Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

A big day in the Alps, three classic climbs including the raucous ascent of Alpe d’Huez.

Stage 11 Review: a scenic day with beautiful weather, you could watch just for the landscape. Still, if nothing else the Tour de France is an exercise in hierarchy and several riders fell away en route. Adam Yates, Jacob Fuglsang, Alejandro Valverde, Bauke Mollema, Rafał Majka are all out of the running for the overall classification unless they can rustle up a raid, which sounds improbable but there are potentially enough down-and-outs to form some temporary alliances should they start to feel frisky again.

There was a lively start to the stage and large breakaway, so big that it kept splintering and reforming throughout the stage but it included Peter Sagan hunting the early intermediate sprint and Julian Alaphilippe using what energy he had left to take more mountains points. It also had Mikel Nieve who went for the stage win, it seemed unusual to see one of the rare helpers in the mountains for Adam Yates play their own card. until Yates was dropped early on the final climb. Presumably somewhere in Monaco an Australian sprinter was biting his tongue.

Movistar set to work on the Col du Pré and Valverde attacked with 55km to go. In isolation this was a bold move, the rider third on GC going clear but it was clear Movistar had plan and Marc Soler sat up from the breakaway to act as a relay point. Sky chased and then did Bahrain-Merida, it looked as if Vincenzo Nibali was going to move but he didn’t which makes their efforts seem self-defeating, apparently he thought Froome might be in difficulty and wanted to turn the screw. Instead Tom Dumoulin attacked on the descent, a bold move that he didn’t have to make but he knew the roads from childhood ski trips and it got him up the road and up the GC.

On the final climb Sky went through their riders – slightly faster than expected, as much as they looked strong collectively the likes of Castroviejo, Bernal and Poels didn’t last too long – and Geraint Thomas attacked and Chris Froome covered the moves. Romain Bardet was the most reactive but was burning up a lot of energy with repeated moves while Dan Martin played it cool and got away. Froome bridged across to the Irishman and the pair worked together until Froome had Thomas and Dumoulin in sight… at which point Thomas jumped away in a similar move to the Dauphiné and this time took the stage win.

Movistar finished the day empty-handed, Valverde’s work and Soler’s sacrifice wasn’t rewarded by Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa and El Tridente looks rather blunt. Landa crashed hard on the way to Roubaix while Quintana’s not the refreshed version we’d been promised, he looks as passive as ever. As for the leadership at Team Sky who can see Froome playing butler to Thomas, turning down the Giro-Tour double and all the other slams, combos and more as well as being able to join “The Club of Five” of five riders with five Tours to their name? How overtly he asserts himself remains to be seen; ditto how Thomas reacts. But for all the palace intrigue they’re first and second on GC and look unlikely bordering on certain not to be marking each other to the point of letting the likes of Nibali and Dumoulin ride away.

The Route: 175km across the heart of the French Alps. It starts with 27km down the Tarentaise valley, big roads and accessible to plenty trying to get in the day’s breakaway only non-climbers going in the move may soon discover their error with the first two kilometres of the Col de la Madeleine between 9-10%. In total it’s 25km at 6% but it climbs like a staircase, a steep section, then it flattens and there’s a descent, then it climbs up before another flat section ahead of the final pitch to the pass which is labelled at 2,000m to sound impressive but actually 1,993m. It’s followed by a very fast descent.

There’s a valley section but it’s not benign, they tackle the wonderful Lacets de Montvernier, or at least they’re scenic when filmed from the helicopter but also serve to break up the monotony of the Maurienne valley road.

Col de la Croix de Fer

The comes the Col de la Croix de Fer, another staircase climb, 29km at 5.2% but the mean average includes a descent along the way. It’s a hard climb and this time goes beyond 2,000m and followed by a reciprocal descent that’s not too technical and got some climbing on the way down and then a quick 10km valley section that’s a slight uphill drag, short but enough for some to flounder.

The Finish: the famous 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez. There are actually 23 to the finish once you include the extra two bends once inside the ski resort. It’s 13.8km at an average of 8.1%, but the main climb is consistently a steep 9-10%. The climb is regular and the famous hairpin bends matter, as they’re engineered and flat so that tourist coaches can pass with ease and so offer the cyclist a change in rhythm. As an engineered road it’s also got large rock walls to reflect the heat making it more of a furnace and the temperature is raised further by the dense crowds expected although more barriers than ever are planned. The slope eases into town and there’s a final bend to the left and then the 220m finishing straight.

The Contenders: the breakaways are faring better than the Giro. Where almost none could succeed in the May this time Alaphilippe managed it this week and Mikel Nieve was very close yesterday. Only once again the problem is finding unattached climbers capable of pulling of a stage win, coupled with those who are still fresh for today because likes of Nieve, Barguil or Navarro must be cooked from their efforts. Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and the obvious choice of Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) who went in the moves yesterday but didn’t insist. Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac) also tried but it didn’t work out and he might find the longer climbs suit him but the efforts yesterday could cost him. Which leaves FDJ’s David Gaudu as a long range shot although as we saw on Tuesday he was too keen, too obvious and used up energy.

Otherwise Team Sky are likely to try and control things but how much work do they want to do from the start? Chris Froome was covering plenty of moves yesterday and could try instead to launch one big move but it’d have to be done politely, to wait for someone else to attack Thomas and for Thomas to hesitate such that Froome can say his move was defensive. Still Geraint Thomas has a good chance especially as the flat top suits him.

Dan Martin has a great chance, especially if his UAE-Emirates team can help contain the breakaway so that he can jump on Alpe d’Huez. Romain Bardet can’t be counted out and Primož Roglič was looking very smooth yesterday. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) was climbing very well yesterday but will he pay for his efforts today? Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had a sluggish day yesterday but could still turn things around.

Dan Martin, Chris Froome
Romain Bardet, Geraint Thomas
Roglič, De Gendt, Quintana, Rolland, Gaudu, Tolhoek

Weather: clear skies and a hot 30°C in the valleys.

TV: live from the start at 12.10pm CEST with the finish forecast for 5.55pm CEST.

205 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 12 Preview”

  1. Well so far my predictions have all flopped, I thought Matthews was looking strong after the TTT and picked him for a stage only for him to fall ill and leave the race, then I tipped Yates after he got over the cobbles without drama only for him to lose 4 minutes yesterday. So given that my endorsements are clearly the kiss of death my hot tip is for Froome to win this stage by a minute.

  2. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Froome will crack in the 3rd week – for all of our sakes. Else, this Grand Tour thingie will become a one man show. This race is not yet done.

    • I hope you’re right. A different winner adds unpredictability and intrigue into what would otherwise be simply a procession around France. Froome does look ridiculously strong though – much more in form than at any point during the Giro.

  3. Has Geraint Thomas contracted asthma yet? All the best GC guys are doing it these days, well, the British ones anyway. Marginal gains and that…

    • Nice. Casting dull, ill informed, aspersions on others on a public forum behind a nom de plume – very brave.

      Try Google. – Thomas doesn’t have asthma & believes that the TUE system should be scrapped.

      Riders of other nationalities also have Asthma too Like Nibali for example.

    • Froome and Thomas sure have both come a long, long way from being cycling non-entities at Barloworld. I hope no one talks about another suject than the overwhelmingly embarrassing suspicions and certainties about this team, and how to drive this team and everything it means away from the sport as shortly as possible, optimally before this race is over. The only decent thing to talk about, and those who pretend otherwise are just pretending, however they deny it.

        • “Cycling fans” who fling unsubstantiated accusations about they will never have to back up are like babies who stamp their feet when they don’t get what they want.

          They also aren’t cycling fans.

          • Not a cycling fan?
            Is this cause my view of the sport is different?
            I’ve folowed it for years, I grew up watching the late Indurain era through the Festina debacle, the Pantani/Lance/Ulrich years.
            I view the sport through the judgement of they probably are upto no good in some way, doesn’t stop me still appreciating the beauty of it.
            If you can’t handle that some people have a different view and opinion to you if the sport then you must live a sheltered existence.

          • Other people’s views that do not equate to yours and you compare them to babies? and in your comment above you compare that to accusing someone of being a pedophile?

            “Liam July 19, 2018 at 9:23 am Like if someone went around saying you were a pedophile. Would that be “a joke” too?”

            You have some serious issues mate. And please stop insulting other people who come here for the same reason you do, because cycling seem to matter to them.

      • My memory of Thomas’ time at Barloworld is a bit different than yours. I recall him riding the Tour aged 21, Giro aged 22 whilst setting various world records and winning Olympic gold on the track. Not bad for a non-entity.

      • Ferdi, there is nothing to deny. People don’t need to deny something that doesn’t exist. People like you need to put up or shut up. It is you who drag cycling down by constantly bad-mouthing the winners based on nothing but the workings of your tiny mind.

        • I would want to believe that these guys are not cheating big time and that there is equal competition, as much as anyone would. But I just can’t anymore, I don’t believe anyone can. Impossible. It’s just too much and too blatant. And I’ve defended Sky for years, on French-, Italian- and Spanish- speaking fora. But after WADA’s suicide (do we need more evidence of crookedness?), it’s all too much. And too blatant. I was wrong for years.

          • Words about being honourable are very pretty but writing “brave” comments about it on a website is as useful as signing an internet petition. The people who agree are already converted, people who don’t agree will just snipe back and everyone else is pissed off that another one of the few comments sections that was once not entirely full of self important snark has gone to the dogs.

  4. I used to watch Le Tour mainly for the views as there was very little drama 15-20 years ago. After a relatively brief “dramatic” period of 2006 to 2014, I am re-learning to watch it for the views again. Col de Pre and Barrage de Roselend heli shots were magnificent yesterday!

  5. Stage 11 was tough but Stage 12 is going to be even tougher with all those legendary passes… can’t wait to see what happens! Alpe d’Huez is going to be quite a finish. Feeling excited!

    • So am I. Lots of the GC contenders looked short of form yesterday but hopefully the famous roads today will inspire some of them to greater things. I reckon the members of the Sky train might also be feeling tired today so that might make things more exciting.

    • Me too! Had the pleasure to ride AdH a couple of years ago and I’m excited to watch it from the armchair today. The lake at Allemont, about 25km before the finish, is beautiful too.

  6. Years of dedicated training and sacrifices: from promising junior; to Olympic champion; to world class professional?

    Like many others in the pro. peloton, of all nationalities.

    • Thomas is a nightmare for the Sky haters. No asthma, doesn’t believe in TUEs, no drug innuendo to throw at him, and a steady path of unsuspicious success. It must be terrible for them not having anything to make up and belittle him with. Hence why “he won’t last the 3 weeks” is all they’ve got.

      • Thomas, as a track cyclist that turns into a climbing monster past his 30’s, in the context of Team Sky, is every bit as suspicious as Froome and Wiggins, and as suspicious as anything you’ve seen. There seems to be a clear pattern now, impossible to look away from it.

        • Ferdi, your narrative is old, tired and, most tellingly, completely without evidence. Thomas has been a road cyclist since 2007. Aren’t you keeping up? You’ve got nothing to lay on him. Nada. Zip. Nichts. You are an empty bucket that makes a loud noise.

        • Long time lurker on INRNG and follower of cycling for more years than i would care to admit, but first time poster. I really enjoy INRNG’s previews and posts and for the most part the discussion of the racing etc. that takes place below the line.
          However, while not wishing to curtail free speech, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by James and BC regarding throwing around wholly unfounded allegations/aspersions about what appears to be one of the good guys in cycling (mainly it appears because he rides for Sky).
          There are plenty of track cyclists who move onto the road and G hasn’t suddenly turned into a ‘climbing monster’. As suggested, if you want to debate wild theories and accusations (without any shred of proof, just ‘suspicions’) then CN is the place to be for conspiracy theorists/swivel-eyed lunatics (on both sides of the argument!).
          I think that G deserves a little more respect – after all this is a guy who rode on the tour (to support Froome) with a fractured pelvis!
          Anyway, sorry for the rant – I’m off to lie down in a darkened room.

          • Amen. I’m here precisely because it *isn’t* Cycling News. And the tedious mud-slinging and posturing of some posters here (yes Ferdi, I do mean you) belongs somewhere else, not here.

      • There is still enough to hate Sky for… My hatred comes from them splashing around exorbitant amounts of money, contracting beautiful cyclists only to let them work as mindless zombies in the ‘Sky train’.
        Cycling would be so much more beautiful if riders as Poels, Kwiatkowski and Moscon’s talents weren’t wasted like they are now.

        • And presumably you don’t think that these riders have any say in that either? Presumably you think Poels and Kwiato would have won monuments and stage races at other teams just as well?

          • Yes, and the say in it, is that they prefer the money with a few chances for success and a lot of zombie riding over being a star and enriching the peloton in any of the 10+ poorer world tour teams…

        • “My hatred comes from them splashing around exorbitant amounts of money [and so on]”.

          That’s not a reason to hate Sky. It’s maybe a reason to hate the UCI, for not doing anything to address financial imbalances in the sport. But if any team was given the same resources as Sky, they would be doing the exact same thing, because they’re there to win.

        • Hate? Hate is a strong word/emotion and to use it in the context of a sport is not necessary IMO. Their budget may irritate you or upset you, but hatred is not a good emotion to carry around for something that is not life changing, once again IMO. It also just gives ammunition to those people who love to sling the the word hater at any person thats doesn’t support the team/rider they support.

  7. Fantastic stage yesterday – although I’m not too happy with the outcome as I agree that what’s left may be a season of Game of Thrones within team Sky (which could still be highly entertaining). Yet Thomas does need to keep it together for more than a week and Froome may still flounder in week 3.
    But back to yesterday – WTF were Bahrain-Merida doing?? Movistar puts some pressure on Sky to chase down Valverde and what happens? B-M puts Pozzovivo and Pellizotti to work on the penultimate climb which allows the Sky domestiques a ‘breather’ (mind you lots of people were dropping from the group) and save some energy – what if they had burned through their train even faster on the final climb??
    Dumoulin attacked only when he was clear with a teammate (a bit of an accidental attack according to TD – he wanted to be in the front in the descent and when he found he was clear with Kragh-Andersen he decided to continue). Nibali had his people drag the main competing team up the penultimate climb only to to get his ass kicked by Thomas and Froome who both attacked the group of GC contenders on the final climb and got away.

    • Agree, and I would add that the Dan Martin attack/pacing at the end was fortunate for Froome.
      The B-M behaviour has me scratch my head – are they working for Sky?? Only two reasonable explanations – they wanted Nibali to attack and it was a gross miscalculation – or, they gave up first place and are already fighting for podium or top 5, we have seen that from various teams in previous years, and it plays right into Sky’s hand, unfortunately.

      • Ah yes, more “keyboard DS” advice, this time for Bahrain. Perhaps I made a mistake but I thought the GC was now Froome 1:25, Dumoulin 1:44 and Nibali 2:14 behind Thomas?
        I’m in the camp who thinks (and hopes, which may be less popular) a) Thomas will blow at some point b) the Giro will start to show in the legs of Froome and Dumoulin.
        Neither of these are simply wishful thinking so it would seem Nibali’s in a pretty good place now after yesterday’s so-called Bahrain cockup? Today is only Stage 12 of 21.
        Finally, before someone accuses me of liking the repressive, petro-sheikdom of Bahrain, I’ll state I hate them as much as the Murdoch regime. The team management on the other hand doesn’t get the hate that SKY’s does from me as (at least as far as I know) they’re a) far less arrogant b) far less tainted by alleged doping scandals. Their riders like most, are quite often pawns in the game.

        • And how “less tainted by doping scandals” is Vincenzo Nibali’s hand-picked top domestic, Franco Pellizotti, Larry? Please tell us. The contortions you undergo to justify those you like and dislike are excruciating to watch.

          • “Their riders like most, are pawns in the game.” I wrote this about the SKY boys too Kim, so no contortions other than the ones you are going through.
            Here’s some advice – do what I do with posts from the Anonymous family and RonDe – scroll past them….you’ll be happier. I will start doing this with yours as well from this point on.
            Vive LeTour!

          • Larry, you are utterly disingenuous in your replies. Pellizotti is as “tainted” as anyone in the peloton and yet you have nothing to say about that because he’s Vincenzo’s mate. Same old same old.

        • You had me all they way until point b) Larry. At this point I lost a significant amount of the food I was chewing. I’ve passed your details on to the person who was sitting opposite. Sorry.

    • Proof, if ever it were needed, that for TBM it’s all about securing that podium spot rather than fight for the win. The gap was growing significantly from 0:30-1:30 so maybe SKY stopped riding and the bluff was enough to worry the rest into contributing.
      But therein lies the problem. Piti’s move wasn’t ruffling sky feathers in the way Movistar intended. Instead it just had Bahrain, LottoJumbo & Sunweb sweating over their potential top 5 spots.

      Apart from Thomas, Froome and a pushing-hard Martin, Big Tom rode up the final climb in the same time or slightly quicker than Nibs, Nairo, Bardet and Roglic. Looks like we no longer need to fear the Giro-Tour double, at least on this evidence the “fresh” riders are those not in shape to compete for the overall.

      I still feel it’s highly suspect that someone like Castroviejo who is a decent climber but utilized by Movistar as a water carrier can suddenly turn it on in the Sky train and be far more effective. Different training, and different interpretation of role in the team contribute… but it is odd how SKY pick up new diesels and immediately they perform significantly higher than they had previously.

      Poels contributing so little to the train is very ominous. He will be flying in week 3 and making sure all these GC pretenders are kept in check. But by then Froome and Thomas will be out of sight anyway.

      I expect Froome to stamp his authority on the race today… and if Nairo and Nibs want to continue looking at each other instead of co-operating (the moment Froome bridged to Martin, they COULD have followed – but neither wanted to bring the other back up to Froome) then he’s basically got a free pass to extend his lead (barring his own domestique).

    • Nibali has been quoted as saying that the pace was not super high, and he thought Froome looked like he might be trying to hide that he was not on a good day, so he asked his team to up the pace.

    • Re: Bahrain Merida – I think it was obvious that Sky didn’t consider Valverde a threat in the grand scheme of things, and they were just going to let Rowe lead them up the climb. B-M decided not to let them do that, which is fair enough. Either way, Sky weren’t going to use their climbing domestiques up.

      • Nibali should have jumped after Valverde if he really wanted to disrupt Froome. As with Barguil the previous day, I don’t understand why contenders don’t get together to attack Sky.

        • Probably because they don’t view it as every rider versus Sky, they view it as every rider versus each other. (Which is what it is.)

          If you believe that you can’t beat Sky without the help of the other teams, that demonstrates a crippling lack of self belief in yourself and your own team. You’d be beaten before you began.

  8. Michal Kwiatkowski shredding the group of contenders to pieces on the final climb was impressive, Dan Martin attacked for his own reasons and the only one who could follow was Froome, good for him, tough for the rest who instead of working together watched them ride up the road and then attacked each other, interesting to see Dumoulin riding with Thomas on his wheel as well.

      • +1 for MK. The fact he broke Bernal which meant he had to do a double turn and then was pretty much at walking shoes when he pulled off the front. That man gives everything for his team.

        Not sure why people think GC is over, it’s hardly begun. Today will be tough but GTs are all about that 3rd week. Look at Yates or Kruijswijk in the Giro.

    • It’s something I found fascinating yesterday, and previous days; the difference in the domestiques ability to ride themselves to a standstill.

      I’ve noted before that Poels is mostly able to pull along with the dropped GC guys after his turn (same for Bernal yesterday, but I wonder if he’s got White ambitions?), but you look at Kwiato yesterday and he rides himself to (what looks like) utter exhaustion. I’ve wondered if it’s something he’s good at, owing to his 1 day classic type riding ability? It would seem a sensible conjecture that a classics rider would be able to dig a huge hole in their energies, and perhaps a stage racer isn’t quite as good at it? Thoughts welcome:)

      • Poels can come back out of the red, recover and probably has a secondary instruction to follow the wheels of dropped riders. Flower really is going until the wheels fall off and it’s job done for the day. No need to expect him to defend the team position following GC rivals.

        • +1. Kwiato really is “used up” on the climbs, where Poels is used much more tactically.

          I also suspect they have physiological differences and Poels can recover on the climbs more easily than Kwiato.

      • I don’t doubt Kwiatos ability to suffer, but I’ve always reckoned he grinds to a halt in an act of showmanship, or a message to his DS along the lines of ‘look here, I’ve given everything for the team, thank me later’. If he really did blow up every time I think he’d risk missing the time cut. Very interested to know if he genuinely is goosed after his effort haha.

  9. Not quite sure why an early Froome attack would be inpolite. His attack would force others to chase, dragging Thomas along the way and spare the Sky dometiques some hard effort (even allow the Sky domestiques to follow along further up the slope in case they are needed).

    • I don’t think Froome is ready for an early attack. He will leave it until the third week when he is either likely to be the strongest or be out of it due to fatigue. Froome and Thomas just need to follow, it is up to others to make the running.

      • That maybe true. Though my question is regarding the politeness of such attack. I don’t see it as impolite as it benefits Sky anyway. Should Froome pull it through, he distance himself further from rest of the field; should he get caught, Thomas can counter. Wasn’t that what Moviestar was doing yesterday though they failed to finish it with a Quintana counter.

        • Attacking the yellow jersey on your team mates shoulders? Would look really bad and he really doesn’t need to. Let G do the attacking, follow then save the attack’s for week 3…. Its perfect

    • I’m with you on this – make the most of the tactical edge of being 1-2 on GC and let Thomas simply cover any chasing moves. I think Froome will be itching to reaffirm his leadership at Sky too.

  10. The steady gradient on the final climb suited the Thomas, Dumoulin rouleur/climber types. Maybe todays stage with steeper and more variable gradients on the final climb will allow the pure climbers (Bardet, Quintana, Martin…) to recover some time, or at least try to do so.

    For Sky interesting that Poels seems to have lost his climbers powers of recent years, maybe he is more tired from the Giro than his leader. As for Yates, seeing him dropping back to his car for a bottle at a critical moment in the stage was worrying and proved to be so.

  11. Would love to see Dan Martin take the stage but I think Froome will win the stage today, and by a healthy margin. He looked very strong yesterday and needs to assert his status as team leader. He would also love to add Huez to his collection. I really hope Quintana throws caution to the wind, he was poor yesterday.

  12. “Presumably somewhere in Monaco an Australian sprinter was biting his tongue.” I get why Caleb was left out but you have got to feel for him a bit here. Not sure he would be beating Gaviria and Groenewegen though

  13. Waxing lyrical seems to be catching on in the comments section, none from me though, I hope Thomas smashes Froome into oblivion, time to step up Geraint and put the Gentleman’s Excuse me rubbish to bed. Nice guys don’t win prizes!

  14. Not many comments about attacking cycling this morning?

    A top ride from Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome did look ominously good. Tom Dumoulin was also impressive, Chris Froome might be on another level altogether but TD looks to be the “best of the rest” and CF wont be riding like he is forever. The Lotto Jumbo pair Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk must also get a mention in dispatches.

    El Tridente is not just blunt but bent and broken. Sky had little concern about Alejandro Valverde making a move they knew it could be pulled back, Mikel Landa is clearly suffering from his crashes and Nairo Quintana is as ever, promising lots rarely delivering.

    Mikel Nieve deserves a mention for a great ride and he can probably aim for a top 10 place, you really do have to wonder about the Michelton Scott management team, consistently poor decisions at the Giro and now the Tour.

    Given the final TT it does look to be between G, Chris Froome and “big Tom” with Vincenzo Nibali as an outside chance with one of the Sky pair most likely.

    I suspect Sky will ride fairly conservatively today they can even afford to let NQ take 15 – 30 seconds. Not sure any of the GC riders will have that much energy today and unless another team helps out Sky (unlikely but strange things happen sometimes) it could be a complete left field rider today, a roll of the dice from a wildcard team perhaps?

    Shame about Cav, not sure we will see him back at the Tour, if so a sad end to one of the great riders of all time.

    • Agree with pretty much all of that and nice point on Kruijswijk who has quietly ridden into the top 10. The only thing I disagree on is Sky giving NQ any room, he’s quite a way down GC now but I still think they’ll ride for the stage win today if it is up for grabs.

    • You criticise the MTS management team for Giro and TdF tactics. In the Giro they won 5 stages with multiple days in pink. Almost any mid-budget team would have been delighted with that, and who is to say if more conservative riding would have produced the GC win.

      Where is the TdF strategy error? Failure to select Ewan with a print train.

      Agree with you about Cavendish.

      • The squad seemed to be largely selected to cope with Sunday – as it the whole race was going to be decided on that day. Matt White seemed to exercise himself excessively over the amount of cobbles (or perhaps because The Cycling Podcast keep playing the same clip). I wonder if that attitude has affected the team.

    • How is the fault of the DS or management if a rider has a bad day? Were you bucketing Sunweb’s staff when Dumoulin lost the lead on that last mountain stage of the 2015 Vuelta? Mitchelton-Scott have provided some of the most exciting GC racing of recent years, you should be grateful for that rather than attacking them for not riding like Sky.

      • I thought that MS did not manage the Giro well, yes they provided exciting racing (as they often have in the past) but surely if Simon Yates could not hang on for the win trying to get on the Podium was a worthwhile objective? Instead they seemed to want to chase every break and let Simon use up all his energy when a more conservative strategy might (obviously only might) have paid dividends.

        On stage 19 all the other teams were mystified as to why they expended energy (which was clearly not something they had lots of) chasing down the break before they even got to the Finestre. It was clear to other teams (watch the Sunweb video) that Simon was at his limit, why make things worse. Their tactics may well have won the race for Chris Froome. By pointlessly (from their perspective) pulling back the break it meant that Tom Dumoulin had no help when he needed it at the top of the Finestre. CF rode away to take an epic win.

        There was the odd episode with Esteban Chaves which was never really properly explained.

        Here they have left out their top sprinter, who would have had a chance of a stage win (whatever the polemic about whether he is better than Gaviria, Groenewegen etc) so they could focus on a GC contender who it turns out isnt a GC contender at all. So much so that they let their key mountain domestique (who should have won the combativity prize yesterday) ride off in the break whilst said contender was at least nominally in contention.

        To me this all adds up to muddled thinking, which will always get found out in top level sport. They need to decide whether they want to be cheeky Aussie “larrikins” keeping us amused with breakaway wins and “attacking” cycling or be a real force in top level cycling.

        Before someone says this is all about “boring” Sky I doubt very much that either Sunweb or Quick Step (amongst other teams) would indulge themselves in similar ways.

        • Well as was discussed on this site during the Giro Yates’ inferior time trial when compared to Dumoulin meant he had to take time in the mountains if he was riding for the win rather than saving energy to just make the top 10. They rolled the dice, it didn’t work out, but it was entertaining. It’s a bit rich to blame MS for Froome’s win, you could ask why Dumoulin didn’t follow his attack on the Finest.

          As for Ewen, it could be related to contract issues, but with only 2 wins this season he wasn’t making his selection for the TDF a fait accompli. Yes he could have turned up, won a stage (Ewen has beaten Gavaria before) but equally he could have not won a stage and got time cut like Cavendish and Kittel did yesterday, then the commentariat would have said “What a waste, MS should have brought another climbing domestique instead.” This is the problem with hindsight, it gives the illusion of wisdom that was not available at the time the original decisions were made.

          • C’mon Augie, you’re taking all the fun out of keyboard DS’ everywhere!! Doesn’t matter what might have happened had all these experts’ brilliant plans been tried, because it’s all pixels on the screen…and as you wrote, in hindsight they can say “If they’d only done it my way!” with no risk and pat themselves on the back.

        • Similar to Soler for Piti, Nieve was up the road to help Yates later in the stage. He attacked within a minute or so of Yates losing contact with the GC group.

  15. The cynic in me is rising (never far away to be sure!) but I think we’ve been here before with the ambitious lieutenant, most recently Hamilton/Armstrong and Landis/Armstrong, not least Wiggins/Froome, but my allusions are more because of the similarities in success and sustained dominance of the leader in the first two pairings, whereas Wiggins’ result was his first (it was clear to see that Froome was Wiggins’ closest rival for the top step).

    Froome is very self aware though and as Bernie Eisel was commenting, G and Froome raced together at Barloworld so their relationship goes back a long way. He and G will need to trust each other deeply. I can’t help but feel that G knows that this is his chance. He performed very well in Paris-Nice.

    Froome seemed very animated in his post race interview in a way which suggested a lot of underlying stress, even though he was very measured in his responses.

    • Froome is in a difficult position. I am sure, all things being equal, that he would love Thomas, trusted lieutenant and old friend, to win the Tour but he has the chance of etching his name into the list of true greats and that surely takes precedence. I really hope it doesn’t come down to he or the management having to make a call.

      • either way, Sky don’t need to do anything at all until the Portet and then the Aubisque – Froome could run out of gas or Thomas could have a jour sans, so they just need to keep both guys up there for now. Internal politics don’t need to start for a week yet…

      • Tovarishch- I am not expecting it to come to that, but I’d be delighted to see Sky management (and, heck, the millionaire riders) suffering agita to no end over such a “problem.”

  16. What are the chances that a bonus incentive is offered to Thomas to ensure he has a ‘bad day’, along with a promise of leadership at the Vuelta and protected status ‘next year’. And that Thomas the eager to please cocker spaniel accepts.

    • If the rumours are true Richard Froome wants to do the year grand slam (which has never been done in any form) if he wins the Tour and so Sky couldn’t offer Thomas gold plated Vuelta leadership. I find it hard to believe Sky will engineer a change of leadership anyway. The team my decide that Froome attacks first and Thomas marks though. Yesyerday Geraint actually said “This race has been brilliant for me and anything else is a bonus.” I nodded to muself when I heard that. Thomas is very happy with a podium and he can get that now by staying with his team and following the likes of Dumoulin in all probability. The only question is if Froome has 86 seconds in him.

      • If Froome attacks first he’s attacking his own team mate, whichever Hinault-esque way it is span. If Thomas allows himself to be bullied out of leading the Tour by his own team on the basis that he’s ‘happy with a podium’ then he might as well retire and just go on sunny bike rides with his wife at the weekend. I agree with you though in that I absolutely think that is what will happen.

        • If Froome attacks first he is executing his team plan, the reason for his team even being there. Is it lacking ambition to be happy with a podium in the Tour de France if you’ve never had anything like it before? I think only guys in armchairs have the luxury of that view.

          • I’m fairly sure that is what Bernard said too. Say Froome attacks and tows Dumoulin with him and they both put enough time into Thomas to sit first and second. Then Froome crashes on a descent in the time trial. It won’t have been a very good plan will it. If Froome goes and rides off into the sunset like in the Giro then fair play, it worked. But he still will have had to attack his own team mate to do it. Even if its planned. Even if Thomas agrees to it.

            Obviously I’d bite your hand off to finish third in the Tour. I’d bite your hand off to finish 3rd in an open time trial or a regional level road race. But that’s not relevant because I’m not a professional sportsman and I’m not currently leading the Tour de France by a minute with half of it left to run.

          • “Froome attacks and tows Dumoulin with him”

            Read that back Richard. What about Dumoulin is making you think he’d go with the attack? He diesels climbs. He has no jump.

          • I think it’s fair to say that settling for 3rd when you’re currently in 1st lacks a little ambition.

            Anyway, still 10 stages to go. The top 10 are closer to Thomas than Froome was to Yates at this point in the Giro…

  17. With all the talk of multi-pronged attacks in this race it seems that some forgot about the two-pronged Team Sky fork of Dauphine winner, Geraint Thomas, and 6-time grand tour winner, Chris Froome. The former, without counting any chickens, took a big step towards his first grand tour podium yesterday and, judging by his after race comments, you get the impression he’d be more than happy with that. Quotes such as “This race has been great for me and anything else now is a bonus” and “I’m not telling myself any lies. Chris Froome is the leader of Team Sky” seem to suggest where the Team Sky bread is buttered and Thomas has always been the loyal team man. Of course, there will be those who say that Thomas is a fairy tale that cannot last but then, on the other hand, who would you rather be now, Thomas or Landa, Bardet and Quintana who are three minutes behind him?

    The only possible fly in the Sky ointment now can surely be Tom Dumoulin who, true to type, gave a typically diesel performance. And you know he will keep doing that until the fire goes out. But what Tom ultimately lacks is a jump on the climb. If It came down to Dumoulin versus most other GC riders on a climb you’d back the other rider to jump him. And then there is Nibali who is 2.14 down on Thomas and 49 seconds behind Froome. I don’t see him getting on the podium from here because the current top three seem the strongest three. His team looked poor too. Pellizotti was used up early and Pozzovivo was gone before the final action occurred. You can’t fight a whole team on your own.

    Sky seem to have all the cards. Their perfect tactic today would be the reverse of yesterday. This time Froome jumps and Thomas follows wheels meaning the rest gain nothing on the leader with two of three MTFs done. Has everybody else bought guns firing blanks to the gunfight?

    • I seem to remember similar proclamations by a certain Monsieur Hinault. Thomas is never going to say ‘I’m in it to win it!’ The Question is whether he is capable of winning a three week stage race, and equally is Froome?!

      It puts Sky is a commanding position. The thing which is notable about Thomas’s form is that he is performing like a climber. Previously he has had the chug of a diesel train, but this year he has had a sprint to match the likes of Dan Martin, and the best of them.

      It was hard to determine just how good the competition at the Dauphine was but he is proving to be more than the equal of any at the Tour in this moment.

  18. It seemed to me the ‘I thought Froome was in trouble’ was more of a cover for defending his own GC position rather than an attack on Sky. Nibali also refused to ride after Froome on La Rosiere.

    As for Movistar: kudos for trying! The move was well executed, Valverde just didn’t have the power to follow through. One minor squabble: isn’t Valverde supposed to be a better descender than Soler? In that case, would it not have been better to have him lead in the descent from the Cormet de Roselend?

    • Same applies to Bardet who in French was claiming to have made a big mistake in not marking Dan Martin. This didn’t explain why Bardet did not then attack Nibali, Roglic and Quintana though. You didn’t have it Romain. Just admit it.

      That sky 1-2 punch was a classic though. Wasn’t that supposed to be what Movistar came here to do? Wonder how Larry T will get Unzue out of his latest tactical flop?

      • Movistar should be contacting you soon to take over as their new DS since you are such a tactical genius…they probably already know about you (since I’m sure they visit INRNG regularly for sage advice) ..maybe before the end of this Tour?
        But just to refresh, how many pro cycling teams have you directed and what races did they win? Is your passport and driving license up-to-date and your bags packed? Oh, and bring 20 million euros or so with you so Movistar can match SKY’s budget. Then we’ll sit back and watch the victories roll in.

          • So yes, they DO know about you? Have they called yet? The work you’ve done this year with your team shows your wizardry in all things cycling – I’ll bet they’ll be happy to interview you in a hotel restaurant atop Alpe d’Huez this evening for the job.
            Good luck – though you might play down the time you waste on INRNG in arguments with the likes of me!

          • I’m looking to set up a training camp in the Italian Piedmont for my new team Larry. Can you take my booking? I hope you do preferential rates for chat mates? 🙂

      • I think it’s a bit ridiculous to have a go at the Movistar DS after yesterday. What more could they do? They sit behind, get told off for not going for it. They do a good relay job with Valverde, but get pulled back by Sky/B-M. Landa injured. And a climb that finishes on 4-5% grades isn’t even that good for Quintana at the best of times.

        I mean… what more can anyone do?

  19. “Chris Froome was covering plenty of moves yesterday and could try instead to launch one big move but it’d have to be done politely, to wait for someone else to attack Thomas and for Thomas to hesitate such that Froome can say his move was defensive.”

    Rubbish. Thomas was asked last night if he would work for Froome if required. Yes, was his answer. Given how few seem to think Thomas can put together 3 weeks there’s no surprise in that either.

  20. People are blowing up this whole Froome / Thomas thing way too much.. i really doubt that Sky is planning for anything, but a Froome victory. Even though Thomas seem to be in damn good shape, i mostly view him as the most luxurious support rider, that possibly will ride top 3. However, from Sky’s point of view, Froome has won 8 grand tours, Thomas’ best position in a grand tour is 15, so i think that its pretty clear.. I really wouldnt be surprised to see Thomas start pulling for Froome at some point.

    • If Bauke goes today it would be a surprise. He is still hurting from the stage 9 crash – caught wonderfully on Velon if you haven’t seen it… nasty one on the cobbles – I think he will be waiting for the pyranees and going into a move like last year where he can attack over a crest of the final climb and TT to the finish

  21. A mid-table battle I know, but Fortuneo Samsic are due credit for their effort in the breakaway group up Roseland which cracked Alaphillipe and keeps Barguil in contention for the polka-dot jersey. He’ll fight again. It was outstanding for them to have so many at six minutes ahead of the peloton.
    The wind direction along the valley to the foot of the Alpe could be a deciding factor for any breakaways, and you just never know which way it’s going to blow.
    Those that tried to break the Sky train yesterday will be on the case again today and this time they will have good alliances instead of spending so long looking at one another.

  22. At least the Tour lasted for more than 1 mountain stage this year!! But let’s face it it’s already over. Froome has won. No surprise really, we all knew this was going to happen. Dumoulin is the only one near enough but he will have a bad day as everyone (except Froome) who tries two GTs in a row has at some point. All the others are already too far. Thomas will also have a bad day but might finish second. And we haven’t seen Week 3 GT Poels yet!!
    People were saying after the Giro and before the Tour that it would be interesting as Froome would be tired, but I think we should know by now that this doesn’t happen.
    I also think deep down, everyone knows it’s bullshit how easily he will win all three GTs this year.
    Let’s just hope he retires on a high after that and it gives us a year of interesting GTs before the emergence of Bernal, Geoghegan Hart and Sivakov.
    It’s a shame Sky already have these 3, it would have been tempting to put a cheeky bet on Rowe winning a GT soon considering the transformation of other riders on their roster.

    • I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen but far too few have recognised that Froome’s greatest ability is his recovery. That’s what makes even imagining these multiple wins possible.

  23. For all Sky’s meticulous planning and their robot-like style, I can see Froome attacking hard today. He’ll remember nearly losing the Tour on The Alpe in 2015 and surely will want to add it to his collection. He looked strong yesterday. I’m pretty sure he gifted the stage to G.

    I have a feeling Bernal sat up when he did because the job was done by that point.

    Roglic for the stage victory today.

  24. Just on the subject of sitting up in the breakaway and waiting for your leader – I’m curious as to how this happens in the literal sense.

    Do riders ever actually stop? Have they ever went back (is this even allowed?)?. Or is it always just a case of taking things much easier and waiting?

  25. Indeed.The diesels, once domestiques in team Sky,transform in tremendous climbers riding an crazy tempo on the last climb (and the other climbs). It happened before, in the Armstrong-brigade. Later in the Wiggins-stormtroopers. Now in the Froome-tankdivision. And vice-versa. Once they leave such teams, those superdomestiques become normal humans/sporters.And no questions at all by the average Innerring commentators. A shame. ..

    • I can understand your anger. Unfortunately through the language this blog is written in, this long has become a comment section not discussing cycling, but celebrities and it all is mostly based on nationalism. Every day, every race the same commens are written over and over again. It is very crude, an echo chamber par excellence and I think especially the pressure, that is put on people to have only one opinion and say nothing, that is deemed negative by the people here, is very damaging. Killing opposition, as it happens here, has nothing to do with „having a nice niveau“. It is just killing any voice, that is different. It is for a reason, that all here voice just one opinion and mostly write about the very same thing every day and no, the reason is NOT, that only people exist in cycling, who think the same thing!

      I know, that at one point the whole sky nonsense will all come crashing down, it always does and chances got better that it happens sooner rather than later with the new UCI president. So I try to be patient, because once we thought armstrong was too big to fail, too and would forever be saved by his money, the UCI and antidoping (because every negative test was another brick in the wall, just like it is today again. In truth a negative doping test is only a PR tool, because we know lots of people doped without ever having had a positive test. So no positive test is proof of nothing) and be regarded as a winner of races though everybody with a little bit of knowledge about races and cycling could see what was going on. Amusing is, when people write years after years, for example, that one can do only one GT per season on top level and then not even say a peep, when one guy/team wins one GT after another. They don‘t even realise how their mind switches to find „explanations“, to forget all they said before. This is human, we do that all the time, but knowing this, doesn‘t make it easier to stomach. When I read the comments here or at cyclingnews (and the comments here and there are the same, often literally), I do it to know how „the other side“ thinks. A bit like „know your enemy“.

      As an aside: My heart goes out to Direct Energie, who show, how you can race as a Wildcard team with dignity. Not that this seems to interest anyone here. I hope the new World Tour reforms finally end the overblown World Tour and we get a decent level of a Second League again. In truth the World Tour IS already splitted in two tiers and it is boring to have the same people do the same thing over and over again without the mass of the riders having a chance. Better for the sport to create two proper leagues, where equal teams can race each other.

      Now that many rich guys, who inflated the whole sport and sucked cycling dry, are out of cycling again, it gets time to get cycling to a healthy, sustainable level again. I always have to smile a bit, when people rage on about the bad business model in cycling. Funnily enough, the most teams exist for 20 years or more – seems to me a very stable thing. Of course, when the teams got their wish in 2000 with the Pro Tour things got bad and then worse, because ever more money had to be found. Till we came to the end point of horror last year, as, in bid to oust ASO, flanders and co., cookson gave every race a World Tour level no matter, if they could stem it or not and sold cycling out to china. It is now time again to deflate it all again and make cycling again a democratic, sustainable sport and get rid of the rest of the dodgy sponsors.

  26. It must be the hardest job in cycling. Getting a team of riders who actually ride as a Team for one race, just happens to be the biggest race.

    Whatever you say about Sky, they are most certainly a team.

    Surely Sunweb, Bahrain, Movistar etc can get 2 strong rouleurs, 1 all rounder, 2 climbers and 1 TT guy to support 2 leaders.. You cannot be telling me that Sky bought the ONLY 6 decent team riders in all of procycling.

    Every year, same narrative, same result. Yes SKY could have a bad day, but to enter a race and then act surprised when the story repeats.

    Mitchelton did it at the Giro, why not the same here? Bewley, Haig, Tuft.. comparable team and i would say stronger than this tour team.

    • it did seem strange to put all your eggs in the Yates basket and then have Nieve go (and fail) for the win when Yates was in need of some help…
      I guess he was in the break originally as a potential relay, but Soler was happy to drop to help Valverde out by contrast…

      • Not sure that Nieve could have helped much. Yates rode to the finish with Jungels who must have aided a steady but tolerable pace. I would have enjoyed Nieve taking the stage.

  27. Todays stage has definetly got a ring of “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” about it .For the GC boys opposing G and Froome they are well and truly backs to the wall,they cannot afford a result like yesterday or they will be as our American cousins like to say “well and truly behind the 8 ball”Somehow they have to find a way,but the problem is they have very little ammo.
    Dan was tremendous yesterday as was Tom-one very strong man,his only weakness being that he is a diesel and doesn’t possess explosive acceleration wheras Froome has even though he doesn’t use it so much these days.
    The French would love a victory but I cant see it,Barguil was dragging ass the last I saw of him and Bardet looked as though he burnt too many matches on the final climb.Nibs still has hope but both him and Quintana looked very second hand when the Sky boys put the hammer down.
    I think that after the brutality that has gone before this stage is too much for the breakaway to succeed and and I expect it to be a GC battle up the Alpe.Im sure Froome has got his card marked but not any costIf not Froome ,Dan Martin would be a worthy winner.
    We may end up no nearer as to knowing the final victor,but surely some hopefuls will be too far behind on the clock.Nibs will surely give it a go but what Contador did at Fuente,and Froome did on the Finestre is beyond him.

  28. Watching that stage yesterday I genuinely struggle to see the point of the 65km bunch start time trial stage. Its easily within the capability of Team Sky, or any of the other dominant teams through history, to ride that stage as if it were a team time trial and not allow anyone to attack. I’m assuming it starts uphill. Say Bardet goes immediately. At best he’ll get 20 seconds and then be reeled in. What’s the point? I’m officially on the side of J Evans now, a 250km 6 pass slogathon is much preferable and much more likely to allow something to happen.

    • It’s not quite that simple–the Sky train’s big engines are far enough down the GC table that they will be limited by the grid-style start. I suspect teams will not be able to do much to control the initial climb, or any of the climbs, really. Of course, Sky still has an advantage, assuming Thomas and Froome will still be at the top of the table at that point.

  29. @Marky
    Your lack of critical approach is absolute ridiculous.There are dozens of cyclingsites and general sportsites which give a total other view on what is happening again and again in cycling, atletism and other sports. I presume you only understand English. And don’t read what is written in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch. Your pseudo-intellectual arrogance is a shame.

    • And your personal attack on me is totally unnecessary (& has goaded me into responding!).
      I have an opinion (critical or otherwise) on doping (medical/financial etc.), but that is not why I come here. I just ventured the opinion that all the drug innuendo thrown at G, together with comparisons to US Postal/Skybots etc. is getting tiresome and this is supposed to be a discussion of INRNG’s post on Stage 11 and the preview for Stage 12.
      I actually speak fluent French, having studied and lived in France (incidentally that is where my love of cycling and the Tour comes from) and read l’Equipe when in France for holidays, cycling etc. (and they certainly have an opinion on Sky/Froome etc.). I’m sorry I don’t speak/understand all the other European languages.
      As for pseudo-intellectual arrogance, I’m not quite sure where you get that from?

  30. Can understand those who have locked in the podium (Froome, Thomas, Dumoulin in any order) but there are so many more variables in this tour. Thomas still IMO yet untested in a Grand Tour and has never cracked Top 10. Froome and Dumoulin also coming off the Giro; remember in 2011, Contador (then the heavy favourite and rider of his generation) couldn’t back up his Giro effort. Not to mention no one even gone close to a Giro-Tour double since Pantani 20 years ago…and even then……

    • This year is reported to be an exceptional chance for the Giro-Tour double… Due to the football World Cup, the Tour started one week later. Enabling better recovery from the Giro.

  31. So much for the Giro-Tour double being near impossible, Superman Froome is making it look easy. So far. The whole situation is a farce. He’s the first rider I hope takes a heavy fall, crashes out. Froome has been shitting on the sport these last few months, he only gives a shit about himself. Just looking at the collapse in viewing figures.

    • Superman Dumoulin would be ahead of Superman Froome if not for the 20” penalty he received. What unfortunate event would you like to befall him?

      • I am no fan of wishing people actively bad things – but I am also no fan of the „righteous outrage brigade“. I think this is being overly dramatic.

        I guess „Busy Little Bee“ doesn‘t really wish froome to hurt himself (of course I can be wrong) just as we don’t mean to kill our best friend, when we say „I’ll kill you“, when he spooked or pranked us (I don’t know the right saying in english, in German we say „Ich bring Dich um“). That doesn’t mean you will murder your friend, it doesn’t even mean you want her/him to hurt. When a lover cheated on you and you say „I wish you one day hurt as much as I do, so you know, what it is like“, it is simply an expression of pain, not the wish for others to hurt.

        And I guess it is the same here, it is an expression of the powerlesness some feel (including me) when they have to watch certain teams and riders disrespect and hurt something we love(d). Maybe all sides should reflect on the situation and how to stop it instead of claiming righteousness and judging each other, because sky IS a problem for cycling (I heard, that on german tv the commentators today just had to defend themselves 15 min why they don’t call sky out for doping instead of commenting the race and it isn‘t much different in other countries).

        • There is a serious discussion to be had about Sky’s ridiculous budget… but the doping stuff is now just for crass media profit and entertainment.

          • I disagree. If one person says „sky is clean“ and another says „sky is doping“ both have the same level of proof: Their personal observations. Both are biased as any opinion is. Because opinions are founded by personal beliefs, experiences, the level of knowledg a person has. Once again: A negative doping test is no proof of anything. It would only be so, if every doper ever would have been found out by doping tests. But we know, that the biggest (and many small) dopers never were found out by anti doping, it was always police, journalists who found them out and who wouldn‘t stop digging. Ok, some were found out by their own cockiness or rudeness – but still not by antidoping. Anti doping is a PR tool and a way to keep the ahletes on their toes. Not more, not less. And to say doping is off topic, when we see what happens in races is asked a bit much. The racing itself is just as much proof as anything else.

            The only difference between the two opinions „sky is clean“ and „sky dopes“ is, that on here the one opinion gets labelled as hating and trolling, while the other is accepted. The reason for that is simply the language the blog is written in and the attitude of this blog, that serves to mostly english readers. On other forums/comment sections in other languages the opinion about sky is a totally different one. And as always, the exclusion of differing opinions makes the ones in agreement think (and write) they are better than others, know more than others, because all they do is agree amongst each other again and again, which they take as proof for their niveau and go against all „outsiders“ – a classic case of echo chamber.

            But a respectful, openminded, niveauful discussion, as this here is called by some commenters, doesn‘t need to insult, doesn‘t need to scream people out of the room and doesn‘t need to delegitimize them before they are even voiced with calling them haters, trolls or flame wars. It is enough to respect them, maybe engage with them, discuss with them and let them live, just as your opinion is allowed to live. All of which is of course difficult in the usual 3 lines we are conditioned to use through twitter and texting (I am very appreciative, that inrng doesn’t cut the length of comments down!), which forces us to leave all engagement, nuance and explanations out and forces us into the simple tribalism of taking „sides“ (this isn‘t meant for you, this is general observation). Just because one person can‘t imagine, that sky dopes, doesn‘t mean anybody can‘t and in the absence of proof, both is legitimate. Of course inrng can say, that only one opinion is allowed here, that is totally their right – but then it can‘t be called a respectful, open discussion about cycling.

          • The difference between “sky dopes” and “sky is clean” is that people don’t generally (even RonDe, whose Sky/Froome appreciation is legendary) pile in unprompted with the latter; only in reaction to the former. Both are equally vacuous and lacking in evidence, and add nothing much to the discussion, but it’s almost always the “Sky dopes” brigade that prompt these pointless and tedious wars of words.

          • “I disagree. If one person says „sky is clean“ and another says „sky is doping“ both have the same level of proof:”

            Similarly, if one person says ‘unicorns exist’, and another says ‘unicorns don’t exist’, then they both have the same level of proof, right?

            Anyway, what’s actually being claimed here is:

            ‘Sky is doping’ and ‘there is no credible evidence Sky is doping’. No-one can prove that sky are clean (i.e. aren’t taking drugs) because it is quite literally impossible to prove a negative (except in cases of definitional impossibility). This is just how logic and argumentation works – the person who makes the positive claim has to back it up. The person making the negative claim merely has to demonstrate that the positive claimant’s argument is invalid.

  32. Some trolling, lots of bad tempered comments, inflammatory responses including one from someone so angry they’re hoping Froome “takes a heavy fall”. People can have different opinions but hoping someone suffers a physical injury is a low.

    I value the comments as a place of discussion and feedback but if it’s just rantings and reckonings then it’s easier to switch them off so I can get on with everything else, including keeping an eye on today’s stage.

    • I quite humbly must point out that I fail to sense “highness” in your “this issue has already been discussed in depth” (when it hasn’t, as you haven’t drawn a parallel between the criteria used to exonerate Froome and other major doping cases, when you haven’t analysed WADA’s functioning, and when you haven’t attempted to establish the balance of probability that Sky are benefitting of an an uneven playing field). Just giving you subject for writing, you’re welcome. I hope you are not “deflamating” by any chance. Because it looks like you are. I expect you to to take a principled stance against the “it’s only innuendo” position. With all due respect.

      • You can’t analyse information that is not available.

        Stop and listen and pretend I’ve got you seated and have got a stern voice on. Ready? Good.

        The process is normally private until an ADRV is issued. If no ADRV then no information is released. Froome’s was leaked but no others have been so even though there maybe dozens of similar cases that WADA have, none of them are public. Therefore, there’s nothing to analyse. (I may have raised my voice at the end there Ferdi. Sorry for that.)

    • I’m so sorry the haters have found this site.
      It was really interesting to hear the opinions of knowledgeable people , discussing in a reasonable way.

    • Amen – I’m sorry to be contributing to the tetchiness, but I have no patience with the mud-slinging idiots who just want another replica of the Clinic for them to hurl baseless accusations around.

      Perhaps if certain posters aren’t happy with the topics INRNG chooses to post on, or the (well informed and balanced) way he discusses issues, they should do us all a favour and start their own blog and leave this one to those of us who enjoy it.

    • I hate to say it but a few days of suspended comments might diffuse some of the angst, which has run hot in the comments throughout this tour. While your blog remains as engaging as previous years, the comments have deteriorated. As others have noted new readers might be bringing different culture but even long time contributors appear more polarized to the neutral (parallels with current political climate obvious). FWIW, I silently value those long serving participants when reading their comments. I’m happy to skip the comments until the end of this race but hope that INRNG doesn’t get disheartened and move away from producing consistent, balanced content; I hope that the loyal readers, sky haters and fanboys alike, will also enjoy a breather. Yesterday I enjoyed the beautiful sights of the Roselend with a glass half full and look forward to soaking up the paysage and combativity in the coming days.

      • The comments section always bring out the “nut jobs” during the Tour. It should settle down once their all away to their holidays.

    • Just turn them off, save your efforts and time for the articles

      (I think) the visitors to this site want to read insightful comments that add to the article, not endless accustations and innuendo.
      If they think the sport is rotten, stop watching and making yourself suffer. Write to the UCI, your MEP/Senator with your concerns, and argue for greater finding for WADA and for salary caps too become legal in Europe. Set up a rival tour with zero tolerance for doping, rich sponsors, power meters*, radios*, mega buses, structured training. Or go watch a local race or volunteer with a youth cycling club, anything to stop the insane comments here.
      I actually miss Gabriele, at least he put effort and reasoning in his mega comments.
      I’ll be taking some of own advice and will stick to comment less RSS feed for the rest of the tour.

      *Would actually like to see races with them banned.

  33. If people didn’t enjoy yesterday’s stage, I can only assume cycling is not the sport for them. Team tactics, long range efforts, nip and tuck between the breakaway and the GC riders, action galore – the only thing that was missing was to see if the green jersey contenders (okay, Sagan) could get over some tough mountains to get to an intermediate sprint point!

    If people’s hatred for one team is so much that they disliked the stage as a result, that’s (a) a bit sad, and (b) doesn’t wipe out the efforts the riders put on and the show they put on before the last km or two.

    The TdF often gets a bit of criticism as not being as exciting as the other GTs, but that stage at least was worthy of any of them.

  34. I think everybody is playing catch up with sky, trying to get the form for the last week which would perhaps account for Quintanas lack of fizz?

    Sky are good at GTs and will take some catching up.

    Really happy for G who seems a decent chap

  35. Yep – as Paul says, Sky are really good at GTs. They work as a team to win the race. They don’t bring 3 leaders, they don’t bring a sprinter, they don’t set out for stage wins or to make exciting attacks. They just want yellow.
    And they ride with top quality riders in a very disciplined way to achieve that aim.
    Personally, I think that is very very impressive. It may not be as exciting as watching a collection of individuals attack each other. But, it is a very effective way to win a GT.

  36. It appears that the Lance podcast tip has brought all the cyclingnews-esque commenters over here. Really disappointing to see the usual balanced, challenging, well-reasoned, polite commenters getting lost in an ever growing sea of anon belly rumbling. Unfortunately it appears that the site is going to get added to my list of “don’t read the comments” sites until the tour is over…

    • That explains a lot. Thanks Tex! (not)
      Note to BigTex – make things right with the LeMonds, no matter what it takes. Until you make peace with them you’ll remain an outcast in the world of cycling. Same with the Andreu’s. If you really want to prove you now “get it” these tasks are job #1. Otherwise you remain a clueless jerk.

  37. Damn: “Vincenzo Nibali could be forced to quit the Tour de France with a suspected vertebrae fracture due to a crash involving police motorbikes Thursday.” He may well have finished with the leaders today had this not happened, and now he may be out. What a shame.

  38. What an incredible stage. I was wrung out just watching. Now we have five top sprinters left by the wayside, Uran gone, Nibali with a likely fractured back, and several top other top contenders who are now at best stage hunters. I’m enjoying the gutsiness of Bardet and Dumoulin and Martin, and the slight drama between Froome and Thomas.

    I’m watching on Dutch TV, so they were really highlighting Kruijswijk’s attack. He looked so spent and gutted at the finish. What a cruel, beautiful sport this is.

    Oh, and Caleb Ewan must really be steaming now. I don’t think he could take Sagan for the Green Jersey, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be struggling with the time cuts, and he would have made the race interesting. Plus he’d almost certainly have picked up a stage or two.

  39. Just turned to Inrng for some balanced reporting. To my shame I mainly only read during the GT’s my excuse being lack of time the rest of the year. Comparing your prediction to the result, which is normally pretty accurate it only goes to show how Dumoulin continues to surprise as you don’t have him in your list. I’m full of admiration for a guy who doesn’t have the team around him and still keeps battling on. Oh and my message to the usual contributors, please don’t disappear during the tour. Your comments are as valuable as Inrngs reporting. If you give in to the trolls then they win like on every other site. Just ignore them and continue to provide the balance that can’t be found anywhere else. I’m no cycling expert and value the intelligent discussion here that contributes to my continued learning about the sport. There’s a lot more racing to go and I for one along with many other readers value all of your balanced views.

  40. Anyone know what happened to Roglic? Was he taken down by Nibali crash or just distanced via the chaos of the flares and the crash?

  41. Sorry if any of this has been covered above as I couldn’t read through all of it. A few thoughts/questions:

    What’s up with all the abandons the last two days? I mistakenly asked whether the 65km stage would be the death of the sprinters, but was yesterday’s stage that bad? Guys were giving up before the Madeleine today because they were broken from yesterday or just did not have the grinta of Cavendish to finish even if they knew they couldn’t beat the time limit? I don’t see the savage element of this week to make such a hash of the sprinters and would think these guys (Kittel excluded) would have trained accordingly.

    Kruijswijk’s effort was amazing. He had a noble band with him that he may have relied on to stay clear and share the work, and still forged on alone. I don’t know if others like Valverde and Barguil relented because they didn’t want to go too deep or if Kruijswijk really had that much more, but bravo – he made that stage regardless of the chaos and GC battle that played out later. I really hope he parlays this into a solid finish or a stage win later. As for the others, I think it’s desperate enough that we can hope for guys to push for a raid and maybe take inspiration from today.

    What do we make of Nibali’s crash? Such a shame as he clearly was up for the fight given he could remount and make such a spirited chase. The first shot of him on the ground looked really bad and I’m not surprised his injury turned out to be serious. Nobody deserves this, but I was really looking forward to seeing how Nibali would go against Froome et al as the race went deeper. So what now? The images of riders passing through the gauntlet of crazed fans is enduring and a huge part of the legacy of the sport, but is it time for more substantive changes?

    Other than Thomas, and possibly Dumoulin, I’m not sure anybody looked that great on the Alpe. Obviously, Quintana and Bardet tried and failed to make any attacks stick, but Froome wound things up ala years past and fizzled out. It’s amazing that Dumoulin, a big TT monster, and Thomas, a track and classics stud, outclimbed all the climbers. But neither of them seemed to go deep in making any attacks or marking any moves and that seems to be a key in the GTs as nobody really has any matches to burn – they are all playing a delicate balance with being on the limit. Regarding the Alpe, I am curious what the times were – I think Bardet was around 41:23 per his Strava – but certainly nobody stormed their way to the finish. I wish Gabrielle would reappear to add some of his deep insights and historical context.

Comments are closed.