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Tour Stage 13 Preview

The profile isn’t as dramatic but this is a hard 200km route at the best of times, today there’s a heatwave. Expect a fight to get in the breakaway and with luck suspense to the end for the stage win.

Joaquim Rodriguez

Stage 12 Review: Hennie Kuiper famously said “racing is licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own“. Yesterday Joaquim Rodriguez polished off 21 plates before enjoying his own dessert. A breakaway of 22 riders went away after the early intermediate sprint and soon enouhg it was no procession with attacks starting on the Col de la Core to thin the group. Each time someone attacked Rodriguez sat tight and digested the efforts of others. Take the Portet d’Aspet where Kristian Đurasek sprinted over the top to take the points only to vanish soon after. Even more strange was Michał Kwiatkowski and Sep Vanmarcke crossing the penultimate climb together, a scene from a spring classic rather than a mountain stage of the Tour de France. Behind Astana and Ag2r La Mondiale led the chase, Rodriguez was cleaned more plates. He then devoured Jacob Fuglsand and Romain Bardet to take a solo stage win, his face grimacing like a Catalan Voeckler.

There was the second race from the peloton. Contador attacked, Nibali attacked, Valverde attacked, Quintana attacked, Froome attacked. Tejay van Garderen didn’t. Geraint Thomas was chasing and set sections of social media on fire. Presumably from those who’d missed his climbing in the Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice or the Volta ao Algarve earlier this year. None of this vouches for him, it’s just a performance in the Tour de France attracts so much more attention. His only apparent difficulty was when Froome attacked. As well as Thomas a headwind on the plateau helped to shut down the moves. Pierre Rolland said he was “saved” by the headwind, a resuscitated Bauke Mollema said it “killed” him.

  • Km 131.0 – Côte de Saint-Cirgue, 3.8 kilometre-long climb at 5.8% – category 3
  • Km 156.5 – Côte de la Pomparie, 2.8 kilometre-long climb at 5% – category 4
  • Km 167.0 – Côte de la Selve, 3.9 kilometre-long climb at 3.7% – category 4

The Route: the opening part of the stage includes a series of uncategorised climbs amid the exposed terrain of the Lauragais and makes ideal terrain for a breakaway to go.

The second half of the stage gets hillier and more awkward. After Villefranche d’Albigeois the race drops down to the Tarn valley and then climbs back up again to Saint Cirgue, 3.8km at 5.8% but on a rough road that’s as rasping as cat’s tongue. The race never cuts to the backroads but the surface is rural rough for a lot of the way.

After two more marked climbs there’s the uncategorised climb out of the Viaur gorge, much of which is a very long straight piece of road, awkward for a surprise attack. Over the top and it’s a gradual descent into Rodez.

The Finish: glance at the stage profile for the day and it looks like nothing special but this has a big uphill kick to the line, 9.6% for 560m. It’s all on a wide road and finishes outside the HQ of RAGT, the agricultural firm that sponsors the Tour’s team prize.

The Contenders: Peter Sagan is the default pick. The uphill finish is just within range for him and he can take points for his green jersey where other sprinters cannot. The last time the Tour came to this region Sagan set his Cannondale team to work and they ejected the sprinters and he won; the route was very different but you get the picture. However will Sagan deploy his team or try to in the break? Maybe both because if he goes up the road he can get the intermediate sprint too and if he misses the move he could always set some of his team to work.

Tony Gallopin is a good pick from the bunch but his new-found GC status means he’ll be heavily marked and is only the pick from a bunch sprint. Zdeněk Štybar can take the sprint too, no need to jump like he did in Le Havre. Alexis Vuillermoz won on the Mur de Bretagne and was excellent on the Mur de Huy but today’s finish might not be steep enough.

The terrain is Thomas Voeckler friendly. He’s been looking more lively and this is a rare chance to seize. Ramūnas Navardauskas won a stage of the Tour last year with a late attack over a hill and is a good breakaway candidate but so is the rest of the Cannondale-Garmin team who will be on strict orders to get up the road today after missing yesterday’s move. Cofidis’s best chances are probably Julien Simon and Nicolas Edet. Jan Bakelants is one to watch on a day like this but in the absence of Johan Van Summeren he could be on bodyguard duty for Romain Bardet.

The local rider is Alexandre Geniez, the Colossus of Rodez. He should be extra motivated today but a win seems hard. He’s taken a stage of the Vuelta before and finished ninth in the last Giro and must be sapped by this. He’s a diesel type so if he gets in the day’s break he’ll have to barge away before the final climb. Finally Michael Matthews would have been the prime pick but he’s still nursing injuries and carrying that lanterne rouge.

Peter Sagan
Zdeněk Štybar, Adam Yates, Tony Gallopin
Vuillermoz, Navardauskas, Huzarski, Geschke, Voeckler, Simon, Gauthier, Bakelants, Machado

Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 35˚C and a light 10km tailwind just to make things hotter. On a hot day a tailwind is a tease as it means less of breeze, especially on the climbs.

TV: the classic finish time of 5.15pm Euro time. 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.

  • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:40 am

    So two guys called G Thomas have been making headlines for the company they keep at the Tour…

    • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:04 am

      It’s official – Geraint Thomas is the new Eddy Merckx!

    • O L Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:26 am

      …and some of the headlines have been terrible at distinguishing them. Can’t imagine the Welsh one is too pleased…

  • Special Eyes Friday, 17 July 2015, 7:01 am

    Don’t underestimate the motivation of MTN Qhuebeka to get someone up the road today.
    They’re on their first Tour and have been very active so far in getting themselves involved and noticed.
    They’re up to 7th place in the Team Classification.
    I’m not sure who they may go with today, maybe Steve Cummings though I don’t know how he would handle the heat.
    Otherwise it could be Teklehaimanot perhaps, if he has managed to conserve energy in the Pyrenees.
    These lesser climbs, in a breakaway, says Dauphine again.

    I also fancy Etixx to re-awaken. Stybar as Inrng noted.

  • Pierre-Jean Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:19 am

    I know the practical reasons why ASO is reluctant to employ the backroads of the region, but still it is a shame. A very long course (250km +), constantly going up and down from “gorge” to “causse”, could have 6000 metres vertical climbing over very resistant surfaces, and would erode even the strongest team, and leave the podium favourites to race 50kms like a classic, bot shielded by team work, and having to use tactics in the first person. I think ASO should understand this is the kind of scenario that will work the best for a spectacular race.

    • Canocola Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:42 am

      I doubt it would produce anything other than extremely neutralised racing, because the potential losses the next day due to fatigue are far too high to encourage gambling. The most spectacular stages in recent years – at least in terms of racing intent – seem to have been short, sharp mountain days where recovery isn’t an issue.

      • Ferdi Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:04 am

        I think if you put a L-B-L in the middle of the Tour, across the Cevennes and the Gévaudan, in the scorching heat, it can put the GC upside down by precisely rewarding gambling and punishing hiding behind teammates.

      • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:13 am

        The non GC oriented teams wouldn’t be concerned about losing a lot of time the next day.

      • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:35 am

        We could use this terrain but with shorter distances, the roads are very hard. We’ll see what tomorrow’s stage, Tarn Gorge II, brings.

      • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:59 pm

        Agreed about the recovery, but you can engineer that working on the right sequence of stages (and possibly rest days, too).

        When you describe what you consider the “most spectacular stages” I suppose you’re referring to TdF only… which generally didn’t provide much spectacle in recent years, and only a few of the most spectacular samples of stage racing.
        Moreover, since the Tour appears (or appeared?) to dislike that kind of complex stages on a lot of backroads (not that there isn’t any reason for it, money, logistics, sometime sheer geography etc.), it’s quite obvious that you have too little a number of them to make out a statistically significant result.
        If we consider shorter stage races, the Giro or the Vuelta, we’d observe that *complicated* or *creative* stages are the ones which tend to offer greater a show (without forgetting *which* really was the most spectacular Tour stage in the last three years or so…).
        Recent times? The Liguria stages in the Giro or Gallopin’s stage in Pa-Ni this year, Guardiagrele in 2014 Ti-Ad, the last stage of 2014 Dauphinée… Going further back in time, the Strade Bianche stage in Giro 2010, Fuente Dé etc. etc.
        Distance isn’t that determining a factor, apparently, some of them were RELATIVELY short (anyway, about 150 kms at least, generally speaking), some were about 200 kms and some were even larger (Strade Bianche, or the Sorrento stage in 2013 Giro).

    • irungo txuletak Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:58 am

      agree with this. Maybe not on the 250km, but on the down the gorge up the Causse sequence.
      There may also be collusion of interest between LBL specialist and GC contenders. It could produce very interesting stages.

  • James Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:25 am

    What do you mean by the term diesel engine?
    Will be interesting to see if tinkoff come out to support Sagan today after Bertie’s attempts in the mountains didn’t pay off.

    • Adrian Holman Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:43 am

      The term “deisel engine” is normally used to refer to climbers, often supporting a team leader, who can maintain a high and steady pace up a climb but are not usually able to accelerate quickly. It is also used for domestiques who can do the same on the flat. Example – Ivan Basso, Ian Stannard.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:33 am

      Think of a truck, it might have a powerful engine but it doesn’t accelerate fast.

  • Bumpby Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:39 am

    “Colossus of Rodez”? You’re making these up now…

    • Dave B Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:20 am

      Yes, but it’s these gems that make the blog what it is. Keep ’em coming Inrng, to paraphrase Greg Henderson.

  • Moser Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:11 am

    EBH has been targeting this one since the start of the tour, as well as the day after the next (although he won on tomorrow’s finish in 2011). Not sure if targeting this stage is with a breakaway in mind or a sprint from a select group.

  • Richard S Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:24 am

    Surely van Avarmaet has got to be an option here, to finish second of course, or has he gone home? I’m expecting a 3 up drag race up the hill between Sagan, Stybar and GVA. I’m sticking my money on Stybar seen as the other two always find a way to lose. This would have had Gilbert’s name all over it if he was there. Strange that Vanmarke chose yesterday to get in a break, this would have been much more to his liking you’d have thought.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:31 am

      I can’t tip everyone who will finish 2nd, 3rd etc. Besides there’s a good chance he’s on duty to help Tejay van Garderen even on such benign terrain so if there’s a break he could stay put.

      • Lion Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:00 pm

        What’s the rider’s name who has probably finished 2nd and 3rd the most for the last 12 months? Guy called Sagan, I believe…
        But I get your reasoning. Great preview as always!

      • irungo txuletak Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:01 pm

        “I can’t tip everyone who will finish 2nd, 3rd etc”. Excellently realistic.

        Agree on the Vanmarcke stuff. It was good to see him trying something different, but I think he would have made more chances in a stage like today.

      • Matt Friday, 17 July 2015, 5:31 pm

        Well I bet you wish you had now.

      • hiddenwheel Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:12 pm

        Ha! A rare day when inrng missed the winner in the the preview…and don’t I recall a post debunking the idea the GVA doesn’t win? Regardless, keep up the excellent work!

  • Cantab Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:27 am

    Why no Degenkolb, Boasson Hagen, or Dan Martin? Or even Bryan Coquard for that matter? These Parcours surely suit those guys fairly well and they’re faster in uphill sprints than most!

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:36 am

      They might be faster than most but Peter Sagan has proved faster still.

  • cilmeri Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:42 am

    There’s been talk for years that Thomas should decide whether he wants to focus on the classics or grand tours – I imagine this year will give him the impetus to properly go for and train with only GT as the focus. With Porte going you could see Froome, Thomas and Konig as the 3 grand tour leaders next year. He has to decide now though whether he wants to go for a monument or a grand tour.

    On the drugs issue, I think we can see a gradual progression from him to this stage. One year (2013, post olympics?) he ditched a lot of weight and since then has been getting better and better. However as indicated in the piece it hasn’t been a complete jump from nowhere to this position.

    • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:27 am

      and the benefits of the weight loss and targeted training were almost immediately apparent when he won the stage with the climb up the Corkhill at the 2013 TDU

      • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:34 am

        I don’t think Geraint would become the robotised skeleton it seems that is needed to become a lesser spotted Tour winner of late. He is a great character and always seems to enjoy his career and I would hate to see him lose this. What I do like is that his career has been transparent, the progress and development has been easy to follow and that would make for a good Tour winner. The first Welshman too.

        • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:47 am

          Enough of the robotised meme

          That’s just lazy

          A rider riding with discipline, riding to their strengths – be they attacking on climbs at the optimum time and sheltering in the wheels until then, or hammering the TTs and then defending in the mountains – doesn’t make him a robot

          • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:01 am

            If ever there was a robot, you have one in bright yellow staring you in the face.

          • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:17 pm

            blindfold *shrug*

          • Uphillonly Friday, 17 July 2015, 3:42 pm

            I agree Sam. I actually can’t understand this accusation of Froome, he attacks a lot even when he has team mates left. Just yesterday commentators were criticising him for attacking while Thomas was still strong.

            Separate matter – really enjoying the ITV podcasts. They get a lot of good interviews which add more detail to everyone’s efforts during the stage. Could be some bluffing but most riders just come across tired at the end of the stage & explain what they tried, could & couldn’t do.

      • channel_zero Friday, 17 July 2015, 3:57 pm

        benefits of the weight loss
        This is an oxymoron for an international elite endurance athlete, especially in the last 5 or so years.

        He’s a dynamic rider and much easier to watch than Froome. Tour de Suisse was the eye-opener for me.

    • ronytominger Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:43 pm

      lets wait until the third week to see if Thomas is GT-Material

  • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:14 am

    Hopefully wee will see some interesting racing today given the terrain, maybe Sky will be put on the back foot who knows. Lets ban race radio’s too, so that when Froome attacks the team car cannot tell him what Quintana is doing. Maybe then he will have to look around him rather than gawping down at his output figures. The last 3 days have not at all been classic racing, bit of a bore fest to be honest.

    • dodge2000 Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:32 am

      Is that Sky’s fault or radios? We need the other teams to stand up and the GC guys to attack. Easier said that done, of course, but Sky seem to be doing what is required to win the race and the others are just watching. From the dominance of Contador and the Astana Team in Giro, or the dominance of Nibali last year, or the rise of the young French riders in the same race. This year has been marked most graphically by ‘ones to watch’ getting dropped way before many others in the peloton.

      Gallopin outclimbing ‘world’s best climbers’ etc. It strikes me that most of the teams and most of the GC guys are lacking quite a bit, so Majka, Fugslang, Martin etc are getting their chance animate the race a bit, just sadly not the GC battle.

      Hopefully things are looking up, but can’t blame Sky for the others lack of performance

      • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:38 am

        Ban race radio’s so that ALL teams have to think for themselves, not just Brailsford’s tribe. And while were at it, no TV’s in the car too. As a renowned figure recently said, “It’s not a computer game”

        • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:47 am

          Ban radios and the outcome would have been the same yesterday, the strongest team sets the team and the others can’t accelerate much. It’s a classic tactic and halfway up a mountain no DS needs to radio this in.

          • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:00 am

            I don’t agree with you there.

          • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:20 pm

            INRNG: it doesn’t matter what they’re told, some persist in thinking that every single move within a race is dictated in real-time, second by second, from the team car and radioed to every rider

          • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 5:51 pm

            I feel the place the radios really work to change the dynamics is in monitoring breaks and figuring out tempo for the peloton. Those sorts of ‘beyond eyesight’ situations. Not really applicable to the example, Froome etal just turns and looks over their shoulder which you saw a lot yesterday.

  • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:29 am

    It would be good if Froome’s rivals and their teams actually started racing with some conviction that they can win

    • S Yates Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:48 am

      Said from the comfort of your armchair! You’re right they should just try harder, it’s almost as if they shattered and mentally drained.

    • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:04 pm

      @Sam. Maybe they know they can’t. It’s not uncommon in cycling. Hope they remember the old motto: “si luchamos podemos perder, si no luchamos estamos perdidos”.

      • Sam Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:21 pm

        hey, dont take it from me. Lemond was having a fit yesterday at the rival teams

        And he knows a little bit about racing

        • gabriele Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:34 am

          But I agree with you… as my other comments (and the hopes expressed right here) remark. I was just underlining what a reason could be.

    • Matt Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:17 pm

      As ukcyclingexpert so eloquently put it:

      ‘Michael Naïve showing his inexperience there. What he needed to do was keep up with Nibali as he went past.’

    • Ken Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:18 pm

      I agree. Movistar’s tactics simply puzzle me. Two great riders, and they ride like they are not communicating. If Quintana had been able to hop onto Valverde’s tail into that headwind (which the US announcers, BTW, neglected to mention), we might have seen a different race yesterday.

      • noel Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:35 pm

        Ken – away from the Vuelta, Valverde has never ridden the Giro, and his best place in the Tour is 4th… so I’m guessing he’d like a podium spot, and might not want to sacrifice that for some jumped-up team mate who probably won’t beat Froome anyway, and has plenty of years left to try!

  • Steve Crawford Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:30 am

    Great preview as always. Should it read ‘Alexis Vuillermoz won *in* Mur de Bretagne and was excellent on the Mur de Huy but today’s finish might not be steep enough?’

  • hahostolze Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:47 am

    Got to admire your persistence in adding a Yates to the contenders every single stage.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:58 am

      And tomorrow too from the breakaway.

      • hahostolze Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:02 am

        If you keep going like this you’ll have to include one on the Champs-Elysee

  • Sam G Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:52 am

    Im surprised you haven’t mentioned Degenkolb for todays stage. He must be targeting a stage win for the points classification.

    Full Giant lead out train for the guy and he can beat Sagan no problem.

  • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:54 am

    Still think Nibali should quit the race and focus on the Vuelta: little chance of a podium here and why would he want that anyway? The team might not like it, but surely they’d prefer the possibility of a victory too?

    • Augie March Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:04 am

      A top 10 or even 5 finish is a respectable outcome for the defending champion, and Nibbles is only 13 behind Gallopin who was dropped on the final climb, so I could see the Italian eventually getting past guys like him, Thomas and Valverde (who should be working hard for their team leader) and possibly Gesink. If you discount Contador’s 2010 win and of course ignore He Who Shall Not Be Named then no one has won successive Tours since Indurain in 1994-5 so it’s never a gimme. Plus there’s still the option of a stage win, so I think it makes sense for Nibali to continue.

      • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:03 pm

        None of this is a response to what I said.
        All of the things you say are true – fairly obviously.
        My point is that rather than achieving what you describe – or even a podium – Nibali would be better off trying to win the Vuelta. And the best way to do that is not to complete the Tour.

        • Otto Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:21 pm

          I’m not sure Nibali should ditch the Tdf and go for the Vuelta. He’s gone pretty deep in this tour so hardly fresh legs for a go at the Vuelta. Given his form this tour a Vuelta win would be a vast and unlikely improvement. From a Team point of view a continued presence in the GC group and a top 5 finish in a more prestigoius GT would surely be better than an embarrassing abandon and then an outside shot of a win at the Vuelta.

          • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:30 pm

            I understand that Froome is also targeting the Vuelta. If so, Nibali could be downbeat for a second 3 week race this year. he wouldn’t want that.

          • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:54 pm

            1. Froome may not ride the Vuelta – anything could happen. Daft for Nibali to base his decision on that.
            2. Nibali has not suddenly become a rubbish rider. Assuming that all the best riders in the world finish the Tour, they will be more tired than he will if he finishes halfway through. This would give him a significant advantage.
            3. As he’s not a rubbish rider, he could get his legs (and head) right with some training for the Vuelta and have a genuine chance of winning it. Unlike this Tour.
            4. Froome is not superhuman: Nibali has no chance of beating him in this Tour, but he does have a chance of beating Froome if Froome has just done the Tour (see Contador, post-Giro).

        • Augie March Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:56 pm

          Well perhaps you’re better positioned than I to say what Nibali would be better off doing, but I have a feeling he and Vino aren’t going to heed your advice. While hardcore cycling fans may differ, to a lot of people a top 5 in the Tour is worth more than a Vuelta win. And of course Froome and Quintana could still crash (as both of them did out of a grand tour last year) so stage 12 is a little early to pull the pin in my opinion.

          • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 3:29 pm

            They do seem to be scrupulously ignoring me: hence Vino hasn’t crawled off into a ditch.
            I reckon the general public care exactly the same amount about a top 5 in the Tour as they do a Vuelta win – i.e. not a jot.
            But why would Nibali care about them? He should be riding for himself – and he knows that a victory in the Vuelta is worth much more.
            It would take an awful lot of riders to crash for Nibali to be in with a chance of victory.

          • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:08 pm

            There is no conceivable reason for Nibali to target the Vuelta, I’m sorry it’s just illogical.

            (1) A win there for him doesn’t matter, he’s done it, there is no personal motivation. Which would mean the team would be pulling him. And I can’t imagine the publicity of the Vuelta is anywhere near the TdF and losing him (context: national champion, defending champion) will further erode Astana’s visibility in this race, which would be a catastrophe for them as a team. Vino only even said it probably out of frustration without thinking it through, or as a dig to Nibbles.

            (2) He’s the defending champion of the race – that matters to a lot of people watching the tour, including the media and casual observers. I’m definitely not a hard core fan, somewhere in-between, and his fight to get back is a reason for me to tune in day after day.

            (3) Astana already have a contender who will be fresher for the Vuelta to place in that race and they have probably recce’d it unlike Nibali.

            (4) Lastly: the race isn’t over, c’mon man! not to mention he is doing better. If they had pulled the plug his reputation would be tarnished whereas at the moment, he’s regaining it. If he gets a stage win, or a top 5 it’ll be a great narrative for this tour. Advocating someone giving up is definitely not what I would expect to hear from a cycling fan. We expect our champions to ride with injuries and through any weather and a little GC setback and you want him to run with his tail between his legs?

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:14 pm

            Astana have already said Nibali will ride the Vuelta and is expected to reach Paris for “honour”. They will do some tests after the race too to check if anything is wrong.

          • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:18 pm

            INRNG: I thought they already backtracked on that statement.

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:20 pm

            No, it’s all on the Astana team website:

            We are going to do medical tests to determine the reason for his performance, and we also wish to see him race in the Vuelta a España this season to achieve a Grand Tour victory

          • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:21 pm

            Motormouth, of course it’s worth winning the Vuelta more than once. Nothing else you say makes much sense either.

          • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:24 pm

            ‘A win there for him doesn’t matter, he’s done it’ – what a bizarre suggestion (along with everything else you’ve written). So, it’s not worth winning the Vuelta more than once?

          • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:28 pm

            I didn’t intend that to say the Vuelta, or winning a race twice, as-a-rule isn’t an important victory – I meant *in the context of the choice between the two*.

            As in: Compared to completing a defense of his tour title, possibly achieving top 5, winning a stage, redeeming his poor first half performance, no, I do not think the chance of winning the Vuelta is as important a goal for him.

            He based his *entire* 2015 season around the TdF and stated at the outset that chance of victory was low but a top placing would mark a successful race for him.

            So he himself thinks a chance at a top finish in the Tour (not a win) is more important than a Vuelta win.

            Additionally, per Nibali himself on this choice as it sits today: ““I’ve won it [Vuelta] once and went close on a second occasion, finishing second in 2013. It’s an important race but for now I’m focused on finishing the Tour de France, then afterward, we’ll see how things are and decide if I ride the Vuelta or not,” Nibali said.”

            So besides he himself agreeing with my assessment, I just don’t understand what makes Nibali’s position unique compared to the other GC riders who are down on time. Should every GC rider outside of ‘x’ minutes of the leader pull the plug and target the Vuelta? What a great race that would be.

            I think an underdog rally to regain GC position in the tour would be more memorable than a second Vuelta victory. If he were to just limp along for the rest of the race then yeah, I’d rather him pull the plug, but already he’s shown that is not his intention (before this conversation started).

          • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:41 pm

            Also, as to not making sense in other contexts…

            The tour is vastly more publicized and visible to the general public than the Vuelta, right? So my thought on that point was that the potential benefit to sponsors (return on investment) could be greater for them if Nibali stays in the Tour and gets another week of TV coverage (he will continue to get TV coverage regardless of where he is) and news coverage than even if he won the Vuelta.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 2:25 am

            Nibs has some unfinished business at the vuelta when he was robbed of the 2013 edition by grandad Horner. I’d say it would be a motivator, along with wanting to show who’s boss in a GT as well as proving big mouths like Vino wrong.

          • Motormouth Saturday, 18 July 2015, 5:45 am

            haha ‘grandad horner’ — fair enough!

          • J Evans Saturday, 18 July 2015, 12:17 pm

            Seems Nibali would rather quit too – and no wonder:
            ‘There have been rumours that Nibali had been close to throwing in the towel, quitting the Tour and heading home, perhaps to prepare for the Vuelta a España. However, Vinokourov has made it clear he expects Nibali to stay in the race and suffer, earning his reported €4 million-per-season salary by riding on and reaching Paris.’

  • Richard S Friday, 17 July 2015, 11:17 am

    I’ve got an idea to spice up Grand Tours a bit. How about we have smaller teams, of say 6 riders. The UCI wants to cut total squad numbers so this would fit in with that. Also, include in every Grand Tour a 50km pan flat team time trial, and 4 or 5 summit finishes. Then you’d have to weigh up whether you want rouleurs for the TT or climbers for the mountains. You could only have a couple of each to support your GC man and you wouldn’t have a team pacing their leader up summit finishes all the way until the last 2km, neutralising any chance of an attack, a la Sky. It would make controlling the race almost impossible. The worst thing that could have happened to this or any race is Froome (or any other designated Sky leader) getting in front early. If he’d have lost 4 minutes in the first week we might have had a race. Also I think my little idea would help spread the good riders out a bit rather than having all the strongest riders in 3 teams. Riders would have less chance of making a tour squad and so would have to move to a smaller team for a place, a bit like Bouhanni going to Cofidis. In grand tours most of the best riders are split between Sky, Tinkov and Astana, and in the classics they’re even more heavily weighted towards Quick Step and you get riders like Kwiatkowski and Stybar (and Thomas/Porte/Landa/Kreuziger/Valverde et al in tours) working as domestiques in races they are capable of winning. Obviously you’d have to invite more teams, which may be a sticking point. Just an idea.

    • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:05 pm

      only going to address the last part, because i could write a book about how much i disagree with the rest… 🙂

      the only domestique that i can think of in recent years who has been capable of winning is froome himself…

      • ccotenj Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:07 pm

        oops, that was me, didn’t mean to be anonymous…

        inrrng, we need a cookie to save our name… 🙂

        • Richard S Friday, 17 July 2015, 3:39 pm

          Fair enough, as I said just an idea! I think the tour lends itself to teams being able to dominate too, its climbs being long and gradual allowing teams to work a high pace on the front for a long time. I’m not sure it’d work on Zoncolan or Angliru!

  • Oleg Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:04 pm

    What is the flag next to Tejay Van Garderen on the Overall individual classification list above?

    • Lion Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:35 pm

      Those bright stars shining a little too brightly I assume

  • Dan Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:24 pm

    Oh to see Tommy V roll back the years with a stage victory today…

    • ccotenj Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:15 pm

      i would not mind seeing that, only because i’d like to see if p&p could break their own personal record for repetitive p&p cliches… 🙂

      “little tommy voeckler, reaching into his suitcase of courage, feeding off every voice in the french crowd…”… 🙂

  • Otto Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:39 pm

    I disagree, but I fear that may have been the reason for your post in the first place.

  • Velovibes Friday, 17 July 2015, 5:06 pm

    Re the dominance of Sky in some Grand Tours: It is in many ways so similar to US Postal. Does anyone else think the same? What makes Sky suspicious is not the fact they have a top GC rider, but the fact that they seem to be able to turn strong riders not known as top climbers into top climbers and sometimes top GC riders. They had Michael Rogers who was ridiculously strong in the high mountains in the Tour that Wiggins won, now they have got Geraint Thomas and I would also count Wiggins himself in that category of riders. There is also an important difference with US Postal because Sky is not consistently dominant in the Tour like US Postal, on the other hand they have a broader focus than just the Tour unlike US Postal. I don’t think Team Sky dope but I think it is very likely they have gained an unfair advantage over the rest of the peloton. Perhaps that new super-expensive ketone energy drink developers by Oxford researchers?

    • Pete Friday, 17 July 2015, 5:23 pm

      Was Wiggins a top climber? Not in my books. A very good rider, showing consistent progression, yes. Same with Geraint Thomas.

    • Motormouth Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:14 pm

      My thoughts on possible factors:

      (1) Maybe Sky did a better job of assembling the team for this year’s tour; maybe others went too 1st week heavy and didn’t get the right climbing squad or vice versa.

      (2) Other teams are struggling with illnesses and such things whereas Sky has been relatively unharmed so far, giving them an advantage.

      (3) Bad team tactics from their opponents.

      (4) Sky has a big ole budget and has 2 or 3 riders capable of being team leaders elsewhere so you are seeing three ‘gc’ contenders working together.

      (bonus) raspberry ketones! As seen on Dr Oz! Order now and get two for the price of one (just pay P&H)!

      • Andrew Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:30 pm

        Let’s talk “raspberry ketones”. Despite the ominous name, ketones are entirely natural compounds which your body is producing every second. They feed into a very important cellular metabolism pathway, and I imagine that it is possible that they might be an efficient exogenous fuel source. Why would Sky taking “raspberry ketones” be cheating? It might be an advantage other teams might not have, but not really any different than finding out that one sport drink is better than another.

        I’m entirely neutral on Sky and Chris Froome, btw, so fire away.

        • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:04 pm

          …”entirely natural compounds which your body is producing every second”…
          Just like EPO! (well, don’t know if EPO is produced every second, but possibly neither ketones are, if the body isn’t induced into a specific condition).
          And EPO wasn’t even a sport drink, more like *orange juice* ^___^
          Jokes apart, while they’re not banned, no problem with them – anyway. Still, competent institutions should investigate the opportuniy to ban them. Or not. Quite a borderline thing (as there were and are many, from caffeine to altitude tents).

          • Andrew Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:52 pm


            It’s been years since I memorized the Krebs cycle, so I’ll let Wikipedia do the explaining.

            Essentially I’d view ketones taken in an oral form as akin to a better sports drink, rather than EPO.

            I agree these things get morally grey quickly, though.

          • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:19 pm

            I had read about them in the webpages of the University “spin-off” which tested them with sportsmen and put them on the market. But, quoting your source…
            “…synthesis can occur in response to an unavailability of blood glucose. This is caused by low glucose levels in the blood, after exhaustion of cellular carbo stores, such as glycogen. Synthesis of ketones can also occur due to excessively high levels of blood glucose that are unable to be stored as glycogen in liver and muscle…”.
            “Ketone bodies are created at moderate levels in everyone’s bodies, such as during sleep and other times when no carbohydrates are available”.
            As I said, they’re far from being produced “every second” (not in the quantities implied by their use for sporting purposes).
            Using them as a sport supplement, you’re providing your body with a substance it would produce only in metabolic conditions *quite different* from those you actually find yourself in – which would probably not be compatible with high sporting performances, like glycogen exhaustion or excessively high levels of glucose.
            Besides, high ketones availability brings along consequences in terms of metabolic reaction, your body “behaves” differently than *real conditions* would make it to, because it “finds”, so to say, this substance which is associated to another kind of situations.

            That is, the fact that it’s a product associated to human metabolism makes it even more borderline for me, and anyway surely quite different from energy drinks.

            I’m not competent enough to say they should be banned (see what happened with caff*, or what is or happening, or may, with salb* or clenb*), they need to be investigated as soon as possible. Can’t remember (and this is *not* a rhetorical device)… when Moser got his hour-records transf were banned or not? And transf could be also the subject for a debate more complicated than we would think… (I’m against them, anyway).

          • gabriele Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:19 pm

            (Cutting words ’cause the antispam wall was blocking me ^___^)

    • Anonymous Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:26 pm

      ‘It is in many ways so similar to US Postal. Does anyone else think the same?’ – No, literally no-one else has said this.

    • RocksRootsRoad Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:27 pm

      That will be the same “ridiculously strong” Michael Rogers who won stage 11 of the 2014 Giro under Tinkoff-Saxo?

  • Andrew Friday, 17 July 2015, 5:44 pm

    Wow- difficult to believe that GVA and PS didn’t tie for second.

    • Doubter Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:29 pm

      Oh my…….that is COTT (comment of the tour).
      Chapeau……well played.

    • Jerome Saturday, 18 July 2015, 12:20 am

      As they were coming towards the line I couldn’t help but think if there is going to be a dead heat in road racing this decade then this is it!

    • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 9:21 am


    • PT Saturday, 18 July 2015, 12:53 pm

      That is very funny.

  • J Evans Friday, 17 July 2015, 8:27 pm

    Great to see GVA finally win a race. Not surprising to hear more excuses from Sagan.

    • ChuckD Saturday, 18 July 2015, 6:14 am

      Who, gotta delurk for this; Sagan went out of his way to say he blew the sprint timing.

      “‘I lost the race for my mistake,’ he added, ‘I don’t like if I lose due to my legs. I can accept that. But today I waited too long. I got on Greg’s wheel and sat down and then I ran out of legs. It’s not bad luck. That was my mistake because I needed to carry on pushing so that I could win.'”

      I don’t much care for PS because I see a lot of the punk I used to be (heehee) but the only excuse I see him making is a legitimate one: ‘I blew it’.


      • J Evans Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:01 am

        He would be more gracious if he said ‘The better guy on the day won’ as certainly seemed to be the case. He is claiming he had the better legs – he had ample opportunity to show that and didn’t.

  • Special Eyes Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:25 pm

    The weather forecast for the next week or so is apparently more of the same – extreme heat.
    Is the GC on lock down now, because of that ?
    It will make attacks very difficult to stick.

    If the elements put paid to Chris Froome’s hopes last year, they seem to be paying him back in full this time.
    Cross winds and storms, headwinds, heat.
    Have Sky invented a weather machine too ?

  • Will Friday, 17 July 2015, 9:57 pm

    I agree with Doubter, Andrew’s comment about the 2 bridesmaids put a big grin on my face.

    More good news, only 240 days until MSR – come on winter!

    • Andrew Friday, 17 July 2015, 10:45 pm

      A very classy guy, GVA. From Cycling News:

      “Peter Sagan was quickly dubbed as ‘the new Greg van Avermaet’ on Twitter after he finished second yet again. The Belgian was asked if he had any advice for the Slovakian but he was too modest and too respectful towards Sagan to criticise him.

      “It’s hard to give advice when you have the same problem,” Van Avermaet said with a smile.

      “It’s really hard to win races like this, at such a high level. He’s just got to keep going for it and keep trying. He’s a great rider, one of the hardest to beat. He’s got a few second places, it’s true but he deserves respect. He’s always going for the win and tries to do everything. There’s no advice I can give him, except to just keep going for it. Like I do.”

      • Phil b Saturday, 18 July 2015, 12:27 am

        Great quotes and he’s right. The slightest mistake and that’s it. Second… Or worse. Gva has a good long sprint, remember Flanders when he distanced Sagan with a 35-45 second burst. Same here.