Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

A lively stage that promises action from start to finish. The Tour’s theme of steep climbs continues with a triptych of short climbs on Bastille Day, France’s national holiday so we can expect big crowds.

Stage 12 Review: 214km across the Pyrenees and it came down to a sprint in the final straight. A strong breakaway went clear including Marcel Kittel and Michael Matthews, presumably Kittel isn’t worried about fatigue at all by covering his distant rival for the green jersey. Otherwise Diego Ulissi, Thomas De Gendt and Stephen Cummings were stage hunting. They got six minutes but this was a slender leader once Team Sky’s steamroller picked up the pace. They might have changed to white jerseys but the tactics haven’t and work by Vasil Kiryienka and Michał Kwiatkowski reeled in Stephen Cummings on the Col de Peyresourde. Minutes before Mikel Nieve, Chris Froome and Fabio Aru avoided a crash as they reached the Peyresourde and messed up the corner.

Nobody in the yellow jersey wanted to attack. Presumably they couldn’t with two Sky riders setting the pace and to try a move just risked being caught and dropped. This is exactly what happened to Alberto Contador, he tried a quick burst on the Port de Balès only to finish the stage in 14th place over two minutes down. Nairo Quintana didn’t attack but lost more time. So we got the sprint. George Bennett tried a move, perhaps hoping he would not be marked but he was quickly pulled back. The final climb up the runway was so steep they were zigzagging but while Fabio Aru accelerated Romain Bardet zagged less and surged past in what seemed like a slow motion finish as the it an age for the Frenchman to reach the finish line. He celebrated and finished seconds clear of Rigobert Uran and Fabio Aru, the new yellow jersey wearer.

One thing to note was the Peyresourde junction when Froome and Aru went off course. These accidents can get the adrenalin flowing and the blood sugar rising but this means energy levels will drop after the rush. Was this Froome’s problem? Or is he genuinely slower atop a summit finish?

This isn’t uncharted territory but seeing Froome surrender the yellow jersey to a GC rival is a first. It’s not like he’s lost minutes: he’s six seconds behind Fabio and this is fine if he can hold this slender deficit all the way to Marseille where the time trial will see him back in the lead. But it’s the holding that’s the question, there’s today’s stage and the Alps to come, can he hold on now that the others will be keen to test him. Aru meanwhile is riding solo after Jacob Fuglsang’s injuries are proving too much so he’s much more open to attack.

The Route: 101km, 2,600m of vertical gain and a race for everyone, whether they want a stage win, to take time or GC or others just hoping to make the time cut. They head up the Salat valley on a fast road to the first intermediate sprint. It’s uphill but a “whitewater road”, the route tracks the mountain river up the valley so a gentle but constant gradient. After the intermediate sprint the road gets particularly scenic and quieter as they ride up the gorges de Ribaouto.

The Col de Latrape is 5.6km at 7.3% but with a gentle first kilometre and a gentle final kilometre it means the middle section is 8% with some 10%. It feels fast to ride and is followed a fast descent with some hairpins down to Aulus-les-Bains.

The Col d’Agnès bites from the start, the 9% on the profile above is more like 10% as the road tracks the valley wall on a long road with one of those rough rural surfaces but at least it’s open, the road was washed away by floods in the spring but locals make a point of showing their open for the Tour and everyone else so there’s a brand new road. The second half has a good series of hairpin bends as it rises up to the pass. The comes a 16km descent all along a small rural road but it’s not technical, just long and there’s an uphill section that the roadbook profile doesn’t show and a gentle 3-4% slope for the final kilometres into Massat.

Mur sounds better than col, “wall” rather than “pass” and it’s a label invented by the race because it’s normally the Col de Péguère for locals. The climb out of Massat to the Col de Four and it’s a steady road. It pitches up more to the Col des Caognous again on a wide road. Then they turn off for the Mur which featured in the 2012 Tour de France. It was supposed to feature in the 1973 edition but the riders went on strike to protest at it because the road was a mess. It’s still not easy, a very narrow road and double digit percentages with portions of 16% and 18%. This time it’s closed to spectators to stop riders being blocked on this narrow road.

It’s then followed by a varied descent, a bigger road but the slope varies, the first part of the descent is gentle forcing the riders to pedal hard which is not good for anyone dropped on the way up because they must keep going. It’s only later that they drop down to the Col de Marrous does the slope get steep with 10%. It bends and twists through the forest, there’s rarely much visibility of what’s coming up and it was here in 2012 that Luis-Leon Sanchez launched his winning move to win the stage. That day they also rode to Foix but did a loop around the town to extend the route, this time it’s direct into town.

The Finish: they descend into Foix on a gentle slope and the road levels out in town. They go one way down the main street and just before the Ariège river they do a U-turn on a wide 180° bend, it’s not a dead turn but it’s slow and on the exit there’s just 200m to the finish line.

The Contenders: the short distance and tomorrow’s more processional stage means this should be a lively stage from start to finish. It’s not obvious what the tactics will be, we might imagine action from start to finish from the big names à la Dauphiné but none of the top names will want to go too early for fear of being overhauled, especially if Team Sky controls the race. So the more likely idea is a big breakaway goes clear that’s been well filtered by the top teams to ensure it is not threatening and the GC guys can duke it out later in the stage.

Who to pick? Let’s spin the roulette wheel… Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) is good for a stage like this, he can do quick climbs and sprints well and team mates Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot can try again, Wellens has gone early on stages and paid but his style suits. Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) can try again now that Contador’s overall challenge is over. Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) will be marked this time but could try. I’m curious to see what Tony Martin (Katusha) does because on a good day he can handle a mountain raid and surely he can’t just want for Marseille?

If the main GC contenders come in then Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) has a good sprint while Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) could hang on and finishes fast too. Dan Martin says his crash injuries are still costing him and so he’s less of a pick, he could pay on the Mur or just in the sprint.

Tony Gallopin, Rigoberto Urán
T Martin, Pantano, Wellens, Benoot, Calmejane

Weather: a pleasant 23°C and mostly sunny.

TV: live from the start at 2.35pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.35pm CET.


142 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Sorry for the repetitive theme, but what about the Bardet bidon controversy?
    Bennett must be the surprise of the Tour thus far. Amazing performance that I hope he can sustain.
    Fuglsang the latest GC contender down…this really is a race of attrition. At least it seems relatively wide open with Froome’s apparent weakness.

    • Inrng great write-up.

      Fun stage. That wall was steep – Bardet did an excellent job and deserved the win. Aru in yellow provides us something different and a big task for Astana tomorrow.

      Rules should be applied consistently – the 20s penalties are painful but if applied to everyone the thing to do. Take a look the below

      Aru was so all over the place so much so that it appeared on the overhead video that he tried to force Bardet across the road and then forced Uran into the barriers right when he was close to making a run for the finish (not likely that Uran would have made it). From the ASO feed but couldn’t find it online yet.

      • It seems strange that the bottle rule concerns team helpers but excludes members of the public. The person providing Bardet was not in team dress though though the action looks pretty assured. Who checked that the person was not AG2R in civvies, and now all the teams know how to give a bottle in the closing stages without penalty. An invitation to cheat – again.

        • If this is cheating then I’m pretty willing to let it slide. I can understand they don’t want team cars in the mix at the end of stages but getting a bidon from the side of the road probably costs you time and effort. Do we really want to be telling people competing in an endurance sport in summer that they can’t drink?! Seems ridiculous

          • I think you’re right… to be honest I would be happy to make a distinction between gels and liquid… or even in a race like the Tour – Neutral water available to all riders as a just in case?

          • The issue is the inconsistency… some are more equal than others.
            Let them eat Christmas cake on the final ramp if they want, I don’t care. Just don’t be inconsistent

          • Completely agree – this rule needs to be changed and riders should never be penalised for breaking it.

            The message being sent to casual fans by this rule is archaic.

          • Quick amendment to my posting moments ago:

            The rule should still ban feeding from team cars (to avoid sticky bottles giving a bit of a break to the riders fighting for the final placings).

          • I believe the rational is that if you want food or water you have to carry it. By not having a full bottle at the beginning of the climb you have a weight advantage of 0.5 kg. Just strategically place “spectators” at the side of the road and drink all you want without the penalty of weight. Look at Quintana’s bike at the weigh in, it was a mere 40 gm over the minimal weight limit. These guys are weight conscious all the time.

      • What is the exact rule? There are comments saying that the difference was that Uran took his bottle from a member of his team’s staff whereas Bardet took it from a spectator. Does that explain it?

    • The standard rule is that you can’t take food or drink for the first 50km or the last 20km in a race from the team car or from the roadside, but yesterday it was changed to the final 12km, which is common on a mountain stage. The idea is to stop outside interference, eg the team car offering sticky bottles etc. Lots of teams knew this and posted staff at the top of the Port de Balès so riders could get new drinks and food, Sky were even handing up musettes.

      Bardet and Bennett both took water at about the same time. Bennett’s grab is more obvious, he swings across and you can easily see him drinking so the moto commissaire behind will have noticed it. Bardet’s move is less obvious, from the video shot behind you can hardly tell if he takes something, let alone drinks it so this probably why the commissaire missed it.

      As an aside no rider should drink water handed up from the crowd in case it is spiked. Now almost everyone beside the road holding a bottle of water is doing out of generosity and sympathy but it’s the one idiot that could ruin a career. Riders normally know this and take water but only to pour on them.

      Agreed on Bennett, his win in California was impressive but hanging with the front group in the Tour is several levels higher (eg compare him to where Talansky is) and he’s the revelation of the Tour in a race that doesn’t reveal many. He’s come a long way, it was only a few years ago he was a second category amateur riding for a village team in eastern France and he’s done it the old fashioned way with a one-way ticket to Europe, a hard spell in the amateur ranks (when he signed for a bigger U23 team in France his first concern apparently was the apartment he’d get because his housing had been very bad) alongside the likes of Rudy Molard (FDJ) regularly against Bardet.

      • It’s exactly the same,for Bardet and Bennet. The rule is that a rider can not accept food or drink. It’s obvious that Bardet takes a bottle. No matter what he is doing with the bottle, it’s NOT allowed. And even more, the video shows Bardet bringing the bottle to his mouth. So, Bennet and Bardet have to be penalized the same way. Obvious this has to do with the fact Bardet is a home rider and ASO is not neutral (as prooved in the past). This has nothing to do with conspiracy. But all with an not independant jury under the strong influence of ASO. Watch the reactions of the French readers of l’Equipe. Most of them condemn the decision of the (neutral ?) jury.

        • You’re very certain on this but the rules, both in the UCI PDF and the Tour de France rulebook are vague in English and in French on taking water vs drinking it, could you explain what you’ve read?

          • On the feeding – wether English or French – one could split a hair or two discussing why the riders should be sanctioned; the regulations doesn’t state that it is forbidden to take any feeding only that it is not allowed to hand it out (which shall be done “by the staff accompanying the team and by no-one else”)

        • ASO does not make these decisions, it is the UCI race commissars. None of them are even French. They should however include a former rider so they wouldn’t make stupid mistakes like the DQ of Sagan.

          • Interesting comments from Vaughters on cyclingnews…

            “Our original protest was based off the assumption that the UCI thought that the feed came from someone on team staff with 6km [to go]. The case is that the actual feed came from someone who works for Cannondale France as a marketing guy. They have no license with our team and we’re the last people that would have a poorly placed feed. This guy was doing it on his volition. It’s unfortunate, but he’s not with us.

            “We assumed that’s why we had the penalty and Bardet didn’t, but Marien’s first response was that he didn’t care if the feed came from a small child or anyone, the penalty would still be the same.

            “I feel that Phillipe Marien has made an either incompetent or biased decision in this matter. They’re making it up as they go along, and it’s completely incompetent officiating. If they’re going to be fair, be fair,” Vaughters added.


          • Now the penalties have been withdrawn. The logical step would have been for Bardet to lose 20s too. It now seems just like a convoluted route to avoid doing so.

          • This has got me quite cross. I think the rule is stupid if you are taking a bottle from a soigneur standing on the side of the road. But those are the rules and they have been broken, why are they removing the punishment ?

          • They say it was because of traffic preventing riders getting food/drink earlier.

            Everyone seems very excited because of a minor rule over taking a bottle rather than wider aspects like Aru in yellow, the state of Astana, Froome’s form, what Ag2r might do, who could win the stage and other race-related aspects for today.

          • I’m afraid you’re being disingenuous here.
            People are not getting excited because of a minor rule.
            They are getting excited because of the wider aspects of the way the sport is officiated.
            And that is something which you get very excited about frequently too.

          • It’s becoming like football – everyone is talking about the controversy more than the real action.

            It’s exciting to have an uncertain Tour result! Though I still think Aru needs another 40 secs and Bardet more like 1m10 before we get to the next TT. I hope they now both race to win – they should believe they have a shot.

            Question for INRNG – if Bardet had a few seconds over the top, would it be enough for him to stay away to the bottom, or is the descent too benign for that?

          • “It’s becoming like football – everyone is talking about the controversy more than the real action.”

            Becoming? Polemica has long dominated cycling discussion. So much so that it even has a special word in its lexicon for it.

          • “They say it was because of traffic preventing riders getting food/drink earlier.”
            But surely the commisaires knew that yesterday!

          • nortonpdj: Maybe it’s an excuse but remember there’s a lot going on in the race, the commissaires don’t know everything all the time, the race convoy can be stretched over a long distance.

          • I already heard about the penalty but didn’t know when it occurred, when I watched the video.

            While watching the video, the announcer pointed out Uran took a bottle and at the time, I figured that’s how the infraction was noticed to begin with.

            -It made Me wonder if the announcer didn’t announce it, would it have gone unnoticed?

          • I think people have to get excited if the result might be decided in the jury room. The way its shaping up this could be won by a few seconds. If Bardet were to win by less than 20 seconds now then this isn’t dead yet. It is essentially a punishment on all the riders who didn’t take a feed that those who did were let off to save Bardet taking a penalty.

          • “all the riders who didn’t take a feed”

            You have any idea how many liters were grabbed by the gruppetto from roadside on that climb? Who punishes them, if you’re such a friend of same rule for all, you should fight for more commissaires who catches them all. But then the nationalist conspiracy narrative could be destroyed, I see.

          • Ever heard of TV? Ever heard of guys on the roadside with camera phones? If someone cheats today by taking a feed it gets caught. And, yes, punish them all. What you don’t do is less then all off to keep the nationalist narrative rolling.

          • yes you should open a permanent “juries, written and unwritten rules discussion post”, so the comment section doesnt gets flooded with all these (in comparision) rather uninteresting discussions.

          • Just for the records; one of them actually is French but still, he doesn’t constitute a majority…

            Jury President: Philippe MARIEN (Bel)
            Jury members: Laurent IDELOT (Fra), Francesca MANNORI (Ita), Juan Marin SANZ (Esp)

  2. I was just checking PCS now, looking at the riders’ weights, and surprisingly Froome is listed as 69 kg.
    This is a touch heavier than usual, and more of the TT weight?
    All the top finishers yesterday were weighing in low – mid 60s kg. A factor?

    If Froome were to cede further time, to Aru in particular, how much could he afford to lose?
    After yesterday’s movie set finish, will it be a case of ‘You only live twice’ for Froome come the Marseille time trial?

    *ps what make of glasses is Ulissi wearing in the first picture above?

    • More than a minute is needed by Aru or Bardet… and even that won’t be any guarantee…
      But it would mean we get to see the contrast of styles in Marseille with the climbers bobbing and weaving all over their TT bike to limit losses.

      With that nice 1km @ 10% in the middle of the marseille course, plus factor in 3rd week of a GT… I’d hope it would be quite close.

  3. Chainrings for the intermediate sprint?
    In typical British fashion, I’m rooting for the underdog – Matthews – who is not giving up the fight, in typical Aussie fashion. Go on lad!

  4. It is difficult to really understand the end of yesterday’s stage. Until 500m from the end it went exactly according to the script but then it didnt. The obvious question, was Chris Froome’s sudden struggle a one off or do they signify something deeper? There was no sign of any issues on the Mont du Chat. I am sure there will be all sorts of speculation but the answer can only really be revealed by the unfolding race. There will now be an awful lot of attention and pressure on both Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet will this affect their performances?

    Not sure how today will play out. I thought yesterday was a pretty much certainty for the breakaway but the Sky train set such a high pace that it put paid to everyone’s efforts. I cant see that approach working today. Perhaps the GC folk will be feeling the effects of yesterday and will let a break go but also Sky might want to make a point and others might try to take advantage of Chris Froome’s perceived weakness (will he struggle on the steep bit on the last climb?). I have a feeling that this will be a GC battle not a break, not sure the route lends itself to a real contest between the leading players so they could all end up coming in together with a sprint at the end.

    Surprised there is no mention of the Romain Bardet non time penalty. From what I can see if George Bennet gets a penalty so should Romain Bardet, does not look good from the Race jury.

    • Until I see evidence to the contrary, my view is that this was a very specific kind of finish and on the day Froome just didn’t have a kick in a steep sprint. Could mean something, could mean nothing. But I do know there isn’t another like it in the race.

    • Froome didn’t look sharp in the final effort to the line on the Planche de Belle Fille either. That’s 2 summit finishes now, with a good separation between them, where Froome didn’t look at his best.

      Landa told Spanish radio he could have won the stage, if he hadn’t been made to stay with Froome and pace him, but had been allowed to go.

      This doesn’t look like the Froome that dominated his opponents in other Tours.

  5. Sorry to draw attention back to stage 11, but when Contador crashed with his team-mate, the video showed Pantano riding in the reverse direction back to Contador to pace him back to the peloton. I had thought there was a regulation against doing so, but he was not fined that I am aware of, and on wading through the turgid 202 pages of the UCI regulations, I cannot find any section covering that. I have a dim recollection that our wise sage Mr Inrng had commented on this issue previously. Any assistance clarifying the situation appreciated.

    • From recollection, David Millar on the UK commentary stated that Pantano could be in trouble for coming back the wrong way – implication therefore is that this is against regulation (or that is how a recently retired pro racer saw it!)

        • Mr. Inner Ring: I was under the impression that the rules say a rider cannot go backwards on the race course with their number on/showing. BTW, in the 2015 Giro, following Porte’s illegal wheel change, there are pictures of the Sky riders facing backwards on the race route after they went back to collect him.

  6. For what it’s worth I’m tipping Thibau Pinot for today’s stage on Bastille Day. He was hiding in the Grupetto yesrday surely to save the legs for today…

    • dunno about hiding, looked like he got dropped pretty hard like he has done every day the race has gone uphill.

      Still, I hope you are right and he’s been bluffing all the way.

    • National day but it’s the course that determines things more. Voeckler’s best days are behind him, he knows it too and doesn’t pretend he’s got legs like the good old days, and just wants to reach Paris.

      • 15th tdf, finished 14 so far. 20 or so days in yellow. Tommy has earned his procession if you ask me.
        Wasn’t always the nice guy, but a fighter as good as any
        But we do want him in the break!

  7. Last Sunday, seconds after seeing Porte crash, I turned of the TV and vowed to stay away from all cycling coverage for the rest of the month. As well as being devastated for Porte, I couldn’t bear to watch another Tour de Froome. I gave in last night and watched the stage.

    Although, I still think Froome will win there is now a very interesting narrative developing with Landa. I said back during the first couple days that if I was Landa and wasn’t given the Vuelta and was leaving next year, I would ride for myself rather than Froome. It seems like he’s doing just that. He’s got form in this respect with Astana, so it was foreseeable. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Is it too early to start asking how much time Aru and Bardet need on Froome before the TT?

  8. Interesting fact about the Mur de Peguere – it was on this climb in 2012 where tacks have been thrown on the road and many riders stopped at the top with punctures.

    • That’s right and Robert Kišerlovski is back, he crashed and abandoned because of the tacks. This time the road is closed to the public because it’s deemed to narrow, they don’t want the crowds to block the riders… or maybe to prevent the tacks again.

  9. There’s been a lot of guff talked about Froome in the last few hours. Happily, on this blog the judgment is more measured. I have to ask, “Has anything really changed?” Froome lost a few seconds on a very specific (i.e. steep) finish. This was not a Tour-ending disaster. We have seen Froome lose time before as well. For example, in last year’s Vuelta he lost 31 seconds to Quintana on Lagos de Covadonga. It didn’t put him out of the race and but for a very bad tactical mistake on another stage which did take the victory from him he may very well have won. We also need to remember that if Froome is not the field-destroying behemoth we have seen at previous Tours he still has the strongest team and they led the GC field for 215kms which only made attacks possible right at the very end. This is a strong weapon to have. People were saying last night “They should have attacked earlier and done more damage.” But they couldn’t have because they would have blown up. Sky can and will utilise this weapon to the very end meaning long range, Tour-ending attacks on Froome will be night on impossible to make. This is why you bring a team of superstars to the Tour.

    Froome, I’m sure, will be thinking that all he has to do is stay close. He is used to winning the Tour in different ways from last year when his one stage, Tour-defining destruction of the field was missing too. I think we have been a little spoiled by 2013 and 2015 into expecting that every time. But it doesn’t matter how you win or if you lose the jersey. It matters what jersey you have on the 21st stage. Froome just needs to stay close and let a good time trial do the talking. He can still defend as necessary because there are precious few attack points in this race and he has the best team where many other GC rivals barely have one at all.

    PS Are there really people out there who believe this Mikel Landa nonsense I see being talked up by press and fans alike who just want to generate a scandal? How does a team mate help you on a 300 meter, 20% incline sprint for the line? At that point its every man for himself and there’s no help you can provide anymore.

    • +1 on Landa, he was to my eyes trying to get ahead of Uran or Aru to stop them getting as many bonus seconds. Far more to be gained than drafting Froome on 20% slope

      • There is no drafting effect on a 20% slope. Its down to your legs and nothing else. Landa’s best help was in trying to beat the others.

      • I agree, Landa worked for Froome as much as possible. Landa did look like one of the strongest riders going up that climb though and a potential winner if he wasn’t on team duty.

    • Since Landa couldn’t push Froom up the climb or ride his bike for him, the only thing he could try and do for Froom was steal away any bonus seconds from Aru. Didn’t quite make it.

    • Landa tweeted of picture of him pretending to strangle Nico Portal, I think it’s safe to say the reaction is over the top.

    • Agree on Landa: no help to be provided on such slopes.
      And I think he just waited a bit before full gas, and without this he would have ended up higher.
      Landa is really doing a good Tour, mostly when you take into account that he has the Giro in the legs and that he is on duty for Froome. He’s 7th in GC.

  10. UCI rule 2.3.027 states, “Feeding is prohibited on climbs, descents and during the first 50 and last 20 km.” On Thursday, the jury even allowed riders to take feeds up to the final 10 kilometers. Stevo Cummings even had a ‘sticky bottle’ at 14.4km (very quick swig from the bidon itself)

    In fact, there was a feed zone with 12.5km to go in the 214.5km stage.

    So written rules appear very flexible again, today there’s only an official 30km window to feed and it looks like it’s on the fast downhill section 😉

    • Bardet is French and its very noticeable how French riders don’t get treated the same as foreigners in Le Tour. (Compare Italians in Il Giro and Spaniards in La Vuelta.) This is no fault of the ASO of course, who don’t make or apply the rules, but it is a crock of smelly stuff if you ask me. Vive La France!

      • I agree. It’s a pity that some readers give comment, not knowing the rules. Bardet and Bennet did exactly the same, accepting both a bottle, which is NOT allowed. Drinking or not. And on the video you can see Bardet bring the bottle to his mouth. It’s obvious that Bardet is not treated the same way as foreigners.
        In the past even worst cases, linked with dopingabuse. In the 60, 70 and 80’s, French riders were allowed in the doping controle without the ‘chaperone’, cheating easily with some other ‘pee’. When Pollentier was caught with a flacon ”fresh’ pee under his skirt, Thevenet and the other contenders did just the same. But the jury closed the eyes, as they did the days before and after this incident. There was testimony of this scandals. The insiders new, the journalists new, but they all stay silent.

      • I see people attributing nationality but like many generalizations on nationality there’s the danger it doesn’t treat the actual cases one by one and explain what happened, the UCI rule involved and why the officials took their decision.

        It’s worth remembering that we often see much more than the commissaires thanks to various camera angles, slow-mo, Gifs and screengrabs. The incriminating front-on video of Bardet appearing to drink only appeared late in the evening by which point the commissaires had already ruled. Just as referees in a football match inside a manicured stadium make mistakes, they’re going to make them from time to time on the side of a mountain too. This doesn’t make the commissaires or their rules any better but it explains the gap between what we can see and what the officials can do and the rules they’re working with and how this clashes with today’s internet/social media age.

        Also Uran was very lucky not to get punished for the assistance from the Mavic car on the stage to Chambéry where he was holding onto the car on the small climb. The rules say you have to stop at the side of the road to fix things, no “magic spanners” or mechanics leaning out of the window are allowed, especially in the final moment of the race. Perhaps the commissaires are pro-Colombian 😉

        • Thanks for the very balanced view here Mr Ring.

          As you say, it is not that the officials are biased towards the French Riders, it is rather the haphazard way that video evidences emerge from social media that makes such evidences difficult to deal with.

          On the other hand, UCI has known the situation, yet they failed to come up with a strategy.

          In this day and age of camera on phone and instant social media uploading/publishing, it is almost guarenteed that a video would emerge regarding some rule violation that race judges would have no way of seeing during the race and such video would cause huge controversy. Yet, UCI left race judges to deal with them as they come rather than having a guide line on how to admit such evidences and how to use them for judgement. leaving the judges very vernable against social media opinion sway.

          It is impossible to require judges to actively seek out see these videos themselves. However, it would make any party’s life a lot easier if there is a formal process where such evidences are submitted to a judge panel for consideration. For example, a party (team, member of race jury etc.) would need to submit a video for consideration, and such submissions should before a certain deadline for them to be effective (e.g. 9pm the night of a stage). You can even have different deadlines for different type of penalties (e.g. If there is going to be a time penalty, submission has to be before a sensible deadline, say the 9 pm I layer out. Whilst for a monetary penalty, there can be loser deadlines).

  11. When the great Sean Kelly pronounces Aru’s name, it sounds like something Australian–as in ‘aroo (that’s kangaroo, for us non-Aussies). Aru’s strong performance in this year’s Tour is the big surprise for me. In the past, I never recalled him being such a strong dominant rider in the top-tier class of GC riders that includes Froome, Quintana, and even Contador at his prime–even when Aru won the Vuelta two years ago. And such an impressive showing coming from a rider who was unable to race for more than five months of this season–even skipping out on the Giro because of a bum knee. Now, after kicking Froomey’s butt up the Peyresgrude summit, he’s in Yellow?!!! Wha’zup wid’ dat?

    • A 6 second lead suggests its currently on loan, not for keeps. What he’s got so far is only the beginning of what he will need to do to keep it.

    • Yeah, Aru’s Vuelta win over Dumoulin was nothing like this and more a result of his team pulling on the final day. Aru this year looks very different although I understand his national champ win was pretty dominant too.
      Previously I never thought he live uo to the reputation but he really seems to have pulled something out of the bag even though his riding style can make Froome look elegant at times.

      • “Pulled something out of the bag” is an idiomatic phrase that probably shouldn’t be used about yellow jersey wearers in the Tour de France 🙂

        I may be wrong here, but have there been disguised hints in the past few months from Inrng that s/he leans towards the Greg Henderson and Dan Craven view of Fabio Aru? Or that this view is widely held in the pro cycling circus?

        • Nothing disguised or open, if I knew he was up to something then it would be the scoop of the year, no? Some do see him as guilty by association, eg the Astana factor, riding for Vinokourov but this is a slippery slope. For better or worse Astana are not the force they once were and Aru’s got real problems ahead because his team is weakened, Grivko and Valgren really have their work cut out and they’re not really mountain lieutenants.

  12. Bardet attacks on Agnes and goes over first, gives one of his frighteningly fast descending exhibitions and takes time, maintains the gap on Péguère, descends like a maniac again then gives the (slightly downhill) 10km TT performance of his life and just holds on to the line? On Bastille day.

    …or we could have something similar to yesterday morning bus the final 500m 😉

  13. At last years Vuelta when we had the long stage/short stage one-two Sky did their usual thing on the long stage and roasted everyone all day long. Then come the short stage they were all too spent to respond to early attacks and Froome got isolated and dropped. I’m not saying lightning will strike twice but yesterday Sky was busy roasting everyone all day long, including their own leader, so it’ll be interesting to see how sharp they are today. I’d imagine all the teams are pretty tired but it’s a good opportunity for AG2R and maybe Quick Step to get to work early doors and try and force something. Even if it’s just getting rid of as many of Froomes helpers as they can.

    • Was thinking something similar. They didn’t really need to ride like that for so long. However, they know what’s in store. For us the the uncertainty each day is a hugely significant element of the whole thing.

  14. What about sending Landa into the breakaway today? That could surly make some pressure on Aru. Landa is looking so strong atm.. Will the other teams allow Sky that? He is only 2 min from the podium and 3 min from the leaders jersey..
    I also saw him as the prime pick for today stage, at some other cycling sites as well.

  15. If Froome starts today how he finished yesterday he could be an outsider rather than a favourite by this evening… a day to be remembered as marking the end of an old era and the transition to a new one perhaps? Hard to tell with him sometimes.

    • Why are you investing 300 meters at 20% with so much significance? That such a tiny portion of the route has such consequences seems a barmy exaggeration to me.

      • Because that’s the bit that counted, where he need to go into top gear. Fair enough he’s never been a Fleche Wallone contender and has always preferred the ski station access road style climbs, but he still looked to be struggling. When you aren’t at your best it is easy (comparatively speaking) to sit in the bunch or to ride at tempo but when you need to really go for it at 110% or whatever that’s when you realise you don’t have it. It might have been just a thing on the day, a bit of hunger or whatever. But if its more of a form thing the same thing will apply in later stages when the hammer comes down. You could say the same happened at Planche des belle filles.

        • Let’s be clear: in that 300 meters he was struggling. He said himself that he didn’t have it. But if losing 20 seconds on each of the three mountain top finishes is all the others can take then guess what? Froome wins the Tour de France in the time trial.

          • probably froome wins this but only slightly. against a weakend field. aru is practically alone in the mountains, froome still has his superb team at his disposal.

  16. Penalties reversed. A conspiracy theorist might suggest that, given the evidence against Bardet, its easier to let Uran off the hook than make it even harder for Bardet to win. Leaves a sour taste.

    • It’s a very cowardly decision from the jury. There were a lot of critics about violating the rules, only for Bardet. In stead of giving Bennet, Bardet (and Uran) a time penalty, no one is given a penalty. You can’t give a French contender a time penalty, can you ?
      Shame on you, jury (and oppressive ASO).

      • Why ASO? UCI making the call no? Consistency is all that is needed, but seems to be lacking in all sports these days. The officiating in the recent british and irish lions tour to New Zealand was shocking.

      • Regardless of Bardet’s nationality, it would always have been the easiest way out for the jury. To have punished him as well would just have opened them up to more protests and complaints from AG2R, on the basis that he’d been punished late with no time to properly contest it, and that he’d only been punished because other teams had bullied them into it.

        The jury will likely feel far more pressure to please the teams – who they are surrounded by – than the public, and this was the decision most likely to keep all the teams quiet.

    • You are right. A strange, illogical and unexplained decision, though observers might draw conclusions. The correct result would surely have been the same time penalty for all offenders.

    • They need to have more transparency in their decisions , the race is incredibly close and could even be won by a margin of less than 20 seconds

      To make a decision and appear to stand firm on it , then only reverse it when it is obvious that Bardet took a bottle as well just isn’t good enough

    • I am thinking about Sagan getting kicked out for Cavendish bumping into his elbow, while Bouhanni gets off for publicly hitting someone on purpose at 60 Km/h.
      And now this Bardet thing about taking drinks without punishment, reversing punishments an so on.

      It reminds me of a little incident I watched a few years ago which I like to think about once in a while, so Indulge me or skip it:

      I was at the roadside on the lumpy TT in 2013 that Contador almost won.

      I retreated to a campsite with a TV room to see the end of the stage. An old french guy was watching as the only one, with his dog. He was starting to nod off, snoring loudly while I was just watching the stage as the only one. The guy was sleeping when a bunch of Dutch guys entered the room and started very politely in low voices talking about their boys Bauke and such, they could see he was sleeping and did not want to wake him.

      Then he wakes up and watches the stage for a while, as the room fills up. He gives everyone the evil eye when they make comments, and every now and then he hushes the rest of us talking – the commentary is in french, and nobody except him are french. He ultimately gets so upset that people are talking(in the public TV room) that he stands up in front of the TV in the very final exciting moments, turns off the TV and starts ranting everybody in french.

      Moral of the story: The race is in France, and you can’t argue with the french in France if you are not French. I think they are somehow impervious to the logic of English-speaking countries.

      I don’t mean this in a negative way, I thought it was a hilarious moment.

      • The Bouhanni case is more the way the UCI rules are written. Like it or not one rule ( says if you punch or push someone during the race the standard punishment is a light fine and a time penalty so the UCI enforced this one on Bouhanni. There’s another, separate rule for the sprint ( which is the one the UCI applied to Sagan, this time very harshly. It’s not really one of nationality, just specific rules stipulate different treatments but these rules are not clear, they’re hidden inside the annexes of PDFs and given sections of the media covering the race don’t understand them no wonder the fans are confused too.

    • Unfortunately, it does make Inrng’s sensible and often necessary reminder that the race jury is not provided by the race organisers look a bit sick.

      If Jonathan Vaughters’ report of the Chief Commissaire’s comments and attitude are accurate then the sense that Philippe Marien is both competent and impartial in this race takes another massive hit.

  17. Typo alert
    “Romain Bardet zagged less and surged past in what seemed like a slow motion finish as the it an age for the Frenchman to reach the finish line”

    Romain Bardet zagged less and surged past in what seemed like a slow motion finish as it took an age for the Frenchman to reach the finish line

    On topic
    Aru seems stronger this year, but without a strong team his chances are slim unless Froome continues to lose even more time, but even then there are other contenders.

    • Don’t know if this is a significant explanation for Aru’s form, but interesting:

      “Aru credits nose surgery as factor in Tour de France form
      Italian champion underwent operation in January”

      “”Fabio was suffering from a very significant hypertrophy of the lower turbinates,” Professor Cassisi told La Gazzetta. “We decided on a very conservative and not very invasive surgery because removing them altogether would have been an error.”

      From Cycling News 7/7/2017

    • It depends on the average speed. Here’s the copy-paste from the rulebook:
      The permitted finishing time is calculated according to the winner’s finishing time plus:
      • 10% if the average speed is less than or equal to 30 km/h;
      • 11% between 30 km/h & 31 km/h;
      • 12% between 31 km/h & 32 km/h;
      • 13% between 32 km/h & 33 km/h;
      • 14% between 33 km/h & 34 km/h;
      • 15% between 34 km/h & 35 km/h;
      • 16% between 35 km/h & 36 km/h;
      • 17% between 36 km/h & 37 km/h;
      •18% over 37 km/h.

  18. That really is poor, there was no doubt Rigoberto Uran and George Bennet had broken the rule. However Romain Bardet had too. To duck out of giving the same penalty to Bardet by pretending nothing happened really calls into question the point in having a jury. The Sagan decision was debatable this is just plain wrong. It really looks as if the jury can be swayed by lobbying of one sort or another, they did not want to take the media storm that would have erupted if they took the correct decision so ducked the whole thing. Poor, poor, poor…….

  19. Back on the road, I presume everybody is expecting AG2R to get in the break and Bardet to attack over to them on a descent. I excited by what (other) surprise might be in store.

  20. Without having seen the actual footing or the ruling I guess the difficulty for the jury here is – what happens if more material turns up of other riders grabbing a bottle from a spectator? And up to which point after the race will you still penalize these riders?
    Agreed that this all looks rather haphazard but these are difficult decisions to make. Although it does seem, with Sagan-gate and last years’ cock-up on the Ventoux in mind, that this is more and more turning into a race (or sport, ie the non-enforcing of the rule that bikepaths/sidewalks should not be used in spring classics) where a jury has too much of a hand in the outcome of the race and too much leeway in deciding what to do.
    Apart from that I’m stoked to see what happens today!

  21. Inrng, thanks for your insights, reading your write up here let’s me follow the race with a little more understanding than I normally would have.

  22. From a cyclist’s point of view, for someone who likes to climb and descend, ride turns and loves to be entertained by varying roads this is one of the nicest stages the TdF course designers have come up with. It could have been even better if they chose to take the route over Sentenac-de-Serou, Estaniels, Nescus, and Alzen after the “mur” de Peguère. I wonder why they choose that really narrow climb but then stay away from some comparatively less but still narrow descending roads that would make for a really great finale. That route would have made the racing even more interesting because it would favor attacking on the Peguère without being afraid of the “steamrollers” reeling you in.
    But as this is the TdF where the attractiveness of the racing is always only the third thought when it comes to course design we have to be happy with what we get, right?

  23. Completely agree the rule is minor, it is the way it is enforced that is the issue. Yes the comissionaires can miss things but it was all handled very badly, it looks wrong. It is always better to assume cock up rather than conspiracy but dont give the conspiracy legs in the first place….

    Sean Kelly pointed out that Chris Froome could have had a feeding issue on the final yesterday (he has form, Alpe de Huez 2013) which adds to the issues around giving out fines & penalties for illegal feeds…..

  24. Inrng! Why aren’t the teams leaving it to Astana to do all the lead work?!?!? Aru owes UAE this yellow jersey if he keeps it tonight.

    • I’ve missed a few stages this week, but was shocked today just how weak Astana are now!
      Aru is in for a tough time over the remaining stages.

    • because arus mountain lieutenants all crashed out of the race (fuglsang and cataldo) on a stage like todays aru is practically alone, he has no one left to do any work for him.

      • Exactly, you made my point. The other teams need to leave all the pulling to Astana, in their weakened state then need to take turns attacking him.

        Instead Astana got help from UAE today.

  25. Re: the Col de Péguère “This time it’s closed to spectators to stop riders being blocked on this narrow road.”

    Presumably this is a reaction to the Ventoux nonsense last year? In which case, well done to the organisers. We moan like hell when we think they screw up, but sensible corrections like this usually go unnoticed.

    • I agree. It was getting a little hairy with the spectators until they reached where the road was cleared. It’s too bad they couldn’t use barriers, but then there would be no place for the cars to go.

  26. btw 6 french guys in the top 20, 4 of them 26 or younger. among them cycling philosopher guillaume martin and Pierre L. accompanied by brigitte and bernadette.

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