Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

A sprint stage? Probably but with few sprinters left in the race it means fewer teams to chase.

Stage 12 Review: a fast start and it needed the slopes of the Col de la Madeleine to select a breakaway. We got a big move including the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Steven Kruijswijk and the mountains jersey contenders Warren Barguil and Julian Alaphilippe

More sprinters were dropped and quit. Dylan Groenewegen, André Greipel and Fernando Gaviria abandoned although they threw in the towel early rather than miss the time cut. Not that this was an elective decision on their part, they were far behind on the road.

Pierre Rolland was the first to get “ants in his legs” as they say in French but alas this was vintage Pierre Rolland Energy Wasting Attack™ as he used up energy solo for now gain. Then with 73km to go Steven Kruijswijk went solo, he was sitting sixth overall and could have sat tight but went for it and built up a lead of six minutes on the way to The Alpe. It was bold and impressive and got Sky nervous, as well as Ag2r La Mondiale and Movistar who also took up the chase. Perhaps Kruijswijk will still be remembered for that crash on the Colle dell’Agnello – much like Laurent Fignon was the guy who lost the Tour de France by eight seconds (“no Mister, I’m the one who won it twice”) – but this was a bold ride. Only the more he climbed up the Alpe, the more those famous shoulders were rocking.

Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali tried moves but were contained by the pace set by Egan Bernal. A touch of lèse-majesté as Bernal brought back Quintana even. Romain Bardet attacked and got a gap, just and it stuck for longer. As he was away there was a crash for Vincenzo Nibali, seemingly brought down by a spectator’s camera strap. He remounted but in the evening found he’d cracked a vertebra and was out. We got a quartet of Thomas, Froome, Bardet and Dumoulin who were spread across the road and so Nibali and Landa closed in. The Dutchman is racing wisely, he’s third overall and not reacting to every move. We could see this as defending his podium but he’s only a wobble by Thomas away from going into the final time trial a few seconds behind Chris Froome. But no wobble so far from Thomas, he rushed into position for the final corner onto the Avenue Rif Nel and blasted away for the stage win, the time bonus and the sense that he’s superior to Froome at the moment.


The Route: 169km out of the Alps via the big valley roads. They could cross over the Vercors but four mountain stages in a row is probably too much. It’s down the Romanche valley on a wide road and then into Vizille for the first climb of the day. Listed as 6.9% it’s more like 8% for most of the way but short, a mere bump after recent days. Then it’s around the base of the Vercors plateau with a climb out of Pont-en-Royans. But the climbing isn’t finished, the road tackles the Monts du Matins, a small chain of foothills and crucially the roads get smaller, notably the last climb to Peyrus where the road twists up via a hairpin bend. Still it’s 25km

The Finish: the same finish line as the Tour’s visit in 2015 when André Greipel won… but a different approach. It’s uphill in the final kilometre, rising at 3% before levelling out for the final 400m.

The Contenders: who is left for the sprint? It’s not just a matter of naming the remaining sprinters, it’s to note that several teams who would have led the peloton today are now orphaned and so instead they’ll either try to coast in the peloton or send a rider up the road and hope to break the chase.

Still it’s advantage to the sprinters. How about a second win for John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)? He’s been close in the sprints and has a team likely to pull. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) kept running close, now he’s got fewer rivals but has such a big lead in the points competition he doesn’t need to risk things. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) has a good chance, he’s not as quick as the others in a straight contest but today may be a touch fresher as he’ll have found the Alps easier than the others.

Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Emirates) has had a sluggish start to the Tour but as the adage goes “to finish first, first finish” and he’s in the mix while his rivals are out. Only he’s not got the train he’d want.

Edvald Boasson Hagen gets the nod once again, on his day he’s gone to rim to rim with Marcel Kittel and now has the remainder of Dimension Data at his service.

Arnaud Démare gave an interview to L’Equipe recently explaining his love for growing vegetables in his gardening, right down to soil preservation techniques, but he also mentioned in passing how he’d spent time training in the Alps which may explain why he’s still here. There’s a good chance for Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) but still the opposition is tough for him. Finally don’t forget Astana’s Magnus Cort Nielsen, on fire in the Vuelta two years ago.

Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb
Arnaud Démare, Alexander Kristoff
Colbrelli, Laporte, EBH, Cort Nielsen, Boudat

Weather: hot and sunny, a top temperature of 32°C and the chance it’ll build into a thunderstorm but probably after the finish.

TV: live from the start at 1.35pm CEST with the finish forecast for 5.30pm CEST. There’s more chance of a scrap to get in the breakaway but otherwise tune in late for the finish.

204 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Wouldn’t rule out Sonny today. He should, like Magnus Cort, find the last few days less of a hindrance than most of their rivals. I also wonder with a downhill start (after only a few k’s at least), whether some of the sprinters decide to try their luck in the break. We’ve seen Theuns, Sagan, MCN and even Kristoff among a host of others like the now departed Greipel, try to get a ‘head start’ over the last few days and succeed. Why not try today?

  2. I feel like it is much bigger deal that a legit tour podium finisher and former tour winner gets taken out of the race because of a fans irresponsible behavior. While it was the fan that caused it, one can definitely say that ASO is providing substantially less crowd supervision than what was seen in the Giro. If it was Bardet, Froome the reaction would be much different.

    I love the inrng site but even here, just the passive mention of the facts on Nibali.

    • I think that’s a bit unfair. The review of the previous stage is always a brief summary regardless of who/what happens and I don’t think you can accuse Inrng of any bias.

      I’m also speaking as a big Nibali fan.

    • Maybe you just follow Nibali himself, who says, that such things happen? It happened in the giro (remember the sick broken arm of Colli, who got stopped by the camera of a fan?) it happened in the classics, it happened in the vuelta. It even happens indoors, in track cycling. I really don‘t like this ASO bashing and I especially don’t like the lynch mob mentality we regraded back into these days. I am pretty sure, that ASO and every other race organizer thinks and works hard to stop these things from happening, because it is damaging to them as well.

      • ASO got it wrong this time. I love how passionate the crowds are but time and time again, someone gets too close. I still fancied Nibali to do well this year and at least podium – the fact he was able to (almost) rejoin the leaders shows that. Now, however, he has left the race. The barriers should have extended much further down the Alpe. Kruiswijk was lucky to avoid crashing when the guy running alongside in the football top taking a selfie collided with another spectator.

          • Heard a good idea on Belgian TV: Put barriers on the whole climb and let spectators pay for them by an entrance fee. Normally I do not like this kind of commercialisation, but it could go hand in hand with safety on a climb that allways is one big party.

        • In the video I saw of Nibali’s crash, there WERE barriers in that section. Either the crowd had pushed them inwards, or leaned over them, or whatever. I would love to see plainsclothes police scattered about the crowd, and every person who sets off a smoke flare get arrested and given a short jail term. Once word of that got out, that incredibly dangerous nonsense would quickly stop.

          And I believe there are simple chemical tests to see if someone has handled something like a smoke flare.

          • Getting late to this conversation but one thing I noticed in the 2017 Vuelta was the increased Guardia Civil on the road side keeping the crowds back (forcibly too sometimes, some might regard to as too much). For me, it kept the spectacle of the crowds at the road side without them getting too close. They can’t barrier the whole climb but they have to keep the crowd back enough so they are not throwing punches or pushing (even pushes in attempt to assist)…for me they need more security or gendarmes.

    • On French TV yesterday evening Thomas Voeckler suggested that Sky could have calmed the roadside anger and silenced some of the booing by letting the stage be won by another rider (probably Bardet though Dumoulin would have taken it). An odd and unwise suggestion when the honesty of much sport is in question.

      • Because that’s what Voeckler would have done, right? Besides which until the last few hundred meters it wasn’t even clear Sky would win the stage. The fact that the guy who won and who is bossing the race is not personally tainted by any past at all seems to have been blatantly overlooked as well. Thomas has done nothing to deserve boos. Those booing in France and virtually online shame only themselves.

        • From bottom to top there were people booing, I’ve never heard it this loud and almost unanimous before…
          People who make a great effort to visit a race roadside, people who are deeply invested and passionate about the sport. The shame is not on themselves, it is on the root cause;
          the over rationalization and capitalization of Sky…

          • The root cause is over sensationalisation by irresponsible media, which breached serious & sensible confidentiality arrangement to report on a fact that is not substantiated for their own gains. During the whole process, they also fail to hold genuine good journalistic practice and give both side of the debate equal voice.

            As well as the leaker, which leaked information for whatever their aim is.

          • Is it s French thing, the booing?

            I remember the boos that met Fignon as he failed to recoup those 8 seconds. Almost 30 years later I can still recall watching it with my the old girl and both of us were stunned at the level of booing.

          • I am in no way a Sky fan but would defend thier ability to be, within the regulations, well-funded.

            Part of the behaviour problem seems to be the pandering of media to thier home market and viewers/listeners/readers. One sees it daily in L’Equipe, in commentary on FR2 and FR3, and, in one case, Jalabert using the term “hallucinant” to describe a Froome performance, with the obvious implication. With such suggestions the ill-informed will draw conclusions which will influence thier roadside behaviour.

          • Tieske, your argument is nonsense. There was no booing of Froome or Sky in the Giro to anything like this level.That is a fact. In fact, if you watch his 3 minute interview after crossing the line on stage 19 he even has an Italian fanclub chanting his name which interrupts the interview several times. People visit the roadside outside of the Tour and manage not to be ignorant bores so those who do it at the Tour have only themselves to blame.

          • There’s no one reason for the booing, it’s not black and white. I love cycling, I don’t like their budget, and yet I don’t boo like a 12 year old.

            Some booing will indeed be a protest against Sky’s budget. But some of it is just wanting to fit in with the crowd on the day, some of it is reflexive behaviour, a sort of muscle memory that’s not treatable.

          • hoh,
            I believe, idea that root cause of booing is due to that single instance, is mistaken.

            As hapax legomenon says, “There’s no one reason for the booing, it’s not black and white.”

            Not only their budget…

            Sky has repeatedly carried themselves badly with a disproportionate budget & their race style tops it off making for less enjoyable racing, at the Tour at times, claiming they’re going to be cleaner than clean / transparent and proving otherwise, abusing / taking advantage of rules / pushing limits… They check all the boxes for deserving their boo’s.

            This race though is in part fun because Thomas could unseat Froome and that’s My hope. Or Dumoulin. I’m of the crowd, anyone but Froome.

      • Not a fan of Sky, but they should do absolutely nothing in the race itself because of public opinion. Every team should race for the win, nothing else and you have to respect that.

        • Absolutely , wouldn’t that just encourage more booing from fans if they thought they could actually prevent Sky from winning a stage for whatever reason

          People are free to go and watch a race and boo whoever they want , I wouldn’t do it myself and i think it reflects badly on them but so be it . Actually pandering to them and deciding to not go for a win or whatever is ridiculous

      • If that is typical of Voeckler’s insight, then it explains why it is not always a good idea to have a prominent ex-sportsman take up commentary.

        • Having been watching the coverage in French I’ve found Voeckler’s commentary very good and the French commentary team excellent overall.

          Voeckler’s comments were more nuanced than suggesting they let someone else win. He suggested when Bardet attacked that they let him ride in front to calm the crowd at a point where it was conceivably dangerous for a SKY rider – Froome especially – to ride alone off the front. A fairly smart, and unprovocative, suggestion in my view.

    • It’s a whole other subject so I wanted to avoid too much of it. It seems Nibali was taken out by a fan. I’m tempted to say I could live without the Alpe d’Huez climb forever, it’s risky and the climb isn’t all that great either, a coach highway… but all the same a lot of people love the experience so for the sake of a few imbeciles it’d be wrong to deny hundreds of thousands their day out.

      Also note ASO may be powerful but they’re not the law. Instead the security concerns like policing, barriers etc are down to the local authorities, presumably in discussion with the race though. They tightened up yesterday with bans on alcohol sales, more police, extra barriers and roping off Dutch corner etc but there was a small political clash between different layers of regional government in France with one side wanting to let as many people enjoy the day (good for business, presumably), and the other side wanting to clamp down for the sake of safety. The balance was tightened yesterday but seemingly with a big focus on Dutch corner.

      • er, sorry to correct you a bit on this but Le Tour is the law. It has its own special legal bubble that wraps the event in a rolling closure. It pays the gendarmes that roll along with it; to the extent that when the event goes on foreign trips it still carries its own police, complete with sidearms. It also draws on police and military resources for the event safety which includes public order measures.
        People who are injured during the Tour have to take a different recourse and must do it under the prefectoral regulations that are drawn up specifically for the Tour as it passes through the Region, so if someone is injured by the caravan, security, riders, team cars etc they have to prove this was not their fault, which is extremely difficult to do if they put themselves in harm’s way.
        See eg;
        I’m not sure what you do in the event of a punch from Bernard Hinault.

        • That’s all true too for the race caravan. But the barriers, roadside police etc are down to the locals and. The article you link to itself has links to the various regional prefectures issuing their plans for the day for traffic, crowd management, waste collection, parking and all the rest. I suspect the debrief for Alpe d’Huez/Bourg d’Oisans is going to be a long meeting.

        • “It pays the gendarmes that roll along with it; to the extent that when the event goes on foreign trips it still carries its own police, complete with sidearms.”

          That’s one of the things that interested me most about seeing Le Tour pass round my home roads in 2014, the armed Gendarmes on motorbikes.

      • I’ve been on the Alpe on Tour day numerous times, and never seen a police presence on the scale of yesterday. ASO were clearly trying to manage the spectators, no doubt mindful of the wider security issues France and elsewhere have faced recently.

        On the rolling ITV4 footage I spotted several naughty boys being manhandled by the Gendamarie , so hopefully the message is going to get through.

        Setting off a flare in the UK would get you 3 months inside.

        • I’ve never understood why anybody feels the need to go to a race and set off a flare or smoke bomb or whatever it is , then the riders have to ride through and breathe in that stuff not to mention the reduced visability . Are these football fans just going for a day out ?

      • As a Dutch guy I would miss Alpe d’Huez, but I must agree with you. Also referring to your twitter comment. Imbeciles like this ruin cycling. Problem is it isn’t just one, there’s a whole mountain full of them. And yet it only takes one drunkard to create a scene that impacts the race like it did with Nibali.

        For ‘safety reasons’ they are neutralizing the Champs Elysees stage. If they are not hypocrites they should do the same with Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, etc. et.c in the future, or just remove it altogether. There needs to be a more permanent solution to this ridiculous situation.

        • Got to agree with you there shorts. If they took out alpe d’huez it would just happen somewhere else. A few years ago, when French tv started running adverts for respecting the riders/the tour, I thought it would self-police and the spectators themselves would weed out the swivel eyed lunatics and either deal with them in an Hinaultesque way or hand them over to the gendarmes, but the problem seems to have become worse.
          For what it’s worth, Nibalis accident seems to have just been unfortunate, the guy is just taking a photo with a strap dangling and Nibali was unlucky. The problem is these ‘unlucky’ incidents are happening more and more, in direct proportion lack of respect for the racers.
          I would hate to see the race go behind barriers but something has to be done to protect the rideas welfare.

          • Nibali’s incident looked to be accidental, similar to Guerini in ’99… the similarities end there though – as the positioning of Nibali in a group, in flare smoke, surrounded by moto’s.. meant it was far more dangerous.

            What is perhaps more concerning for me, if the ‘yob’ reaching out to punch Froome had chosen to leap out rugby tackle style move it wouldn’t have been a near miss, but probably a race ending assault. There is literally nothing to stop a co-ordinated attack, if some of these angry fans are committed to stopping him.

          • I beleive that there was a rider on the cobble stage who was taken out by a spectator trying to take a picture in front of him. He catapulted over the idiot and has broken his shoulder.

            I think that the problem stems from the degree of lawlessness which is tolerated by individual nations. The French, compared to a lot of other nations, are very tolerant of direct action, picketing, riots etc (there were two people killed, yes killed, in the ‘celebrations ‘ for the World Cup victory on the Champs Elysees. It was not mugging or gang related, just general crowd violence). When you talk to friends and neighbours in France, they have a much higher level of acceptance for crowd violence and disorder ( not for personal though, they are horrified by burglary).

            So you don’t get the degree of peer pressure against the violent elements in a crowd , which would help to defuse things. But whatever the cause, the TDF is fast becoming a wantonly dangerous event , and I think that may well lead to its eventual downgrading.

            About Hinault and the other French officials and commentators who are whipping up this sentiment, words fail me.

          • Though rioting broke out in Paris, the two that died were a man who fell into a canal in Annecy and another who crashed his car into a tree. I suspect alcohol may have played a part.

          • So according to Cassandra, lawless aggressive crowds are a “French” problem. we all remember when the French invented hooliganism and spread violence acroos Europe, the other day. Maybe not Casandra, cause she’s too young.
            Or get’s facts wrong, and blame two unrelated dead to a riot in another town, like Steve pointed out.

  3. There are a few under-performers listed above who really have a chance to turn their seasons/careers around with a win on one of the 3 upcoming sprint stages.

    Unfortunately for them, Sagan is still there.

    • I saw a lot of the stage, think I picked it up around the Croix de Fer and was willing on Kruijswijk, the activity behind him was fascinating and once he was caught I was genuinely thrilled to see Thomas riding away to take the stage, though I had hoped Bardet or Dumoulin would if Kruijswijk couldn’t.

      As to the sprinters what are the chances of Sagan winning on the Champs Elysees?

      • A huge ride by Kruijswijk, lots of people talking about the crowd but more of the day’s story should go to him. I wonder if he starts today’s stage with a special saddle with two large cut-outs for his cojones.

        • And not only his long-range attack – once he was caught, he didn’t just pack it in and give up; he held his time loss to less than a minute. I can only imagine the mental fortitude that it took him to continue to fight at that point.

          Even though his move did not ultimately succeed – yesterday he made his fans quite proud!

        • I have to say that while the actions of a few were reprehensible. This was not the most packed Alpe I’ve ever seen.

          If Nibali has not gone down, and then out, I doubt that we would even be talking about the crowd, beyond a bi-word about how potentially dangerous it is that the fans can get so close to the riders, something that has been a feature since Lapize.

          There were fewer running morons than I seem to remember in years gone past.

          The Nibali incident reminds me a lot of the Lance vs the musette episode. It’s sad that it has cost Nibali his role in the race. It’s not something I want to see happen, but I feel like it’s part of the race. I think ASO/police did a lot to control things, but you can’t legislate for a half-wit that doesn’t know what to do with his camera strap, not a family that don’t know how to look after their family dog.

  4. Speaking of podcasts: the BeSpoke podcast mentioned that only 3 TDF riders have ever won back-to-back summit finishes: Fausto Coppi, Joop Zoetemelk (had to google him), and Thomas. Can that really be true? That’s a fairly amazing achievement for Thomas. I assume there have been hundreds of opportunities for someone to have done that over the decades.

    As someone who finds Sky’s dominance tiresome at times, I’m still quite blown away by Thomas’s rides this Tour.

    • But it has worrying undertones of Simon Yates doesn’t it? Accelerating hard and eagerly chasing the available bonus seconds right from the gun. Maybe I’m too pessimistic, who knows.
      If Froome can’t find his traditional one great day where he distances all his rivals then I think Dumoulin could sneak this.

      • i think sky rode up the monutain that hard, to mainly limit the possible damage of late attacks of opponents and of course discourage/ destroy early ones (as it happened). they probably rode in a tempo that was hardly acceptable for themselves. they will possibly do this until the end. the 4 guys arriving together yesterday are about on the same level mountainwise. sky have to ensure, bardet gets no long range raid and doumoulin just gets towed along.

        with their dedicated sky-mountain-train they have the means to achieve that, no one able to get away from this pace as weve seen.

        • I think Kruiswijk scared the hell out of Sky yesterday. They deployed their full resources (with support from AGR and Barain) to pull him back and almost burnt themselves doing so – if it hadn’t been for a phenomenal pull from Bernal then Froome and Thomas would have been totally exposed. Shows you can burn up their train with the right tactics.

          • well thomas and froome is still enough for a 1-2
            as it happened.
            sky are not really what you call “sentimental” if they have to, i guess they will sacrifice one of their now two leaders in a second.

      • I can’t help but think that his all out effort to win these 2 summit finishes will be Thomas’s downfall. His visible disbelief and excitement of being in the jersey and winning is brilliant to watch but Grand Tours are won by conserving energy not winning stages. I suspect Sky’s strategy is to us Thomas as a lure to wear out the other GC contenders while Froome stays consistent over 3 weeks.

    • It’s actually not a common event to have many back-to-back summit finishes, it happens once or twice every year.

      There are also so many variable to the racing (breakaways, Team dynamics, stage of the race where the summit finish takes place) that mean that riders are rarely in the position to contest both.

      It is a staggering feat, especially by a rider who is not known as a climber…..

  5. Yes, it does have Simon-Yatesean echoes, and Thomas himself says (though some here think he’s just bs-ing) he’s never won a 3-week race and Froome is the leader and this makes you wonder if he worries about it himself, or at least may not quite believe it. (Who knows, though, how sincere any remarks are to the press.)

    But you wonder if Froome and Dumoulin might not suffer similar fates coming off the Giro….no?

    • I’ve loved seeing Thomas take this on, and ,really enjoyed the attacking riding over the last few days. But I can’t decide whether it’s an elaborate bluff that GT is in it for Froome or not.

      However, I just remembered that we have stage 17 coming up… a 2 man TT to the top.. this could get interesting.

      • Three man. In the grid start the first tranche of riders will be the top twenty. Egan Bernal is currently 19th and so will be right there with Thomas and Froome up the Peyresourde.

  6. A great shame to see Nibali taken out by a spectator. Nibali was the one rider who had the ability and skill set to take on the race leaders at some point. I couldn’t make out exactly what was going on at the point Nibali was taken down, but for some inexplicable reason the road appeared to have a narrowed. ASO needs to do more for rider safety in predictable situations like The Alpe. We have all sorts of safety protocols for events, but when it really matters nothing.
    The UCI and organizers also need to get to grips with the ever increasing number of accredited Motos. There have been far too many evident in major races all this season, and here again at the Tour. They are contributing to the danger to riders and risk of distorting race outcomes by being far to close to the head of many races.
    Heads up to Kruijswijk for an epic and spectacular long distance attack.

    • I noticed that some of the lower slopes were barricaded and they roped off Dutch Corner, however the upper parts of climb were teeming with ferals (including the guy that ran out of punch Froome) and it reminded me of the Porte/Mollema/Froome pileup on Ventoux in 2016. It’s such a shame Nibali is out of the race because his remount and minimal time loss after being knocked off his bike showed just how good his form was.

      Chapeau to Kruiswijk for sure.

    • If you hold a sporting event in a stadium you will find yourself subject to any number of laws and protocols imposed by government for the sake of public protection. In the UK, for example, it is illegal to enter the field of play as a spectator and you will be arrested and charged.

      Yet hold an event on a roadside (and, one has to add, “in France” as this is now the second time in three years crowds have materially impeded the race) and you can seemingly run around off your @~#^ on booze and abuse whoever you like with impunity. This did not happen at the Giro. Watch Froome’s climb of the Finestre back on video and you will see a vast majority cheering and applauding his climb even though back then his case was undecided. The Giro crowds were fantastic throughout but they weren’t stupid and wild.

      The problem here is not just the ASO’s ineptitude, which I do not doubt for a second, but the Tour public, and I say Tour public rather than French public to avoid the dull charge that I’m simply anti-French.

      Yet this doesn’t happen at the Giro or the Vuelta. So you join the dots.

      • Unlike the Giro and the Vuelta ,the TdF is widely known among non-cycling enthusiasts, in search of a wild day out.
        Alpe D’Huez also has a reputation for walls of wild fans. I for one can’t remember a French flag close to the cyclists on the hairpins yesterday, but I can remember umpteen other nationalities with umpteen flags each. Don’t just blame the French because they happen to be the local nationality.

        • Don’t blame the French for what happens in France but blame people of everywhere else? Interesting reasoning.

          I’ve long been a fan of the Tour (since the mid 80s) but these days I really am warming to the view, expressed by many, that the Vuelta and especially the Giro are the better races. The Tour is a circus and I mean that in its worst possible sense.

          • The Tour is supposed to get 12 million spectators, of which 2 million are foreign and presumably on Alpe d’Huez the proportion is a lot more than one in six. But I don’t see what nationality has to do with this. Yes there is Dutch corner, Irish corner etc but if there’s an idiot, they’re an idiot regardless of their passport.

          • The issue is not nationality. But neither is the location of the trouble irrelevant to what occurs. I say again, this didn’t happen in the Giro. Its happened twice in three years at the Tour. The Tour itself is becoming toxic.

          • The Tour is held in mid summer, holiday time, not in May or September, and it’s the most over hyped race of all. Millions of tourists travel to France to see it. and several thousands of them make a pilgrimage to Huez, for cycling carnival meets spring break meets Ballermann. It’s not like all these factors occur the same in May in Italy. It’s not like Italy is the more law abiding country than France, your views on this subject are oversimplifying black&white.

  7. What a stage yesterday! Yes, Sky are clearly in the strongest position, but Dumoulin surprised me yesterday backing by up so well from the previous day. If he can do an Uran from last year and follow Sky wheels he could be in a good place come the TT. Great to see Bardet attacking and holding his own too.

    And Kruijswijk’s ride and it’s effect proves that Sky can be pressured but that it takes guts and strength. Can only hope to see more of that… maybe Martin, Quintana or Fuglsang on a good day could get away?

    • I think we will see a cooling off from attacks till we get to the Pyrenees. I’d expect all and sundry to be toasted by the last three days, and will want to lick their wounds, regroup and then go again. Expect fun for the breakaways if they have the right consistency.

      Watching David Millar’s documentary ‘Time Trial’ I was surprised at how vocal the peloton are at the beginning of a stage.

      • Yes, was projecting forward to the Pyrenees. But maybe with a so few sprinters and so many orphaned sprint and GT teams out there, today could see a strong break to go? Or will they all save it for tmrw?

  8. If Colbrelli is still in this race and not to too hurt from his tussle with TvG on the cobbles, then surely with Nibali out, then Bahrain will be all out for him? worth a mention at least perhaps for the sprint, even though its difficult to see past Sagan now.

    While on Nibali; it has been mentioned on several podcasts (and I can’t verify this, not being there) that there were fewer fans allowed on the Alpe and that extra barriers were up. Even Dutch corner had some ropes to keep the fans back, so ASO are learning and reacting.

    But when Nibali is following Froome who is attacking to get up to Bardet the Moto(s) are right in the thick of the riders and crowd (just as on Ventoux). Theres a choke point meters before the barriers start (ironic really) and with all the crazy smoke flares…. boom you have a super high risk environment. Yeah Sh1T happens all the time, and what can go wrong will, still Nibali has no where to go but round the Moto (who holds his line it seems) but its very presence pushes he Italian too close to the crowd and Boom, broken back and broken hearts (mine included).

    Of course G is using up energy, he is enjoying the moment, making cycling history even. Perhaps he will pop, perhaps he will fall on his sword, but I doubt he sleeping with his bike in the hotel room or employing his own private chef just now.

    • I think that’s a fairly reasonable assessment of the situation. I was trying to understand what happened by reviewing the footage.

      My impression of the satage as a whole was that there was not the crazy thick throng of fans that there has been. When Froome went up in 2015(?) when he popped a gel, the crowds were much thicker and appeared ‘more dangerous’. Let’s also not forget that Lance came down on the same climb in 2003 (I think) when his handlebars caught a musette, so this sort of incident is not without precedent.

      For me, the moment seems to happen when they are transitioning from a less well barricaded section to a heavily barricaded one, presumably to reduce crowd interference. The camera moves from a shot behind the riders. Froome attacks, and Bardet follows, a flare obscures this move. Nibali is upright and G is following him. The camera angle changes to a side on shot to track Froome’s move and you see G stop, and move his bike before chasing the lead riders.

      At that point there are two police motos tracking the lead riders. The switch from one angle to the next misses Nibali’s fall. If there was an issue it would probably be how the motos track the riders through the pinch point. Nibali may have moved outside into the barriers/fans to avoid the moto. I suspect that the narrowing of the road, combined with fans not moving quickly enough out the way of the motos caused the moto to stop start, which led to the crash. Maybe having plod on their feet at that point (with the police motos ahead) might have been better. It’s a shame for Nibali. He was looking in good form and may have had something for the third week.

      I guess I don’t feel outrage at this event because it was clearly an accident. Of course ASO and the police must learn from it – was the layout and policing the correct approach?. But the fans did not appear to be reckless, and the moto rider didn’t appear to be doing anything stupid (which hasn’t always been the case). The TdF has so much going on it’s impossoble to account for everything. What if that mountain bikes got his road jumping stunt wrong? If the moto rider had sped recklessly passed Nibali and clipped him a la Sagan in the Vuelta, or fans encroaching to the point where riders are knocked off or stopped? These are silly things and should not happen.

  9. I wonder what Thomas was thinking when Froome was barred by the ASO and then discharged by the UCI and reinstated in the race. In or out of racing, Froome just seems to bounce back.

  10. Something that doesn’t seem to be getting the coverage I expected: over the last few seasons we’ve been fed the narrative that “the double is impossible to do”. We’ve seen both Contador and Quintana hyped and failing.

    But here we are, well over half way, and BOTH the #1 and #2 Giro finishers are sitting at #2 and #3, with a handful of seconds between them. Fourth position is a way back (similar characteristics to these two though) and #1 is currently “the super domestique”.

    The “fresh legs” are all off the pace now, or even out of the race.

    So, what’s going on? A friendly parcours for double attempts? The week later start of the Tour?

    • I’d say the reason the “double” isn’t being talked about much is today is #13 of 21 stages. In the lead is a guy who has been a gregario in GT’s and a winner now and then in one-week stages races followed by guys whose legs could very well fail them in the big mountain stages to come. In short “it ain’t over ’till it’s over.”
      And +1 for Augie’s sentiments, I wondered how/why the comments seemed to deteriorate in quality/civility of late. IMHO those who care what BigTex has to say might consider asking Tex to host his own blog so they can post comments there?

      • As to the comments, you may not be aware but, the Guardian has declined to host comments under its TDF articles this year – I’m a refugee from there, though have read Inrng for a few years after a helpful tip in the Guardian BTL comments section. They occasionally open them this year but it appears to be an error as they are swiftly shut down and removed. I come here for insight and the puns, keep it up Inrng.

        • Hello Bonzo, I too used to post there (mr_wicksy). It strikes me that they didn’t open any comments at all during the overlap with the World Cup (possibly too few moderators?) and you’re right, it’s a job to say if they opened them deliberately or not.

          • I think the Guardian has got itself into difficulties with its comments BTL , because their anti Froome sentiment reached such ludicrous proportions that the majority of comments were openly mocking the authors. The editorial after the epic Giro stage was so desperately negative as to be self satirising. So rather than change their stance, they’ve retreated into their own little world.

            I have noticed several people commenting on other sports in the G BTL that they don’t read the cycling anymore as a protest against this closure.

    • I’ve long said here the double will be unfashionable until someone does and then it’s back on the agenda again. But it’s not a done deal yet, the third week could still see people implode.

      Giro boss Mauro Vegni ought to be loving it as it means more riders keen on the Tour could do the Giro, it’s accessible again…only the extra week this year has encouraged Froome and Dumoulin and in Giro has just had its wish granted to move the race forward a week for 2019 and beyond which is good as it means less risk of snow for the final week in the Alps… but means it’ll be closer to the Tour than ever and so the Giro-Tour double may tempt fewer riders.

    • Quintana has flattered to deceive in the Tour, not helped by Movistar’s apparent inability to go all-in for him, and (IIRC) Contador was at the end of his career when he tried the double. In contrast, Froome and Dumoulin are still in their pomp and will also have learned from previous attempts. Their legs may fall off in the last week, but it would seem as if doing the double is akin to climbing big mountains – after the first few people have worked out how to do it it’s not long before tourists are skipping up to take selfies.

  11. Totally gutted for Nibali, had him finishing on the podium and challenging Sky. I’m a massive Sky fan and have watched Geraint for years, can’t quite believe how he’s pulling it all together currently. I reckon not having the Giro in his legs can only help going into the Pyrenees. However, how awesome is Dumoulin riding at the moment. Doesn’t have the acceleration of Froome n co but just churns that big gear up and does his own mini version of Sky’s tactics. Touch of class.

    We’ll have to see how the 65km stage pans out, but I’m already looking forward to the hilly TT, currently shaping up to rival the ’89 TT 😎

    P.S. people need to chill out on here and just enjoy the racing and give up on hating all the time. There has been some great moments in this tour, not reaching the Giro levels imo but still!

    P.S.2 R.I.P. Nibali, can’t see him getting a strong enough team in future TdF’s to seriously challenge 😞

  12. Look for Sky it is all about publicity. Even before salbutagate Froome struggles to be liked in the UK.

    At some point this week G could well become team leader. For Sky corporate it would be a dream.

    Let’s see.

  13. “Alpe d’Huez, man” , the obvious disbelief from Geraint Thomas as he began to take in what he had just achieved was quite something to behold. He had just ridden the almost perfect race, to win in the yellow jersey on one of cycling’s most well known climbs. His old track racing instincts came to the fore as he used the last corner to distance his rivals and sprint to the line. No matter all the public statements about Chris Froome being the leader there can be no disguising that it is Geraint Thomas not Chris Froome that is in pole position. Nicolas Portal’s body language in his post race interview and Chris Froome’s refusal to speak to the media told their own story.

    G is 1:39 ahead of CF and while it is perfectly possible he could have a jour sans or an ill timed puncture etc if not then how does CF make up that time? There is one uphill finish plus the TT to realistically make up that time. Currently it would seem G is the better time trialist so that would mean CF needing to take 2 mins on the stage to the Col du Portet. Possible, yes (after the Finestre most things are “possible”), likely is a different matter altogether especially with a clearly motivated and strong Tom Dumoulin sitting a few seconds behind Chris Froome. Rod Ellingworth, who has been G’s coach since he was a teenager, believes he can win (listen to the cycling podcast), whatever the public line there are clearly some in the Team Sky management who differ.

    The Vincenzo Nibali incident was sad but perhaps inevitable given the behaviour of many who come to watch the race especially on the climbs. Was there not at least one similar incident on the stage to Roubaix? I never quite understand the need to push in front of the riders or run along side whilst wearing a silly costume. It sort of adds to the colour of the occasion but, in my view, detracts from the actual race.

    Given that most of the sprinters have found the mountain days simply too hard, ASO are going to need to reconsider the cut off times. The Champs Elysee is not going to be the sprinters “world championship” this year, maybe a break will win the final stage for the first time in years.

      • Given that Geraint himself uses nicknames for practically everybody, Mikel Nieve is “Frosty” , Chris Froome is “Froomey” etc calling him G does not seem unreasonable. I have a dislike of just using surnames, it smells of British Public schools and all that class rubbish (if I was writing in my pidgin German then surnames would be appropriate) . Typing out riders full names gets a bit boring and tedious after a while so shortened or nicknames seem appropriate. Its not just the brits, Germans do it too Emanuel Buchmann would be “Emu”, “Mani” might also be used though not quite convinced

      • I expect Thomas has had to deal with English people mispronouncing his name for some years and eventually said “just call me G”.

        As for others using it as a nickname, I agree it grates, but is it really any different from calling someone ‘the Stork of Tatarstan’?

        • Spot on with the ‘Stork of Tatarstan’ reference. It also grated with me to see last night’s tweet about how the offender in the Nibali incident should be handed over to the Bahraini authorities.

          I understand the level of frustration and anger and disappointment but that’s still not a tweet that does any credit to this usually eminently sensible and balanced blog.

          One cannot be against capital punishment and then when one’s friend’s house gets trashed by a burglar declare that hanging’s too good for them.

          • I think inrng was joking about actually turning the fan over. But the suggestion of what might happen in that case is ever so serious. It’s unfortunate to have such disreputable sponsors in the sport, as Astana, Katusha, UAE and Murdoch can all be criticized along those same lines. More reputable potential sponsors stay away out of concern they could get slimed by negative associations, so we are left with sponsors without such qualms.

      • The Dutch commentary yesterday seemed to make the point that the vast majority of the media mispronounce ‘Geraint’ by making it sound like an English name instead of a Welsh name. At least that’s what I gathered with my minimal understanding of Dutch. Perhaps he prefers to be called ‘G’ instead of hearing his name mangled?

        • Like the mispronunciation of Russian names (The world cup had me cringing almost permanently), I also hate the way 90% of commentators mangle Geraint’s name. They can call him G if they like.

      • It does grate a bit, the mateyness (used to annoy me too with the mis-named “Golden Generation” of English football in the late 2000s, the media were always using nicknames) though I expect I’ve been guilty of using it in the past.

      • G has just won the national TT by a considerable margin, but for a slip he would have won the ITT at the Dauphine. Whilst Chris Froome did well enough at the Giro TT, he only beat Alex Dowsett by 5 seconds, G beat him by almost a minute over a similar course at the UK TT championships. Geraint seems to be in top form with regard to TT I suspect Tom Dumoulin might be a bit better but think G is at least as good as CF at the moment

  14. Message to supporters of the “not strictly liable” team or of the rider that has been seen to inhale a classified substance right before the final climb and still has the nerve to claim that he doesn’t use that substance for performance enhancement: you don’t deserve a moment of rest anymore, not until you join the consensus against WADA’s ruling and Team Sky’ abuse.
    “IRRESPIRABLE” (unbreathable) is L’Equipe’s frontpage headline today, above a picture of Thomas and Froome.

    • Who cares what L’Equipe write? Its a hate rag that caters to the gutter. If you repeat it you taint yourself by association.

    • You always find a way to repeat the thoughts of the gutter Ferdi. L’Equipe’s incitements to hate shame those who repeat them.

    • I see the ‘double entendre’ there but you could also read it as that Sky is asphyxiating the race, which in fact is what they are effectively doing. This TdF very much shows that cycling is a team sport – unfortunately, like in many other sports there is only one (in cycling, to a few in some other sports) team capable of consistently dominating events (GTs). I hope that the fans’ boo-ing is at least in part caused by this sense of highly effective yet also formulaic racing. It will take a few ‘Finestre raids’ to challenge that, but in truth it will probably never go away.
      Two more things:
      – Gutted that Nibali had to abandon. Next to Dumoulin the most serious threat to GC.
      – I love cobbles – and I was moved by Degenkolbs victory – but I do wonder whether there is a place for them in a GT. Look at the attrition they have caused, both on the day itself and in the days after because of serious injuries to riders who can spice up either the GC or sprints (Uran, Mollema, Groenewegen to name a few). Paris-Roubaix comes at the end of the ‘cobbled classics’ season for a reason.

    • ‘IRRESPIRABLE’ also translates as oppressive;stifling so there is probably a little nuance in that headline that you have missed (or chosen to ignore), albeit that l’Equipe has never been exactly enamored of Team SKY!
      Having been accused of pseudo-intellectual arrogance yesterday, I am quite taken aback by your arrogance in assuming that there is a consensus against WADA’s ruling and/or Team Sky (unless you are reading the echo chambers of other sites/blogs). I am not a Sky supporter, but I do have a soft spot for Mr. Thomas, whose only sin appears to be riding for the ‘wrong’ team.
      You also don’t seem to have read the first post – it would be great if we could just discuss the actual subject of INRNG’s blog post and the race itself. My penny’s worth is that Tom Dumoulin is looking ominously strong and is the hot favorite to take time on everyone in the TT. At the moment, Froome doesn’t look strong enough to shake him off going uphill (it was Dumoulin that brought Thomas back when Froome attacked). Sky might have to look to Thomas if Froome can’t get more time on Dumoulin.

    • Thanks for providing an example of a deplorable post. Stages like the Alpe unfortunately encourage what I would call wankers to denigrate the sport by not watching the racing and wanting to see themselves on TV. Unfortunately it started with the Americans in the early 90’s. Funnily enough while I find France a country that can prove challenging I have never seen or heard the French booing or complaining! But the old adage comes to mind with sport, if you don’t like it don’t watch. Personally I find this year has been brilliant to date and I am looking forward to the Pyrenees. lastly I admire Inrng for their perseverance and great blog.

      • The person most responsible for the costumed wankers wanting to see themselves on TV is that idiot who still dresses up as a devil and prances around holding a pitchfork. He’s German and he started his antics in the late ’80’s if I’m not mistaken. But it appears Nibali was taken down by a careless spectator’s camera strap rather than a wanker looking for his few seconds of infamy on TV, as much as I hate them and wish they’d stay home and make You-tube videos instead.

  15. My shout is for “G” 😉 to be that drunk on champagne that he time trials himself to a solo break on the Champs Elysées while team team Sky ride 8 abreast to block the rest…

  16. A British leader winning multiple mountain stages.

    Tom Dumoulin bravely and gamely taking the fight to him.

    Chris Froome off the pace.

    I don’t know how long you’ve been watching cycling but you’d only need to have been watching for two months to find this a very familiar scenario. For Yates read Thomas, for Dumoulin read Dumoulin, for Froome read Froome.

    After stage 15 of the Giro Yates led Froome by 4.52 rather than the 1.39 Thomas currently has.Both the leaders seemed invincible, of course. Dumoulin was 2.54 in front of Froome after the stage 16 ITT in the Giro. He is currently 11 seconds behind him. Froome is not in pole position here but relative to the Giro he’s doing much better. But here the parallels end for the end of the Tour is not like the end of the Giro. The 65kms stage is going to be crucial here. Its the one best place to take time. Froome still has work to do regardless of if Thomas stays strong or folds because Dumoulin can still win this race. It seems to me that Froome must wins stage 17 if he’s to have any hope. Stage 19 looks neither hard enough nor decisive enough and of the few stages between now and then there are opportunities to grabs only a few seconds perhaps on the climb to Mende or the descent in Bagneres-de-Luchon.

    But two months ago a Brit who seemed invincible failed. So don’t count your chickens yet.

  17. If we ignore Thomas for a moment, because seemingly everyone including himself expects him to flop any moment, then we have Froome and Dumoulin separated by 11 seconds. Dumoulin is able to match Froomes climbing for now and isn’t the one doing his 4th GT back to back. That 11 seconds could easily be gobbled up in the TT. Saying this I fully expect Froome to go on some ludicrous climbing raid at some point and distance both Thomas and Dumoulin. History shows that the fact that he hasn’t looked capable of it thus far is absolutely irrelevant.

    • It looks like G is riding a smarter race than Yates, using Dumoulin as his unwitting domestique to reign in Froome and do them all in the last few k. The only question is pedigree. I am only guessing but Froome will be in a different place than the Giro where he was undercooked and came good. More like the Vuelta with slim margins and a tighter pecking order. If I was Sky I’d be backing them both in case one or other cracks. Big shame for Nibali who could have come good in the third week

      • In that Vuelta Froome finished 17 seconds behind Contador on the Angliru, stage 20, having climbed it faster than the retiring Spaniard. I saw a quote yesterday to the effect he was aiming to do the same as the Giro and be at his best at the end. The margins are finer here because the terrible course the ASO give us includes a flat day on stage 18 for absolutely no good reason at all. Thomas will probably have to collapse to lose but it ain’t over until its over.

  18. is it good for the tour specifically, or cycling in general, to see so many sprinters eliminated by stage 12? It seems the best gc guys are going uphill faster than ever but the % margin is not changing.

    • I’m not sure they are going uphill faster than ever. Thomas was quickest up yesterday but the time was nothing special (not even in the top 100 fastest) although they were slow at the top before the sprint. I think many sprinters have suffered especially with 3 consecutive days in the mountains, two of which were rather frantic to say the least. I wouldn’t be surprised if more riders (domestiques included) are eliminated on the mini stage 17.

  19. Echo the sentiments above re Nibali, he seemed to be more “lively” yesterday, even after his spill and up to the line. He seemed to be fairly quiet during Roubaix stage(s) and was wondering if he wasn’t quite on form, had a minor cold or something and was now coming back on boil. Shame for the race that he has had to go withdraw, a real shame. Maybe its been mentioned already but I am surprised by the lack of form of Rafa Majka, is he injured? ill? or just lacking overall form?

  20. All attempts on heroism and attacking cycling were again killed by the Sky-train.
    The almost unanimous voice of the crowd was clear: “booo, stop Sky!”. I can only agree…

    If Sky truly wants to be a top-class team, people will positively remember in 25 years, they should stop this type of dull and cowardly style of competing.

      • Stunned behind the TV looking at fantastic cycling.
        Now imagine that Sunweb had a 35 million budget, hired let’s say Roglic, Kruiswijk, Jungels and Izagirre, and reeled in Chris Froome with a Sunweb train…
        This is everyday practice now with the Sky train, bye bye heroism, hello rationalism.

        • I’ve been thinking the same, if only there was a budget cap a lot of the controversy around sky would evaporate. It doesn’t even need to be all the teams, if there were two or three others on the same level as sky then the skytrain tactic would become a lot less effective. Probably teams with a smaller budget could then exploit the rivalry between the super teams. I’m surprised that ASO etc arent pushing for this, perhaps they are behind the scenes.

          • There isn’t much money coming into cycling and you’re suggesting it would be better if there was less?

            Surely a better approach is to try to entice more sponsors to help the weaker teams compete.

            I’m not particularly a fan of Sky, but they’re entitled to spend whatever budget they can raise, and when the aim is to win why should they abandon a successful tactic? Froome, Thomas and others have attacked on occasion too, with better results than their rivals’ attempts.

          • Yes I agree, in an ideal world all the teams would be at Sky’s budget level or close to it. I’m not in favour of reducing the overall cake.

          • What strikes me is that teams like Movistar have some pretty hot GT riders (Soler, Amador, Valverde, Quintana & Landa) but seem incapable of forging them into a real team. Sure, Sky have a budgetary advantage, but they also seem to have better discipline.

          • It seems more evident that Sky’s riders are just stronger, for longer. No other team has shown the ability to set this high pace for as long into a stage/climb as they do day after day. Other teams who have tried end up getting smoked in the end. A great GC rider can’t necessarily do the job of a domestique, it can be a different rider profile, and working as a dom can prevent them from riding for GC (a potential failing of a multi-pronged approach).

          • But if Sky’s dominance was reduced, that might attract more sponsors into the sport, as they’d feel they could compete for a reasonable investment that wouldn’t feel like throwing money away.

    • The booing was also from those watching at the finish on the big screen and picked up by the mics of the commentators. It explains why it sounded like Nibali was being booed as he chased back. There’s a delay in the pictures. It didn’t seem that bad as I suppose most people that might boo Froome were busy cheering Bardet or Dumoulin etc. Anyway, you stick to your beliefs.

  21. At the risk of talking about the cycling…

    I think this is actually quite interestingly poised now, thanks to Dumoulin’s efforts. At 11 seconds behind Froome, he’s right on the cusp of being “virtually ahead” if the TT is taken in to account (based upon the 2nd Giro TT) and is matching him in the mountains.

    Thomas should go for it – better to try than always have that regret. He’s 32, and who knows what might happen in the future?

    I also found the times up the Alpe interesting (41.17 I think, outside the top 100, much slower than say Quintana in 2013/15). Perhaps it was due to a more intense day of climbing – good to see as much as 5000m, although still short of what rank amateurs do in the Marmotte. I think it’s good to have these sufferfests; the more we slow down the peloton, the less difference drafting will make and the better for those taking a risk.

    And just what has happened to Quintana? Last year, we could blame the attempt on the double.

    • +1

      Bardet, Landa need to attack… i think the changes in pace or the need to bridge to his moves are tiring out Froome (who has now reacted multiple times in last 2 days to the little digs of the Frenchman).

      Froome needs to attack… Dumoulin will always mark him.

      Dumoulin… will always close down Froome. But he will do so at a tempo G can match. Final TT will be his best chance to win Tour against Froome providing he isn’t cooked.

      Thomas… 98s ahead of Froome. Where is Froome going to find that time? Maybe 1/3 of it could be in the final TT… but is he going to drop Thomas for 1 min on any of the remaining stages? G looks like he is riding even more strongly than his leader. Even if he has been given some reassurances he will have a Tour shot (maybe next year?) what is to say he will ever have a better chance than this year? The mountain climbers are too far back to trouble him.. and the current advantage over Froome and Dumoulin looks to be enough in the final TT… while the other two take turns to attack each other in the mountains, Thomas can continue to follow like yesterday.

      Still some chance for Thomas to gain bonus seconds in sprints or hillier days like today!

  22. Holy mackerel?
    What happened here? Crazy comments today.
    Although I for one welcome any new commenters, and never a bad thing to have new readers of a brilliant blog.

    To be honest Armstrong’s podcast has given some great insight during this tour:
    1) Hincape mentioning Sky were going in too hot to corners at Roubaix stage, and should have backed up the pack to make it harder for those behind and safer for themselves.
    2) John B phoned in yesterday and gave a few interesting points also.
    As much as I don’t want to admit it, and Armstrong is a dick, there’s no two ways about it, the podcast is good…

    As for trial by comments. Blimey. Let’s all chill and just remember everyone visiting this site is aware of all the facts as far as they’ve come out and is neither ignorant nor suffering from derangement syndrome – we’ve all semi-made up our minds either way but can’t prove anything, so may as well talk about something else! Vive La Tour.

  23. Didn’t start with Americans. People were punched and kicked and whatever from years before. It’s just life. No need to randomly blame entire populations.

  24. I think it’s time. It’s time for riders to turn their back on the Tour. It’s become more and more a freak show over the years and I don’t mean Team Sky’s dominance on the race. The stress of the first week, where seemingly everybody has to occupy one of the first 10 places in the group, the crashes eliminating several contenders before the race even began, the imbeciles on the roadside booing, screaming, pushing, shoving, lighting up fireworks and last but not least the utter dominance of Sky, who discourage any attacks from the peloton and even if they come, they get reeled in in a matter of minutes.

    I find it unbelievable that several riders make the Tour the focal point of the season. Even riders like Majka, who stand zero realistic chance of making the podium, don’t do anything in other races in the calendar, other that treating them as training for the Tour. And then one crash happens and your whole season goes down the drain.

    I hope Nibali will turn his back on TdF and concentrate on other grand tours and one day races for the rest of his career. It was supposed to be his last attempt and hopefully he won’t change his mind because of the crash. It would be very sad if he missed the Worlds because of this idiot on the roadside.

  25. Sky now have an interesting quandary on their hands. The most selective stages now appear over. We now have a weekend of flat/mid mountains stages where it is unlikely anyone is going to take major time – none look selective enough to really break up the leaders or induce a real jour sans. There are then some thuggish stages (particularly 17 and 19) but stage 18 gives a chance to rest.

    From a team perspective Froome doesn’t look in vintage form or able to break Dumoulin. You’d back Dumoulin to make that up in the TT – but not make up the 1m 40 hrs down on Thomas given G’s time trailing ability. Thus, give the parcours to come the logical thing would be to keep the bunch close and have Thomas mark Dumoulin out, with Grooms making some raids to make time. It’s hard, however, to see where he’ll make enough time up to put himself out of reach.

    At what point do Sky start to favour Thomas over Froome. If he’s still in yellow on, say, Tuesday with a min lead (as could well happen) will they start to change tack? At that stage will Thomas start to rethink and decide to ride for himself? Would Froome accept that and start to ride with Thomas as an acknolaged co leader?

    Interesting times ahead.

  26. La Gazzetta hailed Chris Froome’s “fair play” and suggests he sat up when realising that his attack coincided with Nibali’s crash, hence also the low pace afterwards and chatting between Thomas and Dumoulin. I hadn’t seen it that way on the screen; what do people think?

    • I initially thought that also, but then Bardet attacked and they were off again – this as no slight to Bardet as he had ben leading through the melee and I don’t think that he’d seen Nibali go down?

      • Me too, but no mention of it afterwards, think it was just a natural lull.
        And being old school, I thought they should have sat up.

      • Bardet has tweeted to say he didnt know Nibali had crashed when he was making his intial attack.
        Thomas certainly knew as he said he had to ride over his wheel.
        Whether they discussed it later is not clear.

      • On Bardet’s ride on Strava he had put a screen grab of some of his comments to say that he couldn’t hear the radio and it wasn’t his intention to take advantage of the situation so I presumed that the two Sky boy’s and Dumoulin had agreed to slow the pace but Bardet hadn’t got the message.

        As an aside, I’m a fan of the pros uploading their rides – always interesting to see how much quicker they are up the climbs than us keen amateurs!

    • Just when I was wondering whatever happened to the fair play idea…the four slowed and fanned across the road! I thought surely they realized Nibali was no longer there and decided to wait. Then it seemed Bardet decided he’d waited long enough and the momentary truce was over, getting a small gap as the others realized the cease-fire was breached. At that point I hoped he’d blow up before the line and be soundly beaten. I would have booed loudly had a) I been there b) he crossed the line first with some lame excuse about not knowing the others slowed to wait for Nibali.

      • the problem is that if the 4 of them sit up and wait for Nibali it also means that Landa and Roglic and Cruiseship and Fuglhorn get back on, which doesn’t seem fair on the front 4. The race is on…

          • Beyond the ideal of fair play and the challenge of negotiating its demands with those of an advanced racing situation (as noel is pointing out), this intrigues me because it changes our interpretation of the balance of power at the top: did Dumoulin reel Froome in/did Froome ‘not have the legs’, or was he a gentleman who is feeling strong and confident enough to wait for the Pyrenees to make his move?

        • Bardet claims he knew nothing about Nibali – I guess he thought the others just decided to slow down and ride side-by-side for the hell of it? The race is always ON Noel..that’s what makes it fair play when someone declines to profit from something (like BigTex with the musette strap) that happens to a competitor that is totally random and out of his/her control.

          • but Larry, did the musette strap (or chaingate etc etc) happen in the last 4km on a mountain top finish with the like of Quintana trying to bridge back up, or did they happen 50k from the finish with a lot still to play out? There is a big difference between on and ON….

          • Noel – if course it wasn’t the exact same thing – has there EVER been the exact same thing? I think the reason it’s called FAIR PLAY is that all that bu–shit is put aside since true sportsmen don’t want to win due to misfortunes of their competitors that are random and uncontrollable like both Tex’ and Nibali’s were. I think it’s also called fair play because nothing in the rules requires it – it’s just being a “good sport” as they say.

    • Seemed to me that Froome’s attack came right after Nibali’s crash – which may have been coincidental.
      But it only seemed to come to a halt once he was caught.
      What they then discussed, who knows?

      • Froome’s attack was just before the crash – Nibali himself says the crash happened as he was reacting to Froome’s move.

  27. Should be a quiet stage today,however,if the Mistral picks up in the late afternoon we could get some fun and games.The pelleton is travelling west and the Mistral blows from south to north up the Rhone valley so cross winds come into play.The weather is set fair at the moment but can change quickly-a veritable trap for the unprepared-Just ask Dan Martin!

  28. I love Big respect to our host. Always showing a classy keyboard supplesse.

    Some great racing yesterday. Kruiswijk’s ride will live long in my memory. Had me googling the Dutch for balls (ballen als stier, Stephen).

    I’m daring to Dream that Geraint Thomas might actually pull this off. Admittedly, I’m a big fan boy of his – mainly for nationalistic reasons and an appreciation of his down to earth manner – and I pay close attention to his interviews etc. I’ve noticed he looks a bit angry this year. He’s been such a good team player over the years and so laid back and jocular in his petsona, I think he’s starting to ride in anger a bit. He seems confident, but surely his belief can only grow from the first 12 stages.

    Diolch o galon a dal i fynd, boi.

    • Thomas’s riding undermines his talking. Before the tour he was going into it as “co leader”, now he’s describing himself as a humble pawn, but throughout the first week he was chipping away picking up the odd bonus second here and there, and at La Rosiere didn’t he launch just as Froome attacked to bridge across?

      I think he’s riding to win, let’s hope he doesn’t do a Yates (or a Thomas, to be fair) and crack and along with Dumoulin make it an interesting race.

  29. What exactly has happened to Quintana and why hasn’t he fulfilled his massive potential so far ? Is it time for him to move teams and have a serious re-think about everything he is doing ? At 28 shouldn’t he be considerably better than he was at 23 ? Or do some riders just peak earlier and we’ve already seen his best ?

    • Bernal gives up his bike for either… if it’s in the last few kms with no helpers left it’s each man to his own. With the unknown Giro effect and Dumoulin so close, Sky wouldn’t risk both guys losing time over one puncture…

  30. I want to come back on yesterday’s discussion. People with a different opinion were insulted: go back to the cyclingnews forum. Innerring didn’t react. So you agree with it, Mr.Innerring? But then, the reactions on these shameful insults were removed. It happened before,as I understood from other people. Those are the methods used in China,Russia and since a few years in Turkey. Censorship. I totally agree with removing insulting and nasty personal comments. But if you don’t, you can’t remove the reactions. What you did yesterday.

    • Probably because he gets fed up with the same comments again and again despite them been discussed multiple times and adding nothing new at all . Do you think other sites don’t remove comments ?

    • Thanks for bringing it up and for standing up for respect, honesty etc. But I fear it won‘t change a thing here. I for my part have enough again this time of stemming myself against the ignorance, the prejudice and not well hidden national bias and will be gone again till I recharged my batteries in better places to again tackle it.

      Don‘t get me wrong, we live in a world, where everybody is as free as they want to be ignorant, prejudiced and imbalanced (and as we see around the world, people make good use of that right!), I just can‘t stand that it is sold as respectful and openminded, when it is none of that. But that is the misunderstanding, I too had a few years ago: It never was intented to be about cycling or openminded – people like to talk about their 2 or 3 national riders, repeat their same comments again and again and bash the French amongst themselves. To be able to do this, opposing views and criticism have to be silenced, which happens to perfection (very funny, that, when someone speaks up, they need to be insulted in perfect tribalism: They have to have come from the tribe of cyclingnews or armstrong or guardian, where of course the good people on here look down upon! Especially funny is, that none of that is true! Oh, and before the next tribalistic rocket is fired up by some: No, I am not french!)

      • I don’t care where you’re from but I do wonder if you read what you write. You talk of “standing up for respect, honesty etc.“ and then go onto say that you’re “stemming myself against the ignorance, the prejudice and not well hidden national bias” as though those that don’t agree with you must be those things. Get a grip.

  31. Back to Nibali’s withdrawal, which makes me extremely sad and angry too. It seems to me that while grand tour summit finishes have always been risky affairs when huge inebriated crowds narrow the road, the use of smoke grenades has made them much worse. I don’t recall seeing these things used until relatively recently, say in the past five years or so. It seems to me that had Nibali been able to see what was directly in front of him this accident might have been avoided. Surely these things should be banned during road races! Preventing the racers from seeing what’s in front is just as dangerous as touching them, if not more so.

  32. this is a private blog, its the internet, not china or russia and Mr. Rng isnt the police.

    just stop this discussion and everybody cool down. its spamming the forum.

  33. did I hear the comment yday that people were getting uppity on Race Radio (would that be DS’s?) that the police motorbikes were helping to drag the riders back up to Bardet?

    a) do they really get much of a draft on an 8%/9% climb?
    and b) that seems fairly hilarious after the Cobbles stage when Bardet/Landa/Uran seemed to be getting plenty of assistance, no?

  34. Chapeau Kruiswijk.
    Big shame for Nibali.
    I said before the last time d’Huez was used that they should give it a good ten-year break – it just attracts too many idiots.

    • Wouldn’t the idiots just go to another climb? These dolts are interested in acting up and getting their mugs on TV. If not Alpe d’Huez they’ll go to another climb. Nobody has posted anything about the broadcasters of these races. Interestingly enough RAI TV commentators were going on just now about why anyone would bring smoke bombs to a bike race. Every year I can remember watching Milano-Sanremo there’s a group of morons on one of the capi who set them off…and the TV director shows it every time! All the TV bike races show the screwballs in various costumes, sometimes even using them in their promo videos! Do they expect less people to do this when so many of ’em get on TV? Three seconds after the RAI boys made their complaints Mr. TdF TV director cuts to a close-up shot of some clown dressed up shirtless on a horse! If they want less of these morons trying to get their mugs on TV, the organizers need to tell the TV directors to stop putting them on TV! I want to see a bike race, not spectators in silly costumes!

      • Larry – we had a spate of streaking in UK sports about 10-15yrs ago, and the broadcasters did exactly that (ie deliberately ignored it) and I think it’s definitely helped to make it a pretty rare event these days

      • They probably would just go to another climb, but at least they would probably be distributed around the climbs, rather than concentrated into one ‘pit of hell’ experience for the riders. Eventually, they might start to coalesce in one particular location, but it would probably take some time at least.

  35. I wonder if Sky are going to regret slowing Thomas down for Froome on these stages and allowing Dumoulin (and others) to stay so close on GC. They need to make a decision and let one of them go for it fully by the next GC/mtn stage.

    let me revive an old chestnut as well: whoever wins this, will have an asterix next to their name since Nibali crashed out, it doesn’t count any more. (I’m rolling my eyes).

    I was really bummed about Nibali, I had a feeling he was in it this year again.

    I like that this stage is rewarding those ‘sprintesque’ riders who managed to survive, repaying their suffering.

  36. I see all issues related to Team Sky have been deleted, as if there was an intention to create a “safe space” to continue discussing the race as if WADA’s abashing ruling hadn’t happened or as if we were supposed to live with it, or as if there was something else to say than to call for the race to stop if Sky are not sent out. SHAME!

      • I deleted the first thread because it was one reader coming here to tell others readers what to talk about and what not to soon after the day’s preview went online. For me it came across as rude and seemed guaranteed to get fellow readers annoyed, indeed the replies quickly proved it. So I added a message saying I’d delete it later when I could get around to it and did so at lunchtime. It’s not a pro or anti Sky conspiracy, more binning a thread that had people locked in an unresolvable argument. Sorry if people felt hard done by.

        I really welcome the feedback and discussion but get wary of readers having a pop at each other, once we get sarcasm and insults it turns into a flame war that leaves fellow readers bad tempered. There are probably tens or hundreds of thousands of readers a day here and there’s bound to be a percentage annoyed with something in or around the sport. I can live with it but, like a gendarme by the road, if people start getting rowdy and throwing verbal flares around then it’s easier to act to calm things down.

        If anyone feels their comment got undeservedly deleted whether today or tomorrow etc they can always email in, I can find the deleted message and put it back in if it’s worthwhile.

        • It’s YOUR blog and I respect your rights to delete whatever you want. Further, I’m happy you care enough to wade through all the comments and do this. Keeping things civil and respectful is something we all should strive for but we don’t work hard enough on keeping this valuable resource from becoming like…well you know…
          Vive INRNG!

          • Ad hominem attacks against our host, and whinging about the (unwritten) ground rules for commenting (typically coming from “Anonymous”) are particularly aggravating. The fact that such posters expect their comments to stand, and that they usually do, confounds their argument and reeks of bad faith.

            Please, Anonymous, don’t take this as a personal affront. No one comes here to be told what to think, and surely most regulars are more than capable of considering the “meta” aspect of all this for themselves. (Almost always without posting about it.)

        • I notice my comment got deleted in a thread – but I can totally live with it and don’t want you to spend any more time looking for it. Indeed as Larry T says it’s your blog and I think 99% or more of the visitors are extremely happy with the content you provide. It’s unfortunate that sentiments run so high – hopefully it’s seasonal and will pass once the peloton has left France.

    • Set up a blog and post and delete whatever you like Ferdi , mr inrng has certainly got more patience than I’d have when he could just turn off comments or mass delete anything

        • Ferdi. If you’re so upset with WADA and no disrespect intended Inrng, do you really think commenting continually in a cycling blog is a good use of your resources? WADA are the overseer of anti-doping for the majority of sports worldwide. Surely the change you (where’s italics when you need them…) think is required is more likely to come about with pressure from football or tennis or especially the IOC to WADA? Even writing directly to them would serve more purpose. Here, you are either preaching to the converted that also believe WADA conspired to not follow their own rules knowing that some day it would all come crashing down on them all to save a cyclist in what is, let’s face it, is a minor sport monetary wise. Or, preaching to those that are willing to either trust WADA or at least respect the decision.

          If you think you are on some type of morally justified crusade to rid the world of corrupt leaders at WADA, the UCI etc, then personally I think you’re wrong on this particular issue but as the saying goes, I respect and will fight for your right to make it. The problem is that this isn’t the forum. It’d be like saying the president of a country is corrupt etc etc and using every local ward meeting attended by four bored pensioners and a dog, (again no disrespect intended Inrng) to rail against not the ward issues or the local issues or the regional or state issues but the countries. Issues that you have no proof of too. Eventually your local councillor would ask you to leave if you couldn’t contribute something else.

  37. Interesting article at Velonews about the time cuts. My sense is that they shouldn’t relax the cuts too much – as pointed out in that article, a lot of sprinters are skipping the pre-Tour races that are important buildup for the mountain stages of the Tour, and aren’t properly prepared for the second week. Anyway, I found todays stage plenty exciting. I’m hoping Sagan gets four this year.

  38. Call Geraint Thomas whatever you like but here’s the bit that bothers me. I heard an English journalist calling him ‘G’ in a post race interview and that smelled of familiarity. GT is brilliant at giving the media good copy but good journalists should know to keep a certain distance. How else can we trust the impartiality of what they write?

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