Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

After the summit finish and the chaos here’s the simple inevitability of a time trial and the promise of an indisputable outcome.

The Route: uphill from the start with a steady 7km climb out of the town of Bourg St. Andéol. It’s on a big wide road, the kind where taking a direct line through the bends as it climbs up saves time, reminiscent of the Chianti time trial stage of the Giro, at least in the start.

Once at the first time check the road stops climbing and takes on a series of rollers, more up and down than the profile suggests. It’s here that the powerful riders and time trial specialists can turn a huge gear and hold a tight tuck.

At 22.5km they reach the Col du Serre de Tourre and here the tourist would stop for views of the Ardèche river gorge but here it marks the start of the descent down to the river. It’s fast and technical, a short tunnel first and then some bends, some of which are tight and require braking before reaching the valley floor.

The valley road isn’t flat and it rises and falls through the time check by the Pont d’Arc, a natural arch of rock over the river before, with 9.5km to go. From here it’s easy to think the course is almost done but they go through the town of Vallon with some corners and then leave the town on flat roads before a climb to the finish, list as 3.3km at 4.9% but measured as 3.4km at 5.6%.

The Verdict: 10% of the course is climbing and by extension an even larger share of the time taken will be spent climbing so this isn’t for the heavy-set rouleurs and at at the opposite end if it climbs the flat sections will see the climbers lose a lot of time. Expect lots of scenic shots from the second half of the course with the river gorges.

Dumoulin Tom

The Contenders: this is the perfect course for Tom Dumoulin, a mix of climbing and fast roads. The Dutchman opted to ride the Tour de France with this stage in mind and has already won a stage along the way, proof all is well. The only concern is that he was working yesterday after team mate Warren Barguil got caught in the crosswinds. But so was everyone else.

Tony Martin got to work for Etixx-Quickstep. Once upon a time he was so dominant in the time trials that he helped keep stage previews short but these days he’s far from the certainty he used to be, his only time trial win this year was in the German championships and his last World Tour TT win was in the 2015 Tour de Romandie. Still here is a course to suit.

Another worker is world champion Vasil Kiryienka but his title says as much about the world’s and it’s slot as a late season event and a win seems improbable.

Can Fabian Cancellara win? He’s had a resurgent season in terms of TT results with Tirreno-Adriatico, the Algarve and the Tour de Suisse but all were shorter tests of brute force compared to this hillier test so his chances are lower.

Rohan Dennis

Next among the TT specialists is Rohan Dennis. A big talent, he took the yellow jersey in last year’s Tour but 2016 has been a quieter season, a win the Tour of California along the way but he didn’t topple any big names.

Now to Chris Froome. What will he do today, skateboard through the tunnel section? Amid yesterday’s shock and confusion he won the Tour de France, dropping Nairo Quintana with his two attacks and the only other competent time triallist in the top-10 is Tejay van Garderen who cannot match the pace in the mountains. The course suits Froome, don’t forget he ran Tony Martin close in 2013.

Among BMC Racing’s two leaders Richie Porte looks the better on the climbs so can Tejay van Garderen redress the balance here? Neither is racing each other but they can climb back up the overall classification at the expense of all the climbers in the top-10 right now. Van Garderen is seventh overall and could, should haul himself much higher up.

Among the other GC riders Nairo Quintana is good in a time trial but his climbing hasn’t looked sharp so his overall form is perhaps 100% either; we could see Ion Izagirre do a stronger ride. Thibaut Pinot‘s improvements in the time trials have been one of this season’s stories, he even beat Tom Dumoulin to win in Romandie, but he’s ill and so if he was expected to hold his own here it won’t happen now.

Tom Dumoulin, Chris Froome
Richie Porte, Tony Martin
TvG, Dennis, Kiryienka, Izagirre

Weather: sunny, 27°C and a 20km/h breeze from the north which could gust to 60km/h.

TV: riders go off in reverse GC order and the last rider is due in 5.25pm Euro time.

109 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Froome won the Tour yesterday? That’s an early call. Though hard to imagine he wont be two minutes clear by the end of todays stage.

    • It is an early call but I tend to agree, as we saw yesterday crazy things can and do happen but assuming Chris Froome avoids being knocked over by a stray dog etc it is difficult to see any other outcome. Unless he can up his game NQ risks not even being on the podium

    • Quintana lost time to Froome on a climb that should have suited him. We can’t extract too much from one stage but on this basis Froome looks superior on all terrain:, downhill, then on the flat and yesterday uphill. Today we’re likely to see the superiority in the TT too.

          • I get that, but running immediately after crashing (and immediately after doing 99% of a bike race) may have a different impact on his body. Who knows, may be that’s better for your body than standing around waiting for the replacement bike. We’ll see.

          • Hmmm, I guess you have never done a triathlon. Youtube videos of amateurs finishing the bike section and then running – ‘jelly legs’ – and that is after 40km on the flat, let alone Mt. Ventoux.

            It all depends what you are used to. But I agree, we won’t see a noticeable effect today. The man has the ‘bit between his teeth’ and it looks like he is willing to go deeper than the others. Its the difference between good athletes and champions.

      • Even if I might agree about the probable final result, Froome didn’t look so dominant yesterday as on LPSM. You can compare him with Quintana, which lost more than 1′ last year, or with other riders, way inferior to the level of top GC contenders, who simply can’t have got better, all of them at the same time!
        And last year he finally won thanks to the time gained in the crosswinds, which means that it doesn’t exist something as “being superior uphill” because you did better in one single climb.
        Yesterday became an effort and a stage very suited to Sky and Froome, it had been written here well before the stage proved that true.
        However, as I said I might agree with you on the final result because Froome is probably way weaker climbing not due to worse form but since he worked on TTs which might mean a great impact on Quintana today; and because Quintana himself looks on the back foot form-wise, he suffered a lot in the flat section (another thing that had been predicted here during the previous weekend…) but he’s apparently the only vaguely serious contender around. And he should end up being quite far after today’s stage.

        • 4 sky riders in the top 30 yesterday on the stage (and 4 in top 20 overall), they were indeed dominant on Ventoux – watching Poels smoothly shut down Quintana… oof. Quintana suffers in the flats and wind as you said, and has a few days of that battering built up, but I don’t know that the final week will have the same issues with winds that we saw this week which could allow him to open up.

          I still do not see that Froome has this buttoned up. There is still a lot of work to do. It only takes one bad move, or day of bad legs in the mountains to lose a minute. Let’s not call this just yet 🙂

  2. I think Rohan Dennis is worth more than 1 chainring. I think he will finish ahead of Porte and should be able to handle the climbs on this. As you say hopefully the result is indisputable…

  3. Hopefully the crash won’t impact Froome and Portes power. I think if it didn’t Dumoulin and Froome will battle for the win with Porte close behind. I can see Porte climbing as high as third if he goes well. The interesting thing will be how TVG goes in relation to Porte. TVG clearly can’t climb well enough to win the GC in a grand tour. And i don’t think deserves to be co-leader. And if he doesn’t beat Porte and beat him well I don’t think he will be in the future. But there will inevitably be excuses about how it didn’t really suit him. The whole thing is farcical and source of constant discussion among everyone. It’s as stupid as the Gerrans/Matthews co-leadership was at the worlds. Hopefully, Porte can finally put it together in a 3 week race as he hasn’t proved he is a GC contender in a grand tour yet either.

    • I also reckon Porte will do better than TVG in the ITT. The mostly closely referable stage that i can think of to this in which they both completed was the stage 11 of the 2013 TDF. Porte did much (2 mins) better than TVG in that stage.

  4. How does Dumoulin ends up in a church filled with journalists dressed for racing? Is this some kind of morning press event? Did the local pub owner get shunned because this is The Tour and not Coupe De France?

    So many contradictions in that photo.

  5. Is the course sheltered from the wind somewhat, or yet more crosswinds?
    And, if there are, is it worth using a standard bike rather than the TT model?

    Let’s just have a normal day please, back to the racing.
    RIP Nice also, awful events there.

      • Quintana is going to get blown away if he’s into a head / crosswind.
        Remember his spectacular TT crash in 2014 Vuelta too?
        He could be 2′ or more down on Froome by the end of today.

  6. ‘what will be do today, skateboard through the tunnel sections?’ 🙂
    I think he will swim a stretch through the river. Froome is riding the Tour as a preparation for the Olympic triathlon.

  7. The French will be in mourning.

    Black armbands, no podiums would be a suitable response to Nice.

    Kinda puts yesterdays events on Ventoux into perspective. It is only Sport after all.

  8. Hope this still goes ahead after the shocking news from Nice – as others have said elsewhere, it puts a bike race into perspective.

    Bit early to call a win for Froome, but I agree that yesterday was Quintana’s last best chance to show that he had an advantage (or even was able to be equal) in at least one area. As it is it feels like he’s struggling to make the podium.

  9. Putting my money on Rohan Dennis, who hasn’t had a thing to do so far this Tour. Dumoulin is clearly in great shape based on Sunday and Tuesday but I expect a surprise from Dennis.

  10. Regardless of the calamity which happened to Froome yesterday, it seemed pretty clear that NQ has not got the makings of beating him this year either. Why is that? with all the hype and no doubt some more to come, NQ looked pretty average amongst his fellow riders yesterday and I wonder why such a gifted climber, born at altitude etc etc that when the time comes he is unable to deliver any knockout blows. Fair play again to Froome whom I think may be mentally shattered in over a weeks time.

    My sentiments also go the the victims and their families of such a hideous crime in Nice last night. Rather puts all this into perspective!.

    • IMO what NQ lacks is racecraft and a team that works as a team. I cant believe that Valverde said it was up to NQ to lead the chase on the descent last week – especially when we saw G turn himself inside out for Froome on Tuesday. NQ should’ve been calling the shots on the descent and Valverde should have given chase. You would never hear a comment like Valverde’s from anyone on Sky.

  11. “He ran Tony Martin close.” We’re going to have to take that literally now – the mans talents have no bounds.

    I’m going to say this tongue in cheek, but since they started checking for mechanical doping Cancellara has not seemed so unbeatable in TTs, knowing full well he’s in the twilight of his career, and how unfashionable TTs have become since 2012 (and I mean that they no longer dominate the first week of the Tours).

  12. After yesterday’s faux pas and the Nice-attack, the atmosphere of this TdF comes close to 1998. We should enjoy the circus and carry on?

  13. How ill is Pinot. In my reshearch he was one of the favorites today. I know he aint 100% but still.
    How do you rate Ion Insausti today. Also a top 5 rider in my opinion.
    Clement was in the break yesterday but he climb well and rides a good TT.
    Keldermann might surprise today. He toon and easy day yesterday.
    Coppel im in doubt about. Top 10 candidate maybe.
    I have a eye to Dennis. I think he will ride better thanksgiving TD. Porte and TD will proberly be close. TD is better TT but Porte has better form.

  14. The events in Nice are sad and tragic, and give that the Tour has been racing in the direction of Nice you can’t but help feel that it too could become a victim of such a tragedy.

    But, I don’t think we should be conflating the two events. We should respect the dead, but the Tour is not responsible for what happened. Life carries on regardless and to do otherwise plays into the hands of the terrorists. Enjoy the Tour, enjoy life and rail against terrorism.

  15. A bit harsh on Kiriyenka, nobody said Sagan only won the worlds because it was an end of season race nobody was fussed with. Is this why Jerome Coppel who was 3rd doesn’t even get a chainring? I think there could be some suprises today from riders who havent been killing themselves to get in the first echelon or get up Ventoux.

  16. What do people get from watching this dull sport, look at yesterday, no excitement, no drama, poor crowd numbers, useless course. I am thinking of going back to my cookery programmes! dull dull dull.

  17. Will be interesting to see the relative performances of Yates / Bardet / Meintjes / Barguil, both in the context of this race and what it might say about the prospects in Tours to come.

    Also, time trials deep into a stage race are very different from world or national championships. Riders riding well overall often do well even without necessarily having a strong TT pedigree, as form and recovery play a relatively larger part in the outcome. I can’t see any of those four challenging for the win, but a top 20 for any of them might well be on the cards, beating riders with an ostensibly better record but lower motivation or form.


    • We don’t know the circumstances, how long the tow was, whether Quintana took a pull or needed to put his arm because the bike was in the way etc. Given the forest of selfie sticks and fans holding up phones and cameras there should be more angles.

      PS changed your link to the original source material rather than the clickbait website, hope that’s ok.

        • To be fair, and I am a Big fan of Uran, Unzue and Quintana had the upper hand in the knowledge of the rules; a commissarre on a moto with a red flag means absolutely nothing. Uran got screwed, but it was his DS’s fault.

          • Absolutely so. As to the Stelvio situation, I’m *starting to think* (= have always thought) that no matter how many times you’ll explain things in detail, people will stick with pre-cooked, interested-driven narratives.

            PS It’s totally unclear from the video if Quintana was *really* being towed (using the moto as a propulsion to save energies or whatever) or if he was grabbing it as a consequence of having just stopped and having used it as a support. I’d say that the second option is more probable, and people complaining for this are an example of being in bad faith, but, who knows?, perhaps some fans really believe that Quintana was being towed amidst a group of rivals who didn’t blink an eye.

        • He was moving while holding a vehicle. There are likely to be mitigating circumstances but it’s an absolute open and shut violation of the rules. FWIW I don’t think he was trying to get an advantage (a la Nibali) and given the situation a penalty would be harsh, but compare the reaction to this with the people demanding that Froome should be a) sanctioned for running and b) suffer a time penalty because of the crash. There really is one rule for Sky/Froome and another for everyone else in the minds of some people.

  18. Sorry to come back to yesterday, but it’s all too funny (actually the only good-humoured part of the French press today comes from the Ventoux).
    Quintana clinging to the neutral Mavic motorbike.
    So my take from yesterday:
    Froome and Quintana should have been fired from the race (or at least given 15 minutes penalty). Aru the blatant car-drafter, should have gotten another 5 minutes penalty. All of them should be called cheaters, and humbly accept to be called that.
    More severity, please! Riders seem too free to do as they please.

    • As a number of people told you yesterday, the rule you want to use to penalise Froome hasn’t been in the rule books for 6 years.

  19. I’m (shortly) insisting on yesterday here – sorry for the OT, but the 200-more comments on the appropriate post are apparently taking their toll, misplacing or blocking replies.

    What has surprised me more about yesterday is the way a lot of commenters looked totally sure about their take on the subject.

    Personally, I struggle to see any acceptable solution, since two dimensions of the sport are conflicting: its *competitive*, *athletic* side (measure the relative value of an effort or something like that) and its *adventurous*, *epic* side (man against circumstances, open environment, inherent “randomness”, so to say). Giving up any of those should obviously hurt any fan.

    All in all, I’d stand for the second aspect, which has been sacrificed the more yesterday, because I think that, with hindsight, it would NOT have eliminated the sporting value, even if it would have put it in serious danger.
    On the contrary, adjusting a result is shocking and a full blow to the Classic-tragedy flavour this specific sport had always had. It’s not the first time a rider is involved in accidents with motorised vehicles of the organisation, think that Skibby photo our host loves. They acted on the course from the following year on, but they didn’t change the day’s result.
    The damaged riders would have still had a full week to bear themselves accordingly to the new and undue situation – winning anyway, or at least proving (which is also important in a narrative and memory-bound sport like cycling) that they might have won.
    At the same time, I’m worried by the perspective of such decisions being led by interest groups within the sport, a bit like the infamous EWP.
    I’m *not* saying that it was like that yesterday – maybe it was, maybe not – *nor* am I saying that Quintana wouldn’t have received the same favour (it’s not like Movistar isn’t, or at least wasn’t, on the right side of the UCI wall, along with several other teams…).
    I’m saying that it’s possible that we’ll start seeing more of such decisions and that when such a decision is needed, the sport is in danger, because the weight of power and money – which is in itself huge – risks to become unappealable and sort of overwhelming.
    Just think about the effect that this decision might have on many riders and teams from now on. Even if it’s probably all but irrational, many will feel that the race *must* go *a certain way* and will react accordingly. It’s a subtle effect but we’ve seen it many times in the past, and if you ever competed and sometimes experienced the feeling of strong jury/referee decisions, you might know what I’m speaking about.

    All that said, I’m not totally unsatisfied or unhappy with the jury decision. I don’t think it was the better one available, nor I think that the alternative options would have been flawless or would have made perfect sense.
    I think no radical solution would be appropriate, since it would imply full eradication of one of the two principle involved.
    It’s a question of balance. Things as they were, I’d have preferred a different solution, since I don’t believe that the sporting, athletic value would have been eliminated from the *three-weeks-long* race by this single incident, whereas *any* single correction hits hardly on the *concept* of racing in an open environment with the least possible human *adjustement*.
    Had Froome lost ten minutes or had it been the last stage, the balance would have been different, which doesn’t mean that my preference would necessarily change, but which means that a whole different reflection would be needed.

    What is sure, is that yesterday was a shocking defeat for cycling as a sport – and for ASO (not the first one, nor the last one… nor a decisive one).
    It’s *entertaining*, it’s making noise and giving cycling more visibility on generalistic media and on the socials, but it’s not *exciting* as many have said.
    It’s a case of cycling losing its delicate balance between many factors (crowds, safety, open air sport, athletic values, jury, teams, money, power…) and clumsily stumbling. No elegant way to get up, just let time pass by – and avoid repeating, if possible.

    PS 1 – The legalistic considerations about Quintana “being towed” or Froome “having moved along the course without a bike” IMHO both made little sense and are totally counterproductive for the sport since a rigid application of norms (which is also meaningless in Quintana’s case because the footing, at least the one I’ve seen, doesn’t prove the facts) would hurt *both* the principle of sporting athletic competition *and* the fascination of having to survive in a complex environment being forced to any sort of peculiar adaptation. I’m charmed by situations like grabbing anything not to unclip or running towards the line out of pure confusion and surviving instinct (yeah, Froome hasn’t got a *proper education* as a cyclist – a cyclist never goes anywhere without a bike – but that’s something we already knew and which is not so important, at the end of the day). And, obviously, kicking out of the race two of the major contenders for the norms’ sake wouldn’t to any favour to the sporting value of the race itself.

    PS 2 – This PS apart, I’ll avoid any reference to the Nice events. It’s a personal attitude towards the complex question of how to mix in the same discursive frame subjects whose significance is painfully different. No judgement involved towards different attitudes.

    • Another practical detail: people look to be worried by the fact that not adjusting the times might prompt fans to damage the rivals.
      Well, this sort of things happened in the past, when the feuds among riders were way, way harsher than now (people seem to have no idea), and that never became a constant of the sport, although some specific cyclists were damaged by the worst events (whose number always remained pretty much reduced – and I’d bet most of the fans reading this blog can’t even remember those anecdotes, which means that the overall impact on the sport was quite limited in the long term).
      Another example. From time to time, some idiot decides to spread tacks on the course, it’s already happening, it’s not like “not correcting the times might have prompted this sort of things”.
      It happened, it’s happening. And it has *not* changed the sport.
      OTOH, starting to adjust results depending on *anomalous* events might indeed change the sport as such. Obviously, if it remained a single case… it really wouldn’t matter at all! But it’s hard to say if it will stay so or not because we’ve got very few precedents (barely anyone), while presently it has the feel of a new *trend*.

      • On the other hand, the last time tacks were spread on the road, result of the race was “alerted”. Wiggins decided to sit up neutralise the race and wait for Evans.

    • I just don’t see how this incident is any different than a rider getting a flat and losing time, or having a spectator cause you to crash – none are not the fault of the rider or controllable in any way and disaster can or can not come depending on the situation – if a rider doesn’t have a teammate or team car around due to traffic, splits etc.

      I think structurally it’s the same and people are just getting caught up in the spectacle of it.

        • Porte lost more time due to his flat than Porte was looking at losing due to this crash – but in his post-Ventoux interview he said the provisional results couldn’t be allowed to stand, and never protested the stage 2 time loss.

      • I see your point, and, as I wrote above, I’d have been more favourable – or, better said, less disappointed – if real timing had been kept, in this specific situation.
        That said, let me try to sort out what’s different in this situation when compared with the examples you make: if you’ve got a flat, there still are a number of things you can do to reduce the damage. Besides, riding on tyre which can go flat is a substantial part of cycling.
        The more extreme case of a crash with a spectator normally doesn’t prevent you from trying to continue the race, if you haven’t been physically put out of contention (but if Froome had a broken leg, nobody would have granted him the final GC, at least I hope so).
        Also note that cycling includes rules like barriers in the last kms or the 3 kms rule which are intended to avoid that the unpredictable random factors enter into play when there’s no more room for saving the day, at least partially.
        It’s as if the spirit of cycling wasn’t about total randomness, but more like awarding resilience and/or the ability to shield the rider from bad luck, or supporting him in case of, etc.
        We aren’t interested in the athletes having problem when nothing more can be done about that, we are interested in them facing possibile adversities and seeing how do they react, if the team took any possible measure to reduce the impact of unlucky events and so on (Froome falling in Tour 2014, Porte’s wheel in Giro 2015 were fine examples of clear errors by the team which added to pure misfortune).
        There’s also the *Classic tragedy* part, which I like quite much, but perhaps that’s more of a side aspect, even if I’m equally perplexed about the way it was forced off yesterday.

        Here what happened is that the *quantitative* sum of factors generated sort of a *qualitative* difference making a “state of exception” someway acceptable, even if IMHO far from advisable.

        It wasn’t just the crash, a crash – apparently – impossible to avoid, and moreover generated by factors which are nowadays inherent to cycling but far from necessary (crowds in the last km or whereabouts? We’ve renounced to that since long and it’s no problem. You can keep the crowd under control from far out and the spectacles isn’t damaged that much. See Zoncolan. Millions of motos interfering more and more with the race? Is that really necessary?), it was also the difficulty and near-impossibility in overcoming the troubles. The crash, the abnormal crowds, the broken bike, the blocked road (which affected also Quintana et al.), the lack of proper assistance, it was as if it was impossible to manage that fairly, hence a *special* decision.

        As I said, I ultimately didn’t like it, NOR I think that it was the “less worst” thing to do, but I understand how you might *theoretically* arrive at such decision (besides the political questions, obviously, and the huge risk of messing with Sky).

        • There are frequent and many calls on this blog for race organizers to redesign parcours to effect more interesting racing. Is it in principle much different to accept judicial intervention in a race to effect fair play? The idea of classic tragedy does not apply. Other than riding in the race Froome showed no hubris, no hamartia to induce tragic consequences. Nietzschean tragedy on the other hand might be more apt – since Nietzsche asks only that the tragic hero’s individuality should be gloriously destroyed. This implies that man’s place in the world is as a creator of value in an indifferent universe. But in our case it’s only bike racing.

          • Designing a course and exceptional intervention in a race result? It’s two different worlds. Designing the course is setting a previous frame for events (with several sometimes contrasting goals in mind, but without determining events), whereas the results should be sanctioned, not… designed.
            Classic tragedy isn’t only about fault (sort of a “protestant” interpretation), be it voluntary or not, it’s also about forces beyond human control and insoluble conflict, think Antigone or Philoctetes in Sophocles’s case, or Hecuba, the Trojan Women, Medea… (and many others) for Euripides.
            However, we might also say that Froome’s hybris is thinking that a man without a bicycle can run a bike race 🙂
            Alterantively, we can see it as a case of hamartia if the problem is just his ignorance of cycling’s ways.

          • Gabriele – just being provocative but I think Aristotle’s Poetics is a little before Protestantism and I think he considered many of the plays you cite and yet he still identified the concept of tragic flaw. As far as the two worlds of course design to impact future events and judicial review to impact past events -both are interventionsist and both indicate that a bike race is at inception an artificial construct.

          • I don’t have much time today, but I can’t let unanswered a reference to the Poetics. Even if I feel that the most appropriate reference would be to the Poetics’ *second book* 😛

            What’s “protestant” (which I said pretty much tongue-in-cheek 😉 ) is such reading of Aristotle, which is happening… here and now, that is, when elements of the corresponding ethics have become well established even among people who don’t share any particular religious believe.
            Imagine that the concept of “amartía” appears, I think (no sure about the exact number), like… once? in the whole work.

            First of all, Aristotle specifies explicitly that the action is more relevant, *not* the nature of the characters, which is secundary (§ 6, main definition of tragedy, and he stresses the concept again in § 18).

            The tragic flaw is needed, according to Aristotle, simply to avoid that the negative or catastrophic events might generate only loathing (“miarón”) against the play in case they were striking a purely good character, whereas pity or terror is what the poet should be aiming to prompt in the public (§ 13).

            There’s more. The characters should anyway be noble (“chrestós”) as for their moral inclination (§ 15): given that the available characters might not be as good as the genre requires (the characters must be better than the average spectator), the author should, as a painter realising a portrait, represent them as morally better than they actually are, to compensate the moral flaws they might have with a certain greatness.
            Hence, it’s clear enough that the concept of flaw in Aristotle is quite different from the idea of some sort of fault which, as you said, “induces tragic consequences”.

            The “amartía” is necessary to prevent the public from being disgusted, but it’s not a moral problem. That’s even more evident if you think that in § 14 Aristotle says that the best tragic action are those which aren’t accomplished being conscious of what you’re doing.

            Obviously a big part of the trouble is linguistic (ah, Wittgenstein!) since Aristotle has been filtered through centuries of Christian culture which had been using the same word of “amartía”, pretty much ancillary in the Poetics in itself, to express the central concept of “sin”. If it wasn’t enough, the first impact of the Poetics on European world was through the Arab Averroes’ interpretation, which translation through translation (Greek -Syriac – Arabic – Latin) eventually imposed a moralising value to the text – something which wasn’t really there.

            The tragic error is, in Aristotle, mainly a narrative device. The plot prevails over a character-focused logic.
            Attacking with the ill-fated Richie Porte might be enough of a tragic “amartía”, for Aristotle. Being DSQd for running without a bike would be a perfect tragic action… it’s not about you doing something “morally wrong”.

            All that said, it’s not like Aristotle is the one and only source about the concept or the feeling of tragedy in our culture. Note that the idea of “hybris”, utterly important in our shared vision of the tragedy, is absent in Aristotle. We take that directly from what the tragedies express (in the best case, otherwise what normally happens is that we depend on later reinterpretatinos of what a Greek tragedy is).
            Aristotle’s model is highly formalised, and as such doesn’t cover a variety of occurrences: he himself says that Antigone, which I quoted above (and which is one of the most relevant tragedies in the cultural history of tragedy as such in Western culture, think about Hegel), doesn’t fit perfectly the scheme he’s suggesting.

          • I think the tragic flaw might be taken as a character defect (your “Protestant” interpretation?) or an error of judgement (non-faith based interpretation). Such interpretative problems with Aristotle surfaced in the West quite a while before the Reformation.

          • I also should point out that the tragic flaw of “judgement” is not a matter of character so much as an action that is erroneous since it triggers unintended consequences. The serious unexpected consequence of an action is what is tragic and inspiring of pity and fear. As I say, Froome’s tragic error may have been to enter the race. His running without a bike was not what triggered his tragedy/serious event (the same thing since for Aristotle tragedy does not necessarily have to end badly but needs to be a serious sequence). Again I think the Nietzschean view of tragedy captures its essential quality best. Anyway to conclude about the debate, which was really the consequence of ASO’s organization of the event, or lack of it, impacting the outcome of the event (rather as Fate or the Gods)- it seems that a corrective from the commissaires is not necessarily out of place. Thanks for the thoughts gabriele -always a pleasure.

    • As it turns out, Quintana’s “tow” and Froome’s jog happened during a part of the race that was effectively neutralised for them and others in their respective groups. Which makes the calls for additional punishment especially legalistic.

    • What betrays the flaw in your view is what apparently amounts to giving a special “legal status” (inverted commas, because sport discipline has little to do with legality and its principles) to “two of the major contenders”. Putting “two of the major contenders” in front of the tragedy of blind application of regulations is as acceptable as it is for any other rider.
      I’d much rather feel Froome had to endure a “poetically unjust” amount of tragic sportive circumstances, and yet deal with it in order to overcome it, with me wishing he succeeded, than feel he was on the man-made lucky side of regulators ruling to his benefit.

      • @Ferdi
        As I told above, I quite like the *tragic* nature of cycling, in cultural terms, and I’d have preferred the set of situation you are hereby describing (as I clearly stated above):

        …I’d much rather feel Froome had to endure a “poetically unjust” amount of tragic sportive circumstances, and yet deal with it in order to overcome it, with me wishing he succeeded, than feel he was on the man-made lucky side of regulators ruling to his benefit…

        Which might translate in giving him the real timing, which wasn’t anything crazy.

        Yet, this is one thing, while a different thing is having him DSQd because he ran for one minute or so without a bike with him – what is more, in this peculiar situation.

        Having him out (Quintana’s case is even more ambiguous, but same might be applied to him) would mean hindering the sporting value of an already low-level TdF as for that peculiar, partial and by no means absolute – but still *existing* and *significant* – aspect which is the “top athletic bike competition” (or something like that).
        I don’t know how anyone could deny this element.

        As you may know, I’m all for considering that if you fall, fall ill, find yourself on the wrong side of a crosswind, have a mechanical and so on, well, that’s for you to sort out and it’s part of the cycling competition.
        At the same time, the sum of circumstances that happened yesterday go a bit beyond that, which make me say that I can take into consideration a different POV, albeit, for sure, I’d have liked a different outcome for the above-listed reasons.

        • I’m sympathetic to what you’re saying, but you realize that you’re a long time fan of the sport and it’s history. That’s great, but put yourself in the shoes of a modern sponsr to the sport who’s invested millions, and you get told your star rider (it doesn’t have to be Froome) crashed into a race moto. You might think twice about staying in the sport.
          Crashing because of hitting a fan in Roubaix (Stybar) has a different feel than being taken out by motors in a poorly controlled situation.

          • If you overrich multimillionaire sponsor don’t like this sport as it is, please go and sponsor another one.
            The most probable thing that would happen is that cycling would become poorer and, at the same time, way more economically sustainable.
            That’s what worries me the most about the decision which was taken… that these guys are trying to change the sport to make it even more suited to their desires and needs.

            ASO’s arrogance kept them floating for decades and decades, but if they start again selling out themselves without any resistance, well, another Armstrong-like era might be arriving – and that’s not good news for cycling, in the middle-long term, as we can now see quite clearly.

          • @adam
            I’ve been a little harsh above, I obviously see the politics behind the decision, and it’s not like it doesn’t make sense as many are trying to defend.
            It has its own logic, as I fully acknowledge.
            Still, another option might have been better, both from a cycling-culture and from a political-economical POV (in the long term: when Froome won’t be around anymore, probably Sky won’t either, but, hey, ASO, the Tour… and cycling… hopefully will still be on and living with the consequences of any pressure/mutation on their DNA).

    • In my 25 years of motor rallying I lost count of the number of times that I was held up by someone going off the road in front of me and blocking the route. It’s force majeure and you live with it. Take the time loss and try and make it up. Fortunately this wasn’t an precedent because the Stewards made a decision outside of the rules but, in my opinion it was the wrong decision.

      • I tend to agree, but I also see the other perspective, that is, the notable hindering of the sporting/athletic aspect of the competition due to a peculiar and quite anomalous (be it only in statistical terms) sum of factors, which the riders can barely overcome.
        Anyway, I’d stress again that I’d rather have seen the results stand. Though, I can admit what happened. It’s far from being a one-sided situation – which is what I tried to underline above.

        • I believe you refer to some of the tragedies that have befallen riders in the past and how that has made the race. But part of the process of time is to move forward and so the race has. Not only have the rules developed, but so has the technology. Knowing Degrange’s reputation he would have made the riders ride up to the top of Mont Ventoux yesterday, and probably 100km more, but that doesn’t mean it’s humane or right to expect riders to do so.
          Yes, we’ve moved on, we have transponders, television footage and timing chips. Luck always plays a part in sport, but the rules are set to try to make the competition about the competitors having equal opportunities to win, and so introduces an element of fairness to events. When fans nobbled Merkxx on the Puy de Dome it was not the way that a true champion should be beaten. Back slaps and pushes up the mountain were not what should have happened, and if these things can be marshalled they are. But the events on Thursday were far removed from the norm. The ASO changing the route, the large number of fans and in effect what appears to have happened was a failure of the organisation not a bicycle, not a rider.
          Riders acknowledge that luck plays a part, and they accept the faulty mechanics, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when the organisation of the course fails them they do not accept it. Adam Yates’ reinstallation as lead young rider was a classic example of that, and really sets the precedent which the race commissioners carried forward to this event. One can be unhappy about it. But this is not what the ASO planned and not what the riders signed up for. What has happened is the fairest thing. Plus if you want to talk about the great history of the tour there are plenty of precedents where riders have neutralised occasions where the MJ has had an incident – LA falling. Or the tacks in 2012 (although that was the MJ waiting for the previous incumbent).

          If riders knew they needed to fight off fans and ride over motos and through brick walls they would probably ride very different bicycles and carry tools. What the commissioners did was fair and if riders don’t think so they can still win by riding harder….

          • well said RQS
            The commissioners will not be able to always take decisions like that, but in that scenario, seem was quite clear.
            You can see by the reaction of others that they probably mostly agree. Mollema was the only one complaining, and even him had his statement exaggerated if you read in full his declaration.

      • @Tovarishch
        Motor rallying is not the same as cycling. That is actually part of the sport.
        The same way in F1, if someone crash in front of you and take you out, you are also out of the race.
        But, to keep the same analogy, in case of oil in the track, an F1 car would neutralize the race for a while. So every sport have a boundary of what they seem to understand as “part of the sport” or “part of the organization issues” for safety or any other reasons.

        • In many ways rallying is similar to cycling with closed public roads but free access to the public. Insufficient resources to marshall the whole route that relies on the goon behavior of the spectators, which is not always the case. Even many of the iconic locations are the same. F1 is, of course, totally different which is why I didn’t refer to it.

  20. I’ve said for years (and been castigated for it here during last year’s Tour), the crowd ruin the race.
    Back then, I said you need to barrier the last few kms. At least 5, I’d say.
    Something like this was always going to happen – and even the day before I said to myself ‘Where are all the people who were up Ventoux going to go? Back down the hill.’
    But it’s been on the cards for years.
    Even if the crowds don’t touch the fans, they prevent the racing – the riders literally cannot overtake each other.
    Not to mention the safety issue.
    The fans think they are a grand part of the whole thing – and people build this viewpoint up in them. It’s time they were barriered off and anyone over the barriers and on the road is arrested.
    Tour de Farce, this year.

  21. The rules exist to facilitate the race. Reading a lot of the comments here, some clearly think that it should be the other way round.
    But the far more important issue here – rather than a few seconds either way – is sorting out the crowd, the motorbikes and the other problems that have been going on for years.

  22. How soon we forget….do I REALLY need to remind you folks that the 2016 Giro d’Italia was pretty much declared over by most of you with a week still to go? It seems Froome’s race-to-lose at present but it’s still a long way to Paris.

  23. And what about that unwritten sporting rule of not attacking/ waiting for the yellow jersey after an incident? It seems forgotten in some people’s arguments

  24. Another thing: if you allow time gaps caused by fan incidents to stand, you might expect more ‘fan incidents’ in the future as the unscrupulous could seek to help out the rider of their preference.

  25. I think the big difference between this event and previous incidents in which fans have caused a delay to particular riders is that this time the delay was caused by the total failure of the organisers to provide a rideable route. A puncture or single idiot weaning a flag or camera too close are not the organisers fault, but allowing more fans onto a section of the road than can fit across the full width of it and surrounding verge, and not driving a car or moto through the crowd to clear it ahead of the riders clearly is t their failure so I don’t see they had any choice but to correct the errors in the results that they themselves caused.

  26. As a disliker of Sky, I still can’t believe people are complaining about Froome running without a bike and yet excusing Quintana for the moto-tow – however long it was.
    They both broke the rules.
    But to uphold those rules would be to do so out of pure pedantry.
    Me, I think you’re in that situation – you don’t know what’s going on – you might drop your bike; and you might lose your balance and grab a moto for a while, or even just use it to get you the hell out of there.

    • I like the personal safety/get the hell out of there explantion for Quintana, and in any case there is no scandal with his tow (if it was one). Froome on the other hand decided to run toward the finish line without a bike because the bike would have slowed him down. Phil Liggett knew immediately you can’t run up the road without a bike in a bike race. Not exactly pedantry to call him on that, but I like the jury decision. Remarkably little damage done. From now on no more waiting for Froome’s teammates I hope.

      • No scandal holding on to a race vehicle.
        Reading Froome’s mind.
        Quoting Phil Liggett as an authority on the rules.

        I don’t see how anyone can possible argue with any of that.

        • With apologies to Phil, what I meant was even HE knows you “cahn’t do that” with regards to proceeding in a bike race without a bike. Is it that Phil MUST be wrong? (It’s self evidently easier/faster to proceed without the bike if you are not going to ride it, but if that was not the reason I can’t think of one that would reflect better on Sky/Froome.) Quintana gets a pass (even on the polemicas) just because of the general mayhem and low stakes.

          • If you watch it again you’ll see that he goes from an area where there’s no space to one where the crowd thins and there’s more room. He then stops and waits for the Mavic car having been in conversation with the guy in the Mavic moto. The Mavic guy points back and Froome ahead. On the basis the guys in the support cars couldn’t even open their doors, let alone get a bike off the roof, they need to clear that built up area first. It’s entirely possible Froome knew this instinctively or his DS told him from the pictures in the car.

            Add to that that when he discards the Mavic bike he stops and waits for a while till the team car arrives. Why doesn’t he run then? Because he’s now in the barriers and there’s plenty of space.

            This last bit isn’t in regards to you Foley but others seem to have not actually considered the event before ranting and raving. Like with Q, he may have done that for many reasons so assuming ‘cheat’ with either of them, reflects more on the viewer than the rider.

          • If NQ gets a pass then surely so does CF. They were both in the same mayhem and at least Froome is powering himself (if not his bike).

  27. And while we’re discussing this and that, Bouke Mollema quietly takes up 2nd place. He followed Froome easily enough on the Ventoux ( even kept his bike in one piece while crashing/ being crushed). Vive les bataves!

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