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Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

The return of the mythical Mont Ventoux, home to fantasies, legends and clichés – more of which later today. There’s a race on and a decisive summit finish. The final climb has been abbreviated because of the windy conditions and this only means more stress on the approach roads.

Stage 11 Wrap: part sailing contest, part obstacle course. The stage was nervous from the start with the high winds. It prompted a series of crashes, one of which saw Jurgen Van Den Broeck leave the race overnight. The race split and regrouped several times, often with riders spread in diagonal formation from gutter to gutter. In the finish several teams were taking turns, Trek-Segafredo took one and then Tinkoff followed with Sagan and Bodnar who accelerated and got a gap with Chris Froome surging across and then Geraint Thomas. Suddenly there were four and they stayed away, in part thanks to their efforts and surprise but helped by the lack of a chase behind, nobody seemed to do anything and it took a while before Katusha and others took up the work.

There have been questions by email and Twitter whether Froome’s move was premeditated, I doubt it, if anything it’s interesting many people view each move by a Team Sky rider as part of some scripted event, a masterplan. Instead that Peter Sagan forced the pace with his team mate Maciej Bodnar and Froome saw an opportunity. It’s the kind of decision your lizard brain takes rather than something mapped out in the morning briefing. In the end Sagan won, the human whirlwind too much for the mere crosswinds and Chris Froome took second, six seconds and a six second time bonus and beaucoup applause too. Sagan might have wanted Bodnar to win but this is the Tour and so far only the big names are winning.

The finish was thrilling but had consequences. On a stage promised to the sprinters Sagan took maximum points for the green jersey while Joaquim Rodriguez and Louis Meintjes lost 1m9s and fell out of the top-10.

The Route: 184km east across to the Rhone valley at the mercy of the Mistral wind. It’s easy to look at the profile and just see Mont Ventoux but there’s a lot of ground to cover on the way. It might be flat but it’s exposed and it’ll be fraught.

The two climbs after Gordes are really one and the same road as they scale a flank of Vaucluse mountains on a narrow and irregular road before a descent on a bigger road past fields of lavender and vineyards which leads the race towards Mazan and Bédoin, the gateway to Mont Ventoux.

The Finish: don’t adjust your set, the faded graphic represents the abbreviated climb with the new finish at Chaley Reynard. The finish has been cut short because of forecast winds. It’s hardly any easier. The profile above shows the climb to Chalet Reynard… but excludes the approach from Bédoin, 3.5km at 5% and an awkward road that rises and dips before reaching the hairpin bend at St. Estève.

The race then enters the forest section and begins a 10km that’s consistently between 9-10% making for a very hard climb. The exact finish location isn’t clear but likely to be on the flat section by the Chalet Reynard car park rather than on the slopes before or after.

The Scenario: it’s Bastille Day in France, the national day and much is expected of the French riders but they haven’t won on this day since David Moncoutié in 2005 and taking the win today looks a tall order. Instead we can expect big crowds given many have the day off and the roads cross popular holiday areas. This is a crucial stage but the time trial tomorrow will weigh on people’s minds, the paradox of an important, decisive finish yet people don’t want to do any damage to their legs ahead of the TT so late attacks are likely from the GC contenders rather than bold moves out of Bédoin. Meanwhile it’s likely an early move forms and tries to stay away with the likes of Thibaut Pinot and Rafał Majka both chasing KoM points but if a move goes clear the nervous peloton may not sit up in the crosswinds.

The Contenders: at this rate Chris Froome‘s going to take off solo early in the stage. Just teasing but his confidence is being reinforced every day with his bold racing. Some say his small gains so far reflect nervousness about Nairo Quintana, that he needs to take time for fear of the Colombian. But it seems the opposite, he’s jumping away because he can. Team mate Sergio Henao is another contender, he’s been opening the road for Froome but could feature.

Nairo Quintana‘s been following the wheels so far but when will he strike? He’s been wanting to win on Mont Ventoux ever since being countered by Chris Froome in 2013 and now’s the chance to launch his bid for the overall win. The later he leaves his move the more time he’ll have to take back later in the race and we’ll finally see what is climbing form is like. However he risks being run ragged across the plains on the way. He’s not the stereotype Colombian, he can hold his own in the bunch but he’d surely pick a calmer day if possible.

Dan Martin‘s in scintillating form, much is being made of Chris Froome 3.0 (Mr Invisible 1.0, The Skybot 2.0 etc) but Martin’s come on a lot since swapping Slipstream for Etixx-Quickstep and has the searing sprint to take the stage win as long as there’s no breakaway up the road. He kept attacking for no gain on the climb to Arcalis but should sit tight to snipe the stage win on this steeper climb.

Richie Porte is BMC Racing’s best bet, the more explosive of their two leaders, he’s got the jump but a stage win here seems possible but only just given the opposition above.

Bastille Day hopes rest on Romain Bardet. Part of his pre-Tour prep included a visit to Ventoux where he rode up in training in an hour on what wasn’t a fast day either. This doesn’t guarantee a win but he could feature. A rider with a faster finish is Adam Yates who is sitting second overall at 28s for a reason and hasn’t taken a time bonus so far. He’s got a good finish as his kick in Arcalis showed. The question is how long he can keep it up but he seems relaxed an unfazed.

Rafał Majka’s down on the overall classification but not out. He and Thibaut Pinot will both be trying to infiltrate the day’s breakaway because of the double goal of the stage win and the points on offer for this “summit” finish. Between the two Majka is the stronger and Pinot himself has acknowledged this but the Frenchman can still surprise.

If you want three left field for Bastille Day names then Fabrice Jeandesboz, Pierre-Luc Périchon and Nicolas Edet are each there for the three French wildcard teams.

Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin
Rafał Majka, Adam Yates, Richie Porte
Pinot, Pauwels, Bardet, Henao, Cummings, Nibali, Landa

Weather: sunny and warm with a top temperature of 26°C on the flat sections. The Mistral wind is the major factor, a NNW forecast at 45km/h for the plains and gusting to 80km/h.

  • A note on the wind, it howls on Mont Ventoux and if you’ve ridden it a few times chance are at least one occasion saw you struggling to stay upright. There’s a strange phenomenon where it can feel windy on the upper parts but nothing wild more only for you to approach the top, the part with the first café on the left and then the final hairpin that bends to the summit. Suddenly it’s like you’ve ridden into the jet stream, put a cleated foot down and you can be blown across the road and struggle to hold your bike. So if people say it’s calm at Chalet Reynard it could still be wild higher up

TV: the finish was forecast for 5.10pm Euro time. It’s likely to stay this way and they shunt the start but keep an eye on events given the change in circumsances. Better still, tune in early to watch the race in the crosswinds and then the tension as they approach Mont Ventoux.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steve Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:10 am

    “The finish has been cut short because of forecast wins.” implies a pro-wrestling level of organisation on behalf of ASO. 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:43 am

      Ha, fixed. Might be more of a fight and therefore a better win with the shorter route as riders won’t hold back on the steep part.

      • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:25 pm

        It’s true that if strong winds are included in the scenario, the top section might hinder solo attacks.

        However, the biggest change implied by the shortening is about the duration – thus, the type – of the involved effort.

        The whole Ventoux is nearly one hour, the shortened version will be climbed in some 30′-35′. Quintana can be very effective when producing top watts for 40′ or so, while Froome is sometimes able to go faster but for shorter periods of time: he is (or was) more about a 15′-20′ top climbing effort. In 2013 Quintana was going solo from some 12-13 kms to go, while Froome saved his watts until it was 6-7 kms to go (it’s a 22 km/h climb, hence you notice the slipstream). Even if Froome was in one of his best climbing seasons ever figures-wise (until now, at least), he could put only some 30″ into the Colombian through a final sharper acceleration.

        However, shortened version or not, wind or not, it was clear from the course presentation that today Sky was going to try and “cook” Quintana before the Ventoux even started.

        • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 1:30 pm

          Besides – be he right or not – Quintana wants to go into a “mano a mano”, no Froomey’s teammates nor other GC rivals nor characters who belong both categories (Henao, Porte) – something which will be way harder on the shortened climb, whereas the long version assures that quite often (even if not always).

  • Thesteve4761 Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:05 am

    Reynard’s day to shine!

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:44 am

      The owner of the restaurant there must think Christmas has arrived, this must be a bonanza already.

  • JHutch Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:14 am

    It’s been really interesting to see the unpredictably of froome’s attacks this year changing people’s attitude towards him. Attacking and winning on a summit finish brought cries of boring and predictably. A crazy downhill raid or an attack in the crosswinds seems to meet with the non froome fans approval. I loved seeing the Green and Yellow jerseys really racing for every point and every second yesterday and actually enjoyed reading the reader’s comments of ‘great racing’s rather than ‘drugs cheat’ on cycling news last night. Looking forward to more great racing today.

    • Alastair S Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:06 am

      Agreed, really good to see.

      If the forecast wind speed and direction are right then the first part will be the feared tail/cross wind, but then the final could be a block headwind; which might neutralize things a bit – unless it has been totally ripped to shreds beforehand!

      • Tovarishch Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:17 am

        Beat me to it – should refresh more often!

    • Gian Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:41 am

      I agree with that as well. It’s been good to see Froome mix it up and showing good awareness to exploit the other GC contenders when they weren’t at their most attentive.

      • Mark Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:12 am

        For me it wasn’t just that… He was on the front at other times [staying out of trouble / driving the peloton]

  • BC Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:28 am

    Yet another excellent review IR. I suspect that if the Mistral is blowing – and it’s one of natures easier weather conditions to predict once pressure areas are established, today’s stage could prove very interesting. If the predicted wind speeds are true, then cancelling the exposed upper section is unfortunately the only real option available.

    Just a word of praise to Sagan – surely the ‘real deal’ and an asset to the sport, and Froome after yesterdays exploits and heroics. Exciting and full of suspense, just what the sport is about and I am sure greatly appreciated by all who witnessed it. Here’s hoping for more today.

  • _kw Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:16 am

    Let the comparisons begin: http://www.chronoswatts.com/watts/21/

    I am sure it is going to be hard to compare because knowing that they do not have to ride on to the summit (I always reserve some energy for the last kilometers, especially the last two). Despite those different circumstance, I am sure people will be quick to jump to conclusions…

    • RonDe Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:27 am

      Well it seems you have by even posting this nonsense. These numbers are largely meaningless.

      • Vedrafjord Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:10 pm

        If the process of creating a model, testing it with real-world observations, and refining it until it’s extremely accurate is ‘nonsense’ then we can all give up on science in general.

        Lots of riders post their power files online now, so we have a way to verify estimations. On Twitter, ammattipyoraily regularly posts estimated vs. reported watts and his method is accurate to within around 2%. That’s just for single climbs – as the error is unbiased we can improve accuracy by combining many observations. This makes sense – for example you might have a tailwind one day, but over the course of many days the headwinds and tailwinds will cancel each other out. From this graph we can see that by far the most important variable on steep climbs is gravity, which is constant: http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd226/ASimmons/ResistanceforcesbyGradient.jpg

        So given we can accurately predict power, maybe you think power numbers full stop are ‘meaningless’. Why do teams bother to put power meters on bikes in that case, and put such an emphasis on training and racing with them? Because power measurements are the most accurate way of tracking performance, with speed, heart rate etc being much less important.

        Ok now we get to the controversial (but logical) part: a doped athlete can put out more power than the same athlete could clean. That’s the whole point of doping. How much more will depend on the method and the athlete. But imagine we have a large distribution of power measurements or predictions. Past a certain point all the values are of known doped athletes, so the probability of a particular athlete achieving that power while clean becomes very small. This explains it well (although not with real world numbers): http://veloclinic.com/estimating-the-probability-of-doping-as-a-function-of-power/

        People like you tend to have this binary view where anything that isn’t perfect is meaningless, so if we don’t have an exact value for wind speed, or drafting, or weight, we just give up. In reality in science we can often make useful conclusions from very small amounts of signal. In my current day job I run simulations for a reinsurance company to see how much damage might be caused by various hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc. I would kill for the accuracy and predictive power of the guys predicting watts on climbs.

        In general though, looking at the last few years of cycling, people don’t care (big caveat) as long as it looks like a level playing field from the outside. So if one guy like Froome destroys everyone on a single climb like last year, people have a meltdown. If everyone is evenly matched people are happy, even though climbing speeds are way up from 2010-11, an era where I doubt Bertie, Andy, Cadel etc were on bread and water. C’est la vie!

      • _kw Friday, 15 July 2016, 10:26 am

        @RonDe: Certainly not nonsense but an attempt of an approximation which – as @Verafjord correctly describes – can come quite close to the actual power figures. For more detail consult this website: http://sportsscientists.com/cycling/ apart from Verafjord’s link to Veloclinic below.

        Now on the other hand Vayer may tend to extreme statements, that does not apply to the others including Tucker IMHO.

        Given the crash there won’t be any meaningful times anyway.

  • David Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:37 am

    Got your Henaos mixed up. Sergio, not Sebastian :p

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:44 am

      Fixed now, probably typing on autopilot.

      • _kw Friday, 15 July 2016, 10:27 am

        I’d be careful with autopilot these days 😉

  • David Woodley Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:55 am

    Let’s be honest, it would have been a pretty boring race for gc so far if it hadn’t been for Froome’s two audacious attacks. If he wins by a handful of seconds then his rivals will be kicking themselves!

  • Tovarishch Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:09 am

    With a strong cross-wind over the plains Movistar are going to have to keep their wits about them (if they have any!). The race could be blown apart before they even reach Ventoux, especially as a headwind between Gordes and Mazin means getting back on will be very difficult.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:08 am

      After watching yesterday’s stage, there was a film on British tv called “Lonely Are The Brave”.
      Whilst this could have aptly applied to my prediction of stage 11 (*cough*) it’s probably better suited to the late move by the Four Musketeers.

      Still, it was only 6″.
      But one wonders what will be the cumulative effect, physically and mentally, with more of the same to face today and *then* Ventoux to tackle as well!
      Somehow I think Nairo Quintana may have slept poorly last night with dreams of Don Quixote and windmills perhaps?

  • bswh_ Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:19 am

    In yesterday’s press conf, Froome said he’d race Ventoux conservatively, thinking about Friday’s TT. Yeah right! How he said that with a straight face after ripping it up in the crosswinds! He will go big time for the win today.

  • JHutch Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:22 am

    The other thing Sky really seem to have got right is the team dynamics. Dave B said before the race the the team had no cracks, no internal conflict and that seems to be the case. Everyone is doing their job to the best of their ability, this doesn’t mean sky will win but Movistar’s lack of togetherness could loose Quintana the race.

    • Dodge2000 Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:35 am

      I think it helped that Thomas wasn’t in as sparkling form out of the blocks and Landa shipped a load of time. Any question over who was number 1 and riders protecting a top 5 were quickly answered. And with Froome so strong the team has no issue going all in for him

  • RonDe Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:34 am

    A most exciting edition of the race is being revealed before us. Froome may talk about the need for conservatism today due to the time trial tomorrow but he will surely try to take some seconds if possible. He would probably be looking to take defensible gains between today and tomorrow combined. Maybe the wind will help him again today, in the lead in to the Ventoux as well as on the mountain itself. Movistar seem tactically inept (as they have in previous years against Froome) and less capable to deal with the wind which is the value of having Rowe/Stannard/Kiryienka in your team. Of course, this may all be nonsense and Quintana rides away and wins by a minute. My prediction, however, is a kind of stalemate. Boring, I know. But no one has so far really seemed that willing to put everything on the line and maybe that continues today.

    • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 1:34 pm


  • Richard S Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:38 am

    Pinot should be a lesson in not putting all your eggs in one basket. His pretty much sole focus of this season is the Tour, everything he has done has been for this 3 weeks. And yet he still isn’t in top condition. Majka who on the other hand did the Giro and I assume was at the Ardennes Classics too is stronger than him. FDJ might have improved their time trialing but their training and nutrition could maybe do with a bit of work.

    Should be good today. Will the climbers have worn themselves out in the cross winds before they even get to Ventoux? Could be a surprise winner, I’m thinking some sort of climber hard man who’s usually a domestique if such a thing exists.

    One other point, is Froome burning a lot of matches before we get to the meat of the tour? Time will tell. I’ve enjoyed his racing so far.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:49 am

      I’d say the opposite on Pinot, in fact he said his problem is probably that he has been winning and placing in races all season long from the GP La Marseillaise to trying to win a stage race every month (Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Basque Country, Romandie etc and he’s placed or won within all of these races) so the wheels have come off by now, he’s gone stale for the Dauphiné and now the Tour.

      On Froome he’s burned some matches but they’re small ones but got results out of it. We’ll see today and tomorrow.

    • GB Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:02 am

      Possibly a silly question but is there any reason (besides patriotism) that Pinot shouldn’t try riding for GC at the Giro d’Italia? For one thing, the weather is cooler…

      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:08 am

        He wants to and will next year but a French rider on a French team in the biggest race in France… his employers are not keen on it. He’s re-signed with FDJ and a condition of the new contract was the freedom to go to the Giro next year.

        • GB Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:24 am

          I’m looking forward to it, hope it goes well for him. Thanks for the quick answer!

  • charlie b Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:45 am

    If riders could be compared to movies so far I’d probably match Froome with Revenge of the Nerds. Sagan obviously has to be Easy Rider but without “falling” of his bike like the Dennis Hopper character does. Quintana’s film is still a mystery that’s in the re-write stage but probably ending in a cliffhanger.

  • Nielsen Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:46 am

    “He’s been wanting to win on Mont Ventoux ever since being countered by Chris Froome in 2014” – 2013, was it not? 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:54 am

      Quite right. That long ago already.

    • A different J Evans Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:58 am

      Yes, and I think the fact that he went very early on that stage (and earlier in the Tour) only to be countered is probably still a consideration, and has been a factor in the lack of bigger attacks so far… rightly or wrongly

      • RonDe Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:31 am

        I watched the replay of this climb last night. Quintana went on his own with 12.8kms to go and never got more than about 47 seconds in front of Froome who was paced by Kennaugh and then Porte for about 5 kms more before Froome famously attacked and caught Quintana fairly easily. It makes me wonder if Quintana will choose this place as where his Tour begins. I’m not convinced he would get the gains he seeks for the efforts required, especially with the time trial tomorrow. Its also worth bearing in mind, if you buy into the “Froome is weak in week 3” narrative that in 2013 Ventoux was stage 15. Here its 3 stages earlier and 6kms shorter.

  • RQS Thursday, 14 July 2016, 9:48 am

    Froome’s attacks have been pure class. The accusation is that Sky have either controlled a race or don’t attack, and two stages of proper racing have dispelled both these.

    Both attacks took risks, though the last one is probably the most audacious. If he gets caught that’s matches burned for the Ventoux. One wonders if the news about the shortened stage had any part in the decision. Sky would no doubt have attacked on Ventoux and be hoping to put time in. Anyway, that took balls, but once that break landed Sagan must have been inwardly rubbing his hands in glee with a gurantee of solid teamwork and a victory.

    Anyone got any bets on whether Cav will stay to Paris?

    • Tom J Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:47 am

      “One wonders if the news about the shortened stage had any part in the decision. ”

      When was the decision made? Did the riders know before the start, or did they only find out after the finish?

      Either way, chapeau Froome. If you ever want a visual image to give a precise definition of “on the rivet”, just look at the faces of the four attackers yesterday – even when following Sagan or Froome, Thomas in particular seemed on the absolute limit.


      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:06 am

        The decision was taken at the finish line apparently. It’s interesting to see how people think these racing incidents are part of some controlled plan, that DS Portal learns of the shortened stage and radios it, “Froomey the Ventoux is shorter so you can attack with Xkm to go”. Surely it’s just a spur of the moment decision, chain of events?

        • Tom J Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:51 am

          Agreed – I’m sure Sky (and no doubt some other teams) had a general intention to push when the conditions were right to see what happened – but the specifics of exactly who got away when I don’t think you can plan in that situation. Sagan went; Froome was well positioned and must have made a split second decision whether to go or not, considering the potential gain vs. the length still to ride.


        • RQS Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:39 pm

          I was reading the official stage feed which mentioned the shortened stage before the end of the race.

          Although I think it unlikely that it meant Froome must make the break I wonder if discussions had begun about what effect that would have on any plans to take time on the Ventoux might have. A shortened stage could mean less terrain for time gains. Couple this with a prime opportunity to gain time on this stage, I wonder if it created a latent spur for him to make the jump – lizard brain as you say. So no, I don’t think that a DS ran a calculation.

          • RQS Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:42 pm

            Plus, Froome was very aware of the curtailed stage at the end of the race so it must have been discussed well before the announcement through the teams. The fact of the matter is, and you’ve made this point yourself, that quite often the race organisers have to run these things past the teams and the riders before making any decision….so imagine that it was muted quite early. But I bow to your greater knowledge on this.

  • Wackynonymouse Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:02 am

    We may see some late attacks from NQ today, he may even gain back 3 or 4 seconds. Some cheap fireworks, that’s all or he could be saving himself for tomorrow. or the day after, or the day after that! Hahaha, Fair play to the yellow jersey, the crowds want entertainment and yesterday that’s what we got. Never ever been Froome’s greatest fan but yesterday was just great. Seeing an opportunity and taking it by the horns, Green and Yellow blazing towards the line, fantastic stuff. That’s entertainment folks. Shame for the consipiriters and the watts number crunchers, it must play havoc with them.

    • McQuaid Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:26 am

      Same here, never been a fan of Froome, but I enjoyed his performance yesterday and now look forward to see if he continues to put in more attacks and what Quintana does in response.
      I always consider how the race looks for the spectators at the side of the road, and to be on the finishing straight to see the Yellow and Green jerseys contesting the sprint must have been a fantastic surprise!

      • Wackynonymouse Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:38 am

        Exactly, imagine the excitement of all those young children and probably most people seeing that quartet barrelling towards the finish!! they don’t care for the ins and outs etc. Its an entertainment at the end of the day and how better than seeing the yellow jersey “going for it”. This is a fantastic blog here but some of the analysis and the geekiness of it all bores me rigid to be honest.

  • MrJonesDK Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:05 am

    I think Cav leaves today. Why stay when Sagan just won the jersey yesterday.

    • ave Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:07 am

      Just for the Champs…

  • Nicolay Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:06 am

    Will it still be ha HC climb, or a 1. category now?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:13 am

      It should still be HC, it scores 900 in the algorithm test making it the equivalent to the Dauphiné and also the last thing the race wants to do is devalue the abbreviated climb further.

  • Patrick Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:27 am

    Hi innerring, do you know if the truncated Ventoux climb is still classified as HC?

    • Patrick Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:44 am

      Not sure how I managed to miss the almost identical comment directly above mine! Feel free to delete my comments Inrng!

  • frood Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:48 am

    Interesting to see that Nibali gets a chain ring – he does seem to go well in the latter stages of GTs. i am firmly of the belief that he sat up to intentionally drop out of the GC race in order to go for stage wins in the Alps.

  • Eusebio Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:54 am

    Tricky one for NQ today.
    On the one hand this is the first stage he can attack, safe in the knowledge that he probably wouldn’t have to defend yellow – if he took a minute today he’s likely to lose 25s tomorrow to Froome, putting them back on a par.
    But on the other hand, this stage looks a lot like that LPSM stage from last year, where Movistar pushed like hell all day and then ran out of puff on the climb. With extra crosswinds, that’s quite a danger.
    Further, with the climb shortened it suits him a lot less, and might mean he would end up attacking, gaining say 15s, but ruining his legs for tomorrow.
    So I’d guess no attack today, instead careful marking. There’s a lot of mountains to come still, and in all his stage race victories that I can recall he’s been careful until near the end, winning with one or two very powerful attacks in the mountains. It makes sense- he and his team are too little to defend on the flat, and whilst his TTs are hugely impressive for someone his size, he’s unlikely to beat a Froome in one still. So for all that he’s been castigated for shipping little bits of time, I still think he’s best off holding steady today.

    • A different J Evans Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:34 am

      What I would do if I was Movistar…

      … I’d generally try and keep Quintana out of trouble until the first intermediate climb, then get one/two of the lower domestiques to push as fearsome a pace as possible to the top of the cat 3… back off, protect Quintana, until nearer the bottom of the Ventoux… then have as much of a train as possible to ride at a pace that puts Quintana on his limit (which means that Froome will be around the same place, and others above it) and creates the most likely conditions for a one-on-one brawl over the last 4-5 km… there’s no downside in being on the attack if your main opponent is also having to ride full gas.

      … unless there was actually not enough in the tank, in which case I’d do what they’ve been doing until now and follow!

      (My reasoning for the above is that I think Quintana is feeling good on the climbs, hence being so irritated with losing time on the flats, and yesterday’s effort at the front probably had an effect on Froome, even a little – similar to the day before Andorra, a stage where I’d have expected him to be well clear of the likes of Yates and Dan Martin).

  • Rob Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:00 am

    Much will depend on who arrives in Bedoin first and hasn’t been swept to the back by the wind. A rider with both the capability and the team to survive the wind in the approach AND make the difference in the shortened climb will win. I don’t think Quintana will be that rider, but Froome, Martin, or Mollema and even Thomas de Gendt are big contenders.

    • Richard S Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:06 am

      Yeah I can see de Gendt being allowed a massive lead on the approach and then clinging on up Ventoux. Today must be one of the best days all year to get in a break, I’d imagine it’ll have some big hitters in it rather than the usual flotsam.

      • Rob Thursday, 14 July 2016, 4:56 pm


  • Augie March Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:01 am

    So far Quintana seems to be following the same masterplan as last year where he seemed to decide that the final climb of stage 20 would be the best place to launch his race winning attack. How did that work out for him again?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:07 am

      He attacked at La Toussuire and took time, did the same at Alpe d’Huez. If he and Froome have the same form – which they won’t – then he can look forward to a final week with more summit finishes including Emosson and Le Bettex which are harder plus the Joux Plane on the final stage too.

      It feels like everyone wants him to attack but what if he can’t?

      • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:09 pm

        I’ve got doubts about the strategy of saving energies versus taking advantage of any possible occasion, but on the Pyrenees Quintana was *very probably* able to trade in a serious attack or two. Or five or six. It would have been about gaining no more than a total minute, hence one might wonder if it was worth the effort. For sure, one of Quintana’s skills (unlike most contenders in this Tour) has always been the recovery. We’ll soon see if Froome was too bold wasting energies for some 30″ (…and a big psychological impact!) or if Quintana was too prudent – or too confident – leaving his chances for later.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:10 am

      Second that Augie, unless Froome cracks big style, read this result as last year! Simples.

      • RonDe Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:43 am

        The Joux Plane is followed by a descent. I don’t see that being in Quintana’s favour. Emosson and Le Bettex, who knows? Quintana only seems motivated to attack Froome when its all or nothing. Movistar are are very much a “I’ll hold what I’ve got for now” kind of team it seems.

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:03 am

    I wonder if Sky could afford to use one rider up, say Landa, and put him specifically on Quintana’s wheel?
    Just sit there and watch, and relay messages to his team mates / DS’?
    Then, if and when Quintana makes a move, to track him and sit on?

    • dave Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:01 pm

      not a difficult job given Quintana just sits on Froome’s wheel like he’s part of the Sky train.

      Apart from when it really matters…

      I for one thought yesterdays’ stage was brilliant. The 2013 Saint-Armand-Montrond stage has been the reference point for the effects of crosswinds, I think this will be spoken of in similar terms (whether or not it ultimately decided to have any impact on the final podium).

  • jc Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:21 am

    Team selection / tactics has seemed to play a big part so far. Movistar have gone very much for a climbing team (eg leaving out Alex Dowsett) leaving them short of numbers when things dont quite go to plan on the “easy” stages. Etixx dont have the focus of previous years, they are looking after Marcel Kittel, Dan Martin and maybe Julian Allaphilippe which leaves them a bit shorthanded (no Terpstra or Stybar). BMC have also been somewhat unfocused not just two leaders but GvA burning up energy defending the jersey and stage hunting. Orica never had any intention of focusing on one element. Classics style racing is hardly what AG2R are known for. Seems like a lot of muddled thinking to me.

    Sky on the other hand have a single focus, one leader, a strong team for the flat / classics stages and a very strong climbing team (though not convinced Landa is a better option than Nico Roche).

    • Megi Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:55 am

      Nico Roche likes the Vuelta and was always going to be riding the Olympics so he probably asked for “Giro + Vuelta rather than Tour please” during winter training. That fitted with Sky needing an experienced head or two in the team for Landa’s tilt at the Giro.

  • Louis le Blond Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:07 pm

    Nice to see so many of the young riders doing so well in TdF this year – Yates, Meintjes, Barguil, Thuens, Enger, Reichenbach, Buchmann … and Alaphilippe!! He did very well in the first week but is obvious fading now. Will he ever be a serious TdF GC contender?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:29 pm

      It’s a choice for Alaphilippe, he can try. Many do because it’s so valuable, being a contender in the Ardennes is great but being a Tour contender means double or triple the salary. But it also means chasing a goal that may never work out. For now surely he’s got time to work on classics and week long stage races before deciding to aim higher.

  • STS Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:21 pm

    Dear Inrng,
    when did you ride the stage? Was the tarmac on that lower part of the D177 between the Col des Trois Termes and the D4, the steeper, curvy part through that little gorge still in that bad condition or already fixed? According to my experience they are going to put on some new pavement for the TdF. For Paris-Nice tarmac like this might be used but not for the TdF. Do you agree?
    At least I hope so. That would also inspire the chase for the Strava KOM https://www.strava.com/segments/7713922?filter=overall on this descent 🙂 .

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:28 pm

      A long time ago, this one was done from memory rather than recent experience. It was a rough, granular road then but as ever a lot of roads get redone for the Tour including Mont Ventoux which hasn’t bee done for this year but has got a much smoother and faster surface than it used to.

      • STS Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:39 pm

        Thanks! I will have a close look at the TV later on and on Strava.
        Yes, the road between Bédoin and Mt. Ventoux is much better now than it was some years ago. Feels like a real race track now which makes me prefer the opposite direction even more 🙂 . At least on sunny afternoons in March when nearly no one comes up.

  • MaxT Thursday, 14 July 2016, 12:54 pm

    RE perceptions of Froome, clearly a warming in English language media – does yesterday mark a turning point in France? To date in this tour, hard for Froome to have been more aggressive – any chance that the French might start to actually…. “like”… CF?

    Various blogs “les Anglo-Saxons ont débarqué”, lumping Matthews together with Froome, Cav & Cummings, if Dan Martin goes bananas up Ventoux today they could lump the Anglo-Celts in with that brigade too.

  • J Evans Thursday, 14 July 2016, 1:29 pm

    Attacking today might weaken your legs for tomorrow, but it should also weaken your opponents’. It’s about weighing up which way you might gain the more time. But I strongly suspect that most will ride conservatively, especially Quintana, although Froome might not: Quintana could well be more fatigued from the early parts of the stage than Froome.

    • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 1:33 pm

      Agreed. Even if one should also expect yesterday’s all out effort to leave some “toxins” in Froome’s legs. Psychology makes wonders, though…

      • Anonymous Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:40 pm

        I can give you 10Euros today, or promise to give you 10Euros tomorrow!

  • Tommy Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:37 pm

    What a great site/blog this is! Wish I had come upon it earlier!!!

    • A different J Evans Thursday, 14 July 2016, 2:59 pm

      You have hit the quality cycling insight equivalent of the mother lode…

    • ThePlusOne Thursday, 14 July 2016, 3:27 pm


  • J Evans Thursday, 14 July 2016, 3:35 pm

    Interesting to hear Flecha and LeMond being against the shortening of the stage.
    I’m generally for making them ride in all sorts of weather – that’s the point.
    Also, it would have made for an epic stage.
    However, even I can see that it might have been slightly ridiculous to see riders struggling to stay upright – and I’m not sure how much it really is about cycling once it’s to that extent.

    • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:23 pm

      Agreed – would almost benefit a heavy overweight rider with those winds. A guy like Quintana would be blown all over the place.

    • Larry T Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:49 pm

      I can’t help but wonder if ASO decided it was too windy to put the finish-line stuff up at the top rather than concern for riders being blown about? Any rider with any sense would certainly choose the lowest profile wheel his team has available in these conditions.
      And now the fiasco with the crowd control causing Froome, Mollema and Porte to hit the deck……I’ll point this out next time someone starts going on about poor crowd control and crazy tifosi at the Giro.
      Meanwhile, it would seem fair to count the finish time at 3 kms if it’s available – otherwise give the three guys taken out in the crash the same time…maybe Mollema’s? And who was the SKY guy who rode past his team leader, watching him flounder with the neutral-support bike instead of offering up his own?

      • Nick Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:00 pm

        Henao was the first Sky rider to finish. He was with Froome.

  • Vitus Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:05 pm

    Craziest shit ever seen on a Tour……unbelievable

    • noel Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:22 pm

      can’t see what else they can do but let it stand….

      • Red Hare Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:09 pm

        Agreed, that’s racing. I’m glad that the worst that happened is that the race jury had to do some head scratching. Like de Gendt, I was thinking about poor Stig Broeckx.

        • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:32 pm

          How is that racing when one moto stops immediately in front of you and then a second moto comes in behind and crushes your bike?

          Clearly the race jury came to the correct decision.

          • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:01 pm

            Clearly? Not convinced about the contrary, but this is far from clear. This is not racing, but these are “things that happen in a race”. They shouldn’t. Not at all. But they happened and go on happening as “race accidents”.

          • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:29 pm

            Your statement “these are ‘things that happen in a race'” implies this scenario happens on a regular basis.

            This exact scenario has never happened before so clearly the race jury needed to step in.

    • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:23 pm

      The riders should have stopped… no respect for the yellow jersey.

      • noel Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:30 pm

        but the race is all over the road…. one group can’t stop in the middle of that

        • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:45 pm

          They clearly saw that the yellow jersey had fallen down. Porte and Mollema left Froome standing there with a broken bike. It was Porte’s and Mollema’s duty to wait for him, and then inform the following riders about this. Then they all could have finished together.

          • MaxT Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:49 pm

            No GC contenders further up the field. Armstrong Ullrich, 2001, 2003, it’s basic.

          • Vitus Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:06 pm

            Ulle still regrets that waiting for the bully doper….

          • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:35 pm

            Yeah, that’s the basic of *what-must-NOT-happen-if-you-love-cycling*.
            Pure mafia.

          • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:36 pm

            This makes no racing sense. And if the group which is with you doesn’t stop? Porte and Mollema start waving begging people to stop roadside?

          • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:38 pm

            What makes no racing sense is a moto stopping suddenly in front of the GC leaders, and then another moto sandwiching the guys in between and crushing the yellow jersey’s bike in the process.

            The situation is ridiculous.

            Inrng – how many moto incidents is that for 2016? And, are there more moto’s this year than ever before?

          • gabriele Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:59 pm

            I agree that the situation is a farce and no acceptable solution is available (not even the one eventually established by the jury, which is fair but barely legitimate, and prone to create greater troubles in the future; unluckily, I haven’t got a better proposal, either).

            That said, “the riders should have waited” doesn’t make sense, nor practically nor theoretically. It’s ugly enough when a jury decides that you’re too big to fail, but if it was a dynamic equilibrium settled by group of riders while they pass by, it would just be pure delirium.

            What happened is a shame and the organisation must be held accountable, still I can’t see why it isn’t a “race accident”. Note that even if I generally root for Quintana, this isn’t about that at all (in fact, if Quintana goes on like this, he wouldn’t have won the Tour anyway… and probably with the *real* delays Froome’s chances wouldn’t have eventually changed too much. It didn’t get to one minute and a half of time loss, I think).

            I hope to read more from the jury. And it’s a bit unfair to Mollema, too 🙂

          • MaxT Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:00 pm

            There were no GC contenders up the road. If you’re a contender (yellow or chasing), argument is you neutralise if you see a rival unduly caught out and you won’t lose further time to other contenders up the road. If Martin or Bardet had been up the road it would have been different. This was a perfect time to showcase this, but it’s no time to vilify, with the intensity of the spectators it must have been hard to think straight.

            Inrng time for a history of tour etiquette? ’98 pantani, ’01 armstrong, ’03 ullrich, ’10 schleck/contador? Some will probably suggest we’re moving the way football has done, #CR17 etc, genuinely valuable traditions being lost – others will disagree!

          • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:27 pm

            MaxT – exactly. It would have been a great time to showcase this, however of course as you mentioned, the chaotic nature of the situation made it impossible to make decisions in that time frame.

            However, the race jury made the right decision, regardless if there was a rule in place for this. As Adam Yates put it, he didn’t want to win the Yellow Jersey like that…

          • thomas Thursday, 14 July 2016, 10:39 pm

            Adam yates doesn t want the yellow jersey like this, but he did not say no to the classica san sebastian last year

          • Nick Thursday, 14 July 2016, 11:16 pm

            They may have seen that Froome had fallen, but didn’t necessarily know why (not least because the moto which ran over Froome’s bike probably blocked their view). For all the following riders knew, Froome & Porte had simply knocked each other off – a racing incident.

            Having said all that, I think that giving people the times of the groups they were with is probably the least unfair response. Whether it would have happened if neither of the groups contained Froome or Quintana is another question.

  • Andrew Cowley Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:45 pm

    GC times need to obviously be based on the gaps at the time of the incident. No other option.

    • CA Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:48 pm

      Totally agree.

      The footage of the crash on Inrng’s twitter shows the motorbike slamming his brakes, the riders had no time to react.

      • Razorback Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:42 pm

        Allowing the time of Mollema is the least they could do. Mollema probably lost ~10 sec in the incident also, so is conservative allowing the same time.
        I think it cant be seen as an “accident”… this is an “incident” and even in legal terms there is differences.
        A crack in the road, a falling tree, a flat tire, etc are accidents and organizers shouldn’t interfere (although fair play could always be shown by other riders).
        what we saw was an incident. Although not on purpose, but it was actually provoked and Organizers have the power to make adjustments if they seem appropriate.
        Indeed will create precedents, but for me there is a clear line.
        Hopefully the time differences wont mater in the final podium.
        Lastly, NQ is way worse than anyone could imagine. 3 weak attacks and in the end lost time to most of the GCs.
        Great to see Porte and Mollema up the road.

      • Ferdi Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:53 pm

        So Van Avermaet won San Sebastian last year, right?

        • Razorback Thursday, 14 July 2016, 8:05 pm

          First: both are “incidents” and not “accidents” so indeed the organization could take a decision in both cases.
          On Van Avermeat case, it was ~7km from the finish and he had just attacked. it was completely unclear what the outcome would be.
          Today at Ventoux, the situation was much more stable. The attack and difference is quite clear.
          My point is that: 1. This was not an accident (was an incident and there are differences), so the organization has the right to make adjustments if they feel appropriate 2. Organization decision should be such as that try to make the right amendments it doesnt mean is always the same answer.
          In this case, allowing the same time seems a fair amendment (even Yates and others agrees), on Van Avermaet case, is unclear what decision they could make to still be fair as attack was just lunched and distance was too far away.

  • Andrew Cowley Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:50 pm
  • Anonymous Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:55 pm

    Mollema should be awarded yellow jersey.

    • Red Hare Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:11 pm

      No, Yates was ahead in the provisional. He’s been denied twice now.

      • DAVE Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:42 pm

        Hang on – he was denied first time because he couldn’t keep with Froome? Not bad luck? Lost a fair fight. (Yates is great though)

  • Andrew Cowley Thursday, 14 July 2016, 5:57 pm

    What a farce. Totally not worthy of the Ventoux legend. A shame.

  • DJ Thursday, 14 July 2016, 6:24 pm

    A farce indeed. No doubt that given the amount of talk this will cause there will be little discussion of the rather ridiculous decision earlier on in the stage to wait after the Gerrans/Stannard crash which allowed the second group with several GC riders (Pinot, Barguil, Meintjes) to catch back on. Given that Froome was still upright there was no reason to soft pedal and other teams could (and should) have taken advantage.

  • Ferdi Thursday, 14 July 2016, 7:52 pm

    No to leniency. No to fair-play considerations if they go beyond the sport’s regulations and its intrinsic cruelty towards the unlucky. Froome broke the rules for running without his bike, and should pay for that, regardless of anything else. Aru blatantly drafted behind a car and should also pay for that, let us not forget.
    Henri Desgrange, the XXIst century needs you badly!