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Tour de France Stage 14 Preview

The Pyrenees and a summit finish on the Tourmalet, a long climb and a big test for Julian Alaphilippe.

Stage 13 Review: an exciting day for a time trial with suspense right to the end helped by a course that mirrors the entire route so far, there’s always with a surprise. Thomas De Gendt set the bar high with a time that would last for hours. Once the GC contenders got underway Richie Porte then Steven Kruijswijk set the fastest times at the opening checkpoint and a sign that they’re competitive for the coming days. Thomas went through faster and Alaphilippe even faster. It set up a lively finish, you’d think Thomas would take time on the less technical return to Pau but Alaphilippe matched him and then even gained time on the final ramp before the finish line, sprinting up in the big ring. Alaphilippe’s win is a surprise but not a shock, he’s won World Tour time trials before and is in form. He was even spotted in May on a recon ride of the course, as if he had private ambitions for the stage. Still to beat the specialists and hold off Thomas is a scenario you could imagine but it seemed unlikely.

Away from the match for the stage, Geraint Thomas had a good day. He might have been eclipsed by Alaphilippe but put over half a minute into Steven Kruijswijk who did a good ride. Rigoberto Urán, Richie Porte, Thibaut Pinot and Enric Mas all had a good day with the later taking the white jersey from Bernal. Meanwhile Nairo Quintana and Adam Yates had a tough time, losing about two minutes each which was a surprise for Yates especially. Wout van Aert and Max Schachmann both crashed out on the same corner and leave the race and it shows how hard they were trying to save time.

The Route: just 117.5km from Tarbes to the Tourmalet. It’s all on classic roads with the standard Soulor approach road via the climb at Labatmale and then the sharp climb at Arthez d’Asson, the Tour’s raced this many times before. These climbs barely register on the profile above but they count for the formation of an early breakaway as places where the elastic can be snapped. The road gets more and more narrow towards Ferrières at 48km and then the Col du Soulor begins.

The climb is 13km at 7.1% and there are no traps or hidden surprises, just a steady slope up which varies between 6-9% but without any abrupt changes as it climbs up the small road through woodland and then onto open pastures where, away from the tour, cattle and horses roam free. The descent is on a bigger road and well-known to the peloton before a 20km valley section.

The Finish: the Col du Tourmalet’s the most frequently used pass of the Tour de France. This is the western ascent via Barèges, probably the more scenic side. The defining feature is the length, 19km which is long for any climb but in the Pyrenees it’s exceptional. It’s all on a regular road that’s wide and even for most of the way up. The first hard section comes with the hairpins before Barèges and from here on the climb feels harder. The final three kilometres have the hardest gradients and the finish is right at the pass itself after a ramp of 10% from the final hairpin.

The Contenders: there should be a fight to get in the breakaway but they’ll find it hard to stay clear, there’s not much time to build up a lead and surely Ineos are going to deploy their mountain train today on the approach to the Tourmalet and its early slopes. Still, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Marc Soler (Movistar) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) fit the bill as strong riders who are down on GC and so have space but take your pick from others too.

Among the GC contenders Thibaut Pinot is great form and finally reaches the mountains he likes, he has a strong, cohesive team with David Gaudu an outsider for the stage win too.

Ineos need to put the pressure on today. Maybe they don’t take the race lead, maybe they do. They need to wear down Alaphilippe and one way to do this is to make the Soulor hard and then ensure the Tourmalet is a full 50-60 minute effort. Geraint Thomas is in good condition and even if Egan Bernal had a relatively poor day yesterday now he is on terrain to suit.

Several big names have now lost time on GC so if they move it’s not a priority to shut them down immediately. Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) come to mind, the same for Jacob Fuglsang (Astana), Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) while Emanuel Buchmann is sixth overall but probably not a priority to close down either.

Who’d bet against Julian Alaphilippe? Deceuninck-Quickstep aren’t set up to help him too far and Enric Mas must be itching to ride for himself. Alaphilippe’s having an extravagant Tour but today’s a completely new test with two long climbs, normally his weakness. Still he was first over the Tourmalet a year ago (from the breakaway) and he’s apparently lighter now but he’ll be on his limit. He can hold on and as said before here, if someone wants to take the jersey from him they’ll have to rip it off his shoulders, and the more he can hold on during the climb, the more he could even contend for the stage win given his punch. But this is “only” Stage 14 and there’s a lot more to come, he’s popular partly because he poses for so many photos, emerges early from the team bus to sign autographs and more and the long spell en jaune could add up and that’s before he starts trying to defend his jersey on long mountain passes.

Thibaut Pinot, Geraint Thomas
Egan Bernal, Mikel Landa, Emu Buchmann, Alejandro Valverde
Fuglsang, D Martin, Porte, Quintana, Kruijswijk, Alaphilippe, Gaudu

 

Yellow story: how many yellow jerseys are given out each Tour? With 21 stages the first answer would be 21 but perhaps you’ve seen TV footage of the podium ceremonies and the backstage moments where the wearer signs other yellow jerseys. In total there are about 350 yellow jerseys a year which can go to team mates as gifts, sponsors as well as VIP guests and others than the rider. So an actual yellow jersey isn’t so exclusive, the Crédit Lyonnais lion mentioned the other day is more rare.

Weather: hot and sunny, 32°C in the valleys.

TV: the stage starts at 1.30pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. Tune in early for the battle to get in the breakaway.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Max Saturday, 20 July 2019, 6:42 am

    Allez Pinot!

  • Mendip5000 Saturday, 20 July 2019, 6:44 am

    Logic suggests J’alla should be back in blue by tonight. If DQS think that way, it would be great to see the team muster resources to put Mas in his place. Tough to do, but a great plan to start the day with?

    So if not that then which side up does the Ineos coin land. Heads Bernal, Tails Thomas…I say heads.

    • KevinR Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:50 am

      You could argue that Mas is the better DQS bet for yellow in Paris than JA. The Ineos coin will fall for Thomas. Until it’s better to back Bernal!

  • Digahole Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:01 am

    This would seem the day where Ineos make their trademark mountain top statement. But… for all the talk of them being maybe not quite as strong this year, they seem to me very relaxed, more quietly confident. Is it just me or has Thomas’ leadership spread a more relaxed vibe across the team? And maybe with it a slight change of strategy, less anxiety to stamp their authority.
    Don’t know if today will be the day, but this year I’m actually looking forward to seeing them light it up and then to seeing who can hang on!

    • KevinK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:20 am

      I agree with what you’re saying about Ineos, and strangely, I’m also looking forward to seeing them spring their trap in the mountains. I’m just hoping someone like Pinot can stay with them and make it a race to the end.

      I get the feeling that Ineos are riding the way they are to get inside their opponent’s heads. There’s always the whole team, in a group and on the front, never looking the least bit stressed. It gives the air of inevitability about what’s to come. Even though other teams have been grabbing the early glory, they look like a pride of lions among hyenas and cheetahs, lazing about until the time they decide to go claim the big kill.

      • Gelato4bahamontes Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:09 am

        Lions often lose their kills to hyenas

        • Stpears Saturday, 20 July 2019, 1:03 pm

          Lone lions often lose their kills to packs of hyenas. When the pride is at full strength, all the hyenas can do is yip plaintively for a while and then slink off with their tails between their legs.

          • Mark Saturday, 20 July 2019, 4:13 pm

            That’s good to know!

    • Chuffy Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:04 am

      I don’t think a Thomas led team attracts as much attention as one led by Froome. DB also seems to be keeping a low profile this year. All helped by the media being focussed on Alaphillupe.

      • Digahole Saturday, 20 July 2019, 3:21 pm

        Yep, def very different circumstances this year… and I’m sure all the JA hype suits them nicely thanks very much

    • KevinR Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:52 am

      Don’t think Thomas leadership has a bearing. Just think they’ve not needed to do as much of the work and others have handily taken the limelight

      • Digahole Saturday, 20 July 2019, 3:22 pm

        … and today’s the day we’ll see ’em!

    • Digahole Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:59 pm

      Ha ha… there goes that theory. Ineos are fragile.

  • Simon Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:34 am

    Looking through the tt results, it looks as though the remaining 6 Ineos riders were conserving their energy for the weekend

  • Larrick Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:48 am

    No love for Rigo?

    I know his TT effort might have been more in keeping with the results EF riders have had lately but if it is a sign of a resurgence, he’s not as slow on the line as some mentioned. The altitude won’t hurt either.

    • Lukyluk Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:52 am

      Last time Rigo attacked in the mountains was 1966…

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:12 am

      Was going to leave out Kruijswijk too but his TT was sharp, thinking these two riders have a better chance in the Alps with the long climbs. The final ascent of the final mountain stage is over 30km long and suits them more with the altitude.

  • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:20 am

    Let’s see how Ala continues over the coming week. He could easily falter in the mountains.
    Thus far, what we’ve seen is not beyond what you’d have imagined of his capabilities: a very good TT, although he’s been good before, and some good performances in sporadic, not very mountainous stages where he has been able to ride them as if they were one-day races.
    That’s nothing like doing it for consecutive days over big climbs.

    I still don’t see anyone being able to challenge Thomas with the team he has behind (or in front of) him, especially as any leadership issue is no longer an issue.

    Odd how both Yates brothers seem off-form this year.

    What is Schachmann’s injury? Hadn’t heard of this and can find no info. on it.

    • Ishisht Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:31 am

      Metacarpal fracture in the left hand.

      • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:35 am

        Thanks. Glad it’s nothing *too* bad, hopefully WVA’s isn’t either.

        • Ishisht Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:42 am

          Dutch news reported yesterday that he had a deep flesh wound in his thigh and underwent extensive surgery, but that the surgeon expects complete recovery.

  • piwakawaka Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:39 am

    This must be a dream scenario for ASO

  • Larry T Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:43 am

    “…he’s popular partly because he poses for so many photos, emerges early from the team bus to sign autographs and more.” I’d say his popularity is due to a) he’s French and this is LeTour b) he’s a trier, not someone who races not to lose, but rather to win.
    The sport needs more of these types. I doubt he can hold on until Paris, but I enjoyed watching Thomas Voeckler defend his jersey back-in-the-day though few thought he’d make it Paris in yellow either. Allez!

    • Ecky Thump Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:10 am

      I agree with you there.
      Whatever happens here on in, Alaphilippe is on a win-win with the crowd really.
      Implode and he becomes the glorious French loser, win and he’s a hero for ever.

      • SYH Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:51 am

        Yeah this is his big advantage over Pinot I think (as far as the French riders go). Alaphillipe is playing with house money. If he blows up, there’s no pressure, he’s a classics rider who lasted longer than anyone expected. If he survives this stage, well, that’ll be exciting, won’t it?

      • JeroenK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:00 pm

        My secret hope is that Alaphilippe is not only in yellow after today, but also Thomas has not been able to put time in him and a lot of other contenders came closer, like in the Giro stage where Nibali and Roglic marked each other out of the race. Now that would set up some fireworks for later on :-).

        • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:07 pm

          I’d love you to be right, but a week of Ineos grinding the others into submission as they ride on their tail is far more likely – why would it change after so many years?

        • JeroenK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:50 pm

          It’s even better 😀

          I think in the next days we will learn that Sky/Ineos, regardless of their tactics, is only as strong as their leader.

          • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:56 pm

            I was wonderfully wrong. Long may it continue.

    • KevinR Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:56 am

      I totally agree with you there Larry. That’s not always the case!!!

  • Digahole Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:16 am

    +1!
    Awesome for the sport… attacking mindset, amazing form and home ground advantage. Hope he keeps it today!

  • Madsen Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:46 am

    What about Enric Mas? Great TT yesterday and taking the white jersey away from Bernal.

  • jc Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:52 am

    Two images come to mind. Firstly Tommy Voeckler turning all sorts of faces and turning himself inside out fighting his way up the Galibier, despite Andy Schleck’s heroic solo victory he kept the jersey for one more day but clearly his time was up. Secondly the road into Prato Nevoso where Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin looked round at Simon Yates and immediately understood he had over cooked it at the TT and had nothing left to give, the race was on and a memorable stage was to follow the next day.

    It is difficult to see what DQ do here. In Enric Mas they have a potential white jersey winner and also a rider with a shot at the podium (though he appears to be off to Movistar). However in Julian Allaphilippe they have not only a rider who has committed to the team but is clearly now a mega star in the French speaking world (great for the sponsors) but does he really have a realistic chance of hanging on even for the podium? Given what is to come the sober analysis is that he will crack at some point. Who do they try to ride for? Do they stick or twist?

    Ineos must be slightly perplexed but still seem to hold the aces. Today is the perfect parcors for the mountain train to chug its way to the top shedding riders out the back on its way. It has been noticeable that at key points Wout Poels and Jonathon Castroviejo have been hanging around at the back of the peloton, I doubt that is down to poor form more saving energy. Also no doubt now as to who they are riding for, Egan Bernal will be last man for G.

    I cant see this going to someone from a break, there will almost certainly be a big fight to get into the break first thing but it seems fanciful to think they will get any sort of decent lead. ASO will almost certainly get a big GC showdown on prime weekend TV.

    I can see Julian Allaphilippe hanging on in yellow today but do think he will come in a good deal down on Geraint Thomas and that, despite the adrenaline turbo fuel, he will fade away if not today at some point in the next few days.

    PS “narrower and narrower”not “more and more narrow”?

    • ronytominger Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:39 am

      from a pr standpoint its clear what quickstep should do. the story of the unexpected leader having to defend yellow on the dreaded tourmalet against a superior force is simply pure gold and people will watch and remember this. enric mas, who is propaply unkown in te general public finishing 3rd or 5th does not carry a tenth of this story-material.

    • Greasy Wheel Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:40 am

      I think JA is a better rider than Tommy V, but then the latter had a much bigger gap to be whittled down over time!

      If I was DQ, I’d have Alaphilippe sit on Thomas’s wheel to the exclusion of all else. If he can’t follow with 8-10km to go, then there’s no point in Mas sacrificing himself; if however the elastic only snaps in the last 2km, it might be a different calculation.

      Pinot’s ideal scenario is that it takes a long time for Alaphilippe to break, and Thomas has to attack himself, and Pinot can then (if he’s strong enough) sit on Thomas and try and take time back himself. He must be doubly kicking himself about the crosswinds – he’d be right up there otherwise.

      • The Inner Ring Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:53 am

        Alaphilippe has a good chance today, but it’s now all about the accumulated fatigue. If he can hold on today he’ll be more tired tomorrow etc etc until next Saturday, this will add up like compound interest.

        • Angelo Saturday, 20 July 2019, 6:14 pm

          Ok, but why this will be true only for Alaphilippe and not for everyone else?

          • Lord Flash Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:15 am

            Because Alaphilippe spent a lot of energy in the first week getting into yellow

    • Anonymous Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:55 am

      If one team can handle many potentials in a race, it should be QS. They start nearly every classic with half of the team being on favourite shortlist. So for them it’s just a Saturday.

    • KevinR Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:01 am

      Excellent summary of the situation

  • Richard S Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:12 am

    The French must be quietly fuming that their race is in July rather than May. No replacing the high mountain stages with a couple of mediums for them!
    Alaphilippe has well and truly gazumped Bardet as the big French hope. Not even any mention of him letting slip nearly 2 and a half minutes yesterday. And that on a hilly course too. God only knows what he’d lose to a genuine TTer such as Wiggins on a flat course.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Ineos 1-2 today with Bernal winning it from Thomas and them both being back in their predestined jerseys by the end of the day.

    • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:29 am

      Many have previously suggested a GT with more medium mountains and fewer big climbs would be an interesting change. Maybe now we’ll see it. I very much doubt ASO will go too far, though: people would look down on their ‘product’ if they ‘diluted’ it in such a way. The Vuelta on the other hand…

      • STS Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:18 am

        Me thinks depending on how Ala fares in the coming days ASO might feel very tempted to create a course for him in the near future.
        Coincidentally that would also provide us – or at least most of us – with a more interesting race.

        They have entertained the dream that either Pinot or Bardet might win a TdF and thus end the home nation’s drought for years now and have probably realized that those two sadly just don’t have it.

        Now there’s a new kid on the block that seems to be ready and he’s even a much better entertainer than those two. Looks like a dream scenario to me.

        So why not in the context of the evolution that the TdF’s courses have taken under Prushomme’s reign come up with a course that foregoes (most of) the iconic long climbs in order to inspire Ala and his team to prepare for an attempt to win their first TdF. If they didn’t already do it this year albeit very stealthily.

        • JeroenK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:11 pm

          I do not buy the conspiracy theory that organizers design their race with a few local riders in mind. My guess is that they try to achieve an open race that is exciting until the end. That happens to favor Alaphilippe type riders.
          Have you seen the stages profiles for the coming week? Lots of big climbs, lots over 2000m altitude. If it’s designed for anyone, it’s not for Alaphilippe but for a horde of Colombian climbers to pull back big chuncks of time on. Sure, not some iconic names, like Alpe d’Huez and Ventoux, but do we need them every year? Alpe is an ugly road anyway, in my opinion. It’s got loads of cycling history, but I’d rather ride the Col d’Izoard, because of the superior scenery (wild mountains instead of a ski village…), the abcense of oil fumes from all the campers and the temperature.

        • Lukyluk Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:29 pm

          I never understood why people think ASO designs courses to suit the French riders. Sure, they’re a French company, but they’re also hugely profit-driven and would be more eager for the sport to have a big international appeal rather than a cult following in a few “historical” countries. The rise of popularity of the sport in the UK would have been a godsend for them.

          I strongly believe the reason why they seem to be changing the course design those last few years is mainly to make the racing more interesting, open and “TV-friendly”. This year at least, I’d argue this approach is working, even though the favourite to win at this point is the pre-race favourite and winner last year. It’s a good show! Nobody wants to see formulaic climbs taken at pace and 100km of ITTs, regardless of who wins…

          • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:39 pm

            ‘The rise of popularity of the sport in the UK would have been a godsend for them.’
            Indeed, which is why they ostensibly designed a course for Wiggins in 2012, adding far more TT km than in the years around this.
            I don’t think they’ve designed this course for Ala at all – too much climbing – but I don’t think it’s coincidental that TT km have dropped further as France has two good climbers who are not so good at TT. However, it probably has just as much to do with entertainment – TTs not being that entertaining to most.
            I do think it’s distinctly plausible that ASO might alter their courses slightly, taking out a few big mountains, in order to aid Ala – depending on how he goes this week.
            A French victory would be a massive boost for the popularity of their race, just as the first British victory was.

          • STS Saturday, 20 July 2019, 1:39 pm

            You guys have obviously misunderstood me which is probably my fault for not being more precise.
            I didn’t want to say that this year’s TdF course was designed to give “Lulu” a better chance for the GC victory. It obviously isn’t.

            What I wanted to say is that they might do this next year or the year after, now that France seems to have someone with a realistic chance to win the overall if the course does not feature too many long climbs but favors the rather punchy and aggressively racing climbers.

          • STS Saturday, 20 July 2019, 1:42 pm

            Oh, and yes the ASO obviously has already designed TdF courses in the past to suit certain riders they wanted to attract (Wiggins 2012) or race outcomes they wanted to promote (2017 edition).

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:29 am

      Bardet’s out of contention for the GC. His team had been saying he was turning things around and getting read for the mountains but yesterday’s ride suggests his form’s just not there and it’s not been a great season for him or his team. We’ll see for a stage win in the Alps but that’s a big ask, I think they’re more likely to think about the Vuelta now.

    • jc Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:36 am

      Not sure why so many seem to think Egan Bernal has better form than G? Maybe the plethora of climbs over 2000m will suit him but on the (admittedly somewhat thin) evidence so far Geraint Thomas has the better form of the two?

      • Richard S Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:49 am

        I meant that they’d get there together and Thomas will let him win

    • Larry T Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:41 pm

      I guess someone has to fill in for the (thank gawd) missing RonDe? I can’t be happier that you were so wrong with this prediction. It’s still a long way to Paris but I’ll be very happy if the top step of the podium is not filled with a guy in an INEOS kit.

  • Tom Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:26 am

    Au revoir Bardet!

  • Ecky Thump Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:28 am

    I fancy someone other than Ala or Thomas for the stage win, Pinot maybe but more a Spaniard or South American (Landa, Bilbao, Bernal)?
    Today has shades of the Giro, with the danger of two riders being fixated with each other whilst other things could happen around them.
    Bernal or Poels are potentially Thomas’ policemen, though I’m not sure how effectively Enric Mas can enforce a similar role for DQS and how quickly he can respond to an emergency 999 call?
    I’d like to see Team Ineos do something other than the stage rocket shuttle, or at least a rival to try to.
    If Ineos are not inventive, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Alaphilippe do well today, though what is the definition of ‘well’ – limit his losses to anything under 20”?
    Fascinating stage ahead.

    • KevinR Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:05 am

      Not sure Ineos have a JA fixation. Or a fixation in any rival. I think they know that if Thomas – or back-up Bernal – has the form and they execute well the yellow jersey is theirs in Paris

      • Lukyluk Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:32 pm

        Agreed. I expect Ineos to do what they do best: ride within themselves and not worry about anyone else’s attacks or GC positions. If Thomas is the strongest then there’s every chance this steady approach will work, if he isn’t I just don’t see them successfully changing their approach this late into the race.

  • PaulG Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:33 am

    JA follows G’s wheel, who was it who led over the Tourmalet last year? If Bernal is fired up the road….Mas chases…..and JA still sits on G’s wheel…..

  • Raouligan Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:49 am

    Most entertaining tour I’ve watched for some time, it’s been way more fun that this years Giro was.
    Alaphilippe looks amazing this year, I hope he’s going to the World’s would love to see a show down between him, WVA and MVDP…

    • Irungo txuletak Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:22 am

      I was about to put the same type of comment. This tour is like a giro so far. Very different from the usual processional july we have known in last years.
      The route is well designed, but this is also a question of contenders: ja, wva, de gendt, pinot also from which I expect some fireworks in the days to come,… all riders riding agressivly with a good spirit.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 20 July 2019, 12:21 pm

    Porte to take todays stage win, you read it here last!

  • Tomski Saturday, 20 July 2019, 1:23 pm

    Belles Filles aside, there is still the vast majority of climbing to come. Ala only took a quarter minute from G yesterday on a medium TT, yet I see so many comments saying he can stay in yellow all the way. He’s in the lead because he’s had a stack of stages which suited his riding style, yet don’t offer the time gaps to stay safe through the Pyrenees and Alps.

    Yes, I see a more rounded rider this year, and would love to see someone with his racecraft take it all the way, but I think he’s going to come up short.

    Likewise, a jour sans from anyone else in the top ten will open things up more. Let’s see how the land lies tomorrow evening.

  • Mark Saturday, 20 July 2019, 4:27 pm

    Has Thomas de Gendt ever been in better form? With this TT result and his stage win it seems reasonable to extrapolate that his current form would be good enough to finish in the top 20 of the GC and maybe in the Giro or Vuelta top 10- that is if he focused on the GC instead of breakaway hunting.

    • Larrick Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:40 pm

      He’s been there and done that and has a podium to show for it but it’s not for him. Happy with what he’s doing so we should be too.

      • Mark Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:13 am

        Very true, his team and their sponsors probably prefer his very notable presence in the breakaways and stage hunting. Not to mention that I’m sure he much prefers his current race strategy to.

  • Max Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:13 pm

    Chapeau Pinot!

    • Ecky Thump Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:35 pm

      Vive la France!

  • RICycleKing Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:17 pm

    I reserved judgement after the TT. Are we ready to start talking about JA now? This is really becoming a true tribute to the 99 Tour!

    • Anonymous Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:25 pm

      It’s possible that it has more to do with the quality of competition. It’s the 1st time in a few years that a climb has looked so farcical, with team mates constantly straining necks to find their awol leaders.
      Hopefully people will start to appreciate that even rich teams are nothing without strong leaders.

      • DJW Saturday, 20 July 2019, 5:45 pm

        Farcical! Hardly. Simply that the strongest riders on the day took the best positions, with maybe just Gaudu and Bennett – working for teammates – the exceptions.

      • RICycleKing Saturday, 20 July 2019, 6:14 pm

        JA has attacked in a majority of stages, lead out for EV a couple of times, crushed the TT (and several of the specialists) and passed the climbers on summit finishes. It all seems perfectly plausible. I can’t see why anyone would question his performance.

        • JeroenK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:02 pm

          We heard it now.

          Innocent until proven guilty is what you would want for yourself, whatever the accusation. Give it to others too please. Am I the only one who feels asking ‘questions’ about the winner (whoever he or she is) is the lamest thing? There is no way the accused can prove they did *not* do something.

          • RICycleKing Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:32 pm

            Professional cycling’s history has prevented us from giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. If you follow cycling and do not doubt this unworldly performance you are a mark my friend.

            The sad part is this is all part of a vicious cycle. All the same doubts were about during the 90’s and what did we hear? We heard, “Guilty until proven innocent” and “Show me the proof”. The proof is right before your eyes. If it’s too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.

          • JeroenK Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:33 pm

            It’s as much scepticism like this that ruins cycling as doping itself. If you cannot give the current generation the benefit of the doubt, why watch at all if it’s all fake? Why engage in conversation about this beautiful sport? Are you only using this sport as a vehicle to show your superior performance judging capabilities?

            The men’s TT course was the same as La Course. Belgian TV pointed out that Marianne Vos did the last little climb and the stretch to the finish as fast as Alaphilippe, who seemed to be flying in his own right. Offcourse, Vos did not have 12 stages in her legs, but still… Alaphilippe’s performance suddenly does not seem so other worldly to me. He clearly has a unique set of capabilities, an explosive climber like Rodriguez and Valverde in their best days. He never focused on the GC, but won the polka dot jersey last year, showing he could do long climbs well in the process. His talent has not suddenly emerged – he has consitently been one of the best of his generation. My glass is half full. I’d rather give someone the benefit of the doubt, maybe being proven wrong later on, than accuse and insult a clean rider. Pretty unfair to not trust riders, because other riders have broken the rules.

          • RQS Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:21 pm

            The problem is that you have to prove a crime has been committed and the science is not able to do that per se. This does not meant cheating hasn’t happened and so it doesn’t make it better to turn a blind eye.
            People like you make me sick because you’d accept the delusion without question with that sort of reasoning. If you said I have a good deal of scepticism I would think you were right minded, but to come out with ‘innocent till proven guilty’ is for me moronic and the sort of thing dopers hide behind. There would be no science with that sort of banal acceptance of things on face value – you’d be condemned to being a flat earther forever. (“Yes, the constellations move in a fashion not entirely consistent with a flat world, but can you prove it’s round?!)
            I don’t think that G is clean, and last year’s tour stretched credulity too.
            Still France gets to have a hero too. I just hope Alaphilippe can live up to that title.

        • J Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 11:12 pm

          As Anonymous has explained above, the quality of the competition is not up to the usual standard. Froome and Dumoulin not here, multiple leaders losing bundles of time today.
          Really not that shocking that Alaphilippe is there. Let’s see how he goes over a week.

          It is monumentally tiresome that whenever anyone does well, the ‘d’ word is brought up. This season we’ve heard it about Astana’s ‘amazing’ season and Bora’s ‘amazing’ season.
          Also, many of those who cry ‘doping’ don’t seem to do so consistently – missing out their favourite teams’ ‘suspicious’ performances.

          None of us know anything.

          Speculation adds nothing.

          I’ll quote a comment by ‘TGeneC’ on cyclingnews – a great place to discuss doping incessantly, by the way…

          From the Pro Cycling stats website:
          JA – 62kg, 1.73m
          Fuglsang – 68kg, 1.82m
          Bernal – 60.1kg, 1.74m
          Pinot – 63kg, 1.8m
          Kruijswijk – 66kg, 1.78m
          Landa – 60kg, 1.73m
          Thomas – 71kg, 1.83m

          So, from a basic physical standpoint, JA is lightweight, with a very high power to weight ratio. He is also extremely fit, with more than enough endurance to last in even the longest races. But it’s “impossible” for him to climb or TT adequately? He and Fuglsang went head to head all spring long, with them matched on the climbs to a standstill, but Fuglsang is a GC leader and no one cries about him doping. Alaphilippe is smaller & lighter, and has a better explosive power. Both can ride the longest and most difficult Classics and be there in the end.

          Yes – Alaphilippe has been recognized as a Classics & Ardennes “specialist” – but that’s because he has never focused on trying to hold onto a GC lead. Today was a 100ft free dive into uncharted waters, but up until today – many of the stages as a one day race would have been favorable for him to win. Well, we found out today that he can climb pretty well on longer ascents – although we already knew that he was formidable on shorter, steeper, and more intense ones. If he can do the latter, it’s not a massive shock that he can do the former.

          • RQS Monday, 22 July 2019, 1:21 pm

            If the formula for success was based on weight alone the peloton would be full of hummingbirds. The secret is also how cheaply power can be generated, crossed with the ability to fuel and sustain that power (plus long levers generate power more efficiently than short ones), so I take very little away from your weight comparisons, albeit watts/kg is a key determinant.

            You may find accusations tiresome, but one should never forget that dopers have the upper hand in battle to police the sport. DQS have a doctor who has a shocking connection to the ‘EPO’ era. If it was a matter of racing clean I think it would be easy to prevent the finger of suspicion by dropping him and hiring another academic with a strong medical and sports science background. “I choose to believe that he is clean” was LAs comments about MF and I’m sure DQS would like us to do the same.
            I question myself as to why I make these comments. My belief is that they are all at it, to some degree. Some are closer to clean than others. So why does it matter that I comment on this rider or that? And, my mind goes back to the young Dutch riders who died in their sleep.

  • D Evans Saturday, 20 July 2019, 7:07 pm

    Really impressive rides by Pinot and Alaphilippe; equally impressed by the way Bernal supported Thomas when he was in trouble. (Sort of reminded me of Froome ‘supporting’ Wiggins).

    • Greasy Wheel Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:08 pm

      He was looking around and was on his radio… but no point, the drafting effect at that speed is basically non-existent. Right call to stick with the group I think.

    • brent sword Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:02 am

      I was not really like Froome and Wiggins.
      1. The team did not ask him to.
      2. It was close to the line.
      3. Thomas is not a stand out clear leader of the tour only needing to stay in touch to win the tour. He’s not even in the lead.

  • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:50 pm

    Great to see Pinot get the win today. Boy, he’d be right in the mix without that crosswind disaster a few days ago. Oh well.

  • cp Saturday, 20 July 2019, 8:54 pm

    I only saw the last 15km or so but what a stage. It’s such a pleasure to watch Alaphilippe (and Pinot) race–and such a pleasure to really look forward to each stage out of pure curiosity about what will transpire.

    The commentators suggested there was an alliance between FDJ and DQS today, though I missed out on what that might have looked like. By the time I tuned in Pinot and Alaphilippe were without teammates or down to one. Was this alliance real? And if so, did Alaphilippe sit up a touch in order not to contest the stage finish as a gesture of gratitude and as part of that alliance? Or was he just on his limit?

    • brent sword Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:05 am

      I don’t think Alaphilippe was a dead certainty to win. Even when he went it didn’t last long and Kruijswijk starting catching up. I don’t recall Kruijswijk as being an explosive finisher. Alaphilippe was on his limit for a while on that climb.

  • Sportsman Saturday, 20 July 2019, 9:53 pm

    I was really enjoying this years tour until tt when JA looked way way too fresh after he’d crossed the line. And then his performance today as well. Rather a coincidence that it’s a 100th anniversary and French riders are suddenly dominant everywhere…… mmmmmm…

    Have to say though, I did enjoy Pinot taking the win today though

    • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:27 pm

      If it’s a conspiracy, shouldn’t a French rider have won in 2013 then? That was the 100th Tour. This year is just the anniversary of the yellow jersey.

      Pinot winning a mountain stage is not a shock.
      Alaphilippe is obviously a surprise but he’s the top ranked rider in the world right now and we don’t really know what his ceiling is.

      • Ishisht Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:00 am

        I feel you can look at this in two ways:
        1. Amazing performance by JA, that is suspicious – but then you have to have the same suspicions about any outstanding performance, that is, basically any time anyone wins anything. In that case, what’s the point of watching?
        2. Accept the performance at face value. It’s up to the professionals to catch the cheaters. Should you reserve some skepticism, in other words, keep in the back of your mind that it’s possible that someone used performance-enhancing substances? Probably yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to start shouting the d word every time you’re surprised.

  • Andrew Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:36 pm

    I am hugely excited and refuse to be cynical. Alllez, Julian!

  • MartyMcCann Sunday, 21 July 2019, 3:05 am

    With Yates, Bardet, Quintana, Martin, Porte, Nibali and Thomas all losing time relatively unexpectedly and recent stories about sicknesses among Dimension Data and Bahrain-Merida teams, I do wonder if one reason Alaphilippe is doing so well might be more to do with dodgy stomachs as opposed to dodgy practices ?