Tour de France Stage 3 Preview

Monday, 9 July 2018

A team time trial to reshape the overall classification. It may not make for great TV but today’s stage should leave a lasting impact on the race, a set-piece stage to define the coming weeks.

Dion Smith

La Roche sur Yawn: Sylvain Chavanel enjoyed a what the French call a bain de foule, to literally bathe in the crowd. He was joined by Trek-Segafredo’s Michael Gogl and Wanty-Gobert’s Dion Smith. Smith won the early mountains competition and duly sat up because tied on one point with yesterday’s KoM winner Ledanois the award gets decided on GC and the New Zealander wanted to save energy so as not to lose time later. Gogl then called the race doctor over for a sore knee and Chavanel was suddenly adrift by himself and pressed on with the crowds roaring for Direct Energie, the local team. Back in the bunch there were crashes and abandons, Trek-Segafredo lost Tsagbu Grmay and Astana’s L-L Sanchez is out too, a blow for Jacob Fuglsang’s chances as support rider in the mountains but more immediately as an engine for today, already Astana are down to seven riders.

Coming into the finish and there was a crash with two kilometres to go that took out Fernando Gaviria and others and split the field, leaving a small group to contest the stage win and Peter Sagan won to take the yellow jersey.

The Route: 35.5km and if you saw the Critérium du Dauphiné the distance is similar but the course is not. Those with long memories will remember Stefan Schumancher winning the Tour de France’s individual time trial in Cholet in 2008, it was on similar roads but this time they’ve added a few twists and turns to add in more vertical gain. It’s hilly with a climb straight out of the start in Cholet, a drag up of 10% for a kilometre and awkward for team cohesion. There’s a brief descent and then some undulating and exposed roads on the way to the first time check. There’s more big, exposed roads before another dragging climb up to Romagne. The climb of La Séguinière to the second time check is hard, not quite a wall but real effort with a maximum gradient of 12%. These climbs are awkward for team time trials, the time is taken on the fourth rider so squads have to go at the speed of their fourth rider but who is the fourth rider? The climbs make it easier for riders to go into the red, either on the ascent or the section over the top. Cohesion and pacing count for so much.

The Contenders: BMC Racing and Team Sky are the two prime picks and hard to chose between them. BMC Racing have been near invincible in this exercise for some time now and have their pacing and aerodynamics down to a fine art. Stefan Küng is almost worth two riders but this hilly course isn’t his preferred train. Team Sky have picked Egan Bernal and he’s never done a team time trial in the World Tour although he’s surely done plenty of drills in recent weeks, still he’s a potential weak point but otherwise Sky’s roster looks built for this stage, the likes of Froome, Thomas, Kwiatkowski, Moscon and Castroviejo can take big turns.

Next come Team Sunweb, Quick Step, Mitchelton-Scott and Movistar. Sunweb are strong with the likes of Tom Dumoulin, Michael Matthews and Chad Haga but surely not enough to take on BMC and Sky. Quick Step look cohesive too and will want to ride as fast as possible so that Philippe Gilbert and Julian Alaphilippe sit high on GC so they can take the race lead in the coming days but the win is a tall order. Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates crashed yesterday and we’ll see how he is today. Team mates Luke Durbridge and Daryl Impey also fell, sustaining some sore injuries which are bound to dent their chances today. Movistar may not have the biggest engines but should work well together and can aim for the top-5. Bora-Hansgrohe won’t just be motivated to defend Peter Sagan’s position, they have some solid rouleurs but a stage win sounds unlikely, as does keeping the maillot jaune.

Team Sky, BMC Racing
Team Sunweb, Quick Step
Mitchelton-Scott, Bora-Hansgrohe

Weather: hot and sunny again with a top temperature of 30°C, not ideal weather to wear an aero helmet. A 20km/h wind from the NE means a headwind on the return to Cholet to make things harder.

TV: the first team, Mitchelton-Scott, is off at 3.10pm CEST and the last team, Bora-Hansgrohe, is due home at 5.35pm CEST. This stage may not make for great TV, you could equally read the results sheet later but there is potential for drama with teams cracking en route and battles between the top teams for the win and to take time and the lesser ones looking to limit damage. If anything tune in early because the likes of Sky and BMC are among the first to start.

Anonymous July 9, 2018 at 6:15 am

Does anyone – Dutch speakers? (I’ve only found links in Dutch) – know if van Baarle said this?
‘Dylan van Baarle (team Sky since this year) just admitted on Dutch national radio to using a Salbutamol puffer while he doesn’t even have asthma and was also never seen using a puffer before moving to team Sky.’

gm July 9, 2018 at 6:22 am

seriously.. who cares?

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 8:37 am

It’s way off topic but we should care. As Andras points out, it should be easy to point out of van Baarle has exercise induced asthma or not, eg past prescriptions, previous team doctors will know.

Anonymous July 9, 2018 at 7:03 pm

There’s a difference between concern and social media madness. Let the authorities deal with it appropriately, FFS.

Mark July 9, 2018 at 11:44 am

Based on comments below, and comments I’ve seen in previous cycling websites, part of the issue seems to be that people do not understand that asthma is not about the trigger, but about the effect it has about effect it has on your airways.

Andras July 9, 2018 at 6:49 am

It seems to be just some controversy created by people on social media.

Reaction from the rider: “I’m using the salbutamol because I have exercise induced asthma. Since I’m 10 years old I use my inhaler only when I’m exercising.”
https://twitter.com/DylanvanBaarle/status/1015977904025501696

Thinktank July 9, 2018 at 6:49 am

From what I could understand with my rudimentary Dutch he used Salbutamol because he could not breathe (sounds like asthma to me, but I’m not a doctor). And he said that he did not not feel stronger. But as I said, I’m not Dutch, the translation might be wrong.

Here’s the link: https://www.nporadio1.nl/de-perstribune/onderwerpen/462634-dylan-van-baarle-ik-gebruik-ook-salbutamol

Han July 9, 2018 at 9:32 am

I’m; he said that he also used salbutamol (like Froome), but that it isn’t a performance-enhancing drug. He didn’t use the word asthma at all. He says ‘We cyclists destroy our lungs, and salbutamol just helps you breathe’. Asked for his opinion on removing restrictions on usage of salbutamol, and there he says, we shouldn’t have a limit. ‘You either should be able to use it (unlimited), or not use it all, but not with a limit because that makes it very sketchy’ See: https://www.nporadio1.nl/sport/10595-wielrenner-dylan-van-baarle-over-het-gebruik-van-salbutamol

jc July 9, 2018 at 9:55 am

Lots ( a majority??) of riders have asthma issues and most would use an inhaler or similar. It is hardly unusual (despite what you might think from reading the media) and except for the obvious would be of no interest beyond the riders themselves and their doctors.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 10:28 am

This is a TTT preview. People can debate salbutamol and conspiracies elsewhere, Froome’s case has been covered many times here before.

Mol July 9, 2018 at 1:56 pm

+1 Inrng. Bring on the race banter folks…..please.

Larrick July 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm

I’m going to continue reading down through the posts but can I put my money on your plea not having much effect please. Also, you mentioned the other day I think that you’ve ridden the course a few times. Are the climbs hard enough to make the teams slow down a lot so they don’t lose their big rouleurs or more just an easing of the pace?

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 3:48 pm

I’ve ridden the final TT (Stage 20) several times because it was worth covering in more detail. Today’s course isn’t so hard, but it only takes small differences to pull teams apart, a tiny gap when riders are already on the limit can turn into a big one.

Larrick July 9, 2018 at 4:56 pm

That’s right it was the ITT. I’ll look forward to reading about that later and thanks.

Paul Jakma July 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Here’s what Dylan said, from https://www.nporadio1.nl/sport/10595-wielrenner-dylan-van-baarle-over-het-gebruik-van-salbutamol:

“Wij zijn wielrenners en onze longen worden kapotgemaakt door alle inspanning. En het pufje gebruik je dan om te kunnen ademen.”

Which translates to:

“We’re bike racers and our lungs get destroyed by all the efforts/exercise. So you use an inhaler so you can breathe”.

I think elsewhere (or later?) he also said that exercise/efforts “belast” the lungs. I.e. are taxing on, or stress the lungs. He clarified on twitter that he’s been using inhalers for 10 years. That he doesn’t have asthma, but he has exercise-induced asthma.

He goes on to say that he doesn’t think the current situation with the thresholds is not good. That it should be clear, either salbumatol is allowed or not allowed. Which is something Pete Kennaugh also said on the early ITV4 commentary in the UK coverage yesterday of stage 2.

You have to respect Dylan for answering the question straight-forwardly and honestly.

I think we should listen to the riders on this.

PJ July 9, 2018 at 6:55 am

That’s an idea the UCI should consider. TUEs can still exist, but every rider should be able to use them, whenever he wants. So the playing field gets levelled. For riders/teams to hold back a bit, and maybe not use a product, it’s obligatory to put your name/team on a public list, for everybody accessible. At first my idea can seem strange, but please think about it. 😀

Peter July 9, 2018 at 7:07 am

It’s an interesting idea, Inrng explored it a little bit in this post:

http://inrng.com/2018/03/tue-reform-cortisol-tests/

Making the public makes sense except that it would make public some riders rightfully private Heath issues, as noted in the referenced post.

Ferdi July 9, 2018 at 9:48 am

The principle should be that any substance must be hazardous to human health, and there must be evidence of that hazard, to be banned. Meldonium for instance hasn’t got any proven deleterious effects.
But more important is the principle of legality. All decisions must be in accordance with the norms in force, and norms can’t be challenged for one case in particular. The principle of “guilty in case of doubt” has been turned around, after being enforced for so many other riders, breaking the principle of legality.
According to the epidemiologically-proven fact that cyclists typically will take all substances that help their performance if they can get away with it, it’s very important that “guilty when there’s doubt” is upheld and enforced.

Tovarishch July 9, 2018 at 11:02 am

Sorry, Inrng but I have to point out that Meldonium has only had very few clinical trials and there is not enough evidence to say that it has no deleterious effect.

Ferdi July 9, 2018 at 11:11 am

You didn’t have to point anything our if you had read well: I said “no proven deleterious effects”.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 11:57 am

What on earth has this got to do with today’s stage? Maybe I don’t bother writing a preview for tomorrow and just open a blank page so people can post comments about what ever is on their mind 😉

Larry T July 9, 2018 at 12:21 pm

How would you then prevent oral and injectable use of this substance? THAT seems to be the real performance-enhancing method of use for this drug, no? Caffeine has the stimulant effect but last time I checked there was no dramatic lean-muscle mass improvement that puts Salbutamol into whatever category it’s currently in.
Remember the three reasons a substance is banned – if it: enhances performance, poses a threat to athlete health, or violates the spirit of sport. Salbutamol is certainly on the list – I’d say it fits all three though only 2 of 3 are generally needed.
The “let ’em all dope to level the playing field” is simply a myth that won’t die.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 12:27 pm

As are the myths that you could ever ban everything or that if only we can get rid of the asthmatics cycling will be saved and Larry’s fictional crowds will return to cycling.

Digahole July 9, 2018 at 7:04 am

Didn’t realise the extent of the gradients today… must tilt it well into Sky’s flavour.

Valverde sprinted to 7th yesterday! Assume he was sprinting for bonus seconds. [insert team drama speculation here]. On the same note heard that Thomas sprinted for a bonus second yesterday (at the B point?)… eyes on yellow today.

Ian Anderson July 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

Was G sprinting for his own time or simply aiming to deny time to a rival for CF’s GC? also the higher up G is in the classification the more favourable position Sky will get for the team car.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 9:15 am

According to Thomas himself no one was going for it so he thought he might as well as it was a second for no extra effort.

Augie March July 9, 2018 at 7:05 am

Lawson Craddock to pull a Ted King from 2013 and get time cut because it looked hard enough to ride a road bike with that bung shoulder let alone a TT rig?

For me the big question will be whether riders on weaker TTT teams can maintain their advantage over Froome, Porte and Yates who are on the strong teams but who are all down 51 seconds. Over to you AG2R, UAE and Bahrain.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 8:39 am

The time cut today is 30% which might be ok for Craddock, his problem could be the climb from the start, it’s easy to get dropped and flounder. He would have been an engine for Urán’s GC bid today.

Augie March July 9, 2018 at 9:50 am

Yes, Uran could see his 51 second lead wiped out but I guess it was better to have some time buffer going in that none.

Ecky Thump July 9, 2018 at 9:57 am

Riders who are busted up like this should be pulled from the race in my view, for their own health.
He must be on painkillers, perhaps sleeping medication, perhaps a TUE even?
What is the point, it’s not hard, it’s just…well, I don’t see what it achieves apart from his own vanity?

JeroenK July 9, 2018 at 10:14 am

I’d agree with you, IF his health was at stake. If his scapula has a minor crack that will heal up quickly and does not escalate further by riding – why not? If he’s on painkillers that do not harm your reactions, why not? Riding the TdF is a dream for most. Vanity has little to do with it, I’d guess. You have been preparing for the whole thing, with your teammates for the team goals. Leaving your purpose to the team and your personal goals behind is no small feat. I’d say if you have not been in this situation, don’t judge.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 10:16 am

The team has some good doctors who have long spoken out on the subject of rider health so if Craddock is riding it’s presumably with their support and an informed decision.

Ecky Thump July 9, 2018 at 10:27 am

Points taken both.
Team doctors, hasn’t their objectivity between individual and team been called seriously into question in the past?

My point is, a rider can be having trouble with asthma (why not in this horrible heatwave) but otherwise show no outward sign of distress and need medication but of course that brings all kind of hysterical reactions.
Yet a rider that is physically beaten up and suddenly it’s ok to take whatever for him to limp around the race for almost three weeks?
Take his cortisol level and see how his health is – if it’s too low, zappo and he’s on a mandatory rest period as per MPCC protocol?

Tovarishch July 9, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Called into question on Cyclingnews, probably. Any doctor who put the team before the individual would very quickly end up losing his licence.

ocaz July 9, 2018 at 10:42 am

On the Armstrong podcast the Move said he was just taking Ibuprofen!

Cobblers July 9, 2018 at 11:01 am

Is Lance the best person to trust on what substances people are taking? 🙂

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Actually Armstrong knows Craddock well, they ride together etc.

STS July 9, 2018 at 11:14 am

“just Ibuprofen”

It seems not so well known that Ibu poses some considerable risk for your heart when taken while heavily exercising.

I hope they do him a favor and drop him early today so he gets time-cut. Not only better for his health.

KevinK July 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Ibuprophen appears to only be a risk to heart health for the elderly or those with significant preexisting cardiac problems, and even then the effect isn’t an issue except when doses are very high and taken for a sustained period of time.

The recent warnings about ibuprophen are more aimed at older athletes who were often taking significant doses of the medication both before and after vigorous exercise. For a young otherwise healthy man like Craddock, this is a risk that is immeasurably small compared to the risk of racing a bicycle down mountain roads.

Eskerrik Asko July 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Ibuprophen, long endurance activity, high temperature and dehydration mean a considerable risk of kidney malfunction in healthy adults. tt is not just your excretion of salbutamol that can go haywire:-)

As a former keen marathoner I would have a story to tell about a fellow runner who ended up in dialysis (but got out of that ordeal in perfect heaöth) but this is obviously not the time nor the place (and the story isn’t all that interesting in any case).

Tricky Dicky July 9, 2018 at 7:43 am

I wonder if Froome will particularly want Thomas to potentially be in yellow by the end of today if all goes well for them in the TTT? Not because he wouldn’t be pleased for Thomas (I don’t sense any intra-team rivalry (yet)) but more because it would place a greater onus on Sky as a team to work harder than they would have to otherwise for the rest of this first week if, say, QS were in yellow. That could catch up with them (and Thomas in particular) later in the race when Froome will likely need them.

Re: Mitchelton-Scott, I heard Matt White say that Impey took a knock to the head in his crash (I think the interview was on the Cycling Podcast). As an aside, I thought Cycling was moving towards withdrawing riders as a precaution against concussion? The same applies to Craddock, who I imagine will struggle to stay within the time limit today.

In a sense, I wonder whether these crashes on day 1 have cancelled out the likely GC effects of the TTT somewhat (other than, I’d guess, Quintana who has no option but to get aggressive in the hills in weeks 2 and 3, particularly assuming he will lose more time in stage 9).

Tovarishch July 9, 2018 at 8:15 am

There is no onus on Sky to protect the yellow jersey. Unless a genuine contender goes up the road, it will be just the same as protecting Froome, The sprinters’teams will do the work.

Nick July 9, 2018 at 9:30 am

No real moves towards dealing with concussion yet. From the look of the reactions towards Craddock’s heroic efforts over the least couple of days, cycling is still too in thrall to the cult of suffering to make any such move yet.

Han July 9, 2018 at 9:34 am

Last year Thomas also started in the yellow jersey, I don’t think it hampered them too much. Let the sprinters do the sprint stages, and controlled the rest of the race, but they would do that regardless of the yellow jersey.

RQS July 9, 2018 at 9:53 am

I can’t think they will care too much. If things had gone to plan it would have been likely that Froome would have been in yellow, so no change to Froome’s plans.

As a number of the favourites will be leading off due to their inferior team position from stage 1 & 2 crashes it may play into the hands of Nibali and some of the weaker teams. The supposed time wins they may have achieved maybe be less as they benchmark time checks for the other teams.

Weather is unlikely to be a factor unless a wind picks up.

If Thomas does wear yellow it’ll do Froome a favour as he won’t be required to do the post race press conference and can spend more time recovering post-race. Thomas collects some lions for his collection (as well as jerseys). So win win for me.

I don’t think Sky will worry to much if it doesn’t happen, as long as they start to over haul deficits on GC riders unaffected by crashes.

Not that I want to see Froome injured/crashes, but the resultant time losses make for a more interesting race, and is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of sport, and how nothing is certain. There are literally plenty of twists and turns before we get to Paris!

ocaz July 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

This is how I see it, it helps Froome and takes him out of limelight and the likely questions he’ll face every day.

I think G saw an easy opportunity to get a bit of time in yellow for himself assuming they win the TTT with enough time which is likely.

Stuie July 9, 2018 at 8:04 am

Can’t see past Sky for the stage win, IF they keep it together. Incredibly strong and should have an advantage on the hills. I think Movistar and Lotto jumbo will surprise and put on a really strong display. Damage control for Bahrain.
Barring a calamity none of the GC guys will be out of the race.

Marlon July 9, 2018 at 8:19 am

Movistar could surprise, but this is Sky and BMC hometurf.

Simmers July 9, 2018 at 8:25 am

Never have been a big fan of this discipline, as it strongly favours those teams with pockets deep enough to assemble the strongest rosters. It makes an unequal battle even more unequal. Especially if you do it once the race has already got underway and riders have to abandon: teams like Astana and Trek-Segafredo are handicapped today through no fault of their own.

Fingers crossed for small time gaps today.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 10:27 am

There was a time when smaller teams like Garmin and Greenedge targeted this event as it was an unexplored corner where they could take wins on the big stage against the big teams (2011, 2013) … but that time is over, there’s next to no opportunity for a small squad to achieve this today.

RQS July 9, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Here’s a poser then: do you follow David Millar’s criticisms of Team Garmin/Slipstream then? In your comment you seem to suggest the competition has gotten stronger, but he seems to put it down to the lack of training and focus in the event – poor equipment and no effort?

In some ways you maybe saying the same thing, but from a different angle. And maybe this is a chicken and egg question.

Anotherdave July 9, 2018 at 8:46 am

Great to see Chavanel fight for so long out front and still come
up with a 3rd been around in pelaton for a while and still
punching 👍

Steppings July 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

On a rather nice Willier too.

Matt Carey July 9, 2018 at 11:55 am

The chrome on that Willier was 👌

RQS July 9, 2018 at 8:16 pm

I think he was running ceramic speed on his rear derailleur. That sprocket was HUGE.

KevinK July 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Yes, beautiful bike! It looked like orange chromovelato, though I don’t think that actual paint technique is still used.

Gabriel Constantin July 10, 2018 at 11:12 am

But that’s what they are calling it. Chromovelato.

osbk67 July 9, 2018 at 8:48 am

As long as the conditions remain constant starting later is usually a big advantage, allowing the chasers to ride against the leaders’ early time checks. QuickStep for the win…

dude July 9, 2018 at 11:02 am

All sounds very easy. But you still have to be physically able to match the times! The approach you recommend sounds a recipe for disaster and blowing up.

Tom July 9, 2018 at 5:57 pm

That strategy does sound like a recipe for blowing up, but not disaster. QuickStep doesn’t have a GC contender, so as long as all riders finish within the time limit it doesn’t matter if they finish 2nd or 22nd. And based on their ride today, it looked like their strategy was to ride on the ragged edge for victory.

bonzojess July 10, 2018 at 8:22 am

Yes I wondered if Alaphilippe got a bit carried away on his turn as he left the Train in ribbons across the road

jc July 9, 2018 at 8:56 am

I too think this stage is made for Sky, how many national TT jerseys will they have on display today? I suspect they could even cope with one of the team getting a puncture. The question for me is how close the other teams manage to get, there is the potential for some riders to effectively be out of contention by the end of today. BMC are likely to push them close not sure about MS after the various crashes they have had.

Whilst I suspect Sky as a team wont to be too bothered about being in yellow ,they are perfectly happy riding at the front (plenty of practice), Geraint Thomas does seem to want the jersey – what that says about team politics not sure. There is also the tactical element especially with stage 9 in mind, important to get the team car as near to the front of the queue as possible.

I was a bit bemused by Dave Brailsford’s public rant about M. Lappartient. Whilst I pretty much agree with everything he said (whatever your views on the whole business the UCI have hardly covered themselves in glory) it seemed a bit impolitic to say the least, for a team principle to be starting a public spat with the president of the UCI during the Tour. Especially bringing up the French aspect. Sometimes it is best to just keep quiet, even when you are right.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 9:33 am

Three: Thomas (UK), Castroviejo (Spain), Bernal (Colombia). Kwiato and Moscon have relinquished their titles that they still held in the Dauphine TTT.

L'Islandais July 9, 2018 at 12:18 pm

I for one miss the time national jerseys were donned even in TTTs. Sky somewhat make up for it by having the helmets and bikes in national colours.

Lanterne_Verte July 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm

has there been an Italian ITT champs yet? I read somewhere it might be not happen this year

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 1:46 pm

I might be wrong about Moscon. Seen video of the Sky bikes lined up today and Moscon has one in national champs colours.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm

No, not so far. There’s talk of one in September around the time of the pre-Worlds races, eg the Tre Valle Varesine but so far it’s talk.

Motormouth July 9, 2018 at 8:59 am

I think BMC will get it but I’m more curious about the ‘losers’ – here’s hoping ag2r and bahrain keep it together…

I also think Giant will surprise.

Col Shivers July 9, 2018 at 9:23 am

I think Sky will get the win, but i’m more interested to see how Sunweb do. Three riders from their team at the worlds last year plus Chad Haga, should limit their losses to Sky and take some decent time on other GC teams.

Digahole July 9, 2018 at 10:47 am

Tom D has been a bit under the radar. A good ride from Sunweb will have him in a good early position

AndyW July 9, 2018 at 3:46 pm

I agree – the Worlds won by Sunweb were similarly lumpy and the course today apparently rewards a well-drilled team, which you’d imagine Sunweb would be. They’ve also got Arndt, who is handy at TTs. I reckon they’ll win it today…

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 3:47 pm

The worlds is also about motivation, come October a lot of teams aren’t so interested.

AndyW July 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

Unsurprisingly, your prediction on the order of the top 5 was pretty much spot on… In terms of exceeding expectations, I’d say the biggest winners were Mitchelton-Scott (incredibly close to Sky despite multiple crashes on previous stages and seemingly lacking Sky’s TT talent) and EF Education, who were very impressive given Craddock’s injury (rider of the day?).

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 9:28 am

So obsessed with the Movistar tridente have some people been (although one wonders if the Quintana prong of the trident isn’t already bent out of shape) that they have forgotten about the Sky two-pronged fork. Thomas must have a good shout at yellow today unless BMC win the TTT (which I think they might). More important, though, will be the time gaps. Given that BMC and Sky are likely to be the top two the question becomes how much time Bahrain (Nibali), Sunweb (Dumoulin) and AG2R (Bardet) lose relative to these two. Porte and Froome should recover losses and a bit to spare you would imagine. I see Bahrain and AG2R losing 90 seconds and Sunweb a bit less. Movistar will need a good performance otherwise Nairo will be losing even more time he can ill afford to lose putting his own personal ambitions in jeopardy if not Movistar’s. One thing about teams having multiple options this year though is it does mean that in the 2nd week teams will have the option to fire guys up the road. So the expected gaps after today may be no bad thing for the race dynamics in the end.

jc July 9, 2018 at 9:50 am

Think Sunweb will do more than OK here, they have some good TT riders (they are the world TTT champions after all). However you are right about other teams.

I do think there is some tension within Sky. Geraint Thomas has gone on about himself being co leader and how things will be decided on the road etc. Yet at the press conference he sat there very stony faced whilst Dave Brailsford made clear it was all about Chris Froome. Perhaps too much Kremlinology here but not sure things are quite right under the bland corporate surface.

Augie March July 9, 2018 at 9:57 am

Well for a brief period last week Thomas was looking like he would be Sky’s number one so like many spectators on the side of the road G might not be 100% thrilled that Froome is racing this year.

johnny July 9, 2018 at 10:36 am

I read today that Thomas is planning to stay at Sky though so he hardly sounds the most unsettled team mate. Seems to me that it actually helps Froome if he is doing well anyway. It means the rest have to react to him and gage themselves against him meaning their focus is not on Froome who most would take to be the bigger overall threat.

Cassandra July 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

Was there any chance that G thought he might get the Trek job?

I should think he might feel a bit threatened by Bernals inclusion as well, if all goes according to plan ( baptism of fire already) , isn’t he the Crown prince?

kiszol July 9, 2018 at 11:50 am

Sunweb to lose almost 90 sec? Never. The beat Sky last year at worlds and sky had an almost identically strong team there. Sky might win it, but I expect Sunweb in 2nd place and with less than 30 sec difference.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 12:31 pm

No kiszol, “a bit less”. Less than a minute, in fact. Sunweb’s worlds team is not here either.

kiszol July 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Sunweb is approximately the same in strength as it was at the WC. Yes, they would be even better than Kelderman, but both Haga (6th at the second TT at the Giro) and Arndt (TOP 10 at TdS TT a few weeks ago) are very good TTers. I still think Sky will win though, but Sunweb will be close.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 6:27 pm

You were right and I was wrong. Fair enough!

kiszol July 9, 2018 at 10:42 pm

Nice from you to acknowledge, kudos!
Sunweb did well, especially considering that Kelderman wasn’t there.
Sky was a bit worse than what I expected.
Very good ride from BMC, QS and MS as well.

CA July 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Sunweb has Dumolin!!! The ITT world champ right? Plus a strong bunch of support. The 12-second gap to first for them should not be a surprise to anyone.

Nick July 9, 2018 at 9:44 am

So who are the potential yellow jersey wearers today?

Thomas if Sky take it,
Van Avermaet or Van Garderen for BMC,
Dumoulin for Sunweb,
Gaviria, Gilbert, Jungels or Alaphilippe for Quickstep, depending on who stays in the first four?

Digahole July 9, 2018 at 10:51 am

Van Garderen in yellow would be a strange result

Wayne July 9, 2018 at 10:28 am

Who’s favourite for yellow after today then? I’m guessing G.Thomas? Would Sky then want to keep it for the duration of the Tour or let it go whilst Froome makes his way back up GC?

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 10:31 am

Thomas is highest on GC in Sky so he’s not really a favourite, more a de facto leader if they win because of arithmetic. Ideally a team would want to take the yellow jersey later on but it’s a nice problem to have.

johnny July 9, 2018 at 10:38 am

That has never been the Sky tactic though. They have made a habit, and a virtue, out of taking a jersey early and defending it.

Cassandra July 9, 2018 at 10:57 am

I think there could be some advantage in Sky not wearing yellow from an early stage this time round. I live in France in the summer, so I am a bit ashamed of my semi compatriots, but I have to admit that they are not good losers. And the mountain men can be really , really impulsive. I’d like to see someone else s team wearing yellow to distract them.

Of course , if they win the football, they might be in a better mood.

dude July 9, 2018 at 11:05 am

What mood will they be in if England beat them?

Wayne July 9, 2018 at 11:06 am

Personally I’m hoping Bahrain & Movistar put in a good show, just to keep the GC fight alive. If Sky take it today and defend all the way to Paris it’ll be a pretty dull affair!

Cassandra July 9, 2018 at 6:55 pm

Grumpy

Michael B July 9, 2018 at 10:48 am

I know this isn’t going to happen but if Froome and three others “attacked” Thomas in the TTT and gained enough time on the second group of Sky riders, would that put Froome in yellow or would Thomas still be given the same time as the first four riders? Entirely hypothetical obviously – although you wouldn’t have put it past Armstrong/Contador in 2009 if a similar scenario existed!

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 11:08 am

That’s an impossible scenario. Thomas would need to lose 52 seconds to his own team. And what use would he be as a team mate after that? The remaining Sky riders would also need to beat BMC by the same margiu which they won’t.

Michael B July 9, 2018 at 11:25 am

Yeah, I know it wouldn’t happen in a million years but I was just curious as to what the ruling is because I couldn’t remember. If a team splits in the TTT are they all given the same time as the fourth riders or do those who come in fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth get their own individual times? It could have relevance in, say, the white jersey competition where you can imagine Bernal losing a wheel and rolling home on his own. Does he benefit from the team’s time or get his own? I presume they get their own times but I couldn’t remember.

Nick July 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Every rider who is with (or for some reason ahead of) their team gets the time of the 4th rider. Every rider behind their team gets their own time.

Erik July 9, 2018 at 10:32 am

Froomie knows how to handle an ITT
G is the duplicate of Froome, he’s strong in the ITT’s
Poels also won an ITT before in a smaller stagerace
Castroviejo multiple Spanish ITT champion
Kwiatkowski strong rider in those smalle climbs
Bernal looked very strong in the first stage where he tried to come back
Add a strong Moscon and Rowe, I see no chance this can go wrong for the Skytrain…….or can it??

Billybob Thornton July 9, 2018 at 10:40 am

It did that time Moscon hit a pothole and his wheel exploded. Surely stage 1, fresh in our memories, should remind us that ITS NEVER OVER TILL ITS OVER!!!

Anonymous July 9, 2018 at 10:33 am

Anyone for the win today, except Sky.

Jerome July 9, 2018 at 10:48 am

Typo towards the start of The Route paragraph with a double ‘a’

‘It’s a hilly with a climb’

Matt Carey July 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

Quick rules question on the TTT. Are the individual rider GC times taken from the 4th rider finish time, or the time of the rider themselves?

So say Bernal gets dropped from the Sky TTT, and rolls in a few minutes down. Does he get the time of the 4th rider, or does he loose the time he is behind the 4th rider?

noel July 9, 2018 at 11:07 am

everyone who comes in with the 4th gets that time, anyone behind that group gets whatever time they set.
So… if Movistar go powering up the road and Landa is struggling with the pace, do they wait for him?

Cilmeri July 9, 2018 at 11:20 am

My understanding, the top 4 get the time of the 4th rider, the rest get whatever time they got.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm

That’s right.

Tobsen July 9, 2018 at 11:08 am

I don’t get it why everybody is talking down TTTs for being bad on TV. I love to watch TTTs on TV because it is truly an art to do a good TTT. Teamwork is essential and it is ultimately hard for the riders to keep that team work up on a proper oxygen diet. And I think you just can see those little signs of communication between the riders struggling to keep their machines going straight.
BTW it is a shame that no two person team time trails are performed anymore (at least I don’t know of any except on the tracks).

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 11:56 am

People who come to cycling blogs might like it but remember that millions who watch the Tour de France are more casual watchers and watching 8 riders rotate in formation doesn’t bring in the big viewing figures.

Anonymous July 9, 2018 at 12:10 pm

On that basis the TTT is best served as a prologue IMO.

Tobsen July 9, 2018 at 12:21 pm

True! But even then there is some potential through spicing up the TV coverage with more live data, so you can see which team is in front not only on the intermediates and in the finale, not forgetting wattage, heart rate and maybe even team radio. But (second but) this is and has been another subject to be discussed.

bonzojess July 10, 2018 at 8:30 am

I like the pictures of the trains snaking through a series of bends, and I think the TV directors do too.

Bart Van Hoorebeeck July 9, 2018 at 11:25 am

I see most sources now give a start order following the teams GC. In previous days word was here and there individual GC would settle this. That was the reason Naesen was sent out to take 1 second!

Bart Van Hoorebeeck July 9, 2018 at 11:32 am

… and letour.fr gives a teams GC without time bonuses, with Quickstep leading .

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 11:51 am

It’s team GC that determines it.

Bart Van Hoorebeeck July 9, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Yes, but with the exception of BORA starting latest as things seem.

ave July 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm

I’d like TTTs to be much shorter, like 10km max. This day decides too much nowadays, unlike 2 years ago.

RQS July 9, 2018 at 8:24 pm

So what has it decided? There was no reckoning

Tobsen July 9, 2018 at 12:21 pm

True! But even then there is some potential through spicing up the TV coverage with more live data, so you can see which team is in front not only on the intermediates and in the finale, not forgetting wattage, heart rate and maybe even team radio. But (second but) this is and has been another subject to be discussed.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 12:27 pm

There’s work for the TV production, you could have a virtual position on the course although at the risk of the drama at the checkpoint/finish as we wait for teams to arrive. Also remember the wider audience doesn’t know anything about watts: it’s good data for training and racing but just seeing X watts and Y HR on the TV screen like the Giro does is almost meaningless.

Augie March July 9, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Speaking of meaningless, sometimes the TV coverage will put up the speed of the break and the peloton, but unless they’re on exactly the same gradient this number tells us nothing.

Tobsen July 9, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Got you. Nevertheless with a TTT the Tour organizers have at least made one of their TV spectators (me) and I guess several other guys not just from this blog happy. In the sense of a good mixture the Tour guys did imho a good job this year – even if the race in ultimately made and shaped by the riders.

J Evans July 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm

I’d say Movistar just pulled off a pretty good result. They’ve got to be happy with being within 49 seconds of Sky in the TTT and overall about level with Froome, which would not have been predicted pre-race. Less good for Quintana, of course.

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I got a few estimates wrong. Hands up on Sunweb. Bahrain and AG2R limited quite well. Select GC time gaps after the stage:

Tejay
Thomas +3
Jungels +7
Dumoulin +11
Uran +35
Majka +50
Porte +51
Zakarin +52
Valverde +53
Landa +53
Froome +55
Yates +1.00
Nibali +1.06
Bardet +1.15
Kruijswijk +1.15
Roglic +1.15
Mollema +1.16
Bernal +1.19
D. Martin +1.38
Quintana +2.08

Ecky Thump July 9, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Hmm. Uran, Dumoulin and Thomas are looking very good at this point obviously.
Quintana, not so good at all. He might be out of it totally by the end of next weekend?

RonDe July 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm

Has he lost it inside 3 days? Movistar can fire him up the mountain in week 2 if it stays like this.

noel July 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm

so did Craddock make the time cut?

AndyW July 9, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Amazingly, he took turns on the front and stayed with the rest of the team until 3 km to go. Very impressive.

MJJ July 9, 2018 at 9:22 pm

I was working while watching so may be wrong, but I thought Craddock was taking pulls and looking good. The scapula fracture must be relatively minor, but even then a heroic effort and I hope he can keep going.

The GCW / Strictly Amateur July 10, 2018 at 1:42 am

Didn’t see, but Craddock is a valued teammate and is hanging in there for the sake of His team winning the whole enchilada. Heal & later He’ll be there.

Psyched and happy for Uran, Craddock and EF; about the best case TTT scenario for these guys.

& that could also make for a more exciting Tour later, which is already shaping up with the usual 1st week drama. Good show!

_kw July 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

On topic:

I would expect Uran unsurprisingly lose some of not all of his advantage especially since craddock was supposed to be TTT help and will hurt like hell on the TT bike if he is able to ride at all.

Same for Fuglsang without Sanchez.

Would have expected Michelton Scott to make good some time but with all their tumbles and Turbo Durbo’s matrix-style rider dodging in his crash they might also be weaker. We’ll know that early on.

As for Sky I do not expect Froome to be too much affected by his crash given his quick almost CX style remount.

Curious what BMC can pull off and hoping for a head-to-head between Froome and Porte in the Alps.

just hope this is not going to be a complete (La Roche sur) yawn.

As always, I very much appreciate your posts and insights throughout the race. Keep up the good coverage and don’t let the off-topic huffing and puffing get in the way.

ErnieC July 10, 2018 at 3:06 am

+1.

The Inner Ring July 9, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Ag2r also have problems, Gallopin cracked a rib the other day and Dillier has a sore knee after crashing yesterday.

_kw July 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm

True, Dillier did not look good and took quite some time getting back on his bike yesterday. He looked much better when he came past us this spring: https://flic.kr/p/25mgdmT 🙂

Let’s see what that means for Bardet. Would like for him to remain in contention to carry the French hopes…

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