Tour de France Stage 11 Preview

Another sprint stage to take the race to the foot of the Pyrenees.

Stage 10 Review: Yoann Offredo attacked from the start and turned around to find nobody with him. A shrugged and slowed, enough to allow Elie Gesbert to jump across the gap and the pair formed the day’s breakaway. Gesbert may not have wanted to go in the move but at least he made a name for himself for racing after a rest day where he’d set fire to the hotel by accident after leaving a towel on a heater while Offredo has gained more notoriety in France in two weeks than all those years as a spring classics campaigner. It was a stage with more castles than drama but we should note the work done by the likes of Tiago Machado (Katusha), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Julian Vermote (Quick Step), human tractors towing the peloton across the plains of France in the hope their house sprinter can win and get the glory.

Marcel Kittel won with convincing ease, this time the photo finish camera was not needed. Once again he seemed to leave it late but burst out of the slipstream to win by three bike lengths for his fourth stage win this month. He’s now got a 100 point lead over Michael Matthews and you wonder if Matthews will back off the green challenge now in order to save energy for Saturday’s stage to Rodez where the uphill finish suits him.

The Route: 203km due south to Pau, gateway to the Pyrenees and . This is another sleepy stage across the kind of terrain where people enjoy long lunches, local produce and siestas. They pass the Notre Dame des Cyclistes chapel and near to the late Luis Ocaña’s house.

There’s only one categorised climb but the route is hillier than the profile suggests, after the intermediate sprint the road rises and falls. It’s certainly not a festival for the climbers but it just adds to the fatigue.

The Finish: a fast and flat run into Pau. The city has its elegant parts, this route doesn’t. It crosses several junctions and roundabouts in the final kilometres but on big roads. Things get a bit narrower in the final kilometre and there’s a left hand bend with 650m to go, it’s not tight but it will stretch the field out before the 600m finishing straight.

The Contenders: Marcel Kittel is the obvious sprint pick but so obvious that even his close rivals have to start thinking about other tactics. The likes of Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal and Katusha can spend the day chasing or they could fire riders up the road early and make Quick Step do all the work. But getting a rider up the road is one thing, winning quite another and they’re likely to back their sprinters as the most certain chance of a win.

André Greipel got swamped yesterday as a wave of riders overtook him and he was boxed in. These things happen and he should be in the mix again. Dylan Groenewegen got third place, his best so far but in the absence of Démare, Sagan et al his relative speed compared to Kittel seems about constant.

Nacer Bouhanni lost his temper yesterday, feuding with a Quick Step on the run into Bergerac and the commissaires fined him 200 Swiss Francs (FAQ: the sport’s governing body is based in Switzerland which explains the Swiss Francs), a derisory sum which has no deterrent effect, in fact it’s so low it’s almost tolerating the incident, it’s like a parking fine of €5. Anyway he often wins when his back is up against the wall but Kittel seems so far much faster so this scenario seems uncertain.

Marcel Kittel
André Greipel, Dylan Groenewegen
Bouhanni, Degenkolb, Kristoff, McLay

Weather: cloudy and 23°C, there will be a light crosswind of 15-20km/h coming from the west or the right for the peloton which becomes a headwind for the approach into Pau.

TV: live from the start at 1.05pm CET with the finish forecast for the later than usual slot of 5.50pm CET. This stage is less scenic than yesterday’s so think of rationing your viewing in order to be free for the Thursday and Friday’s scenic and lively stages in the Pyrenees.

86 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 11 Preview”

  1. How does the jury contextualize the penalty Bouhani received for a blantant hit (please nobody say that was a punch) and then cutting off a rider with Sagan’s expulsion? They must have considered that kicking Sagan out based on an assumption of intent in a very subjective case would lead to controversy over any incidents that follow. Now I would say Bouhani deserved a bit harsher penalty, but not expulsion, on an individual basis. Relative Sagan, this seems laughable. Is it really so hard for cycling to be more consistent? I felt at the time and resisted commenting that there must be some bad political elements against Sagan, but I feel compelled to ask if there is any known sentiments against him from ASO or otherwise. I somewhat understand the changes to the green jersey rules to make things more interesting, but does anybody think ASO was very ready to dump Sagan?

    • I’m still left wondering if it wasn’t the earlier incident that tipped the balance against Peter. Has there been any analysis of that? I’m too​ frightened and over faced to look anywhere else on the web at this time of year…

    • The commissaires applied UCI rule which brings a fine of CHF “200 per offence + 1’ penalty per offence in stage races” for “acts of violence”. So the UCI are applying their rule here but being fined like this is meaningless for millionaire sprinters.

      Also as Sandy says, the Tour de France/ASO does not make the rules, these are the property of the sport’s governing body the UCI and it was their officials who ejected Sagan. If ASO had their say surely Sagan would be in the race, he is a superstar rider with charisma and reach well beyond the sport, he brings in a lot of newer, younger fans. They’re probably fuming as much as the marketing managers at Bora and Hasgrohe.

      • Yes, I’m being asked to ‘win with Peter’ on stage 11 from their marketing promotion. Though Peter isn’t winning anything…..yesterday it was a shower head.

    • We should start this discussino by looking at the Communiqués de Presse issued daily by the organisor. The communique contains also the jury’s decisions and states the relevant regulations applied. For sanctions, the applied article is almost exclusively 12.1.040 followed by a reference to the listed offences in this article.
      For Sagan, they stated 12.1.040/10.2.2. Following this Sagan was deemed to have committed a 3rd offence.
      For Bouhanni, they stated 12.1.040/30.1. This also has en option for eliminating the rider but apparently the offence comitted wasn’t deemed as a “particularly serious aggression.”
      Disclaimer! I am not a part of the jury so I will not be a judge of right or wrong in these decisions, but the difference in applied sanctions might shed some light on the differences in sanctions between the two.
      Feel free to investigate the communiques here:, they reveal a lot once you get to know them.
      And the list in article 12.1.040 is here: (id the link doesn’t work, skip the #page=-reference at the end)

      • There is one option – relegation, which in my opinion actually hurts the sprinters (nothing to show now, neither a placing nor green jersey points) while allowing them to race next day.

    • I guess in practice if not in theory the consequences of a (perceived) offense are taken into account. In the case of Sagan, Cav suffered a broken shoulder and Degenkolb concussions which still hamper him a week later. Yesterday, a couple of QuickStep riders got angry but Kittel still won.
      You can argue about whether that’s appropriate, but I guess it it’s the same in society generally: in most jurisdictions the punishment for running a red light would be much more severe if someone gets hurt as a consequence.

      • I think this is the most sensible comment I’ve read on all of this. Commissaires are just people, and people are rarely rational, particularly when it comes to matters of justice and punishment. They tend to punish the effect rather than the offence. This is true in any walk of life – there’s no particular reason to expect race juries to be any different.

        If you were looking to be charitable to the panel, though (yeah, I know- no-one is…) in the Sagan case they emphasised the potential danger to other riders. Giuliani’s offence may have been unpleasant and petty, but you could hardly argue that it endangered anyone.

  2. Do you know Inrng if the fine given to Bouhanni was for the altercation with Bauer or the obvious attempt to block Sabatini at the last corner or maybe both?

    The sudden movement cost him his position behind his own leadout and looked to scupper his chances all to get back at Quickstep.

    Petulance springs to mind.

    • Also will the team make him pay this fine personally or will it simply he added to the teams fines and thus split as a debit across all riders?

  3. I´d love to know how Christian Proudhomme feels about the apparent inability of the UCI to display any consistency in their ability to apply the “rules”….Bouhanni, Sagan, Froome etc…after all, 5 minutes reading the usual comments sections (and 5 minutes is the max in can stand at most of them!), and it´s quite clear it the Tour De France and ASO whose image is being damaged here, not so much the UCI, as most fail to distinguish the difference between the two.

  4. In light of the fact that the sport does not consistently enforce the written rules, unwritten rules seem absurd. Do away with them.

    • They aren’t the in the first place. This comments section operates with a similar set of unwritten rules. It’s known as culture. I’ve probably just offended it…😇

    • The written rules in the case of Sagan and Bouhanni have been enforced. It’s just they’ve not been explained too well by those tasked with enforcing them.

      We all operate by unwritten rules. When you enter a building do you hold the door open for the next person? Perhaps if they’re close behind, maybe more so if they’re a frail 105 year old, maybe less if you’re in a hurry. Nobody writes these rules but we have codes for these things to make society function smoother. The peloton is the same, there are codes, etiquettes, customs and habits because it’s a travelling society, riders are rivals but also rely on each other for safety and even income.

      • My frustration with unwritten rules isn’t that they exist, but how it’s reported. We act as if it’s the yellow’s choice – Froome takes a nature break, or continues post Dan Martin crash, Alberto attacks a dropped chain, only a raised eyebrow. Aru attacks early in the Tour on a climb and you would think he shoved someone. It is a race, and if you only play by the leader’s rules you are handing over an advantage. Rider’s choice, but don’t try to tell me they always apply, or are consistent.

        • I think it makes sense to respect the jersey. You shouldn’t want to sneak the yellow, you should want to earn it by racing for it.
          Does anyone else here think Froome barged Aru to show him who is boss? I think he made the point about trying to exploit misfortune.

          • All this ‘respect the jersey’ business really bugs me. Respect your rivals – fine and good, but why should (the rider who happens to currently hold) the yellow jersey in particular get special treatment?

            Taking Sky out of it (since the rules are apparently different for them – some people would consider them to be in the wrong no matter what happened) let’s imagine Quintana was in yellow. Now say Aru had a mechanical, and Quintana attacked him. Why should that be any less frowned upon than if it were Aru attacking Quintana?

    • How does one do away with rules that aren’t written? One can do away with written ones but not ones based on various riders’ concepts of honour and sportsmanship. In the recent Aru/Froome non-event, which neither saw, it was other riders apart from these two who intervened. In other words, the peloton enforced its own wisdom, something which both of those riders also did when they worked together in the finish. How does one stop that? I’m quite happy to let them keep doing it whatever the commentariat says and, frankly, in a world where so much morality is pushed to one side for the sake of personal desire, I’m rather glad that in some places higher notions than that still have some meaning.

  5. Wow. These Sagan / Bouhanni comments are dull. It’s a shame that’s all we have to talk about. This tour is taking a noooooossssseeeedddddiiiivvvveeeee. Hoping for some interest outside controversy or crashes soon, this is worse than ’14 or ’12 so far…

    I suppose we’ve been treated to brilliant Tours in Spain and Italy multiple times in the last few years so can’t get that greedy. But it is boring so far…

    • The comments here were full of people complaining the Giro was boring until the race got going in the Alps and the Vuelta will probably get the same “it’s always the same guys in another summit finish” complaint as previous years. It’s inevitable that in the moment of the race there are plenty of dull points, it’s only after that the duller moments fall away from memory and the exciting parts remain.

      • People these days have very short attention spans. They seem unable to see a bigger picture. It always has to be action, action, action. These same people probably think whole stages are boring but if they weren’t shown would complain they were missing out.

      • Exactly… we all tend to forget that a bike race is 3 weeks x 5-6 hours a day therefore not possible to have over 100 hours of brilliant racing. It’s easy to remember to exciting moments of each year’s TdF, but they really total less than 20% of the race (or approx. 20 hours).

        Thanks to Inrng for giving us some exciting talking points to focus on in between the exciting racing parts.

        Inrng – isn’t it the consensus that the commissaires/race jury got the Sagan decision wrong? What reforms can be implemented to fix this process?

    • I can’t see how anyone can think yesterday’s stage was boring when we had an hourglass made out of (veeery slowly falling) tractors. Pure genius. Made me laugh so hard I was nearly in tears. Contender for best TdF moment ever.

  6. I was interested to hear the interview with Offredo on the Cycling Podcast where he was scathing about the lack of ambition in other teams to get in the breakaway, especially since Kittel is so dominant in the sprints. I have to agree. Assuming Sky, Astana and AG2R are justifiably obsessing with GC, and only Quick Step and perhaps Lotto Soudal (and Lotto Jumbo (perhaps)) can lay claim to be able to do anything in the sprint, what are all the rest doing? It’s pathetic the ease with which the breaks are going in the first kms.

    On that note, I hope the breakaway succeeds today ….

    • Offredo has a point but even the Wanty-Gobert DS has told them to stay in the peloton and not attack on some days in order to save energy for other days. But you’re right, some teams are almost invisible in the race, for example Bahrain-Merida, Trek-Segafredo, Movistar or UAE Emirates are present but not part of the racing so far. It’s a game theory thing, if more teams could be convinced to attack then they’d all have a better chance of staying away but since not enough go the move’s chances of success are slimmer.

    • For all the pictures of a smiling and relaxed peloton, they still averaged over 44 km/h yesterday.
      And I guess that was with a fair bit of gas still left in the tank, so to speak.
      It would be an extraordinarily tough day at the office for the breakaway to succeed on these flatter stages?

    • Speaking of Offredo… being in Australia and watching the tour on SBS I’m being bombarded by ads for the “The Handmaids Tale”… It gets me everytime!

  7. Almost surprised any of the other sprinters get even two chainrings. Kittel is just so much faster and the field so reduced that it isn’t even a contest anymore.

  8. The old adage that ‘riders make the racing’ might well have been true. It was certainly true in the day before robot control from team cars. So far a dreary, unimaginative TdF. The highlights, if that’s the correct word, being the unfortunate elimination of several contenders for various reasons.
    The DSs appear to be have been induced into a state of mind that says their sprinters have a chance in the final, so let a couple of no hoppers up the road for a few minutes advantage, then trundle along until the escapees are reeled in a few Ks from the finish. Imaginative or new this policy is not. Has no-one told them Kittel is in unbeatable form, and maybe, just maybe their tactics are fatally flawed !
    Not a very good presentation for the first year of full start to finish TV coverage. Where are the one day classics riders, who could have instigated some aggressive racing on stages that do suite their characteristics – being saved.
    I’m a fan, but off on the bike today.

    • Guaranteed that today is the day you were waiting for then! I do wish more viewers would discipline themselves more to accept what they get rather than always expecting some fantasy version of a race which, even statistically, is a rarity and very unlikely to happen. That said, ASO designed the sprinter’s Tour this year and designed out places where differences could be made.

  9. That was one of the most dominant sprint displays I can remember going back to the 90s. Cavendish won a few by huge margins but that was often from behind his train. Kittel basically freelanced the last KM. Four in the bag, with four more stages for him to target.

  10. I wouldn’t give Monsieur Bouhanni even 0.0003 of a chain ring. He is the very definition of a guy with his head in the wrong place. I was totally bored by the recent Sagan polemica but a deliberate hit is surely no worse than the world champion’s strategically positioned elbow and kamikaze approach to sprint positioning. It all suggests the Sagan nonsense was too harsh when no one was complaining about his initial penalties before their revision and escalation.

  11. Was thinking about the rewards for these obviously doomed breakaways where the sprinters teams hold them at arms length then chase them down at will. I know there is the ‘TV time’ while they’re out in the break and the sponsors’ names are seen and heard repeatedly, but even this doesn’t seem to entice some teams out.

    Maybe the ASO should provide a team prize, selected by the same jury who hand out the combativity award, to the team that is perceived to have tried the most to ‘animate’ the race over the 3 weeks of the Tour. Announce the winner the evening before the final stage, let them roll into Paris and be able to go up on the podium to collect the award along with the other winners. I imagine a jersey sponsor would provide an extra bonus to have their logo on a podium photo.

  12. The Nacer Bouhanni thing really was very minor, the sort of pushing and shoving that goes on most of the time. Personally I would say it was of far less consequence than Chris Froome “accidentally” falling into Fabio Aru.

    Maybe stuff will happen, “boring” stages can turn out to be not so boring (eg the crosswinds into Montrond a few years back) but this stage looks like yet another one where Sky can put their feet up and let others do the work. Maybe something will change to enliven things but as things stand Sky can very much concentrate their efforts on the few (too few in my opinion) mountain days.

    I would guess there will be more effort to get in the break today. There must be less and less point to the other sprint teams helping Quick Step pull the breaks back and Julian Vermote cant do all the chasing on his own. It seemed very strange that only one rider went for the break yesterday and the second one seemed reluctant to join.

    Assuming the break gets pulled back it is difficult to see beyond Marcel Kittel, he seems a level above the sprinters left in the race.

  13. Tour de Bore for the 6th year running. Froome almost has another win sewn up, unless he crashes. The route is probably the worst ever, maybe only eclipsed by the 2012 edition. Completely uninspiring and today yet another boring sprint stage with no obstacles on the way. Many top contenders already crashed out, some are out of form and the only person capable of spicing things up has been DQed by an incompetent jury. I don´t know why I even get excited of the Tour year after year. This race doesn´t stand a comparison to the Dauphine, let alone to the Giro or the Vuelta.

      • Count in another 1-2 minutes for the last time trial. Aru needs to gain more than one minute, Bardet regain the one minute deficit and have a buffer of 1,5 minutes ahead of the time trial. The Pyrenees are one stage with an uphill finish and not too difficult. The 100 km stage is a joke with this 26 km descent and Froome wont be caught by surprise like in the Vuelta. He surely learned his lessons. And the Alps also have only two stages, one of which has a veeeery long descent from the Galibier – no ambush territory either. There is NO chance of anything happening there and as such I would say that Aru and Bardet (the rest are already out of contention) have very limited opportunities to make something happen and put Froome and Sky under pressure.

        • I agree with all this. I always suspected that for all the talk of an innovative challenging route all it was going to do was make it easier for Sky. Yes it will be difficult to build up big leads as there are only short time trials and few big mountain days. At the same time the route allows for plenty of easy days for the GC teams, glorified bicycle tours with the only stress being making sure you get to the 3km marker near the front. Even with the epic but very attritional stage last Sunday I suspect the riders are not as fatigued as they would have been with a more traditional route. T opportunities for others to challenge the leader are few.

        • Oddly, this year would have been perfect if Doumoulin was riding. He’d gain advantages in both ITT against Froome, then Froome would need to be very aggressive on all the climbs

    • jeez Michael, I’m guessing you weren’t watching this stuff when Indurain was grinding out the wins, or LA was dominating all and sundry, not to mention Merxck, or when the Tour was routinely won by 10 minutes and often a lot more, and when Cippolini was telling everyone to take it easy until the last 20k etc etc etc… it’s the slow burn which is what makes the highlights all the better, the accumulated fatigue of these ‘boring’ days that makes the later stages interesting. Just tune out for a bit if you can’t bear it.

      • I haven´t watched Merckx as I wasn´t even born then. I did watch LA dominating and found all his battles with Ullrich very engaging although I would agree that it was boring to some extent.
        However the difference was in the that the stages were much more difficult and there was always the change of something happening (remember Joux Plane in 2000?). The parcours this year as I have written before doesn´t give too many opportunities for Froome´s adversaries to put him under pressure – unless he crashes or cracks, which I cannot see happening due to the mountain stages being not hard enough. Even if Bardet or Aru attack on the Galibier – how much can they gain? 30 s? 1 minute? This advantage would be nullified by the time they come down the Lautaret which is not steep enough for any attacker to get away from the pack and I am sure Froome will have at least 3 teammates up there with him.

  14. I wore my INRNG-jersey for the morning commute, albeit only using the outer-ring.
    I´ve read the preview of stage 11.
    I´m listening to Kraftwerks TDF at work now….that pretty much sum up my TDF-action for today.

  15. The ease with which Kittel won yesterday, and his size emphasising the impression of physical superiority, reminded me of Cipollini in his pomp in the late 90’s. It looks like none of the other sprinters stand a chance. With this, and another 5 hours of nothingness, in mind surely to Christ somebody has to try something to upset his and Quick Steps apple cart. Kristoff and Greipel look to be well out of it so you’d think that Katusha and Lotto might try something else. Maybe in the period where everyone is sat looking at each other and picking their teeth when the breakaway is about 30-40 seconds off and there is about 10km left it’d be worth throwing Tony Martin or Tim Wellens up the road. Something, anything! I know they used to have a lot of flat sprint stages in the first week in the 90’s (Cipo won 4 in a row one year) but they were also interspersed with time trials and team time trials. Maybe having time trials and Froome walking away with it is better than having an incredibly dull route and Froome still winning by a smaller margin?!

    • A counter attack at this moment of Martin, Kristof, Wallen, Gripel, Matthews + teammate, EBH + teammate would be quite difficult for Quickstep to bring back. Maybe the only way for the others to win a stage.

      But that won’t happen as it requires four teams to take risks whilst working with each other.

  16. Lotto Said that they will keep working for a sprint as they still believe in Greipel, so don’t expect them to go in the break.
    They also said, the sprinter teams are told to make sure the other sprinter teams don’t get riders in the break…

  17. Just want to thank you, INRNG, for your very level-headed, knowledgeable comments, periodically and judiciously inserted. Bravo!! as we opera-and-cycling fans say….

  18. Kittel has been imperious so far. But a strong word needs to be put in for his lead out man and the lazer guidance system that is Fabio Sabatini.

    The way he as been weaving through the head of the bunch in the last 2k of the sprints to drop Kittel off in his idea position has been very impressive. Almost as goo to watch his skill in doing this as it is to see Kittels final kick.

  19. Re boring Tour: I guess ASO route design emphasizes the overall competitions (yellow, green) over the individual stages, perhaps because a large part of the commercial interest is generated by people who watch daily summaries rather than entire stages. Plus, for a three minute summary a bunch sprint can easily be more exciting than a break.
    This year’s route seems to have been designed to spice up the green and yellow competitions by giving Kittel a fighting chance vs Sagan, and Bardet/Aru/Quintana/etc vs Froome. With Sagan out, this has backfired completely for the green jersey. For yellow it appears that the difference between Froome and the rest is too big for this strategy to work (especially with Porte out too).

    • I think that even if Sagan wouldn´t have been DQed, it would have been very hard for him to win green. There are only a few stages where he would have been able to drop Kittel (from the remaining stages possibly only the one to Rodez) and the gains would probably not be enough to make amends for the losses in direct sprints. All in all a very disappointing parcours, which many people presumed it would be, but most tried to fool themselves and hoped for explosive racing. Sorry Christian, but it backfired badly.

      • Agree-very disappointing. Seems advertisng exposure on the long stages was a prime concern! Sorry for the commentators as well as the viewers.

      • Agreed that Green would have been much more competitive this year (I remember we were also saying that at the beginning of last year). With more points going to Kittel, Sagan would have a major fight on his hands. His days in the break in order to sweep up intermediate sprints were always interesting. However, I don’t like to dwell too much on what ifs. I hope that Lotto Soudal and DD can get their tactics in order – they have had several opportunities so far. Maybe getting in the break is their best shot?

    • If “commercial interest is generated by people who watch daily summaries rather than entire stages.” this years design is the very worst to establish whole stage coverage for the first time

  20. Kittel is so dominant.

    One question, why is any other team even hitting the front during the stage. Quickstep should be forced to chase the break. Even Team Sky should say these guys can go up the road we’re not chasing.

    Back in the day when Kittel was coming up, his team refused to pull because he wasn’t the favourite, now Lotto was doing a lot of work… and Greipel almost missed the top-10, AGAIN!

    Someone please explain this to me. Thanks

    • My suggestion, and it’s just that, is that sprinters thrive on confidence and the likes of Lotto-Soudal and Katusha need to back Greipel and Kristoff. To say to them “we don’t believe you’ve got a chance, we’ll gamble on the breakaway instead” would dent the moral of their sprinters. So putting a rider to work gives the team a plan to execute for the day… …But yes, repeating the same tactic and hoping for a different result is optimistic and everyone’s wondering why.

      • Ah, very good point.

        It has to be said, that was pretty exciting watching the Bora rider almost make it. Where was he finally picked up? 200m to go?

        Great ride by him.

      • I think it is Kittel who is denting the confidence of other sprinters, not their own teams. You don’t have to know much about sprinting, to see that given an open road in the last 100 m. Kittel is a country miles faster than the rest.
        The blame for the current state of affairs is with radio control obsessed DSs, who have a simple formulaic approach, to which they rigidly adhere. It is so simple even Kilby understands the routine. There is sufficient talent in the Tour for some occasional anarchy and a large group of decent riders forcing themselves up the road, opening more than the statutory 5 minute gap. Let the riders make the race for once, not unimaginative and repetitive men sitting in cars.
        Tomorrow some big ‘hills’, an uphill finish – time for some excitement.

        • Even without radios the teams would pull back the break based on a calculation performed by the DS or road captain, etc.

          This debate isn’t really relevant to why Kittel is so dominant.

          • CA. Kittel IS the dominant sprinter – he is faster in the final 100 m given an open road than any other sprinter present. It is not unusual for sprinters to have periods of almost total domination.
            With the large number of flat stages in the Tour this year, one would expect a distinct change in tactics from other teams.
            You are incorrect about the capture of a break. The current situation requires a small number, two or three generally non PT riders to get up the road. They can safety be given about five minutes early on. If the teams with sprinters put one rider each on the front, then ability, fresh legs and the numbers game means that the break in all probability will not succeed.
            If however a large group, a dozen plus, consisting of decent quality riders forced their way clear, in all probability they could stay away – if Kittels QS team were left to do the chasing on their own. The balance shifts in favour of the break who have the numbers. Agreed that takes a set of circumstances, and some innovative DS direction. It’s not rocket science, but Kittels domination would lead one to expect a change in approach from those with collective responsibility. Still three flat stages to come. Exclude Paris, so two more chances for team management to consider other options, rather than insist in persisting with their current failing approach.

  21. Stupid tactics. Lotto-Soudal, Katusja and other sprintteams have to send one or two teammates in an attack (a group of 10 or 15 riders). This give them two chances. A (minor) chance to win the stage……. and when the attack doesn’t succeed, their sprinter can still achieve…… a sixt or seventh place…. as they do in normal sprintstage.

    • Agreed that they have to adapt. They’ve tried the head to head sprints several times now. They need to force QS to do their work earlier, rather than letting Lotto and Katusha and DD reel in the break, while Kittel sweeps up the sprint.

      • Exactly, and it isn’t a knock against their in-house sprinters that they have to use these tactics. Greipel and other sprinters (like Kristoff) use tactics in the spring classics to help their classic specialists, now they need to use other tactics for these guys to try to win sprints against a red hot Kittel. It’s just part of the game.

    • I have to agree with this. Why doesn’t BMC put someone strong like Kung in a break, for example? I’m told that he tried the other day and QS and Lotto riders said “no, you’re too strong” and he gave up. Why not keep trying to bust it open and put the bullies under pressure. Plenty of flat stage strong men could try and cause a bit of damage, eg. Bozic? Bole? Irizar? Keukeleire?

      Once again we saw Direct Energie toiling away in the final kms today… to what end? That should have been QS’s job and noone else’s. In their defence, Highroad always took it on AND delivered Cavendish at the end.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward something happening tonight….

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