The Spin – Stage 19

Back in March Bradley Wiggins came to visit the course ahead of riding Paris-Nice. The route has probably been on his mind since October when the route was released. For all the talk of “we’re taking this day by day“, Stage 19 and the road to Chartres has been a fixture. Except today feels like his birthday, a victory parade.

But that’s for tomorrow. Wiggins can win the stage but Chris Froome might be out to prove a point and the top-20 overall is not settled yet, many riders have personal goals to achieve. Tour founder Henri Desgrange once said that to win the Tour “il faut être moyen partout” or “you need to be average everywhere” meaning consistency was needed. But having only been marginally outclimbed by his team mate Chris Froome in the race and having dominated the time trials, Wiggins exceeds the maxim of Desgrange. A second stage win in the yellow jersey is on the cards.

The Route: flat and exposed, the course is so non-technical that it’s technical because in order to exploit the terrain for any advantage you need to work hard at taking the perfect line, observing where the wind is and getting your gearing just right, because one gear could be too big and the next could be too small.

This video featuring Dan Lloyd is very good at explaining the course.

The Race: with Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin out, the race seems open for Wiggins and Froome to duel for the stage win. In the last time trial on Stage 9 Tejay van Garderen was not far off and seems to be still riding well so he could feature too.

What about the others? Well a lot of the specialists have gone, Gustav Larsson and Sylvain Chavanel are out too and the distance today is so long that a lot of experience and expertise is needed. Arguably only Bert Grabsch is left, the German with the build of a lumberjack.

Perhaps the real battle today is for the top-10? Thibaut Pinot sits in 10th spot and Nicolas Roche is 1.08 behind him. Pinot didn’t go a great time trial in Besançon but remember this came the day after his stage win Porrentruy so he could have fresher legs, especially since Roche went on the attack yesterday, although for a shorter effort. Similarly Pierre Rolland will struggle and should be overhauled on the GC by Janez Brajkovic, the Frenchman churns a big gear which can help in the mountains but he’ll pay the price of being unable to ride high cadence on a flat course today.

Start order: riders go in reverse order of the overall classification. Lanterne Rouge and nice guy Jimmy Engoulvent is off first at midday with the riders going in narrow one minute intervals until Bert Grabsch leaves 25 minutes later and riders go every two minutes with the final riders being spaced three minutes apart. The spaces are designed to ensure riders don’t catch their rivals on the road but three minutes could be narrow for some.

Weather: a 20km/h breeze from the NW meaning a headwind and 3/4 frontal crosswind for most of the day which will prove annoying for the weaker riders. Temperatures will reach 20°C (68°F) and rain showers are possible in the afternoon but hopefully nothing too dramatic to affect the results.

TV: there should be live images from 2.00pm Euro time with Wiggins expected to arrive around 5.40pm.

Local food: it’s not a great region for gastronomy but look out for the flat terrain where large fields dominate. This is the France of agribusiness as opposed to terroir and its from these fields that the wheat is grown to make flour for the 10 billion baguettes sold every year in France.

Do: put Ian Brown and Time Is My Everything on the playlist for your warm up.

Don’t: wave the Union Jack too much. Chartres is a minor bastion of French patriotism thanks to its cathedral which houses the garment claimed to have been worn by Mary when she have birth to Jesus; as well as a religious centre its a historic place.

25 thoughts on “The Spin – Stage 19”

  1. Would be good to see Wiggins put in a really dominant ride in yellow tomorrow. Over such a big flat distance he’s going to be hard to beat.

    I’m probably looking forward to Sunday even more. Everyone knows Sky are going to throw the whole team on the front in the last 5k but what are they going to do about it? I’d love to see Wiggins in yellow lead the rainbow jersey round that final corner.

  2. Thats the dream isn’t it. Just watched news at ten with reporter saying – finally – that this could be the biggest British sporting achievement ever. I think by Sunday the country will have gone made for wiggins. And cycling will be huge

  3. Of the TT specialists Millar and Zabriskie are still around as well. I think they could be up there tomorrow, though probably top 10 rather than the win.

  4. I think the battle for the top 10 will be whether Pinot and Roche can hold off Klodi, rather than the race between the two of them.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if TJ can take 4th from Van den Broeck.

  5. In some ways it’s almost meaningless for the top 3 but in others it’s huge. A chance for Wiggins to silence the doubters saying Froome could have walked this Tour de France. If Froome was in a different position who knows how much time he could have put into Wiggins in the mountains – 30 seconds or 3 minutes, take your pick but it’s purely speculation – this is Wiggins opportunity to emphasise he is more than a worthy winner of the jersey.

  6. What if Wiggo has a slightly off day? Will Froome be told to slow down so he doesn’t end up coming in with a time over 2 minutes faster than Wiggo?

  7. INRING – Speaking of Rolland, do you think it’s possible for him to improve his TT enough so that he can become a serious maillot jaune contender at some point in his career? Looking at Rolland’s 2012 Tour, it seems that his weakness in the TT cost him a possible top 5 finish. He lost two minutes in the crash in the first week, but otherwise, a huge chunk of the time gap between Wiggins and himself came in the prologue/first TT.

    • Yes and no. He’s losing so much time you wonder if he’d just work hard to limit his loses and only lose some of his ability in the mountains.

      But his build is bigger and he’s making a few technical mistakes. He needs a better cadence, he can improve his position on the bike and needs to work on pacing, perhaps learning to use a power meter.

  8. Love all the new guard of talent coming through the ranks going to make for some excellent tours
    Sorry, but this years TDF has been the most boring i’ve seen
    Bring back the riders who can think for themselves and prove it

      • Never had power meters or computers in the Black and White days did they, just raced with their heads and let their bodies tell them what could be achieved. OK I may be old school but makes the history when reading so epic.

  9. Old chestnut, remove the radios, make the team leaders do some thinking whilst on the move, rather than the DS in the car with access to more info. Would make it much more interesting. The idea that radios make it safer is rubbish, almost certainly they make it more dangerous, which I believe some riders agree.

    • Would removing the radios not mean that they wouldn’t necessarily know who is in the breakaway and how far ahead they are, so breakaways would be far less common as everything would be chased down?

  10. I agree with Chuck ,Voelker showed the form of yesteryear not afraid to go even if not popular within the Pelaton . But if I remember reading everything about beautiful Eddy he used to ruffle a number of feathers as well. Mick and Richie have done Aussies proud even if some don’t think so
    Froomie should have been the chance to shine but then I suppose it’s now the way the game is played these days.

  11. I find all this Froome-Wiggins rivalry ridiculous, how many times have you had to try and explain to non cycling fans that this is a team sport,Froome knows his role ,gets a big paycheck for doing it and is smart enough to know that he is learning from the Sky machine how to go on and win multiple tours !he is young and talented ,but we’ve all seen how young and talented fail if not managed properly
    Wiggins is the present team focus and Froome is the future with Uran doing for him ,what he’s done for wiggins

  12. the number of people who assert that cycling is A TEAM SPORT ergo, well, all sorts of things. Yes cycling is a team sport but in an unusually circumscribed sort of way. I mean how often in football say, or doubles tennis, is your teammate your main rival! Even if fc barcelona was riven by all sorts of intra-team tensions and rivalries, a champions league winner scored by messi does not prevent xavi from winning the champions league!

  13. Inrng!
    Could you compare mean speed/power output on Wiggins/Froom and Armstrong/Ullrich in long time trials over the years?
    If Im not mistaken this is actual faster than back in the “good’ol”-days.
    Thanks for a great blog!

Comments are closed.