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Tour Stage 20 Preview

Have they saved the best for last? Today offers the final battle between Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana. Almost Everyone else seems on their knees and reduced to defending their position in the top-10 so we could have a duel between the top two riders on the arena of Alpe d’Huez.

It’s live from start to finish and don’t miss the early finish today, an hour earlier than usual.

The Route: just 110km. Today’s route is revised because of a landslide but not much easier, the Col de la Croix de Fer replaces the Télégraphe/Galibier combo. The race starts downhill along the Maurienne valley’s main road alongside the autoroute and railway line to Italy.

Déjà vu once more as they climb out of St Jean De Maurienne passing the turn to La Toussuire and then climbing up to the ski town of St Jean d’Arves where they pass the turning to the Mollard and pick up the road they descended yesterday. Here it gets steeper, rougher and more narrow on the way up to the pass and by now only those with good climbing legs will be left.

The descent isn’t easy with some high speed sections but also two uphill sectors to tackle, the second of which is steep and a nasty surprise. Then down to the Romanche valley floor and, as short as this stage is, this flat section could ruin the attacking spectacle as any lone riders can flounder on the flat, it’s only 10km but enough to make climbers think twice about a long range raid; or at least to permit a regrouping before the final climb.

The Finish: Alpe d’Huez doesn’t need much of an introduction. The hardest part of the climb is the first three kilometres, it’s here that some can get carried away and pay the price in the space of a few minutes. The roads are wide on a normal day but today the crowds will be all over the road. The hairpin bends are flat like landings on a staircase and designed to allow trucks and buses to turn easily, a cyclist feeling good will change up a gear or two to pick up speed but only a slight relief. This is a hard climb with its 8.1% average and the steep part out of Huez after the race has passed through “Dutch Corner”. Things level out in the resort with wide roads, barriers and a flat run to the line before the left hand bend and a drag up to one of the most famous finish lines in the sport.

Nairo Quintana

The Contenders: Chris Froome or Nairo Quintana? Froome has already won a stage in the yellow jersey and now he only has to track Quintana all the way today. Easier said than done as the Colombian got the better of him yesterday. We’re likely to see Quintana attacking on the Alpe for the stage win, I can’t see him going wild on the Croix de Fer and think he’ll settle for the stage win, second overall and the white jersey. As much as people want him to do more he can’t.

It’s hard to see who else can win. We can expect a big breakaway to go clear up the Croix de Fer and it’s possible Alberto Contador tries something but there are many in the top-10 keen to defend their positions so if Contador goes then Vincenzo Nibali will chase. Contador was cramping up on the climb to La Toussuire and is still suffering from his crash on the Col d’Allos. Nibali is likely to pay for his efforts yesterday. The others in the top-10 are hanging in their and won’t want to try anything wild too early for fear of blowing up on the Alpe but if they ride up the Alpe with Froome and Quintana their chances of the stage win are minimal.

We could see Romain Bardet try to get in a move to take mountain points over the Croix de Fer but he is now in the top-10 and if he goes clear Trek Factory Racing and IAM could chase to protect Bauke Mollema and Mathias Frank respectively. Maybe Thibaut Pinot tries a move but he was in the attacks yesterday and won’t be so fresh. Jacob Fuglsang must be sore after his tangle with a motorbike, he sat out the front group action yesterday but this might just give him the energy needed for today.

Mountains Jersey: with yellow and green unlikely to change this looks like the last jersey to be decided. There are 25,20,16,14,12,10,8,6,4,2 points respectively for first 10 riders over the HC Croix de Fer and then double points, ie 50,40,32,28,24,20,16,12,8,4 points for the first 10 on Alpe d’Huez. The standings are listed below.

Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome
Contador, Nibali, Bardet, Pinot

Weather: warm and sunny with 29˚C in the valley and 19˚C at altitude.

TV: it’s live from start to the finish from 1.10pm Euro time with the early finish of 4.40pm.

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.

  • Proofer Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:31 am

    Last sentence in The Finish paragraph needs “famous” or something.

    • Larrick Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:21 am

      ‘Iconic’ maybe?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:10 pm

      Thanks, it’s famous.

  • Larry T. Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:45 am

    Gawd how I hope The Condor can distance wee Cwissy Fwoome today! Froome’s latest whining is the icing on the huge cake of dislike I have for this guy. Ugly to watch, ugly to listen to….how awful to think this fellow will be the face of our sport for the next year if he manages to hang on to win on Sunday. And he wonders why jerks throw piss at him?

    • Phil B Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:10 am

      Froome’s comments yesterday reminded me of others at this level, they are so focused on achieving their goal, that the slightest infraction causes them to resent the people that capitalise. Nibali was opportunistic and put everything into a great win…

      I hope Quintana gets the stage. He has yet again been exceptional. Think froome deserves the overall. He’s just been so consistent. I dislike his riding style, but it’s really effective….

    • David P Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:18 am

      Wish I could delete my comment above, nobody insults other people on here, apart from me apparently. No delete button though.

      • dave Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:12 am

        So much hate out there….. TVG the other day, Porte at the Giro? What’s up with the world? Just chill and enjoy life.

        I’m not sure I have anything against any cyclist? It seems bizarre in the extreme to dislike someone for the way the ride a bike? Isn’t it nice that everyone’s different? Froome generally seems like quite a nice, determined, hard working guy – who’s being interviewed after a hardcore three week work out and surely can be afforded some benefit of the doubt?

        Of the big guns only Valverde and Contador irk me slightly for never coming clean about doping but they’re great to watch, and given that the era/culture was different, really I can get over it as it…. there’s more to life!

        *(I know I’m risking allegations on Froome and defences of Contador – on balance believe Froome but I cannot believe Contador simply because he came up and rode as team leader for Discovery & Brunyeel post Armstrong – it really seems a stretch too far to honestly buy that Johan & Discovery suddenly decided to stop doping and Contador beat dopers & set the fastest ever ascent of a climb in this period (2009 Verbier))

        (I actually find Froome a bit like Nigel Mansell, very nice and probably very smart but slightly dull away from bike/car vs extremely exciting on/in it – Froome is such an exciting rider to watch when he’s on fire, he must have put in more successful uphill attacks since 2011 than any other rider? His race against Cobo in 2011 stage 17 was just incredible? Likewise 2013 Ventoux)


        • Larrick Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:18 am

          Froome, cyclings version of old Nige, very apt.

          I’m with you, aesthetics are only important in ‘sports’ like ice skating and synchronised swimming where competitors are judged. Must just be some form of jealousy. Best to ignore.

        • Tom Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:33 am

          Snooker? Stephen Hendry
          Tennis? Andy Murray
          Golf? Ernie Els
          Football? David Beckham
          Plenty of evidence that elite sports talent and personality don’t always mix..

        • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:38 am

          Oh, thank you so much. Now, I’ll spend my day hearing the voice of Murray Walker screaming ‘And… there… goes… Froome!’
          (Although, of course, if it was Murray it would turn out to be Ian Stannard.)

          I wonder why Froome was bothered to have a go at Nibali – wasn’t exactly a challenge to his lead (although I suppose all the others could have followed).

          Worst stage of the Tour coming up – Christ, I hate the crowds on d’Huez.

          Hope they find and prosecute that spitter.

          • Cameron Saturday, 25 July 2015, 3:10 pm

            Well, I’d rather hear Murray Walker than Phil Liggett!

        • Tom J Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:46 am

          I think for British audiences at least, the anti-Froome sentiment has three causes:

          1) He isn’t Bradley Wiggins
          2) He isn’t Bradley Wiggins
          3) Er … that’s it

          Plus you can probably throw in a dash of “plastic Brit” snobbery – for a lot of people he isn’t quite British, even at the same time ignoring Wiggins’ father and place of birth!

          For a British audience, the rise of popularity of cycling is closely aligned temporally to Wiggins’ career, ranging from the skinny kid getting a medal at the Sydney Olympics to his ultimate triumph of Tour de France / Olympic gold in London. He has been a constant presence as more and more people have got attracted to the sport. Add in a kind of geezer-ish personality from Wiggins, and pretty much anyone following would find it hard to get the same level of popularity. Even Cav is a bit of an understudy, but judging by his visibility on consumer products and magazines, still an order of magnitude more popular than Froome.

          Froome always comes across as erudite, well-spoken, respectful of his rivals, generous to his team mates. But it all counts for nought by virtue of not having been part of the golden Olympic generation that rose through the noughties and dragged British Cycling up with themselves.


          • CRW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:55 pm

            Interesting take on that Tom – as a Brit (guilty) I’ve more often found the opposite. Certainly the more ‘casual’ cycling supporters and watchers are more willing to support Froome as the ‘home’ option than your more committed fans.

            In my own experience, more casual British fans, coming from a background of football and rugby feel a strong connection with Sky, and by proxy their riders as a pseudo national team in a sport that has until the rise of the Olympic cycling programme felt distant and unrelated. I haven’t come across anyone directly espousing this ‘plastic Brit’ thing but then I don’t know many Daily Mail readers, who seemed to be the only press outlet pushing that racist nonsense in 2012.

          • Tom J Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:18 pm

            I just get the sense that the PR machine is having to work overtime to get Brits to warm to Froome in a way that support just came naturally to Wiggins. I suspect there will be many feeling more disappointment yesterday for Thomas’ collapse than for Froome’s survival.

            A good proxy indicator is SPOTY: Hoy, Cav and Wiggins have all won it. I can’t see Froome winning it even if he won Giro, Tour, World Champs, Paris Roubsix and the Olympics in one year and announced a cure for cancer in his spare time…


          • Tovarishch Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:34 pm

            That is a particularly disigenuous comment. Wiggins moved to England at a very young age, was educated there and still lives there. Froome has never lived in the UK and, worse, in many people’s view has never competed in the National Championships.

          • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:02 pm

            Your point being?

    • GB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:22 am

      Look on the bright side: the people who derive some peculiar enjoyment from constantly whining about Froome and his scary scary elbows will have frequent opportunity to do so

      • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:47 am

        I’m constantly surprised by the number of aesthetes we have on here – maybe it matters more if you’re a keen cyclist yourself?

        I’d like to see those elbows take out a few of the running imbeciles. I’m always amazed by how many of these people are grown men: you see 40 and 50 year olds gurning at the camera. I’ve never seen the fascination with appearing on TV – for about 7 seconds, behaving like a cretin.

        As I say, I could understand it if they were all 19 and tonked, but what must these people say to their partners/friends when they get home?
        ‘Did you see me on the telly?’
        ‘Yes, up until that point, I had somehow failed to realise what a goober you are.’

    • Paul Davies Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:38 am

      I should start here by saying I am a fan of Froome, but I really don’t understand those who complain about his style on the bike. I appreciate that it may not be as pretty and flowing as that of others, but it seems effective for him (and he almost certainly picked up most of it as a child and now can’t change it). I also can’t think of another sport where so many people are prepared to dislike someone, so vocally, for their style of play; let alone one where it would be acceptable to do so.

      With regard to his complaints against Nibali yesterday, I think he was probably reasonable to complain. The only possible reason that Nibali could have thought it was OK to attack at that moment was that he was too far down on GC to catch Froome, which is true, but he dragged others with him who weren’t. There’s clearly some animosity between the pair of them, possibly stemming from Nibali blaming Froome, completely incorrectly, for the crash that took Martin out of the race.

      Also, let’s consider Nibali’s position here; he said he didn’t see Froome was in difficulty, but the TV pictures are pretty damning on that one. Apparently Froome confronted Nibali in the mixed media zone, presumably before Froome’s TV interview, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Froome was less annoyed by the attack than Nibali being seemingly unwilling to admit that saw him in trouble before he made it.

      I look forward to the race being decided, hopefully cleanly and sportingly, on the great stage today.

      • Larrick Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:20 am


      • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:05 am

        The hatred seems to mostly come from:
        a) People who suspect him of cheating.
        b) People who think he ‘betrayed’ Sir Bradley of Wiggins.
        (I find it hard to believe that it’s primarily stylistic.)

        • Michael Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:29 pm

          My oppinion is that he just tries to hard to be popular.

          You don’t get popular just by winning you get popular when you ride with panache – When you do something spectacular – not looking like a mixer on steroids eyes glued to you power meter. You get popular when you show that you suffer defending what you got.

          I doesn’t help to have a wife with an even smaller selfconfidence going nuts on Twitter and on top of that making yourself moral superior in the peloton.

          He are so busy telling everybody excactly what everybody before him hace said. I work my ass of I’m tested more than anybody else – Why don’t the test me more . He might be clean but let people make their own decission.

          • Nick Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:17 pm

            The thing is, Froome’s cleanliness or dirtiness isn’t a matter of opinion, on which everybody gets to make a decision. It’s a matter of fact, he is either clean or he’s not, and others don’t get to decide that. The issue is that the determination of that fact is hidden from view: only he knows whether he’s clean, and only the ADAs know what his test results have been. So people think they get to decide the matter: “he is clean/dirty”, when all they really have is an opinion “I think he’s clean/dirty”.

            Out of interest, I do wonder how the most talented ever clean cyclist would be treated by today’s commentariat? Would the analysis of his power figures, etc, be any different? And what would he say in response other than “I know I’m clean, I work my arse off, and an tested constantly”?

    • Kevin Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:30 am

      Or the epitome of what doping can do for you.

    • spicelab Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:33 pm

      Find a new sport then.

      My god this is tedious.

      • spicelab Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:38 pm

        ^That was supposed to be a response to Larry, whose contributions I generally enjoy.

        But the irony of complaining about Froome’s “whining” is just too rich.

        • Larry T. Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:08 pm

          Sorry if that came across as a whine. Intention was to describe why I dislike (not hate) the guy and none of it has much to do with J Evans’ claims. Beyond what I posted above, it’s the way SKY and Froome conduct their affairs in general. They don’t seem to be so “sporting” when filling the parking lots with their private motorhomes and trying pretty much anything not specifically banned by the rules to get an advantage, no matter what the cost. But when someone tries to gain an advantage on them, they’re quick to cry foul (I call that whining)
          On the other hand, Froome does seem to be a more complete rider these days, no longer sketchy going downhill or fazed by cobblestones. In the end I have to say the best man (but certainly not the prettiest to watch) won LeTour 2015.

          • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:18 pm

            Just to clarify: I didn’t mean you with the a) and b) Larry: I know that yours actually is stylistic – plus a dislike of Sky (which I largely share).

  • Michael Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:55 am

    I can’t imagine Bardet won’t try to hang on to his spotty jersey. Let the Gesinks, Franks and Mollemas chase, he can sprint for the last few hundred meters at the top of the Croix de Fer and then if he is at least fifth at the Alpe he keeps it, assuming Froome wins but takes no CdF points. There are other scenarios of course, but I think we’ll see AG2R try to get Bardet in the break.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:09 pm

      I think he’ll try for that but it’s very difficult task to ensure he gets first at the Croix de Fer, to treat it as a virtual finish line and then recover to place fifth on Alpe d’Huez.

    • Alex Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:46 pm

      What proportion of the mountain points on offer in the entire race are available today?

      Doubling points for stage finishes makes sense in many ways, but when you finish the Alps with an HC summit finish, it makes much of what went before it seem pointless. One point for a Cat 4 and then 50 at the end of today. No-one would argue they’re comparable, but in the grand scheme of things, the former becomes neither here nor there.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 3:58 pm

      of course he ll try, and i really hope he will succeed. n Terms of the French “battle of the prodogies” hes clearly ahead of pinot this year

  • Doctornurse Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:04 am

    An altogether frustrating Tour defined by multiple horrible crashes that claimed 2 MJ’s and affected nearly everyone in the race, a single attack in the Pyrenees in week 2 that pretty much set the podium, teams chasing each other down to preserve positions as opposed to attacking Froome for the win, conservative, “Schleckian”attacks punctuated by furtive looks over the shoulder for 150m, horrible behavior by a few fans and ridiculous whining from the MJ about not attacking the leader with a mechanical while conveniently forgetting what he and SKY did to the race leader in the 2011 Vuelta.


    TJVG, and Pinot declared exactly who they are (1 week SR/TT man and beautiful climber, awful descender ad bothe mentally fragile) and placed their previous high finishes here in proper perspective. To me, apart from Roman Bardet in the dots, Greipel riding the Tdf of his life, Sagan’s chase of a win, the fantastic story of MTN, the best image of this TdF is how Alberto Contador is the ONLY major rider completely prepared to sacrifice his position to go for the WIN- the man has attacked almost every day in the Alps and kept the pressure on until the last climb, or he falls off his bike.

    Contador may fail, but the man fails while daring greatly, and I for one prefer his blend of panache, imagination and power as opposed to the “Valverdian” tactcal approach of using ALL your energy to protect third place, or the SKY trench warfare that keeps finding , paying and sending talented men over the top to be destroyed in the name of protecting the next British Fair Haired Boy (Obviously Geraint Thomas is next in line, Porte and NIco Roche are both used up and I weep for Landa, Kwiatowski, and any other rider who signs up for the company Jag).

    The Tdf remains the Tour, and while I will always fondly remember the woneerful races of the 80’s where men pushed themselves to the limit of their evenly matched capabilities, it is telling that each of these last few vintages were either made or unmade by the presence of Alberto Contador. Like him of hate him, the man single handedly MAKES races, defines tactics and is the only man unafraid to sacrice everything for the win. I appreciate his fighting spirit and ballsy approach and consider him to be the best Stage Racer since Hinault. His powers are diminishing now, and I suggest that we appreciate him while he is here, because when he leaves, we WILL miss him…

    Ugh….Maybe the Vuelta will have better racing…

    • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:13 am

      Contador hasn’t landed one meaningful attack yet. And do you realize that Valverde is helping Quintana?

      • whippet Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:37 am

        No, Valverde is helping himself.

        • irungo txuletak Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:48 am

          Totally agree. I don’t think Valverde is the best example of team spirit (cf: firenze’s worlds, last tour when he did not want Quintana to participate, his constant attitude of no-collaboration-but-then-attack when in a break,…). Of course I understand that he has a something of a “winner state of mind”, but really I don’t find his attitude very elegant.

          • whippet Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:04 pm

            Watching the stage, I was about to apologise to Valverde. But he quickly showed his true spirit by ‘tiring’ as soon as Quintana got onto his wheel. I agree irungo, Valverde has never shown himself to be a good teammate.

          • GB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:11 pm

            What possible motivation would he have for pretending to be tired?

          • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:03 pm

            GB, I mean Valverde realised he had nothing to gain by continuing the high-risk, long-range breakaway with Quintana. If Quintana didn’t follow, then he might have won the stage and possibly even taken second place overall. But once Quintana got onto his wheel, all he could do then was help Quintana and risk blowing up and losing third place to Nibali. In a type of behaviour I have seen from him since I first noticed him in 2011, he decided he would rather save his energy and consolidate his podium place.

    • dave Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:19 am

      Geraint Thomas fair haired? Specsavers?

      • Larrick Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:26 am

        Ignore him.

        Only happy when AC is winning. He’d probably be ecstatic if AC was the only one in the race and beating himself.

        There’s a joke in there somewhere…..

        • Doctornurse Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:04 pm

          Well, I am an unapologetic Contador fan boy primarily because he is obviously the best GT Stage racer since Hinault (and along with Hinault the only racer to have won all the GT’s at least 2x)

          But forget his palmares. the thing that makes Contador so special is that no-one else in the peloton can read a race like he can, and his aggression, gambling nature and class MAKES every race he is in… I mean we can start reeling off the races that he has won, and the way that he has won them, and the legendary stages but as Inner Ring rightly says, he is the rare racer who can win a GT when he is NOT the strongest man…

          Also, I’m sorry, but Contador is just a racer, and does not need the stupid whiny PR tactics that is a staple of the Froome approach. Look, Contador dislocates his shoulder? No worries- he pops the bastard back in, finishes the stage and wins the Giro. Dude has a mechanical and ASTANA immediately attacks him at the base of the Mortirolo? Not optimal, but no worries… Dude took a deep breath, manned up, produced one of the fastest recorded ascents of the Mortirolo, caught and DROPPED the ASTANA leader…. And then attacked ASTANA when they had a problem the next day… No whiny complaints of ‘stupid “unwritten rules” on TV. No dramatic “Handbags at dawn” confrontations at rival team buses. No yelling in the mixed zne like a damn preschooler… None of that crap… Just hard, ballsy racing.

          When he crashes, Contador (and T. Martin) just takes a teammates bike and gets on with it. No temper tantrum needed thank you. When some idiot comes up and yells “doper” at him, he punches them in the face, and says not a word about it afterwards.

          He tries for the impossible double (after winning the Vuelta on a cracked leg), “only” wins the Giro, and then on what must be unimaginably tired legs STILL cracks open the can of whoop-ass on the opening climb of the day that unravelled SKYs plans…

          Say what you want about Contador, but I challenge you to name ANY other rider in the pro Male Peloton who can do ANY of that… Go ahead… I’ll wait…

          Froome could learn a thing or 5 from Alberto Contador about a the class, bearing, poise and HTFU facing ethos of a Champion. The sport will be poorer in his absence.

          • Tovarishch Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:28 pm

            Your excessive use of capitals makes you look like a 13 year old. And if your nickname is truly correct you should know that Contador didn’t dislocate his shoulder.

        • Onan Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:19 pm

          Doctornurse beating himself repeatedly in public all over Bert?
          What a delightful image.

      • Kit Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:30 am

        He means Thomas being used up to protect Froome, who is the fair haired boy.

    • Den Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:22 am

      Wasn’t it Vuelta 2012 stage 4 where whole sky team went full gas with 40km to go after the race leader (Valverde) fall ?


      • Doctornurse Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:09 pm

        Exactly, which is why Froome’s whining about Nibali yesterday is unseemly, petty, unecessary and sad for a (almost) 2x TdF Winner…

        Froome is full of crap- This nonsense of unwritten rules and attacking a leader is bullshit. Froomey had no problem taking a special order TUE to get a nice little dose of Corticosteroids when it suited him, nor did he have any qualms about attacking a race leader after a mechanical, so he needs to STFU.

        He rides his race like everyone else, and is as ruthless as everyone else… this stupid complaining is PR pablum for the English speaking /British Audience (“Plucky Brit fighting those dastardly European riders”) and makes me like him even less…

        I certainly respect his aerobic and anerobic capacity, but he is a physiologic phenomenon, not a racer…

    • irungo txuletak Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:58 am

      As I said in previous posts, this Tour is quite boring regarding GC -as it almost always is. From my point of view, Vuelta and Giro produce more interesting racing. As far as I am concerned, I consider this year’s Giro as a much more interesting race to watch than this Tour.

      Regarding Kontador, it is clear that he did not produce any meaningful attack in this Tour, but he has the merit of trying it everyday and also of trying the double knowing that the opposition will be at the highest level in the Tour. And I pretty agree that despite the steak story, I (we?) will miss him when he retires, because he really spices up races.

    • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:15 am

      +1 to almost everything – especially ‘“Schleckian” attacks’.

    • Louis le B Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:46 am

      And SHAME on Movistar for not daring!!

      • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:48 am

        Out of interest what would you like Movistar to do? Valverde was attacking on the Glandon with 65km to go yesterday, Quintana dropped Froome on La Toussuire. I’m curious as to what people expect them to do.

        • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:25 pm

          In my view, Quintana should have attacked going up the Croix de Fer. This kind of long range attack was his only chance of winning the race.
          Could he have managed it? Unlikely, perhaps, but we – and he – will never know.
          Would it have meant him blowing up and losing 2nd overall? Maybe. But Quintana’s already got one 2nd place and this sort of attack would hardly make him look less of a rider – even if his palmares then read ‘4th, 2015’.
          This race, being so short of individual TTs, is likely to have been Quintana’s best chance of winning the TDF for many years.
          For me, he’d have been better off trying to win it and risking losing 2nd.

        • Doctornurse Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:48 pm

          Good question Inner Ring- Here is an example…Stage 18 on the Glandon. 47k to go. Froome has Roche, Thomas and Konig, Valverde and Q are there, Contador is there. Nibali is there with Fugelsang and Scarponi who is there or thereabouts. Okay. Frank, Gesink and Barguil make a little push.

          Contador immediately sees an opportunity and pushes on to link up with The Gesink group, takes the lead and builds up a nice little 40 sec lead.

          Everyone on the yellow jersey group stands pat….

          How much more interesting would it have been for Valverde to make that move with Contador to drive the break. Even better if Nibali +/- Fugelsang came along as well. SKY would have been on full battle stations, and then at the very least, Froome would have to probably cover that sort of move himself, dragging Q with him and then we would know what’s what. I mean if Contador, who has the Giro in his legs could make the break and drive the pace, SURELY men who have been training for months for this race could do the same?

          That sort of dangerous move is EXACTLY what was so effective on stage 19 in isolating Froome and shelling his SKY-bot domestiques. By itself, it would not win the Tour, but it would force Froome to get up and work and take up the pacemaking himself and that sort of attack would most likely put his domestiques over their limit

          But no…What happens? Conservative “Valverdian” tactics…Nobody does jack until Nibali does his obvious attack in the final K of the Glandon, chasing down Contador and slashing his fragile lead, and of course, dragging Froome and the rest of the yelow jersey group with him…The groups merge in the descent and Froome gets a free ride…. Then status quo up the Lacets and them save a token attack from Nibali with like 5 k to go, everyone comes in together and Froome has one less stage to Paris….


          That is the sort of boring, conservative, “protect my position” riding that allows Froome to have an armchair ride to this MJ. We saw what heppens to the SKY domestiques when the other riders stopped competing against each other and ride to beat Froome yesterday, and its just a pity that that aggression was nowehere to be found.

          My point is that as usual, its Contador who can identify a small window of opportunity. On normal form he can exploit such small windows of opportunity himself and make huge differences. He is not on normal form and so needs other strong riders to understand what he is doing and play ball.

          Unfortunately, the other riders are either too unimaginative, too intimidated, or not fit enough to take the risk needed to win, and so we get these ridiculous promisse of attacks that only FINALLY came yesterday 10 DAYS after Froome machine gunned everyone down on stage 10.

          And THIS is a microcosm of why the TdF this year was so terribly uncompelling to watch….

          • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:16 pm

            Brave riding wins races – as we’ve seen on so many individual stages: the guy who attacks wins. Yes, he probably/possibly is also the strongest – but not always: e.g. Geshke – but if he doesn’t attack, he doesn’t win.

        • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:08 pm

          Presumably attack from really far out, hold said attack, and win the stage. All while flying under the Doping Alarm Climbing Power Radar.

        • dave Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:54 pm


          so many odd comments. Movistar have been great, great team, great riding. Likewise Sky. It’s been a fantastic race, super interesting with a not quite a nail biting finish but good enough wasn’t it? Closest tour since 2008 can’t be that bad?

          people seem to demand riders be super human and attack from 0km and then get angry when the get supermen…….

          Valverde was fantastic this tour, likewise Quintana, he so nearly did it!

          I’m really interested now to see what route they plan for next year! It’s clear Froome & Quintana are a level above, *(personally I reckon that was pretty clear even before the tour) – this route seemed to massively favour Quintana with a lack of TT’s (I guess to bring a battle between F&Q?) but now he has proven to have a slight edge on Froome over 3weeks climbing and should take this confidence into next year > will they return the middle distance TT and vaguely hill TT for next year to give Froome a chance of a “stage 2” buffer of this year for Quintana to go at him in the mountains?

          It won’t take people long to note Froome won by less than what was taken on stage 2 and yell Quintana was robbed (completely missing that Froome’s defensive riding in the final weeks along with what must surely have been a draining battle with the constant doping accusations) but what route would bring the closest battle.

          It’s been pretty intriguing to see Movistar play the long game and Sky go hard early then defend, Quintana will be wise to this next year…. can’t wait…

          Froome’s a brilliant rider and may get three TDF’s (which would be well deserved) but Quintana once he wins will have the chance to likely match that and maybe even go further, the next 6/7 years are going to be all about Q, and the next three will likely be FvsQ.

          It’s our Nadal vs Federer!


    • rt Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:01 pm

      could not read until the end. you seem to inhabit the most negative possible viewpoint on every given issue?

  • HWSB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:11 am

    Before the race I grumbled that the mountains classification would be a by-product of the overall because of the route + time bonuses.

    How wrong I was! Down to the penultimate day and a list of potential winners.

    • GB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:25 am

      Looking forward to it! Hopefully any breakaway heroics won’t be negated by Froome snagging a stage win.

    • whippet Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:07 pm

      Perhaps you were correct in your initial observation HWSB.

  • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:18 am

    Reading of the history of the Alpe stages, there are more Dutch winners than any other nation.
    A possible breakaway or late move containing Mollema and / or Gesink, if they have the legs ?
    This would stir up the GC of course, so may be defended strongly.
    Are there any other likely Dutch contenders outside of the top ten placings ?

    Otherwise, I wish all the riders chapeau.

    • Alex 3 Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:21 pm

      Wout Poels gets a present from Froome after his hard labour yetserday ? or
      Steven Kruiswijk slips away with a group and this time He won’t have to wait for Gesink

  • Chris Long Saturday, 25 July 2015, 9:20 am

    The amount of whining about the quality of this year’s tour is quite unbelievable. Even more so when you look at what people complain about. Froome and his lack of style and his complaining. Who cares what he looks like on a bike- I would certainly love to have his ability. As for his complaining- given the shit that he has had to put up with, I think he has carried himself with nothing but dignity.

    Next pointless whine- Sky ruin it for everyone and it’s not fair. Give me a break! Last time I checked all GC contenders start out with a full team built around them and their to work for them. The last few days have shown that Sky aren’t invincible and Froome has been isolated almost from the get go yesterday. It’s a team sport for everyone and Quintana, Contador and Nibali have all been well supported.

    Final whine- it’s all been decided by one attack in the Pyrenees. Does no one else remember the cross winds of week 1. I bet Quintana does. Whether the 1 big mountain attack comes on stage 1 or stage 20 it’s still just 1 attack. Granted the suspense is gone but it does offer the opportunity to enjoy the race for the many other things it has to offer.

    As for Larry T’s comments- really?

    • calypso_king Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:33 am

      +1 and the real shame is that the armchair bleating lasts a lot longer than three weeks. Don’t know where these folks get the energy from…

      • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:52 am

        Maybe they get fueled by things like for example the tweet of Luke Rowe in which he incites people to beat the person that spat at Chris Froome? Team Sky is in no way a victim of anything.

        • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:27 am

          Chapeau Luke Rowe.

    • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:25 am

      I don’t blame Sky for their tactics – they do what they do very successfully. But it is tedious to watch.
      It’s been a dull Tour (after week 1) because it was decided on the first climb. I have consistently blamed Froome’s opponents for that, not Froome.
      That’s my only bleat – it’s never been that Froome is dull/ugly/not British/not Wiggins/married to a woman people inexplicably hate despite having never met her – we were hoping for a four-way battle and it’s been a one-man show. To blame the one man for that is bizarre.
      In Larry’s defence, he did consistently predict that Le Big Shew (I think that’s how it’s spelled) would be dull.

      • GB Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:08 pm

        He predicted it would be dull, yet watched all the way through the dullness and makes the same dang comments about it being dull and Froome and his elbows being awful over and over?

        I have nothing against complaints or criticism but if you’re at that point Larry had already reached, surely the smart thing to have done would be to find something else to do during July instead??

        Life’s too short to watch and fret over something you have already decided you hate.
        This goes for pretty much anyone (especially the ‘everybody’s still doping and literally nothing has changed’ crowd)

      • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:15 pm

        “I don’t blame Sky for their tactics – they do what they do very successfully. But it is tedious to watch.”

        Yes it’s dull, but what I don’t understand is why other teams don’t do the train thing? The ever-lamentable Phil & Paul continually bang on about how “Froome only has one man left” and so on and so forth, meanwhile Contador, Nibali and Quintaverde are on Froome’s wheel, surrounded by….. no men, doing it themselves. What are the rest of their teams doing? They don’t necessarily have a man in the break either most days. Teams are only definitely together on the flat, and even then…

        • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 4:16 pm

          PS no Sky fan at all. Fan of some of their riders individually but not the team as a whole.

        • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:09 pm

          Other teams don’t have the money to have the luxury of riders like Porte, Roche, Poels, König, Thomas in support roles and to rotate this help, allowing one or two to sit up on some days to save their legs for another day.

          • hoh Saturday, 25 July 2015, 6:02 pm

            Others did try. Astana in this year’s Giro & Tinkov in last year’s tour before AC fell.

          • BenW Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:16 pm

            That’s what I suspected, I’m pleased I hadn’t missed something. Despite all teams being stocked full of the best riders in the world, Sky’s money puts them some way above the others in terms of strength-in-depth – so, it seems that some viewers and commenters would prefer Sky didn’t throw money at it, because the strength of their entire squad and the resulting “Sky Train” tactic and results it yields makes them boring to watch. This attitude seems to be the case most of the time, in most sports – fans of the sport dislike the way the team with the most cash does things – it’s the same in football and F1.

          • Special Eyes Saturday, 25 July 2015, 7:31 pm

            It’s not necessarily just that Sky has the most money (though the other major teams don’t publish accounts but probably put similar money in to their teams), just how it is applied.
            I have been watching TdF on tv since the 1980’s, but have only started to take a closer interest in the sport since Britain’s Olympic success and Sky’s emergence with successful British riders.
            But it seems to me that the sport is so resistant to change and modernisation.
            It wants to remain niche, and clings on to ways of doing things that remain barely changed for generations.
            Why ?

            It’s ridiculous.
            Have a look at an article on BBC Sport today about Sky’s logistical back-up.
            It is light years ahead of other teams.
            But what they’re doing is not new – it has existed in other sports for ages.
            Sky are not so much innovators in many ways, they’re just the first team to apply proven methods into pro cycling.

            If ‘the sport’ is so outraged at this modernisation, or that Sky’s money gives them an unfair advantage, why doesn’t ASO plough money back in to the Tour and provide these facilities for every team on a communal basis ?

    • J Evans Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:26 am

      Oh, and really good races are decided by multiple attacks.

    • Foley Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:34 pm

      Larry T is a curmudgeon in good standing around here IMO. Lots of “tough love” for the sport, and a font of info about Italian roads. Of course he likes to kvetch, but you get used to it.

  • GMT Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:07 am

    For Chris Froome, see George Graham’s Arsenal of the late 80’s/ early 90’s. Absolutely awful to watch but were they successful? I’m no Sky fan boy by a long way but in this day & age aren’t results everything? As said earlier, I’m sure most of us ( & the peloton ) given the chance would sacrifice aesthetics for his talent. He may be pig ugly on the bike but given everything thrown at him, literally,this past 3 weeks he has carried himself as courteously & politely as always.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:08 am

    FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS – getting steamed up about a millionaire cyclist and swiping your handbag at someone who disagrees with you.

  • Sefton Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10:28 am

    It’s embarrassing to read so many blokes whining about how someone looks on a bike.sound like a bunch of women.its great to see different riders with different strength’s and ways they apply those strengths.

    It’s been a great tour which has been able to shine a spotlight on each and every rider.

    Why the negativity for froomedog?

    People love an underdog, froomes was billed as the big dog and has more than lived up to the hype. Froomedog, a champ and a gentleman!

    • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:10 am

      “Sound like a bunch of women”?

    • Louis le B Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:06 pm

      Go walk your dogs, Sefton – and smoke some more funny Tobacco.

    • Michael Saturday, 25 July 2015, 8:52 pm

      That must be because you only started watching cycling the minute Sky started throwing money after the sport.

      Looks have been important since the wheel was invented. And if it wasn’t the billion dollar industri on selling sunglasses, socks, jerseys, shoes and much more would go bust.

      I thought tradition was very important on Great Britain so why not in cycling ?

      • Doubter Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:56 am

        Trust me….if the winner with the awful style didn’t ride for Sky, all these fanboys would be jeering style over substance every day too.

        Fanboys be fanboying…..

  • Jonhard Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:47 am

    So, stage 20 and everyone hates the Tour de France, Alpe d’Huez and the leading three riders.

    I’ve quite enjoyed it, especially up to the first rest day. That northern leg, where the canny racers like Nibali and Contador where supposed to shine, effectively set the race up for Sky.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:49 am

      Likewise, it’s been a good race with many attacks to win the stages. The GC battle was settled early but still isn’t wholly out of reach. So many comments above with complaints rather than looking forward to today’s stage which is what a preview is meant to be about 😉

  • Usff Saturday, 25 July 2015, 11:51 am

    Look forward to all the pseudoscience analysis after this stage. The A’lpe is the benchmark. Stopwatches ready folks.

  • Lanterne Verte Saturday, 25 July 2015, 12:25 pm

    Thanks for another great post, once again this blog has greatly improved my enjoyment of road racing. I am getting a bit fed up of the increasingly trashy, negative and personal nature of the comments here though. The comments used to be reliably interesting and intelligent but there has been a deterioration in tone since cycling news disabled comments. I hope that things will improve once the Tour is over because my enjoyment of the blog is being compromised and I’m sure plenty of others feel the same. Not sure what can be done about this. Keep up the good work though!

  • Nick Berrichone Saturday, 25 July 2015, 1:49 pm

    A retrospective post.

    To the criticism that this GC competition has been boring, and that it has been a let-down given the 4 top names on the bill, it has been in some senses inevitable.

    It’s classic game theory, to win you either make one successful attack, or no unsuccessful “big” attacks. Each challenger knows that his 3 rivals will exploit any unsuccessful attack and ride away. So, better to wait for a rival to do that and then drop them. The risks outweigh the rewards…

    Team Sky clearly planned to break this stalemate, one all-in attack and then play the game.

  • ccotenj Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:11 pm

    i guess this is where it comes in handy to not give a damn about where someone comes from… 🙂

    interesting comparison to mansell above… i could get behind that… although i think eventually if nigel was subjected to constant abuse, he’d have something to say… 🙂

    looking forward to today’s stage… i’ve enjoyed the last 3 weeks, other than the bad crashes and bad spectator behaviour…

    can’t believe it is almost over, seems like the tt was just yesterday… 3 weeks go by fast… 🙁

    • ccotenj Saturday, 25 July 2015, 2:13 pm

      this post was supposed to be below tovar’s, darn it…

  • Lion Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:21 pm

    So this Tour then was decided on a coastal road in the Netherlands?
    Froome wins 1:28 into Zeeland and 11 in Utrecht. Another 11 onto Huy (+6 Bonus). Big win into La Pierre-Saint-Martin by 1:04 (+6 Bonus to Quintana). To Quintana he lost 1:20 (+6 Bonus) at the Alpe and 0:30 (+2 Bonus) yesterday. That leaves an Mountain “surplus” of 33 seconds for Quintana if I haven’t forgotten anything…

  • Anonymous Saturday, 25 July 2015, 5:36 pm

    Well, I have to say I found that the most exciting Tour in years. Barely a dull stage in it, and a lot closer on GC then people said it would be half way through! 😉

    Love Q as a rider, but really glad Froome won it after the abuse he’s taken. Also really pleased that on such a mountainous course that the MJ also won polka-dots. It just seems right, somehow.

    Really hope we get to see part three of Q and Froome next year!

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