

        • Vince Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:28 pm

          Ah, toe straps vs. clipless. A debate I thought was over about 1987 or so when our shop couldn’t give away old style pedals and couldn’t keep clipless in stock. I stuck with the old style until I stopped racing track and when I couldn’t find shoes that would take old cleats. After the switch, my feet were happier. The lumps and bumps went away. I now wear a full shoe size bigger. Plus they are warmer on cold days. Try stuffing a shoe cover into a toe clip, even if you go up a size on the clips. That all said, there is nothing like the block Cinelli cleats and a couple of pairs of Bindas really tie you to the bike.

          • Othersteve Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:40 pm

            Vince I agree, oh Alfredo Binda Extras showing our age.

      • Paul Jakma Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:11 pm

        Track sprinters still use straps. Double ones.

        • s Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:56 pm

          but ony as a backup insurance for the clipless pedals. you really don’t want to pull your foot out of a pedal in a 2000-2500W stroke… just as you don’t want to fall and slide down a velodrome banking at 70km/h still strapped in, with your bike in between your legs or banging to your head with your legs folded behind you. but the risk of the former is much bigger than the latter so they just bite the bullet…

    • TomH Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 4:58 pm

      I’m amazed Sagan could so easily clip back in, especially if using Shimano or Look pedals, which are a bit fussy to put into the correct orientation.
      In Calif, Speedplay pedals are very popular among the amateur road racers because of double-sided pedal entry and nearly self-centering clip-in. Main disadvantage is the cleats are very sensitive to dirt & debris – you dare not walk thru dirt, mud, sand, etc, or it will impair subsequent clip-in.

      • Michael B Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:07 pm

        He was using Look pedals last year (see: https://goo.gl/NaeHHX) and I presume the same this season. Agree it’s amazing how quickly he manages to clip back in. I think it’s because he almost twists his toes in when sprinting, meaning his heel flicks out, which is the action required to disengage. I heard Speedplay have quite a bit of float? As a sprinter I’d imagine he doesn’t want any. I’ve used Diadora, Time and Look, and never managed to accidentally disengage.

        • Worzel Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:58 pm

          The amount of float on Speedplays is adjustable between o and 15 degrees, just a couple of screws to be turned to achieve the desired amount and angle of float.

  • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:49 am

    Interesting that for the first years of the Tour de France’s existence, Metz and most (if not all) of today’s stage would have been in Germany. Alsace-Lorraine and all that.
    As Inner Ring says, a much contested part of Europe.
    So it’s curious that the two main protagonists today are from the two respective countries sharing this rivalry.
    Allez Demare!

    • Ferdi Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:16 am

      Thank God in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act all European countries agreed to recognize all existing borders, freeze the map, and put these issues to sleep for good. Sorry for the history-buff digression.

    • Vitus Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:25 am

      The Romans were there long before German a or French invented their nations. So I’ll go with Colbrelli.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:00 am

    what about Colbrelli?

    • Larrick Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:00 am

      6th! Nothing from him yesterday though…

      McLay for 9th.

  • Somers Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:33 am

    Demare’s garmin doesn’t look very areo.

  • AK Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:45 am

    According to GVA in a post race interview he went for it earlier than planned when he saw Sagan getting unclipped,so it cannot have been the reaction to his jump that triggered the foot slip. If I look back it is more like Greg makes a jump to get onto Sagans wheel from further back and then puts in extra effort when the foot unclips.
    In any case, Sagan displayed amazing power. He was on the front for so long and nobody could profit from it. Matthews came close, if Dan Martin hadn’t opened up a small gap I think he would have made it.

    • leesio Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:18 am

      This is also evident from Simon Gill’s fantastic photograph of the moment

      https://twitter.com/simongillphoto/status/881996989931683841

      • jc Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:39 am

        One of the comments makes the point that Chris Froome was nowhere to be seen in this image. With 250m to go Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana, G, and Alberto Contador etc are all there or thereabouts. I am sure CF was just out of shot and he did get to near the front by the finish (he finished ahead of Richie Porte) but given his penchant for pushing his way to the front of sprints this seemed a bit odd. If Richie Porte really was going for the win rather than attempting to lead out GVA this could have been rather embarrassing, relying on Peter Sagan to cover your rivals is perhaps not the best tactic……

        • Jeff Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 1:45 pm

          As I rewatched yesterday’s finish I also found myself wondering where Froome was, given that he finished in the top 10. Even on the early slopes, Thomas is glued to Kwiato’s wheel, and Froome is further back, then Froome was out of the frame until the finish line. Impressive closing by Froome. I suspect he will try some late ambushes again this year to gain time.

  • jc Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:02 am

    Personally I find flat bunch sprints much more interesting than yesterday’s type of finish. When it is an uphill finish the riders seem to be going ever so slowly as opposed to the high speed hurly burly of a bunch sprint. Kittel must be the top pick again today though Cav seems to have got over his health issues, he won the intermediate sprint from the peloton yesterday. Whether he has the condition to really contest the main event not sure but given the number of sprints this year he is likely to come good at least once.

    • Prognosticator Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 3:21 pm

      I respectfully disagree. I like seeing finishes like stage 3 where different types of riders can compete. How often are Sagan and Dan Martin on the same podium?

  • Paul Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:14 am

    A nice plug for INRNG on Eurosport last night!

    Great enigmatic win by Sagan and impressive closing speed by Mathews! Excited to see the GC Guys giving it beans as well

  • Junker Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:23 am

    Where is Gabrielle?

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:28 pm

      +1

      • Othersteve Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:42 pm

        With Larry T?

        • Mol Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:51 pm

          Missing them both, bring back the giro!

  • RonDe Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:34 am

    Was Porte attacking for himself yesterday or was it some sort of botched GVA lead out? Porte looked around a few times and I imagined he was expecting GVA to be there (he wasn’t on the wheel). Contador suffered the slight indignity of seemingly not being able to follow the Tasmanian as well. I honestly cannot see the Spaniard in the final shake up of this race. It looks like G will now retain his yellow jersey all the way to the first proper mountain which surely might be seen as a decent outcome for him in a race he wasn’t initially supposed to even be in. Although I imagine looking at the GC standings today Brailsford would wish that the 1,2 were true after 21 days as well. It seems that G expects to lose it tomorrow with team mate Froome in the box seat to take over having the surely good enough buffer of 35-40 over everyone else meaningful in the GC. Some have said that Sky may be the only team to wear yellow this year but such talk is very premature.

    Who will win today? Kittel or Demare. Best two sprinters in the race and both with form.

    • Charles Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:52 am

      I’d be surprised if Froome takes yellow tomorrow so early in the race. It either means Froome rides away from *everyone* or Sky tell G to fall back. If Froome is No.1 why not keep G in yellow to take the pressure off Froome and keep the 1-2 option open agsinst other teams. Thats seems most sensible approach to me. And as a neutral if Froome does take yellow on Wednesday he’ll surely be expected to keep it from that point onwards which make for a crushingly dull race.

      • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 12:32 pm

        Thinking ahead tomorrow – are people expected a dull stage… last few days haven’t been electrifying! But wary of saying that in case of contenders dropping out which is not what anyone want’s to see…

        I think you’re wrong here Charles – Quintana or Porte could attack and there’s every chance G may not be able to stay with them giving Froome yellow if he does.

        I expect G actually has decent form and may be there but let’s see, Froome isn’t going to say now to a ten sec time bonus if it’s on offer either, and given the difference is 12secs, there’s every chance G could be a further 3 secs down. In 2012 Cadel and Wiggo were 2secs down on Froome and Nibali a further 7secs.

        Now having looked at that I think it’s highly likely Froome will take yellow tomorrow.

        Porte will attack without doubt. I predict – Froome, Porte, Quintana, Fuglsang, Martin finish together, Geraint, Bardet, Majka, Aru, Meitjnes less than 10secs behind, Yates a little further, and Contador being the big victim of the day. I reckon he’ll loose 30secs tomorrow. I don’t believe his form is there.

        Then Sat/Sun we find out the real stories, are Porte & Quintana really there, I think they’ll take time from Froome on Sat, and he’ll respond Sun – but I have a sneaky feeling G will hold yellow till Stage 12/13.

      • RonDe Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:54 pm

        You are right Charles. IF Froome does take yellow tomorrow he will be expected to carry it to Paris. But since when have Sky (or Froome) ever baulked at this task before? I think that, as Judith says, others will attack (because they are behind after all) and this will force Froome and Thomas to respond. Perhaps G is good enough to stay with them but if not the first man in line to take over yellow is Froome and its hard to see him half a minute down on another winner if he is expecting to win the race.

        • Charles Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 4:47 pm

          My point was I just can’t see G not being able to follow the attacks unless he’s order not to. And ordering him not to go with the attacks doesn’t make any sense. We shall see… the first interesting stage tomorrow.

          • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:54 pm

            Just bit confused why you think Geraint would be ordered not to… there is absolutely no way Sky would do that, I guess in the case Froome attacks G won’t chase is that what you mean?

            I also think you’re underestimating the ferocity of the final bit of that climb, there is every chance (although I think it’s 50-50 as G seems to have good form) that he will be dropped or lose a few secs plus bonus to Froome to lose Yellow.

  • Kit Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:56 am

    That salaryman metaphor is your finest of all the years I’ve been reading this blog. Absolutely fantastic, glorious imagery. Thank you as always.

  • Louis le Blond Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:11 am

    Today: Cav, Greipel, Demare, Sagan – Kittel misses his train ….. 🙂

    • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:56 pm

      You were right on Kittel missing train.

  • Red Hare Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:54 am

    ‘as Sagan replied his foot came out of the pedal with all the casual routine of Japanese salaryman returning home after a day’s work and removing his shoes in the home hallway’

    I choked on my morning coffee… Chapeau!

  • Megi Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:55 am

    The railway inspectors really need to check on these trains, they were spectacularly malfunctioning in the 1st stage.
    Long may the Welsh dragon roar, even if he now has to admit to having three lions (the England badge for non-British readers).

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 1:30 pm

      Shaping up to be a busy coat of arms.

  • Cascarinho Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 12:34 pm

    Small correction : it would be “sprint royal” without the “e” in french.

  • IanPa Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 12:50 pm

    Stage just started…. (not really a spoiler with 200kms to go)

    Van Keirsbulck should get on team radio and call for a bike swap…. go aero as possible and deepest section wheels they have and get the DS to pump in some tunes for the next few hours!!

    #lonely

  • Max Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 3:54 pm

    Allez Arnoud!

  • Richard S Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:18 pm

    Imagine the spite and anger if Cavendish elbowed Sagan in to the barriers. With it being vice versa I wonder if anyone will say anything?!

    • maximflyer Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:23 pm

      It really seemed like Sagan put out his elbow. I only saw once so I couldn’t really tell if it was on purpose…
      I wonder how the comissaires will decide.
      Poor Cavendish, I hope he is all right and can continue

      • Richard S Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:25 pm

        Sagan should have his points took off him at least, and maybe a fine. Cav has a broken shoulder they’ve just said on Eurosport but they aren’t sure.

      • DJW Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:32 pm

        Try to keep some balance: seems like Cavendish was trying to go through a gap only half there but that Sagan put out an elbow to block thus causing the crash. Do I recall something similar from Sagan?

    • Jeff Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:35 pm

      I’ve watched the replay a few times now and have to disagree. I’m not blaming anyone here — it looks like Greipel made a sudden move to his right causing Cav, Sagan, and Demare to all shift right towards the barriers. Cav is simultaneously trying to come around Sagan’s right and shoot a gap that is disappearing. Sagan’s movement with his arm looks less like a deliberate act to push someone into a barrier than a deliberate balancing act to shift his bike to the left and body to the right to avoid sending himself into the barriers. I see more self preservation and trying to maintain a line rather than malice.

      I’m sure others see things differently, and regardless, I’m interested to see what comes out of this.

      • Lord Flash Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:50 pm

        Watched the video a few times stop/starting it. Cav and Sagan collide, but the elbow only comes out afterwards. Looks like a racing incident, not something deliberate. Tough for the Cav though, was happy to see him compete in these sprints

        • Chuffy Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:34 pm

          Yes – Cav is already falling when Sagan sticks his elbow out. Mad sprint with Demare & Bouhanni all over the place. Astonishing that the commissaires have chosen to single out one person to punish.

    • CA Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:21 pm

      Richard S – what was that? Nobody will react if Sagan elbowed Cav?

      • Richard S Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:09 pm

        I thought the fans would come out in defence of Sagan, and I haven’t been too wrong with that. I expected Sagan to be disqualified from the stage results as has happened to a lot of others in the past. I certainly didn’t think he’d be thrown off the race!

  • Dirk Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:50 pm

    Has there ever been a cyclist who crashes as much as Geraint Thomas? I find it difficult to think of many races he hasn’t at some point crashed in…

    • Rod Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 5:32 am

      Tyler Farrar :S

  • paulyork64 Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:41 pm

    has sagan been docked points? if I’m reading correctly he only has 15 points overall after stage 4.

    • paulyork64 Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:52 pm

      found my own answer. yes docked 80 points in green jersey competition and 30 seconds in GC.

      • noel Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:02 pm

        suspiciously nice outcome for the race… Sagan gets his knuckles wrapped, and the race gets a better green jersey comp.
        I hope Cav can continue, he looks like he can compete here…

        • noel Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:13 pm

          whoa… or maybe not!
          well, cycling has been accused in the past of defending it’s top draws but you can’t accuse them of ducking this one ( – if it was the right decision… imho it’s not clear enough to actually DQ him…)

      • Vitus Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:13 pm

        He’s kicked out of the Tour now…….

        • _kw Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:18 pm

          Loss for the race and an overreaction in my view. I am sure Mr. Ring as usual will have a more informed take on this but in recent history other things have had less consequences, see Bouhanni or Cavendish himself for example. But of course Alldag and others push for a DQ…

          • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:34 pm

            INRNG has said it might be involvement also in crash at 1.5 km

          • DJW Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:35 pm

            French radio news (France Info) reports that the exclusion is for a series of errors and not just the Cavendish incident.

          • _kw Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:59 pm

            @Judith / DJW: Thanks for the additional info, will look at the full picture.

  • Jeff Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:36 pm

    Unless I’m missing some pattern of malicious behavior, this seems like a monumentally poor decision. Did we watch the same videos??

    • Judith Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:43 pm

      See above Jeff – apparently there were elbows with Griepel at intermediate sprint and something at 1.5km to go which it seems like only INRNG has seen – I’m looking at twitter. So yes may be a pattern of poor behaviour – I suspect slightly unintentional from Sagan as he seems nice, but you have to take responsibility I guess….

      So………. NEW GREEN JERSEY!

      • Foley Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:09 pm

        Robbie McEwen was talking yesterday about Sagan using his shoulders to open space for for himself during the intermediate sprint. He seemed to see it as a positive, but we know McEwen is more tolerant of such behavior than the typical commissaire.

        I thought Sagan’s elbow was a bit after the fact, and the DQ decision overly harsh. To Richard S’s comment above about reputations affecting the decision, we can now wonder if Sagan would still be in the race if his victim were not an all-time legend of the Tour.

      • Foley Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 6:14 am

        Just rewatched that intermediate sprint in stage 3, and McEwen said clearly that Greipel would not appreciate Sagan’s actions. I did not want to leave the wrong impression when paraphrasing McEwen. But I don’t think he felt like there was much in it, and all but said it should be case closed.

  • Richard S Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:12 pm

    I thought while the ‘whole’ crash might not have been Sagan’s fault (they are so many knock on causes and effects it’d be impossible to say where it started) the elbow was pretty bad. But to disqualify him from the whole race seems pretty heavy handed. Like I said above I think points docked and a fine would’ve done.

  • PaulG Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:23 pm

    Looks like he was the cause of the crash at 1.5km as well……That, the shenanigans at the intermediate sprint, clipping Greipels wheel in the final sprint and the Cavendish crash all added up to too much for one day.

    https://twitter.com/LeGruppetto/status/882283504150695936

  • Pax Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:30 pm

    Messy sprint ….

    Kudos to Jeff above highlighting some of this

    1) It seems that Kristoff starts the sprint with Bouhanni on his tail – Greipel moved over not seeing that Bouhanni was there and hits (elbow ?) – https://youtu.be/Ow0MgSNtiCI?t=2
    2) Bouhanni is forced slightly to the right – which then causes Demare to move right and for Sagan right to also react (using his elbow rebalancing)
    3) Sagan tries to follow Damare – since Cavendish is further behind he is forced closer to barrier he leans in to Sagan – sagan rebalances (again using his elbows) – See this video someone put together – it shows Cavendish going done before the second elbow https://streamable.com/j7gqb
    4) Demare who has more speed – cuts in front of Bouhanni, and Bohuanni has to fight again to stay upright.
    5) Demare was faster than Kristoff – the others were fighting to stay upright. (Demare seemed the fastest today)

    My read the UCI jury got it wrong – Bouhanni should have the biggest beef. Sagan is riding with bigger elbows this year – for better position holding not unlike other Sprinters, he is really good with rebalancing but this causes the Elbow to go out.

    I feel cheated as a fan that I won’t be able to watch Sagan and Cav (hopefully not), the rest of the Tour.

    The advent of the internet makes it easier to do a post race analysis. The jury are going to be subject to second guessing unless they employ video experts and use all sources (this probably only works in the grand tours).

    I hope the jury is international and not all of retiring age. I know in other sports there is a huge effort to make juries neutral, and age appropriate.

  • jc Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:17 pm

    Having also looked at the slow motion overhead of the first crash ( its on Steephill, in Dutch but you dont need the commentary ) Peter Sagan caused that crash too. Given this seems to be a pattern of behaviour this seems the right decision. I thought the first decision was reasonable for the final crash but having now seen this too, I dont think the commissionaires had any other option.

    Perhaps he came to believe too much in all the hype and was just becoming too focused on himself. You simply cannot bulldoze your way to the front. There are always going to be marginal decisions in sprints (Cav has hardly been a saint in that regard) but these incidents along with whatever happened at the (yesterday’s?) intermediate sprint do form an unacceptable pattern of behaviour.

    As Inrng points out this is going to have significant commercial implications for the race, his team and the sponsors.

    • Jeff Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:27 pm

      I have no horse in this race, but I don’t see how you claim that Peter Sagan caused the earlier crash. I just watched the slomo overhead video several times and I see a light colored jersey rider (looks like FDJ?) lose his balance and lurch to the right as Sagan passes on the outside. This rider hits Sagan who in turn hits another (also FDJ?) rider on his right side. Sagan and the second FDJ rider remain upright while the guy who was originally off balance is the first to crash.

      If these are the two incidents, I, as a fan, can’t help but feel cheated by the race jury for their unjust decision. Furthermore, the talk of 30 seconds penalty, then 80 points, then ejection just further indicates that their decision was rash and escalated rapidly, rather than carefully considered and appropriate.

      • jc Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:46 pm

        Maybe it is my eyesight, the images are pretty small but I see the first crash as caused by Peter Sagan pushing riders out of the way. I looked at this 3 or 4 times before and have been back to look again after your comment and would stick with my view. It really is difficult to form a firm judgement just on this but I assume the commissionaires had other evidence too.

        It is also worth pointing out that Mark Renshaw was thrown out a few years back, arguably for less dangerous behaviour than this.

        • Jeppe Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:01 pm

          But the jury decisions says that Sagan caused danger in the final metres, not kilometres. I can’t read that decision to involve both crashes.

          • jc Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:20 pm

            Yes I have just seem that too, in which case I am not so sure they got this right. It is arguable. There is a case that this was simply a racing manoeuvre rather than being deliberately dangerous. Though the comparison with the Mark Renshaw incident still stands.

          • JamesM Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:44 pm

            Jeppe – from the (somewhat rash, though the emotions are understandable) Dimension tweet, Dimension having led the protest, it’s clear that the 1.5km incident was discussed. The statement says one thing, but there’s no doubt that both incidents, rightly or wrongly, were considered by commissaires.

          • Jeppe Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 12:06 am

            If Sagan caused that crash with 1,5 to go, I hope It’s been discussed. But classic cycling: you kick the world champion and biggest star out of the biggest race, and yet 4-5 hours later we still (?) only have 2 lines from the jury about it🙈

          • STS Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 1:16 am

            That’s why we have a jury consisting of judges (“commissaires”). They should not consider whether the guys they are dealing with are big stars or not. It’s their job to make sure that complaints that are filed are treated according to the rule book. And I also get their point that, especially for this TdF, with a lot of stages that could end in a bunch sprint, they wanted to follow up to their pre-race warning to the sprinters that they will re-watch every sprint very closely.
            With so many guys – remember that the first crash limited the number of riders engaging in that sprint today – fighting for the stage wins and the points for the minor placings they have to try to make sure that the rules are obeyed.

          • Jeppe Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 1:28 pm

            But still: you could expect more than 2 lines about the decision…

    • Junker Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:31 pm

      I’ve watched this like ten times and cannot see Sagan being responsible???

      • Junker Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:32 pm

        ***(For the crash at 1.5km)

  • Peter R Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:05 pm

    Watching the ITV highlights, seems that the jury only considered the Cav crash (i.e. not the one at 1.5km).

    Never raced at that level or anything like but it does seem that there is a more complex thing going on than one bloke elbowing another in to the railings. Looked horrible and maybe the outcome dictated the judgment, rather then the event?

  • Global Nomad Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:35 pm

    Well its always good to come here to INRNG to get reasoned and level headed discussion over an incident whichever way you lean (sorry).

    I watched it live and as is often the case it all happens so fast that it is hard to understand until you see the videos again and again or slowed down. Too may people using still images of the end part of the crash to ‘prove’ the elbow…which is not the way to capture casue and effect. The overhead view gets blocked by trees and shadow at a key moment. To me it seems that Sagan moved over more than necessary to avoid the other sprinters and was intent on closing the gap – which so many people have done previously without incident. By the time the elbow came out, whether for balance or obstruction, cav was already in the barriers and coming down. From the front it almost looks like cav falling pushes sagan’s arm out….

    This will run and run, of course. The punishment feels harsh but also in line with previous incidents – the failure was to announce a place/points penalty and then add a DQ. Very amateurish.

    This is also the race that brings out the annual experts – the more racing you watch the more you can contextualise. Cycle racing is tough and can be rough.

    PS kudos to GvK for his solo stage efforts…

  • Max Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:44 pm

    He[Sagan], looked like Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a sprint.

    Congrats FDJ!

  • Top_oz Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:58 pm

    I find Cav’s demeanour in the interview quite interesting. Normally I’d expect a sportsman to be claiming blue murder if foul play was involved. Now, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but judging from Cav’s reaction I wonder if the penalty is a bit harsh.

    The elbow itself is not a good look but I’m not convinced it played any material part in the crash.

    I think the real losers out of this are the viewers (esp. if Cav pulls out as well).

    • Nick Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:45 pm

      I think he implied that closing the gap was fine, but the elbow wasn’t. However, we have no way of knowing how many painkillers Cav was on when interviewed.

  • Michael B Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:59 pm

    I’m a fan of both riders but my initial reaction was that it was a harsh verdict. Sagan did drift to the barriers, only he knows if he knew Cavendish was there, but the “elbow” was an instinctive reaction from a rider trying to stay upright.

    I’d have to look again but I think his leg flicked in at the same time as his elbow flicked out as a counterbalance. It’s very subtle but that’s what I saw first time around. I’ll have to watch again. Either way, Cavendish was fairly muted. I think he knows he tried to squeek through a gap that might close and, sadly, it did.

  • sbs Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:19 pm

    Guys , I like Sagan, appreciate his skills, but that was stupid behavior and using soccer terminology a “faul”. I even suppose he was scared by Cavendish surprising attack and it could be very dangerous for Sagan if they went next to each other, but still “safety first”. Sagan got closed, that was his tactical error and he shouldn’t put health of others on risk just to win ONE stage. It wasn’t a casual bodycheck, it was intentional action. It needs to be punished and erased from racing – riders can’t end up in hospitals with broken bones after potentially every stage with final sprint. Not only Cavendish crashed after this elbow-attack. It could be even worse if there was full peloton going full gas behind them – potentially a crash of 50 riders! Sagan needs to refresh his mind, change attitude even if it costs him some lost finishes in the future.

  • Joe Saroni Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:21 pm

    My first reaction was, what was CAV thinking trying to get through a wisp of apace and the barrier? I think an argument can be made that his line was dangerous and reckless.

    • MtnGoat Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 6:19 am

      I would point out that it was much more than a “wisp of space” when he started his charge.

  • sbs Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:21 pm

    Check the heli-camera, you won’t have any doubts if it was “intuitive” move of elbow or pushing Cavendish… Hope to see Sagan winning some big races this season but that was stupid move.

    • kokolores Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 2:09 am

      Focusing on one camera that doesn’t show a good image due to trees and shadows won’t result in an objective decision. Check all cameras, all views, all reports, then form an opinion.

      • MtnGoat Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 6:24 am

        So many seem determined to discount the heli view in favor of the front view which shows no fore\aft relative positions (eg: you do realize all the stars of the Big Dipper are NOT on the same plane, right?).
        The aerial view shows enough to be able to better see that Sagan was in no way threatened toward the barrier. There was plenty of space between he and the group. This was one man foolishly slamming the door.
        And as we used to exclaim in the peloton, “Hold yer f___ line!”.

  • sbs Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:24 pm

    Yeee…. so for some of you CAV was guilty? Watch heli-camera, then speak, guys. It’s getting very dangerous andsuch practices and behaviors need to be stopped.

    • Jeff Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:58 pm

      Hi sbs,

      I think many people here watched not only the heli-camera view but also the head-on views provided by ASO. The heli-camera view is the least helpful of the camera views because the key moment before the fall is covered by a tree shadow. For me, the drift to the right of the Demare, Sagan, Cav grouping was a natural part of a sprint, but also partly in response to Greipel’s movements in front of them. Cav’s line was closed off and he still tried to pass, leaning into Sagan’s body. For me, Sagan’s reaction was a balancing reaction to stay on his bike and his line. Nine times out ten, if a rider doesn’t have the line to pass, they don’t try to shoot a gap between Sagan and a metal barrier that’s less wide than a handlebar width. If they feel they were impeded, they wave their hand.

      The elbow looks bad, there’s no disagreement about that. I think a careful review of the videos show that the elbow flick came after Cavendish leaned into Sagan and Sagan’s elbow never contacted Cavendish. It’s important to get these things right. I agree dangerous sprints should be sanctioned in order to dissuade riders from those behaviors. That also goes for dangerous behaviors such as a Cavendish’s.

  • jc Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 12:08 am

    Having now looked at both the overhead and front on pictures, I am afraid I have to agree with the decision of the Jury.

    The important moments are actually obscured by a tree in the overhead. The front on images show it in some detail. Using the Eurosport images on Steephill.

    At 1:07 with 260m to go, Cav is clearly on Demare’s wheel. They are all in the middle of the road with space to Demare’s / Cav’s right. Sagan is behind Bouhani & Gripel in the centre. Move on a second or so 226m to go. Demare with Cav glued to his wheel is clearly going through to the right of Bouhani, Sagan is glancing across to his right sensing he has picked the wrong wheel. A second further Demare & Cav are going through, Cav seems to be slightly in front of Sagan. 204m to go, Cav is still slightly in front of Sagan and has some space between himself and the barriers, Sagan appears to be looking down not forward and is moving to his right in an attempt get onto Demare’ wheel. At 1:11, the key moment, you can clearly see Sagan elbow Cav, maybe there is shoulder contact but maybe not. It is Sagan’s elbow that causes Cav to fall, he was not pushed into the barriers, there was still space between the barrier and Cav’s bike. A few metres further – 195m , Cav is falling sideways and Sagan’s elbow is pushed right out, yes this is a reaction to Cav no longer being there but the only reasonable conclusion from all this is that he has pushed Cav out of the way. It also very much confirms Cav’s post race comments about Peter Sagan’s elbow. The pushed out elbow caused Cav to crash it was not simply a reaction to enable Sagan to keep his balance.

    I realise this is a matter of interpretation but to me this can very easily be classified as “dangerous riding” not just the typical bumping etc found on a sprint. Maybe a more lenient Jury would have felt demotion and points deduction sufficient but the stricter interpretation is also perfectly reasonable especially if the riders were told beforehand that the Jury were going to pay close attention to the sprints.

    • Jeff Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 1:59 am

      Hi jc,

      One thing I’d like to point out that you may have missed in the buildup is that Demare and Cav were sitting on Sagan’s wheel. You assumed in your post above that Cav was ahead of Sagan, which was not the case. Demare swung wide to get past Sagan and both Sagan and Cav reacted. There were of course more reactions, too, given that Greipel’s movements also pushed the riders to the right. However, to state that Cav is in front of Sagan is incorrect. Cav was never in front of Sagan. Indeed that would be impossible given that he’s trying to get around him in the final moments before he goes down.

      I find it telling that Greipel, who was the loudest of protesters at the finish line, has now reversed himself and apologized to Sagan saying “Sometimes I should watch images before I say something. Apologies to @petosagan as I think the decision of the judge is too hard.”

  • Arthur Lager Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 12:42 am

    Personally I’ve no problem with DQing anyone over the age of 12 who pops wheelies.
    The big issue is how can Eurosport help further connect fans with cycling – what about #AskBakelants ?

  • Strictly Amateur / The GCW Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 3:15 am

    First, this was frisky, intense and mentally torqued racing before crashes.

    2nd crash with Cav has 2 viewpoints. the HELI view seems to indicate more of an elbow motion (not good sportsmanship) but the MOTO view shows a more subdued issue with the way Sagan raced.

    Feel bad for all involved. More sprint stages may = more of this, except there are now less sprinters…

    Tomorrow, climb.