Tour de France Stage 17 Preview

The first of two days in the Alps and a giant stage awaits. This year’s race has a theme of short steep climbs but today reverts to a classic Alpine route where duration and altitude matter more than the gradient… and so does the direction of the wind on the final descent because it will either reward or condemn an attack on the Galibier.

Stage 16 Review: Team Sunweb may have a German flag but their Dutch DNA showed as the split the race to pieces in the crosswinds and across the Ardèche plateau. Meanwhile the masters of the crosswind Quick Step were, for once, on the receiving end as Marcel Kittel was dropped, Philippe Gilbert abandoned and Dan Martin was among those blasted by the crosswinds to lose time. Sky split the field and Romain Bardet had a nervous moment but Oliver Naesen, one of the best signings made for this year, helped float him across to the lead group. It made for a lively stage with action from start to finish where Michael Matthews took a second stage win. Just like in Rodez he seemed to be waiting for his rivals to make their move as if he was not looking at the finish line but his rivals. He won but only after drifting across the road to the annoyance of John Degenkolb but the Australian didn’t close the door.

The Route: a 183km clockwise tour around the Massif des Ecrins via classic route. There’s a lumpy approach the first pass of the day, the Col d’Ornon which is one of those climbs where one side is very different than the other. They take the easier side, 5.1km at 6.7% and then descent the harder side, it’s a technical descent down to the valley. It’s perfect for Michael Matthews to attack over and try to get to the intermediate sprint where 20 points await, not enough to put him in green but enough to narrow the gap to just nine points. Minutes after the intermediate sprint the road starts climbing…

The Croix de Fer is a giant of a climb. Listed as 24km at 5.2% it reads like a long gradual climb, the kind trucks could get up but the average is deceiving. It starts climbing with some solid 8-9% gradients for the first six kilometres, and all on a reasonably straight road which allows the TV moto cameras to pan up the peloton to inspect the early damage. Then comes a steep descent and a matching steep rise which then levels out as they climb beyond the treeline up the Col du Glandon, another descent but this time less steep and the road that rises up after is less steep and then a final traverse to the Col de la Croix de Fer where we’ll see if the Croix de Fer, an iron cross, is there are talk of theft over the winter. It’s followed by a fast descent that has its moments but is mainly a ski station access road with the accompanying predictable width and signage.

After a short valley section and the feedzone the Col du Télégraphe starts steep with some 10% ramps amid the early hairpins before levelling out and becoming a steady climb as it rises above the Maurienne valley. At the pass it dips quickly, a four kilometre pause to consume food for the climb to come. The Galibier begins out of Valloire at 1417m above sea level or roughly the same height as the top of the Grand Colombier. The climb is in two parts, the approach to Plan Lachat which has its moments but is generally steady and then the post-Plan Lachat area which is eight kilometres of 8-10% all above 2,000m above sea level on exposed terrain.

The descent is in three parts, first the run down the Galibier which is steep, twisty and fast for nine kilometres. Then they reach the Lautaret pass, a large traffic artery and it’s 10km at 5%, the kind of road you need to pedal hard to keep moving but at the same time it can be hard to close gaps. For illustration a recent winner over the Galibier and down the Lautaret, Mauricio Soler, resisted the chase not because of the brute power but just because it’s hard to close the gap down a false flat. The closer they get to the finish the more the slope levels out. The Lautaret is famous for its afternoon wind, how a calm morning on the road can see the breeze pick up. Today the wind isn’t forecast to get up too much but a 10-15km/h headwind is still pesky to a lone rider and teams will be dispatching their amateur meteorologists to the descent check the conditions before phoning in the results because this can determine whether a breakaway works or not, a headwind can condemn a lone rider, a tailwind could define their career.


The Finish: the flamme rouge is on the main road then there’s a roundabout with 500m to go before a 450m finishing bend that’s slightly uphill.

The Contenders: Warren Barguil is hard to look past for a breakaway. He can secure the mountains jersey today and given the way he’s climbing take a second stage win. Easier said than done but he does make it look easy with that effortless pedalling action.

The main GC contenders are hard to pull apart. Among the top-4 Rigoberto Urán probably has the fastest sprint ahead of Romain Bardet but there could be more in the mix, Simon Yates is fast too and Dan Martin has more room now, perhaps he has to settle for the stage win, hardly a resignation but this time the others can see him sneak away without posing a threat. Unless of course Chris Froome takes flight on the Galibier and solos to the stage win he’s yet to claim.

Alberto Contador has room to attack now, he fell out of the top-10 yesterday so could go clear on the Galibier without threatening the others. Among others for a long range breakaway maybe Esteban Chaves reminds us what he can do, Thibaut Pinot‘s over his illness and Bauke Mollema tries for another stage.

Warren Barguil
Rigoberto Urán, Romain Bardet, Dan Martin
Contador, Froome, Yates

Weather: warm and sunny to start with 29°C in the valleys. Cooler later as clouds appear and there could be showers or a sudden thunderstorm later.

The big factor today is the wind on the final descent of the Col du Lautaret the finish. The Lautaret’s headwind is notorious and if it picks up it can ruin anyway breakaway attempts or, via race radio, damped any attacking ambitions. Currently the forecast is for a calm run to the line but reality may prove otherwise.

TV: live from the start at 12.10pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.35pm CET.

122 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 17 Preview”

  1. I know how the team prize works, but surely the team of the Tour thus far has been Sunweb. Not only for the stage wins, KOM lead and making the green jersey competitive, but also for how they’ve done it – Matthews chasing down threats to Barguil’s mountains lead, Barguil closing gaps in the crosswinds to set up Matthews for the sprints and the whole team committing day after day to getting in the breakaway or sitting on the front of the peloton and dictating pace.

    Also no chainring for Aru? Yes his team has been weak ever since Fuglsang retired hurt, but when it’s come to the big climbs he’s shown that’s he’s arguably the strongest, and while he’d prefer an uphill finish to this one, he must still fancy his chances of getting a gap and holding it to the line.

    • When you consider the pretty horrible season that Sunweb, in their previous incarnation, suffered in 2016 after the crash, it is all the more remarkable.
      Add to the fact that they sent a winning team to the Giro too, and I absolutely agree with you.

      They were fantastic yesterday, and I hope Matthews gets the 20 points today.
      Looking at Thursday and Friday’s profiles, he can clean up in those intermediates as well and go into the lead.

      What happened to Greipel yesterday? He got over the first climb, kept in the pack all day, and then got himself separated in the wind. He looked sick as a pig riding in.
      Maybe Friday or Sunday for the big fella.

      • Alpecin must be looking at the Tour wishing they hadn’t jumped ship… they’ll be wrapping Tony Martin in cotton wool for the next few days hoping he salvages something for them in Marseilles…

    • I agree about Aru. At least he should be mentioned. He showed great shape so far, his weakness is at first the team, at second a bad day. As his supporter I hope he could overcome these weaknesses.

  2. Do you think it makes a difference that yesterday’s stage was really difficult? Barguil had to pull quite much for Matthews, just like Dan Martin. Maybe today someone who could take it easy yesterday?
    Although I didn’t see enough to say who had a quiet day.

      • Yeah QS officials declared that some nasty gut bug has been wreaking havoc among riders and staff. It’s going to be tough for Kittel and Martin but I see him hanging on nevertheless and maybe snatch today’s stage.

    • Team Sunweb is likely to favor their chances at the overall Green Jersey contest over the Polka Dot competition in light of the upcoming Alps stages that will be hotly contested by the GC favorites. That’s probably why Barguil went “all-in” for Michael on this past stage.

      • Theoretically one rider could take 100 KOM points by being first over all the remaining HC climbs, but it’s more likely that these will be split amongst multiple riders, and while Barguil probably won’t be allowed up the road given his spot on GC, if he can hang with the main contenders he should be able to sprint for points at the top of climbs to boost his lead. So barring illness or a crash I should think Sunweb will be confident in him taking the polka dots all the way to Paris.

        • I agree. Barguil is now too high on GC to be given a large lead or disregarded. The mountain points are now likely to be shared out and its unlikely Roglic or de Gendt, his closest rivals, hoover up all the points.

  3. Is this too much for Cummings?

    How about Navarro?

    And Atapuma? He’s been all but invisible this tour! Is he out of form, or is it something else?
    Same with sepulveda…

  4. “Team Sunweb … split the race to pieces in the crosswinds”

    Well, not really – Sunweb split the race on the climb – it was Sky who did the damage in the crosswinds.

    • Also it wasn’t really their plan, Cannondale did exactly the same thing for Sagan a few years ago, allthough I doubt there was so much wind that day.

      • Indeed.
        Won’t spoiler the headline, but I do appreciate a well-turned caption:
        “Traces of 4 * 4 were raised around it and seem to attest to a malice or an imprudence.”

        Can’t argue with that…

    • It was fine when I was up there last October. Nice empty roads that time of year with the cyclists gone and the skiers not there yet, although the Galibier was already closed. I was thankful to the Dutch guys I met at the top who gave me a heavy plastic bag to stuff down my jersey, because it was a chilly descent.

  5. Inrng – thanks for all the write ups.

    I expect some changes in the top 10 (may not with Froome) over the next few days. Someone is like to have a bad day or a mechanical – not to mention the TT.

    It will be interesting to see if they let Barguil go! A number of riders could have had this date circled – I see Pinot and Mollema as getting into the break. I could also see Talansky/Rolland getting in the break as either a setup or to go for the win.

  6. Would have thought that Froome is far more likely to take this stage than Contador and Yates? We saw he was strong after his mechanical the other day. Could this not be the day when he and Sky stamp their authority and win the psychological battle?

  7. In retrospect, what seemed at the time like a smart moment from Dan Martin – tracking Matthews to force the GC teams to close down his move – turned out to be a bit of a disastrous mistake. By bringing a peloton containing half the sprinters up to Sunweb it provided them with a bunch of allies (Lotto, Katusha, DiDa) to share the work to distance Kittel, Bouhanni, and Groenewegen. Had Matthews just been allowed to go, likely the Kittel group would have got back on to a calmer peloton after the climb, and all the sprinters teams would then have been motivated to bring back Matthews before the finish. And Martin would then have had more teammates around him to help him out in the winds.

    • This is true. Matthews had only two team-mates in the mini-break compared to the whole team, half of BMC, a couple katusha, lotto and Dim. Data.

    • I would suspect that it was team orders for Dan Martin to track Mathews. They would have been hoping that once Kittle got over the climbs the other team mates could drag him back. Fair play to Sunweb for drilling the pace most of the day.

      Gotta feel for Dan Martin worked hard since the crash to claw back seconds only to see them disappear up the road in the crosswinds. It will be interesting to see if he gets any more support today. Also wondering if Gilbert would have been with Martin yesterday if he had stayed in the race or would he have gone with Kittel.

      • Martin tracking Matthews might suggest that the team are prioritising (or think they’re more likely to win) the green jersey than get the podium. It makes sense if the team are sick – keep Kittel in the race and let Martin fend for himself as there’s every chance he’ll end up with dodgy guts over the next few days and slip further down GC.

  8. This stage surely has “Attaque de Bardet” written all over it? Of the top four he’s the one with most to lose if he doesn’t come out of the Alps ahead. His time trial is very bad. In the Dauphine time trial in which Froome supposedly had a shocker whilst in 8th place, 37 seconds back on Porte, Bardet was 1.53 down in 46th place. In other words he lost 1.16 to an underperforming Froome on a course only 1km longer than that on Saturday. Bardet must attack in the Alps if he wants to win the race.

  9. A proper Tour stage no “innovations” or “gimmicks”!

    Whilst both Warren Barguil and Michael Matthews are perhaps too obvious candidates for the early break, not sure the other teams will have the motivation or strength to chase then down. QS clearly have been weakened by illness, there cant be many occasions where they have they ever lost out so comprehensively in crosswinds. Sky are unlikely to be bothered, Warren Barguil is nearly 9 minutes down. Do Trek/Movistar/BMC still have the capability to do so?

    I guess there will be a fair sized break go as AG2R and others send the usual “riders up the road” in the hope of them being helpful later in the stage, unsure how easily Sky will be able to police all this.

    As to the main event, it is possible that it ends in a no score draw, the main contenders marking each other and waiting for the slopes of the Izoard. Altitude comes into play, a serious amount of climbing above 2000m, though I suspect this is less of an issue these days where most of the pros spend much time training at similar heights. I have seen it suggested in a few places that Fabio Aru will crack at some point. Not sure what the evidence for this is but if he is going to this seems to be the stage where it would happen. AG2R will presumably try to put Sky under pressure, perhaps setting a fast pace up the Croix de Fer, this is probably the key to the stage if not the Tour. Personally not convinced they have the strength to outlast Sky but we will know in a couple of hours.

    I fear Dan Martin will lose out today, not the time to be even slightly under the weather.

    I think the break will be caught on the Galibier and that Chris Froome, Romian Bardet, Rigoberto Uran, Mikel Landa and a few others will roll in together. If that happens the only firm prediction would be Mikel Landa will not win the sprint……..

      • I doubt any of the other teams will let Mikel Landa get into a break, certainly not at the start of the stage. Perhaps the wording was a bit imprecise , filter might have been better than police ie decide who is and who is not allowed into the break. Though that might be well nigh impossible on a day like today.

        In any case I cant see Mikel Landa being sent “up the road”. He might mark moves high on the Galibier but otherwise he will be riding very close to Chris Froome all day. No more long range raids with Alberto Contador.

    • If you’re keeping score, your predictions were pretty spot on:

      – correct – “only firm prediction, Landa won’t win” – boom, you got it
      – correct – Sky let barguil up the road
      – correct – “unsure how easily Sky…” – boom – sky didn’t let that group go up the road, they just kind of went and sky had little choice but to say good bye
      – correct- “matthews up road”
      – correct – QS not strong enough to chase down – they have nothing right now, running on fumes, really sorry kittel’s gone, green jersey competition was getting really good
      – correct – Aru kind of cracked
      – correct – dan martin lost some time
      – incorrect – break wasn’t caught entirely as winner came from the break, even though vast majority of it was
      – close to correct – if it wasn’t for one slovenian, your final prediction would have been spot on.
      – correct – Landa, haha

  10. I feel sorry for Nairo – not getting a chainring nor a mention in any of the comments above. Surely someone needs to try and save a so far disastrous TdF for Movistar. He maybe a bit too close on GC, but generally is gets ‘better’ in the third week of a Grand Tour and unlike other GC contenders, managed to be well positioned in the crosswinds yesterday which must be indicative of him not being completely trashed. Also, the stage is at high altitude. I’m not saying he’s going to win this stage, and maybe he waits for tomorrow, but to completely ignore the poor fella…

  11. I think Barguil still has plenty of space to be allowed up the road to sweep up his points and nail down the polka dots. Sky will set their steady monotone on the front and the break will probably be kept at 5 minutes anyway and gradually reeled in. Not sure who to predict out of the GC men. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sky setba fast pace up the last climb preventing attacks and then Froome goes on the descent before Bardet has the chance.

  12. Dan Martin has been unlucky at times but you can’t help thinking that with a team built around him he’d still be closer on gc. Certainly after the Porte crash and yesterday he had to do most of the chase work himself. I heard that his contract at Quickstep is up at the end of the year, is he likely to move to a team that wants to build around him for GC or if Kittel is leaving QS will they re-sign him and back him more. Looking at this Tour if you take Froomes superior time trialling out of the mix there’s little to choose between the next 5. Dan had shown he could really challenge.

    • If Kittel leaves QS then they’ll probably back Gaviria for Tour-sprints and a bid for green. Martin has solid support from QS in other races (especially Ardennes classics) it’s a trade-off he’ll have to make. There’s also Julian Alaphilippe…

      • Yes for sure they’ll backing Gav. And how could I forget about Alaphilippe. But given Martin’s performance this tour with only half backing from his team how much better could he go with a bit more luck and a team fully behind him. In which case should he be looking to move?

    • Barguil and Kontador are sure quantities for attacking today.
      If Sky uses the Landa tactic, they have to be sure they would defend his option for an overall win if the situation develops so. Thus I am not sure.

  13. I read, that Dan Martin and some of the team has been a little ill the yesterday.. Maybe they’ll not have time to recover.. Martin didn’t looked good yesterday either.. I bet he loose a lot of time today.

  14. If people want to take time on Froome I think they need to do it today. Not only will this be good tactically as it puts Froome on the back foot tomorrow but would you want to be the guy who has to beat Froome on the one true proper MTF in this race when its seems clear he’s been form building all along? Besides which, he’s quite happy with the long pacing stuff. He didn’t falter on stage 12 until the last 200 meters and he climbed the Peyra Talliarde faster than the rest last Sunday.

  15. I think today is the day that Aru’s bid for yellow ends. He was aiming for the Giro got injured and is now doing the tour hence why he was so good in the first week but his form will start to go downhill from now.
    Yesterday he had to work really hard to get in the right group, so much energy used that he will be paying for today.
    He won’t have any teammates after the croix de fer and so will have to make the effort himself for food and drink.
    All of this suggests he could struggle. (Now that I have said this, he will most probably win the stage and take the jersey).

  16. Pinot has said he is tired as has Chaves…Missed alot of the riders that have already been in breakaways….like Roche , Rojlic, Calmejane, Pauwels ….and what about Rolland …this is his terraine..

  17. I’d keep an eye out for Primoz Roglic today as well. Has had a relatively disappointing Tour so far (he was expecting more), but has finished close in these breakaway stages twice already. And he will not have to stay with Bennett anymore.

  18. does anyone (ie Sky or AG2R in this case) care about the Team prize?… I assume they will both be too consumed in making sure Froome and Bardet are where they need to be to worry about it?… but will Movistar or BMC be in the slightest bit interested in trying to get on the ‘podium’ , and will Trek care about defending 3rd place?

    • Movistar usually love the Team Prize, in past years they’ve seemingly been the only team that care about it. I guess Quintana’s trvails and a lack of Valverde have put paid to all of this this year though.

      • i’d forgotten about Valverde… you’d have to think he’d be right in the mix. Maybe he would have struggled more over the next 2 days of high altitude but it would have been very interesting after his form over the last year or so… and Porte,… and Thomas too maybe, wow Sky would be strong if he was in the mix also…

  19. Is there a reason the Telegraphe and Galibier count as two separate climbs with the descending section in-between but the Croix de Fer is only one despite the descent in the middle?

    Is it a technical issue (i.e. length of the climb and descent), geographical (i.e. they are actually distinct separate bodies) or just because the Telegraphe is a famous climb in it’s own right?

  20. Does anyone know the last time a Tour winner didn’t win a stage? I know some count Wiggins amongst this as he “only” won a TT, so let’s include TTs as stage wins.

  21. All talking about how this year TdF course design seems Giro ones with its steep climbs and so, and acknowledge how Barguil shined so far on this year TdF and his victories on Vuelta stages in the past makes me wonder as today it has a more classic TdF climbs if Barguil will be so impressive today.

    I must say with 2 HC climbs today is too tempting for Barguil try to get in a breakaway.


    How good is this? Anyone listening?
    He’s better than the commentator, full of beans!
    It’s great hearing Teo G-H, that British rider who used to be on Sky and Phillipa York… but in all honesty they’ve been a little dull… and not that informative…

    Barry’s amazing? How the hell’s he not been involved more in the last 20years? I would have loved to hear him commentating on Boonen in P-R…


  23. Mechanicals: can anyone explain why so many guys in races get mechanicals (Alb C just now, Froome stage 15 etc.)? Can’t remember last time that my poorly maintained non-pro spec bike had a mechanical on a ride.

    • That Contador one isn’t completely clean cut – he has been know to change bikes before major climbs in the past (something to do with tyre pressure I think…) so it may have not been a mechanical…

      But I think you’d be surprised how many mechanicals there are, this hasn’t been unusual, if you think the majority of the Top10 have escaped them, and every year someone in GC suffers with one at a crucial moment (Porte last year, Froome in ’12, Schleck in ’10) it’s just they’ve been the biggest riders so you’ve noticed more this year. (I’m counting flats as mechanicals as it’s likely one of Froome’s was and Contador’s just they might have been also).

      Remember one of the Schlecks having a flat bat on their gears and stuff also, so things go wrong – no spike in that this year.

  24. What a stage!!!

    Karma is coming back to Astana/Aru! The sports gods are not shining down on them this year!

    Looks like tomorrow will be a great stage too!

    Too bad about Kittel

      • He will definitely try, he will want to stamp his authority on this Tour and best way would be win the real Queen stage. Yellow jersey winners very rarely win without winning an actual individual stage!

        • I don’t think he’ll do it tomorrow. While he’ll still most likely win the Tour, I think he’s just a hair weaker than he was a couple of years ago. He knows he’s got the time trial probably in his pocket (and he may win that stage) so I don’t think he’ll be as desperate tomorrow as the other contenders. Someone else will win but he’ll manage to limit the damage.

    • Aru is not finished yet even tough he was suffering a lot. But yes, somehow “catenaccio” antiracing tactics of SKY killed another Tour? Hope not.

  25. I hope TDF organizers will think deeply about another anti-racing edition of TDF provided by SKY. This “catenaccio” tactics kills the spectacle. Pity for such a beautiful discipline as cycling that its expression is being destroyed by super-defensive racing of 4 Sky’ers. Maybe we need shorter TT, more brutal ascents on which marking other riders by anti-racing SKY is impossible.

    • So you want riders to climb 20% walls and never have a time trial? Riders will risk even less. The risk of blowing up will be too great. As it is Rigo Uran is just following and will probably bag 2nd place. Why would he risk more and possibly blow up when you can follow and succeed by others’ failures?

    • ASO should stop trying to counter what Sky or other team/riders might be doing and just focus on design a great route.

      The problem with the reactive route design is that it’s based on past rider performance and that performance shifts every year. The reactive route design is very much likely to back fire.

    • So many complaints! You couldn’t design a course that “enter name of the dominant team of that year’s strongest GC rider” wouldn’t win.

      I’ve commented on your postings too often in the past, but please get over this. If you hated this year’s Tour then you really must hate cycling.

      If you had told 99% of cycling fans the following, they would say this is probably one of the most open/exciting tours in 2 decades:
      Top 4 on GC would be separated by less than one minute and that Froome lost the yellow jersey on the last mountain top stage.

      The final yellow jersey is not even close to finalised yet. Froome and Brailsy are definitely not comfortable right now and I’m responding way too much to your ridiculous posts!

    • I want to say one more thing – NSB, ASO has tried your approach with a handful of really climbing-heavy tours in this past decade, but the riders quickly turn into zombies and ride them at tempo so they don’t explode.

      If you want an exciting Tour, let the team leaders get loaded on full EPO and watch them attack with 120km to go over 4 mountains. The only way to get the GC leaders strong enough to break free from the super domestiques’ high tempo pace over these mountains is to let the pharmacologists prescribe whatever enhancements they want. Otherwise it is impossible to attack repeatedly everyday for 3-weeks.

      Fans want clean races but we also want exciting races. If you ask me, this has been one of the most exciting Tours in years, mostly because the leaders are relatively recovered by the time the big mountain stages come along. There has been virtually zero TT’s too so the GC is anything but settled at this point.

      • That does sound like a recipe for excitement. Perhaps it would be even more exciting if all the teams entered one selected rider each day in a “PED lottery” ?

      • I’ve been having a look back at the results from some of the Tours in the 1970s and 1980s this evening. The 1980 Tour, for example, had 240kms of time trialling across a prologue, 3x ITT and 2x TTT. Imagine that today. 240kms of time trials instead of this years 36.5kms! Kiryienka would be winning the Tour if that happened today. These were the days when there were long range attacks because good time trials opened up gaps that required the lesser TTers to attack or simply capitulate. Back then you couldn’t follow and get a podium because gaps were opened up.

        Joop Zootemelk won the 1980 Tour in the end by 6.55.

        • Right, although I am not sure that I would call too many of Indurain’s wins “exciting”. Sure there were interesting things going on in between his crushing TT wins, but the outcome was always rather predictable.

          It seems to me that advances in training, diet, sport science generally have leveled the playing field across all of the main contenders, such that the difference between winning and losing becomes the strength of the team, the willingness of the team to ride the way Sky does, and “luck” (crashing).

          • The same Tour had stages of 133kms and 140kms and two others of 276kms and 282kms (back to back no less). Course design has completely changed in only a few decades. That also affects outcomes.

        • Completely hopeless long-range attacks because the leader had 10 minutes on second on GC.

          NSB’s whole point was we needed more exciting editions of the race. If we use 70’s and 80’s as an example, they were really boring in comparison.

          For example, in 1981 Hinault grabbed the jersey for good on stage 6 and ended up winning by 14 minutes! Talk about boring, the race was decided on July 1st (stage 6). Lesser GC riders could attack all they wanted but nothing would unsettle or even come close to making this overly “exciting” for complainers who want to see all-day attacking.

          • I’m confused then. When its close its boring and when its not its boring. I conclude some fans will always be bored and, regardless of the parcours, its always boring. There is no “exciting course” that will guarantee a race that excites every fan.

          • It’s been the fashion in recent years for ‘proper’ fans to recline on their sofas* and declare the Tour de France to be a terrible bore and the to be where the real racing is. The Vuelta is currently their GT of choice, although it’s rising popularity will soon put paid to that.

            * – I wanted to go with chaise longue, but I wasn’t sure of the plural.

        • It’d be interesting to see in some parallel universe if they’d have carried on with Tours like that how who the contenders would’ve been. Would Cancellara have dropped a bit of weight and won a Tour, would Wiggins have won a couple more, would Tony Martin have won 5, or Kiryenka a couple?! Would anybone have bothered watching?!

      • CA,

        I do agree with you that this is a good tour… not necessarily the best one… I think the small margin was almost fabricated by the lack of TT and mountain stages (in the extreme, a TdF with only sprint stages would have a very small margin).
        I do think ASO could have added some more excited days that would favor different outcomes and different riders qualities. The Tour with small classic days was a good example.
        Adding some paves and some Ardens like days could have shaken up a little bit more the race.

    • You won’t get more attacking racing simply by changing the route. You would need to change the incentives, so that lower placings are less valued. Bigger points differentials, bigger prize money differentials, etc., so that the potential rewards for attacking are greater than the risk of it not coming off. When you’ve got UAE riding to defend 8th place from Congador’s attack, there’s little encouragement to try this kind of thing.

  26. 4 riders within a minute and the yellow jersey changing twice in the past week. I’d call that exciting. If you want to see more mano-a-mano instead of team competition, reduce the size of the teams to 7 or (gasp!) 5 with substitutions allowed.

    While I’m spouting heresy, what is the point of making sprinting stars like Kittel haul their big bodies over mountains? Does TV ever cover the gruppeto? Let them skip stages but risk losing points to opponents who choose to climb. Same for the polka-dot jersey: What’s the point in a pure climber riding a flat stage?

    • It’s the Tour de France man … you’re not just racing on a few days here and there, you’re making a tour of the country. It really is an accomplishment to make it to the end.

  27. Just thinking ahead a little…who isn’t excited about the prospect of Dumoulin partnering with Barguil next year for the mountains and with Matthews for the sprints (assuming their contracts are still in place next year)? I’m pretty impartial when it comes to the complaints of Sky being ‘boring’, though I think the illicit allegations dogging them don’t do them any favors. I also find their actions justifiably suspect, too, and Brailsford a bit of a clown. Anyhow, I digress.

    Of course, this race isn’t over, but with a fully stacked Sunweb likely in the mix next year, I am ever more hopeful of a new winner. For the moment, Uran or Bardet winning would really be something else.

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