Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

A time trial to shake up the overall classification before a series of mountain stages. If watching a TT on TV isn’t your thing then don’t miss La Course this morning.

Stage 12 Review: the combativity prize often feels like a consolatory offering but yesterday’s stage had a wild start with wave after wave of attacks until a giant move finally went clear on the plains. Once on the mountains the Peyresourde thinned the move a touch but it was on Hourquette d’Ancizan that things were lively. Simon Clarke led into the climb chased by Matteo Trentin and later Simon Yates appeared to be working to catch team mate Trentin but was more covering moves and thinning the chasers down and sure enough a small group caught and passed Trentin. Yates’ hallmark move is going clear over the top of the final climb but this time couldn’t or wouldn’t go clear and had Gregor Mühlberger for company over the top of the climb with Pello Bilbao joining on the descent. The trio had time to play with but kept working together all the way to the finish and Simon Yates led into the final corner and played it cool to keep Bilbao away and close the door on Mühlberger as his team owner Gerry Ryan looked on with delight.

There was also an imbroglio over Rohan Dennis’s abandon, he quit mid-race and his team put out a tweet saying they’d “launch an immediate investigation” into what happened which translates into they didn’t know why either although it seems an argument with the team staff could be to blame. It’s not a big deal, just a PR blunder.

The Route: a 27km course in two parts with the outward section to the second timecheck at 15.5km being a rolling route with several ups and downs including a climb right at the start in town before heading into the Jurançon via a small road where there’s a climb to the first time check with some 7-8% sections and the second time check is also atop a hill with a kilometre at over 7%. The return to Pau is on the Route Nationale, a larger, flatter road but with a sting in the tail, a steep climb with 450m to go, just 120m long but 10%.

The Contenders: Wout van Aert won the time trial in the Critérium du Dauphiné and by some margin. Jumbo-Visma have had a great Tour so far and he’s a contender to win again today but how tired is he, he’s never done a stage race this long and race over mountains yesterday that aren’t his thing. Tony Martin used to be a certain pick but a reminder that he hasn’t won a World Tour level time trial since 2015.

Geraint Thomas is one of several contenders from Team Ineos. We’ve only had glimpses at his form so far, be it his jump atop the Planche des Belles Filles or chasing back to the peloton on the stage to Saint-Etienne but each time he’s looked convincing to the point where he should take time on GC rivals today and also has a shot at the stage win. It’ll depend on tactics and ambition but Michał Kwiatkowski could also have a shot today.

Of the other GC contenders perhaps only Richie Porte has the pedigree to win the stage today, this seems unlikely as his form’s still in doubt but this is his day to move up the GC.

Deceuninck-Quickstep have three goes to today in Yves Lampaert, Kasper Asgreen and Julian Alaphilippe. Lampaert is strong but his challenge is the hilly, technical first half while Asgreen’s was second to Lampaert in the Tour de Suisse TT in Goms but has been toiling all week. Alaphilippe’s won time trials before and be roared on by the crowds.

Now for a few outside specialists. Movistar’s Nelson Oliveira has won some time trials before but never at this level. Mitchelton-Scott’s Luke Durbridge could try but will Durbo want to deploy the turbo or his he 100% in for Adam Yates. Katusha-Alpecin’s Alex Dowsett is an infrequent winner but seems in good form and Nils Politt almost won in Paris-Nice but both could find the first part of the course ruinous. Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Küng is also a big rider who could find the course too hilly. Team Sunweb have two picks in Giro TT stage winner Chag Haga and Søren Kragh Andersen ahead of Wilco Kelderman.

Geraint Thomas, Wout van Aert
Yves Lampaert, Kasper Asgreen
Porte, SKA, Politt, Oliveira, Alaphilippe, Moscon, T Martin, Haga


Yellow story: today’s the 100th anniversary to the day of the maillot jaune when it was awarded to Eugène Christophe mid-race in Grenoble. 50 years ago the anniversary was celebrated by… the arrival of a sponsor on the jersey in Virlux, a brand of butter. The competition had been sponsored by several companies from oil giant Shell to a brewery the jersey itself didn’t have a visible sponsor until Virlux appeared with a small red lozenge logo.

Weather: hot and sunny, 30°C and a light 10km/h breeze from the NE.

TV: the first rider, lanterne rouge Yoann Offredo, is off at 2.00pm and Julian Alaphilippe hits the road at 5.19pm CEST / Euro time and is expected to finish around 5.55pm. You can tune into see the main GC contenders but remember La Course is on with the TT course with five laps. The race starts at 9.20am and TV coverage from 10.00am CEST and the finish is due at 12.20pm CEST.

128 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. The oz commentary last night kept saying (until the finish) that Mühlberger was definitely going to win in any sprint with Yates and Bilbao. It seemed, assuming that Mühlberger was a far better sprinter (and that Yates was just lucky to win) that the most sensible thing to do was for Yates to sit on and let a fresh Trentin (who also wouldn’t need to work) get back and contest the sprint or alternatively, if the trio stayed away, Yates could contest the sprint having not pulled for 30kms.

    Was Yates being a tad selfish (and lucky) or were the Australian commentators just plan wrong with the sprint assessment of Mühlberger vs Yates?

    • I had the same reaction when watching, it did feel like Yates was racing against Trentin. He pulled off a smart finish with good positioning in the last curve but it did seem risky. Trentin would have been my pick in the group of followers, and (if they had worked to stay away from Felline, Naesen, etc.) his only rival there would have been Schachmann.

      In the end, all’s well and good for Mitchelton-Scott though, so I’ll have to yield to the results.

      • Don’t forget that Yates was world point champion, something requiring wiles, a cool head and some ability to sprint. MTS probably had a better chance with Yates in a group of three than Trentin an a larger group.

        • @DJW – exactly this. He has a surprisingly good kick for someone who these days is seen as a pure climber. He’s won a number of races in sprints from small groups/head to head. I’d say the commentators sold his sprint ability short.

      • There was a moment, just before Yates bridged up to Trentin, where they seemed to be talking to each other on the radio…I wonder if Trentin knew he wouldn’t make it over the climb at the front and therefore gave Yates the green light?
        Whilst he was climbing very well, Trentin likely can’t match the accelerations on the climbs (it takes a lot of effort to accelerate his extra bodyweight on those gradients) and was perhaps worried that if Yates missed a move that neither of them would be at the front…

    • Matt Keenan kept declaring “that’s the last time Simon Yates will go to the front” even as they kept rotating. I like Matt and most of the rest of the commentators on SBS, Eurosport and elsewhere but there’s a reason they’re commentating, not in the car as a DS or team manager. MTS did a great job of setting Yates up for the win even with several factors against him.

      • Yes, Matt Keenan’s consistent (and insistent) declarations which turn out to be wrong are very frustrating (on every climb ever: “[x] is being distanced, that’s the last we’ll see of [x] today”…only for that person to get back on 1 minute later). He just doesn’t need to make so many uber bold predictions about everything. What made me think that something was in it this time however, was that Robbie was saying it too.

        • I find Keenan unbearable. Thanks to the power of VPN, this year I don’t have to put up with SBS and can watch the French coverage instead.

    • As others have said he was in a strong position because Trentin was behind, he raced it smart in my opinion I thought. In final few hundred metres he looked very cool and calm and think the key was how he took the last corner.

    • The UK Channel 4 commentary was concerned by Mühlberger’s speed vs. Yates’, but David Millar was saying that the final bend was crucial, whoever was in front coming out of that bend would win and whoever was third coming out of it would finish third, so Yates needed to get to the front coming out of the bend.

      And lo ! After the stage, Yates says in interview that Matt White was on the radio telling him he had to be in front coming out of the final bend

      Let’s face it, the finish into Bigorre is hardly a surprise, it’s used year after year and DS’s of all three riders should have been giving the same advice

    • I think if you watch the Mitchelton Scott stage vid on youtube, their pre-stage strategy was for either Simon Yates or Jack Haig for the stage with a support in the break from someone else. I think it seemed to unfold pretty much as they planned rather than any in-team rivalry.

  2. I think if Yates had been Peter Sagan he might have been disqualified. I’m joking, but he was pretty smart in weaving a line which cut off Bilbao and Mühlberger at various stages. I don’t really think that had it been a proper sprint finish he would be DQ’d but he certainly used race craft (wittingly or unwittingly) to halt the other riders in their sprint. I was impressed.

    • There was no weaving. He moved to the barriers in front of Mühlberger slightly.
      Bilbao shouldn’t have let Yates come up the inside towards the final corner – he should have been on the barriers – but Yates seemed to have the speed on the other two pretty easily anyway, which given his track background is not surprising.

  3. It’s been a very good Tour thus far, but I still expect the GC race to be distinctly underwhelming. After today, Thomas should have almost a minute and a half on all of his rivals and he has the team that can strangle any attacks they make. He might even win this without having to attack at all in the mountains. And if he falters, Bernal will be there. We’ll still have individual stages to watch, but it’s not the same when there isn’t a contest for GC. Hope I’m wrong and someone puts in an attack that sticks.

    • Whilst I agree that G seems likely to take time on many other contenders I am not convinced it is going to be by a margin that will close down the race. We cant entirely write off Julian Allaphilippe though it would seem likely he will struggle in the series of high altitude climbs to come (maybe irony here in that he would have had more chance if ASO had come up with a more traditional route) and there is a reasonable chance he will still be in yellow tonight. Egan Bernal is no slouch in a TT. There are then 5 riders who are at most 50 seconds back from G. All of them are reasonable TT riders (even Nairo Quintana can put in perfectly good rides) who will not necessarily lose lots of time. Its not impossible that Thibaut Pinot will be able to channel his anger and frustration to produce the TT ride of his career.

      It is possible that Geraint Thomas “smashes it” (maybe there is room for a blog post on cycling cliches, “super”, “full gas” etc) and runs out winner by well over a minute ahead of his challengers, as Inrng says he looks to be in good form. In which case barring the usual accidents and incidents difficult to see anyone else managing to challenge but it is not set in stone.

      I never saw this as a particularly open race, yes there was some uncertainty over Geraint Thomas’s form and Egan Bernal is still rather inexperienced in the spotlight. However looking down the list of other possible winners there did not seem to be any other particularly outstanding candidates. Adam Yates might still be in the mix, possibly Nairo Quintana too but other than that it is going to take something exceptional or very unusual to challenge Ineos, a situation that seemed likely from the start.

      • I have a feeling Thomas will try to smash it today so that he doesn’t even have to attack in the mountains to win yellow. Although part of me also thinks nobody is going to go extra deep with the Tourmalet stage looming.

  4. Rohan Dennis quitting is not a big deal? I bet his team don’t agree: he’d have been favourite for today’s stage.
    Maybe he should have tried out Merida’s TT bike before he joined Bahrain-Merida if he’s that fussy about his equipment (as many TT’ers are).
    Amusing to see the team and the rider try to explain this without badmouthing one of their primary sponsors.
    If he didn’t want to have such a detrimental effect on his career – and maybe even win a TdF stage – he could have ridden today and then if he’d lost said ‘The bike is garbage’ and if he’d won he could have said ‘I won even though the bike is garbage’. But I suspect that that would have cost him money as presumably there’s something in the contract about not badmouthing the sponsor (which, let’s face it, when one of your sponsors is involved in torture, you need).

    • What is the contractual position ,I wonder? Obviously if you are physically sick, you abandon without question. I presume if you are struck down with depression or some other mental problem, you abandon with your team’s consent ( and hopefully concern). But just getting off your bike in the middle of the race in what appears to have been a fit of temper? How often has that happened before? And at such a crucial stage for your team, when not only commentators but other prominent riders thought you were the probable winner of the next stage?

      I hope some of the historians who contribute can offer some insight. In my business, you would be looking at serious penalties, and I’m not sure other teams would be forming an orderly queue round the block for your services.

      • Just plain stupid by Dennis. Though maybe he has a contract clause which is not being honoured I.e. he has ‘his’ TT bike. But nothing is perfect in the Tour. You just have to get on with things. He’s failed to honour the race for what it is.

        • I do not think it is appropriate to comment on someone’s mental health.
          Also, we know nothing about it.
          It’s one thing to speculate on cycling issues, quite another to poke into others’ (entirely imagined on our part) psychological issues.
          Yes, he brings up ‘a depressed period’ in that article, but still this is an issue that should be left to the person concerned.

        • I agree with J Evans above.

          Show me a top athlete and I’ll show you someone who suffered, at some point in his career, of depression and self-doubt. Not everyone goes public about it (and I definitely understand why), but pretty much *everybody* will have gone through that. That’s all this article mentions, and it really doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

          There are reports on Dennis that are more worrisome though, talk of angry outbursts and abuse of staff (mechanics). No idea if there is truth to that or not, obviously that would be far less acceptable.

    • I’m sure similar things have happened before, but you just don’t hear about it. The team should have just said “stomach problems” or something similar and dealt with it behind closed doors. Instead all of the cycling interwebs are talking about how rubbish Merida bikes are!

      • I think the team were caught on the hoof to an extent as at one point he appeared to be missing and they did not know his whereabouts plus there people saw him arguing with the team. Also I don’t think whatever the issue may be they were happy he just decided to climb off his bike.

        He moved mid-season before which is unusual in cycling and is known to have a temper so if he was unhappy with something like the TT bike it might have been the breaking point for him.

        • The PR line is disagreement over equipment. I believe there is more to it. He has already rode TTs with that equipment so he would have highlighted his fears before yesterday. You can abandon the UAE Tour because of poor equipment but not the Tour

        • Even though it’s bad PR, you’d have to give credit to his DS Stangelj who did an admirable job replying to that mob of reporters who had him with his back against the wall.

      • Merida is making bikes for a whole list of other brands, difficult to believe that their own designed bike totally sucks. They own 49% of Specialized to just name one.

      • And you would have bought “stomach problems”, an hour after he attacked and tried to get in the breakaway group? may I interest you in a bridge near Brooklyn?

    • This guy goes off-the-rails and the instant explanation (though so far totally unconfirmed or even acknowledged) is something is wrong with his equipment? What possible equipment surprise could have been revealed to him in the middle of the Tour stage to cause him to pack it in?
      If there was a surprise I doubt it has anything to do with the equipment he was supposed to use in the chrono today. The cryptic statement on the team website certainly does nothing to explain anything so it’s certainly a PR fiasco, but it’s hard not to think there’s more to the story than a spat over equipment – equipment the guy’s used in the past?

      • Yeah it doesn’t make any sense that somebody would quit about what he was having to use for the next days stage halfway through the current stage! Presumably he’s known about it for a while. Eurosport were saying that earlier he had been trying to get in the break but didn’t make it. My guess, strictly a guess, would be that he was asked to get in the break when he didn’t want to because of the TT today, he gave it a half hearted effort and then got berated on the radio for it and saw his arse as they say.

        • Unless this guy’s very much unbalanced mentally I can’t believe he’d just quit the sport’s biggest event over being yelled at by a director. This is a guy who supposedly said things like “You’d better f—ing do it!” to team mechanics in the past.
          The cynic in me (imagine that!) thinks there’s something much more serious going on – maybe like the Austrians who suddenly fled the Torino Olympic Games back in 2006?

          • Seriously?. That’s your go to? Quits the race so must be worried about getting popped? Is that why Jasper Philipsen didn’t start yesterday or is it only some riders you save your muckraking for?

    • The good news is things are changing fast with the Women’s World Tour regulations coming which, to cut a long story short, formally make it a professional sport plus expanded TV coverage for more events etc. I hope as many people as possible tune in as there’s full TV production that’s shown around the world.

  5. I will be VERY surprised if “It’s not a big deal, just a PR blunder.” turns out to be nothing more. Dennis quits the Tour in the middle of stage, goes to bus to clean up and then vanishes in the company of his dodgy agent. Very strange. Today’s Tour stage looks to be a great one for waiting for the highlight show tonight and instead getting out on my own damn bike 🙂

    • It seems to be an argument over TT equipment. If so then it’s a side story over tech choices between Dennis and the team with little importance for the sport as whole that few will remember. The team seem to be compounding things because they can’t give a straight answer.

      • According to Thor Hushovd on Norwegian television, Dennis told him a couple of days ago that the Merida TT bike is fine, but the wheels are 40 watts slower than the best on the market.

        • That is a bit too much of wattage loss to be believable, but even if it’s 10 or 20 watts, that is a win or lose difference in a seconds game. That kind of difference is quite usual in the wheel aerodynamics tests I read, if you ignore the slowest outliers.

          Too bad the anecdotal evidence of him being a hothead is piling up. If I am a potential winner of a time trial and the team would not allow me to use f.e. rebranded fast wheels that save even 5 watts, I would be upset too. That’s equivalent to your team not wanting you to win.

          I say Jumbo Visma, here’s another cheap buy for you for next season, next to Kittel (if he still wants that). You’ll have to employ a psychotherapist, but it’ll be worth it and the riders will be better off too. Not joking here. Imagine that TTT squad.

          • On Spanish TV yesterday they were saying there’s a terrible atmosphere in the team. Described Dennis as a “strange individual in an even stranger team” lol

        • If it was a problem with the wheels, why not simply change them out for his preferred brand with logo stickers removed? Happened plenty of times before, for components there seems some leeway to swap and change from main sponsors depending on the circumstances…even just last week SKY/Ineos were having to explain why they use Lightweight and not Shimano in the Tour.

          • Well this is true as about half of INEOS riders are still using Stages power meter despite fact Shinamo are their sponsored power meter providers. As some riders have concerns about the accuracy.

            I suppose this is easier for teams as big as INEOS though without facing wrath of sponsors

          • Ineos using lightweight is completely understandable. It’s expensive, but replacing those Pinarello’s with a rebranded light frame to achieve 6.8 kg is a lot harder to explain ;-). If only that fork design wasn’t so conspicuous…

          • JeroenK – are you claiming the bikes used by the “marginal gains” team weigh more than the minimum the rules permit? Conventional wisdom says light wheels help a lot when it comes to accelerate, but otherwise (especially as these are reputed to be less-than-optimum when it comes to “aero”) there’s not much performance difference, which makes this choice puzzling unless you are correct. Or does the “marginal gains” team know something others don’t?

          • “JeroenK – are you claiming the bikes used by the “marginal gains” team weigh more than the minimum the rules permit? Conventional wisdom says light wheels help a lot when it comes to accelerate, but otherwise (especially as these are reputed to be less-than-optimum when it comes to “aero”) there’s not much performance difference, which makes this choice puzzling unless you are correct. Or does the “marginal gains” team know something others don’t?”


            There’s speculation reported in other respectable outlets that the Pinarello frames are heavy compared to other manufacturers, and that race-spec bikes are somewhere in the 7s in terms of kilograms. The Lightweights will save a couple of hundred grams over the Shimanos, it all counts.

            As for acceleration, they’re using them whilst climbing; and I’ve read elsewhere (and it makes sense to me) that when climbing steep gradients, every pedal stroke feels like acceleration in itself. Also, even if it does make no real difference, there may still be a placebo psychological boost to go with it.

          • Larry, I am just joking with the fact that they are all about marginal gains, yet ride Pinarello frames that had the reputation of being not the lightest, nor the most aerodynamic ;-). My joke was they had to cut weight somewhere, because of the frame weight and cutting it at parts from the most generic sponsor made sense. Current frame weight is up there (down there?) with the lightest, so never mind… just a bit of flame bait ;-).

            The decision to ride Lightweight is probably just based on the fact they are a great mix of aerodynamics and weight.

          • OK, thanks. I still find it hard to believe the “marginal gains” team doesn’t have things dialed down to as close to 6.8 kg as possible. I’ll leave the arguments as to whether 2-400 grams really makes any difference to others as well as whether it might be worth it to get so close a team bike fails inspection over some minor oversight?

        • And while he was riding in the peloton through the fothills of the Pyrenees, it suddenly came to his mind “oh wait, my wheels tomorrow are 40W less power, I better go of the bike now”?
          Who hadn’t such moments in the middle of a workday.

  6. According to Thor Hushovd on Norwegian television, Dennis told him a couple of days ago that the Merida TT bike is fine, but the wheels are 40 watts slower than the best on the market.

    • I recall a secret pro column on Cyclingtips that said everyone in the peloton knows that BMC, Specialized and Canyon are the best and then it’s a bit of a drop down, so maybe Dennis was spoiled by building his career as a TT specialist at BMC Racing Team. Sometimes champion athletes can seem like divas but they know better than the mug public what it takes to perform at the highest level and win, so can crack it when things don’t go their way.

  7. I’d love to see WVA get the win today. A bunch sprint win and a TT would be some debut. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Alaphilippe get carried along on a wave of a adrenaline and do well. Every GC rider bar Bernal and Porte will probably just be desperate to get to the finish without making a fool of themselves and shipping 90 seconds to Thomas. I’m interested to see how Bernal goes.

  8. Asgreen said to danish tv last night, that he is counting himself out. Used to much energy on leading the Peloton untill now.
    So be careful picking him.

    • I wouldn’t expect Alaphilippe to lose more than a minute here – whilst he’d no doubt prefer a hillier TT, he’s had some very good TT results in the past (including wins at Paris Nice & San Juan) and is clearly on sizzling form.

      Thomas is obviously a big favourite for the stage given his pedigree, but I think we’ll see some GC contenders not too far away from him and perhaps even surprising him – Kruijswijk, Porte, Fulgsang. Perhaps even Yates & Pinot.

    • how do you feel about his ride now post-stage? think this answers any team leadership questions or is that still open? a decent few of the GC contenders lost quite a bit of time (some more than expected), while others had a ride good enough to bring them into mind again (porte, kruisjwijk, uran, pinot, mas) imo.

  9. Depending on how he’s doing so far EF’s Tom Scully could be a good outside pick, 10th and 4th in the recent tour de Suisse TTs

    • He could be close but I left him out as couldn’t see him actually winning. To explain the chainrings ratings are always for winning and if it matters, ordered so if riders share the same rating, the first named one is seen as more likely.

      As for leaving Kwiatkowski off and putting Moscon on, maybe Kwiatkowski is needed more tomorrow?

  10. do they really go that deep on a 27km (40 minute?) effort that it takes them out for the following day? I guess they do or it wouldn’t be continually cited as a factor

    I wish I could tell my boss ‘jeez, I’ll bust a gut to get this email out, but I may have to take it easy tomorrow as a result…’

    • It more about dipping into the well and build up of fatigue. Going full gas on even a 10 mile time trial (about 20 odd minute effort) is both physiologically and physically demanding. I’m just a weekend warrior and if I’ve done time trial day before I don’t feel 100% next day and thought of doing more hard efforts day after I know I would get the same watts I could when fresh. Obviously these guys are infinitely fitter and faster than me but doing a big effort needs time to recover. This is also during a Grand Tour

      • It’s the intensity as well, riders can keep doing 150km a day but suddenly having to do 30km around threshold with a sprint at the end etc can be very tiring the next day. By now recovery is such a big thing, sleep patterns can be disturbed etc

  11. Tony Martin over 12 minutes down… that strikes me as someone who didn’t feel like they could win and would rather not try at all than suffer the indignity of looking like they were trying and coming on 6th.

    • Or someone on team orders to sit up and work for Kruijswijk? He’s already done a lot of pulling on the front for the sprints and protecting yellow. I think you’re being a bit harsh on him. Although I don’t think he’s at his old level and this parcours seems too hilly for him.

      • Time cutoff on stage 12 was either 5:51:08 or 5:52:00 – not sure if they round it up to the nearest second or the nearest minute these days.

        The laughing group came in at 5:24:27, so no problem for them.

        • Oops, calculated the wrong stage! I was thrown off by the comment about Martin being 12 minutes down, so thought it was a road stage being talked about.

          The time limit for the stage 13 ITT was 125% of the winner’s time, which works out to 43:46 or 44:00

          Martin finished 6:55 down at 41:45 so he was inside by two minutes.

    • That roommate is: 2011 junior ITT world champion, 2015 U23 ITT world champion and 2012 Junior Paris Roubaix winner. I know the fuss is about Petersen, Asgreen & Kragh from that generation of Danes- but that generations really big engine is Mads Würtz.

    • I think someone’s going to need to do a Finestre, but I can’t see anyone in this race who is capable of that. So he can win if he keeps his head. If.

  12. Wow. I have been pulling hard for a Frenchman to finally win this thing, but it never dawned on me that it might be Alaphilippe. But maybe? He is lighter than Thomas, lighter even than Bardet it seems. So he’s got to have the w/kg. This is very exciting.

  13. Alaphilippe’s win is both expected and unexpected. Expected because all of a sudden riders who are in with a shout of the GC all of a sudden have a cracking TT result like they’ve never had before.

    And, unexpected because while I don’t think he’s the worst TTer, there was little to suggest that he would beat the best of his competition.

    This sort of result gives me a cold sensation down my neck and reminds me of ‘99. Another anniversary that we do less well to celebrate.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Alaphilippe perform on the Tourmalet like never before.

    I’d like to see a French winner, but not this way.

        • Ping! And we have a winner!

          The first person to accuse the outstanding rider of this Tour of being a druggie.

          If ones trust in performance is so low, maybe more rewarding to watch, say, the golf?

          • I’m OK with JA’s TT, but it’s good that critics are being consistent. If his performance was greeted without any questioning at all then it would stink of double standards.

    • Alaphilippe is and always has been a good time trialist. Throw in a course that suits him, the adrenaline rush of wearing the yellow jersey and the fact that there are no outstanding time trialists in this race (Wiggins/Dumoulin/Ullrich level) and voila as they say in France. I fully expect him to either fade gracefully into the middle of the top 10, a la Voeckler, or Yates it on a long climb and ship half an hour. If he’s still where he is now in a weeks time we’ll talk.

      • Richard S. – Spot on. Whether it’s been PN, Cali or Itzulia, Ala has shown when the condition is there, he can get results in not just TT’s but on climbs too. What he’s nearly also always done, is suddenly hit a wall when the big climbs come at the races end. There’s been a couple of exceptions but not in a field of this quality. Nor at the altitude he’ll be up against.

        J Evans – “I did wonder how long the first baseless doping insinuation would take. Two and a half hours, it seems.”

        I think you may have missed Larry having a dig at Dennis by inferring he quit to avoid doping controls. This one by RQS will have to settle for second place I’m afraid.

    • I did wonder how long the first baseless doping insinuation would take. Two and a half hours, it seems. And ‘insinuation’ is putting it mildly: you seem pretty certain.

      • And if he’s still in contention after the Tourmalet? It’s like you guys believe doping just disappears. It doesn’t. Did any of you notice the Austrian cycling phenomenons? No? But yet there was a whole doping ring busted. Why did they bother if it was for no gain. Please don’t pass aspersions on my scepticism because it’s well founded. Pandora’s box is open and WADA aren’t even close to closing it.

        • He’s 27 and he’s been winning races left and right over the past couple of years. He’s won in California and Britain and has finished in the top 5 in Paris-Nice. He’s not some career journeyman who suddenly turned it on.

          The mountains are going to be tough but he doesn’t have to do anything dramatic, just protect the jersey.

        • No one is arguing that doping has disappeared. They’re arguing against the premise of your statement, that this is some sort of amazing step change.

          FWIW, I think he’s as likely – no more or less – to be doping as any rider from Ineos, Movistar, Astana or any other team.

          But the other main reason I’m pushing back is this discussion goes nowhere. The comment section during this TDF has been *bliss* compared to the last few years.

          • Agree with every word of this, Greasy Wheel.
            Many of us – me included – suspect it’s going on.
            None of us know who or how.
            The endless speculation whenever any rider or team does well adds nothing.

        • Well you heard it hear first…..expected and unexpected. Dan Lloyd was very surprised with Alaphillipe’s ITT and the French journalist doing the Rapha podcast was too. Surprising no one and also everyone.

          • Didn’t hear it here first. Heard it from dozens upon dozens of others on cyclingnews – maybe check it out.
            You’re just one of the many, many people who shriek ‘doping’ as soon as anyone does anything good.
            You know nothing. Same as me. I suspicious about all cyclists and this one doesn’t stand out.

    • That is unfair. Alaphilippe won the TT at Paris-Nice in 2017 and at San Juan earlier this year. This was also a favorable course for him.

    • It’s the first ride I’ve seen in a long time that made my eyebrow twitch, but I’m reassured that INRNG tipped him for the win, albeit less assuredly than the likes of Thomas. But ask me again if he takes yellow by two minutes and wins on the Champs.

    • I hate to say I had the same thought. Obviously JA is talented enough to have a great result, but to have this result, after the efforts he’s put in so far, and after being THE hot rider since the beginning of the season . . . it seems a bit much.

      For a while I’ve seen people in the comments section of cyclingnews talk about DQS employing Dr. Jose Ibarguren Taus, and how QS and their riders have gotten a free pass, even when they’re winning races constantly and when riders who leave the team seem to perform remarkably less well. Google shows the doctor has had quite a record. How is he still in the game, when he seems on par with Ferrari? The guy is one of those very old doctors who can’t possibly be up on the latest training/recovery techniques, ketones, etc. What could he possibly be bringing to DQS?

      I like JA, I don’t want to believe he’s dirty, but his interview today sounded a lot like interviews I was reading 10-15-20 years ago.

      • He jumped off his bike after the finish like he’d just ridden to the shops. Wasn’t out of breath or fatigued in any noticeable way. Did anyone else think that odd?

        • Not least after he had sprinted up that 17% ramp. If he had taken Thomas (whose sudden increase in form last year was eyebrow raising) by 2-3 seconds that might have seemed ‘a good effort’, but 10+ is other worldly.

          There has been almost a Lance like smirk about Alaphilippe, like it was obvious he would be in yellow. He has been a great performer at the Tour and elsewhere. I don’t deny the course perhaps favoured a rider like him. But almost every article and TV output I’ve read or seen had put Thomas as taking time from him and his rivals, and that’s what I would expect. Especially after shouldering the yellow.

          • I’ve long been concerned about Ibarguren being at DQS.
            I don’t for a moment think cycling is clean.
            However, before leaping to conclusions, let’s see how JA continues over the coming week. He could easily falter in the mountains.
            Thus far, what we’ve seen is not beyond what you’d have imagined of his capabilities: a very good TT, although he’s been good before, and some good performances in sporadic, not very mountainous stages where he has been able to ride them as if they were one-day races.

      • Until now I’d never heard of this Taus guy. If what you say is true then that’s another failure by cycling journalism. Instead I’ve had to read so, so many articles about a jiffy bag.

    • So funny to see doping allegations towards the man who is leading the World Tour for months, but if the guy who hasn’t raced anything serious this year, Thomas, pulls a great ITT out of nowhere, everything is fine, marginal gains by bread&water.

      • At the beginning of the TdF I heard on one of the podcasts (I think it was Johan Bruyneel) that his insider connections at Ineos told him Geraint Thomas was in awesome shape and was well rested. Obviously Bruyneel has a sorted past, but his insights into cycling are incredibly astute (only this website is on a par with insider knowledge for my money), and he pegged Thomas as the TdF winner. It appears that Thomas’s performance isn’t out of nowhere, just that he hasn’t been posting his training data, and hasn’t been riding burning matches all season long like some.

  14. My eyebrow raised at JAlp’s performance, and it still hasn’t been fully retracted.
    I think it does need placing though in the context of a relatively weak performance by Thomas, who was himself followed relatively closely by many GC contenders as well as non-noted specialist Thomas DeGent.

    Two weeks ago, I rated Thomas’ chances no better than most other contenders (and made outside bets on Pinot and Adam Yates) and if he’s still in the picture it’s as much though the relative weakness of the rest of the field.

    So, right to view his JAlp’s performance with caution, but I don’t think it’s been otherworldly thus far.

    • Thomas’s ride seemed pretty good to me. He put time into all the other contenders and even though he’s very good, he’s never been as dominant as Froome or Dumoulin. It’s a shame Dennis bailed, he’d have given a better measure of how good it was.

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