Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

Friday, 13 July 2018

The longest stage and possibly the longest day too. A sprint finish awaits, only with another uphill rise to the line.

Dan Martin

Stage 6 Review: the early break went with no resistance from the peloton and quickly built up a decent lead with Dion Smith in the move, keen to regain the polka dot jersey. Quick Step split the peloton into three in crosswinds. Why? Because it’s what they do: dogs bark, fish swim and Quick Step exploit crosswinds. The only rider in real trouble was Primož Roglič and the sight of Lotto-Jumbo toiling to bring him back into contention suggests all the talk he’s not here for the overall classification may be a smokescreen.

Onto the final climb and Dan Martin put a decisive attack and behind the others hesitated. The likes of Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates floated around at the front but none needed to bring back Martin. Pierre Latour took a flier but this time Martin was clear. For all their work earlier Quick Step got swamped with Alaphilippe lacking his usual jump and finishing “only” fourth.

Tom Dumoulin rode into Romain Bardet and both had a mechanical as a result. Bardet took Tony Gallopin’s bike but in chasing to get back lost time. Dumoulin fared worse, he got a wheel and chased but still lost 53 seconds and then copped a 20 second penalty for drafting behind his team car… while an earlier chase by Astana to get Jacob Fuglsang back in contention didn’t get a penalty. Why? It’s not down to a technical rule or anything else, according to this morning’s L’Equipe it’s because the UCI didn’t spot it. Chris Froome and Rigoberto Uràn lost a few seconds, a sign their fitness isn’t ok or just that they’re not too explosive? Probably the latter given both contributed plenty in the team time trial. Meanwhile a keen Geraint Thomas took a time bonus to get closer to the yellow jersey.

The Route: 231km and a start in Fougères near the birthplace of Albert Bouvet, the man who saved Paris-Roubaix. The races crosses the “Mancelles Alps”, a grand name for a small plateau that tops out around 220m above sea level but all the same the route isn’t as flat as the profile suggests.

The Finish: the race rides into Chartres which is notable given that these days the proliferation of street furniture means the Tour often avoids cities but here it exploits some big boulevards to sweep around town. The route crosses the Eure river within the final kilometre. The road rises, and more than the roadbook suggests, including 500m at 4% before easing to the finish line.

The Contenders: Another Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) contest? Certainly pair have two stage wins each and stand to win more with a finish like this as both are sprinting so well and the climb to the line tilts the odds in their favour once more. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) is good for a finish like this too while Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) might seem bulky but remember his sprint to win in Paris-Nice where Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) also featured but he’s still sore after a crash.

The pure sprinters wanting a pan flat finish can look forward to tomorrow’s stage but that’s slim pickings given the cobbles on Sunday and then a succession of climbing stages. Still André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) have both won uphill finishes like this in their pomp, the question is whether they can do it at the moment and they’re not reassuring picks, even less so Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Emirates). Finally what chance for Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo), he who has been boxed in many times this week but still can’t be discounted.

Fernando Gaviria, Peter Sagan
André Greipel, Sonny Colbrelli
Démare, Groenewegen

Weather: warm and sunny with a top temperature of 27°C and with the heat the chance of a shower later in the stage too.

TV: live from the start at 12.05pm CEST with the finish forecast for 5.35pm CEST. By all means watch from the start to the end but surely a large share of the audience doing so is going to consist of people unable to reach the remote control, for example hospital patients in traction.

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 6:10 am

Where’s the attacking riding? This is why I prefer one-day races – GT’s are just a queue to the finish these days on the vast majority of stages.
In that final pack of ~60 riders there were so many who had no hope of winning if they left it to the end – and yet no-one went with Bauer. Alright you’re not likely to be successful, but it was – for many – the only chance of doing so and with three or four riders, who knows? Teams like Lotto-Soudal or Groupama-FDJ had little to lose, having no leader to protect.

Chapeau Dan Martin for going for it, even if it was only a kilometre of actual racing. Without that, the rest might have left it for Sagan again.
Plenty of time for GC contenders to rest over the next couple of days, so it would seem worth the effort of trying to gain time on your rivals, especially if Froome is doing another grand tour where he hopes to ride into form as he goes on – they didn’t punish him enough in the Giro when he was struggling early and there are less opportunities to do so here.

Surprised also that Thomas was allowed to take the 2 second bonus unchallenged: smart riding by him, as he put in almost no effort – dumb by the rest?

Bardet cleverly swapped bikes and lost a lot less time than Dumoulin who opted to change a wheel. I know there are size issues, but bike swap is always going to be the better bet when it’s so close to the finish as it’s so much quicker – seems like Dumoulin should know that.

Having said that, even after having to chase, Bardet’s performance doesn’t give much confidence. (He didn’t mention any size issues with the bike.)

The flat-sprint old favourites aren’t getting a look-in, other than Greipel on one day – Kittel and Cavendish have been poor so far.

CyclingWillum July 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Tom Dumoulin is 16cm taller then his teammate Simon Geschke. So swapping bikes with him wasn’t an option. Try cycling on your kid’s bike, could you make 50 kph, it was still 6 km to go, with a nasty climb.
The other option: bike from the roof of the support car. They were on the wrong side of a busy road. And Tom and Simon already had Simon’s front wheel in Tom’s bike. They lost time wrestling with the quick release.

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 6:15 am

Sign of the times that Cavendish doesn’t warrant a mention. Entirely justified.

Great initiative by Dan Martin. He knew that was the only way he could win it and executed the plan perfectly.

ocaz July 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Cav certainly seems like he’s not interested. Was strange that it looked like he was lining up sprint train for sprint points only not to bother – which begs the question why he even bothered to give the impression he was going to contest it when he’s not even close to being a contender for Green jersey.

I know he lacks form and he is a bullish character but he is well off the pace as hasn’t even looked to contest the sprints. Brief interviews he has given view he’s not bothered and looks like things aren’t very rosey within team. Is his contract up this year?

CA July 13, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Cav is just out of race fitness. Definitely interested in winning!

Cassandra July 13, 2018 at 10:19 pm

After today ( Friday) stage , Cavendish seemed quite unwell, coughing and nose running ( very grumpy and apparently having difficulty answering the interviewer, but maybe that’s just him).

Utah July 13, 2018 at 6:40 am

Its hard to believe that it was only last yr that Kittel won 5 stages of the TDF.

The Inner Ring July 13, 2018 at 7:47 am

He’s having a hard season as a whole but last year’s Tour was ideal for him with a stronger lead out, some rivals crashed out (although he’d beaten them all in the first sprint) and plenty of near-flat stage finishes while so far they’re slightly uphill this year. Tomorrow suits him more.

waldo July 13, 2018 at 7:06 am

So, Dumoulin got penalized for drafting behind the team car and Astana boys not? Why?

The Inner Ring July 13, 2018 at 7:45 am

Because the commissaires didn’t see Astana according to L’Equipe today who spoke to the UCI.

Tovarishch July 13, 2018 at 8:01 am

So much for the use of video and social media. The commissaires need to subscribe to Eurosport player.

osbk67 July 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

I read a comment elsewhere (purely for comparative purposes of course) that suggested Dumoulin persisted behind his team car after a warning. I wasn’t there and didn’t see it myself…

Ecky Thump July 13, 2018 at 10:06 am

I thought the Commissaires had access to video coverage now, or does this not include social media?
If not, are they deliberately trying to look like fuddy duddys?

Tobsen July 13, 2018 at 11:22 am

Dumolin’s slipstreaming was indeed very obvious. But everybody is doing it and sadly what the UCI tells they were seeing and what not, leaves them very open to suspicions to not to being impartial and objective.

Ben July 13, 2018 at 12:27 pm

On the audio feed there was a distinct ‘toot’ of a commissaire’s car horn whilst the coverage was showing TD wedged up the back of the team mini. That was the warning, and is the usual warning, that a commisaire is present and he’d been motor-pacing for long enough.

Tobsen July 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

That’s good insight on what happened around TD, makes it more comprehensible – thanks! Still it seems a bit odd to me why Astana or others don’t get a penalty. Just because there has been no warning to them on the roads?

Looking over my shoulder July 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Basically because one incident happened at 30k to go and one with 5k to go.

The impact of the ‘professional foul’ was potentially different given the distance remaining so the penalty reflects that.

The commissaire panel will use judgement, experience and (generally) incomplete information when assessing what action needs to be taken.

There is a basic decision tree used on every call:

1 – did something actually happen?
2 – did it effect the result?
3 – depending on 2 do we need to take action?

Commissaires are not perfect but equally we don’t deliberately try to get decisions wrong.

Eskerrik Asko July 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Hear hear!

If there is anything worse than armchair tactical experts, it is armchair commissaires.

Another ugly phenomenon that came with the TV spectating fans of other sports when they discovered road cycling, whether it happened 20, 10 or 5 yearrs ago.

Peter July 13, 2018 at 7:08 am

Sonny Colbrelli has come close and looks set to win a stage before the tour is over. Maybe stage 7 will be his day.

DJS July 13, 2018 at 7:23 am

More issues with Dumoulin’s mechanical were pointed out yesterday on Dutch TV:
– Stopping on the left hand side of the road made it difficult for the team mechanic to get to TD and, if they had wanted, give him his spare bike.
– The drafting was a calculated risk according to DS Tom Veelers. Apparently there was no jury warning during the race, only a penalty at the end. Veelers stated that they thought the chances of losing more than the 20s penalty were very high.
– Team mates were waiting for TD in an unfortunate way. When TD makes contact with Ten Dam, the latter was almost standing still whereas TD was carrying lots of speed from a descent and flying past. LtD never caught on. Fortunately there were others further up the road.
(see: https://nos.nl/tour/artikel/2241251-aan-de-rechterkant-stoppen-wordt-je-bij-de-nieuwelingen-al-geleerd.html – in Dutch and video footage probably location restricted).
But yes – seeing the Astana train pulled by their team car yesterday, and also that this is the first time penalty after lots of crashes where overall contenders needed to get back to the bunch and may have benefited from drafting as well, does make one wonder whether there is justice for all.

Gazelle CM July 13, 2018 at 8:24 am

To Tom’s defense, it wasn’t a flat where you can still ride, it was a low spoke count carbon wheel, which probably disintegrated completely making riding on impossible, hence stopping on wrong side of the road. And yes drafting is not allowed, although the application of the rule is a bit arbitrary, tough luck.

RonDe July 13, 2018 at 8:43 am

It does bring the sport into disrepute when millions on TV can see Fuglsang and his Astana buddies being dragged along on a tow rope from the Astana team car without penalty whilst Diesel Tom gets 20 seconds for nothing worse. Are commissaires unplugged from the world? Still, its made the race more interesting now the Dutchman has been dragged back into the mass of GC riders.

Alex July 13, 2018 at 10:17 am

Spend a day in the Commissaire seat and you may change your mind about blaming officials for not having eyes everywhere and not seeing every infraction.

RonDe July 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

And that refutes my point how? I have no sympathy for people who cannot see what everybody else with even a mobile phone can.

Foley July 13, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Disrepute? I think probably most fans are fine with the approach laid out by Looking over my shoulder above, even though it typically results in the written rule about drafting being…superseded. We agree that discretion by the commissaires is better than draconian enforcement of a “no drafting” rule. Those who would hold the sport in disrepute over this attitude need to be educated abut how it works (ie serious cases are moderated by the politics of whether rival teams are satisfied or not, etc). Such an ambiguous approach would be absolutely wrong for the anti-doping regime, but I don’t think there is much controversy about how it works for drafting…except when there is a bad decision. I do agree with RonDe that having discretion is no excuse for failing to see things that need to be seen, but I don’t necessarily agree that Dumoulin’s penalty was unfair by comparison with Astana’s non-penalty. The “didn’t see it” explanation is certainly an opening for impartial/unfair decisions, but I suppose for anyone who feels strongly that it was unfair that Astana was not penalized, it may be the most airworthy explanation. And also may be true!

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Disrepute? I think probably most fans are fine with the approach laid out by Looking over my shoulder above, even though it typically results in the written rule about drafting being…superseded. We agree that discretion by the commissaires is better than draconian enforcement of a “no drafting” rule. Those who would hold the sport in disrepute over this attitude need to be educated abut how it works (ie serious cases are moderated by the politics of whether rival teams –and RonDe’s of the cycling world– are satisfied or not, etc). Such an ambiguous approach would be absolutely wrong for the anti-doping regime, but I don’t think there is much controversy about how it works for drafting…except when a bad decision is made. I do agree with RonDe that having discretion is no excuse for failing to see things that need to be seen, but I don’t necessarily agree that Dumoulin’s penalty was (very) unfair by comparison with Astana’s non-penalty. The “didn’t see it” explanation is certainly an opening for impartial/unfair decisions, but I suppose for anyone who feels strongly that it was unfair that Astana was not penalized, it might be the most airworthy explanation. Because it also might be true!

Alex July 14, 2018 at 2:50 am

If you think a commissaire can spend their time staring at a mobile phone video feed to pick up the few seconds of coverage showing something, then you clearly have little experience or understanding of what’s going on in commissaire vehicles during such a point in the race (splits, convoy all over the place etc etc) and what they are actually doing and dealing with.

jc July 13, 2018 at 7:29 am

I thought the circuit element for the finish yesterday was a good idea, better than simply riding up the slope to the finish.

Tom Dumoulin was a bit unlucky but did think at the time he was pushing it by riding for so long behind his team car. Romain Bardet / AG2R seemed a bit disorganised, maybe his bike was less damaged and he could ride on for a bit before swapping it but he did not seem to have many team mates around. He was not helped either by Pierre Latour pulling along the favourites group in an attempt to catch Dan Martin, probably only lost a couple more seconds but not really necessary. Not sure whether to read anything into Chris Froome’s lost seconds, given his Giro performance drawing conclusions at this stage seems rather risky. Geraint Thomas does look to be strong and sprightly, there seems to be a chance he could grab the few seconds needed to go into yellow before the mountains come into view.

Sam July 13, 2018 at 7:48 am

Great ride by Martin, but I don’t understand why it took so long to draw any reaction from the ‘bunch’? All the names like Yates, Porte and Thomas just sat there watching each other – does a tdf stage mean nothing any more? Were the expecting Valverde or similar to react earlier and drag them across?

The Inner Ring July 13, 2018 at 7:52 am

The headwind meant whoever chased risked doing the work to bring him back… and then someone else could surge past for the time bonus in the final metres.

Digahole July 13, 2018 at 7:59 am

Wonder if we’ll see the bonus points 3-2-1 seconds play a role today and tmrw. Thomas, Alaphilippe, TJ and GVA were to take the 3 sec bonus

Digahole July 13, 2018 at 8:03 am

….not likely with BMC protecting yellow, QS riding for Gaviria and Sky for Froome, but on days like today you gotta hope for some kind of action

Titch July 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Maybe depends on whether Sky are happy to have the car second in the queue on Sunday or if they want to nip ahead of BMC

JEB July 13, 2018 at 12:32 pm

I doubt it, I expect that they will be swept up by the break.

Bob July 13, 2018 at 8:02 am

Hospital patients in traction.
That’s very good 😀

Larry T July 13, 2018 at 12:14 pm

+1

Stuie July 13, 2018 at 8:35 am

Be interesting to see how things pan out at Sky if Froome loses time on Sunday and Thomas doesn’t, which is a real possibility. Thomas looks better than he ever has but, like Porte, highly suspect across 3 weeks.

RonDe July 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

The happiest boyo in France right now must be Geraint Thomas. He is the only GC guy right now not to have had a crash, punctured, done one of the lesser time trials or had to chase on. As a result, he’s at least 40 seconds in front of any other realistic GC rider and a minute or more in front of the more dangerous ones. He’s got more than 2 minutes on Quintana. And thats before the Roubaix stage where his credentials are good and surely better than many of his rivals. When you consider there are only 3 mountain top finishes in the race, one of which he already finished 2nd on in the exact same stage when it was done in the recent Dauphine he won, he must have everything crossed that this year he gets his chance for a grand tour podium. If he keeps his consistency yellow will be coming to him one of these days but whether he keeps it is another matter.

PS Isn’t it also interesting the perhaps better GC riders, Froome, Nibali, Dumoulin, Bardet, Quintana, are those relatively worse off versus their less GC decorated rivals? I think Alpe d’Huez next week will provide the big shakeout. Aside from the gimmicky 65kms stage its the only real proper mountain finish. Too much flat (see today and tomorrow) and not enough mountain in this race.

RQS July 13, 2018 at 8:47 am

You’ve probably jinxed him there. I was only talking about how TD was well placed on GC yesterday, and look what happened there!

Still I think it’s a tall ask for GT unless he gains some more time before the mountains. He keeps his form for 1 week races, but has never shown in a Grand Tour.

He might be tempted to take yellow for personal reasons, but I don’t think he has serious GC pretensions. Having a yellow jersey and a cuddly lion will mean a lot to him.

There is almost parity amongst all the GC favourites at the moment. Nibali is just set behind Froome, Landa and Porte.

RonDe July 13, 2018 at 8:55 am

People used to say that about Wiggins too and he somehow managed to win a Tour with few mountains in as well. I’m not saying Thomas will win because I have my doubts too but stranger things have happened and the Welshman won’t be sad at the gaps to the rest he has at all.

Much better to be him than Nairo Quintana right now who is already needing to drop everybody (even his better placed team mates) on some mountain somewhere if this year will be the year he takes his first ever yellow jersey.

RQS July 13, 2018 at 9:21 am

+1 Well Nibali had 2014 sewn up before they hit the mountains, and we’re wading in similar territory, so it’s certainly possible.

I do wonder if there is a bit of friction in the Sky camp. GT does like to make it sound like he is co-GC contender, and not a super domestique, but I can’t see Froome liking that, even after 2012s show that propelled him to GC contender.

Will G be pulling for Froome if he’s in trouble in the mountains. I should hope that there’s no doubt about how they will ride in those circumstances.

G was awesome in the Dauphine, but he looked very tuned for that event, and had a kick I didn’t know he had. But the TdF is a very different beast with the best riders being on top form. It’ll be interesting if G does sit in yellow but it will be an unusual chain of events which takes him and keeps him there.

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 9:32 am

Both Nibali and Wiggins had very poor opposition compared with the riders who are here.

kim jong vaughters July 13, 2018 at 9:53 am

If you’re a big fish with 6 GT wins and 3 in a row do you really worry if a minnow keeps saying he’s the co-leader? Best to let it play out and see if Thomas can walk the walk. Froome was once the minnow himself and certainly lost one grand tour (Vuelta 11) because the team were slow to back the right guy. As RonDe says, there are not many mountains in this race (stages 10-12, 17+19) and only 3 of those 5 have an MTF. Thomas has done one of them before. If he could get through next week it would become very interesting and will Sky really mind it coming down to the final ITT? Both Thomas and Froome wouldn’t lose time there.

Digahole July 13, 2018 at 10:26 am

First things first… will G be pulling for CF on stage 9?

Webbovich July 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Thomas’s talk about yellow and riding like he is aiming to finish with it is not based on a change of plans now that he is a minute ahead of Froome.

From early June: ““The plan is to race up until the first rest day and try not to lose any time going into the Alps, and then I’m hopefully up there. Then hopefully we’ll have two cards to play. I’m really motivated and looking forward to it.”

“Froome has won six Grand Tours and the Tour four times so for sure he’s going to have that leadership role. He’s had a different approach to it this year, obviously riding the Giro, so it’s a bit of an unknown as to how he’s going to be but I’ve definitely got that chance, which I’m really relishing“.

Ferdi July 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

Stranger things have happened even within the team.

Richard S July 13, 2018 at 10:25 am

It’ll get very interesting if Thomas can gain more serious time (I.e. 30 seconds plus) on the mini Roubaix stage. Froome has improved lots of things over the last few years but I wouldn’t say he was a classics rider, and even if he was misfortune could still strike on a stage like that. If Quick Step and Bora/GVA really go toe to toe and it gets ripped to pieces, and Thomas can sneak in with the front group, he could end up with a big lead on the genuine gc men.

RQS July 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

A slight technical difference between the Astana and TD motor pace was that almost the entire Astana team were there pulling, and maybe because they rotated behind the car they didn’t individually spend long enough behind a car? Tenuous, but possibly the reason.

The main footage I seem to remember was when Astana, as a team were flying down a descent, and all the over Team cars had courteously pulled over. It wasn’t till after that that the Astana team car came through in front of them.

I guess what I’m saying is perhaps TDs use of the car was more egregious. But I don’t really care.

Surprised to see Sagan competing at the sharp end of that last stage. As ever at the Tour, Alaphilippe is like a damp squib. He promises explosions, and then just fizzles. I don’t know if it’s a three week race thing or not, but he never seems to show in quite the way people expect.

Richard S July 13, 2018 at 9:52 am

How come in the Giro riders fought like dogs to get in the break and it often took a couple of hours of break neck riding for one to get away, whereas here Sylvain Chevanel, someone from Cofidis and one of Barguils school mates from Fortuneo are allowed to slip away at the flag while everyone has a chat and a smoke?

kim jong vaughters July 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

Probably an unspoken agreement not to make every day a war in which nobody wins.

Ferdi July 13, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Only the spectator and the organizer. Nobody.

bonzojess July 14, 2018 at 8:44 am

I went to see Time Trial the David Millar film https://www.timetrialfilm.com the other night, and the biggest laugh came when the Tirreno Adriatico peloton are all slowly pedalling up to kilometre zero, and at the line a single rider rides off ahead. The whole peloton groans and Cav is heard shouting FGS or some such and a bigger rider edges into the front rank to make sure no one else can go.

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 10:56 am

Because this is the Tour de France!

Because you can’t afford to. And because the best of the best are there and it is unlikely, that a break will get through. How many big sprint trains were in the giro (as you might know (or not) sprinter in a race make breakaways difficult. So you might hopefully see why one race isn‘t like the other?

In the Tour every team has an objective and riders can‘t afford to waste any energy. The only teams, that have a breakaway as objective are the Wildcard teams. If you have to quit the giro, because you got ill or don’t succeed in what you wanted to do, well it sucks – but it is also not the Tour. Expect this to losen up later, when many teams reached their objective (Sprint) or already failed in them (GC) and give their riders more freedom.

Ferdi July 13, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Nonsense. Once it is established Gaviria is the fastest guy, both Lottos or Katiusha have a better chance of winning or getting yellow by going on breakaways than by pulling in front of the peloton. Same for Sagan. His green jersey is safer if breakaways are successful. QS and BMC should be left alone to chase, and it would be far from certain that they would succeed.

KevinK July 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

Wonderful summary. Slight mistake – you need a “the” in the second line of “The Contenders” paragraph (“Certainly pair have two …”)

noel July 13, 2018 at 10:04 am

don’t forget Thomas is also on excellent TT form (taking a minute out of Dowsett the recent Brit TT champs that Dowsett had targeted) . In the 2017 Giro he took 1.18 out of Nibali and more out of Yates and Quintana (and Landa…..)
If I was another GC contender I’d be concerned about just waiting for that jour sans that may not appear to take him out of the reckoning, and I wouldn’t be letting him accumulate bonus seconds with no effort required. (last year Landa missed the podium by 1 second I recall…)

Realist July 13, 2018 at 10:37 am

But at a TT in the middle of a stage race? Completely different.

Nick July 13, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Let alone a TT on stage 20, for someone whose main weakness appears to be his ability to last 3 weeks. (Well, main weakness apart from the crashing.)

Dewch ymlaen, Geraint!

Ecky Thump July 13, 2018 at 10:09 am

I personally think that Gaviria has got Sagan’s number in the pure sprints.
And Sagan knows it too. He’ll still win the Green Jersey though. Different class.

Realist July 13, 2018 at 10:36 am

Not sure why there’s all the ‘Thomas looks like he’ll win’ garb going on.
He’s gained a small amount really, we’re yet to hit the mountains where he’s going to be more on his limit, he’s got to stay upright on Stage 9 and considering his reputation for hitting the deck in the classics, I’d say that day is where he stands to lose time, Sky don’t have the classics expertise with their ‘classics squad’ As it is, let alone with a GT squad built around GC.
QS will ride the bunch to pieces that day for someone like Terpstra to take the stage.
He’s a week long stage race winner, not a 3 week GT winner, never will be.
Thomas will be in a top 10 finish I think, but not on the podium, and be lower than Froome who could if needed go on a long raid again to make his point – 5 Time GT winner and some upstart calls himself co leader? That can’t be well for team dynamics – despite what Brailsfraud says.

RolandDennis July 13, 2018 at 11:12 am

Thomas has won E3-Harelbeke, podiumed at Ghent-Wevelgem and been top ten in Paris-Roubaix. Kwiatkowski has also won E3, Moscon made the Roubaix velodrome in the lead group, eventually finishing 5th, and even Luke Rowe was 5th in the Tour of Flanders and top ten in Roubaix. These are hardly bums. Landa and Quintana will be wishing they had such guys to lead them on Sunday.

Simmers July 13, 2018 at 11:37 am

Well, they do have Valverde who barely seemed to notice the cobbles in Dwars Door Vlaanderen this year, and Erviti has done really well in Paris – Roubaix before (9th in 2016). So they do have some experience, but definitely not on the level of Sky.

Can easily see Valverde sticking with the best GC riders on Sunday though.

Tovarishch July 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm

I’m sure it is all deliberate. It is putting the focus on Thomas and taking it off Froome just at the time he needs to be out of the limelight. Brailsford will be happy for Thomas to be the leading Sky rider for as long as possible and saying he is co-leader while Froome loses weight and fuels up for the third week.

Charlie July 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Geraint Thomas is an ‘upstart’ is he ? I don’t think he’ll win either but he’s a very good back-up who could potentially finish on the podium

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Meanwhile back at Stage 7, wonderful long day sat of the sofa, gonna be tough!

Louis le Blond July 13, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I’ll admit I’m a big ‘G’-fan – but Sky has made it more than clear that Froome = Plan A and ‘G’ is Plan B. Can that fact change during the three weeks?
I think it might chance. Froome is obviously using the same tactics as in the Giro. Starting low and hope to hit the topform in the last week. In the Giro it looked like he had calculated wrong, cause he was really struggeling and had to pull off an extraordinary 80 km soloride to win the race. I don’t think he can repeat this stunt with the TdF-bunch!! So if Froome loses some sec here and there and is not progressing – and ‘G’ still hanging in the top-3 – Sky could be forced to go to Plan B. Also baring in mind that the combination Giro-TdF properbly will take its toll.
Right now Uran and The Shark are flying under the radar – both looks fit. Yates showed up yesterday having ‘rested’ the first 7 days and looking fit. We know Quintana will show up in the mountains and that he’s strong in the final week, but…. And Porte properbly the strongest rider in the mountains, but … With this years very strong bunch of contenders Bardet may just slide down the ranks…
Hoping ‘G’ will prove the ‘crash-karma-cloud’ wrong and that Sky will change to Plan B 🙂

Ben July 13, 2018 at 12:34 pm

I’m suspicious that plan G is most likely to be put into action if the cobbles eliminate CF again. The double leaders also leave massive options for front foot aggressive (like 2008 Tdf and Saxobank) racing tactic later in the race should both still be in the running.

Nick July 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Interesting to look at the GC contenders, based on time gaps from defending champion:

Thomas -59
Jungels -44
Uran -17
Valverde -11
Majka -10
Fuglsang -9
Porte -9
Landa -7
Yates –
Froome –
Andersen +1
Nibali +6
Roglic +15
Mollema +16
Dumoulin +21
Kruijswijk +24
Martin +25
Bernal +28
Bardet +43
Zakarin +1.00
Quintana +1.08

Charlie July 13, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Looking bad for Quintana already , he always seems to lose time in ways that a genuine contender really shouldn’t

Jeff July 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Agreed. In each year it’s always talked about like bad luck, but when it happens year after year in only the first few stages, it has to come down to his positioning and race awareness.

Come on Nairo! Stay focused! I’d like to see you actually contest the GC and not lose 1-2 minutes on the flat stages every year.

cd July 13, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Andersen?

steveh July 13, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Soren Kragh Andersen, white jersey rider from Sunweb

Larry T July 13, 2018 at 5:28 pm

It’s almost like they skipped the TTT this year after the crashes and mechanical incidents. I don’t consider the top two on your list true GC contenders, which makes the time gap from highest to lowest less than a single minute after a week. Some might describe it as dull, but I’d rather have this than only a few real contenders left to fight out the next two weeks…as easily could have happened.

Nick July 13, 2018 at 7:39 pm

Well, Thomas has won the GC on several week-long races, including the traditional warm-up for the TdF, led his team as a GC contender in a GT, and been in the top 5 of the Tour as late as stage 18 in the past.

Jungels of course has twice finished in the top 10 of a GT, winning the young riders competition both times.

It would be a much shorter list if I left off those with worse GC credentials than these two.

Larry T July 13, 2018 at 8:16 pm

1 week stage races and top 10’s in GT’s are far different from wins, as Richie Porte and others will admit. In the end I think the real contenders are Froome, Nibali, Uran, Quintana and Dumoulin, We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out though I’m sure others will proclaim the thing “done and dusted” when their guy is in the lead.

Bern July 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

“dogs bark, fish swim and Quick Step exploit crosswinds”
Brilliantly on point…
Oh, and dogfish bark to scale…

steveh July 13, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Yes, I was giving this bit a round of applause myself – that and the “patients in hospital in traction” not being able to reach the remote.
Bravo again Inner Ring 🙂

Gday July 13, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Possibly the most boring opening week to a GT I can ever remember. A complete borefest till the last 10ks or so. Come on ASO.

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm

First: Races aren‘t solely put on for tv. Surely not Grand Tours. For the mllions roadside it doesn‘t matter, if a race is on or not, they can‘t see that anyway. On the contrary, for them it is much nicer, if there is no racing, but riding, because the riders are more relaxed, stay longer around. These people, who help to make cycling special with waiting and cheering for hours, unlike people in front of their tv, are happy to cheer the riders during the minute or so they rush by. And they cheer for them no matter, if they race or ride. That is support, respect and love.

And the people at the finish want to see an exciting race to the finish line, which they almost always get. And the millions of people uninterested in cycling, but interested in the Tour de France, only seeing a short clip of the race, have no idea, that the great race moments they see only make up a small amount of time of the whole thing. So you see, that the riders ride the race according to what makes the most people happy and to what is good for the ones paying their checks and themselves. And that simply isn‘t the small fraction of people, compared to the whole, who sit in front of the race for hours and day after day.

Second: I don‘t understand why you call out ASO? They don‘t ride the race. If you should call out anyone (which I don’t think you should, because the riders are – hopefully – only human) you should call out the riders.

As many riders said often enough during the last years, when this was mentioned: The Tour de France is no one day race, it is also no circus act, the riders try to reach goals here. Here careers are made or destroyed. Here it gets decided, if they can build a house next year or not. And their job is to waste as little energy as possible in trying to reach their goals. If that isn‘t what people like, I would suggest they are maybe watching the wrong sport or should stick to the non sprint days? Because a sprint day will always be a boring day for 95% of the stage as long as there are real sprinters in the race. If you decide to watch anyway the whole day you can‘t really blame them for your decision.

Of course you could also start a petition to eliminate radios or team sky from racing, that surely would losen things up.

Chris_SK July 13, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Well ASO can be partially to blame, for including a ridiculously long flat stage in between two showpiece stages (Mur-de-Bretagne + Roubaix). It’s easy to come to a consensus in the peloton when a demanding route forces defensive riding.
I’m just a bit worried tomorrows transition stage ends in the same result. A lone breakaway rider doesn’t hold off the bunch very often.

Vitus July 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm

We had several days in normally windy terrain. But I guess ASO is to blame for the weather and the climate change too. Like they obviously are to blame for what the riders do on such stages. And they didn’t solve world peace. Losers. #Sad

Anonymous July 13, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Look, it isn‘t as if you can take a map, look which roads you like and have a race there. That is not how it works. You have to have cities, villages prepared to close their roads down and pay for it to host the Tour de France. You have to cross a certain amount of terrain to get from one point to the other, you have to go where enogh hotel rooms are ready, you have to look for roads, that are worthy for the Tour de France (well enough kept, wide enough, not dangerous) etc. There are so many things, that have to fit to make a race like the Tour de France happen and it is easy to forget about all that.

What we can agree on to some degree is, that it is not ok for the riders to protest against things they don‘t like with going slow and making the race extra boring. They have all time in the months BEFORE the race to discuss things they don‘t like with ASO, they don‘t have to take the race and the people watching roadside and on tv hostage just to get their way. With this, their usual destructive way, they will never get what they want, because they fail to be on the right side of the argument simply through the way they chose to act. I am always reminded of spoilt children when they do something like that.

osbk67 July 14, 2018 at 1:14 am

Without being deliberately argumentative, I don’t agree with that to any real degree at all. I see the energy and combatativeness of the racers as a limited resource, and across three weeks a few stages of relative truce are inevitable. With Sunday looming large a shorter, more lumpy stage last night may have seen more attacking racing, but in turn that may have precipitated a relative procession to the foot of the last ascent of the Mur de Bretagne the day prior. I can see an argument for last night being 160km, but the distance is probably as much about the administration of the race as anything else – available stage towns, suitable roads, local budgets for hosting etc., without which there would be no race. If nothing else 231km at any pace also beds in a level of fatigue which will have a cost on Sunday. For all I know Fridays may be the best day to risk the least happening, from a TV viewership perspective anyway.

Anonymous July 14, 2018 at 2:21 am

@osbk – I am a bit at loss to understand what you mean. Maybe you aren‘t answering to me? Maybe I wasn‘t clear enough? What I talk about is the strike the riders stage since velon has been founded during the longest stage in the Tour de France. Last year, after everybody, including the ASO was upset, they tried to talk it away (and with that and their choice of words and their pouty faces admitted it very loudly), this year they tried to do it not quite so obvious. I wasn‘t talking about the normal racing.

As I wrote in the comment above, I agree with you, that it is kind of silly and cruel to expect, that riders do tricks every day and that this expectation is more a problem of the tv viewer and not that of the riders or anybody else watching the race. But I also think it is selfish and childish of the riders to try to solve their „problems“ on the backs of the race, the organiser, the fans and of riders, that don’t agree, but have no other choice than to put a brave face on, with taking them hostage (and yes, I find it kind of strange, that 50km more or less are such a drama, if you decide to ride around more than 3000km in France for 3 weeks. But of course in truth it isn‘t about 50km, it is about power and that is why I am extra angry, that the riders use everybody else in their powergame).

A grown up and responsible behaviour (something that seems absent in the peloton per se) would be, that all the riders get together, find out, if they want to do something and what they want to do about a 230km stage and then go to ASO and find a compromise with them. And if one can‘t be found, to accept that – as we all have to accept certain things in our lives and especially in our jobs. But what one doesn‘t do is fool the fans, damage a race, that can‘t defend itself against such actions and act like spoilt children, who want their way and if they don‘t get it, they hurt others.

And it is totally fine, if you don‘t agre with that opinion, I just don‘t really (honestly) get what you answer to and what exactly you mean.

Anonymous July 14, 2018 at 2:43 am

Forgot to say: What I could also accept, is, if they really would strike. But they are not brave enough to do that, so they do it in a really bad way, being able to deny it, if called out, like it happened at the Tour and Vuelta. That is the universal tactics of all bullies – „no, I didn‘t do anything, he just tripped over my foot“.

Well, if they would strike for real, they would have to justify, why 50 or 80 km more or less over 3 weeks are a dealbreaker and why they feel fine to waste the money of others on that. Because a strike would hurt the sponsors, the race organiser, the start and finish villages, tv etc.. But that they were late today also cost the race and the tv production money, it costs thousands for police to stay longer, close the roads longer and so forth, but they could hide behind the fact, that they rode at all. I think this behaviour is childish, selfish and cowardly.

Anonymous July 14, 2018 at 1:04 am

A “ridiculously long flat stage” obviously words from one of these born again bikers, no attention span and daft long socks…. tcch

KevinK July 14, 2018 at 11:01 am

… and their silly derailleurs and plastic bikes… 😉

The GCW / Strictly Amateur July 14, 2018 at 1:30 am

Flat stages and associated complaints; This tour last tour the tour before…

Normal.

But notice, they have an effect. Is Uran, who seemed to fade briefly, getting hit with the type of terrain which negatively effects His racing??? I can relate to that; I’m better suited to the climbs…

& Uran is My pick! So I hope He gets through Saturday and Sunday. Especially Saturday.

I used to hate the “boring” flat stages especially when there’s too many but that’s often the Tour. Since it traditional, it’s not the Tour, it’s the spectators ability to exhibit patients.

Recall, Sky, with their recent style making for a boring race; let’s hope these flat stages are the extent of Our boredom. !

Larry T July 14, 2018 at 9:24 am

A day nobody, including the riders, seemed to care about the Tour de France. Cycling’s biggest yearly event and this is the best they can do? Continuous doping scandals are bad enough, but processions like this one aren’t going to help. Meanwhile, the team with the guy in the yellow jersey can’t seem to find a sponsor to continue and their riders are all scrambling to find other teams before the lights go out. Great work boys!

J Evans July 14, 2018 at 9:34 am

But according to a lot people above, it’s fine because it’s ‘the Tour’.
Partly the parcours to blame, but mostly the riders – they did nothing to Clungeper or the Mur de Bretagne either.
I’ve already switched to only watching the last 5km, but again, apparently the TV audience losing interest is also fine.
Even inrng is too bored to write a preview.
I’ll watch more of the cobbles, but without much expectation.

ave July 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm

As for racing I just watch the last 10km or so. But France is nice, beautiful chateaus everywhere… It’s a nice slideshow!

Vitus July 14, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Whole day coverage adds nothing to attract the race. Opposite is true. I don’t understand why this weeks stages had a full coverage. Do it for demanding stages and show us the last hour of the rest.

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