Tour de France Stage 6 Preview

After a brief test of the main contenders, back to the first of two consecutive sprint stages, a chance for the sprinters to shine before a few risk being eliminated in the mountains this weekend… or by the commissaires this afternoon.

Stage 5 Review: a fast start. A competent group of eight riders got away including Edvald Boasson Hagen, fourth overall at 16 seconds. BMC Racing took up the chase and they covered 48km in the first hour and kept the breakaway at two and half minutes. A show of strength from BMC? Possibly but needing to show strength is sign of insecurity too and come the final the red jerseys were missing. It meant Sky had six riders on the final climb who’d sat comfortable all day.

The day’s breakaway was swept up and Fabio Aru launched the first serious attack on the Planche des Belles Filles with 2.3km to go, surging like a gamboling foal. Simon Yates tried to slip away and soon after Froome attacked having run out of team mates, including Geraint Thomas who’d been dropped. Froome’s acceleration was potent but Richie Porte, Dan Martin, Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana followed, although this caused the Colombian to crack moments later. Martin used the final ramp to surge away for second place with Froome taking third and a small psychological win over Porte.

How much can we extrapolate? It’s only one climb but a 16 minute full on effort should tell us plenty. Aru looked fresh and lively confirming the impression from the Italian championships and should be a force for the upcoming mountain stages including the Mont du Chat this Sunday. Chris Froome’s closed the gap to his rivals but seems on a similar level to Richie Porte, Romain Bardet, Dan Martin and Simon Yates. When Froome’s taken yellow before he’s never lost it but didn’t look so invincible this time but he can count on the Marseille time trial when others cannot. Nairo Quintana was dropped at the end but we’ll see how he fares on longer climbs. Losers of the day were Jacob Fuglsang and Bauke Mollema, the Dane’s Dauphiné form deserted him and Aru is the clear leader of Astana now. Team Sky did have six riders on the climb but once Michał Kwiatkowski parked the others fell away quickly too.

The Route: 216km and a long day across rolling terrain with a road that rises and falls like a sine wave. The first climb at Langres is 1.3km at 6.3% and the second is 3.1km at 4.4%. The intermediate sprint passes through Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, long home to President Charles de Gaulle and where the Tour de France stopped mid-stage to salute him. A lot of the route is exposed to the wind, passing big cereal fields and roads lined by poplar trees and the forecast of crosswinds (see below) could stir things up.

The Finish: they ride through Troyes on urban roads. There’s a left hand bend with 2km to go marked as dangerous in the roadbook but if it’s a 90° bend, it’s wide. The flat run through town continues with a wide chicane just before the flamme rouge and then a long finishing straight.

The Contenders: Arnaud Démare again? He’s in the green jersey and the big roads suit him and his FDJ’s sprint train again. Hiring Italians Jacopo Guarnieri and Davide Cimolai over the winter has boosted the team a lot and it seems they’re after Ramon Sinkeldam of Giant-Shimano too, they’re becoming more international… like in the late 1990s in the days of Bradley McGree, Baden Cooke and Bradley Wiggins.

Marcel Kittel lost his Quick Step train in Vittel which at least kept him away from the danger. He should be back again here and we’ll get a contest with FDJ.

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) has been consistently close so he only needs a touch of luck for a win. With each passing day Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) is getting better but how to beat the names cited so far, he needs a wilder finish with a maze of bends to beat the big trains.

Among the others Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was close in Vittel but lacked the speed in the finish, Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) still needs a clear run at the line and

Marcel Kittel, Arnaud Démare
André Greipel
Bouhanni, Kristoff, Groenewegen

Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 34°C. The wind will blow at 20km/h from the SW and could gust to 40km/h.

TV: live from the start at 12.05pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.30pm CET. Think of rationing of your viewing because today’s stage doesn’t promise much action until the final 10kms.

88 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 6 Preview”

  1. Good call on Yates yesterday. Aru looking more like he did in 2015 and good to see Uran riding strongly. Of course things could be very different in a fortnight but we’ll wait and see. Probably some mind games going on between BMC and Sky, the management and riders of the former have been telling the press how the latter seems weaker than in past editions of this race. It’s noteworthy that once the real attacks started Froome was, like Porte, bereft of teammates.

    • But therein lies a riddle or two. It seemed strange to me that after Kwiatkowski dropped we went to Mikel Nieve and Henao and Landa sort of disappeared. Were they done or were they told to sit this one out? They are hardly the world’s worst climbers. We know for a fact that Sky are rotating shifts for their domestiques and DS Nico Portal is saying in nearly every interview that its a long race and their guys will not be expected to work every day. It did make me wonder if on such a short climb they had decided that Froome and Thomas could handle the last 2 kms by themmselves yesterday. As for BMC, it seems to me they messed up a little. First they worked all day, seemingly wanting bonus seconds, but then Richie couldn’t deliver. He got no bonus seconds and ended up slightly further behind Froome than he started and gave himself the extra problem of Fabio Aru. Considering most had expected him to win the stage this was underwhelming from the Tasmanian. Did he peak too soon?

      • Well the Giro taught us that you can’t extrapolate too much from the first uphill finish, so we will see. Froome may have grabbed a few bonus seconds but Porte being able to hold his wheel is something to note. Plus as Quintana being dropped shows Landa may still be feeling his efforts from May.

        • The Giro people will drop and in this new, less chemical era (insert scare quotes here) we should expect tiredness, right? So Nairo will be 0-2 after the Tour. I sense that we have a bunch of riders here at a similar level (Aru, Martin, Porte, Froome at least) and I agree with those who say this might be a Tour of seconds and taking a chance rather than the one crushing stage that we have seen before. It was said before the Tour by Froome that he thought this, par excellence, would be the Tour de Consistency. Its all about staying in the game as long as possible, at least until Izoard.

      • Kwiatkowski was awesome and my initial reaction was that he’d effectively burned out his fellow Team Sky domestiques. On reflection though I wonder if he was so strong, and kept going so close to the top, that Sky thought it sensible to save Landa and Heneo. Landa seemed to drop off when there was still a sizeable group, which was surprising.

        It’s stating the obvious but Aru and Martin both looked great. I think Yates did too and, while he burned his matches a little quickly, I wonder if on a longer climb his form will come to the fore. I still can’t see past Froome for the win though as he’ll take significant time in the TT.

      • True that Porte didn’t deliver as BNC would have hoped, but could another reading not be that BMC set a stiff pace from the outset and, as a result, Sky were less dominant on the climb?

      • re rotating shifts for the domestiques, I note that Quintana was on his own for most of the climb, with the likes of Amador finishing some way back. Didn’t have legs, tired from the Giro, or just waiting for next week?

      • It looked very much like Landa & Heynow are on week 2/3 duties and Flower wasn’t expected to do so well. I’d be surprised if Frosty doesn’t work before Kwiat next time.

  2. This stage has been shown that with courage -and legs – the infamous Ski´s train can be defeated. Froome is not the boss now or is he bluffing?
    Allez Fabio allez.

    • Froome said afterwards that they probably let Fabio go too far before chasing. He seemed to expect that more riders would have attacked him but they didn’t. This fatal hesitation gave Aru a nice chunk of time back. Don’t read too much into “the infamous Sky train”. As I said above, its not clear what happened there and if you compare it to the 2012 ascent its no different.

      • That, and he and Porte did a nice little staring game on the flatter bit probably gave Aru a few more seconds.

        The Dauphine probably did its troll in terms of relationships between the two. In years past they could have cooperated yesterday, kept Aru closer and dealt more damage to the others. Froome probably needs to make a sacrifice and lead on some mountains in order to rebuild the trust between the two. Hard to see this happen unless Porte is no longer a threat in GC.

        • Porte is clearly obsessed with Froome and BMC with Sky. It sounds to me like Froome was waiting to see how many and who would attack him but only Aru, who clearly had a plan, did. The rest, and Porte especially, were waiting for Froome.

  3. I couldn’t understand why BMC were at the front for so long. Seemed a waste of team resources. They were gone by the last climb and had no one to support Porte. I don’t think it was a good strategy. I think BMC are not savvy enough to get the better of Sky

    • They wanted Richie to win (and get the bonus seconds) and pulled back the breakaway. Richie failed and gifted the bonus seconds to Aru, Martin and Froome. It’s not the end of the world and they did everything they could to set the last climb for Porte like they wanted.

      • I think the plan failed in the end, but it wasn’t a bad plan per se. C’est le tour. Sky were happy to let the break battle it out on La Planche, BMC wanted the stage. This was clear from the beginning and confirmed by most of the post-stage comments. The mistake was underestimating Aru, Porte showed a lack of killer instinct in that phase (& Martin banked on his fast finish). Aru has a target on his back from now on, mais bon Paris est encore loin.

        • It was a bad plan because they should have let a weaker break go not an all star cast they had to spend the day chasing. They could have chased the break and saved a day of pain.

      • Awful lot of work for ten seconds … better to make Sky burn their matches defending the yellow. For me neither Bmc nor Porte have the minerals to dethrone Froome/Sky – trust me wish somebody would. Having said that this race has the potential for more suspense than previous editions

    • Might be being too generous to bmc, but one theory is that by ensuring Froome or Thomas are in yellow at this stage it means sky have to protect that over the next few days so overall they will have to do more work than bmc.

    • What support would BMC have provided to Porte on a climb like that anyway. Once Kwia started pulling, none of BMC’s helpers would have had the firepower for assistance anyway. The climb panned out well for Porte anyway, he hadn’t had to do any work and was left with a select group. Just didn’t take advantage on the day. I think BMC’s plan to chance the break showed they/and Porte think he’s going well enough to try a plan like that – the death knell for Ritchie is sounding a bit too early I think……

      • The criticism I think is about overworking the team and having little to show. Porte’s form is good, but he might need less help from the car. Ritchie said it was only 2 guys and they should be able to “rest” on Friday. I saw that Gilbert did not understand why the break needed to be caught?

        • Not to criticize Porte/BMC overly, I should add I’m inclined to agree with stevhanti that this was something that just didn’t work out. Even in the era of marginal gains…

  4. Bauke Mollema is not a loser of the day. His role is not for GC this Tour bureau to help Alberto mainly in the kast two weeks.

          • Talansky always goes from less to more and his third week of a grand tour yields better, besides the arrival of yesterday was not the most favorable to its characteristics.
            In the last Vuelta a España be was the best behind the four main riders thanks to that he was the closest to the betters from half of the Vuelta onwards.
            I give him a vote of confidence, and I hope he will be able to reach top-10, for the sake of my team at Velogames

          • I had to check the date of this blog as I thought I’d accidentally found one from 2014 or something. I didn’t even know Talansky was riding! Seriously. I suppose that’s almost how he won the Dauphine, but still…

  5. I think BMC maybe smarter than I am and what I said earlier. By having the BMC team out front all day it meant that the GC contenders took the win rather than the breakaway. So no-one from the breakaway got the yellow jersey. It then meant that Froome took yellow and thus Sky will be busy out the front of the peleton for many more days to come.

  6. Good advice about “rationing” the viewing. The full-on start-to-finish view-fest is tedious indeed, even for the commentators on Eurosport, who have adopted a tag team approach to the coverage. There’s only so many times I can bear to listen to Carlton talk about his summer working at a biscuit factory in France, or getting drunk on orange flavored liquor, or . . . on and on. In the words of Professor Xavier in “The Days of Future Past:” “These are memories I don’t have. Memories I don’t want.”

    • Dan Martin is no doubt in great form but La Planche is perfect for him. He loves the steep gradient and punchy finishes. Its the long climbs he dislikes and then he starts to roll and grind. We will be able to judge him better after stages 8+9 which contain longer climbs. Especially if someone else (I’m looking at you Porte, Froome and Aru) attacks. Yesterday’s result confirms that he is very much in the game though.

      • The final TT is the sword of Damacles hanging over every contender outside Froome and Porte. Who of the others (apart from maybe Contador, who doesn’t seem to be in the picture) will be able to take the 60-90 seconds required as a buffer from Froome and Porte ahead of the final TT?

        • An exciting finale would be Aru and Dan Martin about a minute ahead of Porte/Froome at the start of the ITT. But I think the Izoard stage will provide clear water one way or another if nothing before does.

      • I don’t think Dan Martin has the team required for the win. He might finish high up but this isn’t a 1 week stage race where he can sneak a surprise win because the favourites are too busy marking each other (like Talansky or Fugulsang were able to). Also what are his best results over 3 week grand tours? Seems better suited to the 1 days.

        I think it’s between Froome and Porte, with Aru snapping at the heels. The others will come and go but if anyone other than those 3 were to take the lead anytime before the last couple of days then I just don’t think they would have the team or ability to fight off repeated attacks and ambushes from those 3 and their teams. Sky alone could launch repeated attacks from Froome and G, whilst still having the option to send 4 mountain domestiques up the road for possible relay moves. Not to mention the attacks from Porte, Aru, Fugulsang, and the other outside contenders.
        A GC winner will need bottles and drinks all day and a spare wheel/bike option. Which means a team make, team cars aren’t a substitute. If not then the chances are that at some point over the next 3 weeks they will have an ‘unlucky’ incident that will cost them the tour. You make your own luck.

        I think Bardet might make the podium.

        • Froome, Aru and Martin are my picks. It doesn’t look like Porte has the power. He doesn’t usually get better as the race goes either.

    • As far as I am concerned, more or less. But I guess both can rate better on longer climbs and non mono-climb stages. Plus there are some stages to do Kontador like ambushes.

  7. I thought Porte mistimed his efforts; going hard when he could make little difference and having little left when the gradient kicked up. It seemed impetuous, like he was riding the tour down under rather than the bigger one in France. He seemed to look surprised that he couldn’t get distance as he has all year. I think he is at the level of the others, or maybe slightly above, but not so much that he can ride foolishly and boss them as he did in January.

  8. Apologies if you dont get the British cultural reference.

    It does seem as if BMC has hired Baldrick as a DS. They keep coming up with “cunning plans”. Sky were clearly more than happy to let a high quality break go. BMC jumped into the breach and set to work forcing a very high pace across fields of eastern France. By the time the peloton reached the business end of the day the team was pretty much done for. This most cunning of plans resulted in Richie Porte loosing yet more time (only 2 seconds) to Chris Froome. Philippe Gilbert really could not understand why they had bothered to chase down the break. Nicolas Portal and Dave Brailsford could hardly hide their glee that they had been able to rest Luke Rowe and Christian Knees. Richie was happy enough though, seeming to think they had somehow gained a moral victory over Sky. There must be logic in there somewhere but I cant see it.

    I agree that a couple of the Sky riders seemed to go missing on the climb. I do wonder if they would have been better having Peter Kennaugh on the team rather than a clearly demob happy Mikel Landa.

    Fabio Aru was let go, I guess the thought was he would be brought back easily enough. Chris Froome said afterwards that was a mistake and G suggested they should have been setting a faster pace even if he couldnt keep up on the final steep slope.

    None of that takes away from a great ride by Fabio Aru. He is clearly a serious contender especially as he has already won a GT. However he wont be able to ride away quite so easily again. I did think Richie Porte’s comment about how he fallen apart on a climb last year was somewhat misplaced, this is a fresh, fit and experienced rider.

    Dan Martin did exactly as expected, not sure he will go so well on the longer climbs but is clearly in with a shout of a podium place.

    Simon Yates did well, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador less so.

    Can Sky really keep yellow all the way to Paris? The Mont du Chat stage looms large as it has done from the beginning. If Chris Froome is still in yellow at the end of that stage it is difficult to see him being dislodged.

    Looking forward to more images of Chateaux and small French towns today and tomorrow (yes I think having pictures from the beginning of each stage is a good thing). The possibility of crosswinds always livens things up.

    • I agree with most of this. Richie Porte was saying some strange things after the stage as if BMC had won some sort of moral victory. All I saw was that their riders burnt up some serious watts only to be slightly worse off at the end of the day. Its clear to me that if Porte doesn’t have the performance differential he had a month ago he may find this a Tour of disappointment. As to Sky, I think they are prepared for a gamble more than some others. If Froome doesn’t win this Tour he has still won three. If Porte doesn’t win it he has still won none… and has one less chance to ever win it. So I see Sky staring down BMC on that one and pushing them to do work again in future. But everything about how Sky have set themselves up for this race tells me that they aim to be on top form in week 3 not week 1.

      • Yes, and we’ve also learnt that Richie can’t count – he was happily telling TV interviewers that BMC only had 2 riders on the front. This could be an issue for him later if his radio goes down and the DS can’t tell him how many fingers to use to count the number of riders in an attack…

    • There are British cultural references we don’t get and there are British cultural references we don’t want to get, but we all do get the reference to Baldrick and we all love it!
      I couldn’t help but keep wondering who the heck it was in the eight-man breakaway who had “eloped with the teenage daughter of the BMC DS” or done something else to BMC that deserved to be revenged at any cost.
      I think many were happy to let Aru get away because he would either implode or become bound to get overexcited and overestimate himself in a big way on the next important uphill stage.

      • + 1 to the Baldrick comment.

        I think Aru got away because he is strong at the moment (and also because he does not measure his efforts in the same way as the other guys, youthful enthusiasm).
        We saw the same think in the Dauphiné so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

        Not sure the others looked over and thought, “oh its Aru, lets let him go an pull him back later”. I think it is more likely they thought “F*** me, I’m knacked, I should probably chase that.” but didn’t, then they thought “Oh Thomas is upping his pace in a measured way, he’ll probably close it down”. Then 10 seconds later Froome thought G is cooked, best attack/bridge.

  9. nice stealth ride so far from Bardet… no one talking about him at all which, considering he was second to Froome last year, is quite an acheivement.

    • This is interesting I agree but there are reasons…

      Bardet cannot drop the best climbers nor out TT the best GT TT’ers. So most assume he hasn’t got the fire power and won’t be allowed to fly up the road as easily as last year… i.e. he’s a solid top 5 who benefits from others failing with his own consistency.

      But agreed – I think his time will come, a ‘la Nibali. He just needs a few crashes, illnesses and a favourable course… Or he goes up a notch as a climber and TT’er because I do at this moment think last year all the cards feel for him and 2nd was his reward but also limit… to think that one of Porte, Froome even Aru and Quintana won’t bring there A-game at some point in this tour and leave him in their wake is hard to imagine…

      • With less than 23km of ITT remaining and four downhill finishes to come I think the course is very favourable for Bardet. He’ll have a few chances to drop some of the best climbers if he can stay in touch going up first.

  10. Wonderful ride from Aru yesterday, he is not to be underestimated. Fuglsang didn’t ‘deliver’ in the sense of the word but he will be very important as Aru’s mountain lieutenant in later stages, I feel he will come around yesterdays slight misgivings. In fact I would love to see Aru put it up to Sky and BMC, he has won a GT but seems to be maligned as a disappointment to most. He looks to be in amazing shape and that National jersey deserves the exposure!

    I desperately want Martin to be there when it goes off on the long climbs but I fear for his bad day. No support but that has always been the way with him.

  11. I got the impression Porte was trying to spin some really poor decision making and use it to praise the strength of his team, rather than he genuinely believed it was a good move.

    Nice to see Astana have gone full Italian rather than the meagre chest flag they gave Nibali.

  12. I might be wrong, but could it be that BMC chased all day to tire some of the Sky climbers? As we saw, Sky had 6 guys still in the front group at the start of the climb but Landa and Henao (or Nieve I can’t remember) disappeared pretty quickly once Kwiatkowski started pulling. So effectively, Froome and Thomas only had 2 domestiques. It didn’t cause too many problems on a short climb, but could it on a longer climb or a succession of climbs?

    • It is much more effort to ride on the front of the peloton than benefit from the slipstream of those in front. This effect increases the faster you ride. Thus riding all day at the front of the bunch uses more energy and calories than simply hanging about in 5th or 10th spot. It is true that BMC did set a fast pace and this uses up more energy for all the riders than a more sedate one but the most effort will have been by BMC themselves.

      On flat parts of a stage most if not all of the riders can keep up with even the most hellish pace, those at the front can only keep up the additional effort for so long. Once the road starts to go up the equation changes and many of the heavier riders will fall behind once the speed goes beyond a certain point. Do bear in mind that even the lowliest domestique on the Tour is a top athlete able to sustain serious efforts for far far longer than any mere mortals. Riding 200km in the middle of a peloton will not have been a great strain for the riders, especially in the first week of the Tour. I doubt it will make any difference to the inevitable fatigue that builds up towards the end of the race.

    • Sky’s DS’s insistence that they have to be at or near the front all day every day probably does more to tire out their riders than anything any of the other teams can do. They’ll say it’s to keep their riders safe but there have been two crashes at the front on flat stages so far and their riders were caught up in both when they could’ve been sat eating sandwiches at the back. So it fails as a strategy on two counts.

        • It’s failed as in they keep getting involved in crashes and weren’t able to control the climb as always. Froome has been the best rider by a distance in all of his wins and probably would’ve won if riding for Bretagne Seche. It’s just my opinion but I think sticking their noses into every high speed sprint finish is completely unnecessary.

          • Yes but you’re wrong – we’re talking percentages here, the majority of the time Sky have kept safe and guided themselves to Tour victory with this tactic. Crashes happen anywhere and everywhere and it’s clear you are more vulnerable further back as Wiggo proved to Sky themselves in 2011. You’re making an opinion based on too few examples. The weight of results tells a completely different story. That the tactic has guided them to victories proves the effectiveness. Saying Froome would have won without his team is naive in the extreme.

          • It’s a spurious argument because as you say it’s worked a treat for Sky. But because they have always done the same thing we’ll never know if something else would’ve worked better! If they had allowed their domestiques downtime they may have been even more dominant when they really were needed. In Charly Wagelius’ autobiography he says how he hated working for Cadel Evans because he demanded to be at the front at all times whereas at Liquigas Danilo Di Luca (insert doping joke) was happy to sit at the back until he decided it was worthwhile being at the front. The result being Wagelius had more energy to work when he really needed to at Liquigas. Granted Wagelius was a genuine domestique, Sky’s array of stars might me capable of both.

          • Cadel Evans won a Tour, Di Luca’s palmares seems to be a bit thinner…..

            Being the best involves a lot of boring, often unpleasant, hard work.

          • Its percentages. Crashes can happen anywhere but if you are at the front then you have most chance of staying safe. Of course you can quote examples of crashes happening at the front (especially if Peter Sagen is around 🙂 ) but far more happen further back. It is not just Sky who use this strategy, they might have started the tactic of pushing into the sprint but others have followed simply because they see the benefit.

            Having a strong team is a big help. You can still succeed without but it is much more difficult (Tom Dumoulin in the Giro). Yes Chris Froome has been the dominant rider at the tour since 2012 (hence Brad storming off in a huff) but the team and their tactics (even if you dont like them) has been an integral part of that success.

            Folk might yearn for some mythical past of swashbuckling riders racing on feelings and instinct. The reality is the big teams have always used whatever tactics they can to ensure their man wins. It is as much part of cycling as Andy Schleck launching a legendary long range attack on the Galibier (he still lost to Cadel Evans due to not being very good in the TTs….) or whatever particular myth takes your fancy.

          • Sorry Richard you’re argument is paper thin here. You’re citing hypotheticals when we have facts. And as said above Di Luca’s palmares are notably thinner than Evans. This is not a case of what if – we have a tactic that is tried and tested. You’re just pointing out that it’s not infalable – which is plainly clear.

  13. I had that familiar first mountain stage sinking feeling when I saw Sky crowd to the front with their dreaded train of star riders. Does anybody else feel cheated as a fan that arguably the best all round rider in the world (Kwiatkowski) is being wasted as a highly paid pace setter? However it was nice to see Aru do what Quintana has been unable to do for 3 years and actually take them on. I hope Aru takes up a kind of Pantani wildcard role in this Tour with constant unpredictable attacking in the hills. God knows he can’t wait for any time trials. It was also nice to see the riders make Froome do his own work. Porte and Martin in particular have previously seemed physically unable to stop themselves chasing attacks for him.

    • Agreed, but if it’d been Quintana, Froome would have immedately chased in person, however low down the climb – as he always has in previous Tours.
      Re: Kwiatek, most wholeheartedly agreed. The sooner he leaves that team the better.

    • I’m sure Kwiato feels really wasted winning Milan-Sanremo and Strade Bianche and being on a Tour de France team, something that he was saying he was really excited about in a video he put out on his own page. As far as I can tell he seems really happy at the team. So your fears are naive and unreasonable. Kwiatkowski is getting the chances to lead for the races that he can win. No one thinks he can win the Tour so why talk about him being “wasted”? Seems to me that he is being put to best use.

    • I love watching Kwiatkowski ride and have mixed feelings about your comment. I recognize and accept that domestiques are part of the race and play a huge tactical role. Kwiato probably couldn’t challenge for the podium here. Watching him stage hunt would be fun, for sure, but we get to see him race for the win most of the spring. I enjoy watching him get on the front of the peloton and absolutely rip. He has such a smooth pedal stroke seeing him do work for his team is satisfying, too.

  14. Kittel seemed to mess up the last 5km lead in last time, and have himself no chance after getting caught in traffic. I think he beats Demare in a fair flat sprint.

    Expect to see his team get to the front earlier this time, and not be so casual.

  15. To counter the cheeky “eliminated in the mountains this weekend… or by the commissaires this afternoon.” – surely we’ll expect sprints to be safer now, and possibly back to “proper” lead out trains?

    Sprints so far have been messy, and one of my theories is that there are so many going for the sprints this year. With 2 teams out of it (elsewhere someone mentioned possibly Boassen Hagen being lead by renshaw?) but you expect Bora and DD to not feature any more. (Apologies if I’ve missed an obvious other sprinter on those teams).

    With the new 3 second rule as well, should hopefully be more space with less teams, proper trains and safer sprinting…..we’ll see!

  16. Okay, guys – if there’s a lesson to be learnt from the first 25 minuts in the mountains it’s that Sky using their old mountain-tactics with 5 rider monster-pulling from uphill start and the last man is (as usual) ‘G’ before Froome himself try to finish the business near the top. Nothing new there. What we saw was a dejá-vu from the Dauphiné – neither Froome nor Porte had the power to follow when first Aru and then Dan Martin took off. The stage-stats confirmed that! In Dauphiné it was Fuglsang and Martin who took off on the last stage. Fuglsang won the Dauphiné, had become a father and just signed a new nice contract with Astana, so he’s obvious not as ‘hungry’ as Aru. So now in the TdF Dan Martin can team up with Astana-brother Aru – and it’s obvious the pair are capable of challenging both Froome and Porte. Very nice for the sake of the race.
    It’s still only the first 6-7 km mountain racing, so a lot of things can happen. Indurain once said that a black dog could cross the road… let’s hope not. But so far: chapeau for Aru and Martin 🙂

  17. What Arun did yesterday is an example of what we want to see as customers of professional cycling. That’s what I call eagerness, desire to win and have testicles to make a move! The complete opposite to certain riders’ Giro performance. More of that please!!

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