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Tour Stage 8 Preview

The Mûr-de-Bretagne’s mini summit finish awaits after a ride across Brittany with its hilly and tiring roads. In 2011 Cadel Evans won the stage before winning the Tour de France. The same again? We’ll see but the approach to the climb this time is different.

Stage 7 Wrap: write off Mark Cavendish at your peril. He delivered a strong sprint taking the right wheels and using the inside line as the road turned towards the line. André Greipel extended his lead in the green jersey competition with 199 points ahead of Peter Sagan on 187 and Mark Cavendish up to third with 151.

The Route: it’s all about the finish but there’s still the matter of 180km to get there. The first col or mountain pass appears on the route, the modest Col du Mont Bel Air with 1.5km at 5.7%. A lot of the route uses small roads which force riders to change gear, brake and accelerate a lot, it’s more tiring than it looks on paper.

The Finish: the approach is slightly different than 2011, this time the race goes around the village of Mûr-de-Bretagne and then turns onto the climb with two kilometres to go, a pinch-point where nobody will want to give up ground. This matters because the race won’t launch onto the climb as it did before, momentum into the steep parts is smaller this nudges it more towards the punchy climbers.

As you can see from the profile above the road is rising from the 3km to go point but really kicks up at the 2km to go point with an average of 6.9% to the line. But this isn’t an average climb, it’s got 500m at 10-12% before the 1km to go point before the slope eases off to the line. It’s all on a wide road without anything technical.

The Contenders: what chance a breakaway makes it? The big teams have the paradox of wanting to save energy ahead of tomorrow’s time trial all while needing to place their riders up front and even set them up for the time bonus. It’s hard to pick a breakaway candidate, go spin that lottery wheel, so instead here the more obvious picks if they call come into the finish together…

Can Peter Sagan make it and if he does can win the sprint? These two questions alone are enough to discount his chances, the early steep part makes it hard for him to hold his ground and there’s the matter of Alberto Contador too, if Tinkoff-Saxo really back Contador then Sagan makes the ideal bodyguard to deliver him into position. Contador himself was just beaten when the race came here in 2011, sprinting with his hands on top of the brake hoods while Cadel Evans had his hands in the drops and poked past. This will be a good test for Contador who lost time on the Mur de Huy.


A steep hill that eases before the finish line? Today isn’t the Cauberg finish of the Amstel Gold Race but it could still suit Michał Kwiatkowski. The world champion has been out of sorts recently and working as a domestique de luxe but this is his kind of finish.

Among the GC names Chris Froome seemed the best on the Mur de Huy but this is much more of a power finish so Vincenzo Nibali could well shine, as long as he doesn’t try a bold (read foolish) attack too early. Nairo Quintana‘s an unknown quantity in a finish like this. Tejay van Garderen might not have the zip but all the more reason to watch if he can match the explosive power of the others.

Joaquim Rodriguez was very good on the Mur de Huy but that suited him perfectly with the steep rise to the line ideal for his power to weight ratio. Today sees the road level out and he’ll struggle to beat others in a sprint but should be thereabouts. Alejandro Valverde has a better sprint but wasn’t so good on the Mur de Huy.

Tony Gallopin started his pro career as a sprinter, or at least winning Coupe de France races via the sprints. He’s now much more versatile and still has that fast finish. Is today too hilly for him though? He was good on the Mur de Huy until the final bends but will have to time things to perfection to stand a chance. Bryan Coquard could be the surprise today, Le Coq weighs just 60kg and could float up the climb before

Dan Martin has a good chance here. He’s got a good finish and was second to Michael Matthews in the uphill finish to Arcos de la Frontera in the Vuelta last year. The big straight road is less punishing if he’s struggling for position. He’ll still needs to rely on his team who have been largely invisible in the race so far.

Warren Barguil can’t be ignored, he’s on his home roads and with a good leadout from Simon Geschke could surprise. Romain Bardet has been totally forgotten about after a poor start to the week but he’s got a fast finish and this is a good test of his legs. Other young riders to watch include Simon Yates and Alexis Vuillermoz with Yates having the sharper finish.

Alejandro Valverde, Dan Martin
Tony Gallopin, Michał Kwiatkowski, Joaquim Rodriguez, Peter Sagan
Froome, Nibali, Contador, Uran, Štybar, Bardet, S Yates, Coquard, Barguil

Mûr-de Bretagne: doesn’t mean “wall of Brittany”. The Mur de Huy is what cycling calls the road known to locals as the Chemin des Chapelles for good reason because riding up is like scaling a wall. But today’s Mûr has a circumflex accent and is a place at the foot of the climb.

Weather: Sunshine and clouds with a temperature of 23˚C degrees. Light NW wind of 10km/h with gusts up to 30km/h.

TV: the finish is expected around 5.20pm Euro time. Tune in to watch the teams

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.

  • Fatso Rosa Saturday, 11 July 2015, 6:37 am

    Cocaine’s hell of a drug, man!

    • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:28 am

      Early to bed, early to rise…

    • Adam Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:38 am

      Once again, stupidity knows no bounds. I don’t know how long cocaine stays in your system, but for Paolini to do something that stupid during the biggest race of the year (for his team if not himself) is just ridiculous.

    • Augie March Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:49 am

      And it doesn’t make any sense to do this now, surely after his win at Gent Wevelgem would have been a logical time to party hard.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 1:12 pm

        perhaps it was to mask the other drugs in his system

        • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 1:19 pm

          Does cocaine do that or is this baseless aspersion?

          • Tovarishch Saturday, 11 July 2015, 2:06 pm

            If it was baseless wouldn’t it be crack? Or is it the other way round?

          • GB Sunday, 12 July 2015, 6:42 am

            @Tovarishch It’s rare I laugh that hard at a joke in a doping (?) conversation, kudos

        • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:12 pm

          i have read he was tested on tuesday, the pave stage. is he tested before or after the stage ?
          do they put the cocaine in the bottle for drinking ? that would be the place for taking it, rather than a snort or two, pre or post race. Or he makes his own energy bars and goes that route.
          How much notice is given to the rider prior to his test time? If he was on something else, would a few lines at the right time thwart that discovery ?

          • The Inner Ring Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:37 pm

            Nobody here is going to have the answer unless Paolini decides to reading the previous stage preview for kicks and discovers the comments and then feels like giving us the exlusive below the line 😉

          • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:53 pm

            No-one would take cocaine as a performance-enhancing drug in this day and age. (And no-one would eat it: where are you getting this energy bar idea from?)
            There is no pharmacological basis to the aspersions being cast here that cocaine masks the use of other drugs.

    • BarkingOwl Saturday, 11 July 2015, 8:09 am

      C’mon man, just let the guy race. Who cares about recreational drugs. Cocaine is everywhere.

      • RayG Saturday, 11 July 2015, 8:36 am

        It’s not banned out of competition.

    • Dagoose Saturday, 11 July 2015, 8:36 am

      Maybe he wanted to end his career …. wait for it… on a high! “I’m here all week”

      Puns aside. This is sad to hear, particularly as he’s been doing a great job all year and this late in his career.

    • Benjamino Saturday, 11 July 2015, 1:07 pm

      Such a shame to see his season, if not his career, marred by this incident. He was one of the stand out riders during the Classics, possibly negated thanks to some Paolini Party Powder

      • bmj Saturday, 11 July 2015, 3:13 pm

        Don’t forget that Boonen tested positive not once, not twice, but three times for booger sugar. I believe these were all out of competition tests (though QS still suspended him). I’m pretty sure Boonen’s legacy, at least among fans in Belgium, didn’t take much of a hit.

        • Special Eyes Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:09 am

          Rob Hayles, on BBC Sport, speculated that the substance could have been in his system for three weeks.
          So, possibly taken out of competition. Would he still get a ban if that were the case ?

  • BarkingOwl Saturday, 11 July 2015, 6:58 am

    ‘Cadel Evans won the stage before winning the Tour de France. The same again?’

    I doubt it – apparently he has retired:)

    • Scott Saturday, 11 July 2015, 8:10 am

      A proof reader ye won’t make 😉

  • Larrick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:05 am

    TTT tomorrow, a yellow jersey to give away again, and strong riders who’ll be allowed to make the break. Unless TSB want Sagan in with a possibility for yellow, surely there’s more than a 50/50 chance the break will succeed? I’m struggling to work out who will bring it back, assuming of course that all those with a chance of the win put someone in the break.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:47 am

      The break has good chance but the big teams will pick up the pace late in the race to place their riders and this could condemn a move. We should see Bretagne-Séché pack the early move but there’s a good chance we get a series of attacks from stronger riders in the final 20km.

      • Larrick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:53 am

        Yes, we’ll see a fast peleton coming hard so I suppose it’s going to come down to how much leeway they’re given and how strong the riders in it are.

    • irungo txuletak Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:51 am

      Agreed. Assuming this is a climb for GC like last time (I remember that Gilbert was at his best that year, but only finished 5th) and that Froome is not particularly interesting in keeping the yellow at this stage, I don’t really see which team might ride in front of the bunch to bring back a break. There is no clear favourite neither.
      Maybe Etixx and Lotto, for Kwiato and Gallopin respectively, they don’t have any big GC contender, but they both have various wins already.

      • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:49 am

        I’ve managed to watch live ITV4 coverage of the Tour so far, which joins the race with about 100-120km to go, and I don’t recall any break so far that has been allowed to gain more than 5 x minutes on the GC’ers. The breaks are on a tightly-controlled piece of elastic this year, perhaps with the time bonus incentives for podium places.
        Expect, however, to see a mass French version of The Great Escape on stage 10 – Tuesday 14 July !?

        • Larrick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:55 am

          One 3 man break hit 12 minutes before Lotto started to bring it back.

          • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:01 am

            Ah, OK, thanks.
            I should have said “sustained break” then, maybe.

      • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:31 am

        Surely, Cann-Gar have little better to do with their energies than bring this back for Dan Martin – they’re not going to win the TTT tomorrow and stage victories seem to be their only hope.
        Much the same could be said for Lotto, except that they’ll obviously be more tired having had a slightly busier Tour than C-G.

        • Larrick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:38 am

          As I said, it assumes a strong break with both those teams represented. I just wouldn’t be surprised to see 15 go up the road very early and as long as there’s no GC threat, let go.

    • JP Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:51 am

      This kind of long uphill finish drag is usually not kind to breakaway riders. Think of riding 100km in the wind and then holding off a mass gallop at speed with teams positioning puncheurs, GC man and overenthusiastic sprinters, all protected from the wind until the last K. Almost the same thing for late attacks, which require massive power to get away and stay away for 5-10 k even before the climb begins.

      • Larrick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:58 am

        You’re right but my thinking is based on most of the teams being represented and therefore it’s a big break not just a couple of guys fighting hard all day. If the likes of Gallopin or Wellens along with Kwia, Simon, a Yates and even EBH are in it, it’s a different story.

        • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:39 am

          I think that’s unlikely to happen: far more energy-efficient, I’d have thought, to let a group of smaller-team riders go, as per the norm, and then ride en masse to bring them back for your fast finisher. If the fast finisher goes in the break, he won’t have the energy for the finish. Rare for it to happen as you suggest and even less likely the day before the TTT. (Hope you’re right, mind you – would make for a terrific day.)

          • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:37 pm

            a break like that is very unlikely to happen

          • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:38 pm

            oops, was meaning to reply to Larrick

  • eljimberino Saturday, 11 July 2015, 8:11 am

    That’s a great photo of Sagan and Cav with the media people.

  • Helmer Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:04 am

    Boasson Hagen not in with a chance here, just as Degenkolb?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:45 am

      If they are there then Sagan is too and he’s surely going to have better legs. EBH is heavier this year too. When the Tour went up in 2011 only Thor Hushovd was among the Contadors, Evans, Schlecks etc, it seems too long and steep for the sprinters.

  • hoh Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:40 am

    Funny thing about Cav is the fact that he’d need to lost his train to win.

  • Tricky Dicky Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:09 am

    I think Steve Cummings has bested some big names in early spring uphill sprints: I would love it if he was up there to keep MTN in the spotlight. I doubt he’ll be up to the fight for position required though.

    Sagan is Hushovd 2.0 so I can seeing being there although I hear what you say about him shepherding Bert. Of the big names, Froome is in such aggressive, insanely good, form that I find it hard to think he won’t be in the top 3. I’m looking forward to this one (although not the 1.30am finish in Australia…).

  • Richard S Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:10 am

    Any chance of Gallopin to get in a break and pinch yellow for a day? He’s only 30 odd seconds or so back and no kind of threat long term? Or maybe this is one for Tommy V? I can see a group of fairly big names getting clear in the last 10k once the initial break has been caught

    • Christopher N Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:37 am

      My thoughts exactly. A great profile for Gallopin and excellent shot at yellow.

  • Joe K. Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:13 am

    Sagan should take this stage if it comes down to a sprint finish. He looks real hungry for a win. Although his extra bulk this year–ironically, for his sprinting strength–might slow him down.

  • Augie March Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:27 am

    Sagan to finish second, that’s my (likely very safe) prediction.

  • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 10:53 am

    I fancy Kwiatkowski today to continue Etixx’s mission.
    Never have I seen a team so driven, Vermot yesterday summed up the mood in their camp, dropped with a puncture in the dash to the run-in and still managed to get back to the pack.

  • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 11:34 am

    Looking at this Tour, it’s hard to see why BMC took the decison to bring GVA and not Gilbert (before PG broke his arm). There are no stages that GVA is likely to win – obviously – but PG could have been a contender in a few. Are they trying to edge him out? Or do they just think that GVA is more useful to TVG on the flat?

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:02 pm

      It’s all about TVG.
      He could well be in yellow after TTT ON Sunday.
      Great publicity for them to sell more bikes.

  • GB Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:02 pm

    Idle hypothetical question for people who have been watching longer than I have (probably all of you): how likely would it be for someone to build a team around Sagan for stage wins/shorter multistage wins in future?

    Obviously he’s on his own no matter what this Tour, Contador winning the yellow jersey being the goal, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sagan with another team member near him in the closing minutes of a race. My friend and I were wondering how many of those 2nds would be 1sts if he had a lead-out like ‘traditional’ sprinters or just more support in general. There’s the Tour of California but he barely scraped through that.

    It comes across a little like his teams rely on his prodigal talent, when his old tactics have stopped working and his direct competitors have support all the way to the line. Or do I have the wrong idea and this is normal for riders of his style, or his competitors don’t have as much support as it seems?

    (Also, is there a place anyone would recommend for entertaining banter during a race? I know Phil and Paul aren’t popular but the tag I was following until last night literally spends more time complaining about P&P than talking about the race. For crying out loud, if you can use Twitter, you can figure out how to pirate Eurosport if they bother you that much! Yeeeeeeesh)

    • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:09 pm

      I reckon that Sagan could do this with a smaller team – but he would therefore be earning far less money – who would be willing to completely focus on him winning one day races (the green jersey takes care of itself anyway).
      Either that, or he joins a bigger team who are not really interested in grand tours and focus on one day races. I.e. Etixx QS. As they’re now losing Kwiat, maybe this could happen – but probably only once Boonen retires and no other Belgian is available who can win the cobbled classics.

    • Nick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 4:22 pm

      Concerning sprints, he might actually function better without a lead out train, while I can’t think of many off the top of my head, there have been a few in the past.

      Concerning his competitors, he is always marked out of races, such as the finish to Le Havre, where everyone watched him and he left Stybar for others to chase. Too late to figure it out, the field ending up handing it to Z. Although he did say afterwards he was trying to send a message he wouldn’t be mugged by followers anymore.

  • GTGTGT Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:48 pm

    @GB – I love Twitter and use it a lot, but I have no idea how to pirate a Eurosport feed.

    Would love to though. Where does one learn this sort of thing?

    • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:56 pm

      drakulastream or procycling

    • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 1:32 pm

      Eurosport online is only £4 a month in the UK (daresay it’s similar elsewhere) – well worth paying for it, I’d say: good to support them and you can rewind by up to three hours, which is invaluble.

    • GB Saturday, 11 July 2015, 1:48 pm

      Judicious use of Google and practice mostly! There’s a slew of streams inc legal ones in that steephill.tv link. It’s a decent place to start.

      Anonymous 2 is right in that buying a subscription is better, besides the obvious reasons and the comparatively reasonable price these days, pirated streams are incredibly low quality images and full of annoying probably infectious ads (update your antivirus software!).

      If you can’t subscribe to a service in your country (or you can, but it doesn’t have the same coverage as it does in other countries) an alternative is to use a VPN as inrng wrote about here http://inrng.com/2015/03/tv-pirate-feeds-vpn (There are also free VPNs such as Hola you can look up)

      Sorry I won’t be more specific, I don’t want to open myself or this blog up to legal shenanigans (though as far as I can tell they’re uncommon for this sort of thing). I only used them for races I can’t see any other way. SBS (for its other failings) has most of what I wanted to watch this year, so I’ve avoided it.

      My comment was probably fruitless anyway, as some of the people I was dissing probably couldn’t figure out how to find alternatives when a few of them don’t even know about the free, legal, high-def, WELL-ADVERTISED livestream provided by the same tv channel… 😐

      • Tovarishch Saturday, 11 July 2015, 2:16 pm

        In case anyone has a legal Eurosport feed outside the UK but wants the English commentary you can also use a VPN to fool it and get English Eurosport. I still can’t decide whether Carlton Kirby is worse than the Russian commentary but I’ll probably watch the latter today to seevhowcthey react to the Paolini positive.

      • Nick Saturday, 11 July 2015, 4:23 pm

        Do not use Hola. It uses your IP as an exit node, so things other people do show up to the world as things you have done.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 2:23 am

          use cyclingtorrents.nl. I live in Canada, have very limited access to cycling coverage. That website is quite literally, my lifeline to watching cycling. I can’t recommend it enough.

  • J Evans Saturday, 11 July 2015, 7:50 pm

    Bravery wins again – as it so often does. Great to see – and Vuillermoz has been due a win.
    Bad positioning again by Dan Martin.
    And a worrying performance by Nibali.

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:11 pm

      That was one tough finish !
      I can’t believe that there were Green Jersey points awarded for that !!!!
      Some sprint. Haha.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:27 pm

        It’s not a sprinters’ classification. It’s for consistency. Points are awarded even for HC mountain finishes. Sprinters can win it, but previous winners also include Merckx and Hinault.

        • Special Eyes Saturday, 11 July 2015, 9:55 pm

          Andre Griepel won the intermediate sprint today to extend his Green Jersey lead, then loses it after that finish, is what I meant.
          They may as well just give Sagan the Green Jersey before the race starts, how is Griepel, Cavendish, Kristoff, et al supposed to live with that.
          He’s a force of nature, Mr Sagan.

          • denominator Sunday, 12 July 2015, 1:07 am

            A Czech journalist asked Tinkov, if he couldn’t give Sagan at least one mate for the finishes. The excentric “all knowing the best” man answered with evident evasion: “Ask the DS”. Never before seen him ashamed of his own opinion. Even Pistolero is not happy with that, he wanted to help Peter today – it did not work, but one can at least appreciate his atitude.

  • Djconnel Sunday, 12 July 2015, 4:30 am

    Nibali was probably just feeling the crash yesterday.

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