Wednesday Shorts

The Adriatica Ionica stage race starts today, a 2.1 race in Italy. Normally with Halle-Ingooigem yesterday that’s it for pro racing beside the national championships until the Tour de France. Now there’s a new race to supply some more more race days and it takes place in north-eastern Italy with a finish in Trieste on Sunday after a team time trial today and a summit finish on the Passo Giau this Friday.

The event has ambitions to grow beyond this corner of North-Eastern Italy and into the Balkans but first it’ll have to find its place on the calendar. It works as a post-Giro resumption race for some and a pre-Nationals test for many Italian riders. It’s also a key race for Mark Cavendish and Dimension Data ahead of the Tour de France. It seems there’s no livestream.

Another new race is Paris-Chauny this Sunday. It’s an old race on the amateur calendar but now a 1.1 event in France and a good test a week from the French national championships. It’s on Eurosport, in France at least.

Not so much a new race but a change, Stage 19 of the Tour de France is supposed to finish in Laruns only loyal readers will remember the news last week that the road has been washed away on the descent to the finish. The rains have kept up and the town of Gourette higher up and the valley below has been declared as a natural disaster zone. Residents are suffering so the mere passage of the Tour de France seems anecdotal but you probably haven’t landed on this page for local news from the Pyrenees either: the continuing problems mean even starting roadworks is impossible.

From floods at the Tour to drip-drip public relations. So far only two teams have announced their squads for the Tour de France, Lotto-Jumbo and Ag2r La Mondiale. Injury and illness means these can change. Lotto opted for the slow tease of announcing a rider per day while Ag2r La Mondiale went for the whole eight riders in one go. Presumably the idea of a rider a day allows the team to get maximum publicity although the drip-drip announcement means by the time they’ve got to the last rider you’ve forgotten who the first ones were. As a reminder Lotto-Jumbo are interesting as they go with Dylan Groenewegen for the sprints and Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič for the GC, and all on a team of eight riders. Either way it shows the significance of the Tour de France where team selection can be turned into an event.

Overheard in Saint Gaudens: recent recon rides to the Pyrenees overlapped with the Route d’Occitanie taking place in the region last week. While sipping a post-ride beer in a bar around the corner from some of the race vehicles, it was impossible not to overhear a local family was having a surprisingly loud conversation about a burgling cousin who was caught by the police after a brief chase (apparently the tires on his car were worn so he couldn’t get away). Later the conversation turned to the nearby pro race and whether it was of interest to boost some team bikes, “non” said the oldest man at the table, “nobody wants race bikes any more, it’s all about electric bikes now“. Reassuring?

48 thoughts on “Wednesday Shorts”

    • Boooo Sky!
      Better than Contador!
      The test is unreliable!
      Skybots Skybots Skybots!
      You’re just being naive!
      It’s a moral decision, no matter what the rule say!

      That ought to tide you over.

      • The outburst by Hinault about how the peloton should refuse to ride if Froome takes part was extraordinary enough?
        Is Hinault to be on podium duties again, as that could potentially be uncomfortable?

        • He has retired from podium duties, during which period, no doubt, the ASO cheque would have bought discretion. Now he is free to provoke, stimulated maybe in this case by a payment from Ouest France – or just the need to not be forgotten. Le blaireau : aggressive racing though always more heat than light.

        • Hinault is French and the French are desperate for a French winner of the Tour de France, particularly now they have credible contenders. Froome is the main obstacle. The French “Froome shouldn’t ride” contingent weren’t worried about him riding the Giro.

          • Yes, sure and french people gave salbutamol in Froome meat in Spain during la Vuelta, Portal is not a Sky directeur sportif, but a spy for the French cycling federation.
            You are right for one point, most of the french people don’t care for the giro, and most of the audience is watching for landscapes or waiting for the presents of La caravane du tour, so Froome over there in Italia is not exciting nor shocking.
            My point : MPCC rules for everyone if they want to take part to a GT ! For the riders’ sake and for a podium that can stand for years to come.

          • Who is a “credible” French contender on a course with a 35kms TTT stage and ending with a 31kms ITT? Bardet? Please.

            Of all those who could criticise Froome Hinault, who refused to even take a drug test on occasion, is last in line. Chutzpah and brass neck all rolled into one.

          • For all the hypocritical histrionics from a man, who during his own career was closely associated with a veterinary surgeon, it should be remembered that Froome, under current rules, is legally entitled to compete.

            Let the system run its course. Rather than listen the to CW level of ignorance shown by someone who should know better.

          • A reply to BC:

            (1) A man who was once “closely associated with a veterinary surgeon” is just entitle to have an opinion and to voice it as volubly as he can as a man who wasn’t. And it may be just as interesting and worth listening to.
            (2) If there is one thing that is 100% certain it is that Froome is “legally entitled to compete”. If he wan’t, there’d be no need for Hinault to speak out or, for that matter, for the peloton to sit down and strike.
            (3) The saying that the law is an ass can sometimes be true. If Froome hadn’t been legally entitled to compete, it would’ve been in everyone’s interest to make the entire procedure as short as possible. Now it never was after the leakage – and there can be no quarrel about “letting the system run its course” being bad for the sport. Some might even argue that it is so bad that it might have justified hurting an innocent man and his rights…
            (4) *If* Froome and sky had done the unthinkable and voluntarily taken a time off from competing, it would have received my full admiration – but haters gonna hate, as they say, and even if it might have been the perfect gentlemen’s sporting decision, it wouldn’t have been a 100% succesful PR solution in any case.

  1. Kruijswijk and Roglic will be interesting to watch. Kruijswijk is having a decent season so far with a couple GC top 10. Roglic won three stage races since April. And we know he is capable of winning GT stages. On paper it’s a strong team but if they focus on the GC the results could be “only” a top 10 plus a sprint stage or two.

    • But they probably need to focus on getting the two of them high on GC for the meaningless points system.
      Still feel for Kruijswijk – that Giro really does look like being his one chance to win a grand tour.

    • My thoughts exactly. It was one of the dangerous stages for him, now potentially mitigated. Some good luck is always needed and he is often is short supply.

  2. Regarding the Pyrenees – actually some local news would be of interest to me, since I’m planning a little cycling tour to Aubisque/Tourmalet in the first week of July.

    Is it safe, other than the immediate region around Gourette?
    Any news sources I can check up on (pref. in English)?

    • All major mountain passes (and the smaller ones too) are open and in good condition except the western side of the Aubisque. You can still climb the Soulor side both from Ferrieres and Argeles and then ride the last 7 km to Aubisque. The weather improved in the last week after heavy downpours which have plagued the region for one month or so, so you can safely plan your tour I guess.

    • I will add to what Gregorio said and say that: all the snow has gone, even on the highest roads; the weather has been warm and dry for the last week and should stay that way until July so there should be no new problems between now and then for you to worry about.

    • Climbed many of the showbiz cols (and a few others) between June 14th and June 17th. All open – other than the west side of the Aubisque – and in decent condition. The weather was actually fine too. I would heartily recommend the Port de Bales if you fancy something other than the classic Tour de France favourites.

  3. Fair warning for Pinarello Nytro owners! But then again, they can afford to replace theirs if it gets pinched, just reach into the Louis Vuitton purse full of euros! Does LV have an under-the-seat bag for these bikes yet?

  4. I know that this wasn’t in today’s shorts, but with the talk of BMC not finding a replacement sponsor and potentially folding, what is the rumor mill about a team taking the 18th WT spot? A new team? A Pro Conti team stepping up?

      • HA! How long will it take for them to get down to a dozen teams with real monetary support (and perhaps ethics?) to survive for awhile? Then they could allow 6-8 “wildcard” teams of local/national interest. This might put a dent in the seemingly ever-escalating costs to get into the top level of pro cycling. But what do I know? I’m sure the Velon wizards have a much, much better plan but they need to come up with one that’s not so centered on ASO bankrolling it.

  5. “to boost” also means to steal? I’m not a native speaker but communicate a lot with some. I never heard anyone using it for this meaning.

    You seem to be in an enviable position, INRNG. Thanks for letting us benefit.

    • Yes, “to boost” can mean to steal. Or to lift up. I’m guessing it’s coming from the “lift” meaning, since “lift” can also mean steal. (The Oxford English Dictionary says it’s US slang and puts the first use in 1912.)

  6. It seems the Van den Driessche family has French relatives 😉
    Jokes aside – your French must be very good to pick that up from an overheard conversation.

  7. Highly ironic that a place called Eaux-Bonnes can be found about 2/3 of the way down the final descent of Stage 19, as that roughly translates to “good waters”. All the best to those affected by the “eaux-mauvaises” in the area.

  8. Mitchelton Scott has announced their team – no Caleb Ewan.

    Adam Yates, Bauer, Durbridge, Hayman, Hepburn, Howson, Impey, Nieve.

    An “all for GC” approach, but I wonder about the back story behind leaving Ewan out (apart from him maybe moving to another team next year).

    • The back story is that:
      1. Ewan was offered a political selection for the Tour de France if he renewed with the team
      2. He and his agent have not been talking to the team (unlike Michael Matthews, who made an effort to stay on good terms with the team and got Tour selection in 2016 despite his intention to leave) and they have been left to discover his intentions via the rumour mill.
      3. His form doesn’t justify a selection on performance grounds, and his snubbing the team means they felt the need to withdraw the offer of a political selection.

    • That’s the big question, I said last summer it was his weak point and he paid the price in the Dauphiné, losing out on the descent of the Colombière (which wasn’t that technical). Then the accident on the Mont du Chat in the Tour. It’s not that he’s a terrible descender, just that his rivals know it is a weak point and will try to exploit this and after what happened last July it’d be normal if he was cautious going into a blind bend at 80km/h.

  9. How do you imagine the stage 19. route will be changed due to the damaged roads?
    As I see it, there are four possible scenarios:

    1) MTF at Col d’Aubisque
    2) Finish in Ferrières/Étchartes after Soulor
    3) Finish in Argelès after Bordères-Soulor-Spandelles (novelty)
    4) Finish in Luz-st-Sauveur either directly after Tourmalet or via a Luz-Ardiden/Viscos/Gaborisse climb like used in the 2017 Route du Sud (also novelty).

    IMO, ASO will do anything possible to keep the stage finish a tricky downhill with the likes of especially Bardet in mind.
    This, and logistics, should rule out option 1)
    I don’t know whether the state of the descent from Col de Spandelles allow for racing in a full finale.
    Options 2) and 4) are absolutely feasible although 4) would require a route change and an inclusion of additional climbs prior to Tourmalet, e.g., Col d’Azet or Hourquette d’Ancizan.

    What do you think?

    • There is time to make a temporary fix for the Tour too, to keep the road closed to all but the race.

      Otherwise the finish in Laruns isn’t in a big town that has paid a lot for the finish, it’s likely the region has paid for the Tour’s visit and so the region can pick another spot if they want.

      • From the photos it didn’t look like any kind of temporary fix would be possible. Half the road is gone and part of the rest is overhanging. It looks like the under rock is shale and it goes down a fair distance, so that would need some kind of new foundations even before they start in-filling. I guess they could excavate into the mountain side, but how stable is that right now? Didn’t look like a 4 week job, even for a temporary surface.

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