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Tour Stage 12 Preview

The hardest of the three stages in the Pyrenees with a saw-tooth profile. The stage is live on TV from start to finish.

Stage 11 Review: a stage win for Rafał Majka, the Bison of Zegartowice. After a flurry of early attacks Majka made the winning move while Dan Martin didn’t. The Irishman bridged across on the Col d’Aspin. Onto the Tourmalet and Majka rode away and from this point onwards, 50km to go, put time into everyone, turning a four minute lead into six. Behind the heat was taking its toll with several abandons.

We got a select group up the Tourmalet but on attacks going down it, predictable since Chris Froome had two team mates in Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas who could chase anyone on the long, open roads after. Yesterday’s stage should be seen as a strength-sapping exercise for today. One change from yesterday, Peter Sagan is back in green.

Another change is that Majka’s win confirms Alberto Contador’s hopes are fading fast, the team let the Pole go for the stage win rather than protect their leader. Astana briefly set the pace up the Tourmalet but it was reminiscent of FDJ doing a turn before La Pierre St Martin and equally ruinous. Vincenzo Nibali was blown away on the drag up to the finish in Cauterets. Time to think about the Vuelta or has Fabio Aru already got that in his diary?

  • Km 57.5 – Col de Portet-d’Aspet (1 069 m), 4.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.7% – category 2
  • Km 93.0 – Col de la Core (1 389 m), 14.1 kilometre-long climb at 5.7% – category 1
  • Km 144.0 – Port de Lers (1 517 m), 12.9 kilometre-long climb at 6% – category 1
  • Km 195.0 – PLATEAU DE BEILLE (1 780 m)15.8 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% – category H

The Route: the profile pic says a thousand words but let’s add some numbers: 195km and 4,500m of vertical gain.

The race starts across the Comminges on its way to the Portet d’Aspet, listed as 4.3km at 9.7% in the roadbook but that’s just the steep part, the approach road rises up with several sections at 5-6% to make things harder. There will be a sombre moment as the Tour climbs past the Fabio Casartelli memorial.

The Col de la Core is next, a typical pass of the Ariège with its cheese dairies at the foot and fine views higher up. It’s easy by itself but it’s all going to added up.

Next up is the Port de l’Hers. Port is a local word for a mountain pass and this is another scenic climb – look for the lake – with several sets of hairpins. It’s followed by a fast descent that’s awkward, instead of obvious sharp bends the road tilts left and right and at speed it’s hard to know when to brake. Then the road opens up and rides on into Tarascon.

The Finish: there’s a flat approach on the valley, the race turns onto a side road and, just like Alpe d’Huez, the road rears up right from the start. Unlike the other climbs of the day with their narrow roads and varying gradient the road to the Plateau de Beille is a much more regular climb with a wide road, albeit narrowed by the fans. It’s hard though, relentlessly at times as it climbs through woodland and only eases just before the line by which time the race is above the tree line.

The Contenders: there’s a chance the breakaway sticks. Much of the course is hard terrain for a team to chase but any group is going to need a beaucoup time for the final climb and if a winner is to emerge from the breakaway they will have to be an excellent climber. It’s likely we see Team Sky and Movistar leading the charge to the final climb. There’s also the outside chance of an ambush attack by Movistar, Tinkoff-Saxo or Astana slim given Nibali’s evaporating form and Contador’s complaints of allergies.

Another for Chris Froome? After Tuesday’s demonstration that he’s got the climbing legs so why turn down the chance to lock down the race and take another stage win? Now that Froome seems to be the patron or bwana of the race perhaps he can help his friend Richie Porte? The Tasmanian might be going to BMC Racing to help keep Tejay van Garderen on his toes but Sky will be happy with a Porte win and nobody more so than Chris Froome. However if they got a 1-2 at La Pierre St Martin this was helped by the flatter upper section which suited Porte’s stronger TT skills over Nairo Quintana.

Today is much more suited to Nairo Quintana than anything we’ve seen so far. A day full of climbing and the relentless final ascent is perfect for him, can we get the duel we wanted? Movistar are a strong team and Alejandro Valverde brings more options. As much as they will want a stage win they can also put pressure on Tejay van Garderen. BMC’s leader has gone backwards on the first climb but is still among the top names.

Robert Gesink is climbing very well, can he keep it up? The Condor of Varsseveld could soar up the slopes here. Another rider who is climbing well is Pierre Rolland and this climb suits his forceful, big gear style. Alberto Contador is suffering from allergies but if it rains he might find the air better.

By now we’re casting around for outsiders. Bauke Mollema had a go yesterday and could try again while Adam Yates is having an excellent first Tour. Rafael Valls is climbing well and will find support from his namesake Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister who is due to visit the race today. Finally there’s Rafał Majka, he must be tired but he did put time into everyone yesterday.

Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana
Robert Gesink, Pierre Rolland
Majka, Valverde, Contador

Weather: hot, hotter even with temperatures in the shade of 34˚C but there’s the chance of the heat stirring up a thunderstorm and showers.

TV: it’s live on TV from start to finish, from 11.10am Euto time with a slightly earlier finish forecast for 5.00pm.

If you can’t find it on TV, you’ll find it online with Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Larrick Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:05 am

    It’s come up as stage 11 rather than 12 and you start with a ‘stage 10 recap’ of stage 11.

    Tour tiredness no doubt 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:33 am

      Thanks, rest day needed

      • Larrick Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:48 am

        Hate to be a pain but you’ve still got Majka winning as the Stage 10 Review.

        I’m not the pedantic type but thought you might like to know.

      • Andy W Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:10 pm

        You also have
        “We got a select group up the Tourmalet but on attacks going down it, predictable since Chris Froome had two team mates in Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas who could chase anyone on the long, open roads after. ”

        Struggled a bit to work-out what this meant, then cottoned-on it’s a typo, should be “no attacks”

  • Special Eyes Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:23 am

    Has Contador always had a pollen allergy or is this a recent condition that he’s suffered ?

    • Larry T. Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:11 am

      Allergy to what I wonder? May at the Giro seems to give everyone fits with the spring conditions but July in France? A guy who has raced and won plenty during this period in the past suddenly is troubled by allergies? Perhaps an allergy to admitting he’s still tired from that Giro and that the double is much tougher than he thought? The air is leaking out of the Tour balloon of hype pretty quickly these days. No surprise there and as much as I dislike SKY and Froome they’re showing (except for the motorhomes) everyone else how it’s done. I’m hoping for a rare bad day for the guy who reminds me of a cartoon skeleton playing his rib cage as a xylophone so the race might get more interesting, but it’s a faint hope at this point.

      • BB Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:22 am

        “Allergy to what I wonder?”
        Oleg. It’s pretty common.

      • ronytominger Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:16 pm

        olegophobia

    • maximflyer Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:30 am

      He had. But one can never know how much it is exagerrated when talking about him.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:42 am

      He’s had it before in the Dauphiné too.

      • Lars Jensen Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:14 am

        Bjarne Riis had the same explanation on danish TV.

        He also noted that Contador maybe was a couple of kilos too heavy.
        But well… Riis is always talking about weight 🙂

        • irungo txuletak Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:51 am

          Agree on the weight. I find Kontador less lean than last year.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:31 am

      From football to cycling, F1 to tiddlywinks there is always a reason.
      Maybe I could publish a book called “The big book of Sporting Excuses”, with the sub heading – “so you don’t have to admit that you were not good enough on the day”.

      Football – The grass in this stadium was higher than we expected
      Rugby – This oval ball is a different shaped oval than the one we normally use
      Cycling – My allergies got to me
      Boxing – My glove was not on right, so I couldn’t use that hand too much
      Snooker – I had an itchy toenail which is really distracting at this level
      F1 – I am the best driver in the sport, but today his car was unusually fast

      PS, not to be mean, I will say; as an amateur bike racer I have rehearsed the best excuses in my mind when I have just been dropped (as we all have at some point) and am making my way to the end of the course…still love the pros excuses though.

    • Chris James Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:34 am

      Contador has complained about allergies for many years. They can certainly have a big effect on riding, I suffer during the summer and much prefer riding and racing in the cooler months.

      • Chris James Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:37 am

        I should also point out that my wife (who used to live in Spain, and was engaged to a Spaniard) thinks that they are a nation of hypochondriacs so the allergy complaint could also be a self justification for poor form.

  • Cameron Isles Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:30 am

    Dude hasn’t left the airport parking lot and he’s already talking to Sky Sports.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS0FvKFl5gc

    He’s good. He’s real good.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:23 am

      Yawn. If it’s not about the race let’s not add comments about celebrities otherwise kilobytes will soon be wasted on popstars etc

      • Augustas Pablo Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:33 am

        Cameron Isles is the worst person on here…..

      • Pelican VC Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:41 am

        +1

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 8:42 am

          Enough, it’s bit mean to slam fellow readers. But since it’s all off topic this thread of comments will self-destruct shortly.

          • hoh Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:47 am

            The Armstrong twitter thing is firmly in the realm of “parking space saga”: Medias lacking anything interesting to write hence grabing onto any straw they’ve got.

      • Cameron Isles Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:07 am

        Chris lost his mother to a similar disease to the one Geoff Thomas is currently fundraising for. He’s leading the race. Then Lance shows up kind of trolling him before a key mountain stage. Chris and Geraint have both addressed it in the press. Fifty journalists/cameramen broke off from covering the Tour to go up the road yesterday and you’re saying it’s not about the race? Not even a little bit? I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal yet but at least it’s got to be on Froome’s radar. If you have a brown snake in your backyard you don’t have to kill it, but you better damn well know where it is.

        • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:18 am

          He’s not a brown snake; he’s a worm. Insignificant.
          The only influence Armstrong has these days is whatever people give him.
          His sole raison d’etre is to insinuate that everyone else is/was doing what he was doing in a futile attempt to re-establish his reputation as a ‘great’. Then, he can sit in his room of framed yellow jerseys and delude himself that he was.

          • Cameron Isles Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:59 am

            @J Evans
            Brown snake in that his very presence is threatening. Worms can’t bite. Actually he’s more like the scorpion if you are familiar with one of the Aesop’s fables. Cycling, in this instance, is like the frog.

            @Augustas Pablo
            @Pelican VC
            ???
            That came out of a clear blue sky for me. But I’ve posted like a dozen times in three years. Oh well. Sorry to have offended you chaps… whatever it was.

          • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:20 pm

            No, it’s not threatening. He can do nothing. Ignore him.

      • NancyA Friday, 17 July 2015, 4:29 am

        Thanks for trying, Mr. Inrng.

    • Amanda Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:09 pm

      If you’d said WHICH ‘dude’ I wouldn’t have bothered clicking the link!

      • Cameron Isles Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:04 am

        @Amanda
        There’s no doubt a slightly hotter region of Hell especially set aside for Lance — for a while here in NZ we had Mike and Allison Anderson running their bike shop in Lower Hutt and running a free shuttle out to a local bike park for families… salt of the earth stuff… and what Lance put them through over the Nice villa situation for instance just beggars belief; and Emma who had Mike Carlisle to think about and everyone else he affected — but he’s part of our history whether we like it or not. That’s why I posted the link. It may not be good news, but it is news. When I wrote “he’s real good” that meant he’s really conniving, not that I’m a fan.

  • weeclarky Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:02 am

    did anyone notice the swapped roles for Porte and Thomas yesterday? I think Sky are going for a podium for G, so he might be a possibility for today?

    • frood Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:48 am

      this seems highly plausible. i thought it was interesting how quick G was to chase down gallopin who is surely not going to last through all these mountains – if he does I’ll be impressed. that said, i’ll be impressed if Thomas does too; uncharted territory for him at this level.

      • Gargatouf Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:04 am

        If Thomas can last through all the mountains, why can’t Gallopin?

      • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:09 am

        Just what I was saying to friends last night – unchartered territory for Geraint. Really keen to see how he fares through all the mountain stages.

      • Mike Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:50 am

        Gallopin is apparently a few kilos lighter than he was at previous Tours; maybe Sky have identified him as a rider for whom turning from Baroudeur to Grimpeur is a matter of diet, and thus are taking him seriously?

    • Dodge2000 Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:57 am

      I think Dan Lloyd has 1000/1 E/W bet on a G podium. Might be pretty shrewd. I think with the relative ease with which Sky have managed to control the race they might be looking at the possibility.

      It will only take a couple of tought days in the mountains to put pay to that though. Still a long way to go…………… and a scare by Quintana today if we have another bonk incident might focus the team around just Froome again.

  • Ferdi Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:02 am

    Movistar’s passivity yesterday was impossible to understand, I hope they don’t settle for 2nd and 3rd place, because it would be a failure for a team who targets overall victory. I think they’re probably waiting for the Alps, expecting that Froome will be weaker in the last week.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:04 am

      Yesterday’s route just didn’t suit them, 40km from the top of the Tourmalet to the finish with a long final uphill drag to the line for Porte and Thomas, rather than Valverde and Castroviejo. Today however is ideal for them so copy/paste your comment tomorrow morning if they sit back 😉

    • Froome's Dog Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:17 am

      I’m always fascinated by people who keep shouting “Attack” at the screen as they watch a race. Does anyone seriously believe that Movistar could attack yesterday after Froome destroyed them all the day before. Cycling is a sport in which you need to conserve your energy and parcel out your efforts. If you go nuts every single day you will very soon be done. Sometimes you just have to call it quits and roll it home. At least, if you are smart you do. There will be other days.

      As to today, I expect Froome to lay the hurt again. When you have your foot on the throat you don’t take it off. You press down harder. Then, next week, we will see Froome letting Quintana win a couple when it doesn’t matter. Then you can all say that “Quintana was stronger in the 3rd week” again while people like me laugh due to the context of such wins.

      • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:06 pm

        I’m quite far from screaming “attack” to anyone, still I believe Movistar could ride diffrently, starting from yesterday.
        Cycling is a team sport, among other things, and not just a “watt” one, even if we may be led to think that by stages like Tuesday’s.
        Besides yesterday, today isn’t promising at all in terms of Movistar’s attitude. As it could be broadly anticipates, indeed. Hope that changes.
        In 2013 Quintana was stronger during the first week, it was Froome who was weaker. He didn’t let Quintana away at all.
        That it didn’t matter and that Froome eased off when he saw he hadn’t it to stay with the Colombian, hence trying was more risky than lwtting him going… well, that’s true, but it’s a slightly different story.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:30 am

    Why did Dan Martin continue to chase so hard when it was obvious he wasn’t going to catch Majka?

    In the interview afterwards he seemed to be talking up his two second place finishes, but I would have thought conserving energy and settling for 3rd or 4th yesterday would have been smarter, and save energy for another stage win attempt?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:49 am

      I wondered the same. Second place is still a good result but he’s capable of winning a stage and the energy spent will surely come with a bill to pay?

    • Ben not Jerry Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:19 am

      Yep, exactly what I was thinking as he put in big turns going up the Cote de Cauterets. “You’re wasting your energy Dan”.

      • Lanterne Verte Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:03 am

        If he performs like that once or twice more he will finish top 10 in Paris and he is also seeing polka dots up ahead

    • Adrian Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:04 pm

      As far as I can tell nothing Garmin has done in this entire race has made any sense at all. They go hard when it’s pointless and the rest of the time they ride at the back of the peleton so they can get split off from leaders.

  • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:32 am

    Love the nicknames. Like wrestling. And Majka is very much a bison of a man.

    • Lanterne Vert Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:33 am

      + 1. The Condor of Varsseveld is an apt nickname for that rarely glimpsed cryptid, a Dutch climber.

    • Andy W Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:05 pm

      “the Bison of Zegartowice”
      – seriously ?

      Who comes up with these nicknames ? Is it someone opening a bestiary at a random page ?
      Does anyone outside the media (and bloggers) actually use them ?

      Makes me giggle anyway :o)

    • Francisco Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:59 pm

      A matter of taste and tradition, as cycling caps and black shorts? It may be obsolete as a journalistic device in this multimedia age, but I do find great charm in these over-the-top epithets.

  • Lamar Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:37 am

    Curious, is there anywhere that lists the number of metres climbed for each stage?

  • Nick Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:50 am

    You could look on Strava, to see if any pros have uploaded their files for the stage. Also sites like ridewithgps allow people to map out a route, and calculate the total climbing involved.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:51 am

    As good as Froome has been, the real revelation so far is Thomas. He seems like Froome was to Wiggins a few years back but with a lot more discipline! I really hope that Froomes advantage allows him to stay up in GC instead of sacrificing himself.

    • CFG Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:08 am

      I agree, I noticed Froome himself tried to chase down Valverde at the end yesterday, for the sake of a couple of seconds and I wondered if he was trying to protect G’s position. Obviously that has tactical advantages as well as repaying Thomas, but it made me think whether Cav’s criticism that they were too conservative in 2012 (riding only for the win for Wiggins and not chasing stage wins/green jersey) has been heard.

    • Alex222 Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:16 am

      Has looked excellent. But don’t think you can compare Thomas to Froome in 2012 as he doesn’t look like he could ride away with ease from the Yellow jersey.

      • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:47 am

        That’s because the yellow is Froome though isn’t it? Another great ride from him today, and another “moment of madness” from Froome!

    • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:21 am

      Thomas is the ultimate team mate. At times, likely to the detriment of his own chances.

      In the Sam Dream Team, Geraint would be one of the first names on the team sheet – no question.

      • Special Eyes Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:24 pm

        If Thomas is up there at the end of today, that would be a fantastic achievement no doubt.
        I did fancy him for a top 6 finish this year.
        With Landa coming to Sky next year (what a signing that looks), Sky are going to have three top notch players there. What to do ?
        My goodness, they could almost put Landa – Giro / Thomas – TdF / Froome – Vuelta !
        I jest of course.
        But Sky have not won a Giro or Vuelta to date. You would imagine that this will shortly change (if not later this season) with the combinations.
        OR, Kwiatkowski and Thomas to lead the Spring Classics assault.

        • razorback Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:08 am

          dont think they would put G for TdF as his first grand tour as a leader.
          also, I belive Landa would be behind Konig for leading a tour.
          I would go for:
          – G for cobbles classics
          – K for Ardenas
          – Konig/Henao (?) for Giro
          – Froome for TdF
          – G for Vuelta (so he can have a proper rest)
          they have a long list of possibles gran tour riders… G, Konig, Pouls, PK,…

  • Bergs Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:55 am

    Hi INRNG, I see you stamp the photos used and wondered if you are also a photographer? If not, is there a reason you stamp them? Just curious being a photographer myself. Thanks for the best TDF read as always.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:56 am

      The stamps in the Tour are either from Cor Vos the photo agency I use, or ASO’s media service.

    • motormouth Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:18 pm

      much like everything else in cycling, it’s because the stamps make the photos look more PRO

      (jokes!)

  • Watts Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:56 am

    Today is the turning point. If noone challenges Sky today, then it’s going to be a long and boring race for the scraps they leave for the rest.
    It’s looking so much like 2013 suddenly. Is Valverde getting Quintana’s 2013 role of long distance aggrevator today? I hope so, he’s looking strong. And Quintana looks to be the only one with a real shot at taking on froome. Maybe with the steeper sections it will suit him better.
    I just hope we won’t see another 110RPM solo show today as well, then I’m taking the summer off till the Vuelta comes along!

    • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:22 am

      Pretty confident we’re going to see some action today. I hope Nairo takes it to Froome.

    • Froome's Dog Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:24 am

      If Froome wins the Tour I certainly hope he will try to double up in the Vuelta. Its a race he deserves to win at least once.

      PS whatever happened to Senor Cobo?

      • Phil B Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:47 am

        last time I saw Cobo was racing for a turkish team. oddly not doing too wonderfully.

        • One Man Grupetto Thursday, 16 July 2015, 5:46 pm

          He stepped away from the sport at the end of last season. He previously considered quitting to become an electrician and I believe that was initially what he was planning to do. He certainly left the sport with minimal fanfare which is what he wanted.

          A genuinely complex character.

  • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:58 am

    For people who think that the three shortened grand tours is a good idea, Froome is providing a demonstration of why it isn’t (besides the fact that a two-week race would be much less challenging and entertaining than a three-week one): if all the best riders were in all three grand tours we’d often be faced with one rider dominating all three (true throughout history).

    • Sir Dave Blofeld Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:27 am

      Grand Tours won by 8 seconds don’t happen very often. Usually it is some minutes. I’m getting quite tired of the perverse view that if someone proves their dominance over the field it is somehow THEIR fault.

      Maybe Quintana, Tejay and the rest should up THEIR game? Don’t blame Froome for being so good.

      • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:37 am

        Well said, Sir Dave 🙂

        • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:13 am

          YES!!!! totally agree, Sir Dave.

          The argument appears to be:

          1. Dopers did x at y speed.
          2. You are doing x at y speed.
          3. Therefore, you are a doper.

          1 and 2 do not prove 3!!!! If i tried that in court, id be laughed at.

          I just don’t know why Froome doesnt give the obvious (but perhaps arrogant sounding) answer: in essence, I’m better then they were – the sport of cycling is now much more professional, everyone spends months up a mountain, the science and nutrition involved has had considerable development, the bikes and other tech are better (areo, stiffer, lighter etc). Heck, it happens in every sport that records are broken, even those where there is none or very little room for tech innovation.

          Rant over.

          • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:17 pm

            Again. I did not – nor have I ever – claimed that Froome was doping.
            In fact, I haven’t criticised Froome at all.

          • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:42 pm

            Sir Dave, Sam and Anonymous, when having a discussion it’s important to respond to what the other person actually says.
            Otherwise you’re just having an argument inside your own head.

          • Dan Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:09 pm

            +1
            Except the answer you suggest for Froome is only the half of it. Yes, he’s better than his rivals, but part of the reason is that – for various reasons – his rivals have just been so poor, with maybe the exception of Quintana, who is still relatively untested against the very best.

            I’m so sick and tired of the people crying “doper!” all the time. Froome has done nothing – so far – in this Tour that could be perceived as “not normal.”

          • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:37 pm

            But in the end, Anonymous and Sir Dave, its a case of just trying not to let it detract from your enjoyment of the race. Because its kinda easy for that to happen. But I suspect neither of you will!

          • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:41 pm

            As I said after Stage 10 on the ‘Stage 10 preview’:
            “To all the people who are – or will be – saying it’s definitely doping, or that it’s definitely not doping, there is but one response:
            You have no idea.”
            Sam and the various posters whose names begin with ‘Sir’ show their biases in almost every post. It’s not about the cycling, it’s about petty nationalism and cheering on ‘their team’.
            Hence, the ranting here about something I never said.
            They’re not your friends and you have no connection with them.

          • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:01 pm

            Mr Evans, just to clarify, I never even thought you were suggesting that Froome doped, so I definitely wasn’t implying it, I was simply replying to Sir Dave 🙂

            And in his defence, Perhaps the structure was a bit clumsy, but i took his comment as being a reference to the questioning in the media made about Froomey performance, rather than your comment

            peace and butterflies 🙂

      • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:20 pm

        Not a response to what I said. My point, which I’m still keen to make, is that the shortened grand tours idea is a bad one.
        (No criticism of any rider whatsoever.)

        • J Evans Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:22 pm

          This was to Sir Dave, because amongst all the guff about Froome, the meaning of my original point was completely lost.

  • Lanterne Vert Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:39 am

    The alternative (not that I’m in favour of it) is shortening the 3 GTs to 16 days and upping, say, the Tour of Britain, the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of Poland to 16 days. That’s 6 ‘Grand’ Tours, and would preserve the difficulty of completing all the ‘Grand’ Tours in a single year. A rider could always go for the 3 more prestigious ‘Grand’ Tours.

    • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:41 am

      You go ahead and persuade ASO. Let us know how you get on 🙂

      • Lanterne Vert Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:45 am

        They should just buy all the aforementioned races, and start a ‘Grand’ Tour of Germany as well. There. All major (European) markets covered. 😉

        • Lanterne Verte Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:05 am

          but the shorter the race the harder they will ride and you need time to recover in between, the calendar needs to get easier not harder

    • Andy W Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:19 pm

      I’d hardly put the Tour of Britain up there as a top-category race.

      The organisers (and Phil n Paul…) were touting the Tour of California as the 4th Grand Tour a couple of years ago, to a bit of derision

      • Vitus Thursday, 16 July 2015, 3:09 pm

        I’d hardly put the Tour of Poland up there as a top-category race too.
        Most of the 7 days are always a total snooze fest and adding more days wont make it any better. Except for the Polish advertise ballon industry, who block every possible view of a landscape with these annoying crap.

  • irungo txuletak Thursday, 16 July 2015, 10:59 am

    I read an interesting analysis in flemish press, made by Sven Nys (the cyclo cross champion) trainer. He says that to be so lean as the riders are in the late years (Froome is particularly good example) is very demanding. It is then difficult for riders to be at their best 2 years in a row, their body should need some rest. That would explain well the level of Nibali this year, or why Froome was not as strong last year as he is this year…
    This should also have an impact on carreer lenght.

  • Ronan Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:58 am

    Great to see the KOM dominated by climbers this year.

  • Ken Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:22 pm

    Can anyone explain what went on with Porte at the top of the Tourmalet yesterday? One minute he was there leading the group, just meters from the top. The TV cut away and next thing, there he was at the back. Did he stop? Yield to teammates? As usual, the US announcers missed everything.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:29 pm

      He went back for water I think

      • Ken Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:52 pm

        Thanks! The shift was so sudden, I thought something had gone wrong for him. Strange, though, that he’d miss out on the mountain points.

  • Uphillonly Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:30 pm

    As a mediocre amateur racer with a power metre I really enjoyed seeing Froome’s Ventoux power data video. I’d love to see more of this, especially for the last few kms of sprint finishes showing the different efforts by the sprint train & the last bursts by the team sprinter when they go. It would be great to see slowmo side by side differences between Greipel & Cav.

    I actually thought Froome’s data helps prove his case. Nothing extraordinary – bursts of 500-600w for a few seconds when he tried to jump, then back to high 300s – 400w. Because his rivals cracked it made it look stronger than the watts were showing.

    I’m 71kg & don’t have a problem doing jumps at 500-600w for a few seconds in races or turns at the front up a hill, the difference is that I then settle back to 250-300w. He’s a GC contender, 380-400w is expected.

    For comparison Wiggins mentioned holding 470-480w for 56 min at his World TT triumph. He would have been heavier so w/kg lower.
    Previous year: “Without boring you too much with the technicalities I averaged 456 watts for 55 minutes at the Worlds last year against Tony and still finished 1min 20sec behind.”

    • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:58 pm

      There’s quite a difference between a single event like Worlds ITT and the final climb of a stage race. If you want the “technicalities”, as Wiggo calls them, you need to know when such a comparison makes any sense.
      That said, I don’t know if that video is reliable. Hope it isn’t, because the HR fluctuation data aren’t very consistent with human physiology. But you never know (A Man Called Horse?).

      • Uphillonly Thursday, 16 July 2015, 3:08 pm

        True there is but although they sound small there’s also a huge difference between sustaining 380-400w & 460-480w over 40mins to 1hr.
        Having a power metre has given me much more appreciation of these differences. The Power curve makes much more sense of Cav’s comments about when he tries to time his sprint. It’s a brutal slope.

        For comparison, using data of someone I can guarantee is clean – myself (just caffeine, porridge oats & beetroot juice – not mixed).
        – My FTP a couple of years ago was just over 300w when I did the Haute Route Alps. That would be my ideal 1hr TT power riding fresh.
        -For 7 days climbing TdF type stages I climbed at 210-23ow up L’Iseran, Izoard, Pra Loup, etc. Typical tour climbs in hot conditions.
        – All out on Day 7 with no worries about a day 8, I averaged 243w for 90mins on the climb to finish line. 240w for the 1hr 40m Cime de la Bonnette TT on day 5.

        I maybe could have gone deeper on the other days but I think it would have only been a 10-15w improvement.

        Froome’s relative numbers look right.

        • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 3:31 pm

          Your *all out*, *TT*, climbs on day seven were 80% of your FTP (after climbing previously at 70% of your FTP, which is less than what’s usual in a hard-contested GT).
          Which would mean, if this kind of arguments (i.e., concluding your report with “Froome’s relative numbers look right”) made sense – which it doesn’t IMHO – that:
          had, Froome the same FTP of Wiggo (highly unlikely), going all out on stage 15 (242 kms long), he would have averaged *at most* about 380W in an hour-long effort. But he did even better than that. Think he was at least averaging some 400W in the last 50′ or so.
          If your prefer to bring it to your terms, you should imagine yourself on the Bonnette, during your actual performance, accelerating several times (at least 4-5) at sustained 380W, and keeping some 270W along 1-2′ stretches.
          Sorry, I can’t see that from your numbers.
          However, we’re losing time, here.
          No logical consideration about Froome can be inferred from your numbers: that is, he was (proportionally) way better than you, but that won’t make him a doper, will it? …He’s just going harder with his beetroot programme (warmly recommended by Dr. Ferrari, BTW, which makes it at least as doping as orange juice ^___^).
          Which brings us back to the doubts inrng and others expressed here about the utility of broadcasting power numbers live…

          • noel Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:09 pm

            gabriele.. I agree. If there was some way of measuring the ‘power’ of runners. for example, just imagine how the internet would fill up with amateur scientists claiming this and that after every olympics/marathon etc… the more cycling data available, the more the focus for unscientific interpretations of a mostly negative taint fall on cycling rather than perhaps some more deserving sports as far as I can see…

          • Uphillonly Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:24 pm

            Gabriele – appreciate the response. Briefly on my figures. My all-outs at 80% FTP were for 1hr 40m so FTP had to be lower. Pro’s are doing all their climbs in well under an hour.

            On the pros. So much of the fuss over Sky seemed to be that Porte & Thomas were up were matching & beating 3 of the big 4. Power info might have showed just how bad a day Contador & Nibali were having and beating them wasn’t remarkable on that day.

            Unfortunately we become drug experts as long term cycling fans so I watch all sport with healthy skepticism/realism and just enjoy the spectacle. What would be more re-assuring this tour is if we see some bad days from Sky, they had them in 2013. The heavy doping era assisted recovery hugely. I think Armstrong had one bad day in 7 years?

            On Beetroot. I participated in a double-blind study & came out with 1.5% improvement over 20km TT, in-line with other participants. Ferrari seems to be right on that one.

          • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:16 pm

            @Uphillonly
            Not that much under one hour. Not Ventoux, anyway, which is about 60′ for the pro’s, too. What is more, as I’m sure you know, the power curve has a “personal” shape but generally goes flatter as riding time increases (a bit more complicated but…). However, it’s a useless discussion, too much difference between trained amateurs and pro’s even in physiological terms: I’m sure we’d both be interested in talking about power values etc., but we’d go quite OT.
            On beetroot… I was joking about the famous “orange juice” line from Ferrari, but there’s little doubt it works. And maybe it should enter the list of forbidden substances, too 😛
            A complicated decision, anyway.

      • heran Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:52 am

        Whats with his heart rate? His max is around 165, certainly less after two weeks in the tour, and at that point he was simply riding at the limit. No way for the HR to go any higher.

        These 500-600W attacks are paid for with anaerobic energy reservoirs, nothing more the aerobic (and hence HR) can give there.

        • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:07 pm

          It’s the relative shift in HR. And even when you’re doing an anaerobic effort, HR fluctuates accordingly. But let’s not enter in this debate, we don’t even know if the data were reliable.

  • Touriste-Routier Thursday, 16 July 2015, 1:54 pm

    Plateau de Beille; the race to a parking lot on top of a mountain.

    The second race will be back down the mountain to wherever the teams are staying. From the mountain top to Friday’s start in Muret is probably close to 2 hours without traffic; this could be a hard transfer after a very hard stage.

  • ccotenj Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:07 pm

    a few observations:

    – glad to see majka get a solo win, he gives every impression of being a fun character and cashes in (3 for 3 now in tdf) when given the opportunity…

    – is dan martin taking lessons from pierre rolland on how to waste energy?

    – thank goodness barguil didn’t hit a cow… that would have been one ugly crash (for him, the cow might not have even noticed it)… i have to admit, that was a moment that i wished i could have heard carlton’s commentary, as he must have been bordering on a heart attack when he saw that… although sean probably mumbled “i would have run over the cow and eaten it”…

    other than that, the race appeared to go to form, given the profile and what the next day looked like…

  • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:16 pm

    Not liking at all how Movistar is riding today till now. Not that I didn’t expect it. Hope Unzue or whoever is in the car right now knows what he’s doing, he’s on the field after all (yet they also were on the field in so many previous occasions when they did awfully ^___^). It would be utterly depressing if they really were trying to secure a double podium.
    Not liking Tinkoff, either. But in their case the situation is more complicated, thus I’m even less sure about it.
    After a handful of good stages, this Tour is doing everything in cycling’s gods power to prove Larry T.’s usual complaints about Le Big Show right 😛

    • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 4:59 pm

      the tv commentator today was at least really ashamed to sell us that picture: Watching G.Thomas shutting down N.Quintana on a climb

      • Bilmo Thursday, 16 July 2015, 5:57 pm

        I see everybody starting on Thomas now (even if you weren’t Anonymous a lot of twitter have).

        Froome showed no form before 2011 and must be a doper. Thomas always been there or there abouts (breakaway over Tourmalet 2011 etc) but he is also a doper.

        I have no way of knowing who is clean but this just continuous insinuation after any decent performance is getting boring.

        • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:05 pm

          Totally share your last two lines, but…

          “Thomas always been there or there abouts”. Have a look at his TdF previous results. All of them. The comparison with this year *is* startling, as a matter of fact. He’s never been nowhere near here. Which doesn’t mean much: maybe they’re working on him to develop him as a stage racer and it’s working great.
          But we really can’t be surprised people being surprised (even if we don’t consider how those – legitimate – attempts of transformation have seldom met success).
          “Twitter people” (and, sadly, some readers here, too) were surprised by totally unsurprising performaces about Cataldo, Rosa or Kangert…! Most fans will blindly follow commonplace assumptions and media barking, be those reasonable or not.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:20 pm

    Garmin once again missed the last bus as we saw Sky telling them it had already left. Hopefully, picking up on French press talk Nibali may well be away from Asstana and AV next year. I certainly very very much hope so.

    • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 2:32 pm

      +1

      • noel Thursday, 16 July 2015, 3:29 pm

        I’d like to see him put his 3 GT trophies on the shelf and have a proper crack at the classics…

  • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:50 pm

    Rarely have I seen such half-hearted limp attacks by riders of the calibre of Nairo, Bert, Valverde and Nibali. Seriously. It was like they were all set to Program Token Effort. None of them had any real zip or sting in them.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 16 July 2015, 6:58 pm

      +1

      • Special Eyes Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:22 pm

        37C heat, 195 km, 3rd day in the Pyrenees, 15.8km HC finish, strong Sky teamwork.
        No one had the legs to attack and stay away.

        • Motormouth Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:17 pm

          I agree – I can’t believe it’s fair to say they are giving ‘half hearted’ performances — these are world class competitors on the ropes, needing to make a statement, to gain time. I interpret it as ‘the best they can do isn’t good enough today’ or reserved in the pursuit of another day. Maybe they made some digs, saw it wasn’t working and didn’t want to pull a Cannondale and opted to hold position and save it for another day.

          But regardless, the end of the stage was quite thrilling… to me at least. Lots of probing attacks and a good 1/2 from Movistar which got me excited that it was gonna work for a second.

          My poor man’s analysis:

          Sky looked on the next level to everyone else for another day which tempered considered attacks and neutered realized attacks. They had 3 guys who were containing and beating the rest of the GC riders for most of the climb, shut down every move and sheltered Froome, who notably didn’t do much on his attack. The more tactical riders opted to ride the coattails (ala TJVG aka ‘the American JCVD’) and hope for an opening in a later stage, or maybe were just holding on for dear life.

          Good to see Nibali making moves again, and thought it was smart of him to pace back to the break towards the end instead of needlessly chasing the move. I like that guy. If he can get Fuggles to work with him ala Quintana+Valverde, now that he had his moment and still isn’t a real GC contender, he might be able to get a move to stick. I think Teej might have a move in him, and Nairo looked better. Still can’t make heads or tails of Contador though. The Frenchman are on the march, but mostly because I think the top guys don’t see them as a threat.

          Still have hope for a good second half!

          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:19 pm

            The big factor was the headwind, it dampened the attacks and dissuaded the others. Once you get to 3km to go the road opens up on the plateau and the stormy weather made it windy.

          • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:45 pm

            They went up really fast: though Contador and Rasmussen were faster in 2007 (easier stage, but pushing hard from the start of Pailhères), still in the years 2000s it’s only the second time – besides 2007, as said – that an avg. speed of 21 km/h is reached. Lance and Basso came near in 2004, but finally weren’t able to (as it wasn’t Lance in 2002). It’s even fine that anyone could launch attacks with this kind of speed… add the strong headwind, and you’ll understand how it wasn’t as much a problem of energy or “sting” as a tactical question. Plus, the spectacular Thomas and a finally consistent Porte who could prove himself impacting three Pirenaic days in a row.

        • Sam Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:21 pm

          Fair points,, Special Eyes. And I didn’t take into account the headwind.

    • gabriele Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:32 pm

      What disappointed me the most was the fact of reducing it to solo attacks.
      Both Contador and Nibali (especially the former) were ostensibly waiting for someone else to join the move. Yet nobody even tried – Valverde’s moves didn’t exactly look what you need to do in order to successfully join an ongoing attack (to start with, you need to stop nearly immediately if you’re getting too close without having dropped the rest).
      But I really didn’t understand why Nibali didn’t try to join Contador before, if he was thinking about this kind of middle range attack. It’s obvious that no one can stay out there alone with *three* teammates who may decide to chase (plus, the other guys!).
      All in all, what’s true is that the moves weren’t clearly any near to “dig deep” attacks, as one could see by the fact that who was pushing them didn’t suffer too much when other moves followed once they were reeled back in in the first place. But does it makes sense to dig deep if it’s just to find yourself in the uncomfortable position of defending alone any hard-gained advantage against a strong group?
      However, another big problem was how the whole stage has been ridden before…

      • Motormouth Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:46 pm

        Great points INRNG and Gabriele. I’m new at this, it’s always great to read your comments.

        Re: group attacks… that’s a great point and I also can’t think of a good reason why they wouldn’t join forces, they don’t have anything to lose by helping each other to put time into Froome (which to me, would be the main goal; closing that time gap). Were they all thinking they had to make ‘statements’ of their strength after being beaten by Froome earlier?

        I also wonder how the weather change helps/hurts various riders or tactics. I can’t recall any obvious issues like Tejay had in P>N for instance.

      • Canocola Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:20 pm

        I got the impression that the ‘attacks’ were mostly feints designed to feel out how other riders were coping – given a sign of weakness, perhaps someone would have gambled a little more? With nothing doing, why waste the extra effort and risk losing even more time?

      • razorback Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:28 am

        i guess they all in a way are already fighting for second, so when Contador jumps, they are just letting he get tired… that is the biggest advantage for Sky of so many GC contenders + a healthy time difference.
        Moviestar is the only one with real chances, but I guess that they are playing the waiting game hopping that Froome will be a bad day and then attack. I could be boring, but I think it makes sense. Is better than try everyday just to get the full Sky team to hunt them.
        Garmin is a big disapointing. I have seen they playing soo smart in the past with team tatics, but I cant figure out what they are trying to do…

        • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:37 am

          I quite agree on your POV. What Movistar can’t understand (it’s not just this year) is that the race doesn’t *happen* as an astrological epiphany of the Stars in the Sky – Juppiter on Venus, Froome will have a bad day. You must work it out, too. However, they may as well prove right, but I’m not sure I’d be happy Quintana winning a boring race just because Froome cracked on a bad day.
          However, Contador told that he was indeed just testing the legs of the others, as Canocola said, ’cause he felt that with the headwind he wasn’t really possible to sneak away and also stressed that the situation was pretty locked since Sky was up there in numbers.

  • Ken Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:06 pm

    Can anybody tell me what Valverde was doing with those attacks? They seemed utterly uncoordinated with Quintana. If V had lead out Q, we might have had something. As it was, they just made Sky look invincible.

    • Special Eyes Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:29 pm

      It was rather odd. Froome jumped at one point and isolated Thomas too.
      Perhaps, as Canocola above points out, it was sparring.
      I hadn’t realised there was a headwind also.