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Tour Stage 14 Preview

A picture postcard of a stage with amazing scenery and pleasant roads to ride. Not that the riders can enjoy this with oven-like heat before the explosive finish above Mende.

Stage 13 Review: a break of six and like every move outside the mountains this year it was kept on a tight leash, they never got more than five minutes’ lead. Giant-Alpecin chased for much of the stage. Down to three in Rodez, the breakaway was caught right on the final climb including Wilco Kelderman. The Dutch GC hope might be reduced to breakaways but still looked classy with an effortless pedalling style: we’ll see him again in the mountains.

On the final climb Arnaud Démare surged like he’d not done a reconnaissance ride only for Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan to ride past. It posed an existential philosophy dilemma: if the two approach the finish line together who must finish second? The Slovak was sitting tight and ready to pounce just before the line but he never made his move, the finish was too hard to kick again. This was no sprint as Van Avermaet led from the start in a move that would have made Philippe Gilbert jealous.

As consolation Sagan boosts his lead in the green jersey. André Greipel won the intermediate sprint but suffered in the infernal heat and was dropped so he couldn’t take a single point in Rodez. Tough for John Degenkolb too as the whole team toiled all day on the front for a finish that never suited him.

Peter Sagan Green Rodez
  • Km 20.0 – Côte de Pont-de-Salars, 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 5.8% – category 4
  • Km 146.0 – Côte de Sauveterre, 9 kilometre-long climb at 6% – category 2
  • Km 169.5 – Côte de Chabrits, 1.9 kilometre-long climb at 5.9% – category 4
  • Km 177.0 – Côte de la Croix Neuve (1 055 m), 3 kilometre-long climb at 10.1% – category 2

The Route: uphill from the start. Some will be on the rollers to get ready for the waves of attacks. After 44km the race drops down to the Tarn valley for a little shade and some air chilled by the river in the gorge. It’s postcard scenery and borders the terrain used in Tim Krabbé’s novel “The Rider”.

The Côte de Sauveterre marks the resumption of climbing but as big as it looks on the profile it’s a steady climb that rolls fast as it heads up to the plateau. The heat will make it hard but don’t get your hopes up for a raging battle as the roads are open and wide across the top: this isn’t prime ambush country. A descent and then instead of riding into Mende the race loops around to take the road via Chabrits, wide and steady climb listed as 1.9km long in reality 3km of firm climbing at 6%.

The Finish: the profile doesn’t do it justice. 3km at 10.1% doesn’t sound too bad but the second kilometre is more like 12-14% and it’s an eight minute effort for the best. What it makes it so much harder is that because it’s so steep it’s hard to make up for lost ground so all the big teams will be going elbow-to-elbow to place their leader into place. The race won’t be decided here but time gaps can appear. Once over the top there’s 1.6km to go before the flat finish line on the runway of Mende airport.

The Contenders: a break or the GC contenders fighting for the stage win? Any move will find Sky, Movistar, BMC Racing and Tinkoff-Saxo chasing but I’m not sure how committed they will be. You might long to see Movistar rip things up but these are long, wide straight roads and any moves on the climbs before the finish need to take a minute’s lead to hold off Sky’s chase through Mende and up the final climb.

Alejandro Valverde is the prime pick. He can cope with the climbs and still packs a sprint as we saw at the Plateau de Beille where took off to take one second on the others, pointless then, crucial today.

Geraint Thomas has a very fast finish but will he have to tow Chris Froome instead? Another transformed rider is Tony Gallopin, he’s always packed a sprint but you wonder whether he’s going to crack on the climbs. Perhaps the Alps will get the better of him but current showings this is fine.

Joaquim Rodriguez won here in 2010 but as good as he’s been going this year, he’s switched to breakaways rather than trying to hang with the GC riders. If it’s sprinting against the big riders it’ll be hard, he’s not as zippy and the flat run to the line is harder.

Dan Martin‘s said to be ill so what looked like a great chance for him may not work out but if he’s there this is a great finish. Alexis Vuillermoz was excellent on the Mur de Huy and at Mûr-de-Bretagne but will be heavily marked. Thomas Voeckler should give it a go but converting breakaways to wins is getting harder for him. There are mountain points for Rafał Majka. Which one of the Yates brothers? Simon is recovering from a cold and the team has targeted this stage for them.

Alejandro Valverde
Joaquim Rodriguez, Geraint Thomas, Tony Gallopin
Yates², Majka, Vuillermoz, Jungels, Talansky, Uran, Martin

Weather: hot and sunny again with a top temperature of 34˚C. The heat will see clouds build and there are thunderstorms forecast for later in the day and could coincide with the finish.

TV: the finish is planned for 5.00pm Euro time. Tune in by 3.00pm if you want the scenery or by 4.00pm to catch the final climbs.

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.

  • Augie March Saturday, 18 July 2015, 7:28 am

    Surely I can’t have been the only one who half thought that Sagan and GVA might just crash into one another during the spring thus preserving the universal constant whereby neither can win….

    Seriously though, BMC are having a fantastic Tour, and still a great shot at getting a podium. Combine this with their top 10 finish and two stage wins at the Giro and does one detect the hand of Alan Peiper using the talent they have to nearer its full potential?

  • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 7:45 am

    Far more exciting watching for me than the mountain stages, great stuff and more today.

    • gabriele Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:45 am

      A pity that it couldn’t provide anything really interesting in terms of GC contest. I don’t know TdF terrain in detail, hence I start nourishing hope when I see stage profiles like these (think of the Giro or the comments about types of stage we had on Stage 13 Preview)… then comes inrng writing “roads are open and wide”: is it like two days in a row right now? No ambush. Depressing.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 7:50 am

    The Sagan/GVA – joke was maybe a little bit funny in the beginning when it first appeared. but it isn’t anymore, now that everybody had the chance to repeat it during the last months.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:03 am

      It was theoretical then, yesterday was the first practical demonstration.

  • HWSB Saturday, 18 July 2015, 8:09 am

    The camera held on Voeckler rolling along at the back of the bunch yesterday. I wondered what the AKENA on his sleeve meant so I checked the team website – they do conservatories. They have some extraordinary promo videos with Voeckler doing ninja parkour to chase down a bike thief, or getting into trouble with a rugby team. Real old school stuff.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 8:43 am

      At the beginning of the sponsoring, early this year, it was all over the cycling-news, including the clips. Would say the sponsoring already worked for them!

  • Will Saturday, 18 July 2015, 8:48 am

    Hmm, I’m trying to recall the last time we had this result with Sagan/GVA? 3/4 at Flanders? Totally wrong to make any jokes because we’ve had this result so often during the last months…

    Maybe you wouldn’t mind the jokes so much if it was Sagan who won yesterday?

  • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 9:53 am

    Froome not even 1 ring?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:04 am

      I can’t see him winning a sprint against others and there’s a forecast slight headwind over the top which will discourage attacks.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:03 am

    Without Nibaly, Italy is invisible. 9 countries have a win till now, I can’t see where an italian rider can make it happen.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:07 am

      They’re much more interested in their home race, the Giro d’Italia of course. Every year the likes of Lampre ride the Tour de France in near invisibility despite the shocking tones of their jersey.

      PS think of a username as you’re leaving so many comments, it helps the conversation.

      • Big Brother Saturday, 18 July 2015, 1:55 pm

        is watching you? How does it help the conversation?

        The message or the comment is the thing. Why is there any need at all to attach any pseudonymous handle to it? It could be argued that this simply encourages those who think it’s all about them. And, let’s be fair, there are enough of them about on the internet generally, on cycling forums generally, even on here specifically.

        • Keith_of_Chapel_Hill Saturday, 18 July 2015, 2:52 pm

          I agree with Inner Ring. Although there is no “need,” as you ask, an individual’s unique handle DOES help the conversation because it allows the reader to know whether the comment is from the same individual or another. With a bunch of “Anonymous” handles, a reader does not know whether two comments are from two individuals or from one. It helps to know that; an individual, on average, converses differently with one than with more than one individual. It’s basic communication. You can still be anonymous, but a unique handle makes you uniquely anonymous and helps the conversation.

    • gabriele Saturday, 18 July 2015, 2:40 pm

      Winning and “invisible” are two different things. Froome can thank a couple of Italian riders for half of the advantage he has on Quintana (and the difference between a minute and an half or 3′ helps quite a lot in psychological terms). Oss was working hard on the pavé to keep things together for Tejay. Oss, Quinziato, Malori were pretty fundamental in the TTT for their respective leaders. Etc.
      Not riding for a team of your nation implies a couple of things…
      (that said, Italy got a generation of fine gregari: talent is rare everywhere, but a good movement will nevertheless produce good riders who find their place in pro sport. It’s more curious when a movement produces only talents 😛 )

  • J Evans Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:06 am

    Once again, Sagan claims he was actually the better rider – didn’t look like he had the better legs.
    Been a long time since Sagan had the really good legs – it’s not all bad timing, tactical mistakes, etc.
    He’s not the rider he was (and yet doesn’t seem to be facing any kind of suspicious or malicious comments – do people only suspect GC riders?).

  • irungo txuletak Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:21 am

    I am still in shock. GvA finally won something that is not a secondary race in Belgium…
    Seriously speaking, although very visible in important races, one must realize that this is his best victory ever, with maybe a Paris Tour some years ago. Plus, he’s going to leave the Tour in the next rest day as his girlfriend must give birth to his first baby.
    Regarding Sagan, I have no words. I didn’t understand what happenned. He rode all the way to GvA wheel, then it looked quite certain that he would outsprint him but didn’t. Probably it was also a bit GvA merits, this was really a performance “à la Gilbert”: starting from far and keep accelerating until the line.

  • Richard S Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:26 am

    Bizarre finish yesterday. GVA went from a long way out, if you’d have squinted you could have swore it was Gilbert at work on the Cauberg. Sagan was say on his wheel and looked ready to jump out at the last second, Sean Kelly even said ‘Sagan’ it looked so inevitable, but it never came. I wonder if he’s got a bit of a mental block about winning now? A couple of times in this Tour, and also in the classics this year, when the times come for him to make his move he seems to have froze.
    J Rod again for me today.

  • Anonymous No.99 Saturday, 18 July 2015, 10:42 am

    It looked like one lunge too many for Peter, he did a big effort to get on GVA’s wheel and ran out of puff. Froome looked fresh faced after the finish I wish I was a quarter as fit.

  • Ian Saturday, 18 July 2015, 11:05 am

    Incredible win for GVA yesterday, but one I saw coming, had backed him at 20/1.. and Bakelants at 50/1 each-way so a pretty good day! Agree with you on Valverde, he might have Quintana going off the front with 2kms to go to make the others chase, he’s ready to pounce then at the end. This is a seriously hard climb, there will be gaps all over the place. JRod might be able to hang in there to take a podium spot.


  • irungo txuletak Saturday, 18 July 2015, 11:16 am

    Purito got voluntarily dropped yesterday 10k before finish in uncategorized climb in order to save energy. I think he won’t be far from winning today. Plus, he is no danger in GC, so sky won’t chase him.

  • MickR Saturday, 18 July 2015, 11:58 am

    I liked the helicopter shot finish by the TV director, but I definitely wouldn’t want that view for the finish every time. I’m just now going online to look for other angles of the finish as it was hard to get a sense of how big that 2-up sprint was. I was also ready for Sagan to kick it and then saw the line go under their tires … and 2nd again for Mr. Green.

    JC Pereaux’s crash – that looked a bit nasty. I hope he is starting today, but he must have some serious road rash and in spots the TV may not have wanted to get on camera.

    Today looks like choice stuff. I’m tuning in just to see the scenery and let’s hope for some attacks and GC action.

    • J Evans Saturday, 18 July 2015, 12:03 pm

      Where was this helicopter shot? I was hoping for one after the finish, but they never showed it. Can’t find it on youtube either – any tips? All I can find is the head-on, which was what Eurosport UK showed.

      • JP Saturday, 18 July 2015, 1:38 pm

        You can find it at steephill.tv, last Km from nbcsports. Steephill may be the best aggregator for post-race footage and news, as well as live feeds and most race info, all in one convenient page. Sorry for the outside publicity (I’m not affiliated with them).

        • J Evans Sunday, 19 July 2015, 11:28 am

          Thanks very much, JP.

    • ccotenj Saturday, 18 July 2015, 2:59 pm

      i may be in a minority, but i wish all sprint finishes were shown from overhead “live”… the traditional “head on” shot makes it very difficult to see where riders are actually positioned, and when they make their moves…

  • Sagz Saturday, 18 July 2015, 2:26 pm

    Watching Sagan’s highlight reel of the 2012 tour and comparing the changes to his body over the last three years. He is much, much more bulky. I guess that is how his body has developed during the period but it is hard not to think his physiology hampers him… (albeit the same physiology that makes him so versatile). I remember him popping at E3 Harelbeke this year in the last few km, could it be that the more he trains/rides the more muscle/weight he puts on which hampers his ‘punch’ and stamina at the end of stages. Or am I reading too much into it? Also, he’s contested nearly every sprint and intermediate sprint this year, it’s hard not to think that these efforts have taken their toll.

    Still a very, very good bike rider. It’s hard not to feel for him though.

    • ccotenj Saturday, 18 July 2015, 3:09 pm

      imo, his body is following a natural pattern of human development for his body type, in that he has “filled out” between the ages of 22 and 25 (and may continue to do so)…

      this likely has cost him a bit of overall speed, but then again, it isn’t like he was “beating the best on a flat sprint” before…

      in the end, those extra pounds (and strength) will likely help him towards what i feel is his ultimate destiny as a rider, that being a killer cobbled classic rider… i hope, anyway, because i really like the guy…

      • Special Eyes Saturday, 18 July 2015, 4:12 pm

        Sagan is heavily muscled, especially his legs.
        He’s built like a track sprinter.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 19 July 2015, 12:04 am

          He is literally becoming The Increduble Hulk.

  • Narkie Saturday, 18 July 2015, 3:12 pm

    This is totally off topic, but does anyone know why Rohan Dennis has been wearing different coloured bibs??

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 18 July 2015, 9:08 pm

      Apparently he’s got personal shorts with an insert he likes.

      • RayG Sunday, 19 July 2015, 5:24 am

        Which are necessary because of a nasty saddle sore.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 18 July 2015, 3:38 pm

    Yates “squared” is a lovely touch in the tips

    • Francisco Sunday, 19 July 2015, 12:02 pm

      I searched for that second footnote.

  • J Evans Saturday, 18 July 2015, 8:14 pm

    Fantastic to see Cummings storm past Bardet and Pinot.
    He must have ridden that climb brilliantly – but how did Bardet and Pinot not drop him permanently?
    They need to learn to ride with their eyes front – far too much looking back.
    Also, a lack of bravery (seems a trait of both – certainly of Pinot) and poor tactics: refusing to work together.
    No surprise to see TVG go backwards: this was always going to happen as time goes on.
    At least Quintana is able to put up some sort of challenge to Froome.

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 18 July 2015, 8:52 pm

      Kerpow ! 🙂
      Great stuff.

    • calypso_king Saturday, 18 July 2015, 9:28 pm

      I thought Quintana looked pretty good on the climb today, so much so that I felt the need to shout at Froome to close the gap. It’s largely speculation but I fancy the little fella could take a decent chunk out of the 3 min deficit next week. Would make life more exciting if he did.

  • John Irvine Saturday, 18 July 2015, 9:29 pm

    Bardet has made up nine minutes over three stages. Glad he’s recovering after a fairly disastrous first week.

  • Gabriel Saturday, 18 July 2015, 11:41 pm

    Bardet’s “face palm” was funny as hell. Really conveyed the frustration, though he must have realized he blew it long before that.

  • Steppings Sunday, 19 July 2015, 12:02 am

    No wonder the French don’t win, too busy arguing over who’s going to do what. Well done Steve Cummings, timed that last 4km to perfection and came through like a steam train.