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Vuelta Stage 15 Preview

A short, explosive stage of just 118km and a difficult uphill finish await.

Stage 14 Wrap: if they still sold DVDs they’d be selling the film of this stage and it’d be a good buy for sports and tactical students alike. A stage win for Robert Gesink. Nicknamed “the Condor” for his climbing abilities, in recent years Dutch website Het Is Koers have labelled him “the Glass Condor” for his fragility and misfortune but finally it all came together. He joined a giant breakaway of 40 riders which included Movistar’s Dani Moreno meaning Team Sky had to chase. The move thinned down and Gesink looked to have missed the way but hauled himself back on the slopes of the Aubisque to beat FDJ’s Kenny Elissonde and Katusha’s Egor Silin.

Behind Simon Yates jumped clear on the Marie Blanque. Too far from the finish? Normally yes but he had two team mates up the road, a classic relay move but it worked as and ended the day fourth overall just behind team mate Esteban Chaves. Quintana attacked repeatedly on the final climb, five times within a short space, but could not shake Chris Froome which means Quintana leads overall but increasingly Froome looks to be waiting for the time trial to take over. A thriller.

The Route: 2650m of vertical gain, less than some of the “sprint” stages so far but this is a mountain stage condensed into just 118km and much if it on a succession of twisting roads where the gradient keeps changing. The opening climb of the Alto de Petralba is notionally the steepest of the day, 5% for 6km and a steady climb up the valley. The second half is a clone – a repeated theme of this race – of a stage of the past, this time Stage 16 from 2013 when Warren Barguil took his second stage of the race, out-playing Rigoberto Uran on the final slopes. They repeat the Alto de Cotefablo, 12km at 4%.

The Finish: 14km at 4%. But the road rises and falls as it passes through villages and bends around pastures, a challenging climb not for its severity but for the constant changes in slope.

The Contenders: this promises to be a lively and explosive stage, the short distance incentives those who’ve saved energy to expend it today right from the start.

It’s a good day for a breakaway. If persistence brings rewards then Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) is due a stage win, the Belgian is a powerful rider who can excel on hilly mid-mountain courses. FDJ’s Alex Geniez is a pick too, he’s won stages like this and the reduced gradients suit while Geniez’s future team mate at Ag2r La Mondiale Pierre Latour is quietly riding a solid Vuelta and can turn on the power for a finish like this, it’s said he’s better suited to gentler climbs.

Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana are safe picks but the finish might not be hard enough for them. Gianluca Brambilla is climbing well and Alejandro Valverde might dust himself off after yesterday’s minor collapse.

Ben Hermans, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde
Latour, Brambilla, Froome, Geniez

Weather: sunshine and some clouds, a top temperature of 31°C in the valleys.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Sunday, 4 September 2016, 7:44 am

    Yates getting most of the plaudits, but Chaves also put 33 seconds into Froome and Quintana with a strong attack, and unlike them he didn’t ride the Tour so that relative freshness might help him in the third week. Great tactics and riding from OBE all round.

    • Dan Caz Sunday, 4 September 2016, 7:59 am

      For all the talk of Gerrans not pulling Mathews earlier in the year, he did a fantastic job for Yates.

      • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:52 am

        Gerrans took just a very short pull – it was Magnus Cort who carved out the big gap from surdet to 2/3 up Marie Blanc – and then again in the valley.

        Watch out for Cort, he may now be ‘branded’ as mathews, gerrans, ewan sprinter, but he is a lot more versatil.. and he can do ardennes hill top finishes, TT’s and cobbels.

    • Alastair S Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:06 am

      Agreed, but slightly mystified as to why they pulled so hard in the valley before the Marie Blanche. If they hadn’t then break would have been nearer and Yates would have been able to go for the win (plus Gerrans & Cort would have been fresher for Yates). Also mystified as to why Gerrans got the combatively prize; right team, wrong rider.

      Great stage and good to see it from the off. So much going on in the end it wasn’t surprising that the TV coverage missed Chaves & Konig getting away from the other contenders. Not at all surprised that Konig didn’t bother to help Froome; he only ever rides his own quiet race.

      • Larz Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:38 am

        Totally agree.

        Hard to se why Gerrans and Cort had to go that deep in the breakaway. They could have helped Yates more had they been fresher.

        Leopold König seems to do his own thing. I really liked him before he went to Team Sky, but so far it has been pretty disappointing.

        • Si Ly Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:25 am

          I think it was mainly to get sky and movistar to chase and burn off riders. Obe didn’t push as hard, the peloton would have been closer but everyone would have had more domestiques to pull back Yates/ Chazes’ attack

      • RonDe Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:48 am

        “Not at all surprised that Konig didn’t bother to help Froome; he only ever rides his own quiet race.”

        An interesting interpretation but is that what really happened? Froome and Quintana were quite clearly only interested in each other up the final climb – I think rightly so. Its still the case that these are the only two riders that are going to win this thing. Neither responded to Yates, albeit that Movistar took over in the run in to the Aubisque. I’m prepared to believe that Froome and Sky were happy for König to chase his own ambitions here. If he wants a podium he has to compete with Yates and Chaves directly and he may yet beat them. Does he have a marginally better time trial than them? Somewhere in my mind I think he might. Team Sky could yet have a double podium here.

      • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:19 pm

        Gerrans is an established rider – Cort or Keukeleire not so…

        mony talks…

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:11 pm

      Absolutely +1

  • jc Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:05 am

    An intriguing race, I hope the winner is decided by racing not an accident or mechanical. Movistar have certainly played their hand far better than in the Tour (they selected a better team for a start). Sky have a weaker team (though they did a sterling job yesterday) but that puts more emphasis on Chris Froome, no comments about Sky smothering the race. Orica did very well yesterday, the question now is who do they support? The concept of joint leaders sounds good on paper but rarely works on the road (BMC in the Tour…..) though perhaps Orica have a better team ethos than others.

    If Movistar really are worried about the TT then they have to keep attacking, Orica too. Third spot on the podium is also clearly up for grabs, not just Simon Yates & Esteban Chaves but Leo König too. This is probably his last race for Sky and he must want to make a point before he moves back to Bora. Given it is a short stage it would seem perfect for Alberto Contador to try something, I dont think he has the strength to pull off a win but it wont stop him trying.

    Given how tight things are bonus seconds at the line are attractive, I suspect that the GC teams will not let a breakaway get any significant distance and the winner will come from amongst the top 10 probably top 5.

    • RonDe Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:57 am

      The problem is, as INRNG states, that this stage isn’t really hard enough. The final climb may be twisty and contain constant changes of gradient and direction but its not really steep enough to be selective for the big boys. Alberto would wish for something more testing, I’m sure, and yesterday after the stage was admitting that he cannot live with the top two’s changes of pace. He has disappointed in this race. I was one of those who thought that, as someone much fresher than most, he would be the top favourite here. Wrong. For me the interest now is not so much Quintana/Froome, which seems destined to go to a stage 20 shootout about seconds, but Orica. Can they use bravery and tactics to give the top two the shock of their lives? La Vuelta does love its surprises.

  • AndyRaff Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:29 am

    Time for amother big ride for Omar Fraille with an eye on the KoM?

    And what has happened to Barguil? A strong 2012-14, but he seems to have stalled little.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:39 am

      Barguil’s had a few injuries and crashes since and quit this race with some kind of lung condition but is still 24. Next year will be a big test if he can get a clear run at races without these kind of problems.

      • AndyRaff Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:48 am

        Fair point about his recent injuries Mr Rng.
        I would love to see him in a position push on next year.

  • RonDe Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:05 am

    After yesterday I’m now pretty sure we will get our final stage shootout, by which I mean stage 20. If the Queen Stage could not separate the principals then I don’t see this shorter, milder stage doing it either. There’s another short, sharp climb to end stage 17 but nothing else to part Quintana and Froome before the time trial. Froome will win that and probably go into stage 20 in red. This will leave Quintana chasing probably less than a minute to win and Chaves/Yates/König chasing the third step. Today will now probably yield a surprise and I’ll have egg on my face.

    • Larry T Sunday, 4 September 2016, 5:43 pm

      RonDe – Great job! Can you predict some other dull stages so I can make sure to watch them? Hope the eggs at least got cooked, maybe into a nice tortilla? 🙂
      Venga Quintana!!

      • Vitus Sunday, 4 September 2016, 5:44 pm


      • ZigaK Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 7:20 am

        Captain hindsight to the rescue 🙂

  • routedusud Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:10 am

    Orica-Bike Exchange are ones to watch here. They will try something for sure and have 2 cards to play. Movistar and Sky may suddenly find themselves allies!

  • Anonymous Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:14 am

    So this Vuelta is proving that Alberto Contador is fading as a fighting force, right? He had more prep than Quintana or Froome, less recent racing in his legs and more motive to achieve something in that he’d not been on a grand tour podium yet this year. Its looking unlikely he will be on one at all this year now. Can we start writing the epitaphs?

    • Vitus Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:12 pm

      I see Bertie in a strong breakaway today. with Nairo. That’s what I would call fighting force. YMMV

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:42 pm

      I’d say that what was just proven is that Contador might be fading as a dominating force, but it’s precisely as a *fighting* force that you never can write him off.

    • Steven Kaiser Thursday, 8 September 2016, 4:38 am

      On the podium or not Contador’s presents keeps thing exciting and fun to watch. What would the peloton by with out Alberto Contador?

  • Matty Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:21 am

    I’m not sure falling away to the tune of +10.56 constitutes a “minor collapse” Mr Inrng. However, I’m glad it happened. The idea that Valverde could have been in his third grand tour and just a minute off the top beggared belief. Some measure of faith is now restored.

  • anon Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:30 am

    Imagine this nightmare scenario: Froome wins this Vuelta meaning Sky are holders of two of the three Grand Tour titles. They then target the Giro with Froome next May to get the full set.

    • RonDe Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:37 am

      And why not? The Tour followed by the Vuelta seems harder to me than the Giro followed by the Tour. If Froome is to win here then he’s doing the harder race second. If anyone of the current riders could do Giro-Tour I think its Froome. Of course, a lot comes down to parcours in the end. The centenary Giro is likely to include some famous brutes. Froome did did the centenary Tour though so maybe he wants to add another to his collection.

    • Chris Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:41 am

      Don’t think they’d do that. He’d still target the Tour as a double is just plain hard. He’s riding this Vuelta as a ‘try it and see’ after securing the Tour, but I doubt anyone these days would jeopardise a chance at a Tour win for the Giro, full set or not.

      • anon Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:02 am

        How many chances does a rider get to hold all 3 grand tour titles at once? That’s all I’m saying….

        • Tom J Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:52 am

          It’s been done twice before:

          Merckx – Giro / Tour 1972: Vuelta 1973
          Hinault – Giro / Tour 1982; Vuelta 1983

          both times when the Vuelta was the first GT of the season. Merckx also won the 1973 Giro, meaning four in a row.

          Best not to count chickens though: the Vuelta still has to be won, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the final TT will be much closer than the 2.5 – 3 minutes margin for Froome that is being widely supposed.


      • hoh Sunday, 4 September 2016, 1:27 pm

        Nibali did it twice. Though the second time he’s got the Olympics that is conflicting with Tour.

        • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:06 pm

          He hasn’t even win the Vuelta yet so let’s not get carried away. If he did win this and the Giro though it’d obviously be an enormous achievement. Sadly, I think there’s next to zero chance of him going for the Giro. I love it but it’s got next to no profile back here in the UK. ITV4 show the Tour and the Vuelta, even the Dauphine, but don’t even bother with the Giro. Must be an ASO right thing. The Tour of Britain and Tour de Yorkshire (I hate writing that) have a way higher profile here than the Giro, sadly, and that’s what Sky is concerned about. Despite (or because of?) our huge track & TdF success the classics and Giro are non-events in the UK. The worlds and Surrey Classic (yawn) get good coverage on the BBC too.

  • Peter Sunday, 4 September 2016, 2:03 pm

    I think Gesink’s win is amazing and long overdue. So much troubles and bad luck (or call it fragility) in a career, I think he deserves it. And I’m happy to see him win a stage instead of finishing 5-10 in a grand tour GC. As a fan I hope more riders will try this because it makes for an exciting race and great stories.

  • anonymous Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:07 pm

    Froome’s got mugged. Wakey wakey Team Sky!

    • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:16 pm

      How so? Seems 50/50 between him and NQ as things stand. I’d probably edge towards NQ thanks to his track record in the third week of GTs but I don’t think Sky have made any tactical errors yet? Letting Moreno go up the road perhaps wasn’t the best, maybe Konig should have followed, but it didn’t cost them.

      • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:31 pm

        I think anon is speaking about today…

      • Vitus Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:31 pm

        You should check the live standings. There’s no 50/50 at the moment. And Sky made tactical errors deluxe today by missing the start a bit.

        • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:41 pm

          Aha, fair enough, I stand corrected.

    • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:24 pm

      Wakey wakey – he did it himself.

      He had two objectives.
      Follow quintana
      Watch out for an early suicide attack from Contandor which could blow up the race.

      gues the sky radio was offline…

      • Othersteve Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:06 pm

        I guess he was distracted watching his PM!

        This will make it more compelling watching the next stages.

  • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 3:40 pm

    I fail to understand yesterday’s stage from Movistar’s POV.
    Were they already thinking about today? (But it’s Contador who prompted the current move…).

    The result of their strategy on Saturday was that the first two climbs were ridden at an incredible amateur’s level (the kind of performance several riding readers of inrng could achieve!), and the Marie-Blanque was tackled by the peloton at an albeit superior still very low pace for the pros, too, especially if you consider that’s an under-30′ climb.
    And they had decided to rest the day before!
    Hence the final climb became a high-power but short-duration bursts test.
    Any idea about that sort of *plan*?

  • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 4:04 pm

    Curious, today Froome doesn’t look so annoyed as he was in the Tour by Astana’s work on the front. That sort of “Why do you have your teammates pulling, Scarponi, you won’t have the legs to attack me anyway…” he used with Aru ^__^

    • hoh Sunday, 4 September 2016, 5:58 pm

      Well, truth be told, Astana’s been more than annoyance today. Whenever they lead, the gap grew. They then started attacking the Froome group and disrupt the pace.

      • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:07 pm

        You’re joking, aren’t you?

      • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:10 pm

        Apart that you’re writing something which is factually false, I’d be happy to know who do you think would have pulled the chasing group home.

        • Neuron1 Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 6:11 pm

          As the race unfolded, and I watched Astana tow Froome along, I couldn’t figure out if they were working to keep Scarponi in the top ten or if they were pulling just hard enough to prevent the Sky boys from catching back on. If they were trying to keep Sky out of the race they should have stopped pulling earlier and made Froome work on his own sooner to totally break him, especially since the Sky domestiques were taking a rolling rest day and were never seen on TV for the entire stage. If they had, this race would have completely different GC standings, e.g. Froome would be completely out of contention. Astana must not have long memories: in the 2015 TDF where Nibali was dropped after a flat in the crosswinds of Holland and Sky put the hammer down, Astanas’ race was effectively over. If they were trying to keep Scarponi in it, they didn’t succeed, because he dropped a place. I can’t imagine that Astana and Sky could have any mutual agreement, on just about anything including the day of the week, especially after the last few GT battles. Whoever is the Astana DS for this race missed a huge opportunity to exact retribution on Froome and Sky. Not trying to start an argument here but if anyone has any insight as to what actually the thinking was, I’d love to read it.

          • Larry T Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 10:05 pm

            I scratched my head when Astana was on the front as well. I didn’t have a GC list in front of me but remembered Scarponi was somewhere in the top 10 but was unable to work out who he would be overtaking via the team’s work on the front of what was called the “Froome group”. When they didn’t seem to closing the gap, I REALLY was confused as to what/why? I thought it would all become clear by the stage’s end…but I still don’t understand the point. If someone was paying them, they got a bad deal as they didn’t seem to do much and if they were trying to put the screws to someone else, they didn’t do a great job of that either. Great team tactics at the Giro a few months ago, but in this Vuelta someone else must be running the Astana team? Who is going to run Nibali’s new team BTW? I assume Martinelli will stay with Astana to oversee “his” boy Aru.

      • ZigaK Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 7:32 am

        When Astana was pulling, 3 Movistar riders infiltrated behind them and then just eased off, leaving one rider “attacking”. The same thing was repeated by Cannondale.

  • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:17 pm

    Aynone calculated the time limit ?

    As of this moment la vualta has Davide Villellia at #71 more than 24 minuttes down as the last rider – he was in the 2nd group, before the last climb the 3rd group with the entire Sky team was +35 minuttes down. Such a short stage usually results in a tight time cut.

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:22 pm

      Apparently, some 90 riders arrived with about 45′ of delay and should be more than out. The whole Team Sky except Froome. Let’s see what happens.

    • Vitus Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:42 pm

      time limit would be 31:24, according to Laura Meseguer. But sure somebody will lose the rule book this evening, surprisingly…..

    • Ferdi Sunday, 4 September 2016, 7:17 pm

      It’s an issue of credibility. Many riders have deliberately challenged the rule book and the jury’s credibility, and they will get duly retributed.

      • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:06 pm

        Yeah, Ferdi, they got *duly retributed*…
        The Jury knows how to be ruthless with the time cut, when they want, but today they hadn’t the slightest intention.
        I guess we really must thank the Jury for not having DSQd Quintana & C. for arriving too much time before so many Sky riders! (guess who were the last three riders of the gruppetto crossing the line together, in order to be better spotted?)

        • RocksRootsRoad Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:04 pm

          anti-Sky rant yawn. Not really a Sky thing at all as over 50% of the field would have been eliminated.

          • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:44 pm

            Looking at the result board i doubt that only Sky, Direct Energie, Dimension, Bora and FDJ thinks that the non-elimination is fair.

          • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:56 pm

            What a pity for your way of thinking that such a 50% isn’t evenly distributed among teams.

            Did you check who got *the most* riders out of time limits? Direct Energie *and* Team Sky, on a draw. I guess that Bernaudeau was the one really stomping his feet…

            At the end of the day only three other teams (out of 22!) would have been left with one single rider, that is: LottoNL, FDJ and Bora-Argon. Their best GC riders would have been placed 12th, 19th and 86th respectively. I don’t think that that what was at stake was *their* team’s strength, even if I’ll acknowledge that Elissonde has to defend the climber’s jersey.

            If we look at the current top-ten, Movistar would have been left with 8 men, Orica with 4 men, Cannondale with 6 men, Etixx with 3 men, BMC with 4 men, Tinkoff with 6 men, Astana with 5 men.
            Guess who’s the odd one? Sky with 1 man.
            If we want to have your gregari, have them fight for it, don’t let them taking a nap in the hope to build a big team attack with fresher forces in the next stages.
            How is that fair towards those who spent lots of energies to keep their team strong enough?
            Especially Cannondale, Tinkoff and even Orica (with the two-pronged attack), who might have taken advantage of a more solid team to try and climb higher in GC or to defend themselves.

            And what about the stages which will be won, say through the typical breakaway or whatever, by the riders who didn’t fight hard to stay in the race today? Suddenly half of the world has less chances to win a stage than they should have deserved on the road.

            I’d perhaps understand (but not appreciate) such a decision in case the riders were trying hard to make the cut and failed for a couple of mins or so.
            But here *some* teams blatantly challenged the rules knowing that they could afford to do that.

          • Steve Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:13 pm

            The bus NEVER gets disqualified after falling behind on a mountain stage. Are you new to the sport or something? (Yeah, yeah, but of course the organisers aren’t going to destroy their own spectacle)

          • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:23 pm

            The bus never, never, never gets DSQd.

            Unless it does (I personally remember at least a couple of cases, but I could browse the archives for more).

          • RocksRootsRoad Monday, 5 September 2016, 9:11 am

            Well if you can find a connection between Murdoch and ASO, to the end that Race Juries are being tampered with then let me hear it otherwise the confirmation bias is loud and clear.

          • gabriele Monday, 5 September 2016, 11:27 am

            The Jury isn’t ASO. Aw, man. You should at least *try* to make your case.

          • RocksRootsRoad Monday, 5 September 2016, 12:47 pm

            Swipe at me all you like but I notice you still don’t have an answer. Your inference from above is that somehow the jury decided to keep everyone in the race because of a predominance of Sky riders in the bunch over the time cut. Let’s hear the actual proof or this is just pure speculation.

          • gabriele Monday, 5 September 2016, 1:08 pm

            Have a look at the most recent posts and you’ll get your answer. Besides, this is not a court. It’s about what looks like more meaningful.
            And a lot of teams would have been satisfied with a normal situation, that is, averaging 34 km/h and making the time cut, maybe losing one or two riders (at the very most).
            Just one team, deeply involved in the GC fight, would have lost between two and, say, five riders, besides a lot of valuable energy.
            Now that I think about it, the “cui prodest?” is actually used in courts.

          • CA Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 6:18 pm

            Gabriele – the autobus NEVER rides at 34kph on a mountain stage. Was Stage 15 the fastest mountain stage in history? Perhaps. The leaders ride 35-36kph normally. However this stage was ridden at 40.5kph, making the autobus’ required speed 36.5kph, fast enough to win many of the mountain stages we’ve seen.

            Inrng – sorry for all my comments on this topic! I’m done for the day, sorry!

  • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:28 pm

    Lets hope the organizers and UCI follows the rulebook this time (and not as on Ventoux where Frome should have been disqualified) – however i would not be suprised if the big Murdoch’s wallet & the corrupt UCI president once againg manges to bend the roule.

    • Larry T Sunday, 4 September 2016, 7:27 pm

      Watch it morten, you’re starting to sound like me!
      Great stage today with some guys racing to win rather than not to lose for a change.
      It’ll be interesting to hear how/why the SKY train was seemingly derailed today. Will it be the old “bad fish in the team hotel restaurant” or something more creative/modern?
      Venga Quintana!

      • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:31 pm

        1991 TDF, PDM ?

  • Tovarishch Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:32 pm

    Inrng has explained at least twice that the was no reason to exclude Froome on Ventoux. I guess your memory isn’t that good.

    • Tovarishch Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:34 pm

      Sorry, that was for morten Reippuert. I hope he has a good lawyer.

      • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:56 pm

        2.2.029 – its a open roule but 12.12.14 states – you cant run without your bike. If you do your disqalified.

        Lets just hope there are less that 72 starters in tomorrows stage….

    • Ferdi Sunday, 4 September 2016, 7:15 pm

      What Inrng tried to reason was that there could be reason not to exclude, which is not the same. He never could defend that there was no reason to exclude, because there blatantly was.

    • Chuffy Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:12 pm

      You’re wasting your breath Tovarishch – the Sky haters were *desperate* to have Froome eliminated for that 50yd dash. Just don’t expect them to show the same enthusiasm for punishing other riders who get caught, say, taking a crafty tow off a neutral service moto…

      • Steve Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:18 pm

        Ventoux was a shambles, and entirely ASO’s fault. Maybe they should have banned themselves from hosting the Tour

  • eamaro Sunday, 4 September 2016, 6:58 pm

    Sitting here salivating for today’s stage review from INRG.

    This 1-2 punch combo (Queen stage followed by a short explosive stage) worked pretty well. Glad the riders were willing to make a race out of it.

  • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:00 pm

    The late riders are officially back in the race.

    López (Sky) and Bewley (Orica) arrived with 41′ and 46′ of delay, and I thought that everyone was there or little behind… but the rest eventually came in with 53’54” back from Brambilla.

    The time cut was about 31′, they almost doubled it. They averaged 31 km/h. Sunday ride. Winter Sunday ride. Of a quite relaxed club.
    Allowing them back is really a shame, since the attitude was of utter contempt towards the rules. It was far from impossible to respect the time limit, or at least to show that it mattered.

    I can’t see this as fair to those riders who struggled to cross the line on time (among whom three Contador’s gregari and a couple of Quintana’s) – all those riders who tomorrow will be much more tired than those who took an extra rest day.

    Obviously they already knew they would still be on the startline tomorrow, even if in the recent past more than 30 riders (and a jersey wearer, I think) were duly kicked out of a GT in a single stage (despite hail and snow hitting the race). But it was no ASO race.
    At least in 2011 when the TdF had some 90 rider back in, they were three minutes off, not half an hour.

    • Larry T Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:04 pm

      +1 What excuse is there for JRA on a stage like this? No snow, driving rain, howling winds, etc.
      Beyond this, why couldn’t the mighty SKY train go to the front and start a team time trial to get back up to their leader? Who cares who sits on and benefits?…the leader could have needed a spare bike or something even if the team was too tired to help him much once they got up there. The “mastermind” who takes plenty of compliments for SKY team tactics ought to be taking some real crap for this cock-up….especially if their leader can’t get the time back in the chrono stage and Quintana’s on the top step of the podium.

      • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:35 pm

        a 91 rider group should be able to benefit a lot more from drafting than a 14 rider group – there is no excuse. ASO is a joke.

      • David Monday, 5 September 2016, 8:20 am

        Don’t you think that maybe if they could have got back up to him, they would have? I somehow doubt they thought “well we could close the gap, but nah, it’ll be more fun to make him work for himself for a change.”

        It seemed to me that Sky made a big tactical mistake by persisting in the second group when the gaps were still relatively small but the front group were clearly going away. By doing that they had riders tiring themselves by taking big turns on the front of both the second and third groups. It would have made more sense to sit up and recombine the groups so that they could take shorter turns and longer rests. By the time they did think about sitting up it was too late – the gaps were big enough that the Movistar riders with Froome could force the pace to stop the third group getting back.

        [Swype apparently has a sense of humour – it just autocorrected ‘Froome’ to ‘Drop me’ 🙂 ]

  • Tour de France Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:16 pm

    Jean Claude Leclercq, who comments für Eurosport germany, said there was a very strong headwind today. Maybe that was the main factor for low average speed rates. And also for Froome not risking something solo

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:26 pm

      The first two groups rode accordingly to the *fastest* scheduled time (just what you’d expect when the riders go all-out all the time). It’s just those guys in the huge *gruppetto* who rode 10km/h slower.
      Moreover, the race headed towards very different directions during the stage, which means that the wind hardly could be constantly against the riders.

  • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:18 pm

    I’m always hugely amazed by the difference in performance by Froome when power production doesn’t follow a predictable pattern.

    And I’m even more amazed by the fact that nearly nobody tries to take advantage of that, especially at Movistar. As Quintana admitted, the team’s plan for today was just to “wait for the last climb and try something there”, even if they were indeed expecting a crazy start and considered that they needed to be ready for it. Besides, he personally thought that he needed to keep his eyes on “Alberto”.
    A shiver runs down my spine when I think to what scenario we would have seen in case Valverde hadn’t lost 10′ yesterday…

  • GrahamG Sunday, 4 September 2016, 8:48 pm

    Hardly a cause of amazement, Sky usually ride at 400 watts up climbs, rendering those tactics next to useless. When Garmin had @@@@ed up the race a few years ago in the TDF and Movistar did nothing except keep him company, that was poor but they did a better job today .

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:09 pm

      Sky doesn’t usually ride even near to 400W up most climbs, especially before the final ones, at least during the GTs I’ve checked. They prefer a way calmer pace.

    • Hwb Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:46 pm

      In fact, Movistar helped Froome there when they distanced Contador (who later came back). They missed an opportunity to win the Tour then.

      • GrahamG Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:00 pm

        Sky don’t publish their power data. Of course it’s the key climbs. Basso complained a few years ago of being sat on Portes wheel and already doing 400 watts (and this not being unusual of the sky mountain train in full effect) the inference being its hard to do anything but hang on. Sean Yates said the same thing this year ( he didn’t say watts just an infernal pace) . You could see it with Poels and co this year, and the B team were at it less effectively in the Vuelta at Las Covadongas. The best thing to do with Sky is mug them, which ain’t easy.

        • GrahamG Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:05 pm

          An anti pedant qualification – Sky don’t publish the majority of their data

        • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:43 pm

          You can calculate very good approximate values, as everyone noted speaking of powermeters.

          And I can assure you that they weren’t riding at 400 W on Saturday when they pedalled up the Inharpu and the Soudet at some 16 km/h, nor when they “accelerated” up to some average 20 km/h on the Marie-Blanque (way slower, obviously, on the steepest part).
          Nor they were flying at all at the Tour before the final climb appeared, especially during the first half of the race.
          After Movistar tried a forcing on Pas de Peyrol, they allowed Sky to slow down on the Perthus… where they perhaps reached some 400W, but we’re speaking of a 14′ climb. Speaking of more serious climbs, Val Louron or Beixalis were pretty slow even if the real shame was, for example, the Cantó. The Grand Colombier wasn’t fast, either.
          Even during the race itself, you can easily see that the group doesn’t shrink to less than 25-30 riders.
          All the three climbs before Le Bettex in the Mont Blanc stage were more of the same, as the Ramaz before the Joux-Plan, but, again, the real shame was La Colombiere. Amateurish.
          The only infernal pace that was ever there to be seen was on the Forclaz. Hey, wait, Sky wasn’t on the front, then.
          No wonder that it became so hard to produce any relevant selection on the last climb for the purest climbers – and those with more “fondo” – since everyone was getting there with enough energies to sprint up all together for the last 20′ or so, when high speeds also meant a slipstream effect more significant than in other conditions. It was more a contest of explosive power than anything else… how many short-stage-race riders and/or one-day riders do we ended up having in the final top ten? I can’t remember as many “scattisti” in a GC.

          *Please* note that I consider this as a merit on Sky’s part, that is, achieving to have the race go the way they prefer (well, the means they used might be a different affair – psychological pressure is okay to me, if it were something more political, not as much). It’s Movistar’s, Ag2R etc. fault (or weakness) not trying something different. Same goes for Froome’s dominance. The best rider in given conditions, given such conditions he won, and in a spectacular fashion, too (as “spectacular” as possible in those conditions, at least).

          [Re. Sky’s team pace, 2013 might be a different story but I have no data at hand – I just don’t know]

          • Steve Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:16 pm

            Calm down. You do realise they lost

          • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:27 pm

            In fact, they won.
            Having their team back (fresh as new) after the guys got to the line with such a delay is sort of a victory – the best result they could achieve today.
            I’m quite sure that if they had to choose between magically winning this stage while losing the whole team as they ought to – or, the present situation: well, they’d still pick the latter.

  • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:38 pm

    Looking at the way Sky’s domestiques were almost soft pedalling, even in the opening KMs, and how often Froome lost the wheel on the final climb I think there’s a chance that the whole team is ill.

    Those in the grupetto were lucky not to be expelled, but given half the field was in there it’s hardly a surprise. I remember similar decisions as far back as the 90s in the TdF.

    • Peter Sunday, 4 September 2016, 9:44 pm

      It seems like the right decision, but it is frustrating to see people so blatantly disregard the rules.

      Maybe a reset in 2017 is needed, where certain easy to enforce rules are applied.

      Then again we want all the best sprinters to make it to Paris & Madrid, don’t we?

      • Ferdi Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:13 pm

        I can’t care less about that. I’d rather see them being cyclists and struggling to make the cut.

      • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:25 pm

        Yeah, agree it is a bit frustrating to see the rules so blatantly challenged, especially when we’ve seen riders toil in the past, miss the elimination cut off by a minute and then be thrown out. Kiryienka in (I think) the 2012 TdF springs to mind, just to show it doesn’t always work in Sky’s favour. But it would decimate the race if half the field were thrown out, so I sympathise with the race director’s predicament.

        • Peter Monday, 5 September 2016, 2:19 am

          Maybe rather than a hard time cut off, it could be that the slowest 5 riders get cut if they don’t make the time cut – no exceptions. This way if everyone works they are all ok, if the leader sets a incredible time and a bunch get caught out you only lose the slowest 5, or if they’re dogging it, then there’s a real fight not to be the last 5.

          Just a random idea.

          • ZigaK Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 7:52 am

            Great idea. Maybe increase the number of eliminations according to the gap.

      • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:43 pm

        Feline packs a pretty good sprint among the riders at startline in stage 1. Benati and Rojas too. Feline was 3rd today, Rojas and Benati was inside the time limit too.

        No real sprinters started out today – Meersman is problerbly the fastest remaing rider, Cort and Gerrans are next but neither would qualify as sprinters.

    • gabriele Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:03 pm

      And I remember the Giro kicking out dozens of riders (forty or so) in consecutive stages and finishing the race with some 90 riders.
      This would have been way more extreme in numerical terms, but it became so also because a lot of athletes *knew* that they were going to receive a free pass today.
      On the contrary, I think that they could well have finished within the time limits, just riding a bit harder than the average MAMIL.
      And this is precisely why, today, it wouldn’t have been paramount for the Jury to keep all of them out.
      I can’t remember a past situation in which the late riders were so blatantly defying the existence of a time cut.

      • Michael B Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:28 pm

        Let’s hope it’s a one off rather than setting a precedent, as I do agree it’s frustrating.

        • morten Reippuert Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:46 pm

          Im affraid that this will set precedent… especially when big and weathy teams are involved.

          Like in the TDF – i doubt that Molema would have been saved by the jury if he had crashed allone.

  • Guilherme Sunday, 4 September 2016, 10:01 pm

    It’s amazing how often your picks win the stages…


  • TheDude Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:01 pm

    Unfortunate luck for Chris. Sometimes magnetic micro rim motors need a battery recharge. ‘Likely the Sky Service Course will add that schedule maintenance item accordingly for the predicted marginal gains. 🙂

    • Morten Reippuert Monday, 5 September 2016, 7:16 am

      Unlucky? he was more than lucky – ASO and UCI threw him a lifeboat approx 50 minuttes after he crossed the line.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:39 pm

    Today’s stage is exactly why I follow the 3 big summer races. It had so much, you could almost write a book on it alone. Fantastic stuff packed into 3hrs. Throw in faulty PM wiring, dodgy Spanish rice puddings and Dick Dastardly rides again! I’m never gonna sleep tonight.

  • Ecky Thump Sunday, 4 September 2016, 11:55 pm

    I never saw the race today but. come on, this was a set-up surely?
    Contador and Quintana both had two team mates to hand as the move went, and Movistar still had riders marking Froome too?
    I think not…

    • GB Monday, 5 September 2016, 3:06 am

      What do you mean by a set-up?

    • Vitus Monday, 5 September 2016, 3:46 am

      And part of this “set-up” was to have all Sky riders dreaming in the back of the peloton when the flag came down? How did that work?
      Better you watch before discussing theories.

      • RocksRootsRoad Monday, 5 September 2016, 9:17 am

        Of course we NEVER ever see Spanish Team collusion….

        • Vitus Monday, 5 September 2016, 2:42 pm

          Thanks for *not* getting my point.

  • Bern Monday, 5 September 2016, 4:33 am

    Maybe a poor choice of phrase…perhaps he meant to say “they talked about it beforehand”…which is, of course, perfectly normal race tactic…

  • Pax Monday, 5 September 2016, 6:10 am

    Inrng – once again – great job picking the winners the last two days.

    I feel like both stages represented enjoyable racing, it seem unpredictable or unscripted.

    I think Astana did a huge favor by pulling so much. What would have happened if they didn’t ? It would have put much more pressure on Froome and OGE. One could argue that given the size of team that Astana had left that they could have let the three of them try harder and thus blown away Chaves, Yates and Froome away on the last climb – thus helping Scarponi climb higher. Of course perhaps BMC would have had to plan along as well.

    It seems that tomorrow’s race put Movistar, Astana, Tinkoff, and maybe Cannondale at a disadvantage. Especially Movistar. I am sure some of the riders worked hard knowing the cut off existed. I would argue, that Team Sky had the most to loose by having some of there guys miss the cut, so the others teams likely were expecting them to do some work and they didn’t. Thus the sporting thing to do would be for them to contribute the pace setting on Monday – perhaps some of the other teams will.

    Contador. Alberto seems to be riding a great race after the tough fall he took in the first part of the race – he still has heavy bandages on his leg. If I was Tinkoff I would be furious with Astana, Alberto could be in second now or third now, with out some that special help. I would expect that Vinokourov received a nice phone call Sunday. Perhaps this makes the plot line even more intriguing for the next week. That said – it is easy to make post race opinions.

    • Morten Reippuert Monday, 5 September 2016, 7:14 am

      not “Sky had the most to loose by having some of there guys miss the cut”

      All the guys missed the cut! there is a significant difference.
      Each time they will pace the peloton, get a bottle etc for Frome, help him to the front for the remaining of the race will leave a bad taste…