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Tour de France Stage 18 Preview

The Tour isn’t done with the Alps yet and today’s stage is packed with climbing. It should be a day for the breakaway hunters rather than the overall classification.

Stomping in the Savoie: a big fight to get in the breakaway but it took so long until a move could get clear that the quintet of Dan Martin, Lennard Kämna, Gorka Izaguirre, Richard Carapaz and Julian Alaphilippe could never build up much of a lead. Kämna paid for his successful efforts the previous day and was dropped on the Col de la Madeleine while Martin was distanced on the descent to leave a trio to start the Col de la Loze with just two minutes’ lead, of which Carapaz lasted the longest.

Bahrain-McLaren led the chase. Apart from Wout Poels’s combativity prize, awarded on the day nobody attacked, the team’s had a quiet Tour, Mikel Landa’s GC bid excepted, and they’ve been second last on the prize money standings which doubles as a proxy for activity and visibility. So it was good to see a collective effort on their part and the pace did eject some Jumbo-Visma riders. Only for Landa to crack on the spicy part of the Col de la Loze.

Landa was the first to go but it was popcorn time as the group burst into pieces, Rigoberto Uràn went pop next, than Adam Yates. Miguel Angel Lopez attacked, he was brought back by Sep Kuss but jumped again to go solo and on the final ramps Roglič got to within seven seconds but couldn’t close the gap to the Colombian. Lopez took the stage and probably the third step of the podium in Paris. Behind Pogačar seemed to be labouring a big gear, he looked fast on the gentler sections but as soon as the road reared up he seemed to lose ground.

Roglič extends his lead in the race, now 57 seconds clear of Pogačar. Race won? Probably but it’s still one of the top-10 smallest winning margins although Roglič ought to extend his lead in the time trial. Pogačar’s stuck, he could launch a furious attack today but where and to what effect, Jumbo-Visma would simply reel him in. Still, second overall and the polka dot jersey isn’t bad for someone still a few days short of their 22nd.

The other star of the day was the Col de la Loze. Nothing happened on the Madeleine but the Loze unpicked the race. The secret isn’t the 20% sections, it’s the variation in the slope with 5% here, 20% there, 10% and so on, it’s constantly changing and so very different from, say, the Zoncolan or other leg-press climbs, the Loze breaks up team trains and denies drafting. Something says the race will be back here several times in the coming decade, and with plans to expand the network of extreme cycle paths across to other valleys, ASO might be suggesting they’re built equally irregularly.

The Route: 175km to La Roche-sur-Foron, long home to Jérôme Coppel, the bronze medallist in the 2015 Richmond worlds time trial who made a sudden retirement in the middle of the 2016 season and is now a punchy pundit for sports radio channel RMC. It begins with a long neutralised downhill to Moûtiers, then that early little spike on the profile is an error, instead the race takes a tunnel rather than go over the mountain but all the same it’s an uphill start and with some awkward gradients to the start of the Cormet de Roselend. The gradient for this scenic pass is listed as 6.1% but it’s got some flat sections along the way meaning it’s meaner than the mean. The descent has a long flat section around the Roselend lake before a wider, engineered road down to the cheese capital of Beaufort only instead of entering the town the race takes a detour complete with an extra climb, but all on a regular road.

The Col des Saisies is a regular, even climb up past pastures and the fast toboggan descent is broken by a short uphill section one third of the way down. The Aravis has a steep opening section and then a descent and flat portion before kicking up for the last 6km. Then comes a fast descent through the ski resort of La Clusaz after which the slope eases. All together the Roselend, Saisies and Aravis are classic Alpine climbs of the Tour, scaled many times.

The climb to the Plateau de Glières is the hardest of the day and new to the Tour, only used once before in 2018. There are longer climbs, there are steeper climbs but few in France are as steep for as long and it’s all on a narrow and twisty road with steep hairpin bends.

The plateau is now familiar with its gravel surface but the key feature is the hard limestone bad beneath and the rocks that poke out through the gravel, it’s this that can cause a puncture. Once back on the tarmac it descends briefly and then kicks up before a fast and technical descent with some tight hairpins.

The Finish: the Col des Fleuries is an unmarked climb but a proper pass, it’s 5.5km at 5% average, a big ring kind of climb. Then comes a fast descent with some wide hairpins, it’s hard to make up ground here and then a quick passage across town before a finish on a featureless road outside town, it’s slightly uphill to the line.

The Contenders: Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) comes to mind but this is still the Swiss wunderkind‘s first grand tour and we don’t know how he’s doing this late into the third week, maybe team mate Tiesj Benoot is stronger and fresher. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) looks suited for today, at ease on the climbs and a handy sprint out of a small group for the flat finish. EF Pro Cycling’s Daniel Martinez is another pick while Ineos’s Michał Kwiatkowski should like the finish if he can cope with all the climbs, Pavel Sivakov is probably better uphill but less known for his finishing skills.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is suited to the course but we’ve arguably got the 2017 vintage, not the 2019 one and he’s been using up energy all over the place in doomed moves, but if he can get over the plateau des Glières with the lead group he’s a contender.

  • A quick note on the mountains competition. Pogacar leads with 66 points but Pierre Rolland (36pts), Ricard Caparaz (32pts) or Marc Hirschi (31pts) could take the polka dot jersey but to keep the maths short they need to win or get close on every climb today, easier said than done, it would mean scoring as many points today as they’ve won all Tour so far
Max Schachmann, Daniel Martinez
Pavel Sivakov, Michał Kwiatkowski, Tiesj Benoot
Alaphilippe, Hirschi, Peters, Lutsenko, Powless, Molard

Weather: warm and sunny, 28°C

TV: live coverage from the start at midday CEST to the finish forecast around 5.30pm Euro time. The start of the climb to the Plateau des Glières is around 4.30pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cp Thursday, 17 September 2020, 7:05 am

    little correction: pogacar is already 21, no? he turns 22 soon…

    • Ian Anderson Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:46 am

      According to PCS cycling his birthday is next Monday 21st Sept (born 1998) https://www.procyclingstats.com/rider/tadej-pogacar

      • Marijn Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:33 am

        Yes, his girlfriend, Urška Žigart, was on Belgium television last night and is currently riding the Giro Rosa. She mentioned in the interview that she’ll join Tadej in Paris on Sunday and they’ll head back to Slovenia immediately afterwards for his birthday on the 21st.

      • LionKing Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:07 am

        Also states that he’s 21 at the moment….

  • Anonymous Thursday, 17 September 2020, 7:15 am

    It would be great to see Hirschi collect the polka dots from the shoulders of the incumbent 21 year old. Sunweb’s contribution to the Tour this year has been a great example of how to do a lot with less.

  • Euan Rennie Thursday, 17 September 2020, 7:56 am

    Interested as to why you think Rog will take more time out of Pog in the TT? Personally thought there wouldn’t be much in it, but with Pog winning the Slovenian TT title on an uphill course also surely you would have to give him the edge?

    Is La Planche des Belles Filles tough enough that they could possibly start on TT bikes then switch to road at the bottom of the climb?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:48 am

      I think Roglič should take time on flatter two thirds, things could be closer for the final climb.

    • UHJ Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:52 am

      In this day and age that would be to achieve a different position on the bike, TT-bikes – though often heavier – can be made to the UCI-limit as well. So basically no weight gain on that one. But being seated differently could be a factor. Or if you want to ride a heavier disc wheel on the flats.
      Already back in 2016 I came across a TT-bike for an uphill TT (Tour of Guadeloupe) that I had to weigh twice as I did not believe it could be that light. It was registered and approved at 6.850 kg.

    • Tom Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:14 am

      3rd week TT”s are a lot different to a one-day Nationals event. It’s not all about TT specialism, but how you have managed fatigue and how much energy you have left. Pogacar has left a lot on the road with the lack of a mountains team, and sprinting for both KOM points/bonus seconds. I think Roglic will edge him on the TT, but would love to be proved wrong!

  • DJW Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:13 am

    Interesting to see those without climbing support (Yates, Uran, Porte, Lopez…) do not seem to be greatly disadvantaged, though they would be with a mechanical at a tricky moment. For Yates, climber teammates Nieve and Chavez have been looking for breakaway opportunities, yet he still hangs in alone and has been doing so all Tour. JV (or yesterday B-M) provide the train for all, though they would not slow or accelerate at the will of a non JV rider while they would (if they could) for Roglic. Is a mountain train overrated?

    • lefthandside Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:22 am

      FWIW maybe on the steep climbs you don’t get a draft but it still helps to have a similarly sized teammate with you who can give you a bike if you have a mechanical (I know Porte had one late puncture and bike swap, though not a ‘mountain train’ example)

    • Richard S Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:56 am

      The worth of a ‘mountain train’ is mainly if you are in the lead. Your train will set a pace that deters attacks and if anyone does attack bring them back for you with an increase in tempo or by sitting on them. Like say yesterday (on a more normal climb) if Pogacar continually attacked first Gesink could’ve gone with him/burnt himself with an increase in pace, then Van Aert, then Dumoulin, then Kuss so that by the time Roglic is burning his own matches Pogacar has got through 4 of his own and has probably lost the will to try/the energy to do so. That’s what used to be so frustrating about Sky. Froomes team mates would bring back attacks one by one until within sight of the line and then Froome would switch his legs into washing machine mode and win the stage.

      • hoh Thursday, 17 September 2020, 5:45 pm

        And they used to have really good eyesight, with Froome attacking several Kms out.

      • Cochisecito Thursday, 17 September 2020, 6:59 pm

        +1 for the washing machine imagery

    • Road Furniture Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:22 am

      They certainly are disadvantaged as their tactical options are greatly reduced. A day like today would have been particularly propitious for sending strong riders ahead and using relay attacks, but with so many weakened teams it’s hard to see who may try. Latching behind the mountain train is not the only way to ride.

    • AK Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:07 pm

      If all you are doing is holding on for 5th place you don’t need a mountain train. If you are trying to win the race however, it’s pretty useful.
      Mountain trains can be used as defense against attacks, or as offence, setting a tempo that will eject competitors out the back. That last strategy only works if you have the strongest rider of all in your team BTW. See Bahrein yesterday for what happens if you don’t.

  • Devonian Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:33 am

    I’m always slightly confused by inclusion of the gravel section. What is the race trying to do? By all means highlight gravel riding but have a stage early on like you’d have a cobbled stage. If Rog (or Pog) were to puncture and were not able to quickly get a wheel (quite possible) then all their efforts since day 1 could have been in vain. Seems a little unfair.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:53 am

      It’s much less dangerous than a cobbled section. It’s more scenic, a nice road and also passes a nationally important monument to the French resistance so the race can pay tribute to this, you might remember the scenes from 2018 with locals dressed up as the resistance etc, this was more the talk rather than tire clearances.

  • sashi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:45 am

    I have a dream for today’s stage.
    With only one more GC relevant stage left, an aging rider in 4th place in GC – one who was written off by all in the first week, one who’s trailing by more than 3 minutes – decides that this is the day. There is a hard, steep climb far from the finish; there is gravel near the top; there is some climbing and descending after that, but he is unfazed. He tries to send his teammates in the breakaway, but the leader’s team is having none of it. No worries – he has another plan, a better plan! His teammate King Kenny sets a blistering pace on the steep climb and then he goes… Behind they don’t follow immediately. They think its okay, he is too far down! The descent comes. While our rider is bombing down the descent, the chasers are waiting for reinforcements. “We are better off chasing with teammates”, so they think. Plot twist!! – the reinforcements aren’t of any use at all, the white jersey refuses to cooperate with chase! Our guy is now in the virtual race lead! The final climb arrives. Our rider has measured his effort perfectly. He doesn’t lose any more time and wins solo in the grand tradition of Coppi and Merckx. He gets the race lead and secures his first win in this grand tour. Yes its Giro 2018 all over again, just that its Richie instead of his pal Chris!

    • SamA Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:01 am

      This is a vision I can get on board with.

      • JeroenK Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:01 pm

        Richie P bombing a descent? Are you suggesting he has been hiding that skill during his career for this special occasion? 😉

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:45 am

      And then you wake up to see Jumbo-Visma reeling him in 😉

      Sorry. But it’ll be interesting to see if some of the more lowly positioned GC riders try something today. The likes of Valverde, Guillaume Martin, Carapaz haven’t got much to lose and could try poking the nest early today in the hope Jumbo don’t chase but if others do it’ll get lively.

      • Tricky Dicky Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:00 am

        Much as I love Ritchie, I think he’s probably the weakest of the top contenders when it comes to descending – he’d need a large gap to survive in your scenario. I do think he can get on the podium though – 1 min 40 secs or so is doable in a TT against Lopez I reckon, particularly if he puts him under pressure early on the flat section?

        On the route, it’s a personal regret they don’t go up Col du Pre en route. A beautiful but brutal experience!

      • Sean Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:34 am

        I’m sure Landa will try something too, and then Uran, Yates and Porte will almost have to chase.
        Or is that what you were implying?

    • hoh Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:08 am

      This vision sure gets my blood & tear flowing. But there are a few issues.

      1) Gravel wasn’t as hard;
      2) Trek doesn’t have the firepower to isolate leaders;
      3) Richi is an awful at descending;
      4) unlike Froome, a podium or top 5 would still mean a lot to him. And he has better ways to get onto the podium via the final TT.

      • CA Thursday, 17 September 2020, 4:01 pm

        Good point about the TT. Richie Porte could have a chance of success or at least moving up the GC through the TT. He has definitely produced some solid TT rides in his career in grand tours. His experience will certainly help with the TT being so far into the race too.

    • Norton Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:06 am

      You lost me – and your man Ritchie – on “bombing down the descent”.

      • sashi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:53 am

        Surely, we are allowed some flights of fancy. It is a dream after all!

  • Ferdi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:48 am

    Roglic’s high cadences on the steep parts looked just awful. Gearing should be limited in order to impose slower, more forceful pedalling. It’s just more expressive of effort and agony, so it’s part of the sport’s appeal and heritage. Lower cadences might be more demanding on the tendons, but that’s not something that cannot be prepared with flexibility work. But this “spinny-climbing” has to go. Just like gearing that’s too hard is forbidden in the younger categories, gearing that’s too soft should be forbidden in the pro categories.

    • Richard S Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:01 am

      A 30 tooth cassette would be open to mockery on the club run. The same rules should apply to pros.

      • KevinR Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:21 am

        Why, Richard S/Ferdi? I very much doubt you’d say that to a 7-time Grand Tour winner, who I believe has used a 32t cassette on some stages.

        • Richard S Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:29 am

          Why wouldn’t I poke fun at Lance Armstrong? People like that probably have more respect for those who give them a bit of stick rather than sad brown nosers. I’m sure if I was going up that climb yesterday I’d need a 32. 20% when you’ve been climbing for an hour already wouldn’t be much fun. Doesn’t mean we can’t joke about it though.
          Maybe our host will let us in on what gearing he used when he went up?

          • Adrian Thursday, 17 September 2020, 1:39 pm

            Armstrong has zero GT wins, Froome has 7

          • KevinR Thursday, 17 September 2020, 2:59 pm

            Correct!

          • Richard S Friday, 18 September 2020, 10:28 am

            Oh yeah, my bad. You hear 7 you think Armstrong.

      • Allegedly_Anthony Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:59 am

        Are we really suggesting banning equipment progress just because we don’t like the look if it? Clipless pedals aren’t half as beautiful polished clips and leather straps. Should we enforce these? We could reinstate the UCI’s daft saddle position rules that meant taller riders hot forced into unnatural positions and we should definitely ban TT bikes carbon frames…

        • Ferdi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:51 pm

          Again.. The same “and why not tubulars across shoulders too?” reply, in guise of an argument. Why can’t we examine each and every item in its own merit, in terms and what brigns or detracts to cycling as the homerically arduous sport that has value only in being, ar at least having been, homerically arduous. It’s funny, why can’t some people mobilize enough brain activity to prioritize this perspective?

          • ZigaK Friday, 18 September 2020, 6:40 am

            Excuse me sir, this is a hardware store.

      • Allegedly_Anthony Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:59 am

        Are we really suggesting banning equipment progress just because we don’t like the look if it? Clipless pedals aren’t half as beautiful polished clips and leather straps. Should we enforce these? We could reinstate the UCI’s daft saddle position rules that meant taller riders hot forced into unnatural positions and we should definitely ban TT bikes, carbon frames…

        • Wipperman_15 Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:47 pm

          Road cycling seems to attract people stuck in a time warp….it’s bizarre.

          • Digahole Thursday, 17 September 2020, 1:13 pm

            😂😂… it’s funny cause it’s true

          • Pete Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:11 pm

            LOL, can you imagine a track & field sprint in the vintage “baggy-clothing & defective shoes” class?

      • Steve Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:36 pm

        Dead right. A 32t cassette is for lightweights who can’t handle their drugs.

      • Bern Thursday, 17 September 2020, 6:39 pm

        BITD® anything larger than a 21 would have engendered a violent exit from my group rides.
        “Go on, go home. Come back when you know how to ride!”

        Which is why I learned how to climb the Santa Cruz Mountains with a 42×21 low gear.

    • jc Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:44 am

      Chris Froome has used the low gear / high cadence technique for years, seems to be pretty successful? Not sure the aesthetics of pain are really that attractive.

      • UHJ Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:03 am

        “aesthetics of pain” +1

      • KevinR Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:02 pm

        Exactly my point earlier jc. The macho/tiimewarp comments amuse me. Can just see the comments after the club ride when Froome has destroyed them all – “good idea Chris with that 11-30 cassette for the steep stuff, I reckon I’ll give it a go.” 🤣🤣

    • Devi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:45 am

      Flexibility work helps with strengthening tendons for supermaximal loads? Dumbest thing I’ve read all week

    • Wipperman_15 Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:45 pm

      Really? Do you know it’s 2020? Why is cycling full of luddites? Such thinking is what is holding the sport back….

    • AK Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:55 pm

      I can’t bear to watch those slow grinds, it’s so ugly. 90 RPM smooth circles is what I want to see.

      • Ferdi Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:52 pm

        You are lying and you know it.

    • Alan Cote Friday, 18 September 2020, 3:41 am

      Oh yes, pro gear restrictions have been considered before. I wrote about it, and please note the date (month/day) of the posting:
      https://redkiteprayer.com/2012/04/gear-restrictions-coming-for-protour/

      • Ferdi Friday, 18 September 2020, 10:15 am

        Thank you. “Grotesque” is the word I was looking for to describe high-cadence climbing on ultra-steep sections.

  • Richard S Thursday, 17 September 2020, 9:10 am

    I can’t quite get over how well Van Aert is climbing. He outlasted a few GC type guys and rolled in with Barguil who presumably would’ve started the Tour with ideas about the polka dots. I know they aren’t the same types of climbs and they won’t be ridden the same way but you’d think if he carries this form on he’ll have to be a contender for the Worlds and in the Ardennes?

  • Nick Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:21 am

    Is it me, or was the KoM competition unbalanced by the double points for yesterday’s finish? As you say, to overhaul Pogacar, riders will now have to double their haul from previous stages, primarily because of one climb.

    Reduce Col de la Loze to a normal HC, and Pogacar would still be in the lead, but only 18 ahead of Rolland so there would be more chance of a competition.

    Still, that’s hindsight.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:24 am

      Yes, the one climb has changed the competition drastically. But it’s also a function of low-scoring so far, nobody’s taken much of a lead. Until yesterday Cosnefroy was on 36 points which was the lowest score so far into the race for as long as a comparable points scale has existed.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:41 am

      Better that Pogacar earned them than the situation last Tour where Bardet flowered like the rarest orchid in the otherwise barren race he rode?

  • Anonymous Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:59 am

    It actually reminded me a bit of the Zoncolan 2018 though, with Lop/Rog/Pog chasing each other like Yates chasing Froome… never far from closing the gaps, but never actually managing it.
    Also, would be nice to see some team alliances and sacrificed GC contenders today, but alas it’s the TdF.

  • Greasy Wheel Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:14 am

    That second photo is great

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:29 pm

      It’s good, credit goes to Charly Lopez. The mountains in September take on a different look. I’ve enjoyed the longer shadows, the slightly drier woodland, fields of corn instead of sunflowers etc.

      • KevinR Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:09 pm

        What’s the Giro or Vuelta backdrop going to be like at the top of some of those climbs?! Maybe more like the promotional pictures for ski holidays?!!

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:59 pm

          The snow usually arrives late, and the passes typically close in mid to late November. If it’s sunny the Giro will look spectacular, a whole different tone to the bright green of June when the snow has just vanished… if it’s wet though we could have low temperatures at altitude, for me this is the bigger risk than snow.

    • cp Thursday, 17 September 2020, 10:33 pm

      ditto. very nice.

  • plurien Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:37 am

    Quote from yesterday by Mr INRNG:-
    ‘In the Sky days Froome would take minutes and that was that, probably with a time trial in his back pocket to ensure he could put more time into Quintana, Bardet etc just in case they managed to get close and everyone would complain it was boring. The current duel is a bit flat but we’ve still got the possibility of the race result being uncertain.’
    A bit flat?! Were you being ironic in downplaying how much more engaging this Tour is than any of the Sky wins, where the only tactic was to start three years before, buying up the talent and then using it on the day to crunch out the inevitable result against other teams that unsurprisingly lacked depth?
    This edition is so much more. The classic Tours always have a duel. There are minor players who can leap up the standings or score on their own specialism. There’s often a sub-plot of French pluck too. Well, yeah this tour has them all. On the day Ineos pulled its leader, Lopez yesterday rode to within 30 seconds of second place. Pogacar made a great attack following breakthrough lieutenant Kuss. He can still keep on trying and nobody expects any less of him, when other riders are said to suffered too much the day before. Yates, Uran, Landa came up short, but they were part of the story and could yet have a say. Porte is tantalisingly close, with the uphill TT on hand. Several teams have come with stage winning tactics and it’s been great to see. Plus we have ASO finally recognising the Tour needed some changes to maintain its top billing.
    I’m really not sure what more anyone can expect of any Tour, any time. What am I missing? Well, definitely not the Sky days…

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:29 pm

      It’s more the duel hasn’t gone back and forth, a really good edition would see the yellow jersey changing shoulders several times but to me Roglič has always looked in control.

      • Anonymous Thursday, 17 September 2020, 2:02 pm

        Felt like 2017 to me.

        • hoh Thursday, 17 September 2020, 6:16 pm

          Say what you may about Fabio, Froome had to rent him (genuine GC man) the yellow for two days in 2017.

      • David Friday, 18 September 2020, 8:32 am

        It’s had the feel of Roglič as the big guy with his hand on puny Pogačar’s head, while he vainly swishes his fists underneath, unable to reach to land a blow.

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:47 am

    I can’t believe that cycling path yesterday, and posters denigrating a 30 cassette?
    Jesus H.
    I think we can look forward to a flood of e bikes on these new mountain cycle paths because I don’t see many ordinary punters getting up them without incurring the wrath of their club teammates?

    • Richard S Thursday, 17 September 2020, 1:34 pm

      The new steep goat paths and big cassettes kind of go hand in hand. The cassettes made climbing easier, meaning the ski access road climbs weren’t hard enough anymore for entertaining racing/forcing gaps so organisers have gone looking for more extreme climbs. Then to get up these extreme climbs you need the extreme cassettes, so it ms a bit of a circle. If they were on 42/23 they wouldn’t have gone up there and if they had they may have been walking!

  • JeroenK Thursday, 17 September 2020, 12:29 pm

    Roglic might have done the tour winning move and the Cyclingnews headline is about ketones which is neither news, nor a big deal and completely distracting from the effort he and his teammates put into this.

    This reminded me again about why I love this blog. No gossip, allways well informed, well balanced and not evading the serious issues either.

    • dft Thursday, 17 September 2020, 8:30 pm

      They can be very solemn and self-important over there at times, like they’re reporting from the scene of a possible genocide.

  • Duncan Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:06 pm

    Stomping in the Savoie
    Love the Rufus & Chaka Khan reference 🙂

    • Foley Thursday, 17 September 2020, 5:52 pm

      The title of that album is a bit of a false friend, it’s named for a song that has nothing to do with the album except for the reference to the Savoy Ballroom, where it was recorded.

  • Chuffy Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:12 pm

    That was a genuinely beautiful end to the stage, especially for a team who are condemned for having no soul. One of the loveliest moments in cycling I’ve seen in many years. 🙂

  • Mellow Velo Thursday, 17 September 2020, 11:59 pm

    It was wonderful. Hurrah for Carapaz, who has maybe -and completely understandably- been holding back a bit under his enforced domestique regime; since his race opened up he has given it everything, every day. But an even bigger hurrah for having not only the legs to compete (three days running) and be in the frame , but the spirit to encourage/ cede the lieutenant’s win (and that was sorted out between them on the last descent, you could see the conversation) . That is being a leader.

    Made our day.

    Made our day.You are right about perennials, I too much prefer them. I love your description of them as old friends: I have a few plants which are descendants , via cuttingshad in every garden since I began gardening ( though I suppose that given vegetative reproduction, they are actually thplant). I’m particularly fond of a purple sage which was growing in the garden at Barrington when we bought the house in 1990, and which is a particularly dark and floriferous clone. Everyone ‘planty ‘ who sees it wants a bit, which can be difficult since it only seems to want to root in September, not May as it should. I managed to take some cuttings in the mad rush as we left Langeais last year, and one rooted in its vase. I planted it in a scrabble of gravel in a sunny spot in October, and hoped ( then forgot…) it is 15 inches across! I’m wondering if I dare take a couple of cuttings. I bought some other purple sages from an Internet supplier as I was a bit desperate, but I can see they are not a patch on my ‘Barrington Purple’.

    I was tempted by the primroses etc, mainly for the tubs ( I find tubs very pleasant to care for now,,less grovelling on the ground. The summer contents are pretty much sorted, I have got some convulvulus cneorum for its lovely silver foliage, and some twiglets aka 9cm pots of a dark physiocarpus for contrast, maybe ill get some white geraniums and a trailing something bought later ( lotus is lovely). The petunias have been an absolute washout here,they used to be enormous in Langeais,,so I won’t repeat them.

    I have been very pleased though with Gladiolus calianthus in pots. They are a gladiolus relative but very slender and graceful, the flowers have lasted at least a month. As they are tender, I started them off in the airing cupboard in a tray, them got them to show shoots to about 2cm on the windowsill. Then I planted them into the pots. No troubles with bird , beats or fungus. Have a look on the web, they are really lovely. I’m mooing to try to overwinter them, but if not I’ll just get some more with the dahlias in spring.

    All the alliums and muscari arrived yesterday,,gulp. It’s so easy sitting down with the catalogue, gaily saying,,oh 50 ( I get them all from a wholesaler), rather different when 200 bulbs arrive! And one realises that there is a bit less space than one thought…..there are rather a lot of lilies coming later,,too ( this is the best garden I have had for lilies,,in the ground and in pots, so I got rather enthusiastic). Jeff has acquired another 250 daffodils as well, but he seems to have got half of them in already. For someone in a ‘vulnerable’ condition he certainly cracks on with the Chillington hoe.

    I’m going to get some more tubs.

    I have also bought a new IPad,,I feel a lot less gung-ho about that than the bulbs…..but I shall try to take a photo of the garden and show it to you!

    Have a lovely time in these last summer days, Autumn in a fortnight!
    You are right about perennials, I too much prefer them. I love your description of them as old friends: I have a few plants which are descendants , via cuttings or divisions,,of plants I have had in every garden since I began gardening ( though I suppose that given vegetative reproduction, they are actually the same plant). I’m particularly fond of a purple sage which was growing in the garden at Barrington when we bought the house in 1990, and which is a particularly dark and floriferous clone. Everyone ‘planty ‘ who sees it wants a bit, which can be difficult since it only seems to want to root in September, not May as it should. I managed to take some cuttings in the mad rush as we left Langeais last year, and one rooted in its vase. I planted it in a scrabble of gravel in a sunny spot in October, and hoped ( then forgot…) it is 15 inches across! I’m wondering if I dare take a couple of cuttings. I bought some other purple sages from an Internet supplier as I was a bit desperate, but I can see they are not a patch on my ‘Barrington Purple’.

    I was tempted by the primroses etc, mainly for the tubs ( I find tubs very pleasant to care for now,,less grovelling on the ground. The summer contents are pretty much sorted, I have got some convulvulus cneorum for its lovely silver foliage, and some twiglets aka 9cm pots of a dark physiocarpus for contrast, maybe ill get some white geraniums and a trailing something bought later ( lotus is lovely). The petunias have been an absolute washout here,they used to be enormous in Langeais,,so I won’t repeat them.

    I have been very pleased though with Gladiolus calianthus in pots. They are a gladiolus relative but very slender and graceful, the flowers have lasted at least a month. As they are tender, I started them off in the airing cupboard in a tray, them got them to show shoots to about 2cm on the windowsill. Then I planted them into the pots. No troubles with bird , beats or fungus. Have a look on the web, they are really lovely. I’m mooing to try to overwinter them, but if not I’ll just get some more with the dahlias in spring.

    All the alliums and muscari arrived yesterday,,gulp. It’s so easy sitting down with the catalogue, gaily saying,,oh 50 ( I get them all from a wholesaler), rather different when 200 bulbs arrive! And one realises that there is a bit less space than one thought…..there are rather a lot of lilies coming later,,too ( this is the best garden I have had for lilies,,in the ground and in pots, so I got rather enthusiastic). Jeff has acquired another 250 daffodils as well, but he seems to have got half of them in already. For someone in a ‘vulnerable’ condition he certainly cracks on with the Chillington hoe.

    I’m going to get some more tubs.

    I have also bought a new IPad,,I feel a lot less gung-ho about that than the bulbs…..but I shall try to take a photo of the garden and show it to you!

  • Mellow velo Friday, 18 September 2020, 12:01 am

    Pleas e remove this, it is software gone mad aargh!

    • cp Friday, 18 September 2020, 2:36 am

      But we love hearing about Jeff’s daffodils and how he cracks on with his Chillington hoe!
      Those are some damn nice hoes. Wish they made steel frame bikes.

      (Somewhere on my bookshelf is a collection of Kafka stories in German. It is missing 30 or 40 pages. I vividly remember reading one story–can’t recall which–and suddenly being in another story and barely noticing because my German was so bad at the time. This somehow reminded me of that…)