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Tour de France Stage 2 Preview

The race goes into the mountains for a hard day’s racing with two big climbs and a hilly finish, a route borrowed straight out of Paris-Nice. The good news is the sun’s shining.

Holiday on Nice: the early break of three from which Fabian Grellier (Total Direct Energie) took the mountains jersey for a day, not a giant triumph but that’s his Tour made. We also learned that Peter Sagan looks like he wants another green jersey, he contested the intermediate sprint. So far, so normal but this is a very different Tour, the start in Nice behind a wall and a strange mood inside and outside the peloton. It rained for the first time in ages and the roads turned into a skating rink with countless riders crashing, this was no balade niçoise. Pavel Sivakov fell twice and with no Ineos riders coming back to help him at first it cleared up any team leadership hopes and he lost even more time. The Jumbo-Visma team were visibly trying to neutralise the race, Tony Martin was flapping his arms in a gesture that looked like he wanted to express “piano, piano” but resembled a cassowary trying to take off. It worked, the decision to neutralise the race is never a democratic matter, strong teams can enforce their will on the others but collectively most agreed. Astana had other plans, only to get hoisted by their own petard when Miguel Angel Lopez lost control on a descent and planted his face into a roadsign. Once the racing resumed everyone looked to be heading back to Nice safely only the peloton to go down like bowling pins at the 3km point. We got the promised sprint but none of the team trains could take control and a surprise result, Alexander Kristoff launching a long sprint to win ahead of Mads Pedersen and Cees Bol, a trio of powerhouse sprinters.

The Route: Stage 2 and solid day in the Alps with two long climbs and beaucoup climbing metres, this is an important stage. Why such a tough day so early? Because Nice is sat between the Alps and the sea, it’s not like there’s much other choice and besides these inland roads are very inviting, they’re staples of Paris-Nice.

It’s 45km up the valley roads and straight into the Colmiane. It’s become a regular in Paris-Nice and at 16km it’s a long, steady ascent where you get into a tempo and hardly change gear, just stand on pedals for a few ramps and to round some of the hairpins. There’s a reciprocal descent.

The Turini is next, 15km at a bit steeper and more irregular in places. The descent via Peïra-Cava and Lucéram starts with regular roads but rough in parts and it’s later down that the twisty section comes. After Peïra-Cava the race forks left and the technical part begins with a series of hairpins cut into the rock before reaching Lucéram. Pass this and the road gradually levels off into Nice, the road is more engineered and if there are hairpins they’re the kind trucks can take quickly.

They ride into Nice and head for the Col d’Eze. The climb is 7.8km at 6.1% but with a steep start of 7-8% for the first two kilometres. Once past the Col, they take the Moyenne Corniche descent back to Nice, it’s very familiar from Paris-Nice. They cross the finish line and climb the Col d’Eze again with the same steep start but this time they turn off before the top, at the Col des Quatre Chemins. Here is the day’s special bonus point, a time bonus of 8-5-2 seconds for the first three. The descent is on familiar roads from Paris-Nice too.

The Finish: the Paris-Nice finish, the same roads as used in recent editions of the spring stage race, its downhill off the climb. The official profile shows a small rise with 1km to go but this is barely a bump in the road with a flat run along the promenade.

The Contenders: not an easy day for a breakaway because nobody wants to lose time, miss the move today and many teams can waive goodbye to taking the yellow jersey before it becomes the property of the overall contenders. At the same time today’s climbs are so big many sprinters should be dropped.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunick-Quickstep) is the obvious pick, he can win sprints from a group and is capable of launching on either of the two final climbs. But he’ll be heavily marked.

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) good on terrain like today and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) used to be an obvious pick. Marc Hirshi (Sunweb) and Tiesj Benoot have decent chances today, Hirschi’s very quick from a small group and Benoot has the punch. Sergio Higuita (EF) is a fast finisher but would prefer an uphill finish. Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-McLaren) is quick, famous for his descending which helps today he won a stage of the Deutschland Tour from a big group. UAE Emirates probably won’t wait for Kristoff, instead Tadej Pogačar and Davide Formolo are cards to play, David de la Cruz’s won a stage of Paris-Nice on the same roads but fractured his pelvis. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) might be able to hold today or get back on the descents, and an outside chance Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) too.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is a stealth pick because he’s unlikely to follow Alaphilppe over the Col d’Eze as if it’s the Poggio but if things come back together he can sprint and take the win. Also Primož Roglič is a candidate in case the GC contenders turn on each other early and make this an early selection.

Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was going to be today’s pick from months out but an Italian motorist emerged from a garage or driveway onto the course of Il Lombardia and took him out, cracking his collarbone. He’s racing but today’s surely too much now.

Julian Alaphilppe, Davide Formolo, Matej Mohorič
Lutsenko, WvA, Hirschi, GvA, Herrada, Benoot, Impey, Roglič, Coquard

Weather: sunny and mild, 24°C in the valleys inland and warmer back in Nice. Update 10.00am, the wind is getting up, there’s a strong onshore breeze to push the peloton inland but it’ll be gusty later, a headwind on the finishing straight.

TV: live coverage from start to finish. The stage starts at 1.00pm CEST, the top of the Turini is around 4.00pm and the finish is forecast for 6.00pm Euro time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Digahole Sunday, 30 August 2020, 7:04 am

    Ha ha, the cassowary! An awkward and unnatural patron for sure.

    Really though, what a fitting start for the Tour in 2020 – a reminder that just beneath the veneer of control that lays over everything is chaos. For all of the focus on the two dominant teams, if ever a year is going to burn the script, it’ll be this this year. And with mountains after yesterday there’s sure to be unexpected time losses and abandons today.

    As a Pinot fan, I really lost heart after his crash yesterday. Either his injuries are bad or mentally he still doesn’t have it. Couldn’t help thinking that Roglic or Bernal would have just got back up and ridden to the line without the drama.

    • Sean Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:28 am

      Yes, maybe he feels he’s carrying the hopes of a nation.

      On the other hand, it’s hard to believe he would look so peeved if he wasn’t in great form. And he also sounded despondent after losing time in the crisis stage least year.

    • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:40 am

      I wouldn’t write him off just yet. I agree that Pinot is fragile mentally, but yesterday was a miserable day, and going down probably compiled that, and there really wasn’t much point he and his team expending extra energy finishing quickly (except to keep warm), so finishing without further incident and conserving energy was probably preferable.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:20 am

      Tough for Pinot and his face seemed to say plenty yesterday, he must have been hurting from the injury but also the blow to morale, he knows he needs everything to go his way and starts like this.

      Both lottery sponsored teams having a tough time with Lotto-Soudal losing Gilbert and Degenkolb, that’s a lot of experience gone.

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:50 am

        Totally missed Gilbert pulling out?

        • Dave Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:08 am

          Fractured patella in one of the many crashes apparently (same knee/injury he suffered last year?).

      • Jeroen Kooij Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:24 am

        Pinot had an angry look on his face for the entire 3 km’s he gently rode to the finishline, with his quiet teammates around him. It felt like they wanted to rub something in, in front of the camera. I cannot feel his pain and I don’t know if he has injuries now, but it made me think that as a team leader, don’t you have some responsibility to always stay positive towards your teammates, rise above the circumstances and pick yourself up mentally as soon as possible, simply to set an example?

        • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:03 pm

          I agree, it was a time to put on the “game face” and give nothing away. We know Pinot’s an emotional rider, which is part of his appeal, but as a leader sometimes (or rather, virtually all the time) you need to suck it up and be a stoic. Even if he’s feeling doubts and despair at that moment, those feelings are contagious, esp. coming from one’s leader.

    • KevinR Sunday, 30 August 2020, 4:18 pm

      Have to agree with Digahole. Roglic or Bernal would not have shown such despondency and would have dusted down and got on with it. So would Froome and Thomas if they’d had the form to ride. Sadly, it just serves to underline why he probably won’t win the Tour – dealing with elite level adversity is far from his strongpoint. Also, his team never seem to give him the level of protection the likes of Ineos give their leaders

  • jc Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:19 am

    What is wrong with an opening prologue or team TT? There is no need for “spectacular” on every stage. Yes the rain made the roads very slippery but even so it was not the best sort of opening stage.

    Maybe I am being unfair but it did seem as if Sam Bennett failed to grasp the win. He appeared to get himself in the right place but then lacked the power to get to the line. I was left with a feeling that Cav or Marcel Kittel in their pomp, or Dylan Groenewegen would have ended the day in yellow.

    I too thought Thibaut Pinot’s reaction was not good. Perhaps he has been injured and I am sure he was badly shaken. However plenty of others fell, most got back on their bikes with a minimum of fuss . It does not bode well for his chances deeper into the race.

    As to today it seems a bit of a lottery, yes it suits Julian Alaphilippe but he will be closely watched and he might be a bit banged up after yesterday. WvA is clearly racing for the team not himself. I cant see the GC folk putting in too much effort and a big break is unlikely so early in the race. Another unexpected winner perhaps?

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:44 am

      Somehow I’m not sure a TT in the city on wet slippery roads would have created less drama… See, every grand tour opening TT on wet city roads that ever was, for reference.

      And the idea that organizers have planned on that kind of drama just to increase the “spectacle” has been expressed here and there, but it really makes no sense to me. Beyond the fact that no organizer, however cynical, wants to see contenders hurt on the first day (how does that make the race more appealing to anyone?), there is no way they could have predicted anything like this if they wanted to.

      It’s a freak weather event (rainy day after 3 months of drought) that occurred 2 months after the stage was originally planned, combined with a streak of bad luck, on roads that are all and all pretty good (I’ve trained there for years, never felt like I was in danger because of the road). Same course a few hours before for the women’s race, no fall, from what I recall.

      Beyond what happened today, I feel that the peloton and the UCI/race organizers are reaching a level of antagonism that I’ve never seen before. Both sides feel tense, angry, threatened, unfairly treated and under huge pressure, and to make things worse, some major players (presumably under pressure from sponsors as well) seem to use the opportunity to advance their own pawns and capitalize on the chaos. I hope for the sport’s sake that some constructive talks will happen at the end of the seaaon and defuse some of that tension.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:28 am

        Yes, the rain made all the difference, feel for Nice as the city’s invested a lot to promote itself as a great destination for cyclists only for the Covid rules to fence off half the Tour and then it actually rained for the first time in months. The course wasn’t that spectacular, the roads wide (for the area, it’s not California) and they deliberately extended the last loop to go via Levens and an easier descent and then had the large road back into Nice, there were no laps around the market. As you say there are obvious safety concerns within the peloton… but also a few in the convoy with an agenda.

      • jc Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:48 am

        I agree that the weather was outside ASO’s control, if the race had run as planned it would have, in all probability, been a warm and sunny July afternoon. However there does seem to be a desire to “manufacture” excitement. Whilst a prologue or a TT of some sort might not be the most exciting of stages the point is that it acts as a curtain raiser to the race. There is a three week narrative, plenty of time for the inevitable thrills and spills. There really is no need to push all this, there is enough hoopla associated with the Tour in any case.

        It also means other types of riders who are not aiming for GC victory have a realistic chance of wearing yellow for a day or so. Cycle racing should be about more than which team can afford the best climber and associated domestiques.

        • Lukyluk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:34 am

          Whether an opening TT would have made things more interesting is probably a matter of preference, I personally tend to find those stages dull but that’s just me. Whether it would have been an opportunity for outsiders to shine is also debatable, I think Roglic (or Jumbo for TTT) would have been among the top favorites on that day, and Kristoff in yellow is a good story. Again, just my opinion.

          But what is for sure is that if you had a TT in Nice yesterday, and the stage wasn’t neutralized, then instead of 3 riders DNS due to injury today you’d have had 20.

    • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:13 am

      I think the idea of this stage was to create various possibilities. A break could win the yellow, but if the teams with sprinters keep things together they win gold for the day. So plenty of excitement, rather than a sprint processional. The weather washed that all out though.

      • Ecky Thump Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:51 am

        As the phrase goes – “racing incidents”.
        Nothing to see here, move on.
        An occupational health and safety disaster zone.

    • Nick Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:12 pm

      Bennett did seem a little rueful that, after he’d struggled to get back into the peloton 3 times, the riders neutralised the race, so other sprinters were able to rejoin with less effort. He didn’t seem to be arguing with the decision, rather saying “if only I’d known, I could have saved my legs too”.

  • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:25 am

    “The Jumbo-Visma team were visibly trYing to neutralise the race“

  • StevhanTi Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:30 am

    Couldn’t help but notice that Higuita and Pogacar sprinted in the front group yesterday, finishing in the top 20. Testing their fast muscle fibres for today maybe? I see Sergio taking the stage today

  • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:31 am

    I saw Bennett’s interview. Seems by his own confession he was trying to be too clever in the sprint and wound up being in the wrong gear. I was really surprised he didn’t win that given the competition. The crash at 3km to go should not have affected the trains massively, and without Caleb Ewan (the commentators said he was there but I never saw any evidence) that yellow jersey and a win should have been his. A big miss.
    Still this is a big filip for Kristoff and deserved too. A classy rider that has kept himself winning despite his ‘advanced’ years.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:25 am

      Maybe it’s wrong but when doing sprint previews here it’s never easy to give Bennett the top pick, there’s a tendency to make mistakes etc but many of the sprinters lost out yesterday. Perhaps the good news for Bennett is he’s had his miss and so Sisteron and Privas are more promising now.

    • Eskerrik Asko Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:11 am

      fillip (plural fillips)
      (archaic) The action of holding the tip of a finger against the thumb and then releasing it with a snap; a flick.
      (by extension) Something that excites or stimulates:
      This measure gave a fillip to the housing market.
      The athlete’s victory provided a much-needed fillip for national pride.

  • Richard S Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:05 am

    Regarding the finish today, Alaphilippe might be an obvious pick and heavily marked but when is he ever not? If he decides to kick up the last climb only 2 or 3 riders will be able to follow, if any, and he’ll be able to outsprint them. Unless one of them is Van Aert.

    • Richard S Sunday, 30 August 2020, 7:44 pm

      2/2

      • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:16 pm

        Richard S, it’s time to start gambling.

  • Gelato4bahamontes Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:08 am

    Rafael bells :broken femur
    Phil gilbert: broken kneecap
    John degenkplb:missed te time cut.

    • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:17 am

      Gilbert out?! I saw Degenkolb missed the time cut. But that’s a surprise because I haven’t seen that anywhere.

      • Tim Morton Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:02 am

        Lotto Soudal tweeted it
        Broken knee cap for
        @PhilippeGilbert
        . Bad day for #LottoSoudal after we’ve also lost
        @johndegenkolb
        . Get better soon both! https://bit.ly/2EPT6f2

    • DJS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:24 am

      That’s exceptionally harsh for Lotto-Soudal; missing two riders after the first stage, after the positive tests of staff resulting in the sending home of 2 mechanics and 2 soigneurs…Also bad news for the chances of Ewan who misses two fast finishing riders with lots of racing experience.
      I also think that given all the crashes today and the neutralization of the race by the peloton, the application of the time cut by the organization is rather brutal. But maybe they want to reduce the number of riders as fast as possible to minimize the risk in the next stages…

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:32 am

        Harsh for Degenkolb but the race was neutralised for a long time too which allowed others to get back, he’d have needed something particular to him to stay in the race like a level crossing closing in front of him, a team car knocking him off. Note the commissaires apply the time cut, it’s not a “we need fewer riders, lets pick on Dege” conspiracy 😉

        • DJS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:37 am

          All true and I don’t think they are trying to pick on one of the nicest guys in the peloton specifically – just seems harsh as he also crashed. However, on Sporza Dege mentions his knee is swollen and painful, and in need of rest – so whether he would have managed to stay in the race for much longer is doubtful anyway.

          • Tim Morton Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:04 am

            I’ve seen an interview with Degenkolb where he says he is in pain and folk that know him will know that is serious pain. He also makes the point that there are other races so he needs to recover and get fit for them and for the team.

        • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:41 am

          As you say, the race was neutralized a long time. Ewan was over 6 minutes back and isolated, and then suddenly he was being paces back from a minute down and was quickly back in the peloton. I suspect if the cameras had been on him we would have seen some epic team-car pacing, but given the conditions I don’t think anyone was going to have much issue with that.

          As others have noted, Degenkolb was injured. I think the team was insulted that he was sent home for missing the time cut after pushing himself to finish, rather than allowing him to withdraw after getting an official result in the first stage.

          • Maeradefigar Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:22 am

            I read that Degwnkolb gave his bike to Ewan. Could it be that the six minutes delay were because the data of Ewan’s bike was transmitting from Degenkolb placement?

          • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:07 pm

            Degenkolb is listed at 1.8 m. Ewan at 1.65 m (translated, 5’9″ and 5’4″). Could Ewan have even ridden Degenkolb’s bike?

          • Maeradefigar Sunday, 30 August 2020, 1:39 pm

            Yeah, sounds quite unprobable, it’s just what I read, but the explanation of the bike on the team car that Inner Ring gave is the easiest one.

        • morten reippuert Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:26 am

          Ewan closed a +6min gap from the same crash on the uphill before the race was neutralised.

          I guess the team compromised with commissioners not to throw out Ewan & 2nd teamcar for doing a froome@motirolo / demare@sanremo by giving Degenkolb an OTL.

          • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:29 am

            Interesting how people see conspiracy theories. Watching French TV’s coverage with a moto in the race they noticed Ewan wasn’t that far back… but his crashed bike with the tracker on it was on a team car further back.

          • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:09 pm

            There you go, Inring, spoiling our fun. 😉

            Thanks for the reality check, that makes perfect sense.

    • Maeradefigar Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:17 am

      Also David de La Cruz has fractured his sacrum.
      He will ride today, but probably he won’t be able to finish the stage.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:39 am

        And Wout Poels (Bahrein) seems to have a broken rib. Will mount today too.

        That makes three abandon, two (we currently know of) in race riders with broken bones and a busload of contesters with all kind of bruises and abrasions.

        And it just started

  • Gelato4bahamontes Sunday, 30 August 2020, 9:08 am

    Vells of course.

    • Zeral Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:11 am

      Valls?

    • Anonymous Sunday, 30 August 2020, 1:30 pm

      Ask not for whom the Bells toll?

  • Paul Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:32 am

    Nizzolo looked the quickest, Mads smartly shut the door on him.

    Its hard to bash on Astana too much, there is an argument to stretch out the peloton into single file on the descent is safer. Who hurts more today, Lopez or G. Bennet? Poor George.

    I think there will be a break, but Alaphilppe won’t be allowed to get away.

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:40 am

      Nizzolo was dropped by the peloton in the uphills earlier in the stage though, not because of a crash or incident but he just didn’t have the legs. He only managed to get back in because of the peloton slowing down drastically until about 20km to go. I hope for him it was just a bad day yesterday, and today will be different.

      • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:10 pm

        Didn’t the camera’s show him holding his stomach in pain when he was dropped? It may have been GI distress, not legs.

    • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:54 pm

      Lopez’s crash did make for one of the more spectacular I’ve seen – once I knew he was OK and could ‘enjoy’ it. Incredible bike control.

  • David Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:32 am

    De Gendt has helpfully lost the kind of chunk of time that would make the peloton happy to let him disappear up the road at this early stage…

  • AnotherKevin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 10:50 am

    I can’t help but think Ineos made a strategic mistake leaving Pavel Sivakov out there alone to struggle back. He looked so forlorn and as a young rider I could see that lack of support playing with his head. Perhaps he was so far back that the cost would have been too great to the overall strategy, but it appeared that they judged him to be expendable.

    Some typos: “…Fabian Grellier (Total Direct Energie) took the mountains jersey for a day, not a giant triumph that’s his Tour made.” This is a little hard to follow. Do you mean “not a giant triumph but that’s his Tour made”?

    “Once the racing resumed things everyone looked to be heading back to Nice safely only the peloton to go down like bowling pins at the 3km point.” I think you meant to delete either “things” or “everyone,” and I think you need a ‘for’ before “the peloton.”

  • BA's Mohawk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:00 am

    Pinot looked like he’d been sucking on some sour grapes as he dawdled to the finish. That aint no CHAMP attitude. If he makes it to Paris i’ll be amazed as, unlike Frenchies from a generation ago, this lot aint got no spunk.

    Clocked Sagan’s wearisome mug as he struggled for top 10 in the spint. Looked like he was faking it and could really be arsed with the kick. Perhaps Sagan’s pomp is behind us as is often the way with precocious talent – twice as bright, haff as long.

    I’m not into these rain days being called off and neutralised or shortened like they’re all supposed have dry roads and clear lines to be able to race. The racers are gettin too soft and nannied. The race must go on and treachery should be encouraged to get the gap. If Nibali had been in the front you can bet your last quattro formaggi pizza he’d have been skating down the decent like a lunatic. Chapeau.

    • jc Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:00 pm

      The issue yesterday was not that it was raining but that it was the first heavy rain for some considerable time. What tends to happen in those circumstances is that a film of oils builds up on the road surfaces, especially if the tarmac is newly laid . Any painted areas seem to be even more affected. The combination of oil and heavy rain creates an extremely slippery surface, making it very difficult to brake and stay upright. The risks of any “demon descending” were amply illustrated by Miguel Angel Lopez.

    • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:59 pm

      Channelling your inner-Wiggins? He seems to be going for the ‘bearded Ray Winstone’ effect on Eurosport.

  • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:25 am

    I was surprised more teams didn’t go for the comparatively easy chance to wear the polka dots yesterday.

    Watching the overhead sprint, Sam Bennett allowed himself to be (very gently) nudged off his lead out man by a Trek rider. Didn’t look like he had the legs after that anyway, but if you allow that to happen the other riders will take note.

    Glad the riders didn’t neutralise the entire stage as Cancellara did in Stage 2, 2010. He claimed this was about the descent being dangerous, but it also happened to help out his team leader, Andy Schleck, who was a long way behind having crashed (as had quite a few others from what I recall, but few were as far back as Schleck). It was possibly reasonable to neutralise the descent, but not the entire stage. This decision probably cost Thor Hushovd the overall green jersey. Petacchi and Cavendish, who beat Hushovd in the final overall standings, had been dropped a long time before the crashes and were still way back, and some, including Hushovd wanted to sprint at the end of the stage having put in the effort to distance his rivals (Chavanel had won the stage – the peloton rode in together). Cancellara, acting as ‘patron’ in the yellow jersey, didn’t allow them to. Personally, I think Cancellara was trying to justify his decision to help out his team leader as a ‘rider protest’. I don’t doubt some riders were unhappy (Andy Schleck was never happy to be going downhill), but while it could be seen as reasonable to neutralise the descent there was no reason to neutralise the entire stage. Having such a ‘patron’ is not always a good thing, as I’m sure Hushovd would agree.

  • Tommy Sunday, 30 August 2020, 12:18 pm

    I am bored of fetishisation of crashes and attitude of “if you can’t handle risks then don’t race”

    The crashes add zero to my enjoyment of the sport and the risk of crashing doesn’t either. A few seconds gained on downhill rarely make the race.

    My view: aggressive measures needed to make cycling safer starting with far more proactive neutralisation

    I am fairly new to pro cycling as a fan and not burdened by nostalgia or legacy habits.

    The sport needs a rocket up its backside and that is not apparently happening.

    I am very surprised the riders are so passive – they should literally stop riding if it gets too dangerous. Team Captains should liaise. The CPA or similar should be on the front foot.
    Why are team managers so insipid and quiet – you would think they want fewer injuries too.

    Yes bike racing is dangerous but – like rugby – the steps to make it safer are all talk and no action.

    • Wipperman_15 Sunday, 30 August 2020, 1:18 pm

      Your comment is as valid as anybody else’s. In fact, if you come from watching other sports, then the attitudes to rider safety can be quite alarming. That it needs riders to neutralise a ‘possibly dangerous’ descent says it all. What does it need to make the officials take action? Far too re-active in many situations.
      There should be a race officials on the back of a motorbikes as well as in cars who can talk/listen to riders concerns if something is too dangerous; then, in consultation with the Race director neutralise, or in motor racing terms, the ‘Full Course yellow’.
      I’m uncomfortable with participants making decisions in a sporting contest, that is why you have officials. I don’t care what has been done in the past, or a ‘patron’ of the peloton. It’s 2020, time the sport moved on.

    • RQS Sunday, 30 August 2020, 2:21 pm

      It’s a tricky one. I don’t know if you are a rider, but the problem is really getting agreement across the board as to what is dangerous. Descending is a skill and some are better than others. Each rider is responsible for themselves and eliminating risk is almost impossible when travelling at the Speeds they do.
      Most of all it is the job of the course designer to ensure that the route is capable of taking 100 plus riders going hard. Most of the time it’s not an issue, but there are times they get it wrong (like bollards in the middle of the road on a sprint finish).
      In cases, where weather conditions are problematic, like yesterday, a call has to be made. Last year we saw
      Prudhomme making it on the penultimate mountain stage. Yesterday it was the peloton making the call. The issue is getting agreement from all sections to cease hostilities. There’s usually someone that doesn’t agree, as was the case yesterday with Astana.
      Riders will need to get the message out to nearly 200 riders. There’s usually some disagreement (usually by Italians).
      Riders accept a degree of risk just by the very nature of cycling with lots of other people in such close proximity. So it is hard to argue ultimately about reducing risks. Given that the parcours are always changing it’s near impossible to eliminate unknown risks of riding new routes also.
      Riders and fans are painfully aware that cyclists can pain the ultimate price for their sport. The sport is about cycling excellence and just like motorsports, being on the rivet puts riders lives on the line. It’s a tough call to get the balance right. The roads ridden yesterday would have been well known to many of the riders, and yet heavy rain changed what was likely to be quite a safe stage into something utterly treacherous.

      • Ecky Thump Sunday, 30 August 2020, 3:07 pm

        I think that all the riders who are familiar with the roads there would have been well aware of how dangerous they could become when very wet. Chris Froome was interviewed live on ITV4’s programme and said as much.
        So it’s not like it was all a surprise that couldn’t have been foreseen or mitigated against potentially?

      • Bern Sunday, 30 August 2020, 5:41 pm

        A beautiful, and maddening, sport…

    • Richard S Sunday, 30 August 2020, 7:54 pm

      The thing you have to remember is that nobody has to be there. 18 year old French boys aren’t forced against their will to join FDJ. You don’t get young lads in Brussels sleeping at a different address every night to dodge the Quick Step draft. They’re all rewarded handsomely for taking risks playing a game. If they don’t want to take those risks they can accept not winning or accept a different living. Don’t get me wrong, nobody should risk their life or serious injury through no fault of their own. But if a surface is slippery then you solve that problem by going slower. Nobody who risked gunning a descent yesterday was going to win the TDF from it so just let them go and most likely pass them in a heap in a few corners. Having common sense is part of what it takes to win.

    • CA Monday, 31 August 2020, 2:15 am

      Agreed… No need to romanticize crashes… They are very hard for general fans to watch so are a huge turn off. When roads turn treacherous the race loses nothing by forcing the group and breakaway to drop their pace by 100 watts and keep the same gap. Formula One does it. We need to as well. Besides watching Lopez’s bike fold like a mattress doesn’t help sell bikes… And isnt that what funds this entire circus?!?

  • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 2:36 pm

    If the story of the caravan spraying detergent foam onto the roads is true it’s yet another reason why the caravan should be stopped this year. Seems too incredible to be true.

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 4:36 pm

      Never heard of that before. Where was it reported?

      You do have a sweep of the road, to remove loose gravel, etc. Those are the big red sanitation vehicles with brushes, but I doubt they clean the road on the morning of, most likely a few days beforehand.

      If there’s soap on the road, I’d wager it’s the result of ill intent. Not impossible (there have been tacks thrown on the roads before) but pretty far-fetched.

      • dft Sunday, 30 August 2020, 5:11 pm

        If there was a subtle hint of lavender and jasmine i’d be almost willing to let that one go.

      • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:21 pm

        Brian Smith said on Eurosport commentary that there are stories that a detergent manufacturer in the caravan was spraying foam at the spectators.
        cyclingweekly says: ‘There had been rumours the slipperiness of the road had been caused by the publicity caravan and that a detergent company had blown soap all over the course, but this theory was quickly debunked.’

  • Robin Sunday, 30 August 2020, 3:48 pm

    Chapeau to veteran competitor Carlton Kirby who was left without any teammates from kilometre zero and covered the commentary solo for 2 hours until Matt Stephens arrived.

    • KevinR Sunday, 30 August 2020, 4:41 pm

      Have to say, for once I was sorry for him and he did a pretty decent job of flying solo for a long time (bar the odd “fighting force” and the like). I’m not a Kirby fan but I don’t dislike him in the way some do

      • BA’s Mohawk Sunday, 30 August 2020, 6:35 pm

        Kirby is an aural shit stain on the symphony of Pro Tour races. I can’t watch Eurosport when he’s on due to the inane rambling and bullshit opinion he foists on the viewer. So much so, I started a petition to have his removal discussed in parliament. Many other viewers agree it seems.

        P.s. I take it back about the spunkless French.. chapeau Alaphilippe!!

        P.p.s : how shit was Yates’ sprint !?? 😂.

      • RQS Monday, 31 August 2020, 9:36 am

        I don’t have a problem with Kirby. I think he carries the candle that David Duffield handed to him. Eurosport have really set the framework within which the commentary is done and he, like Duffield have to fill hours of footage.
        In his prime Phil Liggett might have been a better commentator before he seemed to get old and jaded, but he was much more ably abetted by Paul Sherwen. Comparably Eurosport’s response has been to use Sean Kelly. Fantastic bike racer, but far from loquacious. I think the problem is more about Eurosport failing to invest more in coverage, and provide the commentators with more ammunition. It feels pretty much the same for the other sports they show to be fair.

  • cp Sunday, 30 August 2020, 7:12 pm

    That finish was worth waking up for on a Sunday morning here in GMT-7. The obvious question: can Alaphilippe hold on to the jersey past stage 4? or if that past 6?

    A question: Yates said afterwards that he knew he’d never win against Alaphilippe and Hirschi in a sprint. Could he have tried to ride away sooner? Turn it into a long drag sprint instead of a 100m sprint? Or was nothing left in the tank?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 30 August 2020, 8:12 pm

      There was a big headwind, Yates would suffer in this too. Maybe his only hope would be a very late sprint and to use his light weight to get the jump on the others if there was a hesitation but not easy, Alaphilippe can win bunch sprints and Hirschi… well the writing’s in the preview above.

      • cp Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:45 pm

        good poitn. it was pretty noticeable when they hit the headwind in the last bit there; suddenly they seemed like they were pedaling through knee-deep socca batter… [i looked back at ottolenghi’s recipe and he indeed cites socca as a southern french thing. great recipe, btw…]

        the hirschi prediction was impressive.

    • CA Monday, 31 August 2020, 2:19 am

      It looked like Yates was sprinting with both brakes fully on.

  • Ben Goss Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:15 pm

    Hi,

    Great commentary love the articles. Any chance of getting all your stage result predictions? I’m in a pretty competitive fantasy cycling competition you might have heard of it, Reidy’s Tour de France Fantasy Comp.

    • J Evans Sunday, 30 August 2020, 11:25 pm

      That’s cheating. Ask Richard S – he’s on a roll like bacon.

  • ave Monday, 31 August 2020, 11:35 am

    Wow, picking Hirschi… You now your stuff!!! 🙂