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Tour de France Stage 19 Preview

A big day in the mountains and if some want to crack Julian Alaphilippe, better to try today rather than leave it to the last minute?

Stage 18 Review: a maxi-breakaway of 34 riders including Nairo Quintana again. At first he looked like an expensive decoy who obliged Deceuninck-Quickstep to chase, then Movistar took up the reins and Marc Soler rode like a hot scimitar through butter to halve the advantage of the breakaway. It looked like they wanted to set up a move from Mikel Landa but this never came. Still the group shrank. Alexey Lutsenko made several attacks on the Col du Lautaret but this was still a climb where riders could just about hide on the wheels, some got found out like Adam Yates but others sat tight like Romain Bardet, helped by his team mate Mikaël Cherel. Onto the Galibier’s steeper slopes and Nairo Quintana put in a strong attack and never looked back to solo for a fine stage win.

Romain Bardet dragged Alexey Lutsenko up the Galibier but cracked him just before the pass to take the points and second place on the stage. He’s now in the polka dot jersey and there’s now a contest for the jersey. It’d be ironic if Bardet wins the jersey and finishes the Tour as the only Frenchman on the podium in Paris.

The GC contenders looked like they were huddling on the Galibier but the group had been reduced to only the big names. Egan Bernal was the first to attack and quickly took out 30 seconds, an advantage he’d keep the finish. Geraint Thomas was the next to jump, a curious move given his team mate was up ahead and it had the effect of drawing the others with him, except for Julian Alaphilppe who was distanced but only by few seconds over the pass. Thanks to a brave descent he got back to the group and then started to dictate their pace downhill. Alaphilippe had a wobble but started the day 1m35s ahead on GC and finished it 1m30s ahead which he’d have signed for but Egan Bernal comes out as the day’s winner, leapfrogging the other GC contenders and if he can take 30 seconds in a late attack, he could take much more today and tomorrow. If Alaphilippe can be dropped on the Galibier then his rivals will keep on pushing him and today’s just the day.

The Route: just 126km but so much of the stage is spent above 2,000m. It’s uphill in the Maurienne valley, one of the rare places where the valley isn’t named after the river (the Arc). It’s uphill it’s along the main valley road before flicking off the side like a snowboarder in a half pipe to tackle the climb to Saint-André. Then comes the road to Aussois, another side road and a harder climb and if the breakaway hasn’t formed by now this should help. There’s a proper descent after the climb and then the Col de la Madeleine, not the famous one, but a still a steady ascent of 6% to gain 200m.

Bonneval-sur-Arc marks the start proper of the Iseran, Europe’s highest paved pass. This side though is only 13km long (48km on the other side) because there’s so much climbing just to reach the start at 1,800m and then you stack a kilometre on top. It’s a spectacular, wild road that away from the Tour de France and its crowds feels like something in the Himalayas. There’s the 8-5-2 time bonus at the top and beaucoup points for the mountains jersey. Then comes a fast descent through Val d’Isère and with a series of paravalanches and galleries, the French term for the half-open tunnels which protect the road from avalanches.

The Finish: after a flat section past the lake the final climb to Tignes begins. By itself it wouldn’t be a hard climb but at altitude it feels more sluggish and the 7% average is flattered by softer sections, there are some long ramps that will be selective. The route goes through Tignes to finish on a flat road.

The Contenders: if the GC contenders want to dislodge Julian Alaphilippe, today’s the day because if they can’t quite make it there’s still tomorrow to make any final adjustments. So if we get the big names in a straight contest then Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is the obvious pick, he was the strongest on the Galibier yesterday and can go again. If there’s a group then Geraint Thomas has a shot at the stage win too because the finish is flat… so does Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) if the others ferry him to the finish but they should put him under pressure today and if dropped there’s no descent to exploit.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was strong yesterday but not sizzling but it was he who closed down Thomas. Still he knows the climb to Tignes well – his family have an apartment there – and we’ll see if the cooler temperatures today are to his liking. His team mate David Gaudu knows the road too, he won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir here in 2016 on his way to winning the race overall two days later.

From the breakaway Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is an obvious pick again with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) or maybe Pello Bilbao (Astana).

Egan Bernal
Thibaut Pinot, Geraint Thomas
S Yates, De Gendt, Bardet, Urán

 

Yellow story: look closely and you can see the initials “HD” on the yellow jersey , a tribute to Henri Desgranges, founder of the Tour de France and inventor of the yellow jersey. It’s not obvious seeing the swirling characters but they were first on the jersey in 1949 when Desgranges’ successor want to pay tribute but vanished in the mid-80s only to come back in 2003 in the Tour’s centenary edition. Desgranges lives on in other ways, for example the highest point in the race each year sees a special prize awarded. This year the Henri Desgrange prize is awarded at the top of the Col d’Iseran today and is worth €5,000.

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 22°C on the way to the Iseran and 17°C at the finish with a strong chance of downpours and thunderstorms.

TV: the stage starts at 1.45pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.35pm CEST / Euro time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adrian Holman Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:34 am

    It’s easy for me to say but as a known descender I’m surprised that Ineos left it so late to attack Alaphillipe. They’d better attack earlier today and tomorrow if they want to win. The summit finishes will be to their advantage compared to yesterday I suppose.

    • Paul Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:33 am

      I felt the same but wonder if it was just too hard to go any sooner? In which case why bother at all let Egan fly?

      • Ecky Thump Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:18 am

        I certainly thought that Pinot would have been more aggressive yesterday.
        Again, possibly the heat was the limiting factor.
        Someone has got to attack today from at least 5km out?
        Alaphilippe’s hopes are built on sand but he keeps shoring up the cracks.

        • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:34 pm

          I guess we know why about Pinot now. Thomas later admitted that they had targeted today as the bigger day to attack Alaphilippe due to the downhill. I guess with two more days of summit finishes it’s not ideal to burn the legs out of your rival is just going to catch you on the decent.

    • gastrogeorge Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:06 pm

      I’m guessing that the gradient up to the Lautaret was too shallow, so an attack was only ever going to come after there. But, given JA’s descending, an attack was inevitable, as they needed enough of a gap over the technical part of the descent to Plan Lachat. Which is what happened.

  • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:57 am

    Great to see Quintana ride like we know he can.

    The fantastic thing about Ala is that he always rides with panache and guts. I was just thinking he should attack them on the downhill once he caught them in order to gain time he will lose later – and then he did.

    When Ineos tell you that they’re riding for Thomas, you know that Bernal is the strongest. Tipped him before the race and still think he’ll win.
    Thomas doesn’t seem to have it. All his attack did was perhaps lessen the amount of time Bernal took – but only perhaps: it’s too simplistic to say the others wouldn’t have pushed on if he hadn’t attacked.

    The rest were disappointing and who knows what Movistar’s plan for Landa was (not Movistar, that’s for sure).

    Let’s hope for a bit more GC action in the coming days and hopefully an improvement from Pinot and something from Kruijswijk.

    • cthulhu Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:20 am

      I concur with you. I, too, think the attack by Bernal was to tempt the others and for Thomas to attack over the top. But since no one reacted Thomas attacked himself to not let Bernal get too much of an advance.

    • irungo txuletak Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:28 am

      Alaphillipe is really a rider with panache. He is really making this tour entertaining.
      Movistar still riding à la Movistar. Nothing new. At least they won the stage, but I feel Quintana could have landed yet closer in GC.

  • Thomas Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:08 am

    Small typo, you write Bonneville i.o. Bonneval under the drawing of the Iseran.

    Keep up the good work!

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:25 am

      Larger typo: missing name(s) at end of sentence?
      ‘From the breakaway Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is an obvious pick again with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and’
      Or is it fill in your own guess here? I’ll go Bardet.

  • DBC Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:19 am

    I have to say, Alaphillipes TT win gave me a very uneasy feeling – the likes of which I haven’t felt since Chris Horner magically won The Vuelta at 41. But watching this race progress, it really is a remarkable game of chess. Every time bernal goes, Thomas has to calculate when’s right for him (as opposed to Movistar who just attack Quintana whenever)

    For me, this is the most exciting tour since the Voeckler/Evans Tour, which I hold as one of the greatest ever. I cant wait to see if these last two days match it

    • MariusOr Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:22 am

      > I have to say, Alaphillipes TT win gave me a very uneasy feeling

      Let’s not forget that in 2017 Paris-Nice had a very similar profile TT that Alaphilippe won in front of Contador.

      • Kevin Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:44 pm

        And Thomas never gave you that feeling haha.

        • Gervais Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:09 pm

          +1

    • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:28 pm

      Cause Chris Horner was the World Tour leader at this point, or what? Internet, you gotta love it…

  • Stuie Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:24 am

    I think it’s time for Ineos to get behind Bernal. All the talk before the race started was that they were joint leaders, yet it feels like they would rather Thomas win. They are playing a dangerous game with Alaphilippe. Just expecting him to drop away by riding high tempo isn’t going to work, the only times he has looked in trouble is when the GC guys attack.

    • Digahole Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:16 am

      Agree. Thomas’ attack was the same as his effort in Foix… too little, too late.

    • BenW Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:11 pm

      As with Wiggins’ victory; Bernal has years ahead of him. Thomas clearly doesn’t, and has been an extremely loyal rider down the years. One can totally understand why they’re doing what they’re doing but it will be another example of the strongest rider on a winning team not winning if Thomas does.

  • Joe K. Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:28 am

    Will G. and Team Ineos do the right thing and let Egan Bernal win this Tour, or will they pull a “Wiggins” and put the restraints on him like they did to Froome? It’s the same Dave B. at the helm, so one never knows. That’s the drama, for sure!

    • Jacob W Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:24 am

      The situation is a little different in that at least Bernal is nominally acknowledged as co-leader and allowed to ride away from Thomas repeatedly, but I do think that Ineos’s tactics with Thomas are the biggest threat to Bernal winning the Tour.

      • oldDAVE Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:35 am

        I don’t disagree with all this but I really don’t feel like Ineos’ tactics are as mysterious as people are making out?

        They’ve said repeatedly that they’re letting the road decide, and Thomas until yesterday was GC leader and is still reigning Champion – so he has been afforded the final say on the road – and the plan yesterday was clearly to let Bernal go before Thomas’ bridged – (similar to Thomas/Froome during Rousierre last year before Thomas’ secondary attack (which I still think may have caught Froome off guard)) – it’s just that it failed. Now it looks worse than it was but the tactic was quite reasonable, at least in Thomas’ head, and Ineos it seems were looking to be led by their riders judgement which is keeping them happy so isn’t a bad way to man manage two riders trying to win.

        Froome’ atrack last year on Alpe DH failed also and Geraint led him out so could have easily lost time due to the effort, but didn’t in the end so the tactical blunder was hidden.

        It was also the first stage we’ve seen Bernal climbing quite that well, and I think given the team know training data and we don’t, it’s fair that they would have waited till Thomas’ preferred Alpea stages before making a call and getting involved?

        I do agree now though – Thomas needs to be the one attacking first and Bernal should be the ace card who goes later to sticks the knife in then go for the win. I think this will also keep both riders happy as Thomas will still feel he has a chance and Bernal will be closer to if not completely the full leader.

        I really don’t think Ineos’ tactics are that bad, they just didn’t work because of Geraints legs and that happens sometimes. To be hovest I want a French win so if they mess up in the coming days I’ll be happy!

        (I also think it should be noted Geraints been quite gracious in allowing Bernal near ish free reign despite seemingly being the one making the call… I don’t think most riders would do this…)

        But I think from yesterday we now know Alaphillippe will not win for sure and Bernal is going to be very hard to beat unless Landa/Movistar send things haywire earlier in the stage.

        • Gargatouf Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:44 am

          I think we have seen Ineos doesn’t ride as a team. If Thomas doesn’t attack, he doesn’t bring Pinot et al back to 30 secs. Bernal could (we don’t know, but looking at how the race was developing at the time, we can have an idea) have gained more time.

          At the same time, you can’t blame Thomas, if he feels he has a chance of winning it, he should go for it, but it’s a strange change of direction from Ineos, who for years, had one leader and one leader only. This year, having two, might ultimately cost them.

          I also feel that Bernal, Thomas, Pinot, Buchmann and Kruijswijk seem to be racing each other thinking that Alaphilippe will crack. I believe Buchmann is out of the GC but can still podium, but there are only 20 seconds between Bernal in second and Pinot in 5th. Will we get another situation like in the Giro, where Roglic and Nibali were too busy racing each other and let Carapaz go, where the chasing 5 are too busy racing each other hoping that Alaphilippe crack?

        • JEB Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:03 am

          OldDave – I think that is a good analysis of what happened and I agree G is being a respectful ‘leader’.
          I think it was just the old ‘one-two’ routine. Bernal was meant to hit them first, the others were meant to respond and close it down and then G was meant to go and solo over the top.
          Like you said – Inios have seen the training data. I think G was meant to lead Suisse and if he hadn’t crashed we would have seen Bernal as super domestique supporting G to win, making him obvious leader of Tour .I think Inios have just been bluffing all along that Bernal is a co-leader to encourage other teams to chase him down – but in reality it was a bit like G and Froome last year with Froome being the real boss. In case of accident or puncture G would have had the support and Bernal would be left to fend for himself.

          • ronytominger Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:47 pm

            must be frustrating for the co-leader. be named such in public, while your boss in private constantly says youre not.

  • Max Capener Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:34 am

    Vintage edition of the Tour already, and everything still in play.

    • noel Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:12 am

      there’s even an incredible race for the Lanterne Rouge… 19 stages in and just 3 seconds in it! My money is on Offredo

      • BenW Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:13 pm

        Well, it won’t be Luke Rowe this year anyway!

  • jc Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:37 am

    What on earth were Movistar doing? Clearly Nairo Quintana has gone completely freelance, I would guess he wont be allowed in another break. Perhaps Mikel Landa didnt quite have the legs yesterday, maybe I missed it but he didnt seem to put in any attacks at all.

    The other mystery is why Ineos left it so late to attack. If Egan Bernal had gone with say 5km to go the chances are Julian Allaphilippe would have lost lots more time. G also left it too late to go, the thought was he was planning to bridge across but all he really did was drag others up (did they catch him or did he let them?) though that was the effort that “cracked” Julian Allaphilippe.

    Thibaut Pinot was another strange case, he led the move to claw back Geraint Thomas but otherwise did little, is he running out of steam, heat? altitude? I did spot him and JA talking as they rode up the Galibier, I assume they were not discussing where to meet for a post stage pastis.

    I would guess today would follow a similar pattern, a slow grind up the Iseran with a small GC group going over the top, the group growing on the descent (yesterday seemed to mark the first time the Ineos train had been spotted), with whatever action there is on the drag up to Tignes.

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:54 am

      My opinion is that the primary intention of Bernal’s attack was to gain Thomas time, not Bernal. The plan was for Thomas to bridge and for them to ride downhill and take, say, 30 seconds.
      That would explain why they didn’t attack earlier – because Thomas didn’t have the legs for a longer attack (or a shorter one as it turned out).
      For me, it’s always been clear that the team would rather have a British winner – better publicity, which is what their owner wants.
      But if they want a win more, they’ll probably let Bernal go today and tomorrow.

      • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:50 am

        They may elect to back G today – maybe in the classic 1-2 approach, crack Alaf and then see if G can’t win the Tour on Tignes. If this fails, I expect Bernal to have freedom to explode the race on tomorrow’s MTF

      • jc Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:14 am

        There is far too many folk around here thinking that there is some Machiavellian plan by Ineos to keep Egan Bernal from winning. I doubt that very much. Conspiracy is always more interesting than cock up but conspiracy stories are very rarely true. There is a certain hesitancy about the team but that is really down to Chris Froome’s absence. G is not as big a personality on a bike as Chris Froome and Egan Bernal is very much still learning., there is a lack of a clear plan or hierarchy. During a race is really is down to the riders, the thought that Dave Brailsford is somehow pulling all the strings is simply not true or even possible.

        From a PR perspective surely Egan Bernal winning would be bigger than G winning again?

        • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:30 am

          Not a conspiracy or a Machiavellian plan, just normal behaviour for a British team with a British owner who wants good publicity primarily in Britain. Thus, a preference for the Briton.
          We’ve seen other teams do it many times – it’s not Ineos-centric.
          I don’t like it, it’s pointless nationalism, but it happens.

          • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:14 am

            Why is it pointless then ? You explained why they would want it in your first paragraph .

          • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:20 am

            Without going off-topic for too long, nationalism is pointless because it is a false construct, used (for centuries) by those who have authority over us, to control our behaviour.
            Our borders are utterly arbitrary (largely decided by ‘who was best at killing’), but governments tell their people that ‘these people are different from you’ (and often inferior).
            This way, you can manipulate the public into doing things you want or – more often – largely ignoring the things you do that make their lives worse by blaming it on ‘the others’.
            They tend to call it ‘patriotism’, in order to put a positive spin on something that is almost entirely negative (they’ll even say that such things are ‘bringing the people together’, but they bring the people together in a feeling of superiority over ‘foreigners’.)
            OK, I lied: this is too long.

          • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:50 pm

            Opp. Looks like someone has read Marx….I think all sorts of organisations, whether it is a village, a commune, country, football team or Anarcho-Marxist syndicate find ‘artificial constructs’ useful in creating an identity which people affiliate too. Which is why Nationalism works so well. The idea of belonging to a large group of people you have no close connection to is a powerful thing. Just ask any Man Utd fan.

      • Tovarishch Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:19 am

        I think Thomas is finding the altitude difficult, which isn’t a surprise considering he is probably the largest of the favourites. He can keep with the non-altitude dwellers but his kick has gone, although it seems largely the same for the others. I think we will see the same tactic today unless the other players actaully decide to get aggressive.

        • plurien Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:26 pm

          Being from Wales he should take advantage from today’s damp conditions

      • KevinR Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:30 am

        I think that summary is spot on. And the conclusion is correct too. I can’t see Thomas winning, or rather I don’t think he has the legs to make an attack stick. I can see Bernal wearing yellow in Paris.
        I guess Thomas’ dream scenario is Ala cracks and loses time hand over fist but the GC group ride tempo to the last km today and he sprints clear like last year.

      • Larrick Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:12 am

        Have you though that maybe they hoped that having Bernal attack might draw out Pinot etc and both allow Thomas to follow the wheels and drop Alaphilippe. If Pinot had gone then I doubt Alaphilippe would have been able to stay with them and Thomas didn’t need to gain time on anyone else. Pinot didn’t bite and nor did anyone else. Valverde couldn’t so it played out as it did.

        Your opinion might make sense if Thomas was 4th or 5th but he was 2nd to a guy expected to drop out at some point. He didn’t need to attack. He just needs to drop Ala and that was what the Bernal attack was meant to achieve. It didn’t and they’d left it too late to do anything else. Too much time wasted with Poels and DvB going at an ‘easy’ pace. The late Thomas attack was a waste too. Ala was always going to get back on if they only dropped him by seconds and not minutes.

        You’d assume they’ve learnt from that mistake and they will go earlier today and if they have to, drive with Bernal.

        • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:17 am

          I think that’s a reasonable summary , they tried something which didn’t really work but still moved Bernal up in the standings. I expected an attack from Pinot , maybe he wasn’t feeling that good but he seemed to have no problem following Thomas.

          • Larrick Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:36 am

            Pinot didn’t blink but I suspect he might have thought that Landa would have gone after Bernal. Landa was probably thinking it was up to the guys ahead of him on GC.

            We see it play out year after year in stage races, people riding not just to not lose but also to not feel like they’re helping a rival. With today and tomorrow, Pinot probably didn’t feel like it was now or never and assuming that Ala eventually folds, yesterday will be quickly forgotten.

        • Richard Westerbeek Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:12 pm

          That’s exactly what Thomas said the plan was in post-race interviews. The plan didn’t quite work as expected though because no one tried to follow Bernal.

      • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:06 pm

        I think the plan generally was to take yesterday’s stage more easily and beat him on the summit finishes. Wasting the legs yesterday would only make easier for some of the other GC riders.
        With the downhill descent Alaphilippe was never going to lose too much time. And, going hard only to suffer on the following two days might open the window to other GC riders. G effectively confirmed this after the race (would not have been my view of the tactics at the time of racing).
        However, the race was a little too processional, with none of the other GC riders showing any ambition. People are pointing the finger at Ineos, but equally Krujswijk didn’t fire, Landa didn’t go, Pinot sat back, Buchmann cruises and Richie Porte was still there! So no one showed any initiative. Eventually G tells Bernal to go to try to shake things up, to get the other teams pulling and so he can soft pedal (hoping this puts Alaphilippe in trouble). The miscalculation is that the other riders know that G is losing the tour to his team mate and call his bluff. Eventually G pushes on to get Alaphilippe in the red, and at least get a tell from him. But they did cut into Alaphilippe’s time.
        Bernal does look the better rider, certainly G’s effort wasn’t enough to shake the others. But I get the sense that we haven’t seen all that G has. He’s just the rider that all the others are marking at the moment.
        Given the position I would say both riders are pulling for the win as a team. We will probably see more one-two combinations tomorrow now that Ineos have the yellow. Other teams will need to attack if they are to get the jersey.

    • nortonpdj Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:44 am

      Whilst marvelling at the ride from Quintana and appreciating the aggression from Bernal, I remain bewildered by the tactics of both Movistar and Ineos on this stage.
      I’ve been watching cycling for quite a few years but I’m always happy to learn, so if anyone can enlighten me I would appreciate it.

      • noel Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:02 am

        Bernal attacks, Thomas sits on and leaves it for the other GC to cover (and maybe then to attack)… if they all sit there (as they did for some reason) Thomas to get a gap and bridge up. As it turned out he got a gap, but couldn’t hold it, so stopped pulling. Bernal takes time. Simples.

        Movistar… well…

        • KevinR Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:32 am

          But that doesn’t explain why Ineos left it so late to attack.

          • Larrick Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:15 am

            It was too late as it played out but if Bernal had been followed by say Pinot straight away, that would have been early enough to drop Alaphilippe by enough to have him out of the game. Their error was if the ideal scenario didn’t occur (which it didn’t), they’d left themselves no time to regroup and try something else that could work.

          • hoh Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:45 am

            Ineos played it safe probably because they don’t want a scenario of Bernal getting dropped by Pinot.

            Seeing weakness in Pinot, they maybe emboldened today.

      • Digahole Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:02 am

        Many have tried, but few have understood

        • KevinR Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:39 pm

          I’m afraid I disagree Larrick. The attack came too late to break Ala and take the jersey off his back because of the descent.

    • Digahole Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:52 am

      Yeah, a strange day with Movistar chasing down their own, then INEOS doing the same. If the plan was really for Thomas to bridge to Bernal, the it was pretty poorly executed. Agree with J Evans… they need to accept now that Thomas doesn’t have the legs to win, he needs to work for Bernal from here in.

      Another big takeaway from yesterday is that the INEOS mountain domestiques have not been riding into form.., they just clearly don’t have it. Poels, normally their third week man was gone very early (but the die hards will prob still say he’s being ‘rested’ for tmrw 😉 Thinking about how consistently strong the Sky domestiques have been over the years, it’s something how Kwiat, Poels and Moscon have all dropped off at once.

      I know it’s overdone to make the whole Colombian altitude connection, but both Nairo and Bernal train at 3000+m and it worked in their favor yesterday and today the Iseran

      Pinot said he didn’t have it yesterday, but hopefully an off day rather than form taper so we can see him duke it out with Bernal today!

      • nortonpdj Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:08 am

        It seems that Ineos don’t know how to race long climbs without their old (Sky style) train and peel offs routine, but maybe they’ll prove me wrong today and/or tomorrow.
        I appreciate that Quintana wanted a stage win (and wow, what a win!) and I’m sure his new employers are delighted….
        But Movistar don’t seem to be riding for GC. Quintana won’t be allowed into the break today or tomorrow. So are Movistar just racing for the team prize again?

        • Tovarishch Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:23 am

          It is not up to Ineos to do the driving, especially now, it is up to the other teams but they don’t seem to have the will. Ineos only need to drop Alaphilippe. Jumbo, FDJ, etc. have a lot more to worry about if they want to get on the podium.

          • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:08 am

            For all the grief Ineos are taking ask yourself if they would have been that weak if Froome had been the tip of the spear. Its all online chat now but with a Thomas and Bernal lead out its hard to see that he would have been anything less than 1st in this race. But, yes, of course, we’ll never know.

      • KevinR Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:39 am

        Yep, very puzzling. The Ineos domestiques aren’t the same riders flying up mountains last year and in Tour wins before that.
        Poels was awful, especially so for someone who guided Froome up the Angliru for Vuelta victory and has paces him up climbs to Tour victory.
        Ineos has to let him take over from Van Baarle to do a short turn lower down the mountain because he wasn’t feeling good. Kwiato, Moscon and Castroviejo have been no better when in previous years they’ve done huge turns at the business end of climbs.

        • KevinR Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:47 am

          Actually Castroviejo was ok yesterday but hasn’t been in recent stages

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:50 am

            He did a long pull but barely put any time in the breakaway. Once van Baarle took over the group ahead lost 30 seconds, he seemed more effective but it could have been the effect of the breakaway’s speed as well.

          • Larrick Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:18 am

            Inrng – Castroviejo took 45″ back on the run in before the climb proper. By the time he was at the front again after DvB did a short spell, he lost time as you say but I’d put that down to effort to rejoin the faves group which he had to do and then that he went straight to the front and drove the peloton.

          • plurien Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:35 pm

            Maybe the groupe maillot jaune did take time in the chase but this was when the poursuivants were having a dispute that seemed to involve Bardet not being given any time.
            I can’t be bothered with any team that doesn’t allow their best riders to fly on days when they could take time on GC and get podium places that other teams will otherwise take.
            Rider not mentioned: George Bennett. Took a big fall, remounted to help the team. Fetched bottles on the Lauteret and helped keep Kruijswijk in the accelerations only to crash out on the final descent. Leg injuries.

        • JeroenK Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:17 am

          Ineos domestiques are the same riders, except maybe Kwia, who seems to be not on form.

          What has happened is that other teams like Movistar or Jumbo Visma road on the front at a high speed, shelling out everybody but the GC riders and a few support riders. It’s impossible to say of the Ineos train is just as strong when the initiative is taken away from them.

        • wilryfiets Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:34 am

          Is it not simply Froome’s absence? If he was racing and if Thomas and Bernal were super doms (no Castroviejo in the team) would it not be business as usual? Given Froome’s TT ability he might’ve placed a closer second behind Ala’s incredible result. The unfortunate truth is that Froome’s accident opened up this race (riding the Giro last year gave Thomas his once in a lifetime opportunity). It would not be very popular if the Ineos train resumes business as usual next year behind Froome. Regardless I predict Bernal spending a lot of time on his TT bike this winter!

      • Richard S Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:34 am

        It was interesting yesterday that about halfway up the Galibier, or Lauteret, Skyneos’s mountain train went on to the front and Poels was pulling faces and then Van Baarle dropped back and was pulling faces… but the break pulled away and put more time into them. They’re definitely off the boil this year but its probably just that instead they don’t have Thomas and Bernal as the last two carriages with Froome to take off at the end. Thomas and Bernal are not as good as Froome and the team hasn’t decided who it wants to be leader and so isn’t as effective. Poel’s is probably passed his best and wont be in the ‘A’ team next year and Kwiatkowski is having a bad Tour, which he does sometimes. he had a shocker in the rainbow stripes when at Quick Step.

        • Tomski Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:56 pm

          +1

          I fully expect that next year shall see TGH and Elissonde handed their Ineos Tour debuts.

    • cthulhu Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:32 am

      Really, what was Movistar’s plan? I think, letting Quintana go rogue is an OK tactics to at least salvage something out of the race (stage win), and they succeeded. But what about Amador and Verona(?). After Soler reduced the peloton from something like 80 riders to 15 within minutes, where were they to take over? They neither seemed to go full on and try to win the stage nor did they really sat up and wait to take over the pace making. So when they were caugth they could not really contribute. Soler despite working full gas already on the Izoard was still the last man standing besides Valverde and Landa.
      Ineos did a much better job there. Lovely pictures of Castroviejo expressing his mind about having to go on a bit longer until the reach Van Baarle und then Van Baarle did a big pull, even though not as fast as they needed.

  • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:50 am

    My main hope is that the riders race for victory and not for placings.
    Aside from Buchmann, how much do they have to gain from, let’s say a podium?
    Buchmann’s career will be greatly helped by a strong top ten finish and he’ll be desperate to maintain his position – that’ll make a huge difference to his value and his ability to demand to be a team leader. Go for broke and end up 14th and it’ll be largely forgotten where you were.
    For Kruijswijk and Pinot, this is highly likely to be their best opportunity to win the TdF in their careers – careers that are already stable enough that were they to go for it and crack it would not harm their value overly.
    It’s just personal opinion, but I really question the value of a podium. Pinot’s already had one and Kruijswijk’s been 4th a couple of times in a couple of GTs: for me, the 3rd is better than 4th in only the most literal sense – who cares if you get to stand on a step?
    Can’t see how a podium is worth anything to Thomas, but I’m not convinced he can do anything about that.
    Bernal is already a future superstar, so he’s little to lose in simply becoming a superstar now.
    As for Ala, he’s already proven that he can be a GT rider and, for me, coming 2nd or 3rd would be more sad than trying to win and coming 6th.

  • BC Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:04 am

    It looks to me as though INEOS might be repeating mistakes of the past by once again supporting a weaker climber against an obviously stronger rider. If there were sporting justice Egan should be given his freedom for the final two mountain stages and not be expected to nurse a weaker team member.

    It is difficult to understand how a team which prides itself on understanding their riders form managed to select such a badly prepared team this year.

    • noel Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:10 am

      can someone explain to me how Ineos are supporting Thomas better than Bernal? Bernal seems to be able to attack groups that include Thomas when he wants to, so I’m struggling to see the shackles. Maybe folks are just disappointed that Mrs T and Bernal’s girlfriend (does he have one?) aren’t having a twitter war.

      • Tovarishch Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:26 am

        Their probably giving him the better gels, seaweed flavour or something. Ineos have it spot on in my opinion.

        • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:33 pm

          +1 I don’t see favouritism to G. Especially not after today’s stage. I think as a team they are all in for the win which is exactly what Brailsford said. I don’t think it matters if they are no where, as long as they tried. That said, there’s no point being brainless about attacking willy-nilly. Anyway, they’re in yellow.

      • hoh Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:58 am

        He’s got a sister that looks after his social media presence. Mum would more fierce.

    • Gregario Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:33 am

      The whole team is surprisingly weak this year and you have to wonder about the reasons for that. Kwiatkowski is nowhere to be seen and is one of the first guys dropped as soon as the tempo ups whereas last year he was the one pulling and thinning the peloton to about 10 guys left. It’s time for him to leave the team and pursue other goals. He lost all of his qualities as a one-day racer in order to chase his goal to become a GC contender, something which is well beyond his capabilities.
      Poels is also very poor by his standards. He was the teams third week guy, yesterday he struggled to hold the wheel of Castroviejo. Where is the Moscon from the Vuelta 2 years ago? Surely something is going on there because the drop in performance for so many riders is pretty astonishing.

    • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:50 am

      I said in a cycling chat days ago that this is Wiggins/Froome all over again. This comparison is only strengthened by Wiggins’ Eurosport commentary acting as if Bernal does not exist so I imagine he sees the force of the comparison too and it explains his nonsensical chat about Thomas being the strongest/best, etc, which no one actually watching the race with any objectivity could take seriously. Hopefully Ineos have learnt their lesson there and today its all about Egan Bernal and not a chugging Thomas and his token attacks.

      • GC-hopeful Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:06 pm

        Like him, maybe Wiggins thinks Thomas has “asthma” and Wiggins is waiting for the legal steroids to kick in. But rules have changed.

  • Ecky Thump Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:26 am

    I have to say that the Polka Dot competition is disappointing in the sense that it’s failed GC men who are popping up like newly-hatched gadflies to claim one-off double points.
    Bardet, Quintana etc will get dropped early on today when the race is on?

    • Larry T Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:34 am

      OTOH I’m happy to see the jersey change shoulders. Dunno if the rider has any say, but the obnoxious polka-dot bike (and the rest of it) should have been saved until the last day to Paris when the prize was truly won. I hope Bardet’s squad will show a bit more class?

      • oldDAVE Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:42 am

        Wow.

        Really who cares about a polka dot bike?

        I remember people getting hyped by Thor H’s all white world champs outfit or Contadors all yellow in 09… firstly who cares? Secondly they both looked great?

        One persons taste is another’s hate… but I get bored when taste is basically defined by what people wore in th 60s…

        So what if he has a polka dot bike, isn’t there more going on in the race to follow?

        By the way – you said you were going to the race a few days ago, I hope you had a good day, what did you see? I’d love to hear postings from people at the race in the comments here.

        • Larry T Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:33 am

          oldDave – I’m OK with the industry/sponsor going wild on the yellow, green or polka-dots on the final, festive day into Paris when the jerseys have been won. Prior to this I think it’s hubris to do more than put on some matching bar tape (or maybe a helmet) but I do admit to being an old fart. Come out in the full kit and anything else you want ONLY after you’ve won the prize rather than while you’re still competing for it.
          I say that as well to ASO, the matching shorts, no matter what color, should be saved for the last, festive day in Paris.
          As to what we did at LeTour, I won’t bore anyone here but instead provide a link http://cycleitalia.blogspot.com/2019/07/a-day-on-col-du-lautaret-yes-it-rhymes.html

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

    Another excellent stage. I think today will follow a similar plan with attacks near the top of the Iseran but the uphill drag to Tignes will be of more benefit to people putting time into Alaphilippe. But then again today is a much shorter stage and accumulated fatigue by the end should also be less, so it’ll be a good pointer for the short stage/long stage debate.

  • david hemingway Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:24 am

    Looking at the Strava times they destroyed the Galibier yesterday, a lot of nonsense about it being easy they were all on the limit and are bluffing attacking late was only option. Bernal May get too close to yellow today and be the marked man tomorrow not G.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:50 am

      They had a tailwind yesterday (not all the way up but at times) when last time they raced up there was a headwind which makes a difference for the climbing times.

  • AndyW Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:27 am

    Curious how black and white the opinions are about Bernal and Thomas – based on yesterday I would say Bernal is the stronger of the two but nobody was dismissing his ability when he had a average TT or Thomas gained time on Belle Filles. Still hoping that Bernal goes on the Iseran – surely the strategy needed to beat Ala, especially with Thomas as a second option.

    • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:26 am

      I think people see what they want to see. Ineos have supported both riders and they are currently 2nd and 3rd with a weakened team. If Froome was here then Bernal would probably have been a super-domestique with no chance of going for the win.

      • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:39 pm

        +1 Ineos are playing the cards they have. I think that people see what they want to see. Some of the older riders are not performing as well, but can they not have an off year. Some of them may well be being rested for tomorrow. But signs are that the race is being stretched. Perhaps people are using Alaphilippe as a barometer. I’ve made my feelings on him clear, but I think you have to look at other riders such as Bardet, Nibali, Yates, Porte and Uran – are they having a bad tour, or is it just very competitive and tough (as always).

  • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:45 am

    At this point Ineos have to decide if they actually want to win or not. If they do, Bernal is their only realistic shot. Thomas doesn’t have it regardless of him continuing to say “the legs felt great” when he loses time yet again – and consistently across the 3 high mountain stages 14, 15 and 18 so far. That Thomas chased down his own team mate yesterday certainly chopped a few seconds from what Bernal could have got instead, not least when the others were content to follow him. This suggests that Thomas is being less gracious about a team mate’s chance than Froome was in the same situation last year. If you take the ITT out of this race Bernal is in the lead. If Ineos put all their eggs in his basket now for a Froome-like suicide mission (it is stage 19 after all!) then they can at least say they tried to get yellow and maybe they have something to fight for tomorrow. If Alaphilippe has more than a minute going into tomorrow he won’t lose the race. Not that Bernal himself probably cares. If he takes white and gets a podium he’ll be praised anyway. Its about Ineos and if they want to put it all on the line or not.

    Well, do ya Dave B?

    • D Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:59 am

      “Thomas is being less gracious about a team mate’s chance than Froome was in the same situation last year” – really? You must have been watching a different race. Not only did Froome attack Thomas when he was in yellow, he stated his intention, and Sky were backing him all the way.

  • L'Islandais Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:52 am

    I’m hoping Quintana is coming to his own, will attack today, forcing the rest of the podium to respond and thus give the yellow jersey an armchair ride to the finish.

  • Le druide Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:58 am

    Reports / rumors are saying that Pinot has muscular problems at worse very sore legs at best, he had the utmost difficulty climbing stairs last night.

    • Gregario Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:53 pm

      Seems like these were not just rumours. That’s him done again right at the end of a Grand Tour.

  • noel Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:02 am

    I see Morkov finished 6 minutes back of the last grupetto at +42 minutes… anyone clever know where the time cut would have been yday?

    • Lukyluk Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:18 am

      Because of the heat, the race has announced before the stage that they would calculate the time cut from the peloton instead of the stage winner. They did this the day before as well (though it didn’t matter then).

    • Nick Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:41 am

      It was 50:08 according to the clever people at Velofacts.com

  • ErnieC. Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:48 am

    Please help me out. Why is it that when some of the older, more established riders do well (JA for example) it is very suspicious but when a younger rider excels (Bernal for example) it is applauded and well received. What am i missing? Not a 100% cycling devotee yet, so where am i going wrong?

    • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:56 am

      Very few are saying JA is suspicious. Those who are are the type that think if you come 1st its suspicious. You should ignore such people.

      • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:01 am

        Yours is the more concise answer I perhaps should have gone for.
        JA becoming a GC contender through doping is no more or less likely (and provable) than Bernal having doped his whole young life and thus being very good at such a young age.
        Baseless speculation.

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:58 am

      It’s because JA has never featured in a GC before in a reasonably long career, whereas Bernal has been tipped for GC stardom for a couple of years, and did very well in last year’s Tour.
      What these people ignore is that JA has never tried to feature in a GC before.
      Thomas too is a former classics rider who became a GC rider, albeit less suddenly. But JA could have been training for GC for a year.

      • Richard S Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:16 am

        I suppose the most unusual thing about Alaphilippe is that prior to the Tour he was winning sprints at Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico and then doing very well/dominating on short, explosive climbs in the Ardennes Classics. But then you do get great riders who are good at everything like Hinault and Merckx and to a slightly lesser extent Kelly and Lemond. Maybe its just that with specialisation being so much to the fore over the last 20 years nobody has tried to be good at everything?! I don’t think Alaphilippe is doping (at least not in a way that makes him different to the rest of the peloton) I just think he is a great rider who until now has not known where the boundaries of his ability lie. And maybe still doesn’t.

        • Larry T Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:37 am

          +1

        • GC hopeful Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:14 pm

          This is a perfect course for JA. A more typical TDF course would leave him in the to 10.

          • imakecircles Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:10 pm

            Wait until you see next year’s course!

        • Thomas Friday, 26 July 2019, 4:20 pm

          fully agree with you Richard S

          What impresses me the most at Alaphilippe is how he beats some of the regular GC guys (Porte, Uran, Quintana, …) whose main target is the Tour … EVERY single day!

        • RQS Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:18 pm

          -1 for almost all the reasons you suggest. Lest we forget, you mention Merckx and Hinault who have they own murky pasts. Given that doping is rarely found through testing and that the last big doping bust caught athletes with catheter in their veins rather than any test the likelihood that anyone at the sharp end of things is doping. A rider that can ‘do anything and everything’ in an era of specialisation and doping is likely to be trying something new and interesting. I’m surprised at just how fresh faced all the riders appear after such gruelling races. No signs of dehydration and fatigue like you’d expect.
          You may find my comments distasteful but never doubt that it’s going on. They may not be canning it like the 90s but they are definitely at it. It’s nice to think a slapped wrist here and there amount to something which stops athletes doping but the evidence, if you really really look at it suggests anything but, just that the awful truth is not something people like to think about. Not even amateur events are drug free – there’s that interesting documentary where the director gets a Russian doctor to help him dope. He does no better than before the doctor helped him (and there’s nothing to say that he himself didn’t just dope before he had the doctors help).
          Anti-doping agencies themselves know they’re onto a loser.

    • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:44 pm

      I think as well that a grand tour / long climbs suit – in general – riders in late 20s/early 30s and JA now 27 and will be becoming more resilient.

      Unusual to see a rider <25 winning a race like the TDF for this reason, unless they're a once-in-a-generation type talent. Bernal's VO2 max is reportedly extremely high – so he could well fit this category.

  • Dominique Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:06 am

    Most of the anglos’ comments seem to not want Thomas to do well (oldDave being an exception); is it that they would rather see a colombian win rather than a welshman? I would love to see a french winner, but if not all the other gc men deserve respect. Bernal has been hyped since he first appeared on the scene, like Quintana was a few years ago.

    • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:31 am

      Well I’ve got a slight preference for Thomas but that’s more because I think this might be his last chance to win. The English/Welsh thing is complicated. Sometimes it matters and other times we are all British.
      As for Bernal if he doesn’t win multiple grand tours then I would be absolutely amazed. At 22 he has got an amazing future.

      • Dominique Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:48 am

        Ah i think i see – if he wins he’s british, but if he loses he’s welsh?

        • jc Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:10 pm

          I am not an “anglo” somewhere between Irish and British definitely not English! In an ideal world I would like to see G win again (not sure anything he will ever do cycling wise will ever top winning on Alpe d’Huez in the yellow jersey) though not sure he will. Egan Bernal is very likely to win multiple grand tours but he has time on his side but this could be the first. I wouldnt mind seeing Steven Kruiswijk win basically because of his ill fortune at the Giro.

          • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:08 pm

            ‘Anglo’ most often refers to people of British Isles descent, including those from North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc., so you are ‘anglo’.
            I’m ‘anglo’ and it has no effect on who I want to win.

          • HodH Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:26 pm

            Ireland is not part of the ‘British Isles’ and is most definitely not ‘anglo’. In fact the only anglo part of Britain is England.

            Anglo often seems to be a derogatory term used to describe anyone who’s first language is English. Though trying to group people from Wales, Hawaii, London, Texas and Singapore into a mono-culture is a pretty ridiculous.

          • Steve Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:10 pm

            Ireland is very much part of the archipelago called the British Isles in a geographical sense. Even culturally more Irish people speak English as a first language than speak Gaelic, though no, I wouldn’t describe them as Anglos. Irish English is possibly the best of all the global variations.

          • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:20 pm

            HodH, you might want to do some research, as almost everything you’ve said there is wrong.

  • Pil Tick Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:48 am

    I agree Ineos don’t really have a preference for who wins between G or Bernal but the new set-up would certainly love a 1-2 in whatever order. With Egan leapfrogging Geraint on GC today that is still a real possibility, though not one the neutral fan really wants to acknowledge after such an open two and a half weeks.

    I think Ineos is gambling on JA blowing up in the next two days which everyone has expected to happen before now. For the team this could be heralded as their greatest victory yet coming to the race without their foremost rider and still getting top two steps on podium even without their usual team control. When it comes to the Tour they are a group of serial winners who aren’t just interested in beating their opponents but crushing them.

    This being said, I hope it doesn’t happen. I’ve been tipping Pinot since last autumn and would love yo see him do it.

  • Ferdi Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:51 am

    The race is really interesting. I find it a bit sad that we have to wait for attacks, when if the course was much longer and more demanding , attrition would do the job by itself. A 260km with 5 first category or HC cols is badly needed this week. The last alpine stage of 1983 is a model in this regard.

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:54 am

      I’d love to see this happen, but I think there’s a very good chance that faced with this sort of stage today’s peloton would come to an agreement to down tools and trundle over the first four mountains at soporific speeds (in order to ensure that ASO didn’t do this again) and only race on the last one.

      • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:02 pm

        You make a good point. They can have a 65kms stage or a 265kms stage but what they can’t do is make the riders race it a certain way. Its they who decide how it goes.

      • Ferdi Friday, 26 July 2019, 3:25 pm

        It’s always the same reasoning. The idea is to get a course that is so demanding that even if it’s ridden at the most economic and soporific speed, in the end it leaves the legs and bodies so exhausted that it makes a blatant difference. If people are still able to accelerate on the last climb, what came before what just not enough.

  • GC hopeful Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:25 pm

    Just about halving the gap to NQ, Movistar was working for Ineos. NQ was virtual race leader. Ineos should have wasted more guys trying to reduce time to NQ.
    If Ineos wins the tour thank Movistar.

  • noel Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:50 pm

    I’m already looking forward to see how Ineos handle the Carapaz/Froome/Thomas/Bernal 4 co-leaders scenario next year….

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 1:55 pm

      Bernal for Giro and Vuelta? Even if he wins, they’re bound to back Froome for the Tour (if he recovers from his injury). If I was Bernal, I’d prefer to try to win the G and V. Might not have a choice, mind you.
      I think Thomas and fear Carapaz will end up as domestiques (especially after this year’s collapse of Ineos’ team strength).
      Whether or not they’re informed of that before the race starts is another matter.

      • Tovarishch Friday, 26 July 2019, 3:30 pm

        I can see (and hope) that Thomas goes back to the Classics.

        • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:21 pm

          I think that would be weird. He could still win another grand tour and how many years will it take him to convert back again?

    • Larry T Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:25 pm

      Thanks, I was trying to forget about the “Can’t beat ’em? Buy ’em!” strategy for awhile since it’s not working so well (so far) at the Grand Tours this year.
      On another note, does anyone know why INEOS has someone driving a monstrous American Ford F-150 pickup truck along the route? I saw it yesterday at LeTour. Not particularly useful as a race vehicle and having your logo on this kind of thing ranks right up there as a middle-finger salute to the environment with those obnoxious Hummer things that were all-the-rage awhile back.

      • Lukyluk Friday, 26 July 2019, 3:16 pm

        Still better than a petrochemical sponsor best known for fracking operations in northern England.
        Oh, wait…

  • D Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:12 pm

    J Evans – “‘Anglo’ most often refers to people of British Isles descent, “. Beg to differ, anglo is shorthand for anglo-saxon, i.e. english.

  • Bern Friday, 26 July 2019, 2:29 pm

    Alaphilippe, contrary to most of the comments above, is the one providing the bulk of the drama this year. Without him, it’s a yawn. Add Froome to the mix this year and we’d all have switched channels long ago (even given the relative softness of Ineos domestiques).

  • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 3:02 pm

    I just cried for the very first time while watching cycling – I am watching cycling for decades, this never happened to me before. Pinot. Heartbreaking. He must think it is fate.

    • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 4:36 pm

      It was the hug he gave his teammate, that got me. Like a drowning man. The hug from (I think it was) Ladagnous allowed him to open up, this little human interaction allowed him to be Thibaut and not Pinot, allowed him to arrive in the reality of it all, but also to feel, that it was bitter, but not the end. He would survive it. And that nobody would think bad of him or hate him. And all this then allowed him to stop and get off his bike.

      There was so much emotion, so many unspoken words in this little moment between teammates and the team members in the car behind. The weight on a team leader, who knows, that millions are spend for him, that a dozen people put all their effort in helping him, working for him, that their feeling of success depends on him, that the jobs of so many people depend on him alone – and yet he is just one person, yes, who can rise above himself – but only so much. There comes a point, where you are powerless. Just human.

      All this and more was all visible in that hug.

      This is what got me, of course and not that he can‘t ride on in the race.

      • Bern Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:32 pm

        4th TdF abandoned – it’s gotta be demoralizing…

    • Baroudeur Billy Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:27 pm

      Brutal to watch. What a shame, he really had a great chance to win it this year.

  • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 3:17 pm

    Devastated for Pinot. Such a likeable character.

  • Andrew Friday, 26 July 2019, 4:40 pm

    It’s over. Chapeau, Julian.

  • motormouth Friday, 26 July 2019, 4:51 pm

    wow. who saw any of this happening. I can’t believe where they are calling it from to be honest, and without giving the riders enough time to react and make it fair.

    • Dave C Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:06 pm

      They had to stop the race immediately before Bernal and Yates crashed into the back of a snowplough or flew off the road. I can’t see what else they could do.

      The only other alternative was to neutralise the race and then restart with time gaps at the bottom of the climb to Tignes – but that would be unfair in different ways to different riders than simply stopping the race.

      • motormouth Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:23 pm

        yes that is possible – and I am remembering my perception, but it seemed like there was quite a lot of road left for them, and giving everyone a chance to react is much more fair than taking the time right where a single GC rider already made an attack.

        • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:55 pm

          Yeah, maybe they could, but where was the point to measure anything if not the the KOM? Put a commisaire with a stopwatch somewhere onto the road before they reach the next nearby landslide can’t be a serious alternative and would spark much more discussions.

      • Nick Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:35 pm

        They couldn’t do that either; there’s a mudslide across the road and the commissaires wouldn’t be able to get past it.

    • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:20 pm

      The jury could have cancelled the stage alltogether-this would have been allowed according to the rules. And I bet, that without social media and the „oh, they did it to help the french rider“-hysteria, they would have done it, because it is much fairer than taking the time mid race.

      That they stopped the race was the absolute right thing to do, there was no way to ride this in a safe way.

      • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:37 pm

        Well cancelling the stage would definitely be helping a French rider , in the circumstances taking the time at the top of the climb was the best option . JA is obviously very frustrated to lose yellow like that but I think he would have lost more time on the final climb .

      • Jacob W Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:38 pm

        Not to engage in counter-factuals, but surely Alaphilippe is the one who benefitted the most from this cancellation (apart perhaps from Simon Yates)? It is hard to see him gain time on Bernal with another 9km over 7% to come, and to retain a strong second place on GC. The only GC people who have reason to feel aggrieved, in my view, are Kruijswijk and perhaps Uran, Buchmann and Landa.

        • Jacob W Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:48 pm

          *not Simon Yates, obviously. Too much excitement.

        • Evan Friday, 26 July 2019, 11:58 pm

          quite possible he’d have taken time back on the descent, recovered, and had a better time of it on the finishing climb (lower category and lower altitude).

  • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:27 pm

    Two things:

    Fairest result for today is to annul the whole stage. The race dynamics are changed significantly by knowing the finish line location. The outcome may have still been the same today, but the players were not given an opportunity to properly race for it.

    It is of course difficult to assign individual events to the climate crisis, but I think we will see more and more occurrences of this type affecting races. My hope is that the sport recognizes this and uses the platform it has to educate and influence the public and those in power. Cycling, while far from climate neutral, is uniquely positioned to encourage a need for sustainability.

    • Cochisecito Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:33 pm

      I do agree with your sentiment about the climate crisis. But it will be hard to explain to millions of viewers that what they watched today will just not exist in the annals of history.

      • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:46 pm

        People don’t change or care until it affects them directly. While of course not a matter of life and death, sport has the power to bring out sometimes irrational passion. One of the main reasons nothing significant has been done about the crisis is because the day to day consequences have not made themselves felt yet. Today we have a concrete example.

        It would be interesting to do a statistical analysis of racing to see if the number of races affected by extreme weather has been going up proportionally with other proven increases in previously rare events. My gut feeling, having watched racing for more than 20 years is that it has been happening more. But I of course don’t have proof. Perhaps something for the UCI to relate to the Extreme Weather Protocol.

    • Dave C Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:33 pm

      I disagree that annulling the entire stage would be more fair than stopping it at the top of the climb. Bernal put in a huge effort and may suffer tomorrow for no gain today. The teams attacking Alaphilippe would be at a disadvantage. Whatever you do, someone looses out and someone else gains. I think it’s good that the 80km or so of racing we saw today stands.

      • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:44 pm

        JA however also put in a huge effort and kept chasing. I would argue their attempts are equal in suffering.

        • RICycleKing Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:17 pm

          You’re delusional. Bernal just took the lead and JA crumbled.

    • omegaman Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:37 pm

      Bernal seemed to realise that if you were first you had most to gain wherever the stage finished. If others didn’t, or couldn’t keep up, that’s their loss. And should remain so. Attacks must always be rewarded.

      • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:46 pm

        You’re effectively arguing that misjudging an effort should never be punished….

  • Larry T Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:31 pm

    I think they should annul the entire stage. Of course that penalizes the guys who were ahead at the secret finish line, but since nobody had advance notice the finish line would be there how can that be fair?
    Sad, a great race ruined by this fiasco along with Pinot’s sad retirement.
    I was there when Riis was “gifted” the 1996 Tour due to weather in the same area – the recriminations will last a long time unless you’re an INEOS or Bernal fan, assuming karma doesn’t come back tomorrow and take back the gift.

    • Dave Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:39 pm

      INEOS controlling the weather , it just isn’t fair

      • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:49 pm

        Ironically Ineos has been criticized for being quite a large greenhouse gas emitter…

        • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:54 pm

          Explaining jokes on the internet, part75585

        • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:58 pm

          All the hot air that gets posted on forums leaves a large carbon footprint too.

    • George Vest Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:40 pm

      I don’t think the race has been ruined at all – if anything, it just adds a fascinating and bizarre twist to what has been already been a great race. There was no ideal solution, but taking the time at the top of the Iseran was the least worst.

  • Max Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:44 pm

    Au revoir Pinot!

  • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 5:57 pm

    Kruisjwijk / Buchmann probably the only ones who can be really aggrieved I think. The former left a big gap to Bernal but had a teammate working so presumably the idea was that they’d be wearing down Bernal before the finish, which would have been a smart plan – if they could catch him!

    They should restart from the top at 9am tomorrow with staggered start using the time gaps at the top of the Iseran, and then do the stage proper in the afternoon 🙂

    • Cochisecito Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:42 pm

      +1 to this! 🙂

  • Anonymous Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:05 pm

    I guess that’s it for all talk about francophone commissaires.

  • Derek McFarlane Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:19 pm

    I dont really get why dropping todays stage has a greater sporting integrity than ceasing it on Iseran which was the final time point they had in the abandoned race stage. The race dynamic is set across the entire 3 weeks just as it is stage by stage.
    The decisive handling by organisers had some winners and losers yet kept everyone safe and well . No need for uneccessary drama .
    Its been a fine race, well done to all the great athletes / management / organisers .

    • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:39 pm

      I would argue annulling the full stage has more integrity as ending it at the top of the Iseran doesn’t reflect a good picture of comparative tactical racing. If JA knew the finish was at the top, he may have dug deeper, since he would know there isn’t a descent to recover or regain time on. I’m not arguing that the eventual outcome would have been different, Bernal is clearly stronger. Annulling the full stage however effectively eliminates any questions about “what if?”.

      • Kieran Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:50 pm

        That argument doesn’t hold for a 3 week tour, as the racing and race strategy is spread across multiple stages.

        • Alex V Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:44 pm

          Which is why I said tactical, not strategic… If we were discussing RAAM your argument makes more sense, but as we have individual stages, with rules governing how they are raced, I think what happened to affect the day’s outcome takes precedence.

      • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:33 pm

        Annulling the stage would be no better a solution, because it would be gifting a huge amount of time to JA. And, let’s face it, he would very probably have lost much more time on the climb to Tignes than he has now lost.
        Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory solution to this, there will always be ‘What ifs’ and we’ll never know what would have happened in the rest of the stage. Equally unfortunately, if Bernal wins, the feeling is always going to be there that he was gifted it a bit (albeit by the weather).

    • Baroudeur Billy Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:53 pm

      The problem is that the riders didn’t know in advance when the stage would end. If they had, they most likely would have ridden differently. By chance, if you attacked on Iseran you were rewarded. If you were waiting for the climb to Tignes, you got screwed. This is problematic from a sporting standpoint.

  • Richard S Friday, 26 July 2019, 6:57 pm

    Prudhomme obviously mis read the directive from President Macron after Pinot abandoned to neutralise the stage at the bottom of the Iseran. Seriously though can you imagine if that storm had been 10 miles or so different and dumped it’s hail on the Iseran. You wouldn’t be able to hear in here for complaints about French chauvinism. Lucky for some, unlucky for others. That’s bike racing, as Sean Kelly would say.

    • Baroudeur Billy Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:09 pm

      It didn’t look like it was safe to ride through that road. I don’t think too many are upset that the stage wasn’t finished, just the way times were awarded.

      • Richard S Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:10 pm

        Yes the last climb definitely wasn’t an option

  • Tim Mitchell Friday, 26 July 2019, 7:29 pm

    No fair outcome today. Alaphillipe dropped yet the GC guys were clearly holding it back to reel in Bernal.

    The jury have a tough choice. IMO the stage should be neutral but also I can see why that would not be fair. No way to win or loose. Vive le tour!

  • cp Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:23 pm

    The guy I feel for is Kruijswijk. Alaphilippe’s hopes to claw back time and survive the next hill seem somewhat fantastical, as disappointed as I am to acknowledge that.

    But if you believe what Kruijswijk said–that he was staying with a teammate on the Iseran with the belief that Bernal would burn a lot of energy alone out front–then his strategy really got trashed by the abridgement of the stage. (I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t have been cancelled…) Who knows if it would have worked…

    • plurien Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:59 pm

      This for a guy who crashed out of the Giro lead into a snowdrift?!
      And if you’re still in any doubt about the need to stop the stage – Calling all the crossers for a proper modder;-
      https://www.ledauphine.com/savoie/2019/07/26/saint-jean-de-maurienne-tignes-vivez-l-ambiance-du-tour-de-france-en-direct-savoie-alaphilippe-pinot-bernal-thomas-iseran-col

      • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:55 pm

        I don’t get your response, plurien – cp just said he feels for him (as do I). No perfect decision but Bernal was risking a lot out there for 40km, and Kruisjwijk’s tactics were the right one in the circumstances.

        • cp Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:28 pm

          I felt for Kruisjwijk (god his name is impossible to remember how to spell for an English speaker…) when he ate the snow cone on the Giro as well. People make mistakes; just some get to do so in spectacular fashion!

        • plurien Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:47 pm

          Just saying he wouldn’t have minded a stage finish at the col on that day.
          And we’re not on here to win or anything. It’s just a discussion with conversational gambits.

  • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 9:56 pm

    Nothing that could be done, but it does feel like we’ve been robbed of the race – the weather has decided it.

    If Bernal doesn’t want this to seem like a hollow victory he needs to ride and take time on the others tomorrow, but I suspect Ineos will ride to conserve his lead.

    Also gutted for Pinot, of course. I feared for his fragility in this race, but this was desperately unlucky.

    • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:07 pm

      Mind you, with the revised route it seems like it’ll be a hollow victory anyway. No offence to Bernal, but this is not how you want to see any grand tour decided.

      What was potentially one of the best TdFs in decades is potentially going to have the worst possible denouement.

      • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:32 pm

        I concur with both your comments.

        This tour was SO close to greatness.

        A freak injury to Pinot, avoiding a crash; a freak hailstorm and two landslides.

        I wonder how I would have felt about Pinot winning if he’d been healthy and in the lead… and how would the French have felt to break their run in such a way?

        • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:35 pm

          How did Pinot injure himself?
          I think whoever wins this way, it’s a bit of a rubbish win. I feel for Bernal too, because I think he’d probably have won the Tour anyway, but now it’ll always be seen as ‘won by the weather’.

          • Greasy Wheel Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:40 pm

            Apparently he had to make a sudden move to avoid a crash or incident in front of him two days ago and that may have caused the muscular injury.

            Agree on Bernal but he’ll win so many grand tours he won’t worry about it in a few years. VO2 max of 91 or whatever it is… he’s got the natural gifts for many more.

          • J Evans Friday, 26 July 2019, 10:42 pm

            Ah, thanks.

            True enough about Bernal.