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Tour Stage 11 Preview

Some riders have complained about a hard start after the rest day, now who will have the energy after yesterday’s tough stage. We should get a fight to get in the breakaway and there’s a good chance the move sticks for a change.

  • Km 48.5 – Côte de Loucrup, 2 kilometre-long climb at 7% – category 3
  • Km 61.5 – Côte de Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 1.4 kilometre-long climb at 6.1% – category 4
  • Km 74.5 – Côte de Mauvezin, 2.7 kilometre-long climb at 6% – category 3
  • Km 117.0 – Col d’Aspin (1 490 m)12 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% – category 1
  • Km 147.0 – Col du Tourmalet (2 115 m) Souvenir Jacques Goddet17.1 kilometre-long climb at 7.3% – category HC
  • Km 184.5 – Côte de Cauterets, 6.4 kilometre-long climb at 5% – category 3

The Route: a traditional ride across the Pyrenees, a greatest hits course but with a soft final that almost makes it a so-called transition stage even if the riders end up in the same hotel tonight as they started. The ride out of Pau gets hillier and hillier with a series small climbs below the foothills before the race heads up the Neste valley to tackle the Col d’Aspin via its tougher side with 12km at 6.5%. It’s followed by a steady descent straight to the Col du Tourmalet.

Tourmalet profile

The eastern side of the Tourmalet has a gentle start to lull riders before 10km of 8-10% slopes all the way to the top including the hard section through the ski resort of La Mongie, after which the road narrows and becomes rougher. From the top there’s 41km to go the finish and after the Tourmalet descent ends in Luz, 22.5km on valley roads to the finish.

The Finish: Cauterets has meant summit finishes before but today’s finish line is painted on the valley road in the spa town itself. The road rises for the last 10km, it’s all steady 4-5% but just the place that’s ruinous for a solo breakaway trying to hold off chasers before a small 10% section. Then the road levels out into town before a flat sprint.

The Contenders: every day has seen the early breakaway go clear without resistance because the scenarios have been so obvious, for example the formula of a flat stage plus hungry sprinters has equalled a certain bunch sprint so there’s been no reason other than a publicity stunt to go up the road. Today should be very different and for a change we can expect a raging fight to get in the early move. It makes for a lottery where a really strong rider could simply hitch himself to the wrong wagon and get caught only for others to surge past in the day’s breakaway.

Pierre Rolland is an obvious pick, perhaps too much. He was climbing very well yesterday and rode to eighth place taking valuable mountain points. Now he can try and go on a raid across the Aspin and Tourmalet for more points and hope for the stage win. Only it’s all so obvious, just getting in the morning breakaway is going to be a big ask and if he does that, he’d have to either drop everyone else on the Tourmalet or outsprint them in Cauterets. Teammate Romain Sicard is still the unpolished diamond and could try too.

Another polka dot poacher could be Julian Arredondo of Trek Factory Racing. Smaller than Nairo Quintana he’s quite the punchy rider too and can sprint well for the mountains points and hold on (update: he’s reportedly got a cold so let’s switch to Bauke Mollema). IAM’s Jarlinson Pantano is an outsider tip.

Jacob Fuglsang is liberated from towing Vincenzo Nibali around France but remains a very rare winner although since it’s hard to see him winning a straight summit finish contest maybe this is his chance.

Adam Yates and Tony Gallopin are picks in case of a sprint finish among the same names as yesterday. Gallopin has often shone one day and imploded the next so seeing how his recovery goes today will be worth watching. Many riders had a stinker yesterday and will look to reverse things, watch Dan Martin, Rui Costa but some, like Romain Bardet, are already talking about the Alps instead.

Otherwise there are some random names who could win the breakaway lottery. Think Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) or Mikael Cherel (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Rolland, Fuglsang
Valverde, Gallopin, Rodriguez

Weather: sunshine with some cloud cover in the mountains, warm with 31˚C in the valleys and a light N-NE wind making a headwind early on then a tailwind in the finishing straight.

TV: we’re back the usual finish time of around 5.15pm Euro time. The Tourmalet should start around 3.30pm. If you can’t find it on your TV see Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:17 am

    Interesting little statistic from yesterday that was (understandably) lost amongst bigger news stories is that for the first time since his debut, Peter Sagan lost the Green Jersey. In 2012, 13 and 14 once he took it early in the race he held it all the way to Paris.

    There was also Jens Debusschere’s cheeky move to cut in ahead of Sagan at the intermediate sprint to give Greipel an extra point’s buffer as this competition hots up. Great teamwork from Lotto Soudal.

    • Cilmeri Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:26 am

      That is interesting – however I guess with the expectation being that he’ll win it back relatively easily then perhaps deemed less newsworthy? Greipel looks strong this year though and might get a few more points on the intermediates, which will hopefully mean the Jersey will go down to the last day at the very least.

      • Augie March Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:44 am

        Ideally it would be like in the 2003 Tour where the Green jersey is decided by the final sprint on the final stage, but barring that, a bit of competition would be great, especially as it appears that, short of a catastrophe for Froome, the GC race is effectively over.

        • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:41 pm

          Is today’s intermediate sprint as uphill as the illustration suggests ?
          The Green Jersey is developing in to a very good contest – is it worth a blow up illustration of the intermediate sprint (if available) ?
          Or, if not, perhaps a line or two in the preview of Inrng’s thoughts ?
          Or are we in purely Sagan country now ?

          • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:07 pm

            already back on Sagan’s shoulders 🙂

  • Jason Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:27 am

    It would be nice at the end of each review to have reference to the top 5 of each jersey category

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:31 am

    The way he won yesterday, Froome looks like he might want to stomp out his competitors’ last flickering embers of hope by going on another rampage today. That boy might be soft spoken, but watch out, . . .he’s quite the young angry white man on the bike.

  • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 8:04 am

    Fuglsang is a decent bet for either today or tomorrow – either in a breakaway or from the main group. Yesterday he lost less than 30 seconds on the last 8km to Froome, accordning to Astana:


    • Max Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:56 am

      Mange tak!
      33 to 1.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:09 am

    After yesterday, I think german TV channel ARD, which only returned to the Tour this year, will be looking for a fast way out again.

    • GB Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:03 am

      I’m probably taking this comment’s bait here, but people being suspicious of Froome is not new and one guy getting pinged for cocaine is not reeeeeally comparable to Festina…

      I don’t know much about ARD but if they’re like pretty much any media company I know of, their concern for the sport being clean is for appealing to advertisers and public, not out of their own sense of righteousness. I doubt they’ll invoke the no-doping part of their contract unless (or until, if you prefer) a full blown structured doping system sees the light, and even then I doubt it unless a German is implicated or Martin, Dege, Kittel etc stop winning.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:05 am

      They have been very satisfied with the audiences so far and they’re not paying much for the rights either. Besides they cannot break a contract based on a hunch. Of course there’s a thin thread and it only takes a bust or two in the race to break it all but we’re not there yet.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:12 am

      theres no sign for that. greipel is in green and that cocaine case wasnt really noticed by the wider public.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:13 am

        The tv ratings for the ARD are bad, they don’t even reach the normal ratings they get with their afternoon shows. If you consider that this is a top sporting event, this isn’t very inspiring. The Eurosport ratings stayed the same, so it seems the people who are interested watched the last years on Eurosport and will continue to do so. For the casual viewer, who tunes in without knowing too much – or anything – about the teams and riders, it looks exactly like it did in the bad old times.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:23 am

          It looks like that even for the expert viewer, imagine that!!! 😀 😀 😀

          (Just joking to defuse all the fuss)

        • Vitus Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:37 pm

          What I say. Nobody cares about the ARD. Ironing housewifes who don’t switch channels between “Rote Rosen” and “Erdmännchen&Co” Zoo stories for toddlers.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:44 am

      Why? Was there a doping scandal I missed yesterday? I haven’t seen anything on any of the cycling sites I missed?

      If you’re trying to imply that because someone (the favourite no less!) took 1 minute of time on his nearest rival – that’s kind of the point of professional sport. To, you know, find out who is best.

      These are literally the best bike riders on the planet – I’d be concerned if they weren’t putting in exceptional performances. They are MEANT to be the exceptions.

      • Dave Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:27 pm

        +1 to Anon “performance based suspicion” is a circular argument – whoever is the fastest is doping.

        I did ‘enjoy’ Paul Sherwen’s comment about Froome’s frantic pedalling style “just look at that, he’ll be hitting speeds of 100rpm!”. I doubt Froome has ever spun that low, Sherwen, welcome to the 1980’s…

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:41 pm

          There is an element of the “winner’s curse” with the fastest rider attracting suspicion. But performance analysis is interesting if it’s used more cleverly, to look at W/kg for particular durations as this actual looks at the effort and not the result. The trouble is that it’s a “third rail” subject, touch it and you get an electric shock rather than a debate.

  • Arun Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:14 am

    I m quite sure that a lot of the sprinters might try to get into the early break for the intermidiate sprint!

  • mabarbie Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:20 am

    I’m hoping for an attack near the top of the Tourmalet and keeping it going all the way down, it’s a long way and the valley road the other side is slightly downhill too. Someone has to take risks to get themselves back in this otherwise it’s all overboard the fat lady singing.

  • David S Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:23 am

    Today is one of those Tour stages that always frustrates me (in terms of profile). Odds are that very little will happen and that a “GC” group will come in together. Finishing on the Tourmalet, albeit for a stage of less than 150km, would have been far more interesting.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:25 am

      I know what you mean but Summit finishes can be equally frustrating as they boil down to W/kg. Today offers uncertainty over the winner and hopefully a good fight to get in the breakaway. Ideally the finish would be at the foot of the Tourmalet to place a greater premium on descending skills.

  • Cilmeri Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:23 am

    From memory (please someone correct me) but Froome had a really strong day 2 years ago, then really suffered the next day – in fact I think his whole team suffered that day and left him isolated? I’m hoping (and expecting) in the post EPO era for guys who were string yesterday to be a little bit off it today. I think a team needs to challenge SKY again today to see if they crack. However today seems a little easier – ie a team that gets dropped in the tourmalet should (if there are a few guys together) be able to chase back.

    I know Nibali is way behind, and above it’s assumed that fuglsang is now released – but will he try one last stab today? If he goes clear over the top then he may be able to make back time on the decent. Or is he too far back to even consider that? If he’s totally given up (which is probable) then he may as well leave the race and prepare for the Vuelta.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:27 am

      Nibali looks cooked but as you say Froome was good in 2013’s first summit finish and on the rack the next day, it was looked at in last night’s stage review as yesterday was like a déjà vu moment.

      • samjoy2@hotmail.com Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:50 am

        Has to be said that Froome remained remarkably composed despite being isolated for 4/5ths of that stage. Hooked up with a group on the road that helped him join up with the front group led by TCS and MOV, and then when Nairo attacked, chased him down each time till Valverde told Nairo not to bother any more.

        MOV made a massive tactical error in being far more concerned on getting rid of the Porte threat on GC, than of doing over Froome. And TCS didnt do anything in that area, I think perhaps because Bert was already riding on his limit.

        • Dan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:54 am

          I’m not sure Froome did suffer that day in 2013. It was his team that suffered with Porte blowing up, Kennaugh going into a ditch and Kiriyenka missing the time cut.

          While it looked fraught with Garmin and Astana causing ‘chaos’, Froome never really looked troubled. It was only that day in the Alps when he bonked that he looked to struggle.

          • Sam Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:06 am

            Oh, I agree

            I interpreted INRNG’s comment about him being on the rack to mean that he was exposed and isolated, given how his team had combusted (and Kennaugh knocked into a ditch by a clumsy move by Hesjedal)

            But you’re right in that physically / form-wise there was nothing wrong with Froome that day.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:49 am

      Yeah, you’re right. The problem is that (a) this stage isn’t as hard from the off as that one, and (b) his rivals had to put in a huge effort too. The way yesterday panned out was even more brutal than ax 3 domaine, I’d suggest, as behind Froome there seemed to be far more small groups changing position (Q being caught and dropped by Porte, TJ being caught and and dropped by a small group, etc) suggesting they didn’t just go at their own pace up the climb but bona fide struggled themselves.

  • Struan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:38 am

    Ryder Hesjedal had a reasonable day yesterday and this is the sort of stage that he’s gone well on in the past.

  • Dan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:53 am

    Think you’d have to expect Gallopin and Gesink to slip right back down the classification today.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Contador or Valverde tried to shake things up amongst the contenders, whilst surely Garmin Cannondale will try to get in a break and win from there.

    • Lanterne Verte Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:26 am

      have to disagree on Gesink, I predict he will finish in top 10 in Paris based on previous form and I really hope he can make top 5….but then I have a dutch grandmother!

    • Lanterne Verte Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:30 am

      Gallopin on the other hand was a genuine surprise and I would be amazed if he can continue that form, he’s a great punchy rider but I see him as top 20 material at best or perhaps top 10 if he gets in a lucky break on a rolling stage but its probably too late for that now in this year’s Tour

      • Dan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:18 pm

        Gesink having a top 5 placing in Paris would be a wonderful story, it just looked like an especially big effort yesterday, so let’s see how he does.

  • Armchair Cyclist Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:12 am

    Is there anything wrong with Simon Yates? I always thought he was the stronger climber (with Adam the slightly stronger sprinter) but yet Simon was way down yesterday? Could it be a case that he will attack this stage and Adam will take it easier.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:13 am

      He’s got a cold.

    • Ronan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:39 pm

      Throat infection, apparently.

      • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:43 pm

        There seems to be a lot of colds and the like about.
        Is this courtesy of the North Sea ?

        • Sam Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:50 pm

          There’s always plenty of riders picking up sicknesses during a race, especially a 3 week GT.

          Let’s face it, their systems are on a knife-edge as it is; and then throw in the effects of the racing and stress to really hit their systems with anything going around the peloton,

          • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:35 pm

            Hotel living, air conditioning systems, cheek-by-jowl proximity.
            There seems to be very limited opportunity to physically isolate sick riders away from colleagues, with the shared accommodation arrangements.
            It’s strange, in one sense pro cycling embraces technological progress and advances whilst, in a lot of other aspects, rider welfare remains stuck in tradition.
            I suppose it comes down to money in the end.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:36 pm

            Just the peloton alone spreads bugs, one rider clears their nose and 20 behind could inhale the droplets.

          • ccotenj Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 3:30 pm

            yup… “peak competitive condition” is almost the exact opposite of “peak physical condition” when it comes to the human body’s immune system… it is very easy for anyone (not just cyclists) to pick up any bug that happens to be nearby when they are peaked for competition…

            given this, you could walk the peloton through a grocery store, and many of them would get sick just from germs from random people…

  • power-goose Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:40 am

    Sky will look to secure the race today and just keep things steady. Can’t see another big push from Froome. My bet is the GC looks pretty similar come close of play today.

    • noel Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:46 am

      I think Sky will smell blood and look to take Bertie and Nibs and TVG fully out of the equation… Quintana/Valverde are a tougher nut to crack however…

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 3:54 pm

        i think quintana isnt beaten until 3rd week and bertie will land on the podium

  • One Man Grupetto Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:59 am

    There’s actually nice little competition setting up around the White Jersey. You’d take Quintana as a nailed-on favourite, but Adam Yates and Barguil are up there and there was a super ride from Sepulveda yesterday. He always looks really composed for such a young rider.

    I’m also interested to see if Serge Pauwels and Jerome ‘Racing gets in the way of my racing programme’ Coppel can follow on from good rides yesterday. Both way down in the GC but rode really well yesterday, and can see them popping up in a quality breakaway today or later in the Tour.

    • One Man Grupetto Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:01 pm

      Meant to type Jerome ‘Racing gets in the way of my training programme’ Coppel. Clearly got overexcited when discussing prospects of IAM’s second-best rider.

      • PT Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:13 pm

        A nice slip neverless, perhaps funnier than the original quote.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:04 pm

      yates is way way back down on gc

  • UHJ Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:04 pm

    Great ride from Gesink, he really did the sensible thing there.

    Does anyone of the blog’s respected readers recall any riders that has pedalled the way the dawg does?
    I strikes me that his cadence could indicate that Sky has investigated outside the reining theories about cadence and efficiency and found that it was worth it.
    I imagine that we could see other riders try to work on this type of pedalling in the years to come. Pedalling goes in and out of style, I know, currently high – very high, +108 rpm – wins, it seems.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:20 pm

      Lance had a high cadence but not as high as Froome i think

      • UHJ Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:24 pm

        Yeah, he kind of re-introduced the high cadence koncept after the nineties churning of massive gears. But he never did this high rpms. Clearly for CF it works but could it work for others if they discarded the dogmas of cadence analysis and forgot the prevailing theories for a while?

        • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:51 pm

          A bit of an individual thing, on that level. And the same individual may find different styles work better (or not) in different years and *conditions*. For instance, Evans was going progressively back to lower cadences when he finally got his best results.
          “The Armstrong way” created a shift in the average cadence of the peloton, but very few found the same exact cadence as him to be effective for them, it was too high, even if raising their previous cadence proved good for everyone – to a certain point.
          Generally speaking, high cadence goes with extrapressure on cardio-respiratory system, which is presently sort of a bottleneck in performances, which is way many can’t force on that aspect.

          • UHJ Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:34 pm

            Yes, gabriele, the cardio-vascular system might be the general inhibitor for many (of us) who try to go too high in cadence, that’s for sure.
            I am not a physiologist but is there any indicators that can be looked at to predict the limits of your c-v system?

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:33 pm

            Not a physiologist, either. VO2 max is always hinted at, but apparently it’s not as defining as we would like. Best way is probably a battery of lactate test with a powermeter plus an archive of in-competition data.

          • Othersteve Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:48 am

            Eddie Borysewicz, was a big proponent of high cadence back in the 80’s.

            May have been an influence for Armstrong and subsequent riders.

    • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:33 pm

      His MTB background may be the basis of this ? Anyone that has ridden one of those bikes knows the feeling of high cadence. Froome is a mountain biker on the road !
      It’s effective though, and clever.
      He, and Sky, have found a gearing combination and training technique to allow him to use this ability.
      There are plenty, and increasingly so, of road riders coming from that discipline.
      May be it will come in to focus more with this.

      • Sam Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:47 pm

        Its an absolute whirrrrrr!

        I reckon we first saw it from him, what, 2013? I really don’t remember seeing him work this cadence before that.

        • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:56 pm

          If the weather turns wet, maybe he will turn out in elbow and knee pads.
          Then you’ll know I was on to something !

          • Special Eyes Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:08 pm

            Actually reading about Froome’s physiology, he apparently has a very low heartbeat rate (even at extreme physical exertion) and huge lung capacity, combined with long limbs.
            He spins quickest because he can.
            Natural gifts + MTB style + bicycle technology = whhhrrrrr !

  • Dan Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:22 pm

    Personally I think this race is far from over if Movistar play their cards correctly (which they’ve failed to do in the past).

    That really wasn’t the best stage for Quintana and he always gets stronger, while Valverde is an utter pain in the backside for other teams. With so many mountains left to come, and the inevitability of Contador jumping off the front as soon as he feels better, Sky will have a lot of decisions to make about who they chase and who they don’t.

    As implosive as yesterday was, this isn’t 2014 with Vicenzo Nibali easing away from a bunch of second tier riders. Plus I think there’s a certain expectation after 2013 that Porte could have overexerted himself yesterday

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:36 pm

      Agree with the rest of what you say, but the selection produced yesterday was quite more significant than the one we saw when Nibali was *easing away from second tiers*. And that kind of selection hurts a lot through days, it’s not only a matter of how many seconds (or minutes) fell on your head.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:34 pm

    Oleg’s been quiet, hasn’t he?

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:56 pm

      He had is share of glory and pink hair, then Brailsford complimented him, Kreuziger was acquitted, which led to one last moment of excitation (let’see if he’ll do anything of what he was shouting about), but the patting on his back was effective and he got *very* quiet, as you say. He’s man of business, isn’t he?

      • Larry T. Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:11 pm

        Seems like the fellow who “won” the 2012 Olympic road race is taking over the “talking out of his a__” from the MegaOLEVomaniac with his criticism of last year’s Tour winner. I suspect this guy is mucking up a program that was run pretty well by Martinelli up to recently. Oh, how I wish some Italian sponsor would come along and rescue Nibali and Co. from the Astana program!!!

        • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:57 pm

          Nibali only has himself to blame – he joined Astana.

    • GB Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:14 pm

      He called someone a communist or something, I dunno, who cares

      • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:16 pm

        Ah ah ah ah, yes, always great fun. It was charging against Madiot who complained (and rightly so) about Sky’s behaviour in the parking lots 😛
        This is telling, too.

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:08 pm

          Why rightly so?

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:31 pm

            According to what I’ve read (wasn’t there myself, I must admit), they’ve been quite impolite, and in a social sport you should behave yourself.

        • Larry T. Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:13 pm

          I’m with Madiot!!!

          • Bilmo Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:44 pm

            I have read (from a Sky source mind) that they give other teams first choice on parking spaces. I think the whole storm about their vehicles is a little bit of L’Equipe lacking a good doping story on the first weekend.

            As for Madiot, I’m all for tradition but it sometimes seem like he want to travel back in time, maybe we could get rid of index shifting or the campagnolo quick -release skewer 😉

            It is shame some teams have more money in terms of equal racing but thats always been the case and I suspect if the French Lottery suddenly decided to quadruple its sponsorship Madiot wouldn’t turn it down. If it did want to I’m sure most of his riders wouldn’t.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:56 pm

            Me too.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 8:17 pm

            The “parking wars” have seen Lotto complain on TV too. It’s not a big deal.

            Madiot talks tradition but FDJ is probably the most modern of the French teams with a lot of sports science and more. They were the first French team to get a bus and as much as he likes to paint himself as a old school French patriot, he and his brother Yvon are the ones who gave Bradley Wiggins, Brad McGee and Philippe Gilbert their first pro contracts.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 8:20 pm

            His pro-France stuff is a bit OTT, but unlike most people with any clout in cycling he does seem to genuinely care more about looking after the sport than making money.

  • Irungo txuletak Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 12:45 pm

    What about an attack of Kontador on the Tourmalet? If he feels better of course.

  • Louis le B Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:51 pm

    Leo Cohen told us there’s a crack in everything, but so far Sky haven’t allowed any light to get in.
    Indurain talked about a black dog could cross the road – and an earthquake could also happen.
    We’re all in the ‘maybe-department’ …..

  • Louis le B Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 1:54 pm

    Contador suffered from pollen-allergy yesterday – and will proberbly suffer today too.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:01 pm

    Amidst the excuses, many will wonder if Contador attempting the Giro-Tour double was more down to him lacking the belief in himself to beat Froome in the Tour. This way, Contador gets the Giro and an excuse for not winning the Tour, thus protecting his reputation as ‘the greatest rider of his generation’.
    Since his ban, he has done well, but he has never beaten the best at their best (Froome was not at his best during last year’s Vuelta).

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:17 pm

      He wasn’t… because he was beaten by Contador? 😀
      Jokes apart, neither Contador was at his best. Probably in worse conditions than Froome when the race started. So what?
      Froome has never beaten all the best at their best, and won’t in this Tour, either, since they clearly aren’t. And so on.
      Contador doesn’t need to protect a reputation: he’s by far the best GT racer of this generation (not “the greatest rider”, that’s for sure). Unless Froome “makes a Horner” (or several), it’s not very probable that he’ll get any near to Contador in an historical perspective. Quintana may, but he’s from a different generation. Contador says he’s racing his penultimate Tour, Quintana is racing his second.
      Contador simply loves the Giro and he has gote some sense of cycling history, too. Do you think he couldn’t suspect that he would have been criticised anyway for losing the Tour, as it’s happening, even if he had won the Giro?
      If his reasoning was what you suggest, he’d had gone for the Giro and Vuelta double. Easier to accomplish, harder to diminish. A feat which would have overshadowed the Tour winner, if he had made that: if it was Froome, he could even argue that he beat him in 2014 Vuelta.
      But that’s not how a champion’s brain work, that is, if that’s your way of thinking, you’ll hardly get far in a top pro career, let aside winning several GTs.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:19 pm

        All fair points, but it still remains a possibility that the majority of Contador’s wins came down to drugs.
        Only a possibility and we’ll never know – but he’s brought that asterisk on himself.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:29 pm

          “Came down to drugs”? A possibility whose probability is indeed way lower than in most of his present and past rivals’ case. That his wins *came down* to drugs, I mean. Quite a silly debate, anyway. When you’ve got the whole career of a rider to watch over, you can understand one thing or two about his true qualities, feel assured. Not everything you need to be a champion is there for you to inject with a needle… but I guess you’ll have to take my word on that, hence no use in going on.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:47 pm

            I only believe what I have evidence for.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:59 pm

            There’s more evidence about him being good than about him having been on drugs. Imagine that, given that the latter isn’t totally negligible 😛

          • Andrew Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:33 pm

            Is it a coincidence that Contador has looked generally less impressive – whilst still attaining some significant wins, admittedly – since his ban for a doping offence? I don’t know. But like J Evans I have an asterisk against all his achievements, in my head.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:53 pm

            “Your eyes just see what your eyes want to see”.
            Contador was far less impressive in Tour 2007 or Giro 2008 than in Giro 2011, 2015 (highly impacting both in the TT and on the Mortirolo), Vuelta 2014.
            He wasn’t that “impressive” in Tour 2010, either, even if I wonder if he maybe was being *effective*. It didn’t look very much at ease, anyway.
            He was probably at his best during the Tour 2009, but in the full panorama of his career that really ends up meaning nothing, no direct relation with his ban, no team changing, no trainer changing. What is more, one of his absolute tops was to be seen in Tirreno-Adriatico 2014.
            Not to mention how utterly meaningless is the whole “doping ban” story.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 8:01 pm

            Good points, Gabriele, but 2007 and 2008 Contador was still young; 2011 and 2015 he was up against weaker opposition in the Giro.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:24 pm

            Come on… in 2008 he was too young, and in 2009 he was suddendly dominant? And why shouldn’t he be “already growing old” during his impressive 2014 or this same 2015? What are we going to do with the enigmatic 2010 Tour, the only one where… he tested positive?

            Rivals matter, but in the long term you’ll rarely have a bunch of strong rivals to deal with: however, there are also the performances’ sheer data to show that, for example, on the Mortirolo he was simply impressive (and in circumstances which implied an overwhelming difficulty factor), as he generally was in 2011.
            Anyway, in the 2011 Giro he was up against the likes of Purito, Nibali (even if he was in a mediocre year, he pushed hard on the Zoncolan, attacked way far from the finish line in the Queen Dolomitic stage, made a very notable uphill ITT), Kreuziger, Menchov… Know what? I see here guys who had yet won GTs – not many of those around these times – and, hear hear, some of those same were names making the *top 5* against Froome 2013 (and they ended up suffering lesser time gaps in that Tour!).
            Quintana 2014 was a weaker rival for Contador at the Ti-Ad than he was for Froome, when in 2013 the Colombian was one year younger and racing his first Tour?
            Debating the whole Contador thing is pretty laughable, it’s like commonplace against evidence
            Personally, I don’t believe that much in evidence, you can go on and on intepreting it and shading it and twisting it ad infinitum, but if one isn’t “seeing” Contador, there isn’t much of what I can write to remove that thick a fog. I suggest closing the OT.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 8:18 pm

        ‘If his reasoning was what you suggest, he’d had gone for the Giro and Vuelta double. Easier to accomplish, harder to diminish.’
        Tinkov would never have let him do that; Contador couldn’t claim it was an attempt at an historical double (because he’s already done it and it’s nowhere near as impressive as a Giro-Tour double) and it would have looked like he was chickening out.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:36 pm

          He needn’t declare nor claim anything. He just would do that, and people would speak ill of him… only during July. As they’re doing anyway. You just had to listen to Santi Blanco on TDP today to have a good sample. Then, they’d be praising him the rest of the year, while now they’ll be questioning him, probably even more than if he only raced and won the Giro. People are like that, we think that truth is something that unveils itself through the passing of time, so we tend to consider the last we see as the most responding to reality.

          What about the big chief? Tinkov wants to win and boast, and the other plan was more likely to achieve that very welcome result.

          But- really – top racers don’t reason like that. Contador wants a place among the all-time best (not just the “best GT rider of the decade around 2010 / born in the ’80s”) and he knows he’s lacking something to get it. He’s trying the only thing that would raise him there which he has an however remote chance to sort out.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:06 pm

    Froome doing extra tests, etc. will prove nothing. (If he is cheating, he can just alter things pre-test.)
    It’s almost impossible to prove one’s innocence.
    I’m not saying he is or isn’t innocent: I’m saying nobody knows – and never will (unless he is caught).
    Even so, a massive over-reaction to someone gaining a minute over his nearest rival in a climb.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:22 pm

      Over-reaction? Compare that with mountain stages selection in previous Tours (last ten years – and beyond), then you’ll get an hint about why. Even more so if you add a couple of extra factors (first mountain stage, number of teammates topping stage classification).

      Agreed about extra tests, it makes no sense. And looks a lot like good ol’ Bjarne’s CSC school.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:39 pm

        I mean it was a huge result, but proves nothing – and yet suddenly people are up in arms (were they so sure of his innocence 2 days ago?)
        Me, my opinion hasn’t changed: I’m still a ‘don’t know’.

      • ccotenj Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 2:56 pm

        looking at it from a different perspective gabriele, it is also possible that this is what “clean” racing looks like when you have a strong team that doesn’t have to do any work early, with a leader who is simply just “better” than everyone else…

        in “the good old days” (pre “team organized doping”) huge margins weren’t totally uncommon…

        throw in “first day after a rest day”, a general “over-rating” of the competition (guilty here, i expected more out of contador, and significantly more out of nibali), etc., and the results aren’t really out of line with what one might expect might happen…

        • george Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:28 pm

          Yeah, but what I don’t get is that a lot of people are up in arms over Froome’s estimated 6.1 watts/kilo on this climb. Sure, when I was watching it, I thought it was maybe a little suspicious, but compared to Pantani putting out 7 watts/kilo or whatever, its not that suspicious. Besides, Froome and Contador had been climbing at around that level in the Vuelta last year and in the 2013 Tour. Nibali was estimated to put out 6.1 wattts/kilo on Hautacam last year. So, an amazing performance? Yeah. Automatically suspicious? Not really, unless you consider all of Froome’s times to be suspicious since 2013.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:57 pm

            Which doesn’t mean much. What if a doped riders produces say 6 w/kg in conditions under which the others hardly get to 5,8 w/kg?
            Anyway, yes, people getting hysterical about a simple number like that is absurd.

            Uhmmm… and this “clean cycling” started… when? This same year, right?
            ‘Cause Nibali last year or this same guy same team in 2013 or Evans 2011 produced quite a different gaps distribution (the most similar one was Tourmalet 2010 by Contador and Schleck).
            And what’s more curious is that this peculiar effect you’re speculating about… gives us a result that’s quite different from the selection we’ve been seeing during the last 10 years or so, but which, on the other hand, is pretty similar to what we saw during the first half of the years 2000.
            A strong team, a superior leader… we would be led to suppose that it was the golden era of clean cycling, as akin to “the good old days (pre ‘team organized doping’)” as it was.
            A pity we now it wasn’t exactly like that.

            This result is extraordinary (because indeed it is, statistically speaking) but, I’m with J Evans here, we can’t infer doping nor clean cycling directly from that. Suspicious we may be – or not – we simply can’t know.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 3:12 pm

    Nibali’s problem as indicated by Vino is his head rather than his legs. He certainly hasn’t been looking that happy for a while! nibali that is, not Vino who never ever looks happy.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:40 pm

      Have a look at his Facebook… he used to look very happy quite often!
      Even if I’ve not been following it since two or three years now, hence maybe things changed meanwhile.

      • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:40 pm

        Speaking of Vino, not Nibali.

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:21 pm

          Yes, maybe that was with the chemists help.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:42 pm

            Apparently not.

  • John Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 4:58 pm

    I don’t understand the thought that Froome could be distances significantly by Bert or Nibali on the Tourmalet descent. It’s only slightly technical at the top. Generally, it’s wide roads with new Tarmac. Smooth sailing to Luz.

  • BB Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:15 pm

    At least Nibali dropped Fuglsang

    • Louis le B Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 6:17 pm

      Yesterday Manager Vinikourov dropped Nibali in favor of Jacob Fuglsang as team-captain, claiming Fuglsang was in better form than Nibali. Today Fuglsang ended 15 minuts after the stagewinner Majka and was dropped by Nibali with about 10 minuts. Hahahaha the teamspirit and teamwork flies high in the Kazak team.
      Also ‘ups’ too our most valued ‘the Inner Ring’ – noone of your many surgested ‘ring-riders’ ended in top 5 today. How will we ever find our feet again when our mentor and master-druide went so sugarcold? Cheer up Inrng – your still the cycling one! 🙂

  • Steppings Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 5:20 pm

    Great effort by Dan Martin, sadly of which no one will remember 2nd spot on this stage by next week. Shame as this is the second potential stage Dan could have won.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 7:57 pm

    Dan Martin not making the break: possibly a second runner-up spot down to bad tactics. (Got himself boxed in on Mur de Bretagne.)
    Going to be a lot more of this type of ‘racing’ amongst the GC guys.

    • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:40 pm

      CN: ‘The four Tours between 2008 and 2011 were all decided in the final mountain range, while in the three since then, the eventual winner has emerged by the end of the first day in the mountains.’ – and a lot more boring that is. Can’t think of anything ASO could do about that, though.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:50 pm

    I think Sky will strike while they are clearly the strongest and finish the others off tomorrow.
    If they wait for the final climb before attacking, I’d say Froome’s rivals are doomed.
    Downhill is his weakness – got to go for that.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:47 pm

      Agreed, even if I’m not sure about downhill. But that’s a start, anyway. My 2 cents is that the others need to force tiring tempo from far. Movistar should risk Valverde’s podium place they’re fancying about (he had his chance last year).
      Nor Porte nor Froome looked so good today, and when Astana stopped pulling, Sky tellingly opted for easier rhythm – but today neither most of the rivals felt like attacking, that was the problem, being even more smashed than the Sky guys by yesterday’s final slaughter. Let’s see how people recover tomorrow. A pity the climbs are that distanced one from another. If Sky can play its game, they’ll try to kill off everyone they can, as you say. Big boredom clouds ahead (today was a bad forewarning).

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 11:14 pm

    I had a feeling today would be a damp squib after yesterday as is often the case when they pair mountain stages together. What promised to be the big 4 gunfight is seriously turning into an afternoon tea party. No criticism of Froome at all, it’s what previous winners have done, crush the opposition and relax to Paris, take in some scenery, paint the bike yellow etc.

  • Luis Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:53 am

    the tour is dead. and cycling dyed a bit more on the last tuesday…and we must be all blind or stupid to think that was normal.

    • GB Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:51 am

      It’s sort of nice that cycling has the same people who say utter dribble like this every time something they don’t like happens as every other hobby I’ve had.

      Makes me feel like we’re not all that different from each other after all, you know?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:40 am

      The watts calculations say Froome did about 6.1W/kg. For the first climb of the Tour and after a rest day this was high but not wild. It’ll be interesting to see what the data say for today’s summit finish on the Plateau de Beille and then Alpe d’Huez.

      Let’s hope you’re not on the jury when I’m falsely accused of stealing some eggs and cheese 😉

      • Luis Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:32 am

        I’ve nothing against Froome, or any other cyclist, I like cycling not cyclists.

        some times good sense and memory is more important then all the science and tests. like history as show.

        don’t know if you remember a guy that was accused of stealing eggs seven times, there was no proves of is robbery, but in the end he was really the robber. and like in that case, I don’t think there is only a robber but a team with a really good robbing system.

  • diamondjim Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:09 am

    Oh, la vache!

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