The race heads into the Pyrenees with two hard climbs, this should give us a fight for the breakaway but the main GC contenders will aim for a steady introduction ahead of tomorrow’s time trial
Stage 11 Review: a four rider breakaway in what Tour director Thierry Gouvenou calls a “4×4” with four riders getting four minutes and this blog’s tempted to raise it as a 4x4x4 with four riders getting no more more than four minutes in a forlorn move. Still they tried and two locals in Lilian Calmejane and Anthony Perez making sure the regional press had something to write about. With the breeze fluttering the peloton got nervous and a crash with 30km took down several riders including Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte, and took out Niki Terpstra. Soon after we got the expected sprint finish and Caleb Ewan won, he’s been top-3 in every sprint stage so far and so the most regular of the sprinters but without a win until Toulouse. It’s taken time to convert this into a win, much like the Giro in May but he’s also a man in a hurry being one of the few riders to have won stages in all three grand tours and he’s only 25. Note Michael Matthews didn’t contest the intermediate sprint nor the finish, he had started the day second to Peter Sagan in the points competition but seems to have dropped the contest.
The Route: 209km south-west into the Pyrenees. After rolling through the Bagatelle quarter of Toulouse – a tough part of town, the Tour visits deliberately to try and show it can visit all of France – the first 130km sees the peloton stick to small side roads. Once past Saint-Gaudens after 85km the route picks an easy way through the Comminges foothills – the training roads of Pavel Sivakov among others – to reach Bagnères-de-Luchon.
The Col de Peyresourde is a mountain highway, a steady climb on a wide road that saps energy rather than shreds the race. It’s followed by a fast descent and then a short section along the valley before flicking left for the Hourquette d’Ancizan, listed as 7.5% for 9.9km but the whole climb is more like 8% and has a steeper start: it’s hard. There’s a fast descent on a narrow road with bumps that make taking a sip of water risky during the long straight sections but also some uphill sections, it’s 4km downhill from the pass and then a kilometre uphill at 5-6% before another 4km down and another uphill section but with a gentler gradient on the more regular descent of the Col d’Aspin. Then the descent reaches the familiar valley road from Campan to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
The Finish: a loop around Bagnères-de-Bigorre with the same format as the Tour’s last stage finish here in 2013 when Dan Martin smoked Jacob Fuglsang. It’s flat and the final bend is crucial, coming just 150m before the finish line.
The Contenders: the breakaway has a great chance today because it can take time early and the final two climbs will probably see the GC riders watch each other closely, they’ll ride fast but it’s more to see who gets dropped from the front group rather than who can put in the biggest attack, especially as tomorrow’s the crucial Pau time trial. There’s also the self-reinforcing aspect that the upcoming summit finishes could be reserved for the GC contenders so for any baroudeurs wanting a stage win it’s today or next Wednesday’s stage to Gap. We can expect, or rather hope, there’s a huge battle to get in the break.
The two climbs mean the day’s winner will have to be on the lighter side but not a mountain goat, the Peyresourde rolls well and if someone loses a minute on the Hourquette d’Ancizan there’s still a chance to come back. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is an obvious pick but the long descent and flat finish aren’t ideal for him, he’d have to go solo from afar while team mate Tiesj Benoot
can try again too has a sore knee. Bahrain-Merida have options with Matej Mohorič, Dylan Teuns and maybe Vincenzo Nibali too. The Sicilian has been losing time but his problem is that some of this is not deliberate, he’s more off the pace than he wanted to be, in his own words to La Gazzetta today he’s a bit “over” as in over done.
It’ll be interesting to see if the GC teams send riders ahead, this is a common tactic for Astana but they’ve not deployed it so far but Omar Fraile and veteran Luis Leon Sanchez are suited.
Alejandro Valverde has been on team duties for Movistar but if he wants a mountain stage this is the course for him, but maybe Movistar can deploy someone else like Carlos Verona today.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has a shot at the stage today, you can see a scenario where the breakaway is brought back and even if dropped on the Hourquette he could take back time on the descent and then win the sprint. But his problem is how hard his team will work today, they’ve contributed to containing the sprints, how much will they chase today?
|Thomas De Gendt, Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde, Dylan Teuns|
|Gallopin, Rui Costa, Alaphilippe, Woods, Kangert, Verona, Valgren|
Yellow story: it’s said the yellow jersey gives a rider extra strength… but it doesn’t make a rider invincible. Ten riders have quit the Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey with Francis Pélissier the first in 1927 and Tony Martin (pictured) the most recent in 2015. Two more in Michel Pollentier and Michael Rasmussen also surrendered the jersey, not through injury but disgrace with Pollentier failing a doping test and Rasmussen being forced to quit the race by his Rabobank team.
Weather: sunshine and clouds and a top temperature of 25°C.
TV: a long day as the stage starts at 11.30am CEST and finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST / Euro time. We should plenty of action at the start to get in the breakaway and the Hourquette d’Ancizan begins around 4.00pm CEST.
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It would seem Matthews has been told to give up on Green so he’s able to chase stages from the break. The ‘plan’ was decided on the rest day and though the words he spoke were supportive of the decision, his eyes said he wasn’t overly impressed.
Not the first Sunweb leader to question the management. It feels like things are afoot.
sunweb once upon a time was a decent, humane team. Then they caught the sky bug, ran with it and took it to a whole different level with a ridiculously strict regimen. You can call it even fascistic in the sense, that the individual does not count, is only a tiny cog in the greater picture and has to let go of all individual ideas, feelings, dignity for the „greater good“, while at the same time this sacrifice is not even seen as extraordinaire, but just as the thing a good soldier has to do for the „team“. Of course this does not work well, after some time most riders feel simply used. This has led to quite a few hurt feelings and disappointed riders (which could sometimes be read quite clearly on twitter), because riders are no machines, but human beings.
I am very, very happy, that the team finally seems to implode. It‘s „luck“ was, that riders are very conservative, are not known for standing together and standing up for themselves, so divide and conquer (aka:if you want a contract anywhere you better be quiet) always works wonders in the peloton, where there is always the threat, that a few choice words in a few ears mean that you won‘t get a contract you deserve, if you get one at all. Without these „lucky“ circumstances the team could not have gone on this way for that long.
Raises the question of how Ineos keeps successfully convincing their still young world champions and monument winners to sacrifice their palmares to re-make themselves as luxury domestiques. When Sunweb does it once with MM the rider whines to the media on the first thinkable occation and the team is labled inhumane.
It’s not just down to that. Ineos TDF doms are often well supported in races they have a good prospect to win.
Agree. Not just money, although that’s important. They do get their chances in races – Classics, Monuments and week-long stage races. And sometimes circumstances mean they get an opportunity in the big ones – Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart in this year’s Giro
I guess kwiatkowski would have better classic results if not at sky, theyre really not a top classic team. Its not their priority i guess.
Yep – bit like working in an investment bank. They pay you the money but treat you like sh**.
Yeah,,it’s nice to be well paid. But not everyone is as mercenary as some commentators seem to assume. There is also the attraction of the experience of working for the team with ( the most?) advanced training methods, dietary regime, equipment supply, and exposure to some of the best and most respected riders , you can learn a lot from people like Luke Rowe, Kwiatoski and indeed,,Froome (well, that’s what Bernal says).
I will now find a hole to cower in while the haters start sneering about diet and ‘medical assistance ‘.
Why are people who are not fans of a specific team or person or have the audacity to ask questions labelled as haters? Hate is strong term to use no?
It may also come down to who they hire. If they are unsure they don’t hire or let them go and get somebody else.
My perception is that part of the difference is that Sky/Ineos do very well at looking after riders, at least those who are consistently performing. So the majority stay happy, well paid, well looked after, and with their own chances in enough races to keep them satisfied…
But they do have riders who don’t fit in and struggle with the setup – Cummings & Dowsett were two British riders who left early on, as well as Cav of course. But they all did so with a mutual understanding that the situation wasn’t working. Sky/Ineos seem to be very aware that the approach isn’t for everyone. This seems in contrast to my perception of Sunweb who appear to take a harder line towards those who don’t fit in…
More recently, Diego Rosa is a rider with much promise who’s been forgotten about. And perhaps that’s another difference – Sky/Ineos riders who don’t thrive in the setup simply get forgotten about and overshadowed by the successful Sivakov’s, Bernal’s, TGH,s etc. Whereas at Sunweb, with fewer big names, there’s nobody else to divert attention away from the Dumoulin’s, Matthews’ & Kittel’s…?
Cassandra, I may be a cynic (scratch that, I am), but I find it hard to believe that a rider such as Poels would not choose a team where he could ride for himself were the money the same. He might be one of those people who doesn’t want the pressure of being a team leader, but they can’t all be that way. Look at the Yates brothers, for one (or two) example: what would they have achieved under Ineos? Just part of the train. (And then there’s the odd rider like Diego Rosa whose palmares has nosedived since joining Ineos/Sky.)
Or be the last Bernal success story? Be given earlier opportunity to lead at Giro/Vuelta with better support?
I always feel that money is a part of the story, but is also a very convenient excuse. I’m not at all convinced that any of Kwiat /Poels / Castrov / Rowe /Moscon etc would have better palmares if they’d spent the past couple of years away from Sky/Ineos, and they wouldn’t have been part of GT winning teams either – and they get to earn decent money. Landa is a good example of that – great rider, but tbh no-ones choice as a likely winner, but as a domestic de-luxe he’s perfect. Kwiat gets to lead the team (and win some) classics and 1 weekers…is he really a potential GT winner though? maybe if he takes the Thomas route and gives up the spring, but maybe he doesn’t want to do that yet…
J Evans. Rosa is a good example of looking at a rider and getting them to fit a theory. Here’s Rosa himself.
CT: With Nibali off to Bahrain-Merida, there was a vacant leader position at Astana. Wouldn’t you have had more room to shine there?
DR: Maybe. In the two years I spent there, I improved massively. Anyway, I feel joining Team Sky is a step forward in my progression. There are great champions here and I’m happy to help them. At the same time, I’m confident I will earn my grade on the battlefield. I will be able to find my chances and make the most out of them. So many people say I should aim at the GC of a Grand Tour this same year. But I feel I’m not ready for that, so in the meantime it’s okay for me to work for others and fight for victories in smaller races.
CT: You are viewed as a decent climber and have already shown consistency. What do you feel you are missing in order to be a GT contender?
DR: Above all, I lack experience. I’ve been a full-time road racer only for five years. Okay, maybe four of them I’ve been a pro, and that’s huge, but I still have a lot to learn. I need to manage my off-days better. I must improve on time trials, and also on the climbs because I’m always up there but usually unable to make a difference. I want to be a captain later on, whenever I feel I’m mature and strong enough to win. I don’t want to aim at top-10 finishes. And, if I were never able to contend for victory, I’d rather keep my current domestique role.
Notice that last sentence? Unfortunately he has been inconsistent. He was co-leader at Cali this year and didn’t perform at all but won Coppi e Bartali last year beating Mollema and Carapaz. I’d argue he was always better suited to one day races but that top 20 at the Giro with Androni gave him belief in becoming a GC rider and fair enough too. Not everyone kicks on but where you say about riders being happy to lead, “but they can’t all be that way”, I’d say they can if that’s what you’re looking for. If I was asked to recruit based on a rider fitting into the team ethos, I’d back myself to be right the vast majority of the time. Just don’t ask me to be able to hire future stars. That would be very hit and miss… 😉
As for Poels, he’s won a monument with the team and plenty of WT stages. He once said that the only downside to riding for Sky was the competition for GC leadership spots but the rest outweighed that and if he showed that he should lead, he’d get the chance. He was co-leader at Tirreno this year and took over straight away when Thomas had an issue on the first stage after the opening TT. He came 7th behind Alaphilippe and just ahead of Simon Clarke. It’s always possible that he’s just not good enough, again on a consistent basis, and he accepts this.
Another aspect, alluded to here, is that for the most part Sky/Ineos is a meritocracy. Riders know that if they can prove themselves good enough to lead, they will have a very strong team behind them and so, an improved chance of winning. Froome and G both went down this route: a few years as increasingly important domestiques for others, then leading in one-week races and eventually the Vuelta/Giro, until eventually they were protected riders at the Tour. The same path is open to Bernal, TGH and others, if they’re good enough. And the downhill slope can be quite steep; see Wiggins for example.
In contrast, the nearly men like Porte, Henao and Landa have moved on to teams that cannot offer the same level of support, which may partly account for why they have not been able to compete for Grand Tours.
Matthews is a bit of a whiner anyway so this was to be expected.
I’ve been reading these predictions of downfall for nearly 10 years.
Ineos manages it because they pay people way more than Sunweb can afford – it’s one thing to sacrifice your personal goals and be a team player when you have great salary. But Sunweb has low pay. They need to be the type of team that gives riders much more control over their outcomes or else they will get zero buy in from the athletes… and then the athlete takes off (Dumoulin is leaving, Kittel left, and what will Bling Matthews do next?).
Well I suppose it actually comes down to what you agree to when signing the contract. Something neither of us know. Sky have never sounded like they have been prescriptive when you listen to riders chatting about their time there. There are definitely expectations and plans for each rider to follow but they’re (Sky/Ineos) not into a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Whether Sunweb have followed suit and riders haven’t really understood the reality of what they were signing up to, (whereas with Sky the initial rump had been through the British system and knew what to expect) or the management have sold them a pup, remains to be seen.
I’m not sure you can put your emotional feelings onto others though. What you see as “fascistic”, others might see has being part of a team. For example, Luke Rowe, who is friends with Geraint Thomas since their childhood when they lived only a couple of streets away, was asked earlier this year whether he’d rather win this years Tour with G or Froome. Luke didn’t choose one of his closest friends but the guy who has won four times. The reason he gave? Because it would be his 5th TdF and Luke wanted to be part of that. More special than G winning his second.
We’re all motivated by different things. Always handy to remember that.
You are absolutely right. And I am pretty sure, that there are riders in that team, who are fine with that approach. But there are many, who are not, who voiced this clearly and/or have left. And there are many, who have no possibility to even come close to their potential, because that is not important (and potential can be anything, from winning to being a domestique).
Every team has the duty to want and do the best for their riders, just as the riders have the duty to want and do the best for the team. When this is tilted to one side, when one side is expected to give much more than the other, it is exploitation. Some can live with that, but most won‘t do it and will leave, get ill or give up after some time.
Fascism in it‘s definition means bundle, group, club, putting the group’s interest over the individual interest. If this is done with the free consent of the individuals and they are able to keep their dignity, rights and free will, it might be ok, but of course this is not what happens, most of the time it is more a tale of power, snake oil sales men and exploitation.
Fascism simply equals collectivism? Absolute nonsense.
Not uncommon, sadly, with those structures that want to stick to a purely top-down managerial approach, and that will recite “do what we say” to the point of mantra. That level of strict discipline can lead to imbalanced life expectations and your reflections on performance.
As long as the results are there, they get the plaudits, but the moment a chink appears in their armor, you can feel doubt, resentment, “what ifs”, and the team can burst quickly. I’m also quite happy that the gears seem stuck, not because I want to see the team fail, but because I feel that might prompt them to a more balanced (and ultimately healthier and more performant) approach to the sport.
Sadly, cycling (or even sport in general) is not the only field where you see this happening. But reading this again makes it sound a little too much like pub psychology, so I’ll stop there.
Seems more like the team have dropped Matthews than him dropping the green jersey contest – choosing to back Bol in yesterday’s sprint. Not too surprising considering Matthews’ performances, especially stage 10 where the team did so much work and then Matthews seemed to forget to start his sprint (he made some excuse about his leadout, but sprinters always do this when they consistently fail – he was brought into the finale and then ended up way back before the sprint started).
Definitely one for the breakaway today. The GC contenders will do nothing, considering the long downhill finish and tomorrow’s TT.
You say he made ‘some excuse’ but Ewan was also critical of the lead out hesitation and then had vindication when he was on the back of the strongest lead out train yesterday. Perhaps the ‘some excuse’ you’re alluding to actually had merit?
The Michael Matthews thing doesnt make a lot of sense. He has said the whole focus of the tour this year was to support Tom Dumoulin. When TD dropped out the team focus switched to him but he had been training for a domestique role (which seemed odd in the first place) and so wasnt really in condition to sprint. That is pretty obvious from watching. The change to trying to win a stage makes sense, though there must be a question of what stages are left he could win, maybe the one into Gap next week. Sunweb seem to be in a state of flux. There is clearly something afoot with Tom Dumoulin even if he ends up staying. The team did not manage to recruit any proper support for him in the mountains and Simom Geschke and Laurens ten Dam left. Too many stories in the media. Really odd for a team that seemed so together only a year ago. Perhaps they have budget issues?
Given the state of change in the peloton perhaps there is plenty of fertile ground for a blog post?
I was quite confused about that comment Matthews made ahead of the race. IIRC Dumoulin was meant to ride the Giro, and the tour as a second, optional objective, before his fall. It seems strange that Matthews, of all people, would be forced to switch to a mountain domestique role for a (at the time) hypothetical Tom Dumoulin challenge? TBH when I read Matthews’ words, I felt it was a preemptive excuse for being a bit out of shape.
Maybe giving up on the green jersey is the right approach, he definitely has a good chance to win from a big breakaway in the third week (Gap could suit him very well), and Sagan just looks untouchable for the points classification.
Matthews first trained to be a domestique for Dumoulin in the Giro and then when Dumoulin’s next target became the Tour, so became Matthews’s.
Matthews seems to be his own worst enemy. He’s basically ‘Sagan-lite’ in that he can contend in a surprisingly wide range of races, has a good if not elite sprint, can handle the hilly stuff, etc. The problem is that riding with a wide skill-set means you’re competing with specialists in every race, and the races where he’s a favorite are often days for the breakaway. And, of course, if Sagan is in the race he’s almost always better than Matthews. What all that means is, like Sagan, he will be close much more often than he wins.
Sagan has a prodigious number of second places, top 5’s, top 10’s. He’d obviously a little frustrated this year with the relative lack of wins, but he doesn’t go into the tank when he narrowly misses out. He just shrugs it off and gets ready for the next race. It may be a bit of an act, who knows, but he acts like he doesn’t care nor does he dwell on what might have been. Matthews, on the other hand, doesn’t have much frustration tolerance. It’s always somebody else’s fault if he doesn’t win. Loses get in his head. He’s never won races at a high rate. and he never will, but he doesn’t seem to accept this and make the most of his skills and style.
Plus the timing doesn’t make sense to me. Ok, maybe the team decides they aren’t going to chase the break the whole day in sprint stages, but which stages is he supposed to win from the break? As Inrng says, there’s today and Gap, and today seems too hard for Matthews. I don’t see how that’s worth giving up for a real chance at second place in the points classification (plus Sagan does stil have to reach Paris).
let’s hope for Matthews sanity’s sake that Sagan does make it to Paris…
Stage wins are more important even than winning Green even to the best. Sagan has always been at his grumpiest and most unco-operative with the media at the race when he has no stage win despite wearing the points jersey.
Second place in the points classification isn’t important. It’s nothing.
I think it’s true for most riders that stage win > green jersey, but for Sagan it’s more complex. If/when he sets the record for green jersey’s, it will be one of his signature accomplishments. It’s certainly talked about more than his impressive number of stage wins. A few days ago he set a new TdF record for most days in a key jersey, and that’s also been widely noted (though surely not as impressive as Eddy’s record for days in yellow, which is the record he broke).
Going into this TdF, if Sagan had to choose between winning a stage and then missing the green, or not winning a stage but getting the points jersey, I suspect he may have taken the latter. He made noise about not doing the TdF once he gets the record and I think if he stays in the race until Paris this will be his last TdF.
Yeah, but if it were that simple (state wins >> green) then they would/should have had a different strategy from the beginning.
BTW, the final section on Julian Alaphilippe just stops mid-sentence.
I like Mohoric or Schachmann (if he’s not on Buchmann duties) if it’s a breakaway day considering the descent into the finale and their rather anonymous start to this tour, but I’m not totally convinced it will be…there are massive time gaps between GC contenders and they know Thomas will put more time into them tomorrow – every mountain day is precious now and I sense fireworks.
Whether that will be before or after they give the breakaway 10+mins will be telling for stage honours but I can see an ambush coming today from the GC group regardless, considering everyone seems to be on the same wavelength of ‘conserve for the ITT.’
I too see a possibility for GC action. Fuglsang et al must be incredibly frustrated by now – if they are on form they must be very cold and patient to pass on the opportunities offered by this stage.
I think it’s the riders who are on the fringes of the GC battle – whether they’re a potential contender who has lost time (think Pinot, Porte, Martin) or are around the top 10 and spot a chance to climb (pun intended) – who might have a real go today as long as they’re happy their TT will stand up to scrutiny tomorrow.
The top GC group will most likely watch each other and rivals’ domestiques to see how they’re going for the summit finish stages to come. That’s not to say the pace won’t be high and some will be shelled out the back.
This should be a perfect opportunity for Vincenzo Nibali, out of GC contention so an attack on the climb followed by some demon descending would seem in prospect but it does seem he is suffering post Giro blues though he has a history of springing surprises.
It seems a bit early for the Movistar / Astana “riders up the road” tactic, more likely to put in an appearance on Saturday, so maybe one of their domstiques (could you call Alejandro Valverde a domestique?) might have a go.
The Tour starts today they say, I don’t know about that it’s been eventful already
Congratulations to Froomey for becoming the first Brit to win a GT
And one of the now magnificent seven riders to have won seven grand tours. Smoke on that Sean Yates.
I continue to think that Wiggins seems very ungrateful towards Froome – although he was gracious about him when describing his talents recently on Eurosport. Froome was the primary reason Wiggins won that Tour – both in his support and by not attacking him full-on, as he could have.
The team forcing a superior Froome to support Wiggins in that Vuelta was the only reason Cobo beat Froome in the first place.
completely disagree. Froome would not have won that race as leader. that’s like giving Froome’s wins to Poels or Thomas.
No way of knowing what would have happened. He was certainly one of the top two riders. If he’d attacked Wiggins in the mountains, who knows. Certainly, no-one else did in that Tour. God, it was dull. An all-time low.
Michelle froome by any chance?
Ha ha. Indeed. With her Froome Dog!
Interesting to see three riders fined (Bennett, Asgreen and Lampeart) and three DS given written warnings (Mauduit, Steels and Verhoeven) for “Obstruction by a rider to stop the progress of another rider”. In these cases the offense has been blocking the front of the peloton to prevent too many or too strong riders getting into the break and thus to make the break easy to control. This was maybe covered by Mr IR and not spotted by myself in which case, please forgive.
As far as I know, this has always happened, with more or less bullying and/or physical contact depending on the teams involved and the importance of the race. It’s good the commissaires are finally starting to pay attention to it, though I’m not sure the fines are heavy enough to discourage the bigger teams from that kind of unfair approach.
They need to crack down on lazy tactics like these. If you don’t want Rider X in the break, then you chase him down when he goes. Again and again until he gives up (or you crack) rather than line up your team at the front and JRA blocking the road and making competitors take to the grass to get around you. LeTour is too often a boring parade as it is – it doesn’t need this.
Quite so, and as LukyLuk implies the fines even with points and time penalties will not be enough to discourage riders being paid several 100k€, or teams with budgets of many millions. In the end though – and over many decades – it’s often the peloton which generally decides what is acceptable and what is not, whether that’s stopping a rider participating in a break or much worse.
Asgreen’s manoeuvre was dangerous: nearly sent the guy (a Sunweb rider, I think) into a signpost. The bloke didn’t even react, so it must be common.
No news yet on the CCC rider who elbowed Keukeleire into a ditch?
This has always gone on but with the whole race now live for TV it is much more obvious. The commisionaires cant see everything that goes on but overhead camera shots make the pushing and shoving more visible. Of course the fact that commentators and viewers can see it too adds to the pressure “to do something”.
I will go for Nibali if he can get in the break. If not in the break I expect his team to do work keeping it close. This stage with the fast decent makes perfect sense for him. But you never know his condition on the day, they may save the matches until next week.
Somebody who wants polka dot will be in the breakaway and this is where Alaphilippe’s stint in yellow may finish off his chance of the polka dot.
They should have kept going with Matthews for green. He could free wheel the sprints and let the team take care of the other sprinter. You never know if Sagan will make it to Paris. He could get sick, crash or implode in the hills and miss a time cut. If your second you can still win.
Matthews is not a large group sprinter even if its slightly uphill. He doesn’t do enough of it and is easily pushed out so the fact he missed out on one stage is not that important even when that stage sort of suited him it was a large sprint finish. He needs a more selective sprint.
This is not a fast descent at all. The part from Hourquette to Aspin crossroads maybe, but it has some uphill sections too and is on pretty narrow road, but the 20 km part to Bagneres is more of a downhill drag than a descent, often with strong headwind, so I doubt it very much that anyone will try anything there. You waste more energy that what it is worth. Neither is is suited for Nibali. If he picks a stage this year, than it will be the one with Galibier, although I have my doubts whether a break will succeed there.
Another tip of the hat for “forlorn”. Bravo, sir
gotta hold my hands up and say I was a Ewan doubter… good luck to the boy, wins in all 3 GTs… nothing left to prove now. Seems to be v popular in the peleton also, chapeau.
I expect Thomas of Ghent to show his upstart namesake how to ride a breakaway.
Always love it when the Tour goes through this part of the world. My grandparents used to live in a small village outside St Gaudens and we still have family skiing holidays in the mountains not too far (usually in Baqueira-Beret), which is sometimes used by the Tour and the Vuelta, so I know that part of France well. It’s always nice to see places and roads you know well being used by the Tour.
Re: riders who exited the tour whilst wearing yellow, IIRC Spartacus crashed out in 2015 fracturing vertebrae in the process?
Drama of the day to Rohan Dennis for walking off the stage?! How often does a rider willingly abandon the TdF!
Thomas DeGent talked about Dennis’ issues with his TT bike from Merida but this is an extreme reaction.
A great way to avoid defeat.