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Tour de France Stage 8 Preview

One for the breakaway across some fine roads to ride, a succession of peaceful climbs in woodland, including some surprise climbs on very small rural roads. This should be a hard stage and those with ambitions for the overall classification need to avoid the traps and ambush risk.

Stage 7 Review: a long day on paper, a long day in the saddle and perhaps long day on the sofa for some even. It ended with the shortest of winning margins. Yoann Offredo and Stéphane Rossetto took off and looked back to find nobody else would join them and, to quote Antoine Blondin from the 1968 Tour stage which used similar roads, “the stage slumped into the most dreary lethargy”. Offredo later quipped to Eurosport that there might be some riders here that “only their mothers know are riding the Tour de France” but their test comes this weekend. In the end we got the inevitable sprint and Dylan Groenewegen won by millimetres ahead of Caleb Ewan, throwing his bike just the right moment after a late surge to crest the final rise to the late while Elia Viviani was hampered by a softening tire. There’s no obvious pecking order to the sprints, just one of the trio with Peter Sagan as a chaperone.

The Route: 200km and a mid-mountain stage with almost 4,000m of vertical gain. The start reads like a wine menu with Macon, Villié-Morgon and Saint Lager. Then it’s into the Beaujolais vert, a large area of wooded hills packed with climbs and quiet roads.

The Col de la Croix de Montmain climbs amid the vineyards and at 6km at 7% with some long 8% ramps and a couple of hairpins in the middle, it’s a selective climb made harder still because it’s narrow and has – unless it’s been redone in the past month – rough rural tarmac. There’s a descent and then a fast valley road for 10km into the next climb, the Col de la Croix de Thel, which is steeper and more narrow than the last one and this leads to to the Col de la Croix de Paquet which is 2km at steeper still at 10% but on a bigger road before a fast descent into Tarare and the race crosses from the Beaujolais into the Mont de Lyonnais and up the long drag via Affoux.

The Col de la Croix de Part starts gently but there’s right turn in the town of Courzieu and the race funnels into a tiny road. Listed as 4.9km at 7.9% it’s really a 4km climb at 10%, and all on the narrowest road of the day. Let’s not exaggerate, this is no goat path but it’s a very small road and you wonder how parts of the caravan will fit, a logistical challenge more than a vertical one. There’s a more gentle descent and the next climb to Aveize is the same category but nothing like the last one, a much more gentle affair  all on a big road.

The final climb of the day is the Côte de la Jaillère, seemingly a final springboard for any climbers with steep ramps at the top as well as 8-5-2 seconds at the bonus sprint… but there’s an unmarked climb coming up later. From here it’s 12.5km to the finish but no descent yet, first a twisting, lumpy road across the hills then a fast drop into town.

The Finish: an urban dash through Saint Etienne. As the profile shows it’s hilly and the bump there is the Rue des Carrières, 800m at 7.5% and chased by twisty roads through town to the finish and a flat final kilometre.

The Contenders: a lot of riders will have today’s stage on their mind, the hilly terrain is ideal for a breakaway. Who is going to control the race? Trek-Segafredo have the yellow jersey but they’re not the strongest squad, can’t do it all themselves and besides they need to spare Richie Porte and a couple of riders around him and Julian Alaphilippe is only six seconds off Giulio Ciccone. Alaphilippe’s problem is he’s a threat to others on GC and nobody will want to gift him a lot of time, he might have no chance to win the race overall but put him in the yellow jersey with a five minute lead and it’s a different story, a risk the likes of Ineos won’t want to take. There are so many names amid the stellar startlist to think of it’s quicker to go to the chainrings instead

Schachmann, Fraile, De Gendt, Benoot
Sagan, Rui Costa, Alaphilippe, Lutsenko, Herrada, Wellens, Matthews, De Marchi, GVA, Naesen, Boasson Hagen, Bilbao, Taaramäe, Dennis, Barguil


Yellow story: want to wear the yellow jersey? Then get it early because the chances of taking late in the race decrease. It’s rather obvious since the more selective the stages, the fewer riders are in the mix and so your chances of taking it rapidly reduce once the mountains arrive. But let’s quantify things… Work by L’Equipe shows that of the 68 riders to have worn yellow for only one day in their life, 57% of the them took it in the prologue and opening four stages, 28% during stages 5-9 and only 10% managed to grab the yellow jersey after Stage 10. Then if you want to keep it, wear the yellow jersey on Stage 11 and history says you have a 70% chance of holding it to Paris.

Weather: a pleasant day for a race, 26°C and a light 10-15km/h tailwind for much of the stage.

TV: the stage starts at 12.10pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST / Euro time. There should be a fight to get in the break, this could be a stage where the first and last parts provide the most action. You could tune in all day but it’s scenic as in rustic, rather than spectacular.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ecky Thump Saturday, 13 July 2019, 6:32 am

    Those bonus seconds are tantalisingly placed, only 12.5km from the stage’s end.
    Do DQS let Trek suffer on the front and risk the breakaway going out of reach, or will they step in and reel in the escapers and look to launch Alaphilippe on the bonus climb?

    • Digahole Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:04 am

      Judging by the half-hearted effort DQS made at protecting yellow on stage 6, looks like Lefevere might be more interested in Viviani winning on Monday than Alaphilippe basking in Bastille glory on Sunday?
      Regarding Trek, they could do with losing the jersey. Looks like they’ve got Porte, Ciccone and Mollema in good form and are a chance for a decent showing in the 3rd week. Hope the management and sponsors have as much faith!

      • J Evans Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:45 am

        You’d hope the team have faith in Porte – why hire him otherwise? – but judging how they are very much not ‘all for Porte’, I suspect not.
        Good point about Ciccone and mountains points, Lion King, but would one really give up the yellow?

        We could end up with both Alaphilippe and Ciccone in the break, battling each other for mountain points, time bonuses and the final victory… but perhaps that’s too hopeful.

        It might be a good idea, though: if they’re in the break, they’re taxing their teams less. Trek can focus on Porte, DQS can have a rest.

        • KevinR Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:47 am

          But as INRNG says nobody is going to gift Ala too much time…

          • J Evans Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:26 am

            He doesn’t need much.
            Any breakaway companions, though, would be most unhappy at his presence. But what does he care? He only needs the bonus seconds on the final climb or the stage win (or some combination of those).

    • Lion King Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:29 am

      Ciccone is probably better to lose yellow so he can be allowed to get into moves to collect mountains points. At the moment he won’t be allowed anywhere.

  • RQS Saturday, 13 July 2019, 7:49 am

    I believe “Alaphilippe’s problem is here’s a threat to others on GC and nobody will want to gift him a lot of time” should read “Alaphilippe’s problem is he’s a threat….”.

  • RQS Saturday, 13 July 2019, 7:55 am

    A difficult stage to call. The right break will probably get some mileage and a win unless DQS fancy chasing them all down.
    What is the deal with Yohann Offredo? He’s consistently last even when he’s off the front. I presume he’s looking for the laterne rouge. Seems like a ‘character’ of sorts.

  • Digahole Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:06 am

    Xandro Meurisse in the break, Wanty in yellow?

    • StevhanTI Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:42 am

      Now that would be a story

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:26 am

      Meurisse has been good before on some uphill finishes but is having a very good Tour, as if he’s gone up a level. But hard to see him topping third place on the Planche des Belles Filles.

  • J Evans Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:41 am

    Should be a very interesting stage and as you and others have already said there are a variety of race scenarios and a very wide variety of potential winners – I’d personally fancy a break to take it, so will randomly plump for Fraile.

    Regarding yesterday, yet more evidence that Caleb Ewan may be the fastest rider here. He might well have won yesterday if he hadn’t launched too late and this wasn’t a one-off, he has consistently got it wrong in this race (and others).
    He desperately needs someone to teach him sprinting tactics – he should grab hold of Robbie McEwen and bend his ear for a few hours or, rather, have McEwen bend his.

    • J Evans Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:43 am

      Amateur hour by Quintana to take a wee just before an intermediate sprint, which being so close to the finish was always a possible place for an attack, especially as there were crosswinds.
      And Dan Martin, as he so often is, was presumably far too far away from the front and got caught out too. It’s so often the same riders who falter in these moments: how has he not learned to just tag himself onto the end of the Ineos train on such stages? Adam Blythe, on Eurosport’s commentary, termed it ‘pathetic’.

    • KevinK Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:18 am

      I’m no expert on sprinting, but “fastest” doesn’t seem to be a very useful metric. It’s common to see a sprinter who starts their sprint late then closes with tremendous speed, and then you hear people say “if only he’d timed his sprint better.” Meanwhile, the replay shows winner used much more energy from 1500 m to 300 m, fighting for the perfect position, often making multiple adjustments, and then came out into the wind sooner than the apparently faster sprinter who finished behind.

      Yesterday Sagan finished ahead of at least two sprinters who are faster than he is. It’s that way in almost every sprint he’s a part of, because of the work he does well before the final 100 meters. A little (and supremely aero) guy like Ewan should be getting out there much sooner. He’s not strong enough/big enough to force slower riders out of his way, and so by trying to draft until the last possible moment, he screws himself. He needs to start taking the risk of going earlier, even if it means that there are times where he seems to have it, only to be pipped at the line. Otherwise he’s going to continue to have fast finishes that don’t yield victories.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:32 am

        I think you’ll find, if you really look into it, the guy that crosses the line first is always the fastest!

        • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:45 am

          Not necessarily, there’s more to it than that and this is what makes bike racing interesting.

      • J Evans Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:41 am

        Good points, but then again he has been criticised previously for going too early.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 12:28 pm

          So he’s varying his tactics and trying to work what works best for him and when. But he’s still getting told by the armchair critics to learn some tactics. If you read or listen to Robbie McEwen you would also know that they are in contact regularly. McEwen is one of the reasons that Ewan rides for Lotto-Soudal.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 12:32 pm

            So, I suggested he learn about tactics and that’s what he’s doing. (And even using the person I suggested.)
            BTW, if you’re irked by ‘armchair critics’ of cycling, why would you be reading a comments section on a cycling page?

    • DJS Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:15 am

      Some insightful slomo on Dutch TV yesterday (https://www.npostart.nl/nos-de-avondetappe/12-07-2019/POW_04304525 maybe area restricted) showed how Caleb Ewan’s rear wheel looses contact with the tarmac several times during the sprint as his extreme forward position results in a loss of pressure/control on the rear wheel which shows when the road is not buttery smooth. It seems the aero gains from his position come at a cost. Being Dutch myself, I don’t mind if that’s what helps to get Groenewegen the win.

      • Sam Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:34 am

        I thought I saw that too – was really hopping all over the place… Certainly Caleb is super fast, in the right conditions very hard to beat. But is seems he needs to learn to be a bit more versatile.

        • Larry T Saturday, 13 July 2019, 4:21 pm

          The team needs to make Ewan watch the slo-mo clip of that sprint a few times. Perhaps he’ll understand then that no matter how fast or how hard you pedal, the bike pretty much goes nowhere if the rear wheel’s not in contact with the road.

      • KevinK Saturday, 13 July 2019, 5:53 pm

        Fascinating! Thanks for sharing that.

  • StevhanTI Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:43 am

    I think GVA and AdM are going to throw the kitchen sink at it and salvage CCC’s first season by winning a stage

  • paekakariki pusher Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:52 am

    It’s a lovely part of the world. I am lucky to have family nearby, as the article says, the roads are quiet, climbing and running through vineyards, interspersed with an endless parade of small towns of the local Appellation. I’d be there tomorrow and stay for weeks, if it wasn’t pretty much as far away as possible from where I am at the moment :}. Maybe Alaphilippe to get MJ back?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:28 am

      Yes, it is a nice part of France. You can do a lot of climbs in a ride rather than going to the Alps and do two or three long climbs. Looking forward to seeing it on TV.

  • DJW Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:57 am

    It’s not specific to this stage but every year AG2R build thier season around Bardet and the Tour. They would be delighted if it worked but when it doesn’t they have no fall back position. FDJ at least have Gaudu (a probable future climbing star) behind Pinot, and in Demare (though not at TdF 2019) a sprinter who can win major races. Almost all WT teams have multiple options across the season. AG2R have a large number of solid and experienced support riders, but who, apart from Bardet, can be expected to win?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:34 am

      The Tour is huge for them but they do go for the classics with Oliver Naesen – keep an eye on him today – and Stijn Vanderbergh. Ag2r’s Gaudu is Latour but he’s injured this time, like much of the team. They’ve been very unlucky this year too, Silvan Dillier injured too, Alex Geniez ill etc. They’ve got a modest budget, more details at https://inrng.com/2018/10/the-finances-of-ag2r-la-mondiale-matmut/

    • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:41 am

      Gallopin and Vuillermoz, from the break today.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:00 am

    Shame only two went in the break yesterday!

  • brent sword Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:07 am

    I don’t think trek should put to much effort into chasing the break. They do not need to win this stage and they don’t have the rider normally capable to finish off with a sprint unless solo. If they chase it down and Alaphilippe gets the bonus seconds it was all a waste of effort mucking up the next week.
    If they lose the yellow even better. I imagine the DS may secretly hope they lose the yellow.

    Unless DQ or sunweb chase the break down it will be a break away day. I will give mattews 2 chainrings due to the chance of a small bunch sprint.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 9:36 am

    Hard one to control today without using a lot of energy. Wouldn’t be surprised if the jersey changed hands.

    Also predict a big GC name will lose time today.

    • Woodsey's Mum Sunday, 14 July 2019, 2:51 am

      You cursed Woods! He fell just before he was going to jump away with Alaphilippe; also at exactly the same time that his teammate Simon Clarke had just buried himself on the front of the peloton and ground to a halt.

      Lost 14 minutes, at least that was clever to lose so much time to be able to attack now.

  • KevinK Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:21 am

    Ah, damn. You can delete this. I accidentally double posted.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:26 am

    EBH still getting tipped. If Inrng has an Achilles heel this is it 🙂

  • KevinR Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:57 am

    Wishful thinking maybe here, but what about Steve Cummings having a go today in the break? It’s the sort of stage for him and there was no point in Dimension Data taking him if he is going to hang round at the back of the peloton ALL the way round France. Maybe a day for Simon Yates to test the legs too after pootling along so far?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:01 am

      He could but seems to be finding it harder these days, the other day he tried to get in the break but couldn’t make it.

    • brent sword Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:27 am

      Simon yates will be pootling around until the 3rd week under orders to do nothing.
      Unless Adam falls apart.

  • The Inner Ring Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:01 am

    Added GVA to the list for today.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:21 am

    An “ambush” you say, ah I remember those days, come back Bertie, the race needs livening up!

  • Phil Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:22 am

    Where is WVA in your preview? For me the big fav in this stage. His level is just insane right now

    • Morten Reippuert Saturday, 13 July 2019, 12:11 pm

      Way too much climbing, this is LBL+ teritory.

  • Jack Saturday, 13 July 2019, 11:47 am

    No chainring for Trentin again? Super consistent in the classics season and stage three sprint was hugely promising. Looked like he was on Yates guarding duty yesterday but if he gets freedom he can probably go with most attacks on the last climb and would fare pretty well in a super reduced bunch sprint.

  • Morten Reippuert Saturday, 13 July 2019, 12:07 pm

    Søren Kragh Andersen….

  • Frederick Norton Saturday, 13 July 2019, 3:22 pm

    didnt see the fight to get in the break – surprised its only 4 (4 beasts though). did the non world tour teams not contest getting in the break?
    i agree about GVA – i’m thinking adm is under strict orders to try to drop the others early enough that GVA can try his hand if adm isnt solo. i have to think there are a bunch of punchy ardennes riders who know losing sagan, matthews, colbrelli is their only chance – so as soon as one dude lights it up from the pack he should draw out the others (not on strict gc proctector duty). woods? clarke? lutsenko? teuns (again!)?….maybe if its messy enough we’ll get a preview of the ineos tempo train.

    • Thinktank Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:34 pm

      There were a few attacks in the beginning, but all got chased down again. De Marchi jumped a little later and had to chase for maybe 30-40 minutes (it looked like Terpstra was not interested in letting him join in the beginning). That might be the reason why he was dropped by a superb De Gendt in the end. That guy is a real beast, very happy to see him winning – especially in that fashion!

  • Steppings Saturday, 13 July 2019, 4:52 pm

    Fantastic terrain/countryside today, my kind of heaven for bike riding nothing overly dramatic but plenty of leg breakers if so desired.

  • Gregario Saturday, 13 July 2019, 6:38 pm

    Thomas De Gendt, what a machine! This man is unbelievable – to be in the break for 200 km and hold off a furiously chasing pack of elite riders just beggars belief. This one arguably the best performance of the year so far. You just can’t praise it high enough.

  • Thomas Saturday, 13 July 2019, 6:56 pm

    Tell that to France 2 and l’Equipe, they only praise Alaphilippe and Pinot (great effort from those 2 as well!).

    Very nice stage, sitting on the tip of my chair for the last 25 km. De Gendt is one of a kind!

  • cp Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:24 pm

    Wow, that was exciting. When two of the most entertaining and exciting cyclists in the peloton take the stage and the yellow jersey in one swoop–what more can you want? That last 14 km was intense.

    How did Moscon break his bike in half? The crash didn’t look that bad.

    A question for Brits here: what is this word “hove” that Carlton Kirby loves: “as the peloton hoves into view…” “Sagan is here hoving on the back of the bunch…” “As we hove onto the climb…” From context it’s easy enough to understand from context, but I’ve never heard this word. We don’t have it, as far as I know, in my two Englishes… US or Canadian.

    • Steve Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:19 pm

      Kirby barely speaks English anyway, but only the first use is normal. It’s a nautical variation of ‘heave’.

    • Cassandra Sunday, 14 July 2019, 12:50 pm

      I believe it was Geraint’s bike that snapped, he was brought down by the EF rider. Moscon gave him his bike.

      Great ride by Thomas to get back on and finish prominently in the peloton, btw.

  • Bern Saturday, 13 July 2019, 8:47 pm

    Past tense of ‘heave’, but more meanings than that. ‘Hove to’ means anchored, ‘hove into view’ means appeared (in a sort of muscular way), and there are other, more archaic sounding meanings. Interesting ol’ skoo’ word…something my old Indiana-born boss woulda said if the moment required it…

    • cp Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:29 pm

      Ahh. I knew it was past tense of heave (thank you, Melville), but Kirby uses it in the present tense, hence the wonder…this sort of inventiveness, if you can call it that, is better than his punning, which reached a low when he said the peloton was “dancing to Dylan’s tune/Teuns…” oy!

      • jc Saturday, 13 July 2019, 10:45 pm

        I wonder if the discussion over the merits or otherwise of Beaujolais wines made much sense to many. I find all the various banter mildly amusing, they have to find some thing the talk about as the countryside rolls by however I know some find it irritating. I am sure something interesting will be happening tomorrow as Brioude hoves into view :), https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hove

  • cp Sunday, 14 July 2019, 4:16 am

    I’m up and down about the banter from Kirby, though generally enjoying it lately. (Rob Hatch, however, is grating–he shrieks; why does he feel like he has to talk so much? They could learn something from US baseball announcers, like the greatest of the them all, the Phillies old play by play man Harry Kalas. With a bit of the ambient sound of the ballpark you didn’t need constant talk.)