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Tour Stage 9 Preview

A team time trial to shake up the first phase of the race before the rest day and the Pyrenees arrive. The “Big Four” all ride for big teams so the fight for the stage win and the GC align. Let’s see if a diminished Orica-Greenedge can still beat some full teams.

Stage 8 Review: an early break got swamped by a faster move with Michał Gołas and Lars Bak with Bartosz Husarski staying for the ride. The presence of the Etixx-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal riders forced other teams to chase, notably Cannondale-Garmin who used up plenty of riders when Dan Martin could have done with help on the final climb. Hindsight? Well it was rather obvious at the time but good to see the team on the front after an otherwise transparent first week.

On the final climb Alexis Vuillermoz was the first to attack. It looked too early. Chris Froome in person chased, presumably just keen to put out a big effort and ensure he didn’t lose time to anyone rather than hunt down the Ag2r rider. Once Vuillermoz was reeled in the group looked at each other and Vuillermoz attacked again and soloed away for the win with a chasing Dan Martin taking second and Valverde third.

If it wasn’t for Vuillermoz yesterday’s preview would have picked first and second but it’s a good win, albeit unexpected at this high level. As you might know Vuillermoz is an ex-MTB rider but when he turned pro on the road he’d barely had any experience on the road and joined Sojasun thanks to contacts with BH bikes, his MTB sponsor who backed the defunct road team. “Pikachu” (explanation here) was good enough as a neo-pro – Vo2 max 87 – to ride the Tour de France but the Sojasun team stopped leaving him high and dry. He had no team interested until late October. As he told L’Equipe earlier this week he almost stopped but, despite having a masters degree in banking and insurance, wanted to ride on. A retired entrepreneur and keen cyclist Daniel Germond – let’s name him to credit him – stepped in and told Ag2r La Mondiale that if they hired Vuillermoz he’d cover his wages. The rest is history.

Talking of history, so might be Vincenzo Nibali too. He was dropped on the climb and being unable to follow on a 2km is worrying. He blamed a jours sans but he was sans team mates too with the next Astana rider was Tanel Kangert, almost 40 seconds back.

The Route: a 28km team time trial. As the profile shows there’s a flat start until the climbing starts after just 9km. This is hilly route but the gradients are not big, it’s 3-4% climbing through the first time check. As you can see from the map its almost all south-north and exposed to three-quarters crosswind. These are regular roads, wide and at times exposed to the wind, at times sheltered by woodland.

The finish is uphill. When the route first came out nobody seemed to notice this, now it’s swung the other way and become an important thing. It’s a steady climb and will test team cohesion, it has to be climbed at the pace of the fifth rider but the teams will still take it so fast that sitting on a wheel is a big help for the slow man.

The Contenders: it has to be Team Sky and BMC Racing versus the rest. Team Sky are the prime pick, they had a poor showing in the Dauphiné but come with new riders and improved form. The hilly course suits them and once Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Peter Kennaugh have been used like booster rockets on the Space Shuttle the rest of the squad can climb very well. Scan the results in recent days and several riders have been sitting up in the finish, presumably to save energy for today.

BMC Racing are the next pick. The “World Champion” label isn’t as convincing as their win in the Dauphiné last month on a comparable course with rolling roads. They’re well drilled and have some big engines in Rohan Dennis, Tejay van Garderen and Daniel Oss. But climbing together will be the test, can they put van Garderen into the yellow jersey?

Everyone knows Movistar are good in the team time trials but it still surprises. Perhaps it’s just stereotyping of Latin teams that are known for flamboyance rather than discipline, we expect fireworks not formation. However they’ve got their A-team with TT aces Adriano Malori, Jonathan Castroviejo and Alex Dowsett, the latter nursing an injury from Stage 4 but remember he’s a hemophiliac and so wounds take longer to heal.

Astana will hope for a better day. Vincenzo Nibali lost time yesterday but the whole team had a bad time with Tanel Kangert down and the rest of the squad trailing, perhaps some sat up to save themselves for today but Nibali’s bodyguards weren’t around and Michele Scarponi has been ill which matters as he’s a climber who should help on the final part.

Tinkoff-Saxo are still in range of taking the yellow jersey but it looks unlikely.  They’ve got a solid team but it’s hard to see the beating the others. They’d surely sign for a top-5 and losing just seconds to Sky, BMC and Movistar.

IAM Cycling could be the surprise of the day. Even team owner Michel Thétaz won’t be dreaming of a win but they’ve had some decent results and form a solid unit together, certainly they’ll be higher than their 15th place in the team classification suggests. Lotto-Jumbo could do a good ride too with Robert Gesink in good form. Etixx-Quickstep will miss Tony Martin but ride hard to help Rigoberto Uran’s GC bid; did Michał Kwiatkowski sit up yesterday or was he blown out the back? Either way it doesn’t bode well as a top form Kwiatek would not have eased up when the finish suited him so well.

Orica-Greenedge might be reduced but they’ll be powered by pride. Watch to see if the six man squad – five and half if you account for Matthews’ injuries – can beat full squads like Europcar.

Team Sky, BMC Racing
Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo

Weather: hazy sunshine and a temperature of 23˚C. There will be a three quarters tailwind for most of the course of 20km/h which could gust at times to 45km/h.

TV: the first team is off at 3.00pm Euro time and last team finishes around 5.15pm. 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.

  • Special Eyes Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:02 am

    Morning all.
    Nice write up thanks, sums things up neatly.
    BMC kept their powder pretty dry so far, so a strong possibility of TVG in yellow this evening.
    Inrng, for the five GC teams, can you see gaps between their respective times of over 30/40 seconds ?
    A bad day for Astana, and it could be curtains for Nibali ? He’s looking under pressure this year.

    • Special Eyes Sunday, 12 July 2015, 1:02 pm

      To answer my own question (!) – it seems unlikely that there will be big gaps between the GC teams, judging by the Dauphine TTT results (presuming Sky get their act together, that is).

  • Augie March Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:11 am

    I can’t imagine anyone is excited about Sagan moving into Green. Despite the best efforts of the ASO, Sagan’s ability to always finish second or third in sprint, cobbled and hilly stages has once again allows him to take the jersey away from far more interesting riders who actually win from time to time.

    • Fokatukc Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:47 am

      I’m happy to see Sagan back in Green, and I’d consider him a far more interesting rider than someone like Greipel. The green jersey has usually been more about consistency than simply winning the most sprint stages, I don’t see why that’s a bad thing.

      • Ferdi Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:39 am

        It takes a tremendous talent to be ahead in sprints, on cobbles or over the hills. Sagan is a “natural green jersey” if you’ve seen one.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:42 am

      Last I checked, the maillot vert is the points jersey, not the stage wins jersey. Finishing well across a wide variety of stages is just as remarkable, if not more, than being able to outkick everyone on a flat stage. Don’t discount Sagan because he has yet to nab a stage, I would say he has had a remarkable race, especially when you consider that he has done big work for Bertie while collecting green jersey points.
      Chapeau to you, Mr. Sagan

      • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:23 am

        I am very excited for Peter Sagan to finally have the maillot vert again! And that under totally different circumstances, which just shows how resilient he is.

    • Vitus Sunday, 12 July 2015, 3:36 pm

      Sure, the ASO wanted Sagan in the Green. Interesting CT, that doesn’t much correlate with facts.
      That’s why they changed the points system to give the stage winner more points and second and third less….which led to INRNG’s question ” An anti-Sagan system?”?
      “What’s new? The points are tilted to the sprint winner with 50-30-20 for the first three on a flat stage compared to 45-35-30 last year. First place means an instant 20 point advantage. “

      • Eskorrik Asko Sunday, 12 July 2015, 5:55 pm

        Please read more slowly – and reread before posting.

        Please do not use irony in your comments. If it is feather light (as it should be), it is bound to be misinterpreted by a good number of readers and will therefore result in unnecessary and irritating comments and comments to comments. And if it so heavy and dripping wet that the true opinion of the poster is plain to everyone, it will make all intelligent readers cringe.

        Please do not use any acronyms that do not have reference to cycling. My favorite conspiracy theory is that there are influential people out there who employ veritable factories of internet trolls to fill the comment sections of the blogs I read with acronyms with the sole purpose of wasting my time and tiring my brain.

        BTW I am one of those cycling fans who are not particularly fond of riders of Sagan’s type, but who are quite exited by the ebb and flow of the battle for the green jersey between him and the true sprinters and who are ready to give him credit when credit is due.

        PS Did Froome score an own goal by accelerating on his last pull? The fifth Sky rider was instantly gapped.

        • Anonymous Monday, 13 July 2015, 8:09 am

          What is this “PS”???
          It doesn’t appear to be a cycling acronym

  • Arjen Dijkstra Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:55 am

    Lotto-Jumbo won the team classification in the first stage. Big surprise, which might say a lot about their form for today.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:02 am

      Or the number of opportunities they had to practice the first stage?

  • Soren P Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:57 am

    Wow, that was a first. Calling Sagan an uninteresting rider. He has animated the first week and finished in the top 4 an incredible 6 times. The only reason he is not winning is because everyone is scared of him and his team is focusing on Alberto. Btw. can’t wait to see what steps ASO takes next to prevent Sagan from crushing the competition for the green jersey. Perhaps no points awarded in hilly stages or introducing handicap points for the versatile riders 🙂

  • Augie March Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:12 am

    Obviously this is just a personal opinion but I don’t see Sagan as an animating rider. For me, a rider who animates is one who shakes things up with unexpected attacks and novel tactics; all Sagan does is hold position in the front 20 guys and not win sprint finishes while methodically racking up points. Sagan pulling a Greipel and sitting up on one stage to conserve energy for the next or trying a long solo move, that would be interesting, but complete predictability I just don’t find compelling. Clearly though others differ in this.

    • Ferdi Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:41 am

      “Sitting up to conserve energy” for the next day is refusing to compete. It deserves shaming.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:24 am

        the entire sport of cycling is about conserving energy.

      • RayG Sunday, 12 July 2015, 12:55 pm

        Time to find another sport. You don’t understand this one.

        • Ferdi Sunday, 12 July 2015, 10:31 pm

          I’ve known this sport for probably longer than anyone here. And I expect riders to give their maximum throughout a GT, not to swindle the audience into appreciating a partial victory that was only obtaine by betraying what a rider should do every day in order to finish the highest in the final classifcation in Paris, which is simply to try to finish in the highest position every day, and in the shortest possible time.
          And please try to moderate your expressions.

          • J Evans Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:02 pm

            ‘I’ve known this sport for probably longer than anyone here.’ – surely then you must know that almost every rider who is not in contention for the general classification does not ‘give their maximum throughout a GT’.
            Why would, say, Mark Cavendish give 100% in every single mountain stage just so he can finish a few minutes faster and slightly improve his time in the general classification? Particularly when this would mean he had less energy for the stages that he can actually win.
            Similarly, there are riders who will go for the mountains jersey who will therefore save their energies on flatter stages.
            Or riders who know that they only have a hope of perhaps winning a stage – and therefore save themselves on other stages in order to focus on the stage(s) they have targeted.
            Or riders who are there primarily to support others and not to focus on their own time.
            The idea that every rider must ‘try to finish in the highest position every day, and in the shortest possible time’ exists only in your head.
            A rider of the types I’ve mentioned above would have to be profoundly unintelligent to race in that manner as it would almost certainly preclude any success.
            Most riders’ aims are not to ‘finish the highest in the final classifcation in Paris’.
            However long you have been watching cycling, this is how it has been.

    • TourDeUtah Sunday, 12 July 2015, 5:41 pm

      Sagan is a really good rider, but, I would not classify him as a “Champion”

      Many times this week he has come into the finale with a chance to win. Someone always atttacks for the win, but Peter is always looking around, trying to find a wheel to suck. Champions don’t look around, they chase, attack and dominate. See Eddy Merckx.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 July 2015, 5:45 pm

        One time team manager Maurice De Muer, Luis Ocaña’s manager, had a good definition of a champion as a rider who, by themselves, can turn around an disadvantageous situation into a win. Sagan isn’t there yet, he is a great rider but prone to turning advantageous scenarios into runner-up results. He’s still young and has everything to improve.

      • Doubter Monday, 13 July 2015, 6:22 am

        Wow…..the anti Sagan crew on has completely jumped the shark……like him or not he is clearly one of the best riders in the peloton. In a bit of a dry spell recently but still in possession of palmares the envy of most of the peloton.

        You armchair naysayers are just making yourselves look foolish.

  • Danny Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:28 am

    Will Froome want to hold yellow heading in to the Pyrenees? It would probably be a boost for Tee Jay, rather than a burden. A BMC win today and all the main contenders are happy.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:18 am

      You really think Team Sky won’t give it their all for one lf the biggest GC stages? Especially considering the chance of a stage win.

      • Danny Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:35 am

        I think they will! Trying to defend yellow for two weeks in the mountains would be super tough though, no? Maybe this can creep into the back of their minds today.

      • barington levi Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:36 am

        of course the will give it there all, it just wont be good enough….(probably going to eat my words now…)

      • Dodge2000 Sunday, 12 July 2015, 10:42 am

        Whether BMC have the yellow or not, Sky will have to race like they have the yellow. With Froome looking the strongest of the GC up to this point, attacks will need to be countered by Sky in the same way.

        They are going to race the TTT for every second they can get, in the same way that Froome has taken it upon himself to push for those time gaps as they cross the line. It’s an aggressive Sky this year and I think it was only the Tony Martin win where they seemed to have no concern with handing over the yellow.

  • evan Sunday, 12 July 2015, 8:46 am

    how is the order of teams set? It doesn’t seem to match individual or team GC

    • Megi Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:29 am

      Yellow jersey (and therefore his team) goes last as always in a TdF time trial, otherwise it’s the team GC order.

  • Cameron Isles Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:00 am

    Race leader to wear a yellow onesy out of the lost-and-found bin again I presume?

  • AK Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:22 am

    It was my impression that Froome was pulling on the front group yesterday because he had heard over the radio that Nibali was behind. Froome is riding very aggressively this year, e g the cobbles stage where he tried to force a split. I like it.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:39 am

      Froome claimed he had no idea Nibali was losing ground as he said on post stage interview. As for Sagan in green, yes he looks daft enough for bright green, shorts, socks, hair etc.

  • Jonhard Sunday, 12 July 2015, 9:55 am

    Another entertaining review/preview.

    It seems a little bold to pick Sky over BMC but they’ll surely be a lot better than in the Dauphine, where bad luck played a part (as well as team selection).

    Shame for Orica, who could’ve been a contender today on paper.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 July 2015, 10:45 am

      Everyone seems to be saying BMC and I think it’s them and Sky with Movistar nearby. Sky seem better for this hillier course, especially as the backbone of BMC’s squad is made up of one day riders like Oss, Schär, GVA, Quinziato. Not that they can’t survive a week’s racing but it could tilt things as it’s Stage 9.

      • Augie March Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:29 am

        It was the slightly hillier course that ended up favouring BMC at last year’s worlds when everyone was tipping OGE or Quickstep because of their big engines who it turned out were more suited to the flatlands. Still, as you said, 9 days into a Grand Tour is not the same as a one day event you can prepare well in advance for.

    • Cameron Isles Sunday, 12 July 2015, 12:11 pm

      Hmm, only 28km. Any chance someone will risk using up the bigger guys early and rely on the five best climbers to do the last downhill and the little rise at the end alone? With swept roads you would have to assume little chance of a late puncture. Or burn the climbing lieutenants early and hope the rouleurs don’t fade on the final climb? Should be interesting.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 July 2015, 12:33 pm

        Many teams did this in the Dauphiné, you had to go a long way down the results to find a team finishing with more than five riders and that too had an uphill finish, although a long drag, then a dip and then sharper rise to the line. Either way there’s no point waiting for the sixth rider if the other five can drop him.

  • hahostolze Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:20 am

    Secretly very expectant of Lotto Jumbo, with good TT powerhorses and climbers in the squad, Gesink and Kelderman who can do both. Not gonna win but will surprise many, I believe.

    • Hegemony Sunday, 12 July 2015, 2:47 pm

      hahostolze not-so-secretly talking up the Dutch again – and on The Twelfth too 😉
      Vive l’Oranje!

  • J Evans Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:26 am

    Thanks for the timings – means I can avoid most of this snooze-fest: little interest for me in watching teams trundle around against the clock.
    The only people who must dislike it more are the French, whose poor Tour (the GC people that is – other than Barguil) is set to get that little bit worse.

    • Eeyore Sunday, 12 July 2015, 2:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing this little ray of sunshine with us all.

      • Special Eyes Sunday, 12 July 2015, 4:42 pm

        Huge crowds in Brittany.
        I don’t think they’ve gone home after the publicity caravan has passed !

      • J Evans Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:41 pm

        Pleasure. :O)

  • J Evans Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:34 am

    The big teams get enough of an advantage in stages with crosswinds – where they’re more likely to have the strength to be ahead of the split (although there is no rule that prevents a rider from hanging on to a bigger team – as Barguil did) – and by towing their leaders up mountains.
    And at least those stages are interesting to watch.

  • J Evans Sunday, 12 July 2015, 11:44 am

    Vuillermoz’s ride was brave (to attack) and clever (to sit up when Yates was on his wheel). And from his comments he seems like a thoroughly nice bloke.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 12:03 pm

    To be honest, I’m surprised more people haven’t tipped TCS.

    I figure they’ve got quite a solid team and put in an impressive ride in the Giro TTT with some of the same riders. They’re fairly well drilled and the course is reasonably favourable to a team with a good mix of climbers/rouleurs.

    I can’t quite decide if I feel like the GC is going to be blown apart or basically end up looking identical to before the stage started?

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 July 2015, 2:21 pm

    It’s a shame that such a dull (TV) spectacle is scheduled for a Sunday and the mountains mid-week.

  • Cheng Sunday, 12 July 2015, 5:37 pm

    Why I don’t see any national TT champion jersey in any team??

    Like Uran, Porte…

    Is that a new rule for TTT??

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 July 2015, 5:38 pm

      They’re national champions from the solo TT and so it’s not meant to be worn in the team event. This didn’t stop some riders from doing it today but the rules say they shouldn’t.

      • Cheng Sunday, 12 July 2015, 6:13 pm

        Thanks replied.
        You mean that’s fine and nothing if some riders still wear the national TT jersey??
        I just want to know it’s new rule?? because I saw riders worn national TT jerseys in tdF before…

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 July 2015, 7:24 pm

          The rule says they cannot wear the national champions kit. If it’s a new rule it’s not new for 2015.

          • Lion Sunday, 12 July 2015, 10:09 pm

            There have been TTTs with riders wearing their national championship kit before, but it’s definitely not allowed. I remember, in 2013 Tony Martin recieved a fine for riding on his world championship Shiv in the Tour TTT

  • cervelodude Monday, 13 July 2015, 8:04 pm

    Any thoughts about why there are no Time bonuses on the TTT?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 13 July 2015, 8:13 pm

      There are never time bonuses in a time trial, I suppose there’s no need provide an added incentive.

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