Tour de France Stage 15 Preview

The breakaway stage par excellence, today’s route offers many in the peloton a shot at glory. There’s also a trap for the overall contenders as the forecast says the local Vent d’Autan will blow, promising crosswinds for the finish.

Herri kirolak: a brief panic as the peloton split to pieces in the crosswinds as they traversed the Rhone valley but things soon calmed down and a group of 32 riders got clear. Sky led the chase, towing the peloton in single file for a long time; why it’s not clear. We should note Thomas de Gendt in the breakaway, he’d been away the previous day. Jérôme Cousin was in the move too, he’s been up the road for 638 kilometres away since the Vendée according to the daily count in L’Equipe, more than anyone else.

Izagirre poked the wasps’ nest with 65km to go and was soon joined by Tom-Jelte Slagter and Jasper Stuyven, the latter resembling like a bison alongside two mountain goats. His solution was intelligent, to go solo and build up a lead, a cushion to take into Mende. Easier said than done and if he started the climb with 1m45s, the cushion deflated fast and he was soon passed by Omar Fraile who’d struck out early on the final climb. At times he looked to be struggling only so was everyone else and the Basque picked up his biggest win to date but a headline on a palmarès that’s brief but packed with quality.

Among the GC riders Primož Roglič used the final climb to gain a handful of seconds and a big morale boost. Thomas and Froome tried moves, at one point Thomas going after Froome and taking Dumoulin with him. Dumoulin is tracking every move by Sky and resembling the wily Fox in Aesop’s fable of The Crow and Fox, he’s just waiting for Thomas to drop the prize.

The Route: they’ll be warming-up before the start today. Then it’s 181.5km west, starting under the Millau viaduct with some lumpy secondary roads near the Tarn valley where riders will try to snap the peloton’s collective elastic to the first categorised climb of the day, at Luzençon. The Col de Sié stands out on the profile but it’s a gentle climb at 4-5%.

Starting outside of Mazamet – home of former French champion Laurent Jalabert who isn’t at ease with his past – the Pic de Nore is the big climb of the day and a long, winding road over the Montagne Noire (“Black mountain”) that is more irregular than the profile above suggests. Otherwise a straightforward climb, literally so for the steep middle section which is a direct line up and an obvious place for any punchy riders or climbers needing to thin the breakaway down or even make a decisive move. There’s 41.5km to go from the top of the climb and the descent is similar to the climb, steeper at first and the gradient eases by Cabrespine and the plains of the Cabardès to Carcassonne. The road isn’t flat to the finish, there are a few rises to exploit. The big difficulty is how the road is exposed to the wind, passing the monoculture of vineyards, fields of sunflowers, harvested wheat and so little shelter to the promised crosswind.

The Finish: a flat finish on big boulevards alongside the Canal du Midi in Carcassonne. There’s a sweeping right hand bend under the flamme rouge and then a gentle left hand bend with 600m to go and the road rises a few metres to the line.

The Contenders: it’s so open. The silver lining of Peter Sagan’s monopoly in the points competition is that he and his team don’t need to ride the sprinters out of contention today, they could have tried to keep the break on a tight leash and then gone vollgas on the Pic de Nore to shake the sprinters and try to score maximum points in their absence. Now Sagan can can go in the move today and is an obvious pick. Yes he was in the move yesterday and but late into a grand tour it’s typical to see the same riders go again and again in the moves.

These are almost home roads for Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), not the ones he uses daily for training but near enough and again if he was in the move yesterday he’ll be trying again here but perhaps the final isn’t selective enough for him. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) can sprint well on the flat.

Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) is a prototype rider for today, versatile on the climbs and handy in the sprint and he can save his team from a difficult Tour given their team leader Yates melted in the Alps. Groupama-FDJ’s Arthur Vichot needs a result, this is good terrain for him but is the level too high?  Finally Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) gets a mention as he’s still versatile, Astana’s Michael Valgren and Magnus Cort Nielsen can double up on Omar Fraile’s win.

Finally watch the GC contenders, the Pic de Nore isn’t a difficult climb but the bunch will find it awkward in the crosswinds, a split in the field going up or down can be hard to close in the final 40km.

Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe
Calmejane, Impey, Valgren, Vichot, Fraile, EBH, MCN

Weather: warm and sunny a top temperature of 28°C. Crucially the Vent d’Autan, the local wind, will be blowing strong from the foot of the Pic de Nore all the way to the finish, a crosswind from the right that will need to be handled by the breakaway riders and the bunch too.

TV: live from the start at 1.10pm CEST with the finish forecast for 5.45pm CEST. Watch the scrap to get in the breakaway and they’ll start the climb of the Pic de Nore around 4.14pm CEST.

99 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 15 Preview”

  1. A McCartney / Beatles reference there?
    How about Peter Sagan; The Man for All Seasons?

    The top 4 on GC could all be described as ‘Super TT’ers’ – Dumoulin and Roglic from the same DNA as the Team Sky pair.
    It seems to be that the Grand Tours are pretty much falling this way now, perhaps less so La Vuelta?
    It’s somewhat ironic that as the bikes themselves have become ever more specialised (no pun intended), the riders are much more of all-rounders and be at least competent in everything but with a devastating TT ability.

    • And yet it seems the mountains aren’t separating fields like they used to, while the total mileage of TTs reduces every year. I’d sooner see a longish TT earlier in the race, and a shorter mountain TT nearer the finish.
      I doubt he’d be let near the breakaway tonight, but Bob Jungels is my outside bet to sneak away late, protected by teammates, if the break is brought back in pieces on the long downhill run in…

      • That may be true.
        Perhaps the riders are just getting fitter and stronger. It was only a season and half ago that Dumoulin was deemed to be restricted to ‘power climbs’.
        Whilst he, and the others, can still excel on this terrain, they’re not restricted by steeper stuff – Froome still topped out in last year’s Tour with its vertiginous parcours?

    • We’ve seen the “defend in the mountains, mow ’em down in the crono” model work too well. So well IMHO that the pure climbers have given up some of their climbing prowess to become better at the crono. Example: Domenico Pozzovivo. This guy used to fly up the climbs but he wasn’t worth much against the clock…now he’s better against the clock, but still no match for the big men….all at the loss of his mountain goat exploits. To me that’s a net loss rather than gain.
      If I was the king of cycling I’d get rid of the crono position and make ’em ride road racing machines. I still wonder if the smaller guys, who naturally present less frontal area (so have less drag?) would be more competitive against the big boys without the aero bars/position. You have to go back to tiny Charly Mottet to find a small guy who climbed really well but could also win against the clock. Of course like Pozzovivo he never won LeTour but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if this (ugly) triathlete-inspired riding position and the bikes that go with it were eliminated?

      • What we call defend in the mountains can hardly be called that. Sky are controlling by riding the highest maintainable speed over the course of the stage. Essentially it’s what Fausto Coppi was doing 70 years ago, only they have organized it. To call it defense is condescending.
        It’s all about pacing, and Sky’s pacing strategy comes from the time trial: Over the course of a TT it will almost always be faster to ride all out at your limit all the way, than to ride under your limit for half of it and then go over your limit for the other half. It’s just how our bodies work.
        As long as Sky have twice the budget of their competition this is not going to go away because they can buy riders who fit their program well. Look at Castroviejo, new signing for this year, he’s a prototype signing for them. They know he is light and relatively able in the climbs, and they know he is really good at riding all out for varying lengths of time as per his TT ability.
        As for the idea of ditching the TT position, they would go slower yes, but I suspect the time differences would only become bigger. Look at Tour history, up until the 90’s and our time there were so few “mountain-goats” who won the tour, you’d have to go back to Gaul to find a true lightweight. All the way through time it’s been robust riders who won, and the mostly excelled in TT’s or at least were in the top10.
        And even the big mountainraids require a rider who can both go fast up the climbs but even as important: can descend well and ride fast in the valleys. We romanticise about riders like Hinault, Merckx, Fignon because of their exploits in the mountains, but forget that they also dominated the time trials. Merckx was also hated in his time because his team was so strong.
        The idea that it’s only true bike racing if they go up a hill is nonsense. To ride away on the flat or to win a TT is just as hard and agonizing as when Quintana rides away uphill, Only it might look better on the TV.

          • It’s the go-to TT strategy: Ride at your FTP and then the last few K’s you lay out what you have left. This Iso-strategy often makes the latter half quicker. Though you cannot judge power by speed, there could be headwind, climbs and such other in the first half. And we’re not talking about them freewheeling at any point, it’s just that they are in between FTP and Vo2max territory, and perhaps wisely they go more into Vo2max at the second half of the TT so they don’t implode half-way out.

            I am using the TT as a metaphor for their pacing strategy in mountain stages. It’s not the same as a TT. but if you have one rider at his FTP on a climb, he can theoretically uphold this pace for an hour. If another rider of similar level wants to ride faster, he will go into his Vo2max zone which he can theoretically ride in for 2-8 minutes, but it doesn’t make him more than a few percent faster than the first rider. So he gains perhaps a small gap, but he is soon in debt for his efforts, and will have to ease the pace. He will have to recover, and to do this he will often have to ride slower than the first rider, thereby he will be caught.

            This is why riders sit tight on the Sky train and jump in the last few K’s. It’s not because they are boring riders, it simply because everyone knows the result of attacking in the bottom of the climb beforehand.

            In the third week of the race, all this theory starts getting shot, and that’s when Froome himself usually peaks nowadays. So he can mark strong riders himself, and perhaps even win the race.

            Call it what you want, but it is not “easy”. And if you are in the race you would probably hesitate to call it boring. Just ask all the riders who missed the time cuts..

      • It’s my experience, from an entirely amateur perspective, that if you train for the TT you become a better time trialist, obviously, and probably a more rounded rider able to climb faster as well. But you become one paced and lose your jump/explosiveness on climbs. I guess you can’t have everything. Or I can’t anyway.

      • The physiology and physics of cycling mean larger riders have an advantage (on average) over smaller riders on TT terrain. That’s because for the same W/kg (and hence same climbing speed ability), a larger rider typically has a higher W/m^2 and it is W/m^2 that dictates speed on flatter TT terrain.

        IOW as the road flattens, the advantage tilts more in favour of the larger rider. Of course there are individual variations, I’m just talking in general. It’s to do with morphology – a given increase in mass does not result in the same increase in CdA (coefficient of drag x frontal area).

        Ditching TT bikes really won’t change much. The arms race will simply move to optimising road bike designs and set ups for TT.

        • I personally love all the new bike designs, throughout the different ranges.
          But I’m particularly struck by the latest aero-type bikes / morphs thereon.
          Their angular features, they almost look like a TT bike?

          Get on a Roubaix-type bike, say, and then get on an aero bike and the difference is very palpable – to me at least (although it could have been a cycling placebo, if that exists 🙂 ).

    • The problem (less a problem and more a fact of life) is that the best way to win the Tour has been analyzed to the nth degree, and the answer is that a strong ITT is what makes the difference, coupled with a high tempo in the mountains to discourage attacks. I’d also add that the mountain train is as important, if not more so, than those strong ITT skills.

      As much as Sky are derided for being boring, they execute their plan to near perfection. It’s going to take some team to get very analytical to find a consistent answer to the questions that they pose. Or cost a lot of money. Sure teams can make alliances on certain days, but that will not happen consistently.

      • However Sky are achieving their results – however they manage to change riders like Thomas and Castroviejo (I don’t pretend I know) – it is very effective. (A few years back, their tactics were ropey, but they’ve got that right these days too.)
        The train works brilliantly – and you just launch near the end.
        It’s also very boring. (Froome’s Giro stage was very much the exception.)
        The latter is far more important to me.

    • I pretty much agree with the responses above. The strategy of taking time in the ITT and controlling in the mountains is far from new and has delivered the most successfull gt riders: anquetil, indurain, hinault (to a lesser extent)… the authentic mountain’s goats having won the tour are very rare: pantani, bahamontes, gaul (but he also had significantly improved his itt in 1958), van impe…

      • I never claimed it was ineffective or somehow dishonest – it’s just DULL. It’s dull no matter which team is doing it but I wondered if the crono thing could be tweaked (as in ditching the aero position) to make these tactics less effective, which could make the race more interesting? I’m not advocating taking away the crono stages, if the race is supposed to reward all around ability they need to be included, same with challenging climbs and descents.
        I’ve been wondering about is the evolution of gearing. Desgrange hated the idea of the derailleur and resisted them for years. Seems he wanted the riders to appear to be super-human with exploits normal folks couldn’t do. Cranking up these monster mountains with the massive gears WAS something normal folks couldn’t do…so those normal folks invented the derailleur which allowed most anyone the gearing to get up there eventually without walking.
        But even the gearing of the 60’s and 70’s required some real muscle mass to turn up these massive climbs and often the smaller mountain goats Fuentes, Gaul, Massignan) could jump away. Fast-forward to now with these tiny, twiddly ratios and muscle mass seems no longer important, it’s a super-skinny guy with a huge heart and lungs like Dumoulin or Froome who is the prototypical GT champion. These guys don’t look like Merckx, Anquetil or even Hinault or LeMond, do they? Sagan looks like those guys, but he’s not going to win any GT’s unless he becomes stick-thin too. The sport has changed…and I’m not sure it’s for the better. Maybe Desrange was right?

        • There are those that hate “progress” and there are those that celebrate it. Neither side will ever agree the other is right but perhaps there is some truth in both points of view?

          • It’s not about ‘hating progress’, it’s about wanting to see interesting racing.
            They’re on bicycles – and bicycles that are subject to many restrictions – so progress has already been artificially halted.
            You might notice that in many walks of life what is touted as ‘progress’ isn’t always an improvement.

        • Perhaps something like in Formula 1 where you’re only allowed so many engines (I’m not sure exactly as I don’t follow it). So each team member is allowed 2 bikes for the entire race. Then GC riders would have to choose between a TT bike or a spare road bike in case of punctures / mechanicals, and TT specialists get to keep their aero machines.

          • Wonder if you think the pave was ridden on a normal road bike? Or that mountain stages are best tackled with the same sort of bike?
            -Nah. Look at the team sponsors and what they do. The formula is to develop the best possible equipment and have the best athletes use it.
            And if you asked the riders to use equipment with homologation they would resist that.

          • Homologation? I don’t think there would be. It would be a tactical / strategic choice before the race began. And possibly mean even more specialisation outside of GC, so manufacturers will still get to show off their myriad bikes. Now whether even further specialisation is a good thing depends on your opinion, but I for one would take it if it made for more interesting racing. It needs more nuanced thought of course, but worth a shot, no?

        • You raise some good points there Larry. To take the ‘one style of bike for the whole race’ idea further, along with your point about Desgrange’s dislike for the derailleur, maybe there should be a rule that a rider can only use one size of chainrings and cassette for the entire race. Would stop the muscle men being able to push a much bigger gear in the TTs, or else they’re stuck with that gearing for the rolling/hilly days

        • Maybe your skinny mountain goats are winning the Tour? They just learned to time trial now and are hiding in plain view…

          PS – 450w is 450w whether they “twiddle” or not. I’d love to see people who dismiss it as twiddling push 36×28 or whatever up a mountain at 450w! Twiddling it ain’t.

        • “Fast-forward to now with these tiny, twiddly ratios and muscle mass seems no longer important, it’s a super-skinny guy with a huge heart and lungs like Dumoulin or Froome who is the prototypical GT champion. These guys don’t look like Merckx, Anquetil or even Hinault or LeMond, do they?”

          They do look like Indurain, though. Early 90s tours were more boring than today.

  2. I thought Thomas looked really relaxed on the Mende and may have been holding back to give Froome a chance. Was he towing Dumoulin up to Froome or acting as a road block? When he crossed the line he looked like a teacher rounding up the stragglers for the school bus, or, being a Welshman, a shepherd rounding up his flock.

    • I agree. Though the Tour is an exercise of energy conservation so I suspect he was just not wasting a single kj than he needed. Yesterday was a GC rest day. I think it will be more of the same today.

      • (I think you forget how much of a headgames player Froome is – he learnt long ago people can’t read how bad/good he looks because he always looks bad, and we’ve seen countless times Froome be dropped knowing he can let people ride away and into the red for him to catch and attack soon after – my reading of yesterday is that they’re all on a similar level, those wanting Geraint and Dumoulin to be the strongest as it stands are willing that rather than it being evident. This may change next week, but I just don’t think it’s obviously the case as yet)

  3. Izagirre must have felt foolish to have lost Stuyven’s wheel because he wanted to remonstrate with Slagter. He could have had a shot at the stage if the two stayed together.

        • +1 even though the commentary made it clear he would be I was still quite surprised he lost near on 2mins on that climb with it only being 3km – although really he only just lost it and came very close, so maybe I wasn’t that surprised! It was closer than commentary thought it would be.

  4. What about a type like Phillipe Gilbert?
    He is strong enough to catch the right move and is quick in the finish? Seems he’s in great shape.

    • I was thinking Gilbert too. He’s been in most breaks and looks in good form. With such a hilly Worlds this year it seems the classics men are using the Tour to get the climbing legs in shape!

      • I just can’t see a break forming for a stage like this that won’t contain a climber who will drop Gilbert hard on that final climb?

  5. Good Day for Dumoulin to make some seconds on Froome/GT. If I were Sunweb i would try to rip the Peloton apart on the pic de noire. We know Dumoulin can descent very well, maybe Bardet will join him and then they TT it to the end. Just like in chambery last year.

    • (DAVE)

      They don’t have the men to do it.
      They won’t drop at least four/five members of Sky so it’s pointless.
      Their better bet is to keep the pace low on Pic de Nore and go after a descent attack as that has already worked this Tour De France.

        • I am also interested in the change of your posting name DAVE, since I may have to change this name (Duncan, capital for the D only) I’ve infrequently posted with for years, to avoid confusion!

          I have often enjoyed your comments, for what it’s worth. Especially the calmness when many are shouting at each other, and the laid-back but sound analysis without such personal rider/team-bias as a few of the more prevalent commenters.

          • Oh that’s very kind. Thank you.

            In fairness I was a little dismissive and (jokingly) rude to Larry T the other day which got called out, so maybe not that calm.

            Not sure my analysis is up with Gabriele tbh, but his seems to have done a tour disappearing act.

        • It stopped letting me post under Dave… I don’t know why, Duncan is my middle name (Dad wanted a triple D initials!) – its was just capitals because there’s a lot of Daves out there so differentiated.

  6. Minor geographical point – the vent d’Autan blows from the Med to the Atlantic (it’s driven by high prssure in the Mediteranean and brings warm air down the corridor between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central), so it will be from the left for the riders. It shouldn’t affect the climb too much as they are on the sheltered side but it will hit them over the top and the gusts could make the descent tricky. I used to live in this area and whenever the vent d’Autan was blowing the bike club headed for the hills to avoid it as much as possible. Climbing the pic de Nore from the Pradelles side is much tougher when the wind is blowing, particuarly the last km but from les Yès they will only really feel it when they leave the forest but as the gradient is so much less there I doubt they will be too bothered by it.

    • What’s the wind called from the other direction then? Closer to the coast they talk about the Vent d’Autan and the Vent de Cers but whether it’s NW or SE wind towards Carcassonne people seem to just call it the Vent d’Autan? Either way it’s windy, you can see the trees that line the roads often lean at an angle.

      • In Carcassonne the SE wind is usually called the vent marin and the NW wind is called the cers

        further north eg in the Tarn, the SE wind is called the vent d’autan

      • The other wind is the Tramontaine, when there is high pressure in the Bay of Biscay. It’s a much colder wind than the Autan. In winter the Autan brings warm and clear weather for a few days, but it almost always rains when it stops. The locals always say it blows for 1, 3 or 6 days and call it the ‘vent qui rend fou’. I’ve only known one 6-dayer and towards the end you really do just want it to stop. They also make a distinction between the Autan blanc and the Autan noir – the latter is a rare form that brings rain and cloud.
        More here:

  7. The crosswinds potentially add in a significant factor both for the break and for GC (presume there will be a significant break like yesterday whilst the peloton meanders along behind). I would imagine it is going to make for a very nervous descent off the Pic as the riders try to position themselves in a likely front echelon. If Sky can get a good number of riders in the front group then they could force significant splits, the likes of Quick Step could too but dont see why they need to. Tom Dumoulin can probably stick to Geraint Thomas / Chris Froome’s wheel but losing a couple of positions at the wrong moment could be a problem. An ill timed puncture could be disastrous.

    I thought a lot of the riders looked tired yesterday (hardly a surprise). The three main contenders look very evenly matched though for the first time I did begin to wonder about the Giro factor and thought Geraint looked to be most at ease of the three of them. It gets harder by the day to make a plausible case for a challenge by Romain Bardet or any of the Movistar riders.

    • Agreed,a moments inattention on a stage like this can be more costly timewise than a brute of a mountain stage.TD and PR need to be extremely vigilant as I remember stage 19 last year(correct me if im wrong) Sky forced echelons about 15 km from the finish,Bardet and Aru only made the front group by the skin of their teeth,Dan Martin and others didn’t and copped about a minutes loss.

  8. Enjoyed (nervously) seeing Dumoulin the fox lagging at the back and of the group yesterday before attacking. He looks a step more confident and comfortable in his strengths and it benefits his race craft.
    You sense both he and Froome are playing a waiting game with Thomas… and the tension builds.

    • I have the sense that he knows he’s on top of his game and that he would possibly best Froome, but that the Thomas/Froome combo is one he does not have the capacity to over come. He’s been magnificent. I hope he can get another GT. I just don’t think this will be the one.

  9. I’m not sure that “he was soon passed by Omar Fraile” really does justice to Stuyven’s efforts. He was most of the way up the climb by the time Fraile finally reeled him in, despite looking doomed from the moment he started grinding up it with a face of pain. Given the turn of speed he showed over the top, if he’d only managed to keep the gap a little smaller he might well have been able to latch back on to Fraile’s wheel.

    Still don’t think he’d have won, mind, as he clearly had nothing left to sprint against Alaphillipe. Could have given us all a dose of deja vu though, if they’d started finessing with JA coming up fast in the Cummings role…

    • It doesn’t justify Stuyven’s efforts. Fraile refused to work in the chasing group for the last hour, he always sat in the back of that group while others did the work. No wonder he was fresher for the final climb.

  10. I rode the Pic de Nore a few years ago – horrible climb! Long, irregular and super windy at the top. I’d love to see one or two of the GC boys like Roglic try something out as it’s a tough climb but it’s a LONG way to Carcassonne from there. He’d need a teammate or two to be in the break and drop back for him. I saw Pezcycling did a preview of the climb this week – they make it look prettier than what it is. There are a lot better climbs in the region than this one in my opinion.

    • Monts l’Espinouse east of on Noire can be truely cruel.

      Very dry, ubelieveable hot and sheltered from Noire to the west, Aigoual to the east (with windspeeds exeding Ventoux) and Laucone to the north (the crossed Laucone today).

      …technically l’Espinouse and Noir is part of the same range if youre a geolegist.

      • +1 on Mont Aigoual. Was heading up from Meyrueis one hot still morning when a local fella collared me and asked if I was riding to the summit. He waggled his finger and just said today no. The wind will blow you away to the sea! Navvy rule 101 always take heed of local knowledge. So drove to the summit. It was blowing a right hoolie. 38C in the valley. Cold as any November day at the summit by the radio aerials. Always glad to see the Tour return to the area

    • An impossible language but a few cultural things stand out. For others it’s a term used for strength competitions in the Basque country, think log cutting or the tug-of-war on a rope. Fraile looked to be taking part in one on the climb yesterday.

  11. Did you notice the support for ‘ja ja’ on the road yesterday? A banner and several road graffiti.

    What’s the French for double standards?

    • He’s a popular pundit on TV. Name a TV channel at the Tour and you’ll probably find someone with a chequered past: Boogerd on Dutch TV, David Millar for British TV, Rasmussen in Denmark etc. It’s institutional to the sport, no?

      • I think Cassandra’s criticising the inconsistency, not the fact that these guys have jobs. Absolute purity is demanded of some but not of others etc.

      • Boogerd isn’t a regular anymore on Dutch TV. He’s guest once or twice on a late night TdF talkshow, but he doesn’t work anymore as the ‘expert’ co-comentator during live coverage of the race.
        Several Dutch ex-dopers are still regulars in Dutch media: Danny Nelissen, Thomas Dekker, Karsten Kroon, Maarten Ducrot are the first that come to mind.

    • As a SKY-hater let me try to explain situations like these. It’s NOT whether the guy doped or not. As is said very often during this period you didn’t last long in the sport if you didn’t. Fans now like to think that is no longer the case, but who knows? The thing I hate about SKY is not whether they dope or not, it’s the HYPOCRISY of their entire operation from the start. They claimed they were so smart they didn’t need to dope and would be totally transparent and clean in everything they did. But they engaged in dodgy behavior right from the start by employing ex-dopers while claiming they didn’t know about their past, including doctors. TUE’s for performance-enhancing purposes rather than medical needs, JIFFY bags, the comments from Wiggins…it seems to never stop. I HATE hypocrisy more than cheating and I think most would agree.
      That’s why SKY and guys like BigTex are hated and booed while guys like Ja-Ja, Millar, etc. are not.

        • Don’t want to add to the SKY stuff with Larry T above but one thing was very noticeable from the Wiggins chat on ITV yesterday:

          It was the best Wiggo interview I’ve ever heard, he was the most conciliatory and even handed when discussing Froome and Sky I’ve heard him be. Plus very informative. He also noted talking with Jalabert after each stage in 2012 and making sure he won over the French media.

          It’s a shame the only thing that’s made any headlines whatsoever was a passing comment about the infamous jiffy bag.

          • For all the people talking about the lack of transparency or apparent hypocrisy of Sky’s approach both the media (Guardian/Le Monde) and DCMS report have both fallen into the same trap of hypocrisy and lack of transparency. The Wiggins interview was excellent in highlighting the shortcomings of the report and how it failed in the central tenant of presumption of innocence.

    • Please correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure that part of the ascent to Mende is also known as la Montée Laurent Jalabert. I seem to remember it was often referred to as such but its use seems to have declined for whatever reason.
      A few signs in support of ‘Ja Ja’ may or may not represent a wider double standard amongst fans.

  12. Maybe a second consecutive day with 2 races? Yesterday the peloton seemed to get more of a rest than it was probably expecting so some unusual characters might try for the break today(?). Some of those who fought yesterday might regret not saving more for today too.

  13. Jinx of yesterday was surely on Dan Martin who had a crevaison just before the climb.
    So now it’s plain to everyone that Roglic can climb, can Lotto Jumbo get enough in the break for him to bridge for the run in?
    Tom Dumoulin could be a bit too busy for his liking today.
    And BMC could make a pact with QST to go on a raid if the winds do blow.

    • …and ASO must have had a good reason not to use the cobbled climb to the grand parkings outside the citadelle de Carcassonne. That would have been class.

      • I wonder what their plan is with him and kruijswijk, if kruijswijk would act as his domestique if he does not have a shot at podiuming. Both of them have looked pretty good.

  14. I wonder if the weight limit on the bikes is hurting the small climbers. Shouldn’t it be based on a percentage of the riders weight? Big guys can now ride bikes just as light as the small guys.

    • How would one administer such a scheme? Do you want each rider weighing in everyday, and ballast adjusted accordingly? It’s a bike, the idea is to ride it faster than the other guy. If he’s lighter/taller/heavier/has freckles etc.

  15. Less and less fans on the roads, falling no of spectators watching on tv – first results of SKY scandalous cases start to show up. You can puff as much salbutamol as you wish, then clear yourself using lawyers and their money, but the picture of cycling has been destroyed. No way back. Slow downfall starts as I promised you some months ago. Booing? It’s the best thing can happen to cycling now coz race organizers must start to understand what is going on with their sport and their events. People are not blind. Some era has finished. And you’ll see more.

    • Or maybe it is the institutions that are wrong ? People don’t like Sky as they win and are boring. So to seem popular ASO and David Lappartient went after them. This made things worse as people had a reason to go after them. I am no fan of Sky but I feel that they are scapegoats for everything that has gone wrong in cycling.

    • I’m sure the spectators will return after Froome retires, but eventually some will start getting annoyed by the next dominant rider, and the one after that. Professional sport done professionally is actually often boring to watch, it’s the tribal aspect that keeps many gripped. We want to see our athlete/team win, and we also want the joy of seeing the one we ‘hate’ lose.

      • We keep being told it is the team that creates the win. I understand tha Sky has about $300 mil to fund their team, and for example BMC has $15 mil. So how about ensuring that from the beginning there is a level play by introducing a salary cap so all teams have the same sporting chance. It might improve what has become an often boring advertising travelogue traipsing thru a stunningly beautiful landscape Just a thought.

        • Sky’s budget is about €35 million / year (they are one of the few teams to publish accounts). The other world tour teams range from about €10 million/yr up to about €35 million/yr (inrng has done several posts about team budgets)

          What makes sky’s budget different in my view is that it is ALL directed towards GT success. There are other teams with a similar budget but they have marquee sprinters and classics riders as well as GT riders. Sky don’t have a top level sprinter, and all their classics riders are expected to do double duty and support Froome in the Tour (see Kwiatkowski and Rowe, or in previous years Stannard).

          Sky’s budget is large, but it’s not significantly larger than the other top teams. They just spend it all on Grand Tour success.

        • “We keep being told it is the team that creates the win. I understand tha Sky has about $300 mil to fund their team, and for example BMC has $15 mil.”

          This sort of mis-information is part of what’s wrong. Absolute nonsense.

    • Are you aware that ‘puffing’ salbutamol doesn’t confer any advantage whatsoever? The only benefits we know of involve intaking in other methods (oral/intravenously) (and, as far as I can tell, would be used out of competition, rather than in the final week of a GT).

      I just thought that if you’re going to make an ‘I told you so’ post, it would behove you to know some of the basic facts.

      I’m not saying Sky are clean, but if they are using PEDs, we can be sure as sure can be that it’s not by using Salbutamol late into GTs.

  16. @ INRNG: Small error in the “The Contenders” paragraph – “Now Sagan can can go in the move today” – the use of the word “can” twice

  17. Wow, another Moscon controversy. What’s the goss about him? Has he always been like this while rising up the rank, or is this another thing we can pin on Sky?

  18. Was there any particular reason given by the UCI commisairs why he was allowed to finish the stage? If his team sack him. Moscon be a terrific asset fir Vincenzo for 2019. Just saying

Comments are closed.