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Tour de France Stage 15 Preview

This surprising Tour continues with a new summit finish in the Pyrenees after a hard final 60km with tough backroad climbs. Julian Alaphilippe’s spell in the yellow jersey continues but he’s got little support and rival teams want to work him over.

 

Stage 14 Review: a big breakaway kept on a tight leash from the start by an ambitious Groupama-FDJ team. Vincenzo Nibali, Tim Wellens and Elie Gesbert escaped from the break over the Col du Soulor but behind Movistar cranked up the pace such that Adam Yates and Romain Bardet were among those dropped and the breakaway had no chance.

Onto the Tourmalet and Movistar kept up the pace with Dan Martin and Adam Yates dropped… then Nairo Quintana couldn’t take his team’s pace, it was if the team was brandishing their famous tridente at rivals only for a prong to fall off. After Barèges, Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu upped the pace and more riders were dropped like Richie Porte, Rigo Urán. Jumbo-Visma took over with Laurens De Plus and George Bennett. Emanuel Buchmann was the first GC contender to attack and his move saw Geraint Thomas dropped. Once around the final hairpin bend Thibaut Pinot opened up a small gap on the ramp to the finish that Egan Bernal couldn’t close and Pinot grabbed the stage win, another prestige summit finish for him. Julian Alaphilippe was second and Steven Kruijswijk was third, the Dutchman looked as cool as a canal.

 

Alaphilippe spent the day tracking Thomas, he doesn’t have a team for the high mountains so he can ride hobo on the Ineos train. On the upper slopes of the Tourmalet Alaphilippe looked to be suffering, he was grimacing one minute, his tongue hanging out the next à la Voeckler as if all steam was about to come out of his ears but paradoxically the closer he got to the finish, the better chance he was in for the stage win as he could rely on his jump and he used this to take a few extra seconds on the final ramp and with the time bonus. He’ll find it hard today because of the fatigue and if he’s in yellow this evening, the big threat is Stage 18’s marathon across the Var-Izoard-Galibier, even if he took time today it’s still premature to see him in yellow for Paris. Enric Mas cracked which helps Alaphilippe as the Spaniard’s ambitions recede even if he still has a shot at the white jersey and a decent overall finish, which, given he’s due to leave the team, still count for plenty.

Ineos don’t look like Team Sky. Their mountain train couldn’t asphyxiate the race and were on the receiving end this time from Movistar, Groupama-FDJ and Jumbo-Visma. Egan Bernal didn’t wait for Thomas. The Welshman lost 36s to Pinot but is still in a strong position, he’s second overall and it’s theoretically possible Alaphilippe cracks, Thomas collects the yellow jersey and wins again in Paris. But he wasn’t sizzling in the time trial, he had to let up on the first big mountain and rivals will have restless leg syndrome now. Jumbo-Visma won’t sit still, Steven Kruijswijk is 12 seconds behind Thomas so if the team can set a pace to sap Thomas then Kruijswijk can leapfrog into second overall and as first to inherit the lead should Alaphilippe implode.

 

The Route: 185km from Limoux, home of an unheralded sparkling wine. The Col des Tougnets is the first climb of the day and a gentle one for the breakaway to form on before a quick descent into Puivert and then another unmarked climb, this time 4km at 4.5%. The Col de Montségur is listed as 6.8km at 6% but the final 4km are 8% as they climb up towards the famous Cathar castle and then a long valley section to Tarascon and then up the Vicdessos valley.

The Port de Lers is 11.4km at 7% and all on a tiny backroad. The slope varies between 6% and 10% in places and it’s the longest climb of the day, followed by a reciprocal descent.

 

The Mur de Peguère is the Tour de France’s name for the Col de Peguère and mur sounds better than col, “wall” rather than “pass” and it’s a label invented by the race because it’s normally the Col de Péguère for locals. The climb out of Massat to the Col de Four and it’s a steady road. It pitches up more to the Col des Caognous again on a wide road. Then they turn off for the Mur which featured in the 2012 Tour de France. It was supposed to feature in the 1973 edition but the riders went on strike to protest at it because the road was a mess. It’s still not easy, a very narrow road and double digit percentages with portions of 16% and 18%.

It’s then followed by a varied descent, a bigger road but the slope varies, the first part of the descent is gentle forcing the riders to pedal hard which is not good for anyone dropped on the way up because they must keep going. It’s only later that they drop down to the Col de Marrous does the slope get steep with 10%. It bends and twists through the forest, there’s rarely much visibility of what’s coming up and it was here in 2012 that Luis-Leon Sanchez launched his winning move to win the stage

 

The Finish: the Prat d’Albis is a new climb for the Tour and it’s been freshly surfaced. In case you’re wondering a prat is a large field or a plateau high up. To get there it’s via a difficult climb with a slope that’s always changing, this isn’t an engineered road to a ski resort. The first six kilometres are the hardest and then the slope eases and it’s a steadier effort and the slope eases to the line.

 

The Contenders: the breakaway has more of a chance than yesterday but we’re talking a chance rather than a certainty. Still Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) could aim for a repeat with team mate Jack Haig free to try too. Now that we’ve got the Jacob Fuglsang of old Astana – tenth yesterday, eighth overall – Astana are likely to fire riders forward, think Pello Bilbao. Ag2r La Mondiale need a result and Tony Gallopin is their best bet.

Julian Alaphilippe has a chance here, the climbs are shorter today and he’s got that jump for the final sprint but his problem is coping with three climbs in a row, he just needs to get to the final 4km intact. But in a tour of surprises where big names keep cracking, how long can he hold on?

Thibaut Pinot‘s form is there for all to see. Groupama-FDJ have David Gaudu too but he’s likely to work hard to help his leader.

Team Ineos had a rough day yesterday but on relative terms. Egan Bernal is still climbing well and Geraint Thomas isn’t out of the picture, he could just have had an off day after a sluggish TT and today’s finish isn’t as steep.

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) climbing well but maybe doesn’t have the punch to win today’s flatter finish, his time should come in the Alps with the long climbs to Tignes and Val Thorens with George Bennett in the match too. Victory today for them would be to race the final two climbs at warp speed in order to destabilise Alaphilippe and derail Ineos.

Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) had a great ascent of the Tourmalet yesterday, his attacks were premature but if he plays it cooler today a stage win could happen.

Finally Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) are shaping the race but they have to attack early for the stage win but this means they’ll get chased down and swamped. Alejandro Valverde has got a good chance too.

Thibaut Pinot
Egan Bernal, Julian Alaphilippe, Geraint Thomas, Emanuel Buchmann
Bilbao, Valverde, De Gendt, S Yates, Barguil, Gallopin, Teuns, Haig, Landa

 

Yellow story: why is the yellow jersey yellow? The story goes it’s the same colour as the paper used for the newspaper L’Auto which promoted the race but the paper was more an off-white, it was simply cheap paper that was wasn’t bleached white. Still it matched. The genesis though is because earlier in the 1919 Tour riders from the La Sportive consortium (an alliance of Peugeot, Alcyon and other French manufacturers) were using yellow sashes for riding in the night so that the team’s helpers could spot them more easily. This impressed race boss Henri Desgrange who rustled up the idea of the maillot jaune days later.

Weather: warm and sunny in the valleys with a top temperature of 29°C but things could cloud over for the stage finish and a shower or even a thunderstorm is possible.

TV: the stage starts at 12.05pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.20pm CEST / Euro time. If you want to tune in for the final climbs then the Port de Lers starts around 3.00pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Somers Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:24 am

    Thankfully, yesterday’s stage will put the “GC battle is over, Ineos have made it boring” comments to rest. Until next year at least.

    • Anonymous Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:16 am

      Thing is, what they were complaining about was what they had seen since 2012 (barring Nibali’s win), which seems fair comment. Particularly so when you look at how good this Tour de France GC race has been in comparison. In the absence of Ineos dominance this year, I suspect you’re wrong to assume that people will continue to make those complaints, as they would no longer be justified.

      • -gareth- Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:44 am

        If Ineos finish 1st and 2nd, will it still be the greatest tour in living memory?
        Or will we start complaining again like we did after stage 19 of the 2018 Giro?

        • Anonymous Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:45 am

          It’ll definitely be the best TdF since 2011 (2014 wasn’t a contest either).

  • Augie March Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:43 am

    Either Alaphilippe is the second coming of Bernard Hinault and wins this Tour or he basically pulls a Roglic from the Giro this year who came in hot but fell away in the final week.

    • DBC Sunday, 21 July 2019, 3:26 pm

      I’m thinking more of a Yates/Giro situation from 2018. Even hotter for even longer, but with a huge drop off in the final week.

  • SYH Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:52 am

    No idea if this is wise but if it’s a possible breakaway stage, I’ll give Tim Wellens a shout. He deserves one.

    • Noel Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:36 pm

      It’s going to be fascinating to see if Thomas was being a wise old head, having gassed himself a bit in the TT and limiting losses with time he had in hand rather than blowing …. or if he just doesn’t have the legs.

      Pinot is looking very good here, what a story that would be, but Cruiseship is also looking good and has time in hand. So good to see 3 other teams at Ineos’s level this year.

  • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:10 am

    Can Alaphilippe do this again for another four big mountain days? I still have my doubts, although it’s not that shocking that he is up where he is. The quality of the competition is not up to the usual standard: Froome and Dumoulin not here, multiple leaders losing bundles of time today, Thomas and Bernal don’t seem to have last year’s form thus far, neither to their entire team. Yes, Ala’s doing well, but look how well Pinot and Kruijswijk are doing compared with previous Tours – that shows that the standard has dropped.

    Will Pinot come to rue that time loss in the crosswinds? He’d be in 2nd now otherwise.

    Will Thomas crack tomorrow? The other teams should strike in order to put pressure on him while he looks weak (learn from teams not doing that when Froome was weak early in the Giro before he went on to win it).

    It’s certainly a huge amount more open than I expected – and Ineos had their first wobble in the mountains for years. I might bang on about Sky’s dominance – and whether or not one finds that dull is subjective – but since 2012 every single TdF barring 2014 where their leader crashed has followed the same pattern, and it’s wonderful to see a change.

    I’d love to see Kruijswijk win after his Giro crash – and he is generally consistent. It could be any of the current top 6, I reckon.

    My God, I’m actually excited by the GC contest of TdF… is it 2011?

    No team looks dominant; long may that continue.

    • Digahole Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:30 am

      Yep, an amazing race already!
      And with Dumoulin going to Jumbo next year, they’re building a very impressive (Sky-esque?) team.
      Free Bennett!

      • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:48 am

        It would actually be a bit disappointing to see Dumoulin go to J-V now. They have Kruijswijk, Roglic and Bennett. I suspect that if this Tour does not go well Ineos will bring in a raft of replacements… maybe even poaching Alaphilippe in the hope that ASO do – as people have mooted – produce a more Ala-friendly route (OK, I am just stirring now).

    • JT Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:44 am

      When Froome won atop LA Pierre St-Martin in 2015 some 2 minutes in front of Gallopin, the comments were not everybody is weak, rivals are losing time. It was Froome is doping. Why not the same for Alaphillipe ?

      • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:02 am

        As with Froome – and every other rider – I have some suspicions about Ala. and DQS (particularly as DQS continue to employ Dr Jose Ibarguren Taus) , but I, like everyone else, have no idea who is actually doing what.
        Ala has not come from nowhere (unlike, for instance, Froome) and although he hasn’t shown this form previously, he’s never tried to be a GC rider (and may also fade in the next week – what would his accusers say then?), so we’ve never known what he can do.
        From a physical point of view, Ala is the ‘right’ sort of size for a GC contender.
        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
        This year I’ve read people casting aspersions about Astana’s ‘amazing’ season, Bora’s ‘amazing’ season, Roglic (before he faded) and countless others.
        And none of it adds up to anything: we simply have no idea what riders are doing, and the authorities – both the UCI and WADA – seem unable or unwilling to tackle this issue effectively (as we saw with the Froome doping decision – whether one thinks he’s innocent or guilty, or unsure, the process was a shambles).
        Those who cast aspersions about doping often seem to pick and choose which teams they criticise. Me, I remain sceptical, but realise I’ve no idea.
        We don’t know, so what does speculation add?

        • DJW Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:09 am

          and many top riders have considerable independence from team supervision with thier own trainers, nutritionists, doctors… all frequently at some distance from the team base – a further temptation to push the limits. JV are “doing” ketones as a team. Could other individuals be using this legal supplement independently?

        • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:46 am

          Just a quick note about PCS weights – those numbers are apparently gathered from whatever published information is available. I wouldn’t put much stock in them. Sagan has been listed at 73 kg for a long time, even after he said that he can’t get his weight down to that level anymore without losing power, and that he’s a good 7 kg over that.

        • Kev Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:49 am

          J.Evans….
          Your final line, in your opening comment, was “we don’t know, so what does speculation add?”
          Yet, your opening line, was ” I have some suspicions about Ala. and DQS (particularly as DQS continue to employ Dr Jose Ibarguren Taus” ……

          Each to your own and all of that. I’m no apologist for others conduct, in bike races. I’ve equally considered suspicion, when performances, are not as expected. But you’re right, most of us, don’t know.
          The race for the Tour, it’s predictable to a degree so far, I find Alaphilippe, an exciting racer to watch,
          I admire Pinot’s efforts, and as for the Jumbo trio, they’ve got the ability in numbers, when the stages are at the ponty end.
          Movistar, a constant chess game with them (depends who’s in the DS seat) it’s a fine line between clever long game strategy, and we’ll try this and see what happens (or how long Quintana, lasts).

          Porte, cannot ride 3 week stage races. He’s never proven his ability to be consistent, and strong.
          He crumbles, or falls off, and whether it’s a mental block, or purely physical, unfrotunately,
          he’s missing a fin, on his surfboard.

          Dan Martin….. it’s never going to happen (he’s p#ssing in the wind, well, at least he would be, if he paid attention on flat stages, and stuck his nose at the front, instead of skulking down the back).
          Mikel Landa, he’s changing teams….
          Fabia Aru…… nah.
          George Bennett …. needs to change teams, if he wants a shot at GC.
          INEOS – Thomas / Bernal, how they react to yesterdays drama, today, will be telling. I suspect, the Bernal card, is the obvious, but how will GT deal with that.
          Movistar – sniff blood, but for who’s benefit? they did the big damage early, and the work for INEOS & DCQS…

          Today, will be interesting, if Alaphilippe & Mas, can recover from that, and counteract the attacks, that will come.

          • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:10 am

            Kev, I was responding to JT’s reply to me. His reply concerned doping.

            I’ve long held the opinion that Dan Martin is squandering a possibly very successful one-day career in his hopes of being a GC rider. It’s never looked likely that he’d even score a podium, let alone a win – especially in the TdF.

        • JT Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:11 pm

          I would say that this is why I have suspicions about Alaphillipe. Because we have history and in Paris-Nice as soon as there was a long climb (but nowhere near the Tourmalet) he would loose minutes ! Same thing on the Criterium du Dauphine. We have references of him trying and failing. It is not like Thomas where we have seen constant progression over years.
          I don’t know if he or Ineos are doping. I do know that what spoils cycling is the hypocrisy and those complaining about Froome and Ineos should most definitely be complaining about Alaphillipe and DQS, but they’re not. Perhaps it is just because I am seeing the French media but it is rather infuriating to see the celebrations of Alaphillipe (who is highly suspicious) and the campaign to get anybody from Ineos out of cycling because they are worse dopers than LA.

          • Sheen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:27 pm

            “It is the habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not desire”
            ― Thucydides

      • Greasy Wheel Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:43 am

        Well, people are asking questions.

        But probably because there’s no difference as large as that example. Even the TT is in a different light now after seeing Thomas fall back yesterday – he’s not in the best of form.

        And I’ve seen some figs on the climbing speed yesterday, slower than Schleck/Contador despite a raging tailwind and a short stage.

        In addition, as J Evans says, it’s not like Alaphilippe has come from nowhere either.

        Not saying nothing is going on, we just don’t know and that applies to the whole race.

      • Digahole Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:19 am

        We have to add to the mix of other answers that Sky and Froome were/are very unpopular due to being dominant and dull, while Alaphilippe is popular and exciting. Most opinions have a healthy dose of self interest…mine included 😉

        • -gareth- Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:14 am

          Froome won the 2017 tour by less than a minute, and almost lost it on a few occasions. It wasn’t boring, it just seemed boring because in the end it had the expected result. (If Froome lost the tour on the road to Peyragudes, would it still have been boring?)
          If Alaphilippe was this year going for his 5th consecutive tour win starting as the favourite (and if he wasn’t french), would we still consider it exciting? Would we not instead be complaining that Pinot’s crosswind losses marked the day when the race died?

          • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:48 am

            I was bored at the time, watching the Sky train. Not sure why you think you can tell people whether or not they were bored. Look back through the archives of this or any other cycling website and you’ll see they’re full of comments – during the race – where people complain that they are bored.

          • Digahole Sunday, 21 July 2019, 4:37 pm

            It was the style of the racing which was boring more than the margins

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:26 am

        Alaphillipe is not dropping anyone by minuttes. His 2 minutte advantage has been gained by chipping away seconds on ITT, TTT and downhills where he has created a 5-10sec gap over the top and increased the gap on a downhill – yesterday was a ‘hanging’ on effort.

        It’s a huge difference.

        Froome on the other hand, i dont think we have ever seen a progression in pro cyclying like in the 2011 Vuelta. From packfill/donkey without a contract fro 2012 to the worlds best climber, rolour and with a secound to none ability to recover in an instant. IMHO its a disaster to annoint him winner of the 2011 Vuelta after Cobo as every sane person should know it will only be temporary. Cobo’s performace in the 2011 Vuelta wasnot the most suspicios performace of the race.

      • Al Thomas Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:55 am

        He most definitely juicing,miracle after miracle with him

    • Stpears Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:54 pm

      Is the elusive French win finally on the cards? Setting the Ala-enigma to one side for the moment (assuming he may eventually crack), Pinot seems to be clearly the strongest and I think he made his second significant tactical error of the Tour yesterday when he failed to exploit his superiority. A great win, but he could have gone sooner. A little tester attack a klic or so earlier would have revealed that everyone else was on the limit and gained him an extra 20 plus seconds, I reckon.

  • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:49 am

    When people criticise Movistar’s tactics, others often bring up that this is Movistar’s 37th Tdf and that they’ve won 7 of them.
    What’s also true is that apart from Pereiro’s decidedly fortuitous win in 2006, it’s 24 years since they won the Tour.

    As for Quintana, I wonder if Arkea-Samsic have signed on the dotted line…

    Maybe they can continue their success in signings by picking up Bouhanni.

    • Irungo txuletak Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:52 am

      Yep. We had vintage movistar tactics. Definitely, I don’t understand what happened in the giro for them to run so smart.
      When I think that Valverde had to pull and finishes yesterday below the minute…

      • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:28 am

        What surprised me during the Giro was that the Eurosport UK pundits – including Wiggins – kept saying that Movistar should fire Landa up the road, when Carapaz was in the lead, in order to test the other teams. The end result of which would have possibly been Landa gaining time, but still being behind Nibali and Carapaz losing time. They would never have recommended Sky/Ineos doing this.
        For once, Movistar did the right thing and kept Landa back supporting Carapaz. I was particularly surprised to hear Wiggins saying this, because these old-school tactics are precisely what Sky have not done over the years, and are what have been shown to be less successful. Why attack your own leader?

      • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:43 am

        Scandri is what happened

  • Not yoda Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:50 am

    Can I profess that I still believe in Geraint Thomas? Even with so called bad legs he still went fastest after Alaphilippe in TT?

    • KevinR Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:02 am

      Yeah, I thought the comment about TT was harsh, although unlike you I don’t have that faith. There are a few riders who could win this year. Although it won’t be one from Movistar – possibly the only team to ever drop their own leader!

      • AndyW Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:15 am

        Yeah, I think most riders would love to have a TT as “sluggish” as Thomas’ a couple of days ago!

        Interesting to see the co-leadership in action with Bernal – a few years ago Sky would have had Porte, Poels or Thomas pacing Froome when he was struggling. Guess the co-leadership thing worked well last year with Thomas as the beneficiary.

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:20 am

        I agree much reporting on Thomas seems harsh to this point.

        I personally want a French win and would love Pinot to come through…

        But, I guess Ineos started the slight feeding frenzy on Thomas given they clearly communicated to all that Bernal would be joint leader, and considering Thomas was the defending champion with a healthy palmares compared to the relative youngster Bernal… this said quite a lot. It effectively undermined everyone’s confidence in Thomas as it said from the start Ineos didn’t have full confidence.

        We obviously had Thomas’ average season to this point as reference and maybe Ineos were just stating the obvious, but Thomas is an excellent rider, the performance on Planche shouldn’t have been a surprise, his TT was still very good – and given the pace and brievity of yesterday’s stage, it’s unfair to write Thomas off just yet especially as that stage was just after a TT – it could easily be a blip and others could suffer today.

        It feels like this Tour will go back and forth in a bit of a ding dong battle unless Alaphillippe holds on.

        And I think that’s great news, the tour and fans need it. I just think it’s time for France to have a new champion. A bit of the feel good factor for the host is a good thing, and it’s about time! Plus Pinot seems like nice bloke and very deserving.

      • RQS Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:18 pm

        So Thomas’s time split at half way was the fastest, faster than Alaphilippe, and then he gets beaten by 14 seconds.

        That’s not a bad TT. It’s unbelievable that he was beaten, and to suggest otherwise is to retrospectively change the narrative to fit the facts. Alaphilippe’s result was a genuine surprise and the only way to explain is to denigrate the performance of all the other riders. This has included explaining away Thomas’s genuine disappointment with the result as being disappointment in his performance – which he clearly does not do in the interviews.

        You just have to listen to the Rapha podcast, or to see Dan Lloyd’s reaction after the stage to know it was incredible (un-credible).

        • Jovelo Monday, 22 July 2019, 3:30 am

          My personal conspiracy theory (and bear in mind it is just that, a fancy theory, I hope I do not make this discussion space toxic) is that this year, now that Alaphilippe/DQS are using ketones, like Ineos, and that Tramadol is banned, the playing field is leveled. Especially in TTs.

          Other than that, happy to have proven been wrong this far, Ineos cannot control in the mountains thus the race is (in my view) much more interesting.

  • Larrick Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:03 am

    With Poels, Moscon and Kwiato all looking less than impressive in addition to Thomas suffering and Bernal not looking at his best, you have to wonder if, like others, Ineos have a bug going through the team. If so the rest day can’t come quick enough for them. There’s talk Yates also had an issue and Nibali was open about it last week. Most of Cofidis to at one point too contracted something.

    If teams think Ineos has an issue, today is the day to make the most of it.

    You get the feeling there’s lots of twists & turns left yet.

    • Tomski Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:29 am

      Ineos’ basic fault yesterday was having two leaders. I didn’t see G or Bernal riding for anyone other than themselves. I’m not sure the domestiques knew who to ride for or which tactics to follow. Normally they do a fine job of resting one or two the first day and a different one or two the second day. I’m not sure the decision to slow to let Van Baarle back on for what turned out to be less than a km was correct as it seemed to give the rest of the peloton a break.

      That said, it was refreshing to watch the changing of the guard yesterday. One can’t help but be impressed by Alaphilippe’s season and a fine win for Pinot.

      Still impossible to call who will be wearing yellow in Paris!

      As always, great to wake up to these previews. Thanks INRNG

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:49 am

        I think this is a very simple reading of the Ineos situation yesterday!

        Not taking into account firstly as mentioned below the health/illness in the team which we do not know. G could be ill who knows?
        Also forgetting the difference between having a four-time winner who will likely be a cycling great in your team and not…
        Also not noting they had two leaders last year and it worked out fine…
        Also ignoring that this was a shorter stage after a TT so some of the usual rules are a bit different…
        Also ignoring these are the sort of stages, along with the reduction in team sizes, specifically put in to try and break Sky/Ineos (which is a good thing, we all need a change).
        And finally not looking at other possible tactical mistakes, could Ineos have put a rider or riders in the break for example and had Kwiato/VanB later in the stage as Movistar have done in the past?

        All in all… I think having two leaders who are not by far the best Grabd Tour riders of their generation was Ineos’ only real mistake yesterday!! For me – all this year is currently showing is how good Froome really has been, and how his achievements possibly deserve more respect than they have been given – so far the entire race feels different without his presence.

    • Digahole Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:24 am

      Apparently Poels has a bug so could well be

  • Richard S Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:05 am

    Yesterday’s stage, and this Tour so far, had a definite air of a changing of the guard about it. One by one the contenders/(also rans) of the past decade or so – Quintana, Porte, Uran, Bardet, Martin, various Skyneos domestiques – disappeared and a cast of newer names took over. Only really Pinot, who’s been coming slowly to the boil for years, and Kruiswijk, who seems to have a patch of good form every 2-3 years, were leftovers. It’s certainly made it a bit more interesting.

    One thing that’s obvious to me is that certain teams are stronger than the rest and have been all year. Jumbo Visma, Bora, D Quick Step and to a lesser extent in this Tour Astana. There has been talk that a handful of teams are using this Ketones vitamin/supplement that is particularly beneficial in terms of recovery. If that was the case and it was those teams mentioned above I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not casting aspersions or calling it doping, it’s perfectly legal and Jumbo Visma have come out and said they are using it. I’m just saying there is a clear, slightly updated hierarchy in the peloton this year. Who, apart from Mrs Buchmann of Ravensberg, would be able to walk into a room containing Emanuel Buchmann and be able to point him out, still less quote results off his palmares?

    • Larry T Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:27 am

      Just like in any other way, competitors eventually catch up with doping practices pioneered by teams who originally have more resources. Wasn’t this ketone stuff developed in the UK? And then of course there’s AICAR which has been around long enough (and is still undetectable?) to consider widespread if teams want to really cheat? Perhaps there are no more “marginal gains” to be had over the competition?
      Whatever is going on, one positive is that no single team is snuffing out attacks and making the race a boring procession as has been the case far too often recently. Vive LeTour!

      • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:22 am

        AICAR is readily detectable. There is a natural level, which fluctuates, so it’s not a +/- test like EPO.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:06 am

        Ketones & BC: yes, used for the 2012 oplympics. If it really works i doubt anyone from the british olympic cycling team has stopped using it. In 2012 the management persona gallery on Sky and British Cycling was identical and the core of the British riders on todays Sky was certainly part of the 2012 BC programme, some where in the oplympics others where still in U23 and Junior rankes. The defeing TDF champion was 100% enrolled at Olympic and trade team level.

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:15 am

          The research into ketones has changed over time, the original idea was that it helped “burn fat” as part of a weight loss plan. Today it’s seen as possibly helping the metabolism during competition, to tap more energy. It’s legal but a study by WADA would be welcome in order to evaluate the potential risks to the metabolism, organs etc. Their use seems to be a live topic every July (can remember this in 2015, 2016 and last year) but not usually in the rest of the year. There are studies which say it can impair performance too but as ever these are based on very small sample sizes, eg 10 riders which make them starting points for investigation rather than conclusive proof https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5660098/

      • Richard S Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:46 pm

        I see you’ve conveniently ignored arguably the most important sentence in that paragraph! But yes if Ketones were developed in England and first used by BC/Sky that would make sense. One country realising the potential of a product and getting a head start on the rest of the cycling world is nothing new as you say.

        • Larry T Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:57 pm

          Sorry, what did I miss? I went back to look but honestly don’t understand your post – can you point me to the “most important sentence” that I ignored? Thanks 🙂

      • Dave Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:54 am

        You do understand that ketone supplements are perfectly within the rules of all sports Larry ? My understanding is they were originally developed for the US Army so maybe you can blame the good old US military complex who i also blame for all this carbon now used in bikes.

    • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:33 am

      It’s interesting to see Bora on that list (and I know why they’re there – they’re having a stellar year). A lot of Bora riders have had a great year., but one hasn’t, and that’s Sagan. He’ notably flagged at the end of races where he would normally be super strong. So if they’re using ketones, it has an opposite effect on him, because if he were using something that made him stronger than he naturally is, he should have 20 wins already this year. Majka is another an even more extreme case of one who is not having the results he had in the past. Bora put together a team with some young, talented guys, and over the last few years those guys have steadily improved/matured in an unremarkable way. I don’t see anyone on their team who has made a suspicious leap forward in performance.

      Also, it’s annoying to see ketones listed with vitamins and supplements, which muddies the waters. Vitamins have no performance enhancing effect, and taking extra vitamins is a waste of time. Most supplements are a waste, too, and are at best placebo, like taking pickle juice to relieve cramps. Synthetic ketones are in another class, and I don’t think there is a good analogue, which makes it hard to get a handle on if they should be regulated, or even if they can be regulated.

      • nick Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:21 am

        Not so sure about vitamins and supplements as a shortage of, say, vitamin C or iron can be performance impairing, but agree that ketone are tricky. They occur naturally in food (eg, fructose) and in the body. So what is the reason for regulating? Are they dangerous if misused?

        • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:42 pm

          Anyone with a normal, reasonable diet is getting plenty of vitamin C. Talking about vitamin or mineral deficiencies as equivalent to the use of vitamin/mineral supplements for performance enhancement is like saying food is a performance enhancer, since if you starve yourself you perform poorly! It’s been long known that American athletes have the most expensive urine on the planet, since so many are spending small fortunes on vitamins and supplements that just end up in the toilet. Vitamin C megadosing in particular has an interesting history (much like antioxidants) as having miraculous properties despite absolutely zero evidence.

          Ketones are less something we get in our diet, and more a normal metabolic product. Until these synthetic ketones were developed, one could induce a state of ketosis with a very low carb/high fat diet, so your body was producing lots of ketones, which has been touted as a state effective for weight loss/fat burning and good energy. These synthetic ketones are a novel and high-tech tweaking of a natural process. As M. Inring has noted, no one knows the long term effects, the risks, or even the extent of the true benefits.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:35 am

      It would depend on whether he was wearing his Bora kit 🙂

    • Morten reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:50 am

      Reg Burchmann: check his palemeras, he has made a steady progression since U23 ranks and been up in the top 10 in the arguably two hardest 1 week races of the year: Basque Country, Dauphiné, in top 20 at GT’s and was also top 10 as u23 in l’Avenier. Not un smilar to Kruijswijk at the same age.

      It appears that no one is willing to discuss that Tramadol ban (aslo know as BC pre-race and pre-training candy). Tramadol has been out’ed this year and that could be a factor in what we are seeing this season where certain teams seem to be unable to perform as well as in previous years. I’d bet that the Tramadol ban has a greater effect than Ketones which i’d think not only Rabobank is using. Ketones apperas to have been introduced by BC for the 2012 oplympics… doub’t those riders has stopped using Ketones on their trade teams.

      • Lanterne_Verte Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:18 am

        Just throwing this out there for discussion, your point about Tramadol reminds me of something that interests me which is that natural variability in pain sensation and toleration, both biochemical and psycholgical, must play a big part in athletic performance. Most likely anyone that has a high sensitivity to pain is unable to progress very far in any sport but perhaps at the top level pain relief eg Tramadol could see athletes with a slightly higher than average pain sensitivity gain a big advantage, perhaps especially in cycling?

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:23 am

          It’s a great thing it has been banned but hard to say what the effect is as we can’t control for it, we’re left with anecdotes about fewer crashes which could be partly due to weather, luck, the course design etc. The UCI is working on the cortisol test which should be a copy of the MPCC test and this should help too, the problem now is the legal aspect to ensure the test is valid, doesn’t through up false positives and a rider told to rest agrees rather than runs to the CAS.

          • Andy W Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:46 pm

            Fewer crashes without Tramadol ? Yet Sky were outed for using it and in Thomas and Froome we have two of the ‘crashingest’ riders out there
            ;o)

          • -gareth- Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:13 am

            Fewer crashes, but the crashes are a whole lot more painful.

          • JEvans Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:10 am

            -gareth- you’re not actually suggesting riders should be allowed to take dangerous, addictive opioids that cause dizziness, because it’ll mean it hurts less when they do fall (more often), are you? ;o)

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:07 am

      Buchmann’s long been a big talent, he first hit the big time with 3rd place on a Pyrenean stage of the Tour behind Majka and Dan Martin, a result that stood out for a 21 year old. More recently he’s been best young rider in the Dauphiné two years ago, and third in the Dauphiné this year and also most won the Tour of the Basque Country. He’s very much a long term project for Bora-Hansgrohe. He’s very quiet and shy which might explain the lack of a public persona.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:46 am

        Not nesesarily shy – he may be more shy than ex Schachmann from the same generation, but Schachmann is quite the oposite of shy. For both of them explanation is just that they are German’s and rides for a german trade team – anglosaxon language media tends not to be interested in whats going on in the argualbly largest cycling market on all leves in the world: Germany.

        • Richard S Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:42 pm

          Why would we not be interested in German cyclists, but interested in Dutch, Belgian, Luxembourgian, French, Swiss, Austrian, Czech, Polish and Danish cyclists?

          • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:30 pm

            Are u a ‘media’ 🙂 Im refering to that its apperant when reading english speaking cycling press that the german speaking cycling scene gets a lot less attention than the english speaking scene. Unless when native german speaking riders wins at world tour level.
            Dutch, Belgian, French, Italian and Spanish scene gets attention because they hosts the largest races in the world. Swiss is underexposed, scene holds two of the biggest races in the world, proberbly because its mainly german speaking just like the Austrian scene.

          • Anonymous Monday, 22 July 2019, 9:48 am

            You just have to look on Cyclingnews’ headlines. They have numerous articles on Yates, Bardet ,Uran, TvG, Porte and others who are way down the classement, but not a single one abot Buchmann.

          • Anonymous Monday, 22 July 2019, 12:45 pm

            I stand corrected, today they have a Buchmann article for the first time. But somehow managed to get a picture which doesn’t show Buchmann.

    • ronytominger Sunday, 21 July 2019, 4:09 pm

      germans halfway interested in cycling all know buchmann, theres talk about him since years as hes the best gc-hope of the country (of course no one expects an overall win). his results have slowly gotten better, he wasnt that much worse last year.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:27 pm

        ovrall win next sunday, would not suprise me.

    • Bazzzzzzza Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:24 am

      A tad harsh on Buchamnn, The chap has delivered by stealth, 4 top 10’s in decent week long races followed by a 12th at Vuelta last year. And another handful of top 10’s and 15th at the Tour in 2017. Consistent, not flashy but steady and decent.

  • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:08 am

    Could be a hell of a battle for the polka dot jersey if all those who have dropped out of GC contention go for it.
    Don’t think they will, though (other than Nibali), as many prefer to make sure they get a top ten on GC. I find this odd, as a top ten is an achievement if you’re an up and coming rider, but not if you’re Bardet, Martin, Aru, Porte, Quintana (although he might now have to work as a domestique), Yates – I suspect that only Nibali ‘gets’ that and that’s because his palmares really doesn’t need another top ten.
    A few of those might be better quitting and re-focusing on the Vuelta – especially Bardet, who seems about to suffer this third week for no particularly good reason.

    • DJW Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:03 am

      For Bardet Jurdie, AG2R Team Director, has made a statement clearly stating that, out of respect for teammates and sponsors, he would expect Bardet to finish the tour.

      • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:08 am

        Yes, and that’s a mistake in my view. If his form picks up and he wins a stage, it’s still a disappointing Tour, but would be ok – but what if he continues as he is: is there any point in him just trundling around France?
        He’s a French rider and has a French sponsor, but surely even they would prefer to see him racing well – and that’s possible at the Vuelta.
        More important is the health perspective. For Bardet to ride so badly it’s hard to see that something is not wrong. Better not to push on, but to stop and ascertain what, if anything, that is.

        • Gregario Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:40 am

          To be fair Bardet has been poor all season, at least by his own standards. And he mentioned it back in March already that he was a level below his competitors. I would be very surprised if by dropping out of the Tour he could get himself into shape for the Vuelta to challenge there for a win. Most likely he will soldier on till Paris and then draw a line under this season. I can’t see him turning it around this year.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:39 am

          Football match. Tram is 5-0 down at half time. Is there any point in coming back out for the second half and trundling around the pitch. Maybe letting in a couple more goals?

          Yes of course. You play to the end.

          • J Evans Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:00 am

            Or you bow out of that competition, as some English teams (e.g. Man Utd) used to in the League Cup (don’t know what it’s called now; many years since I’ve watched soccerball) in order to focus on other contests.
            It’s a fairly meaningless comparison, but it’s not my analogy.

          • Malaconotus Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:19 pm

            The team plays to the end, but the star player gets subbed off 10 minutes into the 2nd half to ensure he isn’t injured and recovers for the next important match.

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:30 am

      I’m not sure exactly what Nibali and Sagan’s dart was supposed to gain for the Italian yesterday?
      The commentators were saying polka dots points but surely he’d have been better waiting until the HC climb and double points on offer?
      Nibali doesn’t look to have the legs and I don’t see him as a factor in the contest for the KoM jersey.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:33 pm

        Lets see, the final week favours Niabli – high altitude where he again and again has excelled in the Giro.

    • ronytominger Monday, 22 July 2019, 12:28 am

      i think top10 is quite an achievement for martin, porte and for aru in his current condition as well. its of course another story when youre already winner of multiple gcs like nibali or quintana, especially the latter seems to have been a very early and quick bloomer.

  • Stuie Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:16 am

    It could have just been a bad day for Thomas, but it’s usually more indicative of poor form more times than not. Lose time one day and usually lose a bit more on the next uphill finishes. He hasn’t quite looked on it. Bernal isn’t exactly setting the world alight either. I think overall Ineos look weak, the chequebook will be getting pulled out for next season.

    Pinot looks better than he’s ever been, great to see him up there putting the hurt on. A very likeable dude, and what a change of attitude after his rest day interview following the crosswind splits.

    Alaphilippe is unbelievably strong, but I still think he will crack in the alps when it becomes a free for all for GC places. But he will now believe he could win a TdF, whether its this year or not. Of course, he will need some extra mountain helpers to help him.

    As for today, Alaphilippe for the win.

  • jc Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:29 am

    The possibility of G having picked up a bug of some sort had occurred to me but not that it might also be affecting the other riders. Geraint Thomas himself said he didnt feel that good on the final sections of the TT and the Eurosport commentators noticed he unzipped his jersey for the final few kms. One other issue is the weather, it has been getting hotter with a heatwave due next week, not all the riders cope well with high temperatures (do I remember correctly than Thibaut Pinot does not like riding in hot weather?). Whatever the reason no doubt G had a jour sans, we will see today how serious it all is. If he is there or there abouts today then he will still be in a very good position with the rest day to come otherwise Ineos might have to go with plan B.

    Movistar, yet another bizarre display, after the clarity of the Giro back to the same old confusion. They even lost the team competition leadership!

    The obvious question hanging over all this is how long can Julian Allaphilippe hang on. As far as I can see (maybe the French media is different) every analyst and expert believes that he will crack at some point. That is even supported by hints and nods from his team. Yet he shows no signs of doing so (I thought he looked OK at the end yesterday but happy to accept the views of others who might have better knowledge here). I guess we have to assume he will be in yellow going into the second rest day. There is then a potential wind / sprint day and a medium mountain day before an appointment with destiny on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I cant see how he can survive that mountain marathon but we have been saying that for a number of days.

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:37 am

      You’re right about T.Pinot, he hates the heat. This could be mitigated however, since most of the decisive climbs in the Alps will be over 2000m high.

      And most pundits in France expect (and have always expected) Alaphilippe to crack at some point in the race, due to accumulated fatigue and a mediocre track record at high altitude. That would be my guess as well. Remember this is only the second of 6 hard mountain stages on this year’s Tour.

      For all my skepticism about his capacity to hold on yesterday, though, he’s still there…

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:42 am

      I’ve been trying to turn your question around from ‘can Alaphilippe hang on’ to ‘what do we do to crack Alaphilippe’?
      This latter puzzle applies to all the GC teams, but principally Team Ineos.
      Does it need someone (Bernal) to make a move and force Alaphilippe to respond?
      Someone needs to attack him and lay it on the line, because if everyone just trains it, I feel that’s precisely his best chance to ‘hang on’.
      The problem with this, of course, is Team Ineos’ tactical rigidity and I feel like, with Thomas’ leadership, this adherence is all the more defined.
      The GC race needs repeated attacks – there were very few yesterday – to get at Alaphilippe.
      Everyone seemed to be waiting for Team Ineos yesterday, let’s see if they can work it out for themselves today?

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:48 am

        He almost blew up yesterday, the idea is to do the same again 4-5km from the top of a tough climb, eg the Galibier next week. He can cope with very high intensity efforts like sharp climbs or the final kilometre of a mountain pass but if he’s cracked before this he’ll blow up. Easier said than done and means Jumbo-Visma or Groupama-FDJ have to race like there’s an invisible finish line with 4km to go and the risk that they themselves go into the red and a rival feasts off their efforts.

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:36 pm

      25 from top 30 didnt feel good on the last 5k on Tourmalet 🙂

    • jc Sunday, 21 July 2019, 5:11 pm

      I think that pretty much answers the question. How long into the alps can he hang on. There is no team around him and this is not his territory (at least this year). I would hazard a guess at the Izouard but maybe he can manage to hang on for the Galibier but that’s it

      What is pretty certain is that is a battle royal is in prospect at the end of next week. France will be on tenterhooks, can Thibaut Pinot ride in the heat?

  • Greasy Wheel Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:39 am

    What a race this is.

    I think the onus is on Jumbo today: they should make it hard earlier to see if DQS can’t support Alaphilippe, and to see if he does crack over multiple mountains. It’s also the best policy in case Thomas does recover later in the race – best chance of putting time in to him and Kruijswijk moving above him.

  • Gregario Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:49 am

    Best Tour in years! The doubters (me included) have been proven wrong and we finally have an exciting Tour (I can’t remember the last time it happened). The route certainly played its part and the ASO nailed it this year with the course. I hope RCS take a note, because they screwed the route planning completely in the last couple of years. I am still not convinced with the Iseran stage, but I will hold back with my criticism for now. Looking forward to today’s stage – it’s bound to produce fireworks again. Alaphilippe is absolutely incredible and although I still think he will crack in the stage over Vars, Izoard and Galibier, his Tour was a great success already. It’s still anybody’s race and nobody can predict the outcome at this moment. Brilliant.

  • Wayne Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:01 am

    Would love to have been a fly on the wall in the Movistar hotel last night!! Nairo just hasn’t got what it takes.Don’t understand why they keep backing him so!

    • TomH Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:50 pm

      A few weeks ago, before TdF even started, Greg LeMond opined during an interview that “Quintana will never win the TdF”.

      • Ecky Thump Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:21 pm

        That’s been opined on these very pages several years ago!

        • ronytominger Monday, 22 July 2019, 12:45 am

          he once was one or two levels higher as he is now and for a short time the only one who could trouble froome in his prime. what has happened since, i dont know.

  • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:14 am

    There’s a lot of talk that the TdF ITT field was weak (missing Froome, Dumoulin, and Dennis), that Thomas has a subpar TT, and that JA’s wasn’t extraordinary for him. But I keep thinking about the checkpoint results of Wout Van Aert. WVA won the ITT at the Dauphine, was in sizzling form at the Tour, and clearly very much wanted to win a second stage. After De Gendt’s fantastic time, WVA was (from memory) comfortably ahead of De Gendt’s times at all time checks, and looked certain to comfortably take the lead until his unfortunate crash. He was flying.

    And then Thomas demolished WVA’s times, and moments later JA demolished Thomas’s times. WVA won the Dauphine ITT against Dumoulin and Alaphillipe and several other excellent ITT riders, and looked incredibly confident two days ago. To me it all points to the fact that JA’s ITT two days ago was, indeed, incredible.

    • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:26 am

      I was likewise thinking this and going to look back on what you have.

      Great comment thank you for posting.

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:31 am

        Although maybe I should have had a look as Morten below is making a correction…

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:39 am

      We can put the other side of the argument too that Alaphilippe didn’t target the Dauphiné TT either, but he’d reconned the Pau course in the weeks before the Tour / that his form has obviously improved since then as he couldn’t shake De Marchi and Mühlberger on the Beaune climb when he’d drop them today / that he put 20 seconds into Porte and Pinot in June, 40 this time and it’s not an outrageous improvement given he had a lead to defend and the crowd cheering.

      I’m not here to defend him, more to point out how we can swap stories for the prosecution and defence but it’s just story-telling rather than knowledge. People’s views often tend to resemble a Rohrshach test, they can often tell us more about the person making them than the actual ink blot / rider performance.

    • Daan Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:08 pm

      @Kevin:
      WVA was behind De Gendt at al checkpoints:
      1: +5
      2: +16
      3: +11

      • KevinK Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:06 pm

        Ah, thanks! My memory was that WVA went after De Gendt, and was beating his checkpoint times. I transposed their start order and results in my mind. Shows just how amazingly fast De Gendt went.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:42 pm

        At the virtual time before the finish and his crash line he was behind, but lets check the footage on europortplayer.

        • RQS Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:40 pm

          Wasn’t Thomas up on everyone at the mid-way point, including Alaphillipe? So Thomas has the best time. You certainly wouldn’t expect him to come back more than 4 seconds where that was the case, certainly not 14.

  • Nick Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:27 am

    Is the word “train” missing after “ride hobo on the Ineos”?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:32 am

      Not any more, thanks

      • RQS Monday, 22 July 2019, 9:45 am

        Hope you’re feeling much better than the last rest day

  • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:28 am

    Plenty of riders where ahead of WVA at the final checkpoint: Uran, Thomas, Alaphilipe and WVA was behind De Gent on on the virtual checkpint just before his crash with an estimated time arround Asgreen. He would not have beaten De Gents time.
    You cant compare the two ITT’s as recovery played a far greater role in the TDF ITT.

    As for Alaphillipe, he has apperantly previwed the TDF ITT back in May and been targeting the TDF ITT …Fuglsang mentioned on his blog today that has met Alaphilpe on recon rides of both the Pyraneean and Alpine stages – Aka Allaphilipe has not just reconned the stages of the first week, but apperantly all the high mountain stages. Im beginning to think he has had a secret idea to give GC a go from the beginning.

    • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:34 am

      Good comment.

      Interesting to read all of this. Although admittedly I’m not sure I have an issue with Ala reconning… I just think good for him! (As I’m sure you do) It is conceivable he was also scouting for KOM jersey reasons or stage wins though…

      • brent sword Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:10 pm

        He may have just been scouting as the course suited him and was a chance for a stage win.
        Allaphilipe has done good TT before and this really suited him. Not to long, some hills and some tricky downhill cornering where he took heaps of time. It didn’t have the really long straights for the big engines to get a move on.
        Unless he tells us we will never know and perhaps his story would not even be the real one now.

        • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:16 pm

          + short steep ramps that suits him better than everyone else: He took 9 sec out of Thomas on the short ramp close to the finish line.

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:14 pm

        Reconning the ITT can hardly be for KOM, only for stage win or GC.

  • Lanterne_Verte Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:29 am

    I’m really enjoying this tour a lot, enhanced as ever by this most excellent blog, thanks again INRNG! Also, the commentary-free coverage on eurosport has been a revalation, I struggled with it in past years but get it now, once you tune into the different experience its wonderful and I find I pick up on little details I miss otherwise. I’ve been a fan of Pinot since 2012, I just like the guy and his style of racing and Madiot’s attitude too. One thing about having Alaphilippe in yellow is that it must be taking a lot of pressure of Pinot’s shoulders, both external and internal. Yes he’s still under a lot of pressure but not so much as he might have been. A dream scenaro for me would be that Alaphilippe keeps yellow until the alps then Kruijswijk takes over then cedes to Pinot on stage 20 who rides victorious into Paris. Allez Pinot!!

    • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:45 pm

      I too think the talking free feed wonderful. I think you experience the racing in a totally different way. Less sanitized. You hear the rasping breathing, the whirring of the wheels, the change of surface and through not being distracted by the commentators, you seem to be much closer to the riders. After some time you can tell the little signs of the race much better than when you are flooded by nonstop talking. I think it might be difficult in the beginning, because we are not used to it, but if you really let go of expectations and just let the racing speak for itself, I find it so rewarding and interesting.

      As for the many people wondering about the race: I think a few things come together this year. First: ketones are now cheaper and so not only sky can buy it. Second: tramadol is banned and as tramadol was used for exactly the effort sky used to do – at the sharp end of the race, going deep into red – I think this makes a huge difference. Third: The uci is now really searching for mechanical doping. Fourth: More teams are fully committed to GC – no Demare in FDJ, Jumbo-Visma all in, Valverde happy with his podium and world champion and not driven at the Tour anymore. All these points (and probably a few others like new sponsors, the uci changes in 2020 etc) combine to a very simple thing: Change.

      It was the same when everybody thought the dollars are there to grab in the usa at the beginning of 2000s. There was a huge push to accommodate them, to open doors without them having to work for it like others When the dust settled, things got dialed back and normalized. The same happened in 2010, when everybody thought the pounds were there to grab. Here too normalcy returned (as it always does), especially as the english did not help their cause very much with their behavior, may it be in the uci or in the races (I doubt many are surprised by this by now – including many english people). I think what happened since 2000 made many in cycling wary of such things and I doubt other new markets will get so many open doors without working for it/showing value like the usa and england did (thankfully cookson and his cronies are gone and the damage he has done with literally selling parts of cycling to china seems to have been undone by the people now working in the uci).

      As for Alaphilippe: It reminds me of dumoulin at the giro. Go back and find many comments, articles stating, that dumoulin surely will lose time in the mountains. And if not immediately, then the third week will surely get him. I never understood, that so many have no problem to accept, that dumoulin – a time trial world champion – can suddenly win a GT. If you can believe this, you should have absolute no doubts about Alaphilippe. One can say a lot of things about lefevre – and most are not very nice – , but he runs a cycling team for decades and Alaphilippe is one of the few riders he is prepared to pay real money for. I think that says a lot.

  • Iwan Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:52 am

    What a team JumboVisma, no ? Kruijswijk is a tough one to beat in the last week, his team is on a winning high, It might be the year for my friendly Dutch neighbours..

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:07 pm

      J-V has had an amazing season, not just on the TdF, but all year long.

      I know Roglic has been seen as a disappointment on the Giro, but I’d argue his record is actually really impressive, and he’s won week-long races before that (Romandie, Tirreno-A.). Several of their riders have seen a meteoric rise over the last couple years, I’m thinking of Van Aert, Teunissen, Tolhoek, Van Emden… And of course Groenewegen has been stellar in the first half of the season.

      The physical prep over there seems really solid. Not sure if the ketones are a key part of it, could well be. I also heard they use pretty advanced tech for physio measurements *in situ* (creatine-P levels, VO2 max, burnt fat/carb calculation, etc… basically, a full lab test without the lab), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it helped a lot as well. Whatever it is, it’s working, I just hope it’s above board.

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:30 pm

      The last 3 alpine stages reaaly suits Kruijseijk, Pinot, Uran, Landa and Quintana, all are diesels and has consistantly shown they perform above 2000m.

      Alaphilipe: has never needed to perform on consecutive +2000m days so he is an unknow.

      Bernal: we assume he can, but he has never competed like that before so we dont know. Same with Buchmann, and Mass who will proberbly do well.

      Thomas: has never show that he excels at long haul high altitude stages. Same with Fuglsang.

      Porte, Molema, Valverde: all are know not to do well at high altitude.

      Last ride from the op 15 i Barguil but we really dont expect him to te the top 5 – he has previously been good at +2000m and he is closer to the GC than in previous years so he could get closer.

      Basicly: Only the Giro tends to be a high altitude GT. TDF usualy only rarely touches 2000m on mid stage climbs as it tends to favour ski resports. Vuelta only touches high altitude early in the race at Sirea Nevada and Andora and the final dicisive stages tends to be low altitude climbs in the north.
      …we really need to look to the persona gallery that tends to do well in the Giro

      • Nick Sunday, 21 July 2019, 5:41 pm

        I tend to assume that Bernal will be fine at altitude as a Colombian, but is he actually from the Andes?

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:06 pm

          Yes, from Zipaquirá at 2600m. But coming from the Andes doesn’t necessarily mean inherent abilities for sport. Some indigenous people have particular genetics but this seems more common Sherpas. Instead just living at this altitude helps… but leave and within a few weeks and typically values return to normal, the same as if someone leaves, say, Teide or Tignes after a long spell.

          • Lanterne_Verte Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:21 pm

            exactly, to have a genetic advantage at altitude you need to be descended from a pool of people who have lived at and therefore evolved by natural selection to cope with high altitude for thousands of years. Plenty of colombian native peoples lived always at low altitudes so did not aquire these characteristics. also however there is natural variation in every population too, some people are just better suited to altitude for many reasons mostly to do with physical characteristics of their vascular system that developed in utero and during childhood and adolescent growth

  • brent sword Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:26 pm

    I can’t see why the fuss about ketones. Suggesting the only reason people are doing well must be “doping” with ketones in unfair on the riders.
    A. It can’t be doping unless WADA bans it. Unless WADA or somebody else does a study which shows it harmful it probably will never get banned.
    B. There is no great evidence that it even works. A small study is statistically relatively pointless particularly as they are normally sponsored by somebody selling it.
    C. Except for one or 2 teams nobody knows who is taking it (although I think I read Ineos are not).
    D. Unless your done a power analysis on the climbs we don’t even know how quick they have been.
    E. Should we ban all forms of salt not made in nature. What about margarine. Most processed foods have something unnatural in them. Lots of supplements are probably made in the factory. That’s not doping is it.
    Without a good reason to suggest it is harmful if the teams feel the need to give there riders a supplement which tastes bad and may work that go for it. Most vitamins and such are harmful if overdone so ketones should be treated the same way. With restraint.
    Anyway if they are effective as the hype suggested than every rider is on it already. The moment one rider on the team took them and showed the coach the amazing power figures the entire team is on them the next day. Conceptually I don’t think they would affect a rider with good nutrition all that much (except for Quintana who looked like he may have bonked). They would not affect the power numbers on a hill much which are more dependent on the VO2 the rider can sustain aerobically.

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 21 July 2019, 1:09 pm

      Leave it to pro athletes and their result-starved team staff to use a perfectly legal and virtually untraceable performance enhancer “with restraint”. To think I’ve been called naive…

      • Larry T Sunday, 21 July 2019, 3:06 pm

        +1

        • oldDAVE Sunday, 21 July 2019, 4:16 pm

          Think these replies are a little harsh…

          Yes they should be investigated primarily for the safety of the riders. This is being done. A little public interest seems to have triggered this. And if they find any thing adverse or a reason to ban because of performance enhancement they will.

          Job done. Happy to leave WADA to do their job.

          The teams haven’t been left to self regulate, as of course this would be daft. Nor as it stands has anyone broken any rules. Obviously everyone is ready to jump on cyclings back but this all seems to have been handled well. No need for anyone to get too angry or throw anymore shade.

          Cycling seems better prepared than ever it seems to me to respond to things like these. So I’m happy to let them do their job.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 11:45 pm

            But WADA have consistently shown their incompetence.

        • brent sword Monday, 22 July 2019, 12:33 am

          You are right.
          Cyclists should be banned from eating and drinking as they clearly performance enhance with their rampant eating. They would loose weight which you would then call starvation doping.

  • Andy W Sunday, 21 July 2019, 12:55 pm

    Did I hear booing from the crowd as Thomas turned the final corner yesterday ?

    If so, I presume it’s against Sky/Ineos rather than him personally as I understood the French media & crowd didn’t have a problem with him, more with Froome personally and with the Sky flatten-the-race train tactics ?

    What are the French media saying about Thomas and Ineos now, when Thomas looked weak and the train didn’t really exist yesterday ?

    Or are they just (understandably !) full of Alaphillipe and Pinot ?

    • Jovelo Monday, 22 July 2019, 4:06 am

      I think the main reason is that they smell a possible french victory for the first time in ages, and the main guy who can spoil that is Thomas.
      Sky/Ineos are not loved in France to say the least, yes it’s the boring train (after years of US Postal train in the 00’s mind you) plus all the fishy things (TUEs etc.)
      Froome ditto, winning in front of Bardet two times, hard-to-believe feats such as in Ventoux, and especially the Salbutamol saga, “cleared” a few days before TDF last year…
      Thomas is not well known in France, what is is personality, his story? Not known by the French. Looks like he’s just another rider from the Sky factory, it does not make him endearing (again, it’s the french view)
      Add some xenophobia/chauvinism and age-old rivalry with England, and the fact that some on the side of the road “hydrate” with beer or pastis from 10 in the morning, and you have enough (mostly wrong) reasons for the booing.

      • Dave Monday, 22 July 2019, 12:16 pm

        Poor Geraint , as a proud Welshman he probably dislikes the English as much as any French person , especially during the six nations rugby

  • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:00 pm

    As an aside, good to see the great Obree on the Eurosport ad breaks.

  • Louis le Blond Sunday, 21 July 2019, 2:28 pm

    I’m a great ‘G’-fan – he’s a fantastic rider.
    But this year I fear there’s a bill to pay for his lack of TdF preparation. What do you think Inrng?? You’re the guy with the finger on the pulse 🙂 and Thank you for a great site…

  • Greasy Wheel Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:04 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say again… What a Tour this is!

    Interesting to watch the odds fluctuate as an indicator of the uncertainty – yesterday, JA was at “evens” (~50% chance) with most bookies. Now Pinot is the favourite, almost in a similar situation, and there’s about 3 riders with similar odds of 4-1/5-1 (Bernal, Thomas, Alaphilippe) with Kruijswijk just a little further behind.

    It really looks like it could come down to the last 8km to Val Thorens on Saturday.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 6:57 pm

      I’m not convinced Pinot is the favourite. He’s had to dominate the Pyrenees to get a lead of minus 15 seconds and minus 3 seconds over 2nd & 3rd place. He’ll have to go very deep all over again in the Alps, he might have peaked too early in my opinion.
      (Disclaimer: I tend to be wrong about everything.)

      • Greasy Wheel Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:23 pm

        I think Pinot is favourite but would agree that close to evens (40-50% chance) is too optimistic. Everyone had to go deep today.

        Still loads of uncertainty – is Thomas just ill rather than out of form; can Alaphilippe hang on, especially if Mas has better days; will the wind pick up on the Nimes stage?

    • Baroudeur Billy Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:35 pm

      To think that Pinot lost 1:40 in that crosswind mess last week…

      • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:41 pm

        pretty sure Pinot will not be more than 1:39 behind i Paris…

        • Baroudeur Billy Sunday, 21 July 2019, 8:34 pm

          I agree. But without that time loss he would be nearly in yellow now and be a very big favorite to win.

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 21 July 2019, 7:40 pm

      for #1 in Paris my guess would be it will be either Pinot, Kruijswijk or Buchmann – got an idea that he will do well above +2000m. Its not a pick for a final podium, only for the win.

      I would not be suprised if Alaphillipe recovered before the 1st alpine stage and manages to limit his losses on the 2nd.

  • Chuffy Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:15 pm

    Just a thought re: the relative weakness of Ineos. I think they’re missing Froome’s tactical leadership on the road. As well as being their best rider, it always seems like he’s calling the shots & working with DS’s on tactics. I don’t get that impression with Thomas.

    • Larry T Sunday, 21 July 2019, 9:29 pm

      I think you’re giving one of the SKY/INEOS robots far too much credit here. If Froome was calling the shots, how did Thomas end up in yellow last year? Do you have any evidence that “he’s calling the shots & working with DS’s on tactics”? He did nothing with his previous team in case you’ve forgotten.

      • TomH Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:53 pm

        ” If Froome was calling the shots, how did Thomas end up in yellow last year?”
        Exhausted from winning Giro, doncha’ think? And still managed 3rd.

        • Larry T Monday, 22 July 2019, 7:55 am

          Funny how nothing much was said about that situation at the time – it was more like Thomas was overdue (deserving, etc.) for a big win, etc. Your point discounts Thomas’ 2018 win which shouldn’t make it such a big surprise he’s not (so far anyway) dominating in 2019… especially against riders not “exhausted” from the Giro.
          Further, don’t forget “exhausted” Landa was Movistar’s leader at the start of the Giro, a race he completed just one place off the final podium and yesterday at 33 seconds behind the stage winner vs Thomas’ 1:22.
          As I posted earlier, perhaps all the SKY/INEOS “marginal gains” are no longer either?

    • jc Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:13 pm

      I think you are right. Chris Froome despite his mild mannered nature off the bike is a commanding figure on it. He is unlikely to have hesitated in chasing up the road, G admitted he could have gone earlier but was torn between doing so and not wanting to drag others nearer to Egan Bernal. In situations like this afternoon, the DS’s are too far away from the action, it is practically all down to the riders.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:17 pm

      9 Grand Tour wins and Froome’s presence strongly felt in all of them…

    • TomH Sunday, 21 July 2019, 10:52 pm

      The absence of both Froome & Dumoulin has thrown this TdF wide open.
      It also seems the Ineos super-domestiques — Poels, Kwiato, even nominal co-leader Bernal — are off their game.
      Is it possible the whole team is under-the-weather with some low grade virus, and understandably will not reveal that?
      Is there precedent for any team having several ill riders & staying mum?
      Occam’s Razor would suggest the simplest explanation is Geraint is not in last years form, and there’s no point or purpose in super-domestiques dropping him on climbs.

    • Digahole Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:05 am

      Not sure if I agree or disagree, but I think they’re also missing Froome watts, plain and simple, and are suffering from still having no clear leader.

      Yesterday, if Froome was there in his usual form, Bernal and GT both would have emptied themselves with 2 – 3km to go. Instead, with no rocket to launch, they rode separately and spread their effort to the line. Without him and with no clear leadership, they’re effectively down their two best domestiques.

      But Ineos and GT himself obviously aren’t confident enough in his form to make the call and nothing that happened yesterday would have made it an easier decision. And this idea of GT dragging Alaphilippe back? If he had so much in the tank why not just accelerate and drop him? That’s what Froome would have done, no hesitation.

  • J Evans Monday, 22 July 2019, 7:17 am

    Anything could happen, any of the top 6 could win, any riders could improve/fade – it’s exactly what you want from a grand tour.

    • Ecky Thump Monday, 22 July 2019, 8:52 am

      Pinot’s resurgence is key here. He’s still in a position where he has to attack, and he has the form and confidence to do so.
      It will be hugely ironic if it is another Frenchman that rips the title from Alaphilippe.
      Ineos need to get their strategy right, if Pinot moves then Thomas must follow, regardless of Bernal’s presence.
      If yesterday is repeated Ineos risk having two riders on the podium but giving the top step away almost by default.
      I’m enjoying Pinot’s riding but I think Thomas can still do it. He needs to put his foot down here and rein Bernal in.

      • Richard S Monday, 22 July 2019, 9:08 am

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas comes back to life in the Alps in a Froome Giro type manner, but less spectacular. Pinot is definitely the current form horse and in theory should be able to pinch another 15 seconds off Thomas quite easily as they both pass a fading Alaphilippe. There’s still that sprint stage around Nimes to come though and he better be on his toes if that wind blows!

      • Digahole Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:14 am

        Agree that Ineos need a clear leader, but the problem is that Thomas couldn’t follow Pinot yesterday and waited until the gradient was back to 6% and under to make his move. Not a great sign for the alps.

      • JEvans Monday, 22 July 2019, 10:47 am

        The other potential problem for Pinot is that the weather forecast is for extremely hot weather in that area this week – apart from Saturday (27), it says ~37. They’re up high a lot of the time, but the lower slopes will be desperately hot.
        I’m also hoping that Kruijswijk’s form improves from yesterday.
        And who knows what Buchmann and Alaphilippe can do.
        I don’t think Ineos would be wise to put all their eggs in one basket. Either (or both) of Thomas and Bernal could improve/fade (you could literally say that about any of the contenders, which is such a joyful rarity), so if you back one, it could well end up being the wrong one.
        It’s been such a long wait for a TdF like this. Even Eurosport’s British commentators are admitting that the last few years have been dull. (Well, all except Kirby, who is not only preposterously biased, but seems to genuinely prefer formulaic racing – I assume this is because that allows him to jabber about whatever is in his head rather than having to focus on the racing and tell us what is happening – not that he ever does that. On that subject, Wiggins has been excellent – and I’ve never been a fan – as have Brian Smith, Adam Blythe.)
        Interestingly, the very last climb of the Tour is only 5.5% – although it does seem to include flat bits so the ‘mean’ gradient might be higher. Who does that suit?

        • Richard S Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:21 am

          When Brian Smith is paired with Carlton Kirby you can hear the disdain in his voice. I think all the ‘colour commentators’ have been excellent. Kirby is obviously a basket case and Hatch tends to get a bit over excited in the finale for me.

        • Greasy Wheel Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:30 am

          JEvans – the last climb includes a few short descents more than flat bits. And the last 8km probably averages just over 7%. The official website has the profile.

        • Digahole Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:30 am

          I think that last climb is Kruijswijk all the way. In fact those relentless 3 mountain stages when everyone is spent should be a grinding down suited to diesels.
          Apparently there’s sections of up to 15% on Val Thorens so at 35kms, there’s a bit of something for everyone 😉

    • jc Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:21 am

      Weather could be a factor, very hot, possible storms in the mountains and strong gusty winds from the south tomorrow afternoon. Not sure who that favours. Thibaut Pinot has had big problems with hot weather in the past and I suspect G is not a fan of the heat either, though both would be happy in a downpour.

      Altitude is another factor, above 2600m on Thursday, 2700m on Friday and a finish at nearly 2400m on Saturday. Was altitude a factor for those who struggled on the Tourmalet? If so they will struggle more in the alps.

      Another factor could be the type of climbs they are mainly long but fairly evenly graded wide roads many of them suitable for large vehicles. That could well suit riders who can sustain longer even paced efforts eg Steven Kruijswijk and his team or Geraint Thomas / Egan Bernal or even Mikel Landa

      I can see you can make a case for anyone from 2nd to 7th to win, they all have weaknesses which is the fascination here. Great champions rarely show weakness on the road, perhaps that is why many find it so difficult to warm to them, Chris Froome being just one example.

      Perhaps I have got this all wrong but Julian Allaphilippe looked completely spent, both physically and emotionally, after the stage yesterday. I understood him to be saying “I cant win this but will try to keep the jersey as long as possible and try to help Thibaut Pinot win”.

  • Anonymous Monday, 22 July 2019, 7:29 am

    Perhaps the faces are not the only Voeckleresque similarities? What a great Tour

  • Digahole Monday, 22 July 2019, 11:35 am

    Was great to see Bernal at his limit chewing stem and gurning it to the finish yesterday… it’s all looked too easy for him in the past