Tour de France Stage 9 Preview

After yesterday’s wild stage here’s an even harder stage, a collection of climbs with slopes that are regularly above 10%, selective for the front of the race and a battle for those at the back.

Stage 8 Review: a wild, unchained stage of constant attacking, they rode like there was no tomorrow only as we’ll soon see, there was and some will have a hangover. It took 90 minutes of relentless racing before the day’s breakaway formed, a giant group of 50 riders barged clear and then split again. Team Sky led the chase behind to contain things because the likes of Pierre Latour and Emmanuel Buchmann were up the road and could not be allowed much room. The scenario was constantly changing with groups forming and reforming and on the long climb to Viry Warren Barguil was instrumental in pulling a group clear that included Greg Van Avermaet, Robert Gesink, Serge Pauwels and Lilian Calmejane. For Calmejane the fear was that he’d show too early, a chicklet surrounded by old foxes. But once onto the Lacets de Septmoncel it was Barguil who was using up energy and only later did Calmejane make his move. At first he was holding a small gap over Nicolas Roche only for the Irishman to crack, then Gesink came within 10 seconds but could not get closer. Calmejane was doing just what he did in the Vuelta last year when he blew everyone away to take medium mountain stage win. This time cramp struck but he pushed on for the stage win only to collapse off his bike, legs riddled with cramp. It was a huge triumph for the small Direct Energie team. Calmejane’s win ended the day but this was a battle for many riders whose effects will be felt today.

The Route: 181km and 4,700m of vertical gain. Nantua will be humming to the sound of riders warming up. After a neutral roll out the KM0 point is on the slopes of the Col de Berentin, climbed via the village of Neyrolles and with plenty of 7% slopes. They then cross the plateau and drop down a fast climb with few bends to the river Rhone, crossing over the Génissiat dam and climbing to Franclens, 2.4km at 6% but with steeper sections and a gradual drop back to the Rhone again and the towns of Seyssel where they cross the Rhone again and climb to the start of the Col de la Biche.

Biche means a female deer but riders may think otherwise when they turn off the main road the climb begins with a 15% ramp before the climb eases back for 8km at 10-12% which is steep enough but the road is made harder by a rough surface with a gravelly feel and tiny ridges in the tarmac that make it feel slower still. The slope eases to the KoM point then there’s a brief descent before the road climbs again to the col proper and then a steep descent with few corners but the road is bumpy, take a hand off the bars to eat a gel and it’s risky. There’s then a small transitional section across to Virieu-le-Petit.

They climb the Grand Colombier. The mountain has been used in recent years but this time they go up the steepest side, the directissime approach. The roadbook says 22%, signs warn of 19% and this isn’t one of those take-the-wrong-line-inside-a-hairpin-bend measurements, it’s actually that steep. There’s a 4.4km stretch at 12% with long stretches at 14-16%, all on a sluggish road surface where the only help is shade from the forest canopy. After they emerge from the woodland the road joins the route used last year to the top and levels out for a moment and then climbs at a more steady 7-8% to the top. A fast descent awaits, you might remember the fearless riding of Jarlinson Pantano and Julian Alaphilippe from last year.

Then comes the valley section, they’re back beside the Rhone valley for 24km as they ride to the intermediate sprint, itself uphill. They cross over the Rhone again and tackle the 4km climb through Jongieux, mainly 4% slopes as the Mont du Chat looms large. There’s a brief descent in the shade and then a roundabout. From here the road starts climbing, the upcoming Mont du Chat is listed as 8.7km at 10.3% but to get there riders face 6km at 6% including some long 8% stretches.

The Mont du Chat should be familiar to many in the peloton and beyond after its inclusion in the Critérium du Dauphiné. After a gentle start the road pitches up and it’s 10-14% until the top, all on a slow road surface and this time the woodland isn’t dense enough to offer much shade. There is a brief flat segment with 4km to go that doesn’t show on the profile above but there’s hardly time to pick up speed and it just means that the slope has to rear up even more to meet the steep average.

From the top there’s 26km to go which sounds far but the 13km reciprocal descent takes minutes. Viewed on a map it looks like a series of straight lines between hairpins but instead each section between the hairpins is full of kinks and blind bends and it’s very steep meaning the speed is high and braking times long.

After the descent there’s a sharp climb that’s not on the profile, one kilometre at 7% which is not much but a good place for an attack before a 12km run to Chambéry with an unflattering approach into town via an industrial zone and retail park.

The Finish: flat but with plenty of twists and turns leading to a 550m long finishing straight that rises gently to the line.

The Contenders: the breakaway has a chance today too. After yesterday’s mania those who managed to save some energy could go clear on the first climb and find a peloton behind only too happy to let them go. Also, as hard as this stage is, the big team leaders will want their helpers beside them for as much of the stage as possible. But the closer they get to the Mont du Chat the fiercer the pace from those helpers who are left and then the big names can have a showdown on the final climb. Remember they only need attack in the final kilometres of this climb to take a minute on rivals.

Fabio Aru looked irresistible on the way to the Planche des Belles Filles and you’ll remember he was first to the top of the Mont du Chat in the Dauphiné last month too. If he can get over the top with 20 seconds then he could be hard to pull back and he has to try a move like this, he needs to take time on the mountain stages because the Marseille time trial will cost him. But as good as he is on the climbs he like other contenders is far from a certainty in the flat finish today.

Romain Bardet is almost the local. He’s not from the finish but spent time as an amateur with Ag2r La Mondiale’s excellent feeder squad, as did Pierre Latour but this doesn’t make them any faster or motivated given the enormity of the stage ahead. Bardet packs a decent sprint too.

Faster in the sprint is Dan Martin. The Quick Stepper is in great shape and showed on the road to La Planche des Belles Filles he can climb with the best. That was a short climb but Martin should also be at ease on these steep climbs.

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) had a great performance at La Planche des Belles Filles to make up for the lost time at Longwy. We’ll soon know more about his form and he’s a very quick finisher amid a group of climbers.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) turned himself into a potent descender. It’s not something that often happens mid-career but he’s turned it into a weapon. However it’s not elegant to watch as he shifts weight and position like a slalom skier rather than flowing down the mountain and this intense style looks scary. Still if the forecast rain appears he can put Richie Porte under huge pressure here. We’ll see what Geraint Thomas does, he’s still second on GC and can sprint fast but the mountains are likely to be too much.

Richie Porte was close to the stage win in the Dauphiné over the Mont du Chat, he should be close again but sprinting isn’t his strong point nor is descending and if the forecast rain appears he could be nervous on the descents.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had a relatively bad climb to the Planche des Belles Filles but if he’s in contention today’s route suits him more with the succession of steep climbs. Meanwhile if Alberto Contador is going to stir things up today’s route offers plenty but he can’t wait until the Mont du Chat, will he dare to go before?

Outside picks are Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) who won a stage last year on some of these roads but he could be on duty for Alberto Contador. Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) sat out yesterday’s action, was he saving himself for today? Pierre Rolland (Cannonale-Drapac) could take a big lead in the mountains competition with three HC climbs along the way but easier said than done with the Giro in his legs, ditto Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Fresher candidates are Lotto-Jumbo’s George Bennett and UAE Emirates’ Darwin Atapuma. Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Rigoberto Urán (Cannonale-Drapac) both suffer from being close on GC so they’ll have little room to attack but if they can go clear maybe the others hesitate.

Fabio Aru, Chris Froome
Romain Bardet, Dan Martin, Simon Yates
Pantano, Cummings, Quintana, Porte, Pinot, Atapuma, Latour, Rolland

Weather: overnight rain will clear but thunderstorms are forecast for the afternoon in the region. It will be a humid 26°C.

TV: live from the start at 11.55am CET with the finish forecast for 5.00pm CET.

162 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 9 Preview”

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for these wonderful stage previews. I live in the United States, so during the Tour I typically read these right before going to bed, whetting my appetite for the day ahead. And with this mouth-watering stage, I’m like a kid the night before Christmas.

    Hoping for Rolland from the break, and some surprise GC contenders to take time today.

  2. The disparity in GC approach between Sky and BMC couldn’t have been more pronounced today. What on earth was Roche doing pushing for a stage win today, given that he is supposed to be Porte’s key lieutenant, and given the difficulty of tomorrow’s stage? Did they learn nothing from the final day of the Dauphine?

    • On velonews, Roche has this to say about being up the road:
      “We didn’t want to get caught out like we did at the Dauphine,” said Nicholas Roche, one of the three domestiques sent up and then set free for a potential stage win. “We learned there that it’s easier to have riders to drop back rather than try to bridge across.”
      So not going for the stage win, and did learn from the Dauphiné.

    • When BMC were on the front most of the other day many called that a sign of weakness and insecurity. When they sat back yesterday and let Sky do all the work the same people are saying the same things. With big splits like that you want your riders in the move, and for all the “fireworks” in regards to breakaways, this was a very routine day for the GC group who all just watched each other and rolled in en masse. So far the only time losses Porte has to Froome are from the opening TT where he took a more cautious approach after seeing Roche stuff it around a bend, and the four bonus seconds Froome scooped up for finishing third. Let’s see how BMC do on this first real high mountains test before we start writing their obituary, eh?

        • Maybe he felt good and tried an attack, but reigned it in when he saw others were on a better day and had to think of the next couple of weeks? The point is that riders on the GC team can win a stage without dooming their GC tilt, it’s not a 100% either/or proposition. In 2012 Froome and Cavendish both won stages, but that didn’t imperil Wiggins’ yellow jersey campaign. It just seems the knives are out for BMC from the armchair commentariat before the race is halfway done.

          • Chris Froome won his stage in 2012 (think is was just Planche de Belles Filles) riding with Brad. Cav won 3 but both sides decided it wasnt viable for future races. I can see having a rider like GVA who targets stage wins as one of the nine but surely Nico Roche is there specifically to assist Richie Porte? He completely exhausted himself trying to chase the stage win, how does that possibly make sense?

            Perhaps Richie Porte will ride away today or on another mountain stage to a first Tour victory but his team really dont seem to be helping him. This is not the first time either, last year Richie was not best served by the team at all, he should have been on the podium if not challenging for victory but was left at the roadside looking for a spare wheel. There are also paddock rumours of dissension in the team, maybe gossip repeated by the Eurosport commentators is not always accurate but it does rather add to the feeling of BMC not being quite where they should be.

    • The tactic of getting riders into the break makes perfect sense, all of the teams did it. What is totally unfathomable is why Nico Roche would exhaust himself going for the stage win. The riders from the other teams simply sat at the rear of the break conserving energy before dropping back or being caught. Sending riders “up the road” is hardly new and it should not have needed the mess up at the Dauphine for BMC to decide to do it. The post race justifications from Nico Roche and Richie Porte were odd to say the least. They seem to be constantly thinking about Team Sky rather than how to win the race.

      I thought Sky played it pretty perfectly yesterday, there was not much they could do about the huge break so they rode sensibly knowing the big break would split and a small group could be brought back. Movistar, Astana etc were happy to let Sky do the work whilst covering any threat with riders of their own in the break. Every team except BMC seemed to be focused on saving as much energy as possible for today. You have to focus on the challenges ahead not refight previous battles

      • I’d agree with you on BMC, they did well to have riders ahead but Roche’s big efforts came to nothing and could be felt today, hopefully the others can cover but it shows their riders are able to play their own cards rather than back Porte in every way possible. But Sky worked hard yesterday, they dragged the peloton for hours. Astana had a stealthier day, although Valgren tried a big move too and Lutsenko was on the attack early. Ag2r also worked a lot in the break.

      • I think the other problem BMC have is that they only have one top shelf climber – Damiano Caruso. Its astounding that a big money team can have such a dearth of quality climbing domestiques – and its an issue they’ve had since the Cadel era.

        Another unrelated point – I’m hoping (so as to weaken the Sky train dominance) that Landa (who appears likely to leave Sky at the end of the year) acts in a similar way to the Vuelta from a couple years back and saves himself for a stage win. I cant see it being in his interests to just burn himself for Froome when didn’t let him have co-leadership at the Vuelta and especially if he’s going to be leaving.


      Disaster for Porte, Contador and Quintana.

      The Tour just got a whole lot easier for Froome. Hope no more mechanicals/crashes have an impact on the final results but can’t see Aru or Bardet troubling Froome on the bigger climbs and obviously the TT.

  3. Really excited for today. Hoping it will reflect what looks like the least predictable GC battle for years.

    Will be interesting to see if Aru can still dance up the Mont du Chat with six categorised climbs already in his legs.

    And the fact that there are so many credible potential winners for this stage reflects what will hopefully be a more open, unpredictable GC battle.

  4. I agree Anonymous. Very bad ‘coaching’ from the BMC-teamleaders. Van Avermaet as ‘non climber’ working far to hard in ‘the échappée’. Having no chance in te finale. Roche spoiling his resources, which he will need in the stage to Chambéry. BMC working hard in stead of Sky in the stage to ‘les belles filles’. Porte in top shape in the Dauphiné, and consequently having no chance in the last week of the Tour.

  5. This seems more like a Vuelta stage in an unexplored part of Asturias than what you’d expect in the Tour. Someone at the ASO must have had some good local knowledge to even know about some of these roads! The descent to the finish makes it hard to predict. It might be that the GC men will all huddle together to the finish. If anyone cracks though they could lose an absolute tonne of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Contador and Quintana ship a bit of time today, or if Porte is distanced on the last descent. Or if somebody crashes on the descent for that matter.

  6. Wonder if Cummings will still have the strength, he said yesterday he tried several times to get in the break until he had nothing left to give

  7. Thanks again for great preview. Currently sat on steep bit of Col de La Biche in my INRG tee which turns out not to be waterproof. Already moderate rain and locals expecting strong winds with the thunderstorms.

    • Huge, it’s uphill from the start which probably means the gruppetto forms from the start which is handy for them but the steep climbs will be very hard for the big guys and the descents are not the type where you can take back a lot of time, it’s not like, say, the Tourmalet where a group can all get into an aero tuck and speed downhill. It’s a hard route for all but especially for the sprinters. One thing to help is the forecast for rain so they won’t be overheating as much.

        • It depends on the average speed but if they stick to the 35km/h schedule it is 12% of the winner’s time, so 12% of 5h7mins or 307 mins = 36m50s. But it varies with the speed, the faster the stage, the more the time cut increases, eg it’s 18% if they somehow manage 40km/h

  8. If the Dauphine was anything to go by, I’d have thought anything less than a minute’s lead would see Aru caught on the descent and run in to the finish. And I don’t expect him to get that far ahead by the final summit in the first place…

    If there’s rain I think he and Porte will both struggle, and it won’t help Froome either. I’m still picking Bardet to do well tomorrow, and in the overall. Wet weather bringing him, Dan Martin and one or two other lesser contenders together would throw the race open.

    Wet or fine I think the hilly start, number of climbs and remaining distance from the final summit means it should be all on for everyone. Can’t wait to see what happens…

  9. It looks like the overnight rain will continue on and off during the rest of the day, probably not downpours but enough to keep the roads damp. Not sure who will benefit from this.

    I think keeping some team mates with a GC contender over the top of the Colombier (or at least having them at the foot of the descent) could be key. There is around 30km of flattish road between there and the final climb. Clearly getting to the Mont du Chat ahead of your rival whilst benefiting from being pulled along on the flat will give a big advantage.

    Before the race kicked off I would have picked Richie Porte but am not sure now. At the top level sport is as much mental as physical and he has been pretty defensive in his comments, not sure he is in the right frame of mind for all this.

    It would be great if Dan Martin can dance away but I think the climbing goes on too long for his skill set.

    Fabio Aru will be a marked man, if the GC folk are together going up the Mont du Chat then I can see him skipping away in the last bit but getting pulled back on the descent & run in.

    Chris Froome clearly has the descent of Mont du Chat and his time trialling skills as a backstop in case he is not climbing so well. However there is no sign of that. If he can simply follow wheels to the top of Mont du Chat he would be odds on to keep yellow. Not sure G will manage to keep up on the final climb but if he can manage the others this could be key.

    Maybe today will be the day for Nairo Quintana but there has been little evidence since the middle of May that this might be the case.

    If a break with no GC threats gets away then maybe they can win but they will need a big gap at the bottom of Mont du Chat. It seems very likely that the main contenders will race (as much as one can race) up the final climb and could easily pull back a 3 minute plus lead.

  10. Porte seemed to be mesmerised by Froome on La Planche and I think that maybe he and his BMC team are somewhat fixated by Sky. I can’t see Porte kicking off big time unless he feels really good because he will be nervous. Fabio Aru has no such problems though and I can see him having a chance today. The problem with Mont du Chat though is, as we saw in the Dauphine, if you go too early it bites you back so caution is required. I see Aru and Froome as the main pics from the GC boys along with Dan Martin provided he can hang around on the climbs. He seems to be in his best ever form but does tend to grind the long, steep ones. Here’s hoping its not a stalemate at the very least.

    • It’s a day of attrition, isn’t it?
      I’m not sure what fans are expecting otherwise.
      It’ll all be saved for the final climb and, even then, could come back together again on the descent / run-in.
      I thought the Dauphine stage was perfect – relatively short and savage; it did the GC job very nicely.
      Why fill the route with monsters today, we all know they’ll stick together?
      Anything other than that is GC suicide?

      • The thing with monsters though is that some people get scared by them. Whilst one or two might perform over one HC climb they stumble when it comes to three… followed by a fast, wet, sketchy descent. Its about who has the most complete toolbox on the day.

  11. The points competition has really ripened in the Lorraine sun.
    The manic start to yesterday’s race could well be repeated (not today) for intermediate sprint points.
    I thought Demare would deny Matthews yesterday but he’s not well apparently; it was Greipel instead.
    Is Matthews capable of picking up any points today or are they out of reach?
    It seems crazy to put the intermediate sprint so deep into such a hard stage?

    • Yes it does seem an odd place for the sprint. On all the other mountain stages it comes before the big climbs. Perhaps the course designer thought that with a cat. 2 straight from the start it didnt make much difference. I would have thought in the valley before the first HC. Perhaps the town where it is was willing to pay more money for it?

    • Given Prudhomme’s happiness to mess with established customs to jazz the race up, it’s worth wndering whether there’s any reason not to have the “intermediate” sprint right at the start of a stage like today, eg within the first couple of kilometres. Gives the start town something else to amuse spectators, and might shake the race up a bit too.

  12. Hoping George Bennett can slip away failing that I’m all in for Aru and his jersey, the Aru climbing face should get a good work out

  13. At one point I thought Sky had pulled off a clever move. With Landa up the road, I thought they’d let break go & force someone else to chase. If no-one else did then would have handed yellow to Latour or Buchmann, therefore taking the pressure off needing to defend it. Plus, if gap became decisive you’d fancy Landa over Latour/Buchmann for the remainder of the tour.

    Guess Landa’s expected departure probably came into thinking as don’t really want to risk giving yellow jersey winner to another team.

  14. Hello guys,

    I am your dirty punter again. What do you think about Bardet finishing ahead of Dan Martin today? I think they can be in the last few riders of selected group but Bardet will descend better and finish ahead of him.

    • Bardet struggled in the Dauphine stage. Martin looks white hot. Bardet’s problem will be staying close to the lead riders.

  15. Could today be a day for Nieve and Landa to scoot up the road and try The Movistar-esque tactic of allowing Froome to bridge across? If the weathers bad that descent is a right sod. Would love for Dan Martin to get the stage win. But I’m guessing he more concentrated on maintaining his GC position. If he cascades down the standings, would it be time to move on and go down the stage hunting route. Tough day ahead. To many questions. today I will be a steering wheel attendant bouncing across a field. Controls set to satellite mode. With a data hungry feed running

  16. Can anyone explain, or did the commissars explain why riders were not eliminated based on time gaps yesterday? According to the Eurosport commentators the cut-off should have been about 30 minutes.

  17. Surprised that no one here celebrates calmejanes great stage win of yesterday. First Barguils Quest for the mountain jersey and then Calmejane vs. Gesink. Not to mention all the craziness before. I love these (mid) mountain stage breakaways and its protagonists who throw themselves all in.

    • Nah, Aru just showed his true colours, following in Nibali’s footsteps…

      Good sportsmanship of Quintana and Porte to say no. Mad it good story when it could have been bad.

      Tragic for Porte after, unfortunately not unexpected. He’s clearly mentally fragile however it manifests, such a shame. T

      • Totally different. What Nibali did was illegal (but hilarious). What Aru did was genuinely exciting but not illegal.

        ‘Member when Froome bonked in 2013? I ‘member

        • How exciting is it to attack a guy with a mechanical… and then stop your attack, seemingly being told to by other riders (Porte and Quintana)… and then claiming after the stage on RAI TV that “I never saw Froome” when the widely shared video clearly shows Froome’s arm raised and Aru cycling right underneath it?!

          • 1) Everyone climbing at a ‘steady’ pace (ie NOTHING happening, unexciting)
            2) Someone attacks (exciting)
            Maybe Aru was talking about the other widely shared video?

          • RonDe, I actually wanted to believe Froome cut Aru off, but he graciously apologized – hand out in deference – and it looked genuine. Aru proved himself a punk, but either Froome is naiefe or just too weak to actually snuff a competitor out.

      • I see sky and bmc pushing hard after culoz when Quintana had a flat tyre. I see Bardet and Froome push hard on the Mont du Chat descent when the unlucky Martin was coming his way back from the crash provoked by somebody else. This just looking at the stage of yesterday, leaving aside 150 years of episodes of this sport. Froome raise his hand to call the team car, not to stop other raiders from doing what they want. This is not third grade kids playing tag and calling for a break when tired, this is racing. I don’t think Sky and BMC have true colors – glad you know the true colors of ppl, it’s a good talent. But you should use it more often and more frequently to read all the episodes, not only those involving somebody you cheer for

      • Porte is “clearly mentally fragile” is an unnecessary and incorrect statement IMO Dave. He crashed badly may need to work on his descending skills. I sincerely hope he wins the TDF one day to silence critics like you.

        • He never will though, Porte is just a terrible descender compared to the rest of the GC contenders.
          He will always be a week stage race type of guy, the same as Thomas etc.

        • I know, it’s always funny to hear armchair fans say that so-and-so is mentally fragile! As if we know the person intimately and also completely discount all of the athlete’s other wins as being too easy to classify the athlete as mentally tough.

          I don’t need to list all of Porte’s victories or big rides, but there is enough to give a strong argument that he’s tough as nails and is a great competitor.

          Now, with that being said, can he win the Tour one day? I have my doubts, but you never know until the guy retires. Look at Cadel Evans, a TdF winner and World Champion who everyone thought was fragile… until he won the entire thing.

      • I think bike racing should include management of one’s equipment; if it breaks, it’s your problem. It’s a different matter when something happens beyond a competitor’s control, such as a spectator bumping a rider down. Just my opinion.

  18. Thought coverage of attacks on Mont Du Chat was a nightmare – flicking all over the place when the big rider started firing. I didn’t want to see Contador or Meijtnes then!

  19. A magnificent stage with all sorts of things going on, enough for several stages…..and after all that we even had a photo-finish …amazing

  20. The Richie Porte crash must overshadow everything else. It does sound as if he may not be too seriously injured but we will have to wait and see. When such a tiny miscalculation leads to what could be a very serious injury it should give pause for thought. This is entertainment after all. You also have to wonder if all the speculation and pressure led him to pushing things more than he was comfortable with. I know the general comment will be “that’s bike racing” but maybe things do get pushed too far on occasion.

    • What is ironic is that the descent off Mont du Chat was resurfaced ahead of the stage, and it may have made the road slicker in the damp / wet?

      • Was a slick road surface the cause of Richie Porte’s crash? I don’t think it was. Porte did not slide out on a corner. Something caused him to cut the corner and ride directly onto the grass shoulder, at which point he lost control and slid headfirst into the wall.

        I still can’t believe he didn’t break his neck, or worse.

        But, I am skeptical that a different road surface would have prevented his accident. It really appears that Porte made an error. Has anyone analysed the accident in depth?

      • Professional bike racing is a commercial enterprise. It relies on its income on us, the public, watching and thus effectively paying for it. You can debate why we watch but I think it is difficult not to acknowledge that “we” watch to be entertained, much like football, tennis or whatever.

        • +1. But “entertained” would not enough. People can be MOVED watching endurance. It is a different aesthetic degree. Today’s stage was entertaining for sure, but, at many a moment, it was moving. It shook your soul.

    • It was disappointing to see Porte crash out. I truly hope he is OK and his injuries are not too severe. But none of the riders in front of him, or the riders behind him had an issue on the road at the instant. You do have to wonder how this self inflicted incident occurred. Bummer to see him leave.

      • Exactly, Porte didn’t lose control on a corner or anything, and the riders ahead of him were fully able to negotiate the upcoming turn at the speed they were travelling.

        While this is very unfortunate, some riders don’t have the same descending skills as others. And some riders understand their skills and make appropriate adjustments. For example, Fuglsang rode within himself on the descent and caught back up on the resulting flat.

  21. INRNG saying froome / aru minor beef on twitter – inclined to agree but could have been big.

    Aru saying he didnt see on Italian TV – don’t believe that for a second.

    Also don’t believe froome saying he didn’t see when asked about the later wobble – which is harder to say whether it was intentional as froome did apologise after.

    INRNG right to say minor beef, but any other day it would have been bigger so not to be completely overlooked.

    Gutted re Porte.

  22. Demare and his lead out train (plus Trentin, Renshaw and Sagan minor) all missed the time cut. I wonder how it they’ll quietly let them in on Tuesday? How strict are they usually with this? I don’t usually pay attention!

  23. All the debate today will be about Aru’s failing eye sight or Porte’s crash but I think a bigger long-term issue for the sport is what to do in a Dan Martin situation. He seems to have miraculously escaped broken bones but was there any check on possible concussion before he carried on and, according to ITV, crashed again (although not sure that second incident was confirmed)?

    The Skujins debacle earlier this year flagged that riders can’t make the decision themselves, although I’m not sure what the answer is here given competitors aren’t playing on a rugby or NFL field. It’s spread over miles. But those sports do seem to be taking the potentially fatal issue of secondary concussion a little more seriously.

    Or maybe I’m wrong and a medic did sign Martin off to ride on? It is difficult with cycling having no natural “time outs” but it does highlight an issue our sport has when we clamour for neutralised zones when the yellow jersey has a rear mech fault but allow a ride with possible concussion to skid down a road at 90kmph.

    Anyway, I didn’t intend such a long post, but what a stage that was, an amazing spectacle. I have nothing but admiration for the riders and really pleased for Uran, to win it in those circumstances was brilliant. I’m not sure much can top that GT wise.

    • Good point.
      Although the second crash was due to the brakes not working with the spare wheel he received from neutral service. Apparently it was not a bad crash but it could have been a lot worse.

    • It would be interesting to see what effect it had on racing… if you had to wait 5 minutes+ for a race doctor to give you the all clear everytime you came off your bike I think you would see a dramatic reduction in risk taking.

      As with everything it should be done properly… there should be a general review of rider safety rather than a knee jerk reaction to the particular injury de jour from other sports.

  24. Dan Martin’s 2nd crash was also reported by Dutch TV – must have been on race radio. With all the talk about Porte, Martin really is the victim – riding so well and then losing time because he’s being bowled over. Froome – and Sky’s – job got a bit easier after today.

      • Martin’s crash was on the very next corner. Straight through and into the wall, because he had no brakes. Team car arrived after to give him a new bike.

    • Agreed. Feel sorry about Martin. He followed on the climb and then was taken out by someone else’s misstake in the descent to finally finish the stage in the same time as Quintana, who was dropped.

  25. Brutal crash for Porte, glad it wasn’t even worse. Sliding into Dan Martin might have been a stroke of good luck, since it looked like he was heading right for the rocks. Sorry to see his race end, though.
    Chapeau to the race doctor who put herself between her patient and the passing traffic. The officials did a good job of avoiding a secondary accident.

  26. Froome still had two team mates (Nieve and Landa) with him when Aru attached, shouldnt he waited so they could close the gap? Feels to me that a combination of Aru attack at Planche and also the fact Froome was probably mad with his previous attack during his mechanical made him respond emotionally. Aru would probably crack if he went a little bit more (as he was almost cracking by the end).
    Also I really like Bardet… one of the few with the combination of form, strategy and skills, but if he waited for Froome in the descent it would be a wonderful attack. Sure he woudlnt take time on Froome, but was naive to imagine that he would single handed Astana with 2 + Froome.

    • I think his assumption was that the other 3 would make Froome chase sol and it would be 1 on1. If he got a big enough gap on the descent then he could hold off Froomes superior TT for the final few flat aims.

  27. The other issue with Dan Martin was that he broke his helmet. Quick Step tweeted ( “When a helmet makes the difference”. If he had crashed again, it wouldn’t have protected him a second time. Should riders in cranes restore a change of helmet?

  28. Former Lotto/Fortuneo Vegard Breen did commentary on Norwegian TV yesterday and talked a lot about different quality tires for descending in the peloton. Even suggested that some tires should be banned due to bad grip in wet conditions. If Martin is right and Porte simply lost grip before that crash, then these things really ought to be discussed more.

    • Porte didn’t seem to lose grip, he went in the right curve too fast and he changed direction too early to go left. It seems a mistake rather than a sudden weak grip

      • Porte messed up. We know he was scared of this descent because we all saw it a month ago in the Dauphine. Desire to win sometimes pushes you past your skill set. Hope he recovers fully.

  29. We all saw Rio carnage yet still TDF organizers selected exactly the same kind of road… The outcome was the same. Sorry, worse. Boys, wake up!

    • The sad truth is they’re less afraid to risk crashing on a descent to save a second than to put their face in the wind uphill in case a rival benefits from their slipstream.

      • A bit beneath you there RonDe.

        sbs may be talking about putting a new road surface in just before a big race in an area with rain and covered, so little sun. If that’s the case then mentioning the surface is hardly saying it should be a “crit on a flat circuit.”

      • I then read sbs’s next comment and decided that I’m probably wrong about what they meant…

        Point about the surface still stands though. 😊

          • I don’t think it is a red herring. It crops up on a regular basis that new road surfaces haven’t had time to bed in. Doesn’t matter going uphill. On the flat it has been an issue with rain causing slickness. On a steep narrow downhill it’s dangerous. The Dauphine had the old surface on though there were a couple rider comments around it being slippery where it’s constantly in shade, there wasn’t the feedback that we’ve seen now.

    • What is the solution though?

      Are we supposed to take mountains out of the Tour?

      The fact is that any mountain stage has descents, and there will always be a rider who takes unnecessary risks. If the road surface is excellent, then the most daring descender will take that much more risk (and added speed), which will put the less skilled descenders beyond their comfort zones.

      This is a debate without a solution and it adds to the mystique of the sport. Unfortunately, our great sport does have a lot of inherent risks.

      On a positive note it looks like the helmet of Richie Porte did it’s job yesterday. And, why was Dan Martin not required to change his helmet after the first one cracked? That should be an automatic requirement upon a crash. Check the helmet to see if it’s cracked and then replace it (maybe neutral service should carry spare helmets too).

      • A rider with a broken helmet certainly needs to be checked for concussion. But riding without a helmet (or with a broken one) is not all that much riskier than riding with a new helmet (unfortunately), and should be allowed until a replacement is available. At which point the rider should be allowed to change helmets without stopping. Safety is important, but helmets contribute less than is commonly believed.

  30. Aru attack – he did the right thing. It’s like F1 racing – something bakes, pitty. I can also play a game that my wheel doesn’t work properly so I take a break when I struggle. It’s naive , guys! And BTW until the next FancyBears cyber attack we can be sure Brailsford and his guys use TUE, but their computer was stolen, so 50+ injections were used by… Brailsford’s knee :))) Bunch of SKY hypocrites.

    BTW2: Did anyone wait for Martin whe he was mowed by Porte?

    • How many times did Froome have a mechanical problem on the decisive miles of a stage? It would be fool to do it on purpose, because you have too push hard anyway to come back, but out of curiosity.. I remember La Toussuire and yesterday, but I dont watch all the races. Other times?

      • Queue someone repeating verbatim The Cycling Podcast point of view…

        They’re not always right.

        They say spectators will get bored of people waiting etc… I actually entirely disagree, firstly I like the better side of cycling and waiting for the yellow jersey as an unwritten law, makes me appreciate that this isn’t football with a crowd of petulant players surrounding the referee.

        Also, as a spectator – I am far more angry at a result like 2010 or what could have a happen yesterday with a race butchered by a mechanical at the wrong moment. It cannot always be avoided but any steps to mitigate are appreciated by me and I believe others.

        And please. It is not like F1… Cycling is not F1, it is better.

        I think it’s delusional to hang an argument on ‘the bike is as much part of the race’ – I watch for feats of human endurance, and as I say, whilst not every mechanical affecting a race can be avoided, in Grand Tours it’s possible and I for one like that where ever it can be done.

        Finally – it’s so dull reading people pointing out ‘a sprinter wouldn’t wait for a crash’ or ‘they didn’t stop for Martin’… we all have brain, and realise there are moments it can and cannot be done. No one expects waiting once the real attacks are fired or in a sprint – but a mechanical when the favourites are together on lower slopes isn’t a 75km descent or a sprint. Stop makes stupid comparisons.

    • Has anyone apart from conspiracy theorists like yourself suggested people should have waited for Dan Martin? Did Dan himself have any expectation they would? Is there even an unwritten rule that says “Wait for every rider who has misfortune regardless of circumstances”. Your post is incoherent.

    • I think it would only have been right if Aru had been on mechanical gears and Froome on electronic – then you could say the risk is the price you take for the otherwise seamless shifting!

  31. thanks to Uran’s mechanical we were all able to find out he was on 53/39 on the day with such spiky climbs. I am amazed

  32. Did Uran really beat Barguil and all the others stuck on the 11?! He was straining a massive gear before the industrial estate and earlier there was the Mavic car service pushing him while a mechanic mashed his rear mech. Looked like he had no option but to stay on the 11. Chapeau.
    Also was Froome’s issue on Mont du Chat to do with gear selection? How is such unreliability tolerated?
    Why did Aru and Co not make Froome flay himself on the front and then attack as soon as Bardet was reachable?

    • There were two reasons for the cooperation to chase down Bardet.

      One (which would never be admitted) is that Chris Froome has very much established himself as “Padron” of the peloton, when he suggests they ride together that’s what happens, the pecking order was very much demonstrated on the climb with the mechanical / handbags carry on.

      More importantly it was in everyone’s interest to chase down Romain Bardet, they were all fighting for places at the top of the GC (with the exception Warren Barguil, the others are the top 5). There were bonus seconds up for grabs, Fabio Aru wanted to defend his second place, Rigobert Uran & Jakob Fulgsang were looking to move up. It was in none of their interest to let Romain Bardet gain 25 seconds and pick up another 10 bonus seconds. Similar questions were asked in the Giro as to why others were helping Tom Dumoulin, in that case friendships probably played a part too but basically the others were defending their positions. A top 10 even top 20 in Le Tour is important for both riders and teams

      • …and at the end of it they still gave Froome those four seconds bonif when that and more could have been theirs for rolling him near to the line when it was obvious that Bardet would be / actually was caught Froome should have been forced a fond to do all the closing

  33. The problem with unwritten rules are twofold. Firstly the are unwritten so open to an individual’s interpretation; stop for Froome’s mechanical but not Martin’s crash? On the face of it neither their own fault. Froome still had a whole climb, decent and run to the finish with 2 (3?) domestique with him. Dan Martin was alone on the descent. The potential impact of their respective incidents was always greater for Dan Martin. With race radio and team radios every rider in the race did, or could have known what was happening at all times.

    Secondly these unwritten rules tend to evolve over time. Thys did not sit up and wait for Christophe to mend his forks, he got on with the race. Waiting for a mechanical became a thing at a certain point in time. Times have changed, equipment choices are becoming more varied and complicated. (Don’t actually know what Froome’s problem was but……) Froome chooses to use oval rings knowing the front shifting issues they can cause, Schleck chose not to use a chain catcher knowing his chain may fall off due to a poor shift, riders (see Cancellara) choose to use Di2. If their equipment subsequently fails should they be able to accrue the (perceive) benefit it provided when working without the penalty of it going wrong.

    If you want to take the machine out of the equation then put everybody on standard bikes and mandate tire choice etc. A route I’m sure nobody wants to go down.

    • I don’t think anybody was asking for anyone to ‘stop’… they were just asking that they don’t blatantly try to take advantage of a routine mechanical nearly 30kms from the finish.

      If Froome did that to eg Quintana I imagine many cycling forum servers would have burst into flames by now.

      • Think the real issue in this day and age is what constitutes a routine mechanical? If there is any suggestion that it is down to the rider ie equipment choice or riding style / bike handling, then fair game to attack surely? Probably as many examples you could cite where it is down to rider “fault” as true force majeure. So do we neutralise everything or allow luck to play a part in the race?

        • All equipment is “chosen” by the rider so your suggestion means the unwritten rule is simply done away with. This might be the simplest solution except that one thing you can certainly say about the Aru/Froome incident is that there were several riders in that bunch, none of which were Froome himself or Sky colleagues of his, who thought Aru should stop his attack.

          A second point is that this unwritten rule is not an absolute and no one thinks it is. There is a point at which the race is simply on and takes over. I’d suggest an 80kms descent to a flat finish within the last 25kms fits that description. If Froome’s technical had been on the descent rather than the ascent he now would also be over a minute down.

    • Did he not just get a Mavic wheel directly after the Porte crash… then had no front brake at next corner.

      Then got a full Mavic bike change after that (that worked fine).

    • He got a wheel change from Mavic neutral service, there is a gopro video doing the rounds. When he got to the next corner he discovered that one of the brakes were not working and ended up in a heap at the side of the road (presumably the brakes had been damaged in the crash). he waited for his car which, by that time, was nearby and took his spare bike.

      The Mavic team were on a motorbike and only carry spare wheels, the neutral service car with the spare bikes was further back.

    • Come on AP… is it more likely Mavic bikes don’t have breaks or they switched a tyre for Martin and left the brakes untightened in the rush or Martins breaks were damaged and it went unnoticed…. use your noggin, course their bikes have breaks!

  34. Concerning the ‘Froome mecanical’:
    This is definitely a grey-zone-area in a chasing group of GC-riders. Every time one puts up his arm should the others wait/not attack? Is it really a mecanical or does the rider need a bit of air or want to change to a specialized/specific type of bike = gets an advantage? We’ll never know. I do appreciate and value sportsmanship and fairness, but in the above described situation it’s impossible to judge who’s right or who’s not.
    Should there be special rules for the yellow jersey? Will the yellow jersey wait or hold back an attack when no.193 – who this day also sits among the chasing GC-riders – puts up his arm for ‘a mecanical’?
    So all you Froome-lovers dry your eyes and enter the real world 🙂

    • Whether people feel that it is legitimate to neutralise the race for a mechanical or not, it was the other riders in the group who decided to do this and so its on them whether they made the correct call, rather than on Froome, who had no part on the decision making. I’m guessing that if riders don’t want this gentleman’s agreement any more, they would agree not to apply it.

    • Please see above comment Louis – I don’t think my comment was partizan and to be honest don’t really feel like many others here are vehemently pro Froome but many have laid out decent reasons as to why they disagree with your take – possibly AP above being the most to the point. I disagree that this was impossible to judge, it was actually pretty simple.

    • Giro 2015. The Mortirolo stage. Contador has a problem (a puncture if memory serves me right). Aru’s Astana team attack and hit the climb first. Contador gets mad and burns Aru badly, tearing up the Mortirolo like a bat out of hell. At one point Astana themselves seem to abandon Aru to his fate and switch allegiances to Mikel Landa. After the race, Oleg Tinkov excoriates Astana and their then Russian allies at Katusha.

      Its not like Astana don’t have form here.

      • +1 Astana are a nightmare on this – it must come from the top, they always attack on a mechanical for a leader.

        But anyway… onto other stuff from yesterday, where was Talansky?

      • That stage was more entertaining because of Contador’s puncture and Katusha then Astana pushing on. Whatever Tinkov utters is neither here nor there.

        Here’s hoping many more riders break the ridiculous unwritten rules that benefit the few.

        • And there’s another difference. Not specially attacking while an opponent has a mechanical or has fallen. OK. But continuing at a ‘tourist’ tempo, as Bardet, Martin, Aru etc. did on le Mont de Chat, was hypocriet. And yes, Froome had plenty of time (and the legs) and three teammates to come back. Martin didn’t later in the race as Contador didn’t earlier after two crashes. The ‘socalled’ opponents all seame to be anxious weasels, as there precedetors were versus Armstrong and Wiggins.

    • Luis, although you are right there is multiple times that this is a grey zone, yesterday was not…
      it was clear for all the riders that you dont take advantage on what they considered “external” factors.
      The race also was not “on”, meaning that they were not chasing someone dangerous at the break or under attacks.
      Nobody waited for Froome in Ventoux as he felt and there was a situation that is considered ok to attack the leader.
      You may dont understand or dont like it, but this is a very nice sportsmanship behavior the peloton has… hope this kind of behaviors will go on in cycling and also in other sports

  35. Froome has always “technical” on every key-climb in every TDF. Isn’t it strange? Besides the “running episode” he simply seems to be weak at given moment and trying to fool everyone.

  36. No, there’s no big noise after SKY cheated with TUE/lost computer documentation/jiffy back/cortisone. Froome took 2 TUEs before 2 TDF wins, Wiggins took cortisone before his every victory in Grand Tours. You will say “TUE is legal”. No, it’s prescribed by the team doctor, so how it can be controlled or legal? What SKY does is simply immoral. After Lance there was and illusion, cycling is clean, but UCI killed cycling again with TUEs (probably created for their “Clients”)

    • Froome made a point of not using TUE during his second TDF win in 2015. Almost lost the race to Quintana as a result.

      His very famous TUE was for 2014 Romandie. He lost the Tour that year. He also applied for a TUE in May 2013.

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