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Tour de France Stage 17 Preview

A long day in hot weather to Gap, this kind of day is often labelled as a “transition stage” as the race makes its way to the foot of the Alps but if only it would be as easy to ride as it sounds as this is the last day a breakaway can be certain of making it to the finish and half the peloton will have ambitions today.

 

Stage 15 Review: a stage win for Caleb Ewan, the first of the trio to get a second stage win and sure enough Elia Viviani was seocnd, Dylan Groenewegen third and Peter Sagan fourth. Someone should have a quiet word with Deceuninck’s Max Richeze for the way he pulls off his leadout, he’s interfering and probably knows it. Still the early breakaway put up a big fight in the end thanks to powerhouses like Alexis Gougeard, Lars Bak and Łukasz Wiśniowski. Geraint Thomas had a small crash but he was unscathed and his DS Nico Portal told the radio later “we’re used to it”. Worse happened as Jacob Fulgsang started the stage ninth overall and ended it in ambulance. A plain crash in the streets of Uzès and a reminder misfortune can strike at any time, not that the Dane needed a prompt given his crash on the opening stage or in 2017 when he also crashed out thanks to a freak accident on a plain section of road.

The Route: 200km north-east into the Alps. After a picture-postcard start at Pont-du-Gard, it’s familiar roads with views of Mont Ventoux but passing olive groves and sticking to the valleys. The fourth category climb is just one point on the road up the Ouvèze valley.

 

The Finish: the Tour has often visited Gap via the Col de Manse and the descent of La Rochette and this has been decisive, think how Cadel Evans took over a minute on Andy Schleck. But this is the Col de la Sentinelle, last used in 2006, and a more gentle climb of just 5.5km at 5.5% and steady. The descent is similar, 5-6% and it’s fast and technical in places but not wild. Once in town it’s on big roads and there’s a slight rise to the final bend, a wide right hand corner and then 200m to the line.

The Contenders: with the three big mountain stages coming up we could see the main GC contenders contesting the stage wins so today is the last certain chance of a breakaway and half the peloton knows it. So we can expect wave after wave of attacks and a lottery element as to which move finally sticks. Rather than listing lots of riders and their associated stories, some rapidfire bullet points:

  • The prototype rider is Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) as he has the power to get away on the flat and also to ride rivals off his wheel on the final climb but might he sit tight with an eye on tomorrow’s stage where there’s a shot at the stage win and also the mountains jersey?
  • Astana have had a quiet Tour so far and even if they’ve been all in for Jacob Fuglsang they’ve not fired as many riders up the road as usual. Maybe Omar Fraile is their best bet.
  • Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) is another obvious pick, he can finish fast from a small group.
  • Michael Matthews has tried some sprints but today’s course suits him better
  • Peter Sagan (Bora-Hangsrohe) is the safe pick, able to get in the breakaway and then hard to outwit
  • We could name 80 other riders and still miss today’s winner.

Can Julian Alaphilippe attack over the final climb and use the descent to boost his lead? On paper yes but this move is obvious and he’s looking increasingly tired, he’s starting to skip media appearances.

Peter Sagan, Thomas De Gendt
Matthews, Impey, Fraile, Lutsenko, Bettiol, Naesen, Garcia Cortina

 

Yellow story: not everyone’s been delighted to wear the yellow jersey. Some times riders and teams conspire to unload the overall lead to someone else because it’s too much to have the jersey every day if you have ambitions of winning it later, better to engineer a scenario where a rider who won’t be a rival later on takes the lead, has their team pulling on the front and spends the next few days answering the same repetitive questions every evening. Perhaps some teams thought Julian Alaphilippe would fulfil this role only he’s proving more tenacious. Andrea Carrea must be the most unhappy wearer as took the race lead in 1952 only he was a humble gregario of Fausto Coppi and was terrified of upstaging his leader to the point of being distraught and feeling humiliated at the glory and apologising to Coppi. Fortunately for him it was only temporary as Coppi soon took the lead at Alpe d’Huez, the Tour’s first ever summit finish.

Weather: hot again, 36°C in the shade and more on the tarmac. With the heat building so will the humidity and clouds and it could break into thunderstorm towards the finish but more likely in the evening.

TV: the stage starts at 12.25pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST / Euro time. This is one of those double stages where the first and last hours are probably the most rewarding to watch.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Somers Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 6:40 am

    Given the historically low number of teams that had tasted success this year, I was surprised that other teams didn’t try to create a breakaway large enough to break the sprinters trains. Although, Mohoric did say it had been hard to get in the breakaways and I’m sure teams were waiting for today. For anyone’s interest, below is the number of different teams to have won stages of prior Tours (we’ve had only 7 different teams so far):
    2018-12
    2017-13
    2016-12
    2015-13
    2014-11
    2013-11
    2012-10
    2011-10
    2010-11
    2009-11
    2008-10
    2007-11
    2006-13
    2005-12

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 6:58 am

    What’s with the super heated temps in France this summer? This seems to be the biggest factor in the racing, more so than the gradients and crosswinds. Peter the Great makes a strong point to the CPA that measures should be taken for the health and welfare of the riders during this hot spell. As usual, nobody that has actual control over such things is listening. C’est la Tour!

    • Gregario Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:11 am

      What do you propose? Cancel stages? Start at 5 am? Or ride in the night? I understand concerns when there is snow on the road and freezing conditions but surely the riders can handle one or two days in hot weather. These are elite athletes after all. Sagan is moaning too much, he always finds a reason to complain.

      • Alex Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:22 am

        One option could be to shorten the stage as they’ve done occasionally in the Tour Down Under when its been too hot. Regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete heat stress aint pleasant.

        • Augie March Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 8:14 am

          Shortening stages is easy at the Tour Down Under as the whole race is a series of loops around Adelaide and the riders and staff are in the same hotel for the entire time. With a Grand Tour the start and finish towns are agreed to long in advance, so unless there was a finishing circuit that could be cut down such a reduction is probably not possible in most cases.

          • DaveRides Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:39 am

            The various towns in South Australia which host stages also have their hosting rights agreed to long in advance.

            The difference appears to be the willingness of the race organisation to make practical accomodations to help take the edge off it. TDU stages have been started a couple of hours earlier to get the riders (and crowds) out of the afternoon heat earlier, and a few have been shortened by eliminating a lap of a circuit finish or cutting the corner to shorten a point-to-point stage route.

            I’m sure that a few of the well-drilled TDU event team would be happy to consult for the TdF organisers on developing some better contingency plans for the future.

      • SG Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:55 am

        Yep, Sagan is moaning too much .. what do you smoking my friend? Or maybe you can’t handle this hot weather very well. If Sagan is moaner, what is Matthews then?

        • DaveRides Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:34 am

          This is the same Sagan who rode in the same sort of temperatures and came up with a winning performance at the TDU, then proceeded to acknowledge the willingness of the race organisation to compromise by shifting the start forward a couple of hours.

          There certainly are a number of habitual moaners in the sport, but Sagan is not one of them.

      • DaveRides Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:30 am

        Swapping the running order of the race and the caravane publicitaire would be the best option, as it would get riders two hours less in the hotter temperatures of the afternoon while making for minimal changes to the assembly and dismantling of the race infrastructure.

      • Kavan Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 12:13 pm

        Starting in the early hours would suit me perfectly. I could enjoy watching Thomas of Ghent winning at my second breakfast.

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:18 am

      the southern Rhone valley arround Gard is always very hot and provides very little shelter at low altitude. Especially arround Nimes.

    • Mr Fandango Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:26 am

      It’s called climate change. As usual,nobody that has actual control over such things is listening. C’est la vie!

      • Larry T Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:52 am

        +1 Following LeTour around from 1988-1998 I can remember it being hot, hot, hot most of the time. It’s JULY after all. Back then the 9-passenger vans we used (as well as plenty of the hotels) had no air conditioning. Plenty of complaints about heat back then as well as warnings from the Tour doctor that cold drinks would cause all kinds of intestinal upsets – until the official drink sponsor (Coca Cola, who wanted you to enjoy their product “tres froid”) threw a fit 🙂

    • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:52 am

      It’s often this temperature in France in summer: I drove through France last year for three days in 37 degrees (and with no air-con).
      It’s also like this during the Vuelta.
      And it’s always been fine. No-one’s keeling over and dying.
      And no-one would be paying attention if it wasn’t Sagan saying it.
      Shorten the stages and you ruin the race. It’s hot, deal with it.
      As for this being down to climate change, climate change is happening, but it’s happening very slowly (relative to our own time frames – in geo terms it’s happening catastrophically quickly).
      It’s simplistic and incorrect to blame every bit of hot weather on ‘climate change, as it is when deniers say that a cold winter proves it’s not happening.
      ‘Climate’ happens over decades, centuries and millennia; what you feel when you stick your head out of the window is ‘weather’.

      • N.N. Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:02 am

        FYI Nimes on the 1960s had a one day equal or hotter than 32 °C, 4 days in 1999 while today it’s 9 days. So warming in some parts of Europe especially closer to Mediterranean Sea is happening very fast.

    • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 8:00 am

      ‘the biggest factor’ – who lost or gained time due to the heat?

      • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 8:59 am

        True it’s often 35+ but parts of France were at 40-41 yesterday – in fact Bordeaux broke the record for hottest temperature ever in France at 41.2. Nimes wasn’t quite at that level but that 39+ for cycling is pushing it. When you’re up at those temperatures each degree starts making a big difference (I find the inverse in UK winters, as I’m always surprised the difference between -1, 0, 1 and 2…!)

        You say Spain is hotter – whereas it’s actually cooler in September, and last year set the record in Spain for heat when 41 was recorded in Cordoba… so it’s actually as hot in France now as it has ever been at the Vuelta.

        I fear you’re being a little bone-headed re-temps, you can say ‘deal with it’ until someone gets severely sick, and heat exhaustion can kill, so why an earth wait for that? It’s sport not torture. I would have had no issue if yesterday’s stage was shortened. Rider safety is more important than a super hot sprint stage.

        Sagan is perfectly entitled to raise concerns on behalf of other cyclists, knowing his voice will be heard above others. In fact I think you could say it’s almost the duty of more experienced cyclists to voice concerns as we all know there are vulnerable under-25’s racing who might be fool hardy and ignore warning signs so the sport needs to have measures to protect them – as the death of another boxer yesterday shows how still most sports are too slow to protect those involved.

        • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:00 am

          note – 41 is the record in Spain for September temperatures.

          • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:14 am

            I agree with your summary there oldDave.
            The upper 30s, certainly 40C, is too hot for endurance sport.
            Stages in Australia, Spain and Middle East have been shortened or even cancelled at those thresholds in the recent past.

        • Richard S Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:26 am

          It’s one of those. Sagan, like anyone else, is entitled to not ride if he feels that it is too hot. There are no guns involved. Or say today if he feels it’s too hot he could try not getting in the breakaway and just sit in the peloton and sip water all day. 40 degrees is hot. I believe the US Army did tests in Death Valley and found exercise stops being a good idea above 32 degrees. Put riding your bike every day for 3 weeks 5 hours at a time probably isn’t either.

        • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:39 am

          +1

        • D Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:56 am

          Thanks for a sensible and reasoned comment. I couldn’t agree more.

        • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:14 am

          oldDAVE:
          I didn’t say Spain was hotter. I said ‘It’s also like this during the Vuelta.’
          And like Richard S says, this is all voluntary.
          But most of all, you’re talking about hypotheticals: you’ve invented scenarios that ‘might happen’.
          However, cyclists have raced in temperatures like these for many, many years. Why is it suddenly going to kill them?

          • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:45 am

            It’s all good.

            I was pointing out that it’s actually not like this during the Vuelta, as Spain’s record September temperature last year shows, getting upwards of 40+ is unusual for Spain in September like it is for France in July (or sadly at least used to be). I also agree obviously the mountains will be cooler and wasn’t making any points about days other than yesterday’s stage.

            And yes, clearly I’m stating hypotheticals – what I’m trying to say is fans and organisers who come from a stand point of ‘just deal with it’ are asking for trouble and should think again…

            Yesterday may be nothing – but temperatures in recent summers are significantly different to what riders have experienced in the past – current riders are being asked to endure hotter temperatures than previous generations even if you ignore European summers and just factor in Tours in the Southern Hemisphere and Middle East.

            And riders concerns on this should never be ignored or dismissed – otherwise you end up in situations like American Football realising too many of its previous participants are dying young far too late. What if twenty years down the lines an abnormal amount of todays peloton died young because of the stresses today’s racing put on them? Yes this is a hypothetical, but it has happened in other sports and it’s up to the people in charge to take heed when voices are raised and do their best so these awful scenarios are avoided.

            To me it’s actually the strongest argument against doping, the stress the early00’s put on those riders bodies may catch up with ex-riders now heading into their 50s and society should be looking to protect 20 year old better than we have in the past.

          • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:47 am

            I hope I don’t sound extreme, I’m not completely disagreeing with you – yesterday will probably be forgotten quickly. I’m just saying we should never say ‘deal with it’ and riders are the weakest voice in pro-cycling so we shouldn’t dismiss them when they try to be heard.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:15 am

            My ‘deal with it’ seems to be the thing that has riled most people. It was an off-the-cuff remark, but probably does come across as dismissive.
            Sorry to have annoyed anyone.

        • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:15 am

          It’s also cooler when you’re travelling at 40kph and once they’re going uphill and thus going slowly they’ll soon be at much higher altitudes where it will be cooler.
          That’s probably why it’s been fine in the past.

          • Ah non Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 12:48 pm

            Yes on the altitude, but wrt speed is this true? Above 37 degrees doesn’t the wind make you hotter? Interestingly race organisers seem unconcerned, rode the Zoncolan recently where the cutting back of trees (shade) to accommodate TV coverage is obvious.

          • Nick Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 2:23 pm

            Presumably the cooling effect of speed is limited for those sitting within the peloton, for the same reason that drafting helps riders save energy: you’re not pushing through the air, and so don’t feel the breeze as much?

            Presumably also a temperature that might not be too hot for a 1 day race might be too hot in the 3rd week of a grand tour, when riders are already fatigued?

            In terms of what the organisers might do about it, the extreme weather protocol does refer to changing the start times, and starting earlier so that more racing is done before mid afternoon does seem to make sense. In addition, waiving the time limits on particularly hot days, so that those not competing for GC can pace themselves round more easily might also be sensible.

          • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:13 pm

            Ha. No need to apologise.
            Was only opinions, nothing offensive in the slightest!

            It was a fun to debate and wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t commented in the first place. I was interested to look into temp diffs between Fr/Sp anyway, plus this comment section is good for healthy disagreements.

            I hope you have nice day and enjoy the racing.

        • d Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:27 am

          Agreed 100%

        • d Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:31 am

          Agreed with oldDave 100%. Heat strokes can kill. I think its good that Sagan spoke out, when perhaps others were scared to. Cyclists are often known to push themselves beyond their limits and in 40+ degrees of heat, this really could lead to fatal mistakes on descents or just severe heat exhaustion.

          • JeroenK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:13 am

            It seems like over here Sagan was the only one speaking up, except he was not…

            At some temperature, you reach a point where it’s allmost only about taking in the contents of as much drink bottles your team can get to you and cooling anyway you can to be able to keep perfomance at a decent level and recovery manageable…

            I can fully understand that riders themselves object to the fact that it’s not about racing anymore, but survival. Keeping hydrated and cool enough should be one of many deciding factors in sports, but in my opinion not THE deciding factor.

            To that, it seems a little strange you advise the general public to stay out of the heat and let pro cyclists take the full brunt of the afternoon sun. It’s like advice to wear a helmet in the age where pro cyclists did not have to. Sure they are more capable, but it’s about the message you are sending. Helmet wearing went up in my country after pro cyclists had to (where it is not obliged by the law) to the point where non-wearers are the exception.

        • Martijn Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:00 am

          The UCI has an extreme weather protocol. INRNG even has posted a blog about it: http://inrng.com/2016/03/the-extreme-weather-protocol/. I haven’t heard any talk of it applying to the current Tour though.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:38 am

            It applies to World Tour races and it’s subjective, people will meet.

            Sagan’s point on the CPA is partly about the weather, partly about the rider union being compulsorily funded from rider prize money but many feel they don’t get value back in return and from the outside the CPA often reacts to events.

        • Baroudeur Billy Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:01 pm

          41 isn’t the record anymore – it hit 45 degrees in Nîmes in June.

    • brent sword Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:12 am

      UCI website outlines the following group has control and a compulsory meeting must be convened if extreme weather events are anticipated. It note’s various things that may be considered extreme weather including temperature but does not define them exactly. The regulation notes a meeting must be held if any of the group requests it.

      The participants in the meeting between the stakeholders will be designated as follow:

      – President of the Commissaires’ Panel – Organiser’s representatives: o Race Director or a representative designated by him; o Race Doctor; o Chief of Security. – Teams’ representative designated by the AIGCP* – Riders’ representative designated by the CPA.

      As long as its a dry heat high 30’s to 40 is probably note quite enough and I presume colder on the mountain tops. If its humid that would be very bad. I would imagine the lower slopes would need to be a bit slower at this temperature. Once they get a bit higher it would likely get easier.

    • CK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:10 am

      They’ve been racing in 40 degree temps in Spain for a hundred years. Calm down a bit.

    • noel Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:45 am

      isn’t it about the combination of temperature and humidity…. a dry 36 degrees is quite different to 36 degrees with 90% humidity after all…

      I see Rowe said that Inoes got through 180 bottles for their 8 riders yday!

      • Gregario Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 1:04 pm

        Amateur and hobby cyclists who spend their holidays in France, Spain, Italy have to deal with it as well. And guess what? They don’t have support cars giving out bottles, ice packs, cooling vests etc. I am not saying heat is not a problem but it’s just one of those things you need to master if you want to win the Tour. I can’t believe all the moaning doing the rounds nowadays. It seems some of cyclists and fans would indeed like to do the racing on Zwift… What do you want to do? Cancel the stage? Shorten it? How if you go from point A to B? The technology in clothing and nutrition developed so much that it really shouldn’t be a problem to overcome 2 hot days for the riders.

      • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:16 pm

        Stupid post, may get deleted:

        When you said 90% humidity, I was thinking… what does that mean? Surely not that the air is 90% water! I’ve never really thought about what a percentage reading of humidity really means – this is the definition, quite interesting:

        Relative humidity, expressed as a percent, is a measure of the amount of water vapor that air is holding compared the the amount it can hold at a specific temperature. Warm air can possess more water vapor (moisture) than cold air, so with the same amount of absolute/specific humidity, air will have a higher relative humidity. A relative humidity of 50% means the air holds on that day (specific temperature) holds 50% of water needed for the air to be saturated. Saturated air has a relative humidity of 100%.

        • Steve Thursday, 25 July 2019, 2:20 am

          Hmm, this really is the most depressingly ignorant thread I’ve ever seen on the usually intelligent INRNG. Presumably none of you have children, and if you do, maybe you should ask them what they think about global warming and how it threatens their future.

  • Stuie Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:13 am

    Team Dimension Data really need to pile it on today to get a few in the break. Steve Cummings has done nothing at all for 2 weeks, and Boasson Hagen suits this stage plus he will have good memories of Gap.

    • KevinR Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:07 am

      I’d agree about Dimension Data and Steve Cummings in particular. He’s mostly pootled around at the back of the peloton for two weeks. The Ring mentioned he tried to get in one break last week but didn’t have the legs. He needs to do something – as does his team – otherwise you could argue that Cavendish should have been picked for the Tour

      • Stuie Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:00 am

        Couldn’t agree more. Eddy and Valgren have been fairly anonymous so far. They really need to go for it. I think we will see a massive break.

        • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:10 pm

          definitely been a disaster of a season for DD – what is their budget though?
          assume it’s below Ineos, Jumbo, Bahrain, UAE?
          possibly even less than AG2R, Sunweb and Quick Step…

          in which case they’ve had good years and now a few bad ones? if you’re living on a lower budget than all the above, then isn’t that the best you can hope for?

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:12 pm

            It is low (apparently some riders paid for their own pre-season training camp in Calpe I think) but they’ve made some recruitment choices like Gasparotto and Kreuziger to hire in UCI points to shore up their rankings and these riders don’t win a lot, plus their star rider Cavendish has been chronically ill. But there are other problems, Louis Meintjes seems to have vanished, Valgren’s been discreet this season, Ben O’Connor’s not had the season we’d have hoped for etc and this is not just budget.

  • KevinG Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:37 am

    Although the breakaway might not appreciate it as they pedal under the unforgiving Provençal sun, take in the scenery today especially from Buis les Baronnies to the Gorges de la Méouge. These are largely unknown and quiet roads perfect for cycling with plenty of cols to keep your interest. They make a good alternative to the annual frenzy around Mt Ventoux. The col de Mévouillon is but a pimple but the descent through the narrow, twisting Méouge gorge will keep the peloton alert.

    • cthulhu Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:30 am

      +1
      I’ve ridden most of today’s and tomorrow’s stage and must say it is really lovely there. Especially the Méouge valley.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:46 am

    You’re right about Richeze and he’s not the only DQS rider to do this.
    I was complaining about this pre-Tour: it’s dangerous and yesterday he nearly took out Ewan.
    I laughed at Portal’s comment on Thomas.
    I still don’t know why yellow jersey wearers just don’t go home to their hotel after the podium is done with – they can’t make you talk to the media.
    All I can hear in my head now is Andy Schleck’s moaning voice saying the words ‘the downhill’.

  • Ba-Ba Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:46 am

    Cosmo Catalano pointed out the ‘Richeze zone’ in his Eurosport HTRWW summary of sprints before the first rest day. Definitely a wiley leadout, but does it count as tactical, sneaky, fair game or just downright dangerous?

    • Augie March Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 8:17 am

      It’s legal until it’s not. Like Bouhanni, he’s been relegated for behaviour in sprints but he’s also gotten away with a lot whereas others, Sagan for example in 2017, have been rubbed out for less.

      • Lukyluk Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:25 am

        Problem is, Richeze won’t care if he’s relegated, and his team can afford the fines. Sanctioning Viviani for what his teammate does seems impossible, even if it’s meant to benefit him. Only option is to throw him off the race – and I’d see it as excessive punishment for any one of those incidents taken individually, it’s the repetition of them that causes question. It’s not only him, either, Morkov did the same thing – taking a curve at blistering pace on the apex, then letting go and drifting to the other side to block everyone off.

        So I don’t have an answer to this. Some sort of points system, where every offense gets you closer to a DSQ? Easily abused (you get a “free pass” for N obstructions before you’re off). Higher fines? Big budget teams won’t care paying a couple thousand CHF whereas the smaller teams will suffer more. It is a problem, I feel, because it’s unfair, bordering on dangerous, but I have no easy solution.

        • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:36 am

          I agree with everything you say. In response to your last comments, I was thinking of a soccer style yellow card/red card system, but that doesn’t do much for one-day races, unless it carried over throughout the season. And of course race officials seem to vary dramatically from race to race about what they’ll tolerate. I fear it’s a situation that will be ignored till there’s a big bloody crash.

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:37 am

        It’s legal but if the commissaires don’t have a word, the peloton is often self-regulating society and might have a quiet word first or he’ll find people reluctant to let him in a gap, to follow through after he’s taken a turn etc

  • Hjesus Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:26 am

    To hot for The Inner Ring today? “(…) Dylan Groenewegen was second, Elia Viviani third (…)” isn’t correct. Viviani was second and Grönewegen third.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:38 am

      Proof the trio are too hard to separate… fixed now.

  • Richard S Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:28 am

    I don’t think Quick Step will be losing too much sleep over Viviani’s departure. I’ve lost count of the amount of times this year he’s had a perfect lead out and offered up a pretty limp sprint. Jakobsen looks more than ready to take over.

    • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:07 pm

      Cor… this is so harsh…

      I have so much respect for Viviani, he’s clearly not a top tier sprinter when it’s a proper pace battle, in my humble opinion both Groen and Ewan are faster and likewise Cav and Kittel previously…

      But… he’s made the absolute most of his ability through sheer persistence and hard work – he may have got lucky falling into QS the way he did – but nothing will ever waiver my view of him as a rider who deserves everyone’s respect.

      Yes he may have just failed at times this year, but the competition is stiff and whatever happens in his career he will always have 2018 to look back on alongside his Gold medal and a Tour victory. That’s more than most!

      I love Viviani as he just shows what you can get with hard work and dedication.

  • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:32 am

    Per J Evans statement, in fact the summer temps in France (and Europe) have been going up for the last century (https://globalnews.ca/news/5434178/europe-cities-hotter/), last summer was Frances second hottest, and this summer could set a new record. The hottest on record was 2003, when hundreds of French people died from the heat.

    Elsewhere I’m seeing a lot of comments about the need for more neutral support for water bottles and many saying the riders just need to deal with the heat as it’s part of the race. Larry T mentions the old lore that drinking too much water on a hot day would make you sick (I remember that from neanderthal football coaches during summer “two-a-days” in the American south, when passing out during practice just meant you weren’t tough enough). However, despite the current enlightenment about hydration, it’s not an antidote to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and Sagan is correct that when the riding speeds are slower, evaporative heat loss will be much less effective.

    There are studies showing that the only thing that really helps endurance performance in extreme heat is drinking a large ice slurry, which can only effectively be done just before the race starts. The effect is mitigated by the fact that it lowers core temperature so effectively that it reduces sweating, therefore impairing evaporative cooling, but on balance it is a net plus. However, I think that’s only for shorter races like 10k runs and short TTs, and a five-hour TdF stage where the first hour of riding might be pretty easy isn’t going to benefit much.

    Unfortunately elite riders are accustomed to riding up to, and just past, the point where they feel ill and uncomfortable, and so they’re less likely to respond to the early signs of heat exhaustion by decreasing their effort. And core temperatures rise rapidly when a rider pulls off and stops getting the cooling effect of a 30 km breeze over their sweating body. Contrary to a comment above, I’ve never read Sagan complaining like he did yesterday, and Caleb Ewan said he felt so bad he was on the verge of pulling the plug on his race.

    I don’t know what the solution is, or if there is one in the context of the TdF, but we may be in on the threshold of some really sick riders. At the very least, the number of DNFs will likely skyrocket.

    • d Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:35 am

      so right. perhaps next year they could change the TDF dates to a cooler season, though weather patterns are changing completely.

    • Richard S Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:35 am

      When you get really cold or really bad weather in the classics, that snowy Milano-Sanremo or the really windy Gent-Wevelgem for example, you get high DNF rates. When its really hot why should it be any different?

    • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:35 am

      Precisely. Those charts show that temperatures vary hugely year to year – which is why a hot year is not proof of climate change.
      And they show that the general trend over decades is an increase – which is climate change.

      • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:00 am

        An individual hot year isn’t, but when the frequency, duration, and severity of heat waves all go up, it’s not something to be casually shrugged off. As I mentioned, people die. We’re here worrying about racers, but the global increased in temperatures is killing people. You can say you’re not concerned about those deaths, or the potential deaths of elite riders, but some of us are.

        • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:20 am

          I have clearly stated – more than once – on this page that climate change is a huge issue.
          My point stated here simply points out – as I did above – that climate change is something you measure over longer periods of time, not year to year.

          • HeleninSomerset Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:46 am

            Completely agree that climate is not equal to weather. However, the need to evaluate climate change over a very long timescale does not mean that the effects of climate change are gradual – they manifest as, for example, more severe and more frequent storms, and, as we are experiencing, higher summer temperatures. I agree with oldDave and others that extreme heat is a problem and that rider safety is very important.

    • Davesta Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:38 am

      Thanks for this post, along with OldDave’s comment above.
      As you allude to – heat stroke and hydration are not necessarily linked, as Alex Hutchinson’s book ‘Endure’ very nicely explains (should anybody want to read more on the topic). Heat stroke can also be very dangerous and very hard to mitigate in stubborn and motivated athletes, and it shouldn’t be understimated. Calls for athletes to stop complaining about 40 degree temps and simply ‘deal with it’ are surely ignorant of this fact.

      But like you, I don’t know what the solution is. I’m sure we’ll see riders pouring water over their backs, and getting ice in their bidons (if that’s possible). Hopefully that will be enough. But like you, I suspect we’ll see quite a few DNFs over the next few days.

      One solution may be for riders to wear cooling vests (the type often used during TT warm ups) for the first hour or so of the race – studies have shown that by pre-cooling the body, endurance in high temperatures is significantly improved…

      • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:45 am

        ‘Ignorant’ or has a degree in human physiology.
        I’m not saying they shouldn’t have extra water motos, etc., nor that they should do nothing.
        What I am saying is that the terrible dangers some are mooting have happened only in their imagination.
        Cyclists crash into walls, die of heart attacks during races, have incredibly unhealthy physiques, put lord knows what into their bodies and get run over by motorbikes, so I find it hard to worry about deaths that have not actually happened.

    • Larry T Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 12:01 pm

      Just curious how you got this – “Larry T mentions the old lore that drinking too much water on a hot day would make you sick” from what I wrote, which was this – “warnings from the Tour doctor that cold drinks would cause all kinds of intestinal upsets”?
      The Tour doc was warning about drinks too COLD rather than too many drinks, which upset Coca Cola enough that a (sort of) retraction came soon after. I remember trying to buy cold drinks at the roadside at LeTour back-in-the-day and the vendor would always assure us the drinks were “tres froid” only to hand over a can or bottle that had merely been sitting in a barrel of (barely) cool water. But by then they already had your money!!! We’ll be out there tomorrow (somewhere between Briancon and the top of the Galibier) to see if things have changed – Vive LeTour 🙂

      • oldDAVE Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 4:01 pm

        Have a great day Larry. Who will you be cheering on?

      • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:21 pm

        The tour doc’s statement is incorrect, and is typical of the nonsense that I grew up hearing from coaches. I heard coaches say both that you shouldn’t drink too much water when it was really hot, and that you shouldn’t drink cold water. Sports folks (elite athletes, sports doctors, coaches and trainers, amateur athletes, etc.) are a remarkably superstitious and herd-following lot, and are much more impressed by the lore that was handed down to them than in looking at evidence-driven data. IAs I noted some endurance athletes have experimented with drinking slurries of ice water in hot weather. No intestinal upset.

        It’s not unlike the superstition that Pinot’s team is doing (antibacterial sprays on door knobs, putting a jacket on him to keep him from catching a cold) — superstitious nonsense.

  • Bart Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:35 am

    Expecting De Gendt with Wellens to be focused on the next stages for the mountain points. For today Benoot and maybe Keukeleire should be the LTS riders trying to make the break.

    • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:39 am

      I think Bardet is going to be desperate to win the mountains jersey (Nibali will be keen too) to at least salvage something from this race.
      Even off-form, I’d expect one of these two – or other genuine climbers – to beat Wellens, but not necessarily De Gendt, although he may choose to focus on one stage win.

      • irungo txuletak Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:01 am

        I agree there too. Wellens hasn’t got a big lead, and I can’t see them defend it properly against better climbers in the coming stage. If you add the factor heat to this (wellens usually doesn’t cope well with it) and also the fact that it does not seem to be ruta del sol’s wellens in this tour, I feel this will be a very difficult task to bring the jersey back to Paris.

    • irungo txuletak Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:55 am

      agreed; Benoot today, but the truth is that he can also cope well with the coming stages.

      • Bart Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 2:31 pm

        I stand corrected : ) De Gendt must really believe in winning chances today then, well this final should be interesting for him.
        As for comments: I don’t think Wellens will be able to hold it either, but it is his intention. I expected De Gendt to attack in the Alps to help or as back-up taking points away.

  • Albert Keizer Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:25 am

    It’s not only Sagan and Ewan ‘complaining’.
    Kruijswijk, 3rd in GC, is lobbying for the same:
    https://www.tellerreport.com/post/2019-07-23—kruijswijk-believes-tour-should-think-about-measures-in-the-event-of–unhealthy–heat-.B1baFGT4zH.html

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:33 am

    Did Coppi encourage the feelings of shame & humiliation? If so he sounds like a bit of an arse.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:33 am

      Not really, just seems to be the rider worried about being seen to outclass him. The team model at the time was based on this system of one leader and everyone else in total service.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 12:44 pm

        Interesting that strong priority of team over the individual isn’t merely a somewhat recent phenomenon, as I’d come to believe.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 2:49 pm

        Perhaps Mr. Anonymous (and the rest of his family?) should read some history before making comments like these? He could start with this quote from Coppi about the incident – “Ours is certainly a very hard profession with terrible demands and painful sacrifices. Carrea gave everything to me. In return I offered him only money. I know very well that if he was not my team-mate he would earn much less, and when all is said and done he is happy and many of his comrades envy him, but I personally think he deserves more than he has the right to: a little of intoxication of triumph. I had a way of settling the debt: it was to let him wear the jersey for a few days. Do you know what he said to the journalists the next evening after he had taken the jersey? That it was not right for a soldier to leave his captain.”
        from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Carrea
        Herbie Sykes’ COPPI might be a good book to start with?

        • David Thursday, 25 July 2019, 8:36 am

          Anonymous merely asked a question, of people who are more informed on the subject than they are. That seems a reasonable place to to start, and not really deserving of being slapped down and told to read some history. Having a degree in cycling lore shouldn’t be a prerequisite for commenting.

  • d Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 10:43 am

    seems the TDF riders are battling the heat rather more than they’re battling each other. TDF is supposed to showcase some of the very best in cycling, but the cyclists are really struggling just
    to finish the stage in such high temperatures. Heat exhaustion and dehydration takes time to recover from and to ride 200+kms in sweltering heat day after day makes it no long enjoyable even for them, elite or not. You can see them really suffering but because of their ethos, they wont give up even if it does some damage to them. Perhaps all the Team owners should speak out, and, If that doesn’t get the attention of the TDF organisers, perhaps the thinning crowds will, as they too cannot stand the heat for long.

  • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:34 am

    Enough hot-headed argument about the weather please. I’ll just zap comments if it gets more boring.

    • noel Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:59 am

      what – even for the English? crikey, that removes 50% of our conversational abilities….

  • cp Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 5:41 pm

    I don’t get it. Why would DQS put a rider in the break? Should they not conserve every millijoule of energy to support Alaphilippe in the Alps? Especially the energy of someone like Asgreen who has been an important support rider in the hills?

    • ChrisW Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:57 pm

      I was wondering the same thing…in Eurosport’s post race show, so were Brad Wiggins and Brian Smith.

      • cp Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:28 pm

        i just saw that asgreen said it hadn’t been the plan but that he was on the front so they said go for it. not sure what that means.

        in any case, jumbo visma and ineos will be down a rider for their road spat, so that likely hurts them more than asgreen being pooped tomorrow.

    • Madcap Thursday, 25 July 2019, 4:07 am

      It was absolutely bonkers wasn’t it.

      Wiggins in post-race was almost at a loss for words about it. He mentioned two things: (1) the two DS’s in the car are Classics guys through and through, and therefore their instinct is to green-light a breakaway move, and (2) that Alaphilippe might be suffering from ‘nice guy syndrome’ and failed to assert leadership to bark Asgreen back into the pack and rest.

      Either way, it’s a blunder, and anybody who has followed cycling for 5 minutes would have known to rest up EVERYBODY in the team as much as possible. Bizarre.

      • Madcap Thursday, 25 July 2019, 4:12 am

        To add:

        I suppose there are two rational explanations: (1) They all know Alaphilippe is spent, that there’s absolutely no chance of him hanging on, or (2) Bravado – “look, we won the Tour de France and STILL had the ability to send our riders up the road for stage wins”.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:26 pm

    It is not really about the heat, more about the culture in the peloton:

    I am sorry, that I have to say it so blunt: I have enough of cyclists complaining about racing. I can‘t hear it anymore. Yes, it is hard, we know that – that is kind of the point, isn‘t it? Why do you think people cheer you on?

    To many riders it might seem as if they are in the business of entertainment. And if you look at (and feel) it this way, it surely seems unfair, that you have to suffer. But they are no entertainers. They are doing a sport. An endurance sport. A sport, that is in the most part about suffering and sacrifices. A sport, that lives from what the outside world has to offer: different terrains and different weather. A sport, that lives from the adversity, that the outside offers.

    So, yes, of course I want riders to get enough to drink, to have ice, if they want it and I want them to be able to stop, when they feel the heat is making them ill and maybe on really hot days the cut off time can be made longer. But that is it. I don’t want races to be shortened or stages to be abandoned. And I am so over cyclists complaining how unfair and difficult everything is.

    If the riders don‘t want to ride in the heat, the wind or the cold, then they don’t have to – they can leave the sport any minute.

    • Tony Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 7:49 pm

      And I have enough of armchair commentators who don’t have to race 6 hours in temperatures where everyone else is told to stay inside and avoid efforts in the 38° heat, who think they are the ones to tell the riders what they have to feel and do. only so you can sit on your couch and yell at them. Unbelievable ignorance.

      • weeclarky Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:58 pm

        Mate, correct. I don’t know how these guys do it. It’s fucking impressive.

  • Chuffy Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:39 pm

    Rowe and Martin thrown off the race after an ‘altercation’. That seems completely excessive, unless there’s a lot more footage than has been shown so far. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that it’s not just coincidence that both are the road captains for Alaphillipe’s main rivals?

    https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/tour-de-france/luke-rowe-tony-martin-kicked-tour-de-france-altercation-stage-17-432524

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:43 pm

      I’d be interested to know why punching a spectator multiple times in the face is considered a non-event (Lopez), but the sport gets strict over something like this. It seems inconsistent to me.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:35 pm

        It was only a few slaps on the head and the spectator deserved it for knocking him off his bike like an idiot.
        Martin and Rowe could easily have caused a crash.
        Plus, when Martin ditches Rowe, Rowe could easily have gone into the crowd.
        And when Rowe hits Martin (with a clenched fist) Martin almost goes into the crowd.
        Rowe can also be seen swerving violently towards another (small – could be SK) J-V rider. Don’t know if that happened before or after the other incident.
        They only have themselves to blame.

    • KevinK Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:33 pm

      My guess is that the officials were already on the watch because the issue of riders at the front blocking other riders in dangerous ways has already been an issue. I suspect that Martin might have gotten off with a fine and some kind of wrist slap, but they couldn’t look past Rowe putting his hands on Martin, and they couldn’t punish Rowe without punishing Martin for the dangerous blocking.

      I don’t think it was engineered to help Alaphillipe or Pinot, though. The shenanigans Martin and Rowe did, right at the head of the peloton and in front of the camera bike were impossible to ignore. I more interesting speculation is, would it have been the same penalty if it had been Pinot’s road captain in the altercation, or a lesser penalty. We’ll never know, but in the actual case I think the pattern has been pretty clear that when riders physically lash out and strike or grab other riders, it gets a stiff reaction.

      And as noted, lashing out at out-of-line fans seems to be more tolerated.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 11:37 pm

        Aren’t the commisaires from neutral countries (or at least only one is French)?

        • Lukyluk Thursday, 25 July 2019, 5:26 am

          Indeed, the UCI commissaires are usually picked with no more than one member per nationality, to avoid those conspiracy theories. Not that they don’t still creep up. I mean, we all know that T.Martin and L.Rowe were expected to be the last guys in the train anyways, dropping GC guys on the Galibier…

          Many people don’t get this, but UCI commissaires and race organizers are completely different. Awkward football analogy: think the referees, and the owners of the stadium.

          For my part, I found it harsh based on the footage we saw live, but after watching the additional stuff (retaliation to the retaliation, etc…) I don’t feel the decision was excessive.

  • Danny the kilo rider Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 9:47 pm

    Bit of a joke desicion, there’s been much worse in the final kilometre on a number of stages with no sanction.

  • weeclarky Thursday, 25 July 2019, 12:00 am

    ah well, it was all going so well, so uncontroversial….