Tour de France Stage 16 Review

Peter Sagan

With no stage preview tomorrow, a quick review of Stage 16 and a chance to examine a few other matters in and around the Tour de France today from Oleg Tinkov to prize money to the quality of hotels this year.

Stage 16 review: the day saw a three man breakaway of Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe. Perhaps they wanted company but they didn’t get it and so they begun a futile move. Alaphilippe had a point to prove after his mechanical on the Grand Colombier yesterday but was this the way to do it? It was good advert for Etixx’s energy bars but it wasn’t planned. The two were caught and passed by the peloton and finished joint last and each collected the combativity prize, apparently first for it to be awarded to two riders but (update) as mentioned in the comments below it happened before in 2011.

Behind the peloton were terrified into action, Tony Martin is not the rider you let build up a lead and it meant a fierce chase and an average speed for the day of 47.1km/h, they finished 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Rui Costa had a go but never had a chance either.

Tour de France Bern

In the end Sagan won with a throw of the bike, nothing outrageous or special but a good skill while Alexander Kristoff timed his throw late saying he didn’t see the line. After Ilnur Zakarin’s contact lense issues yesterday maybe Katusha’s sponsorship search could be enlarged to include an pan-European optician?

Sagan = Green: Peter Sagan gets his third stage win and and almost an arithmetic victory in the points competition. He now leads by 114 points over Mark Cavendish meaning the Briton would need stay in the race – not certain – then win all four remaining intermediate sprints in the coming road stages, of which three in the Alps and one on the Champs Elysées without Sagan placing to collect 4 x 20 = 80 points. Then he’d need to win on the Champs Elysées again and hope Sagan is so far back he barely collects points.

Oleg Tinkov

Tink-off: On the subject of the unlikely, some are wondering whether this means Oleg Tinkov stays in the sport after he said he might consider changing his mind. It’s unlikely bordering on impossible. First Tinkov says a lot of things, for example you might remember him saying Tinkoff was going to be the world’s best team with a spend on coaching and “big data” that would surpass Team Sky. Instead they’ve been a top-heavy team with two impressive leaders and a couple of lieutenants but not much more depth. Second the team is disintegrating as you read this, Alberto Contador is said to have agreed terms with Trek-Segafredo and Oleg Tinkov himself told Russian Eurosport that Peter Sagan was going to Bora-Hansgrohe for the reported sum of €6 million, an amount which if true surely includes his entourage, whether riders like his bodyguard and human windbreak Maciej Bodnar and Gabriele Uboldi, his press officer and sometimes nicked “babysitter” behind his back. It’s true Sagan has a contract with Tinkov for 2017 but what would be left were Tinkov to change his mind? Other riders have signed elsewhere and a lack of support in the spring classics has been a regular concern in recent years. Were Tinkov to stay he’d theoretically have the right to match these offers before 1 August but it’d be unheard of. However this is unlikely to be the last we see of Tinkov. He’s passionate, his purchase of the team from Bjarne Riis for an incomprehensible sum suggests all his shrewd business skills were abandoned for the fun of running a team. Like Andy Rihs, owner of the Phonak team who had to stop following the team’s scandalous run, he simply cannot tolerate being away from the sport and, unlike Rihs, the limelight. Indeed the Tinkoff team is Tinkov’s second tilt at team ownership after his TCS Credit Systems team.

Andy Rihs

Rihs-land: Talking of Andy Rihs today was very much his stage. He was instrumental in bringing the race to the Swiss capital and it finished outside the Stade de Suisse, the stadium part-owned by Andy Rihs. In a wide-ranging interview in German Rihs says he’s keen to stay in the sport but the investment has to make sense which suggests he wants a sponsor to take over BMC Racing in time.

From a billionaire to how to feel poor: Switzerland has one of the last hard currencies in the world and it’s an expensive place to spend tomorrow’s rest day. Expect several “how much? For a beer/sandwich/pizza?” messages in the coming hours and days from the Tour’s caravan as people discover the price of a cheap meal or a drink in Switzerland. When riders stop for a coffee break on their rest day rides tomorrow the tradition is that the team leader buys the round.

On the subject of money the above is the prize money accumulated so far by the teams. It’s not much. But unlike other sports, say, tennis, cyclists earn their money via salary rather than prizes. Instead for me the prize list is illustrative as it tends to correlate with success and activity so far, whether stage wins or just collecting money via the intermediate sprints (€1,500, €1000 and €500 for the first three) and KoM points etc.

All the prize income is taxed, levied, deducted and the fines paid during the race are netted off. What’s left is shared among team staff meaning the riders only collect a small fraction of the headline sum. A tweet by Trek-Segafredo’s Gregory Rast shows what happens:

Hotels: lastly the subject of hotels was a hot topic last year, literally as some riders and teams complained about the lack of air-con. It’s not been a polemic this year, partly because the subject of motorhomes has been forgotten and there was a sense of some teams wanting to embarrass the Tour last year for political reasons, notably Oleg Tinkov who launched a tirade of ranty tweets at the Tour including one commenting on Christian Prudhomme’s anatomy. But have the hotels improved? One blog has taken a look and says yes plus it seems the top teams seem to get the better hotels more often.

Standings after Stage 16

67 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 16 Review”

    • Shouldn’t it be counted by how many men were needed to bring the break back? Half a dozen or even more I’d say

      Quite different to normal. With 4-6 off the front vermote and 1 other normally do the job by themselves

  1. Typo in the paragraph about the Unmentionable: “Where Tinkov to stay” should probably read “Were …

    The “three men breakaway” of Tony and Julien is probably not a mistake but your rating of their strength, right 😉 ?

  2. It is not the first time that two riders get combativity price if I recall. When that car pushed Flecha and Hoogerland off the road they were both awarded.

    • The combativity prize should have gone to the car…

      Think being forced to drive around with a red number on would have made the point very clearly.

      • So like Qhubeka being the “first” African team, if you don’t count the earlier ones?

        Perhaps there’s an article somewhere on the tendency in cycling to both venerate its history, and to completely sweep it away (by claiming new firsts, etc) as best suits the narrative?

  3. Hello InRng. Thanks for all the excellent coverage of Le Tour. At this time of year this is always the first website I look at every day. As it’s a rest day tomorrow can I ask a question not related to any particular stage? The ITV4 TdF competition shows a stunning road climbing parallel to a beautiful green valley. Do you know the road and have you ever covered it in one of your roads to ride? Thanks, Martin

  4. Martin, it was in the massif central on this tour. One of the two stages before the Pyrenees. You should be able to find it on the route profile quite easily

    • Thanks a lot for the pointer Gary. You’re right – it looks like stage 5 to Le Lioran. Now I can’t wait to ride it. Cheers to all, Martin.

  5. Thanks INRG for the comprehensive and insightful prose. Martin’s request does tickle me to ask a question as you are out and active in riding the corse which you author! If we your follow bloggers/ participants were to ride into you on one of your recon’s, would you be wearing any IRNG kit? If we were to ask inquire as your provenance given your logo kit, would you confess to be our ” fearless team leader INRG”?

    • @Othersteve If Mr Ring is indeed an ex-pro (as most of us suspect) do you think we would be able to ask any questions while riding along with him, or would we just be left gasping for air?

      • Now I’ve always assumed that Mr/Ms inrng (in a similar style to those secret footballer articles) is more of a collection of different people writing these posts under the same name

        • I kinda don’t think so. Inrng’s style, syntax, turn of phrase, sense of humor are idiosyncratic and by and large consistent. I doubt a group of writers can hold the line. True, occasionally a piece is quite different and leaves a sense of an interloper at the keyboard; I like to imagine Inrng on a long ride or with his feet up those days.

        • I’d be very surprised if this were true. All articles have a very consistent style and I think the author has mentioned in previous blogs/comments that (s)he doesn’t spend a huge portion of time on it.

          • Mr Ring is male, he is an ex-pro who is the sole author of this blog, his native language is Flemish, so he is either Belgian or Dutch (I would bet on Belgian rather than Dutch). I have no proof or knowledge of the above so it’s just my guess/gut feeling.

          • Why native language Flemish/Dutch? (It’s all becoming like The Secret Pro now – except the Inner Ring isn’t throwing around insults.) His (I’m assuming) language is very much that of a native speaker. (I’ve never read any phrases that whilst correct are not generally used by native English speakers.) And I definitely agree on it being one person – only an individual could hold such a love of puns.
            I’d never considered him being an ex-pro…

    • As far as I remember, at some point, “Mr Ring” mentioned that he has a normal job and won’t reveal his identity because his boss would pretty sure not like his investment into this website. So I would expect that he will not ride around in full INRNG kit or help you reveal his identity.

      • @ J Evans
        His English is too good for a native speaker, besides how many native English speakers know how to speak Flemish ? I am not sure Mr Ring made it to the pro rank but he definitely was a racer, he has tons of practical hands-on knowledge which you don’t get from books or TV. His inside info suggests friendships within the pro peloton (although thankfully this blog is not a site for gossip).

        @ Kit
        Same reason and in addition he speaks French (Belgium’s second official language) and Italian.

        The only thing I can share with you that is 100% sure is that he is not Eddy Mercx, his English is quite poor.

    • It really doesn’t matter who writes this. In the end the way it is even helps keeps this a discussion about ideas, views and NOT about personalities. So best to leave this subject alone.

      • @ Anonymous
        Why ? I don’t believe I offended anyone, if Mr Ring wants us to drop the subject I will gladly do it. I think that we all agree that we like Mr Ring’s ideas and writing style, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

        • No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is offensive. It is just: I always thought the reason why this subject isn’t brought up more often here (as you normally would expect) or better said never(?) is borne out of respect for the decision of Inner Ring and it is taken by us as a cue to look away from people, from personalities and to focus on ideas.

  6. I am asking myself : Is there any relationship between Sagan´s babysiter and “our” Gabriele?
    Both seems Italian. “Our” Gabriele know a lot about cycling and Sagan´s should also know

  7. Stage start…. Tony Martin – venge vias, nice deep wheels, aerosuit, aerohelmet – TT training day
    Allaphillipe – Tarmac, low profiles, normal kit, normal helmet – Day in the bunch

    100kms later…. Martin (wonder whats for lunch.. ooh look flowers, wonder how the climber is feeling!), Allaphillipe (why am i here, no its not my turn yet, please no)

    Great work INRNG as usual, enjoy the rest day.

  8. Have to say despite all those smirking interviews about how Rolland has come out of the stone age by leaving Europcar/Direct Energie for Cannondale, it’s certainly not borne out in the results or the prize money above. Felt like it was a really unnecessary bit of ribbing and the Tour has seemed to speak volumes in return.

    • Indeed. Results don’t lie and he’s eight minutes outside the top ten with ‘stage hunting’ the only realistic option. Which I don’t feel is particularly realistic either. Ouch.

      • I hasten to add, I’ve nothing against Rolland, I just didn’t like the disrespect of EUC/DEN. I’m happy they’re doing well rather than that he isn’t. Poor guy, I sometimes wonder if ‘nearly man’ is even the right term.

        • Rolland is feared to have broken his hand in the crash on the descent of the Peyresourde so he’s got an excuse of sorts.

          Still we were spun a tale of retro training and more and there a kernel of truth there given Europcar were one of the poorer teams, people might remember they had their licence rejected for a while because the UCI didn’t think they could string the budget together to keep the team going. However Rolland had a private coach and continues to work with this coach and any talk of aero gains in the wind tunnel haven’t been obvious in terms of results.

          There’s time for the team to turn around but they’ve lost their core of riders and are now about to embark on a merger with Drapac which could mix things up.

    • The rest of their team isn’t doing too well either – but then when did they last do anything?
      Rolland is another who should have gone for the KoM – surely he knew he had no chance of doing anything worthwhile in GC.
      In my opinion, there seems to be something wrong with Rolland’s attitude.

  9. “The top teams seem to get the better hotels more often” …great, more inequality in cycling, just what we need. I really hate this abuse of power by certain riders and teams and the disrespect the bigger teams have towards the smaller teams. But with social media (and the new social media lynch mob, as someone here called it) a race (or anybody, see the UCI and disc brakes) has almost no chance.

    I really wish all those speaking of respect for the Maillot Jaune, those getting whipped up by these tweets, those thinking the peloton is a field of jolly good fellows, benevolent towards each other and those reading nonsense like the secret pro could just one day see the the race as a rider of a wildcard-team sees it and experience the disrespect, the abuse towards them and see their (real) side of the story. And still, besides being disadvantaged on many sides, they manage to ride the same distance as everybody, fight back and even go in breaks.

    • Very interesting comment and perspective. Would heartily recommend for anyone who is getting turned off by slightly unabsorbing GC battle in recent TdF’s to pick up a smaller team, or a rider on a smaller team, and follow them through the tour. With all the insights available on social media, it really does give you an insight into how hard it is at that end of the peleton. The battle to get into breaks, how tough it is on mountain stages when the bulk of your team aren’t climbers, being expected to be at the back of the peleton because of the status of your team only for the front teams to attack each other to form echelons cutting most of your riders adrift. Tough.

    • tough, but fair I’d argue (what do we want – a competition or a parade?… you want a better ‘position’ in the pecking order, then go and earn it…) and also fascinating. I’d totally agree with the comment from One Man Grupetto that there is so much depth in any TdF, no matter what is happening up the front of the race, so many stories, so many battles, survival, humour, bravery etc. I can never understand the comments ‘this tour is so boring, because Froome’Sky look so strong etc…’ , well folks, scratch the surface a little….

    • I think maybe Mr Ring read too fast the article he linked : if I quote the conclusion, “From this quick look things might seem a little closer than last year. Compared to last year, the gaps between the top and bottom is narrower […] So, maybe ASO have a new algorithm to help them spread out the decent hotels?” And Bora is 2nd of the ranking.

  10. Froome and the “lads” are riding to a coffee stop today, I don’t think the price will concern him in the least.
    Tinkoff = Richard Head.

  11. So L’Équipe published team-budgets. If those numbers are true, many people have to adjust their narrative: sky has only 3Mio more teambudget than Katusha, only 7Mio more than BMC and Movistar has only a budget of 15Mio. So the lamento “sky has so much more money, that is the reason why they are a level above everybody else…” is not very viable then.

    Especially remembering how little they do towards research and how much towards PR, if you believe their finances. If they would be so “up to date” and do different things than others, that would cost money and that would show in their finances. Simple as that. And those saying Movistar rivals sky, BMC, Katusha-think again. They are – as many said-punching way above their weight and they are doing very good.

    Much to think about.

      • Interesting that Movistar have so little, given breadth of ambitions, they usually seem one of a ‘big three’ with Astana and Sky. I suppose partly that their WT success is Valverde’s season-long versatility and the team classification bonus that comes of often having two leaders (at least in ability terms, rather than role terms) in GC. This figure is about the same as AG2R no?
        @INRNG, are their accounts published/available in enough detail to compare to Sky etc?

        • Movistar have again come in for a lot of criticism, but they’re (again) leading the team classification.
          I’ve mused before of the importance that they place on this competition, if it may be for contractual gain or just the prestige?

      • ? Do share your inside information, please. Sky publish audited figures, and while there can be a certain amount wriggle room in statutory accounts, it seems odd to single out the one team that produces figures that anyone can look at at.

        • Exactly, Team Sky’s figures are annually audited, which is a lot better than most cycling teams.

          If you’re looking for the reason why they have an edge, you might want to start with these Audited Financial Statements – they clearly show that Team Sky spends the most money….

          And for the sake of discussing the initial point on Team Sky’s budget advantage over other teams:

          In cycling 2M is a massive advantage. Average salaries are extremely low compared to other sports, therefore 2M over your next rival can equal 4-5 extra top riders. And, when you compare Sky to Movistar, the extra 7-10M can buy 2 full teams of top riders.

          Cycling isn’t a fair sport, in large part because of this massive discrepancy.

          And, it isn’t a conspiracy, this is a plain fact, for all the world to see, fully audited!

  12. Maybe it’s only me, but Sagan is looking more and more like a vampire as he gets older, with his long hair, facial hair, glaring eyes and sort of creepy grin. Perhaps his next movie parody should be “Count Dracula”?

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