≡ Menu

Tour Debrief

A few loose ends in and around the Tour de France…

The Tour was a TV ratings hit. In the briefing to the riders in Brussels on the eve of the start Christian Prudhomme reminded that it was an odd year meaning no clash with a FIFA World Cup or the Olympics and so the Tour could be the sports event of the summer. Work by Professor Van Reeth also suggests that for all the promise of streaming services, nothing beats beaming the images to TV.

That’s Tour’s prize money table per team. It’s often misconstrued by some with the “that’s not much for such a big event” line but prize money in pro cycling is near irrelevant because riders are salaried and they’re much better off because of this: crash out of a race you still get paid, fall ill during the season and you can still provide for your family. Loyal readers know a rider can collect less than 10% of the headline sum. Instead it’s a good barometer of activity in the race, it correlates with who had a good race and a bad one.

Last on the list Total Direct Energie blamed their lack of success on the UCI points system with manager Jean-Réné Bernaudeau saying he had to have his riders spend the first half of the year chase UCI points which left them fried for the Tour. The coming UCI reforms means he’s trying to get his team in the World Tour. Perhaps points were an objective earlier this year but the team selection didn’t suggest they were going to set the race alight and once Niki Terpstra crashed out things got much tougher since Lilian Calmejane had showed up out of condition and a touch overweight.

Wanty-Gobert sit mid-table in the prize money standings. Cofidis-bound Guillaume Martin finished 12th overall and they were active in the breakaways. But what if they kept some of their best riders out of the Tour de France? It’s not obvious if it’s deliberate but Loïc Vliegen just won the Tour de Wallonie and Tom Devriendt won a stage in the Tour of Austria. The team can collect precious UCI points this way by using riders capable of actually winning these kind of races while they deployed their baroudeurs to enliven the Tour. The result? They sit higher on the UCI rankings table than Katusha-Alpecin and Dimension Data.

It’s 1 August today and from today onwards formal contracts can be inked for 2020. Only the rider transfer market it gummed up because of the Katusha-Alpecin team’s future. Will it ride on, perhaps in a merger with another team or is it the end of the road? The uncertainty means team managers don’t know if there will suddenly be 24 World Tour riders on the market or not including some choice names like Nils Politt.

Team Sunweb are in a pickle with Tom Dumoulin. There’s no point trying to hold onto a rider who wants to go but they did sign a five year deal with him so if he moves do they get compensation from Jumbo-Visma? If so, how much? There are few precedents. Egan Bernal “only” cost Sky €300,000 to buy out Androni Gioccatoli; with Bradley Wiggins there was talk of a seven figure sum to buy him out of Garmin-Slipstream. The UCI rules are clear that both teams have to approve and seek approval from the Professional Cycling Council, a UCI committee. For Sunweb Dumoulin’s exit would be a big blow, he’s their star rider around which the team is built and in the last few years they’ve had relatively few wins apart beyond Dumoulin’s grand tour triumphs and there’s hardly time to buy in a replacement. Lennard Kämna had a great Tour too but could be leaving as well.

Julian Alaphilippe had offers to move elsewhere but re-signed with Deceuninck-Quickstep before the Tour de France. He could have earned more but wanted to stay and the Belgian team cracked open their normally tight piggy bank to retain him. It makes sense as France is one of Deceuninck’s top-three markets alongside the US and Turkey. This doesn’t mean Deceuninck windows are flying off the shelves but the brand name is known and it shows the team has wider interests than the spring classics.

ASO are setting up dedicated group to manage women’s cycling and launch a new stage race. It can’t run alongside the Tour de France. When Christian Prudhomme said over winter that he couldn’t put on a stage race during the Tour he got flak for it but it’s not his choice. Already the Tour uses 29,000 police, up from 23,000 a few years ago and this year they had to draft in fire crews and road workers as well to help block junctions, parking fire engines and earth moving equipment at sensitive junctions which the police and gendarmes couldn’t cover. If there’s a new summer stage race surely it will take place in August as this way it’ll benefit from summer crowds in holiday destinations like ski resorts; June would feel a bit flat. It’ll also be an easy sell in the way the Tour can twist the arm of towns to host a stage of the Dauphiné, Paris-Nice or even the Vuelta as a means to getting fast-tracked to host the Tour.

The subject of podium girls came up in July as a political topic. It wasn’t discussed inside the Tour’s bubble but outside it was an issue in the news in France, although to some extent one driven by social media and a few tweets and posts rather than a groundswell of public opinion. It’s not for this year nor probably the next but at some point in the next few years the podium protocols will change.

Someone who’s seen the Tour change a lot is journalist Gianni Mura who started covering the Tour de France aged 21 in 1967 and is 73 and still on the race. He was modern in his time, using a typewriter while others still wrote their columns by hand and then phoned them in. He’s been using a typewriter ever since but new for 2019 had a laptop in the photo when interviewed by L’Equipe. He used his last column to blast rivals La Gazzetta, awarding them a 3/10 for their coverage of the Tour which was often just a page a day and they only sent one writer in the valiant Ciro Sconomiglio who Mura awarded 8/10. It’s a bit Italo-Italian media navel gazing but there’s a point here because Italy has no World Tour teams, it’s Pro Conti teams are melting away faster than a gelato dropped on a beach and media coverage is drying up to the point where if Gazzetta struggles to cover the Tour it’s hard times.

The Tour was ruined by race radios and power meters. Just joking. These devices are common scapegoats for boring races but there are good and bad events with and without. As part of David Lappartient’s manifesto to investigate what makes cycling attractive and improve it the UCI launched a survey with some loaded questions about what makes races attractive. It got 22,000 responses and the largest country to respond was the USA. We’ll see what the answers are soon.

What’s for next year? Already a few bits of the route seem to be leaking out with talk of a visit to the west coast and the Île d’Oléron and Île de Ré, two pancake flat islands and nothing to get the mouth watering. There are a few official-looking maps doing the rounds on social media but they’re mocked up fantasies, often the work of members of the Gruppetto forum and its laboratoire à parcours or route lab section.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Digahole Thursday, 1 August 2019, 1:22 pm

    Odd that TV ratings were down in the Netherlands with a Dutch team and rider at the pointy end of things. I have a Dutch friend who tells me that the radio coverage there is excellent… maybe this along with the warm weather meant the parks were full of sunbathers sipping beers and letting the race go by in the background. Actually, I’d be doing the same if I could manage to find decent English language radio coverage.

    On another note, Lefevere must have his self-satisfaction meter dialled to 11 at re-signing Alaphilippe *prior* to the spectacle that unfolded.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 1 August 2019, 1:58 pm

      The Twitter link to the television numbers suggests that the Dutch watch Eurosport and Belgium’s Sporza for much of their cycling?

      • Eskerrik Asko Thursday, 1 August 2019, 3:31 pm

        It is my impression that a not insignificant percentage of cycling fans in countries where the Tour could only be viewed on Eurosport watched Eurosport Player rather than Eurosport 1. And I’d hazard a guess that it’s only in countries where the Tour was available on a “free” channel that other than “active” cycling fans tuned in or chose to watch road cycling on whatever channel they tend to watch.

      • JeroenK Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:56 pm

        Ecky, I am Dutch and I think you might be right. The numbers add up too and you’d say with the relatively small population of Belgium and cycling being ever popular there, it’s improbable that rise came out of their own country.

        It is my own view that the quality of Sporza and Eurosport passed Dutch national television long ago. There’s an old pro presenting, who at times seems out of touch with modern cycling. People stayed there for a long time, because the national TV is where the Tour traditionally is viewed. The presenters of Sporza and Eurosport clearly have more knowledge and offer more insights and better explanation of what happens. This quality exists in the Netherlands, but it’s in new media like the ‘In het wiel’ podcast from Thijs Zonneveld, Thomas Dekker and Hidde van Warmerdam.

        I am not surprised at all the numbers fell, but I feel it has nothing to do with cycling being less popular. On the contrary. The Tour really was an alive topic thanks to Jumbo Visma’s succes.

    • StevhanTI Thursday, 1 August 2019, 2:49 pm

      A couple years back, when asked about the best rider in the world (or the most promising one, don’t recall exactly) he replied Alaphilippe, that was even before he won his first FLèche Wallonne, Lefevere reallly, really, really believes in this guy. I think he sees him as the substitute for Boonen, the charismatic leader of the team that he wants to stay forever.

      • Gelato4bahamontes Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:34 pm

        Yes ala alpha wolf in the pack until remco takes over. Viviani and Gilbert had to leave to pay alas salary.

        Ala for the ronde or the ardennes triple next year?

        I hear remco beat Egan in a crit this week, san sebastian should be interesting.

        • JeroenK Thursday, 1 August 2019, 10:44 pm

          In a post Tour crit, which are, according to common knowledge, completely staged. Remco is a talent though, but it does not surprise me one bit he beats any GC rider doing a crit tired from riding a 3 week tour.

          • Gelato4bahamontes Friday, 2 August 2019, 4:13 pm

            Only tongue in cheek my friend.

          • Gelato4bahamontes Saturday, 3 August 2019, 5:59 pm

            Maybe not so tongue in cheek.. Remco wins in San Sebastian

          • JeroenK Saturday, 3 August 2019, 10:56 pm

            It turns out the common knowledge you have to race the TdF to win San Sebastian is out of the window too. Or just busted by raw talent.

        • Sean Sunday, 4 August 2019, 5:54 am

          Alaphilippe is over-rated. That’s what I said before Milan-Sanremo this year.
          Also …
          Remco is too young to even be in the winning group in a top-level race. That’s what I said when I read your comment yesterday.
          I’m sure I also muttered something similar about Egan Bernal and van der Poel. What a year it’s been.

          • Gabriel Constantin Sunday, 4 August 2019, 10:01 pm

            Hope you’re not the betting kind.

    • Greasy Wheel Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:28 pm

      No Dumoulin is surely the reason?

  • KevinK Thursday, 1 August 2019, 1:32 pm

    Sad to read about the apparent waning of interest in cycling in Italy. When I think of bicycle racing I think first and foremost of the great Italian bicycle and equipment makers and the great Italian riders through the ages.

    A few edits: JA could have earned “more” and in the “photo” of Gianni Mura…

    I was one who filled in the UCI survey. I thought a few of the questions were ill conceived and unlikely to yield useful information, and said more about what the UCI is focused upon than a real quest for information. Still, it’s nice to see that they are looking for input from fans. It’s interesting that the majority of responses came from the US.

    • Digahole Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:33 pm

      Lance Armstrong did mention the survey on his podcast… As the highest rated sports podcast in the US during the Tour, I wonder how many surveys that might have been worth.
      It’s quite remarkable how his podcast started as a laughing stock, but within a couple of years now has him appearing on NBC. At this rate of rehabilitation, for a guy who knows how to build and wield influence, be interesting to see where he’s at 5 or 10 years from now.

      • Foley Thursday, 1 August 2019, 8:42 pm

        Not “a laughing stock,” just something to be actively ignored. Lance is still a creep; his methods of building and (especially) wielding influence were precisely the problem. If this were merely personal feelings I’d spare them here, but I am convinced he is (still) bad for the sport and it’s not a close call.

        • J-Man's Dad Friday, 2 August 2019, 3:16 am

          +1
          It’s not a close call and he should be actively ignored. I hit the “mute” button, fast forward, or simply went to refill my beverage whenever he appeared on NBCSN here in the US. He is a cancer on our sport.

          • D Evans Friday, 2 August 2019, 10:05 pm

            The same goes for Belgium’s answer to Mephistopheles, Johan Bruyneel, who apparently has also raised his ugly head again. These people have no shame, they should be politicians.

      • Ronin Friday, 2 August 2019, 5:56 pm

        Yes. Armstrong discussed the survey on his podcast. It’s what prompted me to fill it out.

      • Katie Saturday, 3 August 2019, 12:19 am

        for a guy who knows how to build and wield influence, be interesting to see where he’s at 5 or 10 years from now.

        Armstrong building and welding his influence is what caused so much damage to the sport, not to mention many talented people (not just riders). Unfortunately as he is a narcissist he’ll definitely be publicly visible in 5 to 10 yrs. The creep did so much damage to the sport

        • Jensthecat Saturday, 3 August 2019, 5:54 am

          Got into cycling because of Lance. Still love it

      • Whaleoilbeefhooked Saturday, 3 August 2019, 1:34 am

        Hard to tell if the various comments about LA are from holier-than-thou cycling is “pain y agua” revisionists or those who think he’s the problem rather than the symptom.

        • J-Man's Dad Saturday, 3 August 2019, 5:35 pm

          He is the problem and the symptom. Most of the other outed dopers have quietly receded into at least a bit of “where are they now” obscurity. Symptom. Because he won’t stay away: Problem. Those of us Americans that were fans of the sport well before that arrogant young triathlete became the darling of Velonews don’t care to listen to his opinion ever again.

          I choose to enjoy our sport in all it’s manifestations. Unfortunately, unless I want to cough up the $$, my TV viewing options are limited. While I’m enjoying it, I’d prefer not to see or hear from him.

          2019’s TdeF was exciting and open. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, even stage 19 & 20, even after reluctantly agreeing that the cancellation and route changes were the right thing to do.

          I don’t need to hear his thoughts.

      • Digahole Saturday, 3 August 2019, 7:12 am

        Personally, I don’t have such a problem with Lance… I think he’s interesting. Would note too that, more often than not, riders (ex and current) don’t seem to have much of a problem with him.

        I also generally believe in giving people a second chance… just like Kim Andersen. Busted for doping seven times, given a lifetime ban, now rehabilitated and a director at Trek.
        (must credit the latest episode of The Cycling Podcast for that discussion)

  • Somers Thursday, 1 August 2019, 2:55 pm

    And only 7 teams won a stage – down from the average of 12.5 from the preceding 4 years and a record for at least the last 15 years (where the previous lowest was 10).

    • BenW Friday, 2 August 2019, 2:07 pm

      Interesting that this is the case and none of those 7 was INEOS. Wondering if Andrew Hood at Velonews still thinks INEOS strangled it like he did after Stage 10

  • StevhanTI Thursday, 1 August 2019, 2:55 pm

    My personal post-factum debating points were:
    – despite being an exciting show on the road, the results for all competitions were very predictable
    – two out of two grand tours are won by South-American riders so far, did this happen before? Will Superman Lopez win the Vuelta?
    – Valverde finished in the top 10 seemingly without pushing too hard, does he maybe has his eyes on a victorious Vuelta in his rainbow jersey?
    -so many teams performing poorly

    • Richard S Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:43 pm

      I would agree that there were a lot of teams that were just ‘there’. You could be mean and say everyone from AG2R down just rode around France. It’s interesting that Inrng offers an explanation for Cofidis. I often wondered during the Tour why they were there. Surely if they send their best riders elsewhere they aren’t worth the invite? It sounds like they’re getting the cheque book out though. I don’t hold out much hope for Viviani there. In two grand tours this year he’s scraped a single stage win having had probably 10 attempts with the masters of lead outs. The only team that competes with and potentially outdoes Cofidis for pointlessness is Dimension Data. There is a team that i wouldn’t be surprised to see go.

  • Chuffy Thursday, 1 August 2019, 3:05 pm

    Re: radios. Given that the usual response from the teams is ‘oh, but safety’ it was interesting that it took a personal appearance from the race director and quite a lot of chat before Yates and Bernal finally stopped on the Iseran stage. Maybe their benefit (and disbenefit) is exaggerated?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 1 August 2019, 5:27 pm

      It’s hard to stop on a descent like that, you need to be told ten times from two sources to halt otherwise you worry about making a mistake.

      • Whaleoilbeefhooked Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:30 pm

        And the memory of Quintana pressing on whilst the Giro was “neutralised” lingers long.

    • Rodrigo Diaz Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:55 pm

      They would have had to forcibly stop me. Memories of the Quintana Giro would have haunted me.

    • Megi Friday, 2 August 2019, 9:32 am

      The weather where they were was fine and there was no indication at all of big trouble further down. Riders don’t necessarily obey the DS, particularly if he/she is apparently talking nonsense.

    • DaveRides Friday, 2 August 2019, 5:03 pm

      I agree.

      Cycling will be safer without the radios, keep riders’ ears free to be more aware of their surroundings and also avoid the injuries resulting from a rider landing on the radio pack in a crash.

      If only there was some sort of visual signalling system which could be deployed instead of radios and do a better job. Maybe one involving coloured flags and lights, perhaps using the same colours as traffic lights so the meaning is clear.

      It might take a few years to perfect, but it would be great news for cycling. As well as replacing radios, they would have the opportunity to make $$$$ selling the idea to other ‘racing’ sports like F1 or MotoGP, because there’s no way that any of them would have come up with such a great idea first.

  • Augie March Thursday, 1 August 2019, 3:42 pm

    Why would Dumoulin go to Jumbo Visma when that team already has Kruijswijk and Roglič? Okay, so only big Tom has won a grand tour and he might prefer to ride for a Dutch team, but it would seem to be another case of too many leaders/same types of riders for one team. With Bernal and Thomas Dave Brailsford is probably secretly hoping Froome’s injuries end his career as a GC force.

    Also the Valverde thing reminds me of something you mentioned in your moment the tour was won post: that after a bizarre interlude of smart and disciplined tactical racing at the Giro, Movistar were back up to their usual bewildering antics at the Tour. Chasing down their own riders in breakaways, having mountain domestiques launch doomed attacks instead of protecting their leader(s), Valverde looking sometimes like he was working for Quintana and Landa but then at other times just hanging on the back of the GC group and riding for himself. Or maybe he was just thinking about the team prize which only seems to be coveted by Movistar and/or just goes by default to the squad with several leaders but no real focus on getting one of them into the yellow jersey or at least on the podium.

    • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 3:56 pm

      Froome – thus far in their respective careers – is far better than Thomas (one GT win when Froome and Dumoulin were tired from the Giro – and this year looked about on a par with Kruijswijk) and Bernal (his TT was comparatively weak and had Pinot stayed fit Bernal might not have bested him). So, I very much doubt DB is hoping Froome is out. I’m sure he was always hoping that Froome had a couple of good years left in him to allow Bernal to improve.

      • Augie March Thursday, 1 August 2019, 4:05 pm

        True, and I wasn’t being entirely serious. But still, Froome now has seven Grand Tours to his name and so doesn’t really have anything left to prove, he’s also 34 and even if he has a flawless recovery probably won’t be at the level he was before. The fact that Thomas finished second this year shows his win last year wasn’t just a fluke/thanks to a weak field and while I’m definitely into the “Pinot would have won if he’d stayed in” theory, Bernal still rode a great Tour and he’s got so many more of his prime years ahead of him. Or if everything falls apart Ineos can just buy themselves the next big name, they certainly always seem to have the cash.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 1 August 2019, 4:42 pm

          Thomas could have won again this year, given a more favourable build up and a bit more of the “I’m here to defend my title and I lead this team” attitude. The Arthur or Marthur Ineos leadership played well for Bernal in the end, landslides included! Froome won’t win another TDF so don’t place your bets!

        • Snap Friday, 2 August 2019, 1:20 am

          “Ineos can just buy themselves the next big name”…. Already on it – Sosa

          • Jim Friday, 2 August 2019, 11:55 am

            So could any other team – if they got their act together on sponsorship.

          • Anonymous Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:42 pm

            Yes, because money like Ineos have is readily available from lots of companies willing to sponsor a cycle team.

        • KevinR Friday, 2 August 2019, 9:11 am

          Harsh – Thomas could have won and second hardly shows 2018 was a fluke!
          And this ‘Pinot would have won’ thing irritates. To finish first, first you have to finish. Pinot regularly doesn’t in grand tours.

          • Anonymous Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:41 pm

            ‘might’

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 1 August 2019, 5:30 pm

      Roglič can still do the Giro again and Dumoulin can do the Tour. Kruijswijk can try alongside as he suits, he was useful in the Tour last year and a podium is surely a career highlight, he’s a sort of Jürgen Van den Broeck figure who can place high on a stage race but almost never wins, he’s had two career wins (2011, 2014) and could aim for a stage etc so he can throw his arms up in the air. Besides Dumoulin might be tempted by a stack of money from Jumbo too, the “Viviani” explanation, ie “so Elia, what was it about Cofidis that convinced you to sign a seven figure contract with them?”

      • Augie March Friday, 2 August 2019, 8:56 am

        Sounds plausible, but at least as far as I’ve read Dumoulin hasn’t expressed dissatisfaction about Sunweb and over the last few years they’ve been recruiting riders to work for him, even Matthews said he was committed to helping out Sunweb’s GC tilt which is why he wasn’t sharp in any of the sprints he contested. But of course cyclists are pro athletes so need to earn what they can while they can.

  • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 3:52 pm

    What made this Tour particularly exciting? One team not dominating it.
    That’s how you make grand tours exciting.
    Unfortunately, one team will have the winners of the last three TdFs next year and the latest Giro winner.
    But budget caps are ‘unfair/unworkable/communistic/punishing success/hardest on the riders/etc./and so on’.

    • jc Thursday, 1 August 2019, 4:14 pm

      Was this Tour really all that exciting? No doubt Julian Allaphilippe rode with great elan and gave great heart to lots of folk in France but did he or anyone with more than a passing knowledge of cycling believe he was actually going to “win”? Maybe it was a different approach from the “Sky train” of past years but Ineos were in pole position from day one. Only Thibaut Pinot offered any realistic challenge to them and we know how that ended. Until another team is prepared to focus exclusively on the Tour that is not likely to change.

      • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 5:28 pm

        That seems a bit ‘after the fact’. Up until Stage 19, many different riders could have won the race: JA (unlikely), Pinot, Bernal, Thomas, Kruijswijk, Buchmann (unlikely).
        Also, the GC riders were much more isolated and had to do it alone, as in Bernal’s race-winning attack.
        All of these factors made it more interesting.
        Sky didn’t dominate the TdF because that was their primary (almost only) focus. They dominated it because they had a budget much bigger than everyone else and thus could not only buy the best leader, but the best domestiques.

        • jc Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:25 pm

          Not after the fact, there is a comment here from the “who going to win” blog where I suggest that the most likely outcome was going to be an Ineos win and quite possibly two Ineos riders on the podium, it was hardly a surprise. Thibaut Pinot was a surprise but in the end didnt make the finish. Neither Steven Kruijswijk or Emu Buchmaan were serious contenders for the top step. Lots of folk seem to thing it was an exciting race simply because Julian Allaphilippe kept yellow for so long and some Ineos riders were not up to the usual standards but the result says otherwise. Sky came closer to loosing when Chris Froome “bonked” on Alpe d’Huez than anything that happened this year.

          Sky / Ineos are seen as successful simply because they have won the world’s biggest cycle race so many times. Outside of that their record is patchy at best. They do not need to win other races to keep the sponsors happy. It is not simply money (though of course that helps) it is strategy. A salary cap would make little difference, have 10 to 12 highly paid riders so you can put out a top team at the Tour and fill the rest of the squad with young riders. Personally I think this sort of strategy is damaging both for the Tour and cycling generally. The Tour is more than wearing the yellow jersey in Paris, it need top sprinters and riders willing to attack outside of the mountains. However others are looking to emulate Dave Brailsford. Maybe Jumbo Visma or other teams will send their own solely GC focused team but how does that help Dylan Groenewegen or Wout van Aert?

          • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:56 pm

            The result was as many – including myself – predicted. What was totally different from what we predicted was how the result happened.
            And there’s the fact that on – let’s say – Stage 17, had you asked people who was going to win you’d have got a lot of different answers (indeed, Eurosport UK did, around that time, and got a wide variety – two journalists/experts tipping Landa for instance).
            It wasn’t about JA. He was just a part of it.
            Ineos did not dominate. They came 1st and 2nd, but not by that much and those positions only came at the very end – and had things played out a little differently (Pinot not getting injured, the last two stages not being truncated) the result could have been very different.
            This was nothing like 2012-18 (minus 14).

            Teams like AG2R and G-FDJ are hugely focused on the Tour. Focus is not what you need to compete; a strong team is. With a budget (not salary) cap Ineos could not have the TdF team that they do have, even if all their riders outside that group were amateurs.

      • Rodrigo Diaz Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:58 pm

        Yes, yes it was that exciting. Not a satisfactory finish, but can’t remember having this level of interest and feeling things were about to change in 10 years at least.

        I don’t see how you just offhand discard what Pinot had – yes, it ended poorly but it totally felt he could best the Ineos duo.

      • Chris_SK Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:22 pm

        The way they rode Tourmalet was tragic. I kind of understand this post, tour was definitely more exciting / open than last 5-6 editions.. but very few riders actually really “attacked” – Pinot’s efforts a welcome exception to the procession. Bernal deserves his win for being the one to break the deadlock in the Alps… but then this is direct result of two Ineos riders being the most all-round riders in the race. G ahead of the other contenders thanks to a decent TT and Bernals freedom to chip away at the time difference to JA over multiple stages.

        • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:43 pm

          Oh, I don’t think Kruijswijk and Buchmann were remotely thrilling to watch. I think they might have had one non-meaningful attack each throughout the entire race.
          But both Bernal and Pinot did attack prior to Stage 19 (as well as all the other factors mentioned above and below by various people). Stage 19 could have been really good, but obviously wasn’t and Stage 20 was one to fast forward through, as I did at times.

          • Ronytominger Friday, 2 August 2019, 3:30 pm

            Buchmann launched the attack that dropped thomas on the tourmalet. , hes also not necessarily the same type as kruiswijk. Was there in the front group the first time in his career and could still improve next year. What he achieved with his 4th place: hes now sole gc-captain at bora before majka and konrad.

        • Davesta Friday, 2 August 2019, 1:30 pm

          It depends on your perspective I suppose, but I thought the Tourmalet stage was wonderful…
          Bardet & Yates dropped on the Soulor
          Nibali et al given no room in the break thanks to FDJ & Movistar’s forcing
          Some smaller names being dropped early on the Tourmalet
          Aru outlasting Dan Martin
          Movistar dropping their own leader (megalolz)
          Ineos looking very uncomfortable when Movistar peeled off and they had to take up the duties with a weak squad
          Barguil attacking, fruitlessly as it turned out
          Bigger names (Porte, Valverde etc) dropping off as they neared the summit
          Gaudu forcing things for Pinot and reducing the lead group to just a handful
          Buchmann’s attack putting Thomas in trouble
          Pinot sprinting for a momentous victory

      • MCH Thursday, 1 August 2019, 11:49 pm

        Anyone who didn’t find the 2019 tour exciting might as well give up watching stage racing, because they are going to be disappointed in every race they ever watch.

        In addition to the uncertainty of the GC right up until the end, many of the individual stages were compelling;
        The chaotic sprint finish (and unexpected winner) of stage 1,
        The battle for the yellow jersey and GC seconds up impossibly steep roads on stage 6,
        De Gendt’s glorious break away victory, Thomas’s breathless chase back on and Alaphilippe and Pinot’s dramatic late attack on stage 8,
        Van Aert’s debut win and the crosswinds on stage 10,
        Alaphillipe’s (and to a lesser extent Pinot’s) amazing performance in the stage 13 ITT,
        Pinot’s explosive finish to stage 14,
        The tactical battle between Pinot, Bernal and Thomas (and Alaphillipe’s first sign of weakness) on stage 15,
        Quintana’s epic break away on stage 18,
        Bernal’s attack and the ensuing chaos on stage 19.

        Not to mention the soap opera that was Movistar’s tactics and what crazy thing they were going to do next.

        Stage 8 was my favourite – I was on the edge of my seat for the last 20km

    • hoh Thursday, 1 August 2019, 5:55 pm

      The previous two Giro winner actually.

      • Evan Friday, 2 August 2019, 8:20 am

        Giri*

    • JEvans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:08 pm

      And who are Ineos about to sign?
      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Benoot (who would be converted to domestique, no doubt, plus giving them something more for one day races) , Dan Martin (ditto, if he’s accepted that he’s not a GC rider and fancies a bumper pay day), Chaves? Meintjes? – they’re definitely going to want some new quality domestique climbers after this TdF.

      • Lukyluk Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:01 pm

        Other than Carapaz, who has been rumored for an Ineos transfer since he won the Giro, Mikkel Bjerg (already among the best TTers at only 20yo) is reportedly joining them next year.

        Tom Pidcock is also rumored to join, but there have been whispers about it for the last 18 months and we’re still to see the move.

        And there’s a new generation coming through, overshadowed by Bernal, recruits from a couple years ago: the likes of Sosa, Halvorsen, and IMO the most promising, Pavel Sivakov.

        • Tovarishch Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:18 pm

          Halvorsen is almost certainly moving, probably EF Education First.

    • A Cole Thursday, 1 August 2019, 6:58 pm

      I do have issues when the salary cap drum gets beaten, not sure if you are in favour or not but I would posit that only one team dominates in cycling: Quickstep. They have been winning from the start of the season with an almost boring metronomic regularity and it was something they continued into the Tour with stage wins for JA and Viviani and a long stint in yellow. Sky/Ineos have only ever dominated one race and yes it is the blue ribbon race of the cycling calendar but the hand-wringing in previous editions and hysterical demands that the rules be changed to stop them has always struck me as an unbalanced reaction. Yes they win other races but attempts to deploy the train around the Giro and Vuelta have usually been unsuccessful because the squads aren’t as strong as the TdF’s and the profile of the races makes it harder to do.

      In professional sports there always teams that have deeper pockets than others. I am not sure what it is about the Sky/Ineos that means they have been able to secure the best sponsors in the WT not once but twice but that should be something to be lauded when the past has seen very big, successful teams disbanded because they can’t secure sponsorship when their main one taps out, as most do after 4-5 years. Yes it is s shame they are buying up the best talent: Carapaz and Bernal need to be racing each other, but changing the rules to try to disadvantage one team is a huge over-reaction, and not a solution sought in reaction to Quickstep hoarding all the best classic riders.

      And you can theorise that this is because Quickstep ride with more panache but there was one of the semi-classics this year where one of their riders had gone up the road at the sharp end, and the rest of the team were mob-handed in the chase group, and when anyone tried to bridge the Quickstep boys would just sit on his wheel, strangle the move and prevent any meaningful chase. That was not interesting racing. In most of the early season races they had multiple options towards the end of the race where most teams were reduced to one or two riders.

      And they do that every year.

      • Lukyluk Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:24 pm

        I get the feeling that when people complain about “Sky dominance” they’re not all talking about the same thing.

        Some people, it seems, consider that the problem is that only a few teams win the large majority of races, and the counter to that is that if Ineos wins 2 out of 3 grand tours, DQS wins 2 out of 3 classics and Astana wins tons of stage wins in Spain so it “balances out”. From what I remember, some teams always ended up hoarding most wins over a long period of time, it’s always been the case – think Mapei in the Bettini/Museeuw years…

        But it’s not the fact that Ineos have so many wins that annoys plenty of fans, it’s *the way* they win. Grabbing a small advantage on the first time trial, or the first climb, then riding defensively with 7 guys in the train riding threshold from the second-last climb to make sure that any attack is doomed. That, I think, is the plague of grand tour racing – not only does it prevent attacking, it also prevents competition between the best riders. And it’s a fact that you can only apply that strategy successfully if you have A TON more money than others, because you need at least 2-3 domestiques who are almost as good as most of your GC competitors. And if you want them to be domestiques and unable to ride for their own performance, you’re going to have to cough up the cash.

        Ultimately what we find interesting is subjective, but I had great fun watching the classics this spring (and last spring too, actually) with choice picks in the Omloop, the Strade Bianche, Roubaix and the Amstel.

        You’ll note that this year, Ineos was under much less criticism, even if they did 1-2 in GC, because they didn’t (manage to) strangle the race and there were moves going away before the last 400m of climbing. Not all of them were successful but most had at least a chance.

        I don’t know if a salary cap can be part of the answer (I’d start with UCI-mandated employment status for riders, instead of different systems in different countries leading to very low taxes paid by teams in some countries compared to others). But I feel getting rid of that boring, conservative, “zwift but outdoors” style of racing is one of the biggest challenges of the pro side of our sport, for sure.

        Sorry for the length of the post, didn’t have time to make it short.

        • Richard S Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:39 pm

          Maybe, like you have minimum bike weight or minimum weight of a car in most forms of motorsport, we could have a minimum weight for each team? Say 600kg for an 8 man team? With that you could only really afford one GC man! You’d have to have a maximum weight for riders though so they couldn’t pick 7 climbers and have the bus driver ride the first few yards of stage one! I think it has its merits as far as ideas go.

          (Tongue in cheek)

          • Lukyluk Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:49 pm

            I’m guessing Theo Bos will soon be getting his Ineos bus driver license.

          • Larry T Friday, 2 August 2019, 9:17 am

            What about a gearing restriction? I wouldn’t go as far as Desgrange who claimed derailleur gears were only for tourists and old people but I wonder if the twiddly gears contribute to helping much larger men stay with the tiny climbers and then mow ’em down in the flatter chrono stages? Example: a big man like Indurain chasing Pantani uphill. Mig could usually only defend rather than attack. 39 X 26 was pretty much it for low gears back then, perhaps we could start there? Before that it might have been Fuentes riding away from Merckx on a climb. The tiny climbers don’t have much to work with these days, even when chrono kilometers are few. Yes, Bernal won, but how many “diesels” were right behind him? Getting rid of the twiddly gears and requiring some strength rather than pure watts/kg might result in the racers looking less like concentration camp survivors as well? More racers who look like Sagan instead of Froome!!!!

        • JEvans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 8:03 pm

          Lukyluk: exactly.

      • J Evans Thursday, 1 August 2019, 8:00 pm

        No team dominates cycling. Sky/Ineos have dominated the TdF for years.
        And now they apparently want to do this in all of the grand tours.
        DQS are very good in the classics, but they don’t make races dull. That’s the issue. It’s not about who wins, it’s how they win – are we being entertained?

        • A Cole Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:46 pm

          But that is a subjective opinion. Quickstep have been very dominant in the classics. They frequently have 4 or more riders there at the end of the race where other teams have one or two (or none in Ineos’ case this year) and so send riders up the road then strangle the chase with the rest of wolf pack. One day races by their nature aren’t dull generally but Quickstep taking win after win through having an over-powered team with many riders capable of winning and the racing and outcome becomes predictable ergo boring. A bit like INEOS in the TdF.

          As I said I really wish Carapaz wasn’t going to Ineos. Is there a chance Bernal will go to the Veulta? I would assume Carapaz will ride. That is the match up that could define the next generation if allowed to flourish.

          And yes Ineos bar this year have never won the Tour with a flourish, although I disagree it has been a dour stranglehold throughout. I will also concede Froome is hard to admire, from his awkward manner in interviews and on the bike to his weird transformation from domestique to dominant GT rider. And the lizard king Brailsford and his constant desire to be in the spotlight does the team no favours.

          But the sport NEEDS money. Ineos brings in it. Big sponsorship for one team and success on the back of it can only encourage other big sponsors. If in a cash poor sport you are actively trying to limit the advantages gained through strong sponsorship deals then you are weakening the team’s hand in negotiations. Financial restrictions may sound good in an egalitarian, idealistic may but it would also make the sport less attractive to sponsors, which given the struggles of teams like HTC-Highroad, BMC, Garmin, Lampre etc should not be happening. I know many would have danced on Sky’s grave if they had failed to find a sponsor but it would have been a body-blow to the sport given their success.

          • Lukyluk Thursday, 1 August 2019, 10:17 pm

            Does Ineos bring money to cycling though? A matter for debate, at least. Many potential sponsors would be turned away from the sport, I fear, because unless they can match the Ineos budget for a few years, their chances of success are very slim in the biggest race event of the year. And if you’re talking about a sponsor from an area outside the “historical” cycling countries, chances are the Tour is pretty much all that will be broadcasted on TV.

            In terms of sponsorship, as it stands, it feels like “go big or go home”, and the only thing that will encourage sponsors to go big will be… fun racing, which drives TV viewers up.

            I have only my gut as evidence, but I think reducing the gap (somehow) between Ineos and the other WT teams wouldn’t translate to less money in the sport.

            Also, I must admit I don’t really care about how much money there is in the sport overall. The scandal in my opinion is that many pro cyclists are being paid very little for an incredibly demanding and dangerous job in an inherently insecure career. For all the cash pro teams spend on wages, some figures, in smaller teams and especially in the women’s peloton, are downright shameful. The fact that the superstars of the sport only make a fraction of their football or motorsport counterparts, however, I honestly don’t care.

            I don’t know if a salary cap + higher minimum rider wage would be an effective way to solve those issues (again, I think other, easier steps to level the playing field could be taken first), but in principle, I see nothing shocking about the idea. If the worst backlash that happens is that Chris Froome calls me a communist, it might not be that bad an idea.

          • Richard S Friday, 2 August 2019, 10:39 am

            I don’t think many people would object to the basic principle of a salary cap, whilst acknowledging that its implementation would be tricky, difficult to police and potentially illegal under European law. I think objections would mainly come from those people you find in Britain who support Sky in the same way that most people here support a football team and follow them rather than cycling as a whole. As an aside I wonder how many people are having to buy new helmets now their blue and black one doesn’t match the Ineos kit?!

            As an alternative to a salary cap might a UCI points cap work? It wouldn’t stop Skyneos stockpiling domestiques as they don’t score any points but it might hinder them adding the winner of the Giro to a squad that already has 1st and 2nd from the Tour? Nobody has found a useful function for UCI points yet, maybe this could be it?!

          • Ferdi Friday, 2 August 2019, 11:21 am

            I disagree that the sport “needs money” in general. Most races (all but the TdF in fact), and that’s where the bulk of sponsor money should go, including all the young categories. Most organisers are struggling and making races happen with more enthusiasm than resources. When teams are concerned, it’s the lower tiers that need the money. Sorry, the way Lefévère and Brailsford attract concentrated big money is very bad for the sport.

          • Gelato4bahamontes Friday, 2 August 2019, 4:21 pm

            But lefevre doesn’t constantly attract big money, he’s always having to let big riders go to keep others, terpstra left last year and looks like viviani, mas and Gilbert are going this year.

          • J Evans Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:49 pm

            I often wonder if those who refuse to accept that people genuinely do find the ‘Skytrain’ way of cycling grand tours dull and conclude instead that these people ‘just hate Sky/Ineos’ are seeing this through the eyes of their own bias. They like Sky/Ineos therefore these other people must dislike Sky/Ineos.
            Personally, I dislike Sky/Ineos, but I dislike Bahrain-M, Astana and UAE much more, for ethical reasons. I’ve also been bored by previous Sky/Ineos wins, but not this year’s TdF.
            Both of those facts show that – and it is subjective, obviously – the reason I don’t like watching the ‘Skytrain’ is because I find it dull.
            (One might not agree that it’s dull, but you should at least accept that this is genuinely how others feel.)

      • Fat Climber Friday, 2 August 2019, 9:33 am

        +1. Finally, a reasoned and balanced response to the one-size fits all, salary cap solution.

        • Tovarishch Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:28 pm

          Lukyluk – I disagree that fun racing is what encourages sponsors, especially the big ones. In fact, I’m not sure they care about television coverage at all. What matters is the front page coverage and the feature on the TV news when they win together with the chance to take some key customers on a gastronomic jolly round France. The reason Ineos can attract the big money is that they deliver on winning the Tour. Winning any other race has no value whatsoever.

          • Gelato4bahamontes Friday, 2 August 2019, 4:28 pm

            Unless you’re a Belgian sponsor and your team wins de ronde or Italian and they win the giro…

          • Digahole Saturday, 3 August 2019, 7:28 am

            I wonder though about the publicity value that Quickstep created at this years race through JA’s attacking style vs the INEOS one-two result

  • Anonymous Thursday, 1 August 2019, 4:37 pm

    Next year could be also a classic with the potential line up of big hitters all wanting the top step in Paris – and thats just within one team!! Seriously I do hope for a full on GC battle with all riders fit n able next year, I did say “hope”.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:48 pm

      The choice of route for the 2020 Tour will play a part in the lineup too.
      Inrng mentioned a possible start in Nice, Switzerland (and the Alps presumably), Auvergne, over to the west coast near La Rochelle, there’d have to be the Pyrenees, throw in transition stages and the north may miss out?
      An earlier Tour means probably no very high peaks like this time round, and possibilities for a Giro double-up.
      I’m also interested to see how the Giro / Tour approach what has become the slightly thorny issue of TT’s.
      Total TT kms are going down, as a rule, and flatter courses too possibly but personally I’d really love to see both Giro and Tour embrace the collective of strong TT GC riders to have two super fight-outs between them with routes that both suit and attract.

      • MCH Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:25 am

        I think that we sometimes forget just how much ITT there used to be in the Tour and the way it has been cut back in the last few years. The individual time trials used to be a significant part of the route and a big determinate of the overall winner.
        Over 100 km of ITT (plus a TTT) was the norm before 2010. In the last decades 2012 stands out

        1975 – 90 km
        1980 – 194 km (46 km TTT)
        1985 – 159 km (73 km TTT)
        1990 – 113 km (45 km TTT)
        1995 – 101 km (67 km TTT)
        2000 – 75 km (70 km TTT)
        2005 – 75 km (68 km TTT)
        2010 – 71 km
        2012 – 101 km (Wiggins win)
        2015 – 14 km (28 km TTT)

        • Richard S Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:32 pm

          That’s why all these riders who can cling like limpets to the back of the lead group in the mountain stages but can’t time trial to save their lives are considered GC men nowadays. The likes of Dan Martin, Bardet, Quintana, Uran, Aru, and Meintjes wouldn’t have bothered the top 10 never mind the podium in the past. Simon Yates and Landa would be forced into long range mountain attacks that would probably net them polka dots. It can be argued however that the ‘exchange rate’ between time trials and climbs has changed since the introduction of compact chainsets and wide ratio dinner plate size cassettes. The TTers retain their advantage in TT’s but seem to have lost pretty much all of their disadvantage in the mountains. Also people wouldn’t necessarily accept the huge winning margins and vast time differences just within the top ten that used to occur. The flip side of that is that filling the race with short mountain stages and no TT’s creates a race with small time gaps because nothing has actually happened. The perfect example is Uran finishing 54 seconds behind Froome without ever looking like he had any chance of winning.
          I for one would certainly welcome a ‘throwback’ Tour with circa 100km of ITT’s and a decent sized TTT, appropriately balanced out with a long stages stacked with mountains and a good few mountain top finishes.

          • GC hopeful Friday, 2 August 2019, 2:34 pm

            How about a way to get sprinters in the GC mix with time bonuses of 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30, 15?
            Some sprinters might start training for GC, mountains, etc.

          • RQS Tuesday, 6 August 2019, 10:58 pm

            I disagree. So many ‘pure climbers’ seem to be able to pull an ITT result out of their butt when they desperately need one. Urán, Aru and Yates have all defied their ‘form’ to produce eye watering results when they’ve been ‘serious contenders’.
            The goal used to be to find the best all rounder, and because TT’s are not commercial enough this ideal has rather slipped. You’d otherwise have had Cancellara and Tony Martin as very credible GC riders.
            I like TTs, and, as unpopular as it might be, I’d love to see them return to their more epic distances.

  • Louis Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:02 pm

    | The Tour was ruined by race radios and power meters. Just joking.
    In a way it did ruin the race for Michael Woods who broke two ribs when he landed on his radio in a fall. Such radio-induced injuries are not that rare in the peloton either.

    • Lukyluk Thursday, 1 August 2019, 7:31 pm

      Not to mention vertebrae… Those used to be pretty rare injuries.

      On topic, I used to be skeptical about the benefits of banning team radios, or locking them to the radio tour frequency, but the French championships this year were raced without radios (they were forbidden altogether) and it did provide a few fun situations, since the strongest sprinter in the peloton had teammates in the break, and nobody really knew what to do, infos were slow to convey back, team alliances were improvised ad hoc, and I think it contributed to better racing.

      I’d love to see a few mid-tier races (especially stage races) make the move, so we could have a better idea of whether it really brings something to the sport, or whether it’s just an illusion.

      • MattF Friday, 2 August 2019, 10:13 am

        Something like the Olympics or World Champs, for example?

      • Davesta Friday, 2 August 2019, 1:48 pm

        Last year’s European Championships Women’s race provided similar fun situations, where the Dutch chased down a late breakaway containing two of their riders (apparently due to confused communication from the roadside soigneurs/DSs)!
        Just before the catch, Van der Breggen attacked from the almost-caught breakaway with Longo Borghini and was sure to win the sprint, but then seemed confused about whether to work (presumably due to her team chasing her!), and they got caught with 1km to go. The Dutch then tried to lead out Vos, but Bastianelli took the win for Italy!

    • MCH Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:33 am

      I have also thought that they look particularly dangerous sitting prominently on the riders’ backs. The idea of falling off a bike, at speed, onto a rigid radio is horrible.

      • Larry T Sunday, 4 August 2019, 9:27 am

        But of course the DS’ who scream for keeping them cite “safety” as their number 1 reason though we all know that’s total BS. If that was their real concern a one-way message system from race control would suffice, with perhaps a “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” emergency feature?

        • UHJ Monday, 5 August 2019, 9:33 am

          Oh, yes “safety”. The DS’ “safety” means being with the rider the instant a puncture or a mechanical happens.
          But wasn’t part of the fascination of cycling that almost anyone stood a chance of winning because of “race incidents” (UCI-lingo) as punctures or other mechanicals?
          I believe that removing the radios would also bring back these “options” for a more entertaining race in conjunction with letting the riders decide for themselves. I am all for.
          Using the Radio Tour freq would be a bad idea as this is crowded already. But it could be interesting having the peloton inrace comm using the same freq for all teams.

  • IzzyStradlin Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:14 pm

    I imagine specialized opened the account for Alaphilippe. They lock up their big guys early and for a long time.

  • mikehallam Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:29 pm

    UK tv summaries & overall content very thin this year. Few to zero facts either.
    Perhaps being forced to accept French tv feeds and a mean UK budget for presenters?
    Other years explanations of technical aspects abounded. E.g. how the teams work, bike info’s, and mishaps studied.

  • Ferdi Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:33 pm

    The Tour wz

  • Ferdi Thursday, 1 August 2019, 9:36 pm

    The Tour was much better because of race radios and power meters. JUST JOKING. Get it or not, Inrng? (clue: burden of proof).

  • conor nagle Thursday, 1 August 2019, 10:11 pm

    understand that the prize money is irrelevant, but you look at say Bora and think “wow! that’s F-all for what they achieved”. then you look at say TDE or DDD and think “they really should be ashamed to accept that much”. 🙂

  • MCH Friday, 2 August 2019, 12:43 am

    Not sure if there are any stats available, but to meet seemed as though there were significantly fewer crashes in the peloton this year, particularly big pile-ups on the sprint stages.
    These used to be a routine part of the first week – think 2015 when there were so many riders injured on stage 3 that the race had to be halted for a time.

    • Davesta Friday, 2 August 2019, 1:57 pm

      It’s been suggested that the ban on Tramadol helped with this. But it could equally be due to the route design, and the general lack of early bunch sprints combined with the GC order being set out early on with the TTT & Stage 6…

      Indeed, the sprint on stage 1 was very messy and involved a big crash for Groenewegen & others. But there were also crashes later in the race that perhaps weren’t so visible/high profile, with Quintana & others going down, along with exiting Fulgsang the race…

      I wonder if when crashes happen earlier in the race, they garner more attention – there’s less to talk about early in the race (a lot of the narrative is yet to be set) so the crashes make the headlines. Plus GC contenders crashing out before they’ve had a chance to show what they’re made of in the mountains is newsworthy…Fulgsang perhaps demonstrates this second point – my perception at least was that his crash on stage 1 got a lot more attention than his later crash that forced him out of the race – crashing out while in 10th place and not really troubling the GC is less significant than one of the pre-race favourites getting into trouble on stage 1.

      • MCH Sunday, 4 August 2019, 9:02 am

        All good points.
        I think often we get the impression that the GC contenders crash more that other riders, but that actually this is a function of what we get to see rather than what happens. However, I can’t remember a crash in this year’s tour that took down more than a dozen riders. Even (I think – although I may be misremembering this) the Groenewegen crash on stage 1.
        Maybe it is the ban on Tramadol that you mention, maybe it is the smaller teams, maybe it is just random chance and next year will be different.

        • David Tuesday, 6 August 2019, 9:14 am

          Van Aert crashed in the time trial – he was worth at least a dozen riders.

  • Ocean303 Friday, 2 August 2019, 4:35 am

    SBS did a great coverage job in Australia. All very experienced with the Bike fraternity.
    Presentation appeals to all types of viewer.

  • Cinjet Friday, 2 August 2019, 2:04 pm

    Dutch regional newspaper De Limburger reports that Dumoulin could easily get out of his contract under Dutch law, ever since both Jumbo and Sunweb teams unilaterally stepped out of the collective employment agreements for cyclists (these kind of agreements are typical in the Netherlands). Bobbie Traksel (head of cyclists union and previous winner of the most epic Kuurne edition) is quoted saying that Dutch law trumps UCI rules. The link: https://www.limburger.nl/cnt/dmf20190731_00116791/dumoulin-kan-makkelijk-onder-contract-uit

    To be honest I’m not sure it’s that easy, especially if Sunweb or Dumoulin starts a lawsuit. And I’m not entirely sure if the team is Dutch (and Dutch employment laws apply), don’t they have a German license? And Jumbo might be hesitant to make this possible, even though it would be allowed under Dutch law I’m sure the UCI would be less than amused with Jumbo would they sign Dumoulin after he quit his employmentcontract.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 August 2019, 2:06 pm

      The team have a German flag but any team can ask for whatever nationality they want, it’s a symbolic thing. The actual business that riders sign contracts with is based in the Netherlands so this should apply for the employment law etc. If this turns into a festival for the lawyers it risks leaving the two teams or rather their management at odds with each other.

      • Woodsey's Mum Friday, 2 August 2019, 3:14 pm

        Tony Martin will ditch the Sunweb team cars and bus…

      • Cinjet Saturday, 3 August 2019, 10:28 am

        Exactly my thoughts, if the transfer is too messy (it’ll surely be a bit messy) it could hurt all parties involved.

        • DaveRides Sunday, 4 August 2019, 12:51 pm

          Just to complicate things, the UCI’s perspective on the issue might be that Dutch employment law might not prevent Dumoulin working for Team Jumbo-Visma as an employee, but that he would need to satisfy their regulations (agreed to by both teams and Dumoulin as part of the respective licence applications/renewals) for transfers before he can ride for Jumbo (or fulfil any other UCI licensed role).

  • Ken Saturday, 3 August 2019, 4:03 pm

    The sprint stages get less interesting as the race goes on, because so many sprint specialists drop out. What is the point of making a big speedster slog up a big mountain. I suggest giving each rider two “bye” stages where they can choose not to race. Taking a “bye” would disqualify the rider from GC contention but would keep them available for sprints and domestic duties. Just a thought.

    • KevinK Saturday, 3 August 2019, 10:46 pm

      Are you thinking about previous year’s editions, because none of the top sprinters dropped out this year.

      And for what it’s worth, I hate the “bye” idea. Any rider who can’t make the time cuts doesn’t deserve to earn the honor of finishing the TdF.

      • DaveRides Sunday, 4 August 2019, 12:28 pm

        I also don’t like the idea of allowing a ‘bye’ as a sporting decision.

        On the other hand, it would be good for the sport if there was a rule making it mandatory for a rider to stop racing after being told to do so by a race doctor – but with the rider able to start the following stage if they are later cleared as fit to ride.

        The current situation of incentivising riders to carry on while injured is untenable. A medical disqualification rule will be far easier to accept if there’s a safety net for the rare occasion where a doctor might make the wrong call.

  • Rupert Sunday, 4 August 2019, 2:27 am

    Nothing Tasty about the Ile de Re and Oleron! Have you tried the oysters there?

  • jcgmd Sunday, 4 August 2019, 11:08 am

    Funny that La Gazzetta’s poor coverage of the TdF only comes to light now. This has been going on since, well as long as I can remember. Of course the Giro gets 10+ pages, but I can remember days in the 80’s and 90’s when it was a quarter page mention. Never a front page summary, and this was back in the days of Bugno and Chiappucci. In the 80’s most of the big names did not ride the Tour. Pantani’s victory made the front page, but only a single story inside. This story about the poor coverage is as old as Mura’s typewriter.

    • Larry T Monday, 5 August 2019, 11:59 am

      Makes me wonder about L’Equipe’s coverage of the Giro? I can remember one year La Corsa Rosa going over l’Izoard to finish in Briancon. The tour operation we were with (for some gawdforsaken reason) chose to put the group in France for this stage and everyone was surprised (and angry) to discover the race unavailable via French TV!

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 5 August 2019, 12:56 pm

        L’Equipe’s coverage of the Giro is great, I prefer it to the Gazzetta which reads like Nibali’s diary. But the TV rights to the Giro in France have been sold to some odd channels, there was the Qatari pay-tv channel BeIn Sports which meant the race was almost invisible. Now L’Equipe’s own TV channel has the rights and it gets the TV channel’s biggest audiences.

  • Larry T Sunday, 4 August 2019, 2:13 pm

    With this: “media coverage is drying up to the point where if Gazzetta struggles to cover the Tour it’s hard times.” I think you’re engaging in a bit of hyperbole here. As an unabashed Italo-phile I admit to some bias but the combination of Giulio Ciccone in yellow and Nibali’s stage win created plenty of headlines here in Italy in newspapers and TV that ol’ Gianni Mura must have missed since he was in France? INEOS better hope Italian cycling (especially Gianni Savio’s team) thrives – otherwise who will develop riders for them to buy up once they show some real talent?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 5 August 2019, 12:58 pm

      Maybe it was just the Gazzetta then but they had 1-2 pages a day and one correspondent on the race. Mura has a point.

      • Larry T Monday, 5 August 2019, 3:39 pm

        Take a look at the August BICISPORT page 44/5.
        Mura (La Repubblica) works for the Roman rival (who also own another rival, La Stampa) of Milan’s RCS (La Gazzetta) so I take whatever he writes with a grain of salt.
        I always groaned when he showed up on Il Processo alla Tappa (the post Giro wrap up show) and I wonder if Alessandra DiStefano invited him on there just to wind up the RCS people?

  • i know nothing Sunday, 4 August 2019, 9:10 pm

    “It got 22,000 responses and the largest country to respond was the USA.”
    Hopefully Lappartient hasn’t legally obligated himself to impose the requested changes.
    (Democracy is nothing more than the tyranny of the majority in my opinion.)