Wednesday Shorts

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The Adriatica Ionica stage race starts today, a 2.1 race in Italy. Normally with Halle-Ingooigem yesterday that’s it for pro racing beside the national championships until the Tour de France. Now there’s a new race to supply some more more race days and it takes place in north-eastern Italy with a finish in Trieste on Sunday after a team time trial today and a summit finish on the Passo Giau this Friday.

The event has ambitions to grow beyond this corner of North-Eastern Italy and into the Balkans but first it’ll have to find its place on the calendar. It works as a post-Giro resumption race for some and a pre-Nationals test for many Italian riders. It’s also a key race for Mark Cavendish and Dimension Data ahead of the Tour de France. It seems there’s no livestream.

Another new race is Paris-Chauny this Sunday. It’s an old race on the amateur calendar but now a 1.1 event in France and a good test a week from the French national championships. It’s on Eurosport, in France at least.

Not so much a new race but a change, Stage 19 of the Tour de France is supposed to finish in Laruns only loyal readers will remember the news last week that the road has been washed away on the descent to the finish. The rains have kept up and the town of Gourette higher up and the valley below has been declared as a natural disaster zone. Residents are suffering so the mere passage of the Tour de France seems anecdotal but you probably haven’t landed on this page for local news from the Pyrenees either: the continuing problems mean even starting roadworks is impossible.

From floods at the Tour to drip-drip public relations. So far only two teams have announced their squads for the Tour de France, Lotto-Jumbo and Ag2r La Mondiale. Injury and illness means these can change. Lotto opted for the slow tease of announcing a rider per day while Ag2r La Mondiale went for the whole eight riders in one go. Presumably the idea of a rider a day allows the team to get maximum publicity although the drip-drip announcement means by the time they’ve got to the last rider you’ve forgotten who the first ones were. As a reminder Lotto-Jumbo are interesting as they go with Dylan Groenewegen for the sprints and Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič for the GC, and all on a team of eight riders. Either way it shows the significance of the Tour de France where team selection can be turned into an event.

Overheard in Saint Gaudens: recent recon rides to the Pyrenees overlapped with the Route d’Occitanie taking place in the region last week. While sipping a post-ride beer in a bar around the corner from some of the race vehicles, it was impossible not to overhear a local family was having a surprisingly loud conversation about a burgling cousin who was caught by the police after a brief chase (apparently the tires on his car were worn so he couldn’t get away). Later the conversation turned to the nearby pro race and whether it was of interest to boost some team bikes, “non” said the oldest man at the table, “nobody wants race bikes any more, it’s all about electric bikes now“. Reassuring?

David June 20, 2018 at 10:44 am

Any News on froome? I think it’s a bit too quiet given the tour starts in 2 weeks

Chris June 21, 2018 at 3:38 am

Boooo Sky!
Better than Contador!
The test is unreliable!
Skybots Skybots Skybots!
You’re just being naive!
It’s a moral decision, no matter what the rule say!

That ought to tide you over.

Ecky Thump June 21, 2018 at 4:49 am

The outburst by Hinault about how the peloton should refuse to ride if Froome takes part was extraordinary enough?
Is Hinault to be on podium duties again, as that could potentially be uncomfortable?

Anonymous June 21, 2018 at 6:38 am

Sigh. It’s gonna be 3 weeks of perspective-free virtue-signalling punditry, tossed urine and hysterical booing isn’t it.

DJW June 21, 2018 at 8:42 am

He has retired from podium duties, during which period, no doubt, the ASO cheque would have bought discretion. Now he is free to provoke, stimulated maybe in this case by a payment from Ouest France – or just the need to not be forgotten. Le blaireau : aggressive racing though always more heat than light.

Larry T June 21, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Bernard Hinault “…more heat than light”? Really? Perhaps you need to take another look.
http://www.museociclismo.it/en/riders/rider/3278-Bernard-HINAULT/palmares.html

nortonpdj June 22, 2018 at 1:27 pm

I rather think that Hinault is trying to maintain his media profile in order to protect his appearance fees. Despite these ill judged and ill informed outpourings he is still revered here in France.

Anonymous June 21, 2018 at 9:27 am

Hinault is French and the French are desperate for a French winner of the Tour de France, particularly now they have credible contenders. Froome is the main obstacle. The French “Froome shouldn’t ride” contingent weren’t worried about him riding the Giro.

Megi June 21, 2018 at 9:27 am

Anonymous = me – I forgot to add my name.

treberden June 21, 2018 at 10:48 am

Yes, sure and french people gave salbutamol in Froome meat in Spain during la Vuelta, Portal is not a Sky directeur sportif, but a spy for the French cycling federation.
You are right for one point, most of the french people don’t care for the giro, and most of the audience is watching for landscapes or waiting for the presents of La caravane du tour, so Froome over there in Italia is not exciting nor shocking.
My point : MPCC rules for everyone if they want to take part to a GT ! For the riders’ sake and for a podium that can stand for years to come.

RonDe June 21, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Who is a “credible” French contender on a course with a 35kms TTT stage and ending with a 31kms ITT? Bardet? Please.

Of all those who could criticise Froome Hinault, who refused to even take a drug test on occasion, is last in line. Chutzpah and brass neck all rolled into one.

BC June 22, 2018 at 8:16 am

For all the hypocritical histrionics from a man, who during his own career was closely associated with a veterinary surgeon, it should be remembered that Froome, under current rules, is legally entitled to compete.

Let the system run its course. Rather than listen the to CW level of ignorance shown by someone who should know better.

Anonymous June 22, 2018 at 2:48 pm

A reply to BC:

(1) A man who was once “closely associated with a veterinary surgeon” is just entitle to have an opinion and to voice it as volubly as he can as a man who wasn’t. And it may be just as interesting and worth listening to.
(2) If there is one thing that is 100% certain it is that Froome is “legally entitled to compete”. If he wan’t, there’d be no need for Hinault to speak out or, for that matter, for the peloton to sit down and strike.
(3) The saying that the law is an ass can sometimes be true. If Froome hadn’t been legally entitled to compete, it would’ve been in everyone’s interest to make the entire procedure as short as possible. Now it never was after the leakage – and there can be no quarrel about “letting the system run its course” being bad for the sport. Some might even argue that it is so bad that it might have justified hurting an innocent man and his rights…
(4) *If* Froome and sky had done the unthinkable and voluntarily taken a time off from competing, it would have received my full admiration – but haters gonna hate, as they say, and even if it might have been the perfect gentlemen’s sporting decision, it wouldn’t have been a 100% succesful PR solution in any case.

Cinjet June 20, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Kruijswijk and Roglic will be interesting to watch. Kruijswijk is having a decent season so far with a couple GC top 10. Roglic won three stage races since April. And we know he is capable of winning GT stages. On paper it’s a strong team but if they focus on the GC the results could be “only” a top 10 plus a sprint stage or two.

J Evans June 21, 2018 at 2:03 am

But they probably need to focus on getting the two of them high on GC for the meaningless points system.
Still feel for Kruijswijk – that Giro really does look like being his one chance to win a grand tour.

Anonymous June 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm

She’s electric, she’s from a family full of eccentrics…….

Terence McMahon June 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Make Richie Porte think he’s won the lottery and finish the last mountain stage at the top of the Col d’Aubisque? Or descend the Soulor to Ferrières? Give Laurens the finish they paid for next year.

Webbovich June 25, 2018 at 11:41 am

My thoughts exactly. It was one of the dangerous stages for him, now potentially mitigated. Some good luck is always needed and he is often is short supply.

Chris G June 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Regarding the Pyrenees – actually some local news would be of interest to me, since I’m planning a little cycling tour to Aubisque/Tourmalet in the first week of July.

Is it safe, other than the immediate region around Gourette?
Any news sources I can check up on (pref. in English)?

Gregario June 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

All major mountain passes (and the smaller ones too) are open and in good condition except the western side of the Aubisque. You can still climb the Soulor side both from Ferrieres and Argeles and then ride the last 7 km to Aubisque. The weather improved in the last week after heavy downpours which have plagued the region for one month or so, so you can safely plan your tour I guess.

Anonymous June 21, 2018 at 5:35 pm

I will add to what Gregorio said and say that: all the snow has gone, even on the highest roads; the weather has been warm and dry for the last week and should stay that way until July so there should be no new problems between now and then for you to worry about.

Paul C June 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Climbed many of the showbiz cols (and a few others) between June 14th and June 17th. All open – other than the west side of the Aubisque – and in decent condition. The weather was actually fine too. I would heartily recommend the Port de Bales if you fancy something other than the classic Tour de France favourites.

Ben June 20, 2018 at 3:09 pm

It looks like the good people at PMG Sport are streaming highlights from the Adriatica Ionica: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8McNBVvoGcg&t=0s&list=WL&index=14

Larry T June 20, 2018 at 7:09 pm

Fair warning for Pinarello Nytro owners! But then again, they can afford to replace theirs if it gets pinched, just reach into the Louis Vuitton purse full of euros! Does LV have an under-the-seat bag for these bikes yet?

BenW June 21, 2018 at 11:10 am

Never know, with Virgil Abloh at the helm anything’s possible – Adam Blythe is a fan of his work, for one.

AK June 20, 2018 at 8:04 pm

Well, I knew there were good reasons why the UCI scans bikes for hidden motors. I just hadn’t thought theft prevention was one of them!

Karl June 20, 2018 at 10:35 pm

I know that this wasn’t in today’s shorts, but with the talk of BMC not finding a replacement sponsor and potentially folding, what is the rumor mill about a team taking the 18th WT spot? A new team? A Pro Conti team stepping up?

Larry T June 21, 2018 at 8:00 am

You mean (again) 17 teams fighting over 18 places? Everyone know what I would type next about this but I’ll let them fill-in-the-blanks this time 🙂

The Inner Ring June 21, 2018 at 11:01 am

The plan is to move down to 17 teams for 2020, then 16 the year after. Perhaps they just advance this instead, even if Cofidis is talking about moving up too?

Larry T June 21, 2018 at 1:58 pm

HA! How long will it take for them to get down to a dozen teams with real monetary support (and perhaps ethics?) to survive for awhile? Then they could allow 6-8 “wildcard” teams of local/national interest. This might put a dent in the seemingly ever-escalating costs to get into the top level of pro cycling. But what do I know? I’m sure the Velon wizards have a much, much better plan but they need to come up with one that’s not so centered on ASO bankrolling it.

STS June 20, 2018 at 11:23 pm

“to boost” also means to steal? I’m not a native speaker but communicate a lot with some. I never heard anyone using it for this meaning.

You seem to be in an enviable position, INRNG. Thanks for letting us benefit.

Jan June 21, 2018 at 4:27 am

Yes, “to boost” can mean to steal. Or to lift up. I’m guessing it’s coming from the “lift” meaning, since “lift” can also mean steal. (The Oxford English Dictionary says it’s US slang and puts the first use in 1912.)

BenW June 21, 2018 at 11:11 am

Yes indeed, it’s an Americanism, most widely used (in film and TV anyway) for stealing cars.

DJS June 20, 2018 at 11:30 pm

It seems the Van den Driessche family has French relatives 😉
Jokes aside – your French must be very good to pick that up from an overheard conversation.

Alison June 21, 2018 at 7:18 am

Or maybe Inrng’s English is very good to explain it to us non-French speakers so clearly?!?

AK June 21, 2018 at 8:59 am

Both, obviously.

Luigi Harrison June 21, 2018 at 9:04 am

Highly ironic that a place called Eaux-Bonnes can be found about 2/3 of the way down the final descent of Stage 19, as that roughly translates to “good waters”. All the best to those affected by the “eaux-mauvaises” in the area.

kasoli June 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Mitchelton Scott has announced their team – no Caleb Ewan.

Adam Yates, Bauer, Durbridge, Hayman, Hepburn, Howson, Impey, Nieve.

An “all for GC” approach, but I wonder about the back story behind leaving Ewan out (apart from him maybe moving to another team next year).

Dave June 23, 2018 at 1:43 pm

The back story is that:
1. Ewan was offered a political selection for the Tour de France if he renewed with the team
2. He and his agent have not been talking to the team (unlike Michael Matthews, who made an effort to stay on good terms with the team and got Tour selection in 2016 despite his intention to leave) and they have been left to discover his intentions via the rumour mill.
3. His form doesn’t justify a selection on performance grounds, and his snubbing the team means they felt the need to withdraw the offer of a political selection.

Motormouth June 21, 2018 at 10:50 pm

Has Richie Porte worked on his descending? is there evidence of any improvement this year?

The Inner Ring June 22, 2018 at 11:05 am

That’s the big question, I said last summer it was his weak point and he paid the price in the Dauphiné, losing out on the descent of the Colombière (which wasn’t that technical). Then the accident on the Mont du Chat in the Tour. It’s not that he’s a terrible descender, just that his rivals know it is a weak point and will try to exploit this and after what happened last July it’d be normal if he was cautious going into a blind bend at 80km/h.

Kasper Ankjærgaard June 22, 2018 at 9:14 am

How do you imagine the stage 19. route will be changed due to the damaged roads?
As I see it, there are four possible scenarios:

1) MTF at Col d’Aubisque
2) Finish in Ferrières/Étchartes after Soulor
3) Finish in Argelès after Bordères-Soulor-Spandelles (novelty)
4) Finish in Luz-st-Sauveur either directly after Tourmalet or via a Luz-Ardiden/Viscos/Gaborisse climb like used in the 2017 Route du Sud (also novelty).

IMO, ASO will do anything possible to keep the stage finish a tricky downhill with the likes of especially Bardet in mind.
This, and logistics, should rule out option 1)
I don’t know whether the state of the descent from Col de Spandelles allow for racing in a full finale.
Options 2) and 4) are absolutely feasible although 4) would require a route change and an inclusion of additional climbs prior to Tourmalet, e.g., Col d’Azet or Hourquette d’Ancizan.

What do you think?

The Inner Ring June 22, 2018 at 11:09 am

There is time to make a temporary fix for the Tour too, to keep the road closed to all but the race.

Otherwise the finish in Laruns isn’t in a big town that has paid a lot for the finish, it’s likely the region has paid for the Tour’s visit and so the region can pick another spot if they want.

gastro george June 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm

From the photos it didn’t look like any kind of temporary fix would be possible. Half the road is gone and part of the rest is overhanging. It looks like the under rock is shale and it goes down a fair distance, so that would need some kind of new foundations even before they start in-filling. I guess they could excavate into the mountain side, but how stable is that right now? Didn’t look like a 4 week job, even for a temporary surface.

The Inner Ring June 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Kasper Ankjærgaard June 23, 2018 at 12:35 am

That’s great news!

I love the finale of this stage:
The four-in-one ascent from Agreles to Col d’Aubisque is really irregular and difficult to control; it should make for some interesting dynamics and ambushes.

And the Descent Royale will be vertigionous.

The only minus on stage 19 is that it’s followed by the TT which could make the GC refrain from attacking wildly.

I would have switched the two stages.

Dave June 24, 2018 at 10:22 am

This is a great move for the region, it will be a good boost for morale after a tough time.

Hopefully the riders of the WorldTour teams will help out by agreeing to donate the prizemoney of the day to the local communities.

gastro george June 24, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Wow. The French can really get their act together when they want to. I guess the Tour and tourism in general are such big money spinners in the area.

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