Tour de France Stage 20 Preview

A time trial to cement the overall classification. Primož Roglič has a good chance to leave his mark on the race with a stage win in the yellow jersey and Richie Porte’s got a shot, perhaps a long one, at hauling himself onto the podium.

Andersen’s fairy tale: a fast start and Rémi Cavagna went clear, several riders behind tried to bridge across but among them Guillaume Martin was the first to sit up, just outside the top-10 overall he was a burden on the move as other teams would chase just to neutralise his ambitions. But all the others folded to leave Cavagna out by himself for most of the stage. Once the race hit the final 50km in the Jura foothills things burst into action with an attack by Benoît Cosnefroy and Pierre Rolland. The winning break was Luke Rowe (Ineos), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), Sam Bennett and Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Greg van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team), Jack Bauer and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott), Nikias Arndt and Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb). This was a tale of quality and quantity, strong riders and from multiple teams meaning few behind needed to chase. On the last climb of the day above Pont-de-la-Chaux Matteo Trentin attacked and this looked to tire all the riders, only for Søren Kragh Andersen to hit them over the top of the climb, just as he did in Lyon. Only this time there was 16km to go, it was longer range but mainly downhill and the Dane quickly built up a lead on the twisting roads while behind the group were in classic stand-off, nobody wanted to chase for fear of doing work that would enable a rival to win, plus Sagan, Bennett and Devenyns were marking each other. It’s SKA’s second stage win and Sunweb’s third. A mention of Sam Bennett: following Peter Sagan throughout the stage and beating him in the intermediate sprint and at the finish, it puts the seal on his green jersey bid, and dampens the effect of what Sagan did in that hectic sprint in Poitiers.

The Route: a course in three parts. A start in Lure, a small town but one of the largest in the area, the paradox explained that this is quiet, tranquil area and perhaps too much so for locals seeking job opportunities but today’s a festival, a yellow parade. First it’s fast and flat to the first time check. Second, a right turn onto a smaller road that climbs up with some 4-5% slopes at first but gentler after, it rises a bit, levels off, goes up a bit more and so on, it’s still rolling and fast, riders will be on their tri bars, the trick is getting the gearing and pacing right. Once past the Col de la Chevestraye the descent has a brief steeper part, a moment to recover with some tight bends before picking up the main road that drags up to the second time check in Plancher-les-Mines.

The final part is the now famous climb to the Planche des Belles Filles, 5.9km at 8.5% but really over 12% for most of the climb as there’s a “hidden” descent one quarter of the way in and there are 20% ramps to scale. Round the final corner and the last 300m are over 20% to the line.

The Contenders: who are the TT specialists who can cope with the final climb who have been sitting quiet in the final week to save themselves for today? Who indeed, there aren’t many lurking in the field. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and Tejay van Garderen (EF Pro Cycling) don’t win TTs very often, TvG’s colleague Dani Martinez is the Colombian champ. Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep) must be tired from his raid yesterday although he says he attacked because he’s feeling good but team mate Kasper Asgreen must still be the fresher pick and he climbs better. Bora-Hansgrohe have two good outsiders in Lennard Kämna and Max Schachmann. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Merida) could set fast times too but hard to see them winning. Look out for Harold Tejada (Astana), not to win but the 23 year old neo-pro is good in the time trials too.

Among the GC contenders Primož Roglič is the best pick, he won a string of time trials last year and the course suits with the mix of fast roads and climbing. He should pull ahead of Tadej Pogačar on the flat, with the UAE Emirates rider still likely to be well in the top-10 today. Yes Pogačar won the Slovenian title in June but that was all uphill. Jumbo-Visma have other options, Tom Dumoulin would be an obvious pick but has folded in to help Roglič as his form’s not so strong but this is his kind of stage, while Wout van Aert has to be a contender as well, look to see if he can set the fastest time to the second checkpoint and how much he can hold on up the climb.

Among the other GC contenders Richie Porte will really like this stage and is an outsider for the stage win and he’s got the carrot of the podium if he can reclaim 99 seconds on Miguel Angel Lopez, that’s a tough ask at almost 3 seconds per kilometre. The Colombian can blow hot and cold in the time trials but has improved in the last two years, is in form and thrives in the final week of a grand tour.

Two FAQs:

  • Bike changes are permitted but there is no dedicated zone for mechanics to wait in, instead any change must be done via the team car and the commissaires will be watching for pushes longer than five seconds. It can make sense to change bikes, to ditch the TT bike with a heavier frame, heavier wheels, heavier bars but it’s also a bad look for bike sponsors, it’s broadcasting their TT bikes are slow uphill. It’s down to rider taste as well, when Tom Dumoulin won the TT Worlds in Bergen he didn’t swap bikes for the climb to Fløyen but plenty of others did and are likely to do it today, it’s a longer climb than Fløyen
  • KoM: Carapaz leads the mountains competition with 74 points, ahead of Pogačar (72 points) and Roglič (67 points). The final climb is timed and the fastest six riders get 10-8-6-4-2-1 points respectively so Carapaz is likely to use the first 30km today as an extended warm-up to save himself for his fastest possible time up the climb. Can he do it? Probably, he’s excellent at a 20 minute effort but there’s a matrix of outcomes. If there’s a tie on points then Carapaz wins as he’s won two HC category climbs, the Madeleine and the Glières, to Pogačar’s Grand Colombier.
Primož Roglič
Richie Porte, Wout van Aert
Dumoulin, Martinez, Kämna, Asgreen, Schachmann

Weather: turning cloudy and a band of rain is due to pass over the course in the afternoon, a top temperature of 23°C.

TV: the show starts with lanterne rouge Roger Kluge off at 1.00pm CEST and riders go at 90 second intervals at first and then every two minutes for the last 75 riders. Roglič starts at 5.14pm and should finish around 6.00pm CEST.

91 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 20 Preview”

  1. Regarding the KOM, it’s worth noting that Roglic could also be a contender, he’s 7 points behind Carapaz (like Pogacar though, he’d need to be at +1 to win the competition).

  2. Back at the start of this Tour there was the fantasy that this would be Pinot’s dash to glory on home roads, but that was pretty much done after stage one. Still, I hope he’s got something left for a good showing today.

    Watching Roglič power away from the rest on the gravel the other day, I think today will be his and the rightful crowning of the strongest rider in the race.

    Surely Lopez is climbing too well to be in any danger of losing the podium to Porte.

    Id say that the only realistic chance of excitement today is if WVA wins it… that would really be something, but surely 20% ramps are too much?

  3. I’m conflicted about KOM points in a TT. Primarily excited by something new and the uncertainty of it. Lots to ponder strategically (does Sivakov focus on the climb to steal points, etc…all sorts of new dynamics to ponder). But it also seems to highlight the irrelevance (or maybe just secondary importance) of the polka dots (Rog not Pog of course won’t soft pedal to then crush the climb) yet climbing is so fundamental to the GC.

    • The KOM competition was relevant when the best GC climbers had to break away from far away on mountain days. In a Tour controlled by a dominant team with a train, it’s hard to imagine long-range attacks from the best climbers. With modern cycling being what it is, it’s hard to imagine a points system where the KOM jersey won’t look like a consolation prize.

      The same could be said of the teams’ classification, which looks a bit like a ranking of which team fields the most mountain breakaway riders.

      • Its a consolation prize for sure but it takes a lot of work. Its a points classification that rewards being in a lot of breaks. This can take a lot of work of power to get in so many breaks.

        Strange thing is i seem to think it normally takes more breaks than it did this year.
        Last year the winner didn’t have a lot more points but the years before that the winner had double the points.

        • Polka dot has always been a consolation and a separate focus in the race for little guys who had no chance against TT specialists that typically won up until the recent climbers tours. Richard Virenque is probably the best example of a rider giving french interest in tours that were focused on big sprints and long TTs. Still dont understand why Bardet hasnt made this jersey his thing, when he could have won it pretty well every tour he’s been in.

        • This year Cosnefroy held on to his yellow jersey för seven stages on the strength of the points he had won by (and including) stage 9. In other words despite the fact that he didn’t gain any point on stages 10-16 – and there were quite a few hills and mountains on which to win points! (This doesn’t lessen his achievement in any way, I simply found it unusual.)

          I kind of like it when the competition for the polka dot jersey is as separate as possible from that for the yellow jersey and stays that way as long into the race as possible – but how to achieve that in today’ss world? Relatively more points for lesser category mountains? No double point mountains?

    • Yes i agree, its a bit strange that pog dont get a ring or 2. With so big motivation both due to his position in the overall time classification, and the position related to the polka dor jersey. And also related to the form he has been showing. Tho the things that speaks Against him is perhaps he is not as good in a tt on the flats? Also to grab a whole minute on roglic seems les plausable.. So is there any logic in going slower on the flats to do a very strong climb? I guess he would never go to slow torisk his 2 place in the overall.. But Even if the polkadot is a much lower prioritet.. Perhaps that is all he realisticaly can get? He is anyway a rider with so much tallet, form and motivation here.. And although sircumstansial, he resently beat roglic in a time trial.. So i give him a ring or two 🙂

    • Can’t see him winning. Expect a top-10 from him still. As ever chainrings are for winning, not placing… and especially not for what I’d like to see. It’d be great if Pogačar could fly down the start ramp and take 30 seconds out of Roglič by the first time check, imagine the suspense.

  4. I suppose it had to be Sagan’s old foes, the Quick Steppers, that finally look to have taken his Green Jersey away?
    And an ex-QS in Trentin who has also played a significant part.
    It’ll be interesting to see how Sagan goes in the Giro now, and indeed next season if we get a full(er) one. And whether this loss points to a long-term decline in his powers or just a lockdown-induced blip.

    • You can leave it all down to the outlandish decision of putting intermediate sprints in a not intermediate place in the stage, but deliberately before any proper climbing, wildly tilting the contest against Sagan. If I was him I’d say to Bennett: “enjoy your jersey while you can, because sooner than later you’ll realise it’s not worth anything much, looking at where they placed the intermediate sprints, you “pure sprinter”.

  5. Would be good to see Porte get a stage win and/or bag a podium place. I know the fates owe nobody nothing, but anyone watching cycling over the past decade would acknowledge he seems to have had more than his far share of poor luck.

    • Anything can happen in a TT at the end of a tour.
      Anyone one a bad day might loose 30 – 60 seconds before the last climb and 60 seconds plus on the last climb.
      On the same note if Richie has a bad day he could also lose spots just as easy.

  6. No chainring for last year’s TT winner? Also, what about Kwiatkowski? Otherwise, will Ineos’ climbers just hit the climb hard to try to take KOM points away from Pogacar?

  7. No mention of Kwiatkowski? Fared pretty well in the GT’s time trials before and nearly took his first stage win three years ago in Marsille. That was a flat TT but the same year he was fourth in WC in Norway. The climb is definitely a taxing one but Kwiato likes that shorter vo2max efforts – the same he did as a part of Sky train.

      • Haha, funny comparison with the diesel and probably on point. It’s interesting to see how the Ineos team change his performance parameters and physique depending on requirements and actual stage of the season.

    • That and the fact that he said after his stage win the other day that he’ll do anything he possibly can to help Carapaz win the polka dots jersey. I’d imagine Ineos’ climbers are going to take it easy on the flat and then hit the Planche hard

  8. Asgreen is too tired at this point and the climb is too steep for him and he has not trained much on his ITT bike as the original worlds ITT conflicted with the tour.
    If Krag had not burned a lot of matches yesterday he could have been a serious pick as he is a very decent climber and is stupid fast on a technical ITT over rolling terrain. Hirschi ?

    • After all the doping in the tdf 30 years I’m suspicious of TP’s TT performance. I thought his tour was over when he lost over 1:20 on the windy stage. I was rooting for him after that to get the time back, he was exciting to watch. It was TP alone vs Jumbo.
      Today Roglic looked tired riding, his pedal strokes looked weak compared to other days. That he came in 5th is amazing.
      I hope TP is clean and I’m a paranoid cyclist.

  9. Wow. I cannot imagine what that feels like for either Roglic or Pogacar. That is a crushing defeat; the faces of Dumoulin and van Aert were something to see as the results became clear. They looked like they were watching the Hindenburg explode. Pogacar, well, I imagine he feels a tad — pardon the pun — differently.
    Pogacar didn’t just crush Roglic–he crushed Dumoulin. So Roglic’s defeat was part crack and part simply outstanding performance by Pogacar. And the thought that everyone seems to have had– that maybe he went out too fast — was sure dispelled by his performance on the climb. So much for Carapaz’s plan.

  10. If you look at the standings for the stage without Pog’s performance all is within range of expectations. Great day for Porte, off day for Rog but all within range. A normal universe. I agree this will be an historic day for the Tour 🙁

    • Yes but JV should surely not have let that off-day happen. Defending yellow is hard, did they give Roglic’s mental and physical state total attention, or did Dumoulin and van Aert get some of it?

      • how much of an off-day was it, really? Roglic wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, sure, but he finished 5th overall and within reasonable distance of Doom, Porte, and WVA. Without Pogacar’s…otherworldly ride it would be a very solid result.

        And as far as Pogacar, I mean, it’s pretty hard to take seriously. either he’s truly the next Eddy Merckx or you know, the other possibility. given the history of cycling I know which I find more likely.

        • Yes I agree. Roglic who has been racing hard every day for 3 weeks finished 30 seconds down on a former world TT champ who hasn’t been aiming for GC, 20 on Van Aert, whos superman’s younger brother, and Porte whos always been good at TTs and has won the uphill Col d’Eze TT in the past. The issue wasn’t really that Roglic completely imploded, he was slightly sub par (a complete implosion is what Lopez did), it’s that Pogacar destroyed everyone with an incredible time. This might be the first of many and he’ll dominate for years, but how many of these young cyclists can we keep saying this about?! Van Aert, Evenepoel, Van der Poel, Pogacar… there was only one Eddy Merckx.

          • yes, that was the point. it was an ironic statement, not a serious comparison. there is no next Eddy Merckx, and the conditions which produced Eddy Merckx don’t exist and haven’t for a long time now. it’s a more elegant way of saying “I don’t believe in this result, and a Puerto/Adderlass/etc revelation for Pogacar in the near future would surprise me not at all”, but I thought that was obvious.

          • the utter disbelief of the other riders, and the adjectives people keep using to describe Pogacar – incredible, unbelievable, otherworldly, unreal, cosmic – speak for themselves

            we’ve been here before, so many times

        • “ Not aesthetically pleasing”!? He was a disaster on the bike. In and out of the saddle – I’ve almost never seen him out of the saddle before – helmet hanging off the back of his head, white as a ghost, a rubbish bike change. He was straight up panicking.

          Apparently Pogacar did around 6.5 Watts/kg in the climb and Roglic did 6.0…. almost a 10% power difference

          • and yet, for all that, an extremely respectable time. it doesn’t matter how you do it, just when you stop the clock. Roglic has a long history of his TT ability dropping off from world-beating to merely very good in TTs toward the end of GTs, and no matter how it looked, his time was comfortably in that range. was he panicking? sure. but it’s not like it was some crazy implosion. Pogacar was just on another level, however he got there.

          • Roglič only has three previous examples of late GT TTs in his career – the 2017 Tour, where he wasn’t a GC contender; the 2018 Tour, where he finished 8th, at 1m12s; and the 2019 Giro, where he finished 10th, at just 26s – so a ‘long history’ seems a bit of a stretch.

        • pogacar sat in for three weeks and only exposed himself to serious efforts as late as possible

          he beat roglic in an up hill TT a month ago

          dumoulin and van aert had been at the front riding hard for 15 days

          porte is well past his peak TT days

          pogacar rode a smart race and cashed in on a pretty conservative tour.

          it’s like since everyone was caught out after choking on armstrong for a decade that they want to be to cool guy who’s first critic in. we have almost no basis to compare pogacars ability.

          • lol it’s hardly just Armstrong, the list of examples is virtually endless. do we really need to name them all? and people invent excuses every time there’s some incredible performance. it almost always ends in tears. the narrative you create could easily be flipped around to suggest the opposite conclusion.

            of course, I don’t know for a fact, nor do any of us. the amount of conscious naivety cycling fans are will to exhibit even now astounds me, but given how terrible the world in general is, if people want to believe in cycling fantasy, more power to them I suppose. I just can’t. I hope Pogacar proves me wrong by dominating GTs for the next 10 years without any hint of impropriety.

          • Sure. But there are some facts here too. He set the fastest time ever on the climb by 45 seconds at the end of a hard week at the end of a three week tour and… with a bike change.

          • Fastest time, but previously it was used as as a stage end. That’s not the same as a TT and we hardly have enough data to make a judgement from previous performances.

    • That it interesting. Richie Porte can be explained because they are close friends. However Chris Froome clearly saw something in Primoz Roglic that suggested he would fold towards the end. The views of a four time winner do carry some weight and he was proved to be right.

      • I think we all remember Roglic’s meltdown at the end of the 2018 Giro, although Roglic was wise to reign in the end-of-stage attacks that cost him dearly then. I think we may have to simply take our hats off to Pogacar today though — Roglic didn’t have a terrible day, he finished 5th on the stage. But he didn’t have an amazing day either, and Pogacar had perhaps his strongest day on a bike — poor timing for Roglic to have a merely decent day when he needed to overwhelm.

      • This is more in the vain of those crazy Pelé predictions. Difference is that he ended up right rather than wrong. Doesn’t change the fact that he’s probably shooting in the dark.

        He’d still need to be consistently right for a while before he can enter the ream of legends such as Pelé predictions.

  11. Apparently, Pog broke record for the final La Planche des Belle Filles climb, AND changed bike AFTER the intermediate time check that recorded the time. Phew…

  12. well that was unreal.
    I’m looking forward to INRNG tomorrow – I always admire your calm and measured takes before and after races whatever happened… but I’m hoping there’s a little OMG in tomorrow’s post… that was utterly amazing – I going to go back and see what was written about Froome in 2017 Giro, the only day I can remember in recent memory that compares to today, other than possible Amstel last year.

    • Whatever else transpires, Roglic emerges a clear ‘winner’ as a person. How many sportsmen could have managed to go and embrace the rival who had snatched their triumph away at the last possible moment? Whatever that cost him must be repaid by the respect of everyone in the sport.

  13. I am stunned …
    There was fair amount of conjecture that Roglic peaked too early at Dauphine. Maybe some truth to that?
    R0glic’s face looked white crossing the line … immense emotional disappointment, or has he been sick last few days & trying to hide it?

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if the Roglic off-day was largely pressure and psychological. Tons of pressure, maybe didn’t sleep well. TT has a big psychological component. Once he started to hear the splits, he starts to panic a little, which hurts his performance, and the cycle repeats. Meanwhile Pog is loose as a goose with nothing to lose and smokes everyone.

      Oh but wait Pogacar has to BE DOPING BECAUSE WEVE SEEN IN BEFORE (someone winning a bike race). Also Cancellara probably had a motor (he didn’t).

  14. Well, that was something, believer or no. Anyone have time splits for the KOM segment? Pogacar and the big GC riders surely swept away all the consolation prize (i.e. dot jersey) contenders, but by how much? Was Carapaz even close to the points with his ride-easy-to-the-climb-then-gas-it strategy? But the best climber wears the jersey in the end, upending the sub-plot and returning order to the universe…or to the bike race at least.

      • Thanks. I know that site–maybe the 2nd best cycling site out there–but didn’t know it went that deep. For any interested, here are climb times…points to 6th:
        POGAČAR 16:10.800 (1)
        PORTE 16:32.390 (2)
        VAN AERT 16:52.450 (3)
        MAS 17:00.410 (4)
        BILBAO 17:15.490 (5)
        MARTÍNEZ 17:19.760 (6)
        CARAPAZ 17:22.890 (7)
        Close. No cigar.

        • Not that close, Carapaz needed 3rd place or better, and he’s a minute off the pace, in spite of taking the first 30km as a training ride. Still, he showed well during the last week, he’ll take that as a positive for his next race as leader.

          • A bit of context there… I know everyone is enamored with WVA, but he’s 82kg and was third on the climb. I think this is one of those performances based on fitness (and preparation if you heard how much focus UAE put into the TT) where Pogacar was the fittest rider at the end of a very hard race. Roglic himself said he couldn’t put out normal power and “only” lost by ~ 2min (although I think Roglic psyched himself out just like the final TT at 2018 TdF). I am skeptical of all if the riders but think that Pog’s effort is plausible in a level playing field.

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