Tour de France Stage 5 Preview

The first mountain stage of the race with the Planche des Belles Filles “summit finish”, a hard climb and the first time we’ll get a a vertical pecking order among the contenders for the overall win. All without Peter Sagan.

Stage 4 Review: the biggest news of the day didn’t happen during the stage, it was the UCI jury’s decision to disqualify Peter Sagan for “seriously endangering” other riders in the paraphrased words of Philippe Marien, president of the jury. Marien’s word’s matter because UCI rule does allow for a rider to be thrown out of a stage race for a “seriously” irregular sprint. Harsh? Certainly. Sprints are regularly full of tension as riders fight for wheels and space and there’s frequent contact and danger, both voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary as in almost nobody wants to harm a rival but they have to defend their position and push for openings, all while travelling at 60km/h. This time Mark Cavendish tried to come past Peter Sagan. Sagan put an elbow out… but this seemed to be only after Cavendish was tipping over, as if Sagan was reflexively trying to correct his balance and trajectory rather than bodycheck Cavendish but the jury didn’t see it this way. The irony is that Sagan stayed upright and this gave the impression that he downed Cavendish for his advantage but had this been another rider perhaps they’d have fallen after tangling with Cavendish and the commissaires would not have been so zealous? It leaves a lot of questions and makes you wonder if the UCI could be better at explaining their decisions, for example to walk or talk through the video evidence they saw?

Otherwise it was a long stage with Guillaume Van Keirsbulck attacking from the start and nobody else came with him. The Wanty-Gobert team have been attacking everyday and it was a surprise to see nobody come with him, shades of Armindo Fonseca’s fruitless solo break last year. “GVK” built up a lead of 14 minutes but The inevitable sprint occurred and there was an earlier crash that took down Geraint Thomas among others before the 1km banner, a sign of the nerves. In the final metres Arnaud Démare crossed Nacer Bouhanni but no crash so it was tolerated by the commissaires and the French champion opened up that big power he’s got on the slight uphill run to the line to overhaul Alexander Kristoff for the win.

The Route: 160km and it’s up and down all the way to the intermediate sprint which is chased  by the first climb to Esmoulières, 2.3km at 8% and after the KoM point the road keeps on rising as they cross the Plateau de Mille Etangs, the “thousand lake plateau” that is Thibaut Pinot’s training grounds, to reach the Col des Croix.

The Finish: A sharp right turn and the road soars. The climb is only 5.9km long and averages 8.5% which is steep enough. The reality is that the climb is frequently much steeper, the opening ramp is 14% and that red part of the climb on the profile? It includes a descent. After a long steep ramp to the first hairpin, things then ease with a variety of steep inclines and flatter sections. The finish sees the road get progressively steeper, culminating in final 300 metres where the road bends round to the line at 14% and a section at 20% to the line.

The Contenders: this won’t be as decisive as 2014 when the race last visited this climb because that was a full-on mountain stage, today’s route is not as tough. Thibaut Pinot? Yes these are his home roads but his form isn’t great after the Giro to contest a straight summit finish, unlike 2014 when he was second behind Nibali. Instead tomorrow’s stage or Sunday and other mountainous routes later on suit him more right now.

Richie Porte (BMC Racing) is the prime pick. He’s in good form and showed it in Longwy. He’s also punchy for short climbs like this. But he’s far from a certainty, today is all about proving what he did in the Dauphiné and showing if he’s built on June.

Chris Froome or Geraint Thomas? Froome has won here before and what better way to ruin Richie Porte’s ambitions with a stage win and take the yellow jersey because he’s only 12 seconds down on GC and a 10 second time bonus awaits. It’ll be interesting to see what Thomas does, he won a 16 minute time trial, can he win a 16 minute climb? As ever Team Sky have domestiques who could captain other squads, watch Mikel Landa and Sergio Henao too.

Fabio Aru seems to be climbing very well. He should be at ease on the climb but how will cope with the fast approach and the fight for position? Astana have some tough bodyguards but still, thundering to the foot of the climb isn’t his ideal scenario. After a relatively slow (safe?) time trial Jacob Fuglsang was good in Longwy so should be up there but if he’s only just found winning ways a win here is a big ask.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar)? This is an explosive climb and that ‘s not his thing but people say he’s climbing very well and his light body is suited to the steep gradients and changes in pace.

Daniel Martin (Quick Step) is a good pick for a sharp climb, he can make searing accelerations and has a finishing kick that almost troubled Sagan in Longwy.

Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) promised to work on his climbing after the Dauphiné. An outright stage win here seems hard, the fast approach and then dropping or surging past everyone seems improbable for someone who can often track the very best uphill but has often won through audacious attacks rather than W/kg.

Rafał Majka is the dark horse pick. Excluded from the pre-Tour predictions, I’m regretting not giving him at least a chainring now. The Pole is climbing very well and may get a little bit of room but he’s only 49 seconds down on GC. He’s unlikely to press the pedals harder but it would be quite the statement from Bora-Hansgrohe. Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates) should be up the there but his team might struggle to place him and a win is hard to see. Finally the Orica-Scott pairing of Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates could show. Chaves ought to be good but his form is still in question. Yates has held the Strava KoM after living in the region as an amateur and we’ll see if his time loss in Longwy was an anomaly but neither seem like firm picks.

Can a breakaway stick? If it’s a yes/no question then no because the big teams will up the race to place their leaders into position on the approach so it’s hard for a move, plus many breakaway artists will surely have there eyes and legs set on this weekend’s mountain stages?

Richie Porte
Chris Froome, Dan Martin, Fabio Aru
Majka, Thomas, Quintana, Bardet

Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 32°C.

TV: live from the start at 1.20pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.15pm CET.

117 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 5 Preview”

  1. In my opinion Cavendish went for a gap that was not really there and Sagan throughout those seconds did not deviate one inch. His bike wheels stayed parallel to the barriers throughout the time that Cavendish came up on his inside, leant into Sagan slightly to try to help to get through and fell. When Cavendish was on the way down, Sagan stuck out his right elbow. This in my view was dirty. It was intended to stop another cyclist coming through. Sagan did not know Cavendish was already going down. Sagan had been winging one or other of his elbows out all over the place on the other side of the road a little time earlier as the sprint built. This was a tactic. It was not a matter of balance. Sagan is one on the best on a bike. Watch him chuck endurance bikes around on dirt and rocks and his elbows stay in. When sprinters sprint both their elbows do come out to give their legs room to pump in a tucked position as well as to claim their space on the road from the riders around them and maybe even to allow them to throw for the line. That is both elbows and is expected. Sagan’s right elbow wings out, momentarily and his left stays where it should be. In conclusion, I would not have relegated Sagan for deviating from his line because he did not do so. I would DQ him for his elbow winging because he seems to have introduced this into his sprinting as a technique and it is dirty and dangerous.

    • I agree with you until you say that Sagan sticking his elbow out was dirty. Looks to me like he was trying to keep his balance after Cav leans on him. Cav tried to find a gap when where there was no gap to find IMO. No use discussing thought, decision made and on we move.

      • I thought much the same until I watched an overhead view which shows a clear gap – right up to the point that Sagan came across. Don’t have a link right now but I found it on steephill


          Watch this, you can see Sagan moves from the middle of the road all the way to the barrier. Before they disappear under the last tree, Sagan is about 3 feet from the barrier and Cavendish is already half overlapping him. When they appear again, Sagan had moved another foot toward the barrier and is jamming Cav, then he throws the elbow – very clear from the magnified video.

          • Complicated. Sagan, before the elbow, had already closed the gap which was initially possible, but then Sagan had little choice but to close on Cavandish as resisting the pressure was harder.

            Lots of riders (Griepel..) now taking the decision to pour oil on the waters (under pressure from team management?) Demare must have saved his win as Bouhanni stayed up and, when interviewed on Velo Club, complained very moderately.

      • Looks like Demares sudden line change from the barriers to the middle of the road causes Sags to move to barriers to find a sprinting lane. As a result, Cav who was trying to get the lane next to the barrier got run down by a bull.

        Sags is focused on Demare and Kristoff, He has no way of knowing Cav was there.

        The elbow came after the fact as a balancing mechanism after Sags and Cav had made contact.

    • Huh.
      No one seems to want to acknowledge that there *was* an opening when Cav started, and that Cavendish is seasoned enough to know that if there isn’t, a rider and a barrier cannot occupy the same place at the same time and he probably wouldn’t attempt it. He’s actually that smart. And that Sagan, knowing he was there (yes, he knew), intentionally shut the opening down. And violently.
      There’s rules against that kind of racing. Right?

    • i saw it as a series of events with many to blame. everyone was moving right and cav was already looking to go around the right of sagan. sagan deviated from his line to follow demare who had chopped across quite wildly. cav was more or less on demare’s wheel at that point though and had the right to stay there and follow past sagan but sagan wanted to take the right channel and didn’t check it was clear before moving into it. definitely at fault and a stage relegation very appropriate, possibly even the points deduction but really nothing that exceptional except maybe the resulting carnage.

      Commissionaires have apparently spelt out an intention to crack down on dangerous sprinting so fair enough in that context to punish sagan. however in my view demare not only started the move to the right but then cut bouhanni off really badly when he then followed his veer right with a hard chop left. you could see bouhanni had to swerve and brake to avoid that so its only his actions and luck that stopped demare from taking down the rest of the sprinters. the question then is if comms are cleaning up the sprints why wasn’t demare disciplined at all, instead left to celebrate victory? nationality?

      • A clear headed and measured view, with no obsessive rider worship or compulsion to hang a pantomime villain. You really haven’t got the hangs of forum commenting, have you? Seriously, this is why I love Inner Ring – news and discuss without the lunatic fringe’s involvement.

      • Finally… I’ve been thinking this the entire time.

        This was one of the messiest sprints I’ve seen in awhile. I thought multiple riders either a) deviated wildly from their lines, b) overreacted to the deviation, c) dove into holes they shouldn’t have and d) commented to the press before they really saw what happened.

        I’m still undecided about Sagan’s elbow, but if the reports are true and he is doing this habitually now, then he needs a steep fine (why not fine him actual cash – 30,000 Euro or something significant that would make him change his habits).

        Because multiple riders were at fault, I think a steep steep fine for the elbow flick but keep Sagan in the race. There is a degree of uncertainty around Sagan’s elbow, which is why a “first time offender” steep fine should be implemented. If another elbow flick hits the record, then a steeper fine plus loss of points and time, if third, then DQ and triple the fine.

  2. There is a good video I saw earlier where it very much looks like Cavendish’s brake hood caught the inside of Sagans forearm while he was falling, which thus pulled Sagans arm out. If you look closely at the front angle video, you will see it.

    Otherwise – I would love to see Richie stamp some authority on todays stage. Even to put 5-15 seconds on his rivals would be an immense confidence boost.

  3. “Finishing kick that almost troubled Sagan in Longwy.” Heh, nice. Troubled who? I like Dan Martin here. Can NQ get on the podium without getting out of the saddle?

      • Majka was and still is the captain. Sagan always working the green but no GC hope. I think Majka will come top five in this stage if he is feeling well but doubt he will take the stage

        • Quite right about Majka being the GC guy and thus the “captain” of his team. (“Boss?”) Wasn’t picking Majka for today but “this Tour” maybe.

  4. Et tu, Inrng? Et tu? Not even a mention for AC? Please open up a betting shop so I can take your ridiculous long odds and make a fortune. I’m not saying he’s going to win, but he is sure as sh*t gonna beat at least 3/4s of the names above. You just dropped two levels of awesomeness…

    • I’m with the ring man… like AC for all he has done but I think he is washed up. Hope he proves me wrong. Along the same lines I don’t see Ritchie lasting the tour even if he will probably do great tomorrow. Once again I hope he proves me wrong. I predict Froome tomorrow

    • He didn’t seem particularly comfortable on the climb at Longwy.
      I can’t decide if I think he was bluffing and trying to get someone else to close the gap, or if he genuinely didn’t have the legs to follow Porte

    • Alberto Contador fans are like zombies that refuse to die no matter how many times you kill them. No evidence seems to convince them that their man is past his best and on the way down. After today’s stage, in which I’m sure he will be dropped, they will still have excuses. Well, if Contador is a real contender in this Tour he better not get dropped today and, in fact, he better be challenging for the win. But come on. He won’t be. There’s no evidence to suggest this. He couldn’t even hold the Porte wheel in Longwy (and, by the way, Porte himself faded there too, finishing behind Thomas and Froome) and if you believe all his recent “saving himself” talk then you’re more gullible than a very gullible person. For me Inrng has it pretty much spot on GC-wise. Its about Froome, Porte, Aru and Dan Martin on this hill.

    • To explain the thoughts, the chainrings are always about winning not placing, so a one chainring pick is an outsider for the win. Contador hasn’t won a summit finish since February 2016 and his last stage win in the Tour de France was 2009. It could be good if he wins today, it would broaden the cast of characters but I see him more likely to win a later stage following a chaotic day of racing where he can exploit tactics rather than today’s harsh ramp test.

    • There’s no way for Kontador winning this. The question is rather whether he will limit losses.

      For me this question applies also for most of the names above: there are 2 favourites for this stage: Porte and Froome. On this kind of climb and in the first week, I would place Porte slightly above. For the rest the question is about not finishing too far. In particular, I am curious to see where Quintana ends this – he might be close, or not. And this will be a good indication for the remainder of the Tour. More or less ditto for Aru.

      Chaves and Thomas are in my opinion well suited for this climb, they can collect a good result here, that may not be extrapolatable to the whole race.

      • forgot Dan Martin. After longwy, I won’t discard a stage win here. For me to be considered in the group Porte/Froome stated in my comment above.

  5. I’ll be the outlier and not give my two Eurocents on the Sagan/Cavendish controversy and instead comment that regardless of how you feel about that, the green jersey competition just got a whole lot more interesting. Will one of the big sprinters make a play for it, or will they concentrate on saving their energy for stage wins? Maybe a more versatile rider like Matthews or Colbrelli who can get over the bigger climbs to mop up those intermediate sprints and then finish fast?

  6. It looked to me as though Cav put his head right on Sagan’s funny bone at the back of his elbow, we’ve all had that done and all know the natural reaction to that to shake your elbow out. I suspect Cav was trying to coax Sagan in to something and accepted he himself might be collateral damage. Cav did look very sheepish in his interview right after the stage and seemed anxious to get out of there.

    • “Looked anxious to get out of there.”

      That may have been something to do with the fact that he had a broken shoulder and torn finger, and needed to go to the hospital.

  7. Yesterday, I think Sagan clipped Greipel’s back wheel, and thus lost momentum. When Demare came past, Sagan went for full gas, resulting in his body angle. Don’t think the elbow was intentional, but it did come out, unintentionally responsible? With Cav going home with a broken shoulder, the decision seems fairer today.
    Be very surprised if Froome doesn’t win today.

  8. Analysis of intent by slow motion is fraught with danger

    The sprint was all across the road, it was not Sagn that pulled that group to the right, yes he seemed to move, but I’d buy his explanation that it was to follow the French champion not to shut the door on Cavendish.

    Relagation yes, DQ unnecessarily harsh IMHO. Frame by frame analysis does not imply intent, the incident took milliseconds, the time for a single neuron to fire to reflexly bend an elbow, not the long drawn frame by frame .GIF

    Do Bora-Hansgroh have room or opportunity to appeal?

    • good reference, thanks.
      I too think that the UCI should elaborate on their decision. The elbow does not seem to be the cause at all; Cavendish is falling because there is less room then he anticipated (perhaps he thought he would have made the gap but misjudged the speed difference between him and Sagan?)
      If the elbow is not the cause, what does Sagan do to endanger other riders?

    • Thanks for this post Ian. Last night I was pulling my hair out at people analysing this now very boring subject based on still photographs or slow motion footage (some of it already provided with biased captions telling the viewer what to see!) which is frankly crazy. As you say, you cannot impute intent from a still photograph or even slow motion. You can slow film down all you like or even stop it dead it still doesn’t tell you what to infer. I myself have disregarded any analysis which is of the kind “In this still photo it looks like his head is touching his arm” because it is simply an inane judgment. The incident happened in real time and that is how it should be judged. The microscopic view is not somehow more true. Indeed, it may ultimately be merely illusion.

      PS There is no room for appeal, not even for Sagan himself let alone “fans” as I saw some tweeting yesterday. The Tour de France is not France ‘s Got Talent.

  9. Loads of Views comments on Sagan/Cavendish, jury made the decision, that’s the way it is… check out the video in Caley’s Velonews comments below.

    Ignore the deviation and the messy sprint (Demare as well as Sagan could easily have been DQ’d earlier)… Cav hits Sagan and is already falling, Sagan rebalances elbow out, knee in – stays upright.

    Like I said, jury decision is in, so on we move.

    I’m thinking Betancour working with Quintana for today doing the Valverde role. Bardet should make a move as well.

    Finally are Bahrain-Merida in this race?? Seen more of Steve Cummings than we have all of Bahrain 🙂

    • To me it seems like Caley ignores the question: when is it OK to close the “barrier lane?” It’s not a matter of slight deviations, it’s that when Cav ran out of space he got chewed up, instead of just losing.

    • Re:Bahrain-Merida. Colbrelli was 6th on Stage 2 having opened out the sprint because he thought that was the only way he could win. Then yesterday he was forced off the road with 3km to go. I guess Bole and Bozic could also attempt a sprintif they’d been in position but they’d be looking at the bottom end of the Top 10 at best in this company.
      Obviously losing Izagirre was a major blow and the riders they have left aren’t the sort that you’ll see, at this stage of the race, flinging themselves into a break during a nailed-on sprint stage. Would imagine we will see Moreno, Brajkovic and Cink in breaks mountain stages. The latter is especially intriguing, an ex-MTBer, he claimed to never have ridden in a group of more than 5 or 6 people on the road before this year.

  10. The UCI and ASO love killing the sport. This kind of inept decision reminds me of 90s when they would release a doping positive on the eve of the grand depart having known about it for months.
    Whoever wins the green jersey will have a big asterisk next to they’re name.

  11. Good job Inrng – “It leaves a lot of questions and makes you wonder if the UCI could be better at explaining their decisions”

    From my perspective, I would be wondering what to think if I was a racer (but I am far from being fast).

    The UCI – ignores that Greipel cuts off Bohanni, ignores that Demare cuts off Bohanni, then relegates Sagan, then changes their mind, and disqualifies Sagan. Yet if they were “professional” video users they would have seen the whole picture.

    From Hammond (DDD director) via twitter – “Causes a big crash at 1.5 to go, elbows fellow competitor in the head 300 meters… can only result in one decision. #Goodbye”

    Whatever pressure was exerted, by type A personalities (directors?, media) – should have looked at things better. Perhaps you can rephrase that to you can accuse others wrongfully, impact the outcome, with no personal and look what happens.

    Kudos for Greipel for admitting it was too harsh. I hope more riders come out and say that it was too extreme.

    Even more so, I hope someone like specialized, or Bora, or Lotto-soudal shows up tomorrow and convinces a segment of the riders/teams to protest the ongoing inconsistencies within the UCI. How can a false statement convince the jury? Alternately they could ask Mr. Hammond to apologize for wrongfully misrepresenting things to the jury. I know wishful thinking.

    Since I am watching the nbc sports gold ASO feed, I wonder if Robbie McEwen is forced to be quite to avoid never being allowed to work for ASO again.

    PS – take a look at the twitter responses Mr Hammond received to his tweet.

    • Don’t see what was wrong about Hammond’s statement in the heat of the moment. Sagan did seem to be the cause of the 1.5km crash and did seem to elbow Cav (whether that elbow was the cause or consequence of Cav’s crash is another matter). The fact that Sagan’s fans are subsequently rude to Hammond on twitter isn’t conclusive either way.

      • “Don’t see what was wrong about Hammond’s statement in the heat of the moment.”

        Two alleged facts, both wrong; therefore, one erroneous conclusion. From a man with so much skin in the game.

        But it’s in the heat of the moment. So that’s alright, then.

        We’re doomed.

  12. ASO has finally figured out how to pry the Green Jersey away from Sags.

    Atapuma or Betencour win from the break.

    This is Mikael Landa terrain. if this is a GC battle for the stage win, Landa will pull a Froome on Froome and win while leading him up the climb.

  13. An additional comment…

    Just saw it being reported that Bora will appeal Sagan DQ.

    In my day 4 comments, I included some videos and rational. It seems as others agreed with those – here is much better video summary.

    Makes you wonder about the race jury and even more so how Hammond can be quoted as saying Cav would have won “had he not had an act of violence”….

  14. Wasn’t going to comment but can’t help myself. 😊

    Whatever your view of the incident it’s worth remembering that telephoto lenses don’t normally relay the actuality of an event. Calling it from the head on only should only be used to understand lateral movement but not whether people were touching for example. If you’re still not sure try it at home. Have someone stand even just 10 meters away from you and hold a small object in one hand and a bigger in the other six inches further back with arms outstretched. 9 times out of 10 when you ask where the objects are in relation to one another you’ll be told they’re level. Remember the video is 250m plus away and 2 dimensional where the eye/brain can take in 3 dimensions.

    The other one is super slo-mo or frame by frame. Useless to understand split second reactions at speed.

    My two cents.

    • …but, from front view, you can see that Cav’s right foot clips out before the elbow goes up. Maybe the deviation caused it but def not the elbow

      • The elbow was the coup de grace and not the cause of the crash in my opinion.

        Fwiw, Cav is not my only ‘fave’ cyclist but favourite sportsman and I think the relegation was apt but the DQ was harsh based just on that incident. Lots of reasons behind the decision probably including how bad it will look to the casual observer, Sagz ‘issues’ this season with barges and elbows and maybe even getting the polemic over and done with rather than it drag on for the next 2 1/2 weeks.

  15. I agree the decision is marginal but suggest Sagan did elbow Cav out of the way, however the exact “punishment” is debatable. The problem here is that the Jury really should have explained its decision a bit more. It is all very well making a bald announcement but they really needed to explain why they came to the conclusion they did otherwise the teams and everyone else ends up feeling cheated.

    Anyway moving on.

    Team Sky seem to be suggesting they would not be unhappy to see a break go today. That would make perfect sense from their perspective, taking time bonuses out of the equation. It would also force the other GC teams to chase rather than conserving their energy. We could even see another team take yellow. If it is a break then it really is a lottery who might be there, though possibly Thibaut Pinot has lost enough time to be allowed to go but I suspect he is after a stage later on.

    Break or no break the GC group will be the same, Sky will defend, presumably setting a high tempo to discourage attacks. At the end I would guess G will cover Richie Porte, Dan Martin or whoever trying to pull away whilst Chris Froome does his own thing. The climb is not that long so there is unlikely to be any big gaps if any.

    Richie Porte does seem a good pick but I dont think there will be any serious GC shake up (need to wait until Sunday for that) beyond possibly a non GC contender taking yellow for a few days.

    • That’s very impressive. Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel liven up the winter months but I’d love to see them both focus entirely on road racing. MvdP has future Roubaix winner stamped all over him while, going off that time, WvA would be challenging in GC and the classics.

        • There’s no guarantee of success but, despite focusing on CX, van Aert still came 10th in the Tour of Belgium and runner-up to Niki Terpstra in Dwars door het Hageland last year. If someone has the physical capabilities to do what he does for 60/90 minutes I think he could translate it to longer events, in a similar fashion to what many track riders manage. With the huge qualifier that it’s a training ride and you don’t know how they’ve approached it, to put a minute plus into Bardet/Pinot on that climb is very impressive and suggests he’s capable of adapting. But no guarantees, of course…

    • WvA and MvdP are two impressive riders that can have a good carreer on the road. They have both already won all what a crosser can win, so I think they should begin to focus more and more on the road. Else it would be a pity.
      BTW, I think MvdP is slightly superior in terms of rough talent, but future will tell…

    • If you look at it now you will notice that Wout must have gotten an email that his KOM got stolen…by Laurens ten Dam with an 11 sec margin. As much as I love and respect LtD, he definitely wasn’t the fastest up this hill today indicating that WvA may need some more training to get close to a win here (it’s Pinot’s home turf, he has a bunch of other KOMs in this area, but he was also cooked on the climb).

  16. An elbow, by any other name, would sting just the same. Looked like a reflex reaction to someone (regardless of whether it was Cav) coming up the inside. He’s only human, . . ., don’t put the blame on him!

  17. I’d echo the comments on the perils of TV footage and slow-mo, things are hard to judge even when viewed from several angles and at different speeds. If we had the time and inclination it would be possible to assemble strong cases for both the prosecution and defence here with selective editing.

    It would be good if the commissaires could explain their decisions further, we can infer which rule they used but if they could explain more, was it Sagan’s position, that elbow or more that swayed them. Was it unanimous among the jury and so on. The commissaires may not be used to the limelight but their decisions are important and worth explaining.

    • I think you’re asking too much. The jury chairman gave the decision, described what Sagan did wrong in a concise way and even stated the rule they regarded Sagan as having broken and their ability under that rule to exclude him. What purpose is served by revealing the breakdown of jury votes other than to chip away at the credibility of either the decision or the jury?

      • Rumour has it he was involved in causing the first crash as well and that made them re-assess their initial decision. It’s exactly this kind of rumours they could try to avoid by being more transparent especially in a case like this where controversy is guaranteed.

    • There is a very strong feeling that the verdict was tainted more by proportionality ‘an eye for an eye’ in that the crash will send Cavendish home so they have to send Sagan home as well rather than any real logic regarding the events.

      If we’re talking endangering the competition, had Bouhanni not made a great save when Demare took out his front wheel, maybe Demare would be going home too?

    • Couldn’t agree more. If you look at the real time footage from the helicopter camera, it looks like Sagan elbows Cavendish out (even though you miss some of the crucial moments because of the tree), but looking at the incident from the camera which is at the finish line, it looks like Cavendish is already falling when Sagan’s elbow is out, so it’s extremely difficult, almost impossible to be sure exactly what happened.

      I personally believe it was quite a big call to exclude him .when it’s so inconclusive.

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  19. Sagan rode dangerously, but that’s not unusual in a sprint finish, and it’s a split second reaction. The decision to remove him was harsh, and a clear statement as to the reasoning should have been issued. The flick of the elbow right at the end, although it looked bad, was nothing more than a counter balancing move, but the damage had been done by then.
    It could so easily been Demare getting into trouble, for he almost put Bouhanni on the floor, and his move was equal to Sagan’s, but fortunately he didn’t make contact with anyone else.
    I’m not totally convinced that there isn’t a degree of bias against Sagan; I so hope I’m wrong, but we’ve seen the race format changed several times, supposedly to end the situation where one rider can dominate the points competition. That is highly visible this year, with an unusually high number of sprint friendly stages.
    The race is the worse for the world champion being absent.

  20. Demare changed his line considerably cutting off Sags and Boo which caused the crash.

    But, I guess disqualifying a French stage winner in Le Tour is akin to a mortal sin.

    Rules have been violated, punishments and fines must be handed out.

    Anything to keep the Race Jury from looking like fools.

  21. My only comment on the Sagan incident is the following: If someone is for various reasons already falling is it any less serious or dangerous if I elbow him, or try to elbow him, or inadvertently elbow him on the way down? In my view the answer is “of course not”. So whether Cavendish was already falling (for various reasons) or not is irrelevant and merely an attempt to exonerate the person with the elbow. It doesn’t matter if he was falling. It does matter if an elbow comes out. (Please note this post isn’t about blame, intent or accusation but just facts. No one disputes Sagan’s elbow was out. That’s what Cavendish referred as his problem and that seems to also be the jury’s concern.)

  22. What is interesting is that when the original punishment came out (80 points, 30 seconds and last on the stage), I didn’t see a single comment saying that it was unfair apart from some saying that it wasn’t harsh enough. Now that it is harsher, suddenly there are people saying that Sagan did absolutely nothing wrong, in fact it was Cavendish who should be punished.
    Looking at the footage, you could make a clear case for Sagan’s DQ but you could also see that it is harsh.

    What I think would have made the situation slightly better is if they had also punished Démarre for his appalling sprint. I wonder if the commissaires spent so much time on Sagan that when they decided to look at Démarre they saw the whole of France celebrating its first sprint win in 10 years and so thought it was too late/dangerous for them to change that result.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to this stage but I am not expecting much until the last climb so not much different than a sprint stage.

    • Methinks that you probably forgot (1) the time factor (people didn’t really have all that much time to look at the videos and the pics before the milder punishment was replaced by the harsher one) and (2) that the live pictures and the videos available immediately afterwards were far less supportive of a pro-Sagan case, i.e. it looked very much like Sagan had done something that went beyond what can and does happen during a sprint.

      By the time Sagan was thrown out of the race it was not only Greipel who had changed his opinion…

      I don’t think Arnaud Démare escaped punishment because he was French or rode in the French champion’s jersey. He was just lucky that he didn’t send anyone crashing down. No direct victim, no punishment, no public outcry, simple as that and that is all there was to it. He didn’t hinder anyone from overtaking him, either, in the overtly obvious way Bouhanni was seen to have done when his stage win was taken away.

      Sprinting is not a sport for timid gentleman, or at least you don’t rack up victories on a regulare basis if you race like too much of a gentleman. But who has or which riders have had a reputation as “gentleman sprinters”, the kind who always raced fair and never endangered other riders?

      This post is quite possibly already far too long, but I was reminded of how things are done these days in F1, another sport where “racing incidents” or “dirty and dangerous moves” are not uncommon and where the difference between the two is often very much a matter of opinion and that is ultimately decided by a jury.

      In F1, the jury that in itself is composed of “competent” people is augmented for each race by former drivers with relatively recent experience. Although minor penalties (that can and do have an effect on the outcome) are given during the race, heavier sanctions are not issued before hearing the drivers involved (and viewing various data obviously not available or even relevant in road cycling). It is the general view that the jury decisions are today far better than they were when it was just old men in club jackets making the decisions in a closed room and pretending or believing they were all-knowing and infallible.

  23. Whatever the whys and wherefore of the Sprint, I was impressed by Cav’s response. Cav has often been portrayed as gruff and arrogant but he was calm and fair when questioned on way to hospital.
    Today I think, is not so much about who wins but the differing reactions of the GC boys. Although I am a Brit, I would love to see Porte win this year and today will be a good indication of his ability to react.

  24. There is some politics being played out here: a French winner deviates from his line, far worse than Sagan, but isn’t penalised? Dimension Data provide all the data analysis and sponsor the race which might explain why there was a delay in the decision to axe Sagan from the tour.

    Sagan went straight to Cavendish afterwards and apologised so he knew he made a mistake. Pre and post check-up, Cav states again that he and Sagan get along, and he is not angry, but confused about the elbow and would like to ask Sagan for an explanation.

    Taking their example, wouldn’t it better to bring both parties together to resolove matters, jump back on bikes (if possible) on stage 5 and continue? In doing so the individuals, the peloton, the teams, and the fans can breathe again and move forward in confidence. Perhaps I’m being naive, but it’s hard to believe in questionable decisions made behind closed doors. Here’s to a speedy recovery and both riders coming back in both excellent form and in peace.

    • You seem to believe that cycling is a matter of all friends together and serving democratic interests. But its not. Its a sport with (sometimes bad) rules with a jury of commissaires who apply the rules as they decide. By all means they should give their decisions publicly and say which rule has been broken and lay out the punishment but this is not a TV talent contest. We don’t vote for what outcome the majority wants. Neither are the jury about “convincing” anybody. Rules and punishments are their responsibility pure and simple.

  25. I’m not buying this theory that sagan flicks out his elbow for balance, cav had the line and sagan comes across him, for me the elbow flick shows intent even though cav was already falling at that stage, I believe the race organisers made the right decision to disqualify sagan because I believe his actions were careless and reckless and put other riders safety at risk. I’ve watched the replays over and over again and for me sagan is the aggressor and cav is the victim. I really believe people’s love for sagan is blinding there judgment, if a less popular rider like nacer bouhanni did the same thing people wouldn’t bat an eyelid if he got disqualified.

    • The Bouhanni argument can be used both ways though. If he’d been the elbow flicker he would have been condemned out of hand but if he’d been the one who crashed no one would have cared (because he got what some would say he deserved, live by the sword, die by the sword, etc). As an observer its just interesting to note how much the personalities are wrapped up in the commentary. Most media, for example, I see as blatantly supporting Sagan because they know he is a popular rider who brings them clicks and views. So from that perspective imagine this was anonymous Wanty Gobert rider and anonymous Fortuneo rider. It wouldn’t have generated a tenth of the comment or interest and would have passed into history.

  26. I like the look of todays stage.

    While i’m not averse to the 200km + stages (variety is the spice of life) a short-ish stage like today with La Planche to finish is sure to provoke some great racing. Having ridden La Planche it certainly feels every % of that average gradient; I expect there’ll be a big fight on those steep lower slopes and then it’ll be dog-eat-dog on the 20% ramp at the top.

    Predictions? His form is patchy, but i’m picking Pinot and his extensive local knowledge…

  27. I’m just gutted we won’t have Sagan in the tour and what is more frustrating is the inconsistency of it all because how did Demare not endanger Bouhanni when he changed his racing line? Is the difference because he stayed up right because if so what will this decision change in terms of sprinters taking risks and pushing envelope on the rules?

    I believe Sagan did break the rules but don’t believe he used the elbow in a malicious way nor do I agree that his actions it warranted him been kicked off the race. Do you believe they kicked him off the race simply because the sanction of time penalty and point deduction is unlikely to have changed anything for Sagan as he would have still won the Green Jersey? Which is why they’ve potentially used him to make a point.

    They’ve set a big precedence now and while I understand they want to make sprints safer and less crowded with the testing of the 3 second rule. They’ve made an example of Sagan but sprinters will push it to the limit as these guys are thundering into a finish line at 60km/h making split second decisions where any slight hesitation will cost them so by its very nature is going to dangerous. So because of inconsistency between how Demare has not been punished because no one crashed what will change in a sprinters approach?

    • From my point of view even if you take the view that the jury was taking Sagan out of the equation to get a new green jersey winner (which, to be clear, I think is a ridiculous view) it still needs Sagan to do something borderline crazy to give them the opportunity. And Sagan walks right into that trap.

      The more blatant case of favouritism or otherwise is of course the case of Demare. No way they DQ the first French winner of a sprint in 11 years!

      So how do we remedy this? I think they should actually paint straight lines in the 200 meters to the finish and tell all sprinters that they may only sprint in straight lines and that they reserve the right to DQ any rider from the stage in future who doesn’t sprint in a straight line. Little deviation and no drifting should be allowed. Given a bit of time all the sprinters would sprint straight and those not doing would keep getting DQ’d and come into line (literally)!

        • Whether lines or lanes it’s a loony idea. You can wish it and wish it and wish it all you like. You can even invent universal future compliance to your dictatorial fantasy based on absolutely nothing at all. It won’t make it happen.

  28. Not sure why people are defending Sagan. The definitive view is the overhead (see Cav has Demare’s wheel maybe half a wheel down, Sagan is inside both of them. There is still a clear lane when Cav has a 3/4 bike overlap with Sagan. Sagan wants Demare’s wheel and just takes Cav’s space. The elbow is later and irrelevant.

  29. My point on the Green Jersey is not conspiracy theory about taking Sagan out of the equation but on my understanding of the events was they made the initial decision of relegating him in the stage which was protested by Dimension Data. So my assumption is that they didn’t deem the punishment as severe enough with the argument being it would not change anything for Sagan – he’d not lost a stage victory, the time loss is inconsequential as he is not racing GC and the point deduction was not severe enough to hinder his chances to retain the green jersey.

  30. I think that Sky will be looking to make a statement today.
    It suits their, and Froome’s, purposes very well to have Thomas take the heat being race leader.
    I can’t see Thomas ceding 40″ to other GC contenders, and it won’t surprise me to see him still in Yellow at the end of today.
    Henao, Kwiatkowsk, Landai et al will take both Froome and Thomas up the climb.
    As you were tonight, I think both Brits will still be sitting pretty.

  31. There seems to be a few folk seeing what they want to see. There are enough photographs and videos going around to show what happened. The leaders swang right, there was a gap of about a bike and rider and a half width behind Demare’s wheel and Cavendish followed it. Sagan wanted it as well and moved right, by which time Cavendish’s front wheel was over lapping Sagan’s rear. Inevitably they touched. Sagan’s elbow came out. Whether that was to balance himself, as an instinctive sort of shrug to feeling something on his side or as a big fat ‘f*ck you’ to Cavendish only he knows. Sprints are hectic and these things happen. The usual punishment is to be dropped to last on the stage results. When you see that Sagan effectively barged those two FDJ riders over only a few hundred metres earlier and that he’d apparently been a bit wild in the intermediate sprint then his punishment makes more sense. I would say that his behaviour in the last 1.5km or so constituted recklessness, though not necessarily with intent. The jury obviously aren’t willing to put up with that at those speeds.

    • Yes, agreed.
      That final move belonged on a football or rugby field – putting the speeding winger into Row Z.

      A huge shame for both Cavendish and Sagan.
      I feared that with so many high octane sprints there would be crashes, and the points competition has been tweaked again to anti-Sagan it and almost force him to take risks.

  32. I can’t see how the sanction is proportionate to the offence. For all the determination of some to cast Cavendish as the villain, Sagan clearly deviates from his line and closed the space that Cavendish was entitled to follow Demare into. I don’t think he did with intent to block Cav but that doesn’t matter since the rules state you can’t deviate from your line like that. The elbow looks like a whole load of nothing to me – Cav is already going down by then and I think it is a reflex for balance.

    Given that, regardless of what rules may say, the appropriate punishment should have been relegation and a points penalty (a time penalty means nothing to Sagan). Exclusion from the race seems like overkill and puts this on a par with Renshaw’s headbutt and Steels’ bottle throw, both of which were much much worse.

  33. What happened to Marcel Kittel and/or his train?

    I wonder if the final top ten knew Kittel had been dropped from the final bunch and sprinted *extra* recklessly, knowing they had a real chance at the win. I suspect they won’t get many more.

  34. Evertyhing is possible. SKY will try to fry opponents using high speed train but are they sure they won’t fry Froome? There are stronger guys in matter of climbing like Quintana, Porte, Aru, and the final km can be deadly if CF goes out of steam. Risky tactics today even though climb is short/poor. Nairo is the no 1 with possibly Porte trying to match him.

  35. Something I can relate to;

    I can climb better than many other aspects of the sport, it’s the way I’m built…

    – One way to beat Me up is wear Me down before the climb. & that’s what I think We’ll see today.

    For that, of the GC contenders, I’ll pick Dan Martin.

  36. I think Inring described the situation the best. Imagine the headlines if Cav had caused a crash with his “daring” inside move. This would be a repeat of the stage 1 TdF crash years ago. Sagan is a victim of his superior bike handling skills. This was a desperate, foolish move by Cav. Horrible call by the UCI.

    • That’s by far the best clip of the incident. I don’t think that is what the UCI viewed to make their call. If Cav had managed to stay upright he would have been taken out by the spectators red flag hanging over the railing at head level.

      • +1 – From that clip, there seems to be no contact between elbow and head. Cav was already falling and unclipped from pedal BEFORE the elbow comes out, Sagan left knee out at the same time to retain balance?

        Anyway, decision made and race continues less 2 great riders.

    • I can watch that a hundred times and still see that Sagan hit Cav. You don’t go sideways like Cav suddenly does when travelling at >60 kph without a series lateral force. That’s simple physics.
      Cav was going straight before the contact, but Sagan was moving further to his right towards the barrieres although he most probably knew Cav was coming. He even said something like this in an interview. Even if he wasn’t the best bike handler in the peloton you could say that he closed the door. But being the bike handler that he is – who’s able to unclip from a pedal without even deviating from his line and clip in again at full speed – I would argue that he most probably did it on purpose. Not necessarily wanting to make Cav crash but deny him any chance of passing him there.

      • I find it hard to believe that no-one sees Cavs’ brake hood catching behind Sagans’ forearm, which causes him to to loose his balance and subsequently pull Sagans’ elbow up in the process of unhooking. It is clear as daylight!
        But in any case Sagan wasn’t holding his line, closing the gap that he probably didn’t expect anyone to come through anyway ….

  37. Most effective way to ensure Sagan doesn’t tie Zabel points jersey record and to shake up that contest for 2017 Tue-r. Through the ringer out. UCI ASO reading from the same call in the Machiavelli playbook.

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