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Tour de France Stage 6 Preview

A summit finish and via the Col de la Lusette, one of the hardest climbs of this year’s Tour de France. Legend has it that even Bernard Hinault had to walk up. Today the question is more who’ll lose a few seconds on the climb because the risk seeing the race run away.

Wout sprinted: a 172 rider breakaway surged clear from kilometre zero. Okay, no attack happened, but did it matter? It would have been what race director Thierry Gouvenou calls a “4×4”: four riders get four minutes. Or rather 4x4x4 as in four riders get four minutes in a forlorn move. If some riders had attacked the only difference would have been the TV production could pan between the break and the peloton while TV commentators furnished up anecdotes about, say, Romain Sicard’s pet rabbit or which breed of cattle Cyril Barthe’s family raises (Blonde d’Aquitaine in case you need to know). Instead the crowd were more lively than the peloton, it wasn’t packed but people were still out on a Wednesday in September. The sprint came and Wout van Aert won. One day he sets the pace for the summit finish, the next he wins a bunch sprint. He’s probably back on domestique duties today.

The otherwise uneventful stage had a twist. The podium ceremony was delayed and then the news broke that Julian Alaphilippe copped a 20 second penalty for taking a bottle within the final 20km. It’s against the rules. A dumb rule? Well it’s for safety to keep riders focussed on the job rather than swerving one-handed to pick up food or grabbing “sticky bottles” and riding the car convoy late into a race, and on hot days the rule gets relaxed and this gets broadcast over race radio. Certainly it’s not as famous as the three kilometre rule or the one that gives riders who finish in a group the same time but it’s universally known in the peloton and ought to be fundamental for team helpers tasked with handing up food and drink. Only it seems the helper in question was Alaphilippe’s coach and cousin Franck, a new hire to the team and maybe a touch green when it comes to the UCI rulebook. To compound things, Alaphilippe overtook a team mate to grab the bottle, if was that thirsty he could have let his colleague collect it and he’d still be in yellow today.

The Route: 191km into the Cevennes. Yes Mont Aigoual featured in Tim Krabbe’s celebrated novel The Rider but the account is on the roads down the other side of the mountain so you won’t get to see them today, nor the place names like Salvinsac that are all too real. Today’s stage is 155km on fast, wide roads, even the first climb to the Cap de Coste climb is quick. It’s after Le Vigan that the race heads into the hills and the feel of the roads changes. The Col des Mourèzes is a steady climb with no surprises and so is the descent but the difficulty will come from the pace as riders need to get into position for what’s to come.

The Col de la Lusette is a tough climb, listed as 11.7km at 7.3%, the stats don’t tell the story and nor does the profile. Bernard Hinault famously had to walk up… or so goes the legend. Some say it was in 1980, others 1981, or it could have been 1985, maybe 1986. It was probably during the Midi Libre. Was it when he abandoned the race in 1980 or another year when he just had the wrong gearing on his bike and walked a few paces to his team car to get a spare bike with lower gears? The answers would spoil the tale, here’s a climb that defeated Hinault and that’s enough of a story.

Back in reality the climb starts on a sharp corner, there’s a ramp into a narrow hairpin bend which is chased by a 10% section. From here on the slope keeps changing, a flat section here, a 12% bit there and the gradient is meaner than the average. The steepest part is as the profile shows, a sustained section of 12-14%. There’s the 8-5-2 second time bonus at the top. The descent is a long straight line and any riders dropped before face a tough time trying to get back as a strong team like Jumbo-Visma ought to be able to keep the pace up.

The Finish: this time it’s as the profile suggests, at least for the wide road up to the small Mont Aigoual ski area. Here the road flattens out, a loop around the hilltop with a small descent 500m before the line.

The Contenders: the breakaway has a chance today, the problem is you need lots of horsepower for the flat 155km but the finish is for the climbers so the rouleurs won’t like the finish but the climbers won’t like the work needed to reach the foot of Mont Aigoual with a big buffer. If there’s no danger on GC Mitchelton-Scott won’t chase too hard because Adam Yates is only three seconds ahead of Primož Roglič on GC and so they’d surely prefer the breakaway to mop up the time bonuses. Alessandro de Marchi and Ilnur Zakarin (CCC), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Ben Hermans (Israel), Tiesj Benoot and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) fit the bill. There are plenty of others down on GC who might be able to win but are retained for team duties, eg at Cofidis Jesus Herrada will work for Guillaume Martin, Alexey Lutsenko will accompany Miguel Angel Lopez.

For the GC contenders it’s a strange finish, those that make the selection over the Col de la Lusette can hope to get their breath back for the finish, the stage result is not necessarily going to correlate with the best climber. Still Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) has won in Orcières-Merlette already so makes for an easy pick, among the GC contenders he’s got the best sprint, he’s got the strongest team and has a motive too with the time bonus.

The flatter final kilometre suits Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) who’ll be out with a point to prove today but can he hang on during the hardest part of the Col de la Lusette? Jumbo-Visma won’t wait and should be happy with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in yellow but only because he’s here for stage hunting right? Only he’s in the race lead and hasn’t sat up as he ought to, Jumbo might have a problem if Yates starts winning more. If Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) can sit tight for the sprint he’s got a chance.

Primož Roglič, Julian Alaphilippe
Roche, de Marchi, Yates, Martin, Hermans, Zaka, Benoot

Weather: windy at the start and a crosswind. It’ll be warm and sunny, 29°C and for the finish the wind will drop to a light breeze, a tailwind in the finish.

TV: live coverage from the start at midday to the finish forecast for 5.00pm Euro time. The intermediate sprint is around 3.00pm and the race reaches the hills around 3.45pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lukyluk Thursday, 3 September 2020, 6:18 am

    This just in: body of Tour de France soigneur found 17.1km from the finish line. Loud-mouthed Belgian team manager arrested.
    😀

    Thanks for the write-up, as usual. Feels weird not to see Valverde in the picks for a day like this, he’d have been on everyone’s lips a couple years ago.
    Considering how the race has gone so far, I’d expect to see Roglič and Pogačar to battle for another one after a full team grind, but I hold out hope that there will be attacks on La Luzette.

  • oldDAVE Thursday, 3 September 2020, 7:30 am

    I’m worried the Tour could be over this evening – although hopefully the flatter finish dissuades race ending attacks from Jumbo Visima- although I do think Bernal and especially Carapaz could be dropped for good today. Maybe I’m wrong as Roglic seems to rarely put in Froome2013-6-esq attacks from 4-6km out, he seems to like a last KM sprint and a 10-20sec Brucey Bonus.

    Also think Pogacar might surprise with a win today, the climb suits him I thought? Maybe not the finish.

    • Lukyluk Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:04 am

      I agree, I don’t see why Roglic would risk an attack considering he’s already ahead of almost all the contenders, is considered one of the best in the TT, and has the best team in the mountains by far. He’ll attempt to grind everyone down and take bonus seconds when he can, I expect.

      His challenge mostly comes from the fact that behind him, the field is extremely dense, there are 15 riders who could reasonably go for a podium finish this year and look to be in similar shape.

      Twitter account Le Grupetto had a list of the top 15 on the stage to Orcières-Merlette, and tracked down their best-ever position on a grand tour. It goes like this:
      Roglic : 1er
      Pogacar : 3e
      Martin : 12e
      Quintana : 1er
      Alaphilippe : 5e
      Lopez : 3e
      Bernal : 1er
      Pinot : 3e
      Landa : 3e
      Yates : 4e
      Dumoulin : 1er
      Chaves : 2e
      Mollema : 3e
      Porte : 5e
      Uran : 2e
      Bardet : 2e

    • Digahole Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:15 am

      But the final 10km make it a low reward-for-effort on the steep part of the Lusette. They might drop a few there, but they’ll probably be down to Roglic, Kuss and Dumoulin by then and nobody will want to work with them. More of a build-your-lead than a twist-the-knife day perhaps?

      Still, it’s so, so early. Even with minutes down into the final week, there’s opportunity for Bernal IF his form build and Roglic fades

    • Anonymous Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:20 am

      If roglic rides for bonuses while he’s clearly so much stronger than the rest then he’s nuts. Make the advantage count while you’ve got it.

      • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:08 pm

        If you’re confident. You wait till week two. JV are almost arrogant about their dominance. They’ll take yellow when they want.

        • oldDAVE Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:15 pm

          COULDN’T have been more wrong.

          That was so epically disappointing – I was going through all the permutations in my head this morning of what might happen and Ineos riding chilled tempo to the top was not one of them.

          Watched Lance’s review of yesterday’s stage and he called this perfectly – exactly what happened. Usually Hincapie makes the better shouts but Lance had this down.

          Watching Lutsenko win, I forgot who got chainrings and checked back here firmly expecting INRNG to have called it, but no! Surprised, a Lutsenko victory is the exact sort of win I never think of but you always call! (this is said with a smile!)

          *(Just to highlight, being a fanatic I listen to all cycling podcasts, so no Lance defender here, he can just be quite a fun watch, better than Pete K on ITV at least, I really like PK but finding his analysis snore-inducing)

          • Mellow Velo Friday, 4 September 2020, 3:12 pm

            It’s his voice and delivery rather than the content, I think. He needs a voice coach to give him a sense of pace and variety of tone if he’s going to make a success of this.

            At the moment we just fast forward through his turn quite often, before we fall asleep…..

  • Magtogoek Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:07 am

    I am really hoping LouLou goes full “F U” on the TDF and absolutely crushes this stage for a victory. I am shocked that the commissaires didn’t exercise more discretion and better judgement on this one. It had zero outcome on the race.

    WVA is a force to be reckoned with right now!

    • Lukyluk Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:05 am

      Rules are rules, though, right? I feel bad for Alaphilippe, clearly he didn’t deserve to lose the jersey on that kind of mishap, but I prefer when things are spelled out and in black and white, it avoids a lot of the needless controversy.

      As it turns out, Yates missed out on the jersey when Froome’s time was controversially adjusted after his incident on the Ventoux in 2016. This time he gets it, probably not the way he was hoping to take it, but no-one will blame him for enjoying his spell in yellow.

    • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:13 pm

      Personally I think there is so much more to this than ‘an honest mistake’. There are so many reasons that this just doesn’t ‘happen’. Three people knew that the bidon was within 20km to go if not more and none thought, “wait! The 20km” rule.

      Alaphilippe moved over to the side. He even requests that his team mate move out the way on a bend, before he could see the soigneur. So he likely had news he would be there. A rider could’ve gone back to the team car to get a bidon for him. But no, he needed to get this one. Within 20km to go.
      I think the choice of whatever was in the bidon was better of the two options. This small event is significant and extremely fishy.

      • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:19 pm

        He’s also barely batted an eyelid over the infringement and the punishment. This is man that was in tears on stage two

        • Lukyluk Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:41 pm

          Wow. I love conspiracy theories as much as the next guy, but this one gets me pondering.

          1. What did he have to gain by losing time from a penalty?

          2. If he wanted to lose time so badly, why do it this way?

          3. If it had to be such a huge cover-up, why did 3-4 teams apparently have the same idea?

          4. What illegal drug or product did he need to take (not drink, take) at exactly 17km from the line (but not 20) at the end of a quiet flat, mostly downhill stage?

          And proof positive that something fishy is afoot is that he didn’t cry at the end. Makes perfect sense…

          • AnotherKevin Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:28 pm

            One aspect of this that (from what I heard) the person who gave the bottle was Ala’s brother and coach, who is in his first year with DQS. If that is true, it could indicate that his brother just didn’t realize that the rule was strictly enforced (i.e., innocent stupidity).

            Or, since it’s his brother and coach, it could support any manner of conspiracy theories.

            Or maybe the idea that this was his brother and coach was itself a conspiracy theory, and isn’t true. Anyway, it was clear that Lafevere was pissed, not at the commissars, but at gave the bottle, and sent him home.

          • hoh Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:51 pm

            Read somewhere this is indeed intentional, though not for the conspicuous reasons.

            There’s an interview of DQS DS. Covid meant that they don’t want the soigneur to be anywhere near a crowd. That left them few options. In most places, speed of the bunch was too high, they felt that was the only safe place to pass on a bottle and was hoping race jury would give leniency given the circumstances and the short infringement into the last 20km.

            However, that begs the question of why they didn’t raise the problem on DS meetings or other opportunities to talk to the race officials before committing the offence.

            On the other hand, no point of asking a team mate to get the bottle. Per the case of Porte passing Froome a gel in 2013, both of them got ducked 20 seconds.

  • jc Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:25 am

    After yesterday’s gentle tour we should see a decent break today. I would think the only team with any interest with chasing it down will be JV. If so how much effort will they be prepared to expend in the process? The only issue might be if Peter Sagan were to make the break DQS would have to chase to protect the green jersey. Previously this stage would have Thomas de Gendt written all over it but not sure he is in top form. Lennard Kãmna might be someone not mentioned if he is not on team duties.

    Despite the talk of the tour potentially being “over” today I would suggest Sunday week on the Colombier is a more likely place for the decisive showdown.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:55 am

      Good point on Sagan, I think that we could well see him in the breakaway. The Green Jersey contest doesn’t quite yet look like the inevitability it once was, though Sagan is still my choice as the final wearer.
      Yesterday surely gave us a glimpse, if it were needed, of his successor too?
      Though I’m not sure whether a team can sustain a points jersey challenge combined with a potentially double-pronged attack on GC?
      Which may suggest that van Aert might have to move elsewhere to fulfill any Green ambitions, or envious glances may be the only green hue he could find himself with on the Tour?
      Who knows, but back to the here and now 😀

    • AnotherKevin Thursday, 3 September 2020, 11:03 am

      It’s hard to imagine that DQS would burn up riders to protect the green jersey (which they obviously aren’t going to win) when they have Ala trying to make up for his idiotic time penalty. Not that they’ll need to chase the break – I don’t think Sagan is feeling good enough to spend the day in the break. That said, he’ll end up back in green later, though I would love to see him get into the break and go for it.

      I say that Sagan will end up in green because while he clearly lacks that top sprint gear that he’s had in the past, and he appears uncomfortable to the point of being miserable much of the time, he’s actually gaining points on Ewan, and gave away only a handful of points to Bennett. Three prime sprint stages out of five, and Ewan/Bennett have a single win between them. This is when they should be building a big lead on Sagan so that they can hold on during the mountain stages. And that’s assuming that they’ll ride to the finish. Ewan is committed to the Giro, and I could see him dropping out if he gets a second stage.

      • jc Thursday, 3 September 2020, 11:39 am

        Sam Bennett seems to have a real shout of following in the footsteps of Sean Kelly and wearing the green jersey at the end of the tour. Most, if not all, of the intermediate sprints are before any of the big mountains. Sam can harvest points there and go easy over the steeper sections (he seems to be a perfectly adequate climber anyway). Perhaps I have missed something but there dont seem to be any of the sort of stages with sharp steep finishes that Peter Sagan has ridden well on before and he appears distracted. He is due to ride the Giro perhaps he is really targeting that and the TdF is a bit of an afterthought to keep sponsors happy?

        If Caleb Ewan does withdraw (bit doubtful about that) there would be an even bigger prospect of winning on the Champs Elysee whilst wearing the green jersey (Caleb Ewan is probably the best sprinter at the tour), which would be a career defining moment for Sam.

        • Realist Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:10 pm

          Really? Did you not see how quickly Bennett went backwards in MSR on the Poggio?
          He’s not going to hang onto green much more than another few days.

          • AnotherKevin Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:34 pm

            I agree. I think the big mountains are going to wreck him. If he keeps trying to stay up in the green jersey, he risks not getting a stage win, since Ewan is clearly faster when he’s in position, and he’s apparently already let go of green jersey aspirations. I could be wildly wrong, but I think tomorrow’s stage is one of those where going hard for the intermediate sprint will come at the expense of one’s chances at the finish.

        • SquarePedaller Thursday, 3 September 2020, 11:26 pm

          Pet theory: Sagan isn’t here for the green jersey. He has won 7, he doesn’t really need another. Rather this is just an extended training block for the upcoming classics.

          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 11:29 pm

            Note he’s riding the Giro, so he’s contractually obliged to miss most of the classics

      • Anonymous Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:00 pm

        Let’s have a competition which will reward miserable but consistent mediocrity.
        What a great idea. Said nobody. Ever.

  • Ferdi Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:08 am

    When was the last time that an “obvious sprint stage” was won by the morning breakaway? Voeckler, perhaps? Or even before? I can’t even remember… What on earth has changed between today and the times when the “obvious sprint” option could be defeated or discouraged by a strong and determined break? Why does the peloton seem to be ok with this “inevitability”? Don’t they see how much absolutely-peloton-controlled-racing damages the sport?

    • Tim Morton Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:30 am

      The trouble with any breakaway yesterday was the road was always going downhill for the first 80% of the stage, so the peloton would always catch it.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:37 am

      Probably 2017 when Boasson Hagen won but that was late in the race and if you looked at the profile and thought “sprint stage” it was late in the race and breakaway had a good chance. Otherwise it’s hard to find examples, maybe Pierrick Fédrigo in 2012 but that was a hilly day but let’s count it and it’s one stage every five years. I don’t think this damages the sport, the riders need some transition days to cope with the three weeks and the race won’t hold them on weekend when audiences are high.

      • noel Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:42 am

        ‘when Boasson Hagen won’. that seems like a different age now, what a pity he didn’t really kick on…

        • oldDAVE Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:50 am

          I always remember a Sky trainer in some random interview hinted one of their classics riders struggled with ‘stomach issues’ on the full classics distance – so whilst they’d won shorter races convincingly that never translated to the monuments because of this… always assumed he meant EVB

      • SVENCO Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:57 am

        I don’t understand how anyone could believe this first week of “omertá” ,5 controlled stages, no breakaway at all (first since 1998) and boring pace over the whole broadcast is not damaging the sport in terms of future sponsors, tv audiences, etc

        PS. I was ok with the first day “controlled” descent with the slippery roads…even strongly defended it. BUT TODAY WAS EMBARRASING

        • Gelato4bahamontes Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:11 pm

          As the badger said I race to win, not to please people.

          • SVENCO Friday, 4 September 2020, 10:04 am

            apparently, todays saying would be : we “race” not to lose the tour in the first 15 days, and after that, hold on our gained positition.

        • Richard S Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:25 pm

          Yes I don’t understand some peoples acceptance of it. I’m not saying Roglic or any of the big GC men had to attack, but there are probably 170+ riders in this race who have no hope of even winning a stage never mind the overall. And yeah B&B Hotels have Coquard going for sprints and Arkea-Samsic have Quintana notionally going for GC, but how likely are either to succeed? Not to mention the other small teams. And what are Movistar’s plans, a pre-retirement holiday for Valverde? Get someone in the break so at least you are taking part. Plus, if nobody even tried and there was just a general acknowledgment that there was no point we wouldn’t have had Jacky Durand winning Flanders or Richard Virenque winning Paris-Tours. Its always worth rolling the dice. And nobody needs a rest on stage 5 after 6 months off.

          • SVENCO Friday, 4 September 2020, 10:05 am

            WORD

      • Ferdi Thursday, 3 September 2020, 1:33 pm

        Seeing the upset and even outrage in the media and social networks in many languages, I think the harm to the sport is quite undeniable. But that leaves the main question unanswered: what has happened so that flat stages are not won anymore by breakaways, as was frequent, every year, in the 1980’s and 1990’s?

        • Richard S Thursday, 3 September 2020, 1:52 pm

          There’s a few things but I’ll list a few things that come to my mind:
          – entire teams given over to protecting GC men at all times. There’s no room for a stage hunter if you are ‘going for GC’.
          – Increased paranoia about something happening to GC men at any given time on any given stage. They don’t ride at the back chatting anymore, they are up at the front in team formation ‘staying out of trouble’ all day every day.
          – Entire teams given over to sprinters. Similar to the above, if your team has a sprinter and you are not that sprinter then you are a leadout man and you aren’t going anywhere.

          The effect of the above is that everyone has a job to do and none of them involve going off up the road. It also means that the peloton is always riding fast, whether to stay out of some unforeseeable and unexplained ‘trouble’ or to set up the sprint.

          • Ferdi Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:51 pm

            So, basically, decisions by team managers. Entire teams given over to sprinters? Are they out of their minds? So that your sprinter can be 8th or whatever? As if he wasn’t going to be 8th anyway? Teams more afraid of eventful flat stages for their GC candidates than trying to gain avantage of them? And how much thinking is given about spectators and sponsors?
            And why on earth does the peloton (and those toxic peloton-verstehers) keep answering back to spectators, instead of rebelling against team managers, saying the spectators are right, old-time cycling is the real thing, and we’ve been wrong for 20-30 years?
            And why are great rouleurs so submissive, to play bodyguards for climbers and chasers for sprinters, instead of claiming their own stardom, especially now that flat TTs are (God knows why, again) basically disappearing? Why don’t they tear the peloton to pieces when they can? Why don’t they REBEL and send their DS packing and weeping behind their steering wheels?
            Too many questions, too serious to ignore and pass on to the next stage. The choice is not between forlorn breakaways or no breakaways (that is a false dichotomy because it doesn’t include defeated sprint teams), the choice is between giving up cycling (something that several broadcasters were considering yesterdays) or encouraging rotten-egg-throwing and fresh-urine-spilling at chasing-sprinting-teams. That’s the real choice.

    • Calisthlyclist Thursday, 3 September 2020, 11:55 am

      Voeckler into Perpignan in 2009 was the last time a flat stage that the sprinters’ teams had targeted was won by the breakaway. The peloton had actually tried to catch up whereas the likes of Boasson Hagen in ’17 and Fedrigo in ’12 were when the peloton didn’t even try.

    • UHJ Thursday, 3 September 2020, 2:28 pm

      Thierry Marie, stage 6, 1991?

  • AnotherKevin Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:16 am

    Lovely writing, as always. The sentences starting with “Wout sprinted:” are prime Inrng. Thanks again, this is always the first thing I read over breakfast.

  • AK Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:38 am

    “The gradient is meaner than the average”, 4x4x4/forlorn. Race insight coupled with such playful intelligent writing, this is what I keep coming back for. Thank you INRNG.

    • noel Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:44 am

      +1

      now, if Inrng could just team up with David Squires we could just spend quieter stages trying to pick out all the hidden references…

      • Md3 Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:47 am

        Always written with panache. Quality content guaranteed @inrng.

    • HodH Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:04 pm

      Inrng showing his incredible form early in the tour, rumours of his punishing lockdown training regimen might have been true. Some say he’s peaking too early, but I think if he writes intelligently he can hold it all the way to Paris

  • peter Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:14 pm

    As regards the bottle for Alaphilippe,and Quickstep, they weren’t the only ones giving out bottles at that spot, see also Jumbo, Vital concept, and movistar.

    • Vitus Thursday, 3 September 2020, 4:15 pm

      And the communique tells us that Sepp Kuss and Carlos Verona got the same penalty and fine as Alaphillipe, so did the DS of those teams. Only they didn’t make it into the news.
      No conspiracy here, just some clueless team directors who had a problem reading a map or spot the 20km sign.

  • global nomad Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:23 pm

    given the only exciting thing yesterday was Alaphilippe’s mishap and then the various comments and articles about it, I’m wondering if there is any far flung scenario where taking the bottle was deliberate in order to loose the jersey for today….wild speculation can be fun…but everyone is assuming it was a stupid mistake rather than a crafty play on the rules…

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:38 pm

      I can’t see the conspiracy. The previous day feeding was allowed until 15km to go and yesterday several teams seemed to have thought the final climb was ok for handing up bottles (makes sense, it’s easier on a climb) but it was after the 20km banner.

      • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:35 pm

        I figure that a 20 second time penalty was preferable to the punishment of not having that bottle. Everyone on the team outside of possibly the other riders knew he had to have that bottle AND that it was within 20km. Everyone knew that rule. The video evidence shows him explaining to other riders that he needed to move out and forward to get it. So it wasn’t like it was a mistake. The team knew it was within 20km, Alaphilippe knew it was.
        Perhaps giving consideration to COVID riders are less keen to share fluids, but I would expect sharing a team mates bottle. With 20 to go why the desperation? It was clear it was a bunch sprint.
        I can only turn to the idea it has masking agents in it. I’m sorry if it offends, but it was clearly no mistake.

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:39 pm

          I find it fascinating people see conspiracy theories in pro cycling, if people see them here it explains why they get such traction in politics etc.

          Imagine if a rider desperately needed a secret flask of masking agent because they have to provide a urine sample later. Why not just drink it after the finish line, this way you don’t get a time penalty. Instead collect it from the waiting soigneur whose job is literally to meet the rider after the finish line, there’s no time limit for the test after the line, the testers will wait as long as it takes. Also masking agents get tested for, they’re on the WADA list etc etc

          • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 4:17 pm

            But sometimes these things take time to metabolise so they don’t show up in a test.
            There’s no way that bottle was a mistake either way. He was told to pick that bottle up. For whatever reason it couldn’t be done before the 20km banner. There’s no conspiracy because soigneurs are not idiots, neither are DS’s.
            Surely a team mate dropping back to a team car could pick up a bottle. Or share his bottle with Alaphilippe? There are just too many reasons why a bottle at that point was no accident and something he definitely needed to take.
            I’ve not made anything of Evanepoel’s back pocket. But Bramati looks like he grabs a little baggy of white powder. You can’t really tell anything from the video but that’s what it looks like. It was suspicious enough for UCI to issue a warning.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 3 September 2020, 6:00 pm

          Did it ever occur to you that he might just have been really thirsty?

        • hoh Thursday, 3 September 2020, 6:04 pm

          Why dope in the first place if it is such an inconsequential stage/finish?

          • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 7:50 pm

            It stays in the system. It’s not like you just take it on the day. Why do you think they do out of competition testing?

    • hoh Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:57 pm

      I see the opposite. Everybody assumes it is a conspiracy whilst it was just a mistake or the misjudgement of the Jury’s leniency.

      • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:02 pm

        Soigneurs and DS’s are very experienced racers. They are riders, and know the sport. They’re the equivalent of golf caddies. To say they made a mistake with a bidon is like saying they had no idea that you’d need to tee off with a 5 wood on a par 4 (or some such).
        Everyone on that Deceuninck team would’ve known on race radio that he needed to collect a bidon from him. Yet no one said it’s past 20km, is that OK? The footage on ITV show him telling a rider to make space for him to get that bidon on the inside of a bend (so he wouldn’t be able to clearly see the soigneur). So it was specifically for him.
        Why not get a drink of one of his other riders? He’s the yellow jersey, one of his team mates could sacrifice a bidon, or drop back and get one. It wasn’t like it was the hardest day in the saddle.
        To say it was a mistake just beggars belief.
        When Froome took a gel in the finale on the Peyresourde they were racing hard and the calculation was made that any time penalty would be less than the effects of bonking.

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:07 pm

          The guy yesterday was Alaphilippe’s cousin Franck, he’s his trainer and not so experienced when it comes to working on site at races and was only hired by the team as part of a package when Alaphilippe renewed with the team.

          Fascinating how conspiracy theorists don’t go “ok, guess I got this wrong” but double-down.

          • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:27 pm

            I’d accept that if the whole team didn’t know what was going on. A DS has to drop Franck off. Alaphilippe himself must know the rules. So three people at least. Though someone must have told him the bottle was coming up for him to tell the rider next to him that he needed to move out. So the call was likely on race radio. So the whole team knew.
            Also, that story about Franck is a convenient cover. The Alaphilippe’s are hardly inexperienced with cycling. His dad was a local coach so how his uncle is unfamiliar with race rules I just don’t buy it. People are scratching around for excuses – but how often does this mistake happen. Why only Alaphilippe in DQS? Why did he specifically move out for a drink in the last 20km when he has team mates there to hand him bottles? It’s more than just a little odd.

          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 8:41 pm

            Fascinating. First no DS drops him off, he parked in a team car. Alaphilippe won’t know the race rules that day, if he sees a member of staff he’ll grab the bottle, he might think the rule’s been relaxed from 20km to 15km (for example tomorrow it’s been moved to 15km because it’ll be hot).

        • Mellow Velo Friday, 4 September 2020, 3:25 pm

          In other news, man sails off edge of world trying to find America.

  • Dani Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:34 pm

    I strongly believe that Alaphilippe lost the yellow on purpose, to save his team leading duties.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:36 pm

      There are easier ways to lose time and above all he’s leading the world’s biggest race, it’s a publicity bonanza for him, the team and their sponsors. They’re here for this, not to give Tim Declerq a rest day.

  • The Inner Ring Thursday, 3 September 2020, 12:40 pm

    Herrada and Lutsenko, the two riders picked as examples of those who could win from a break but would likely be held back to accompany their leaders… are in the breakaway today 😉

    • dft Thursday, 3 September 2020, 1:22 pm

      They probably read your blog and are toying with you!
      Be good if it’s not the GC guys today, & 3 JV wins on a trot would be starting to get a bit silly.

    • Martijn Doekes Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:18 pm

      Clearly even you can make a slight judgement error …. if any trouble they can always wait if they are ahead

    • CA Thursday, 3 September 2020, 4:03 pm

      LOL good stuff inrng

      also looks like Ineos read your blog and saw they weren’t mentioned! Along with Fabio Aru!

    • AnotherKevin Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:43 pm

      Inrng – even when he’s wrong, he’s right.

  • Left Thursday, 3 September 2020, 2:06 pm

    Regarding the bottle penalty –
    Could he really have not overtaken his teammate and taken the bottle from him instead? I recall Froome was penalized for taking a gel from Porte sometime back. Not sure if that would have applied here?

    Also I’ve seen references to a team mechanic and to a Belgian handing over the bottle. Are there some definite answers out there?

    • KevinR Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:07 pm

      I could be wrong but didn’t Porte cop the punishment – or at least most of it – because he took the gel/s from the team car after the cut-off?

      • Paul Banks Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:52 pm

        They both took a 20 s penalty for that one.

    • CA Thursday, 3 September 2020, 4:13 pm

      Agreed – Alaphillipe had a few options available to him to get that bottle… he also should have known they were inside the final 20k, he’s not a junior.

      It’s ok, water under the bridge, hopefully he can get the jersey back at some point, but it looks like he may have lost it today anyways, we’ll see how it finishes!

  • Scott Thursday, 3 September 2020, 2:57 pm

    Thanks so much for these previews. This is my go-to for race previews.

  • RQS Thursday, 3 September 2020, 3:37 pm

    OK. I don’t get it. Why are INEOS riding on the front with 30km to go?!

    • oldDAVE Thursday, 3 September 2020, 5:20 pm

      as I above I didn’t see this coming either…

      I mean them being on the front with 30kms to go given the mountain peaked 10km from the finish made sense, as they were essentially controlling from 20kms out – I was surprised as it didn’t seem a day for Bernal to attack given his questionable form, but thing became clear very soon, they were just managing the pace, keeping it low to conserve Bernal’s energy and protect him I guess by sending the message to the rest that they were happy to chill today.

      Thought a few riders might try their luck – a Porte, or a Martin but I guess with no stage vctory on offer it made no sense.

    • Vitus Thursday, 3 September 2020, 6:59 pm

      To welcome their new teammate Adam at Mitchelton-Grenadier

    • KevinR Thursday, 3 September 2020, 9:47 pm

      RQS, maybe they wanted to make sure they could get their bottles before the 20km….err…15km cut-off?!! Kwiatkowski said it was to stay out of trouble on a narrow road

    • Morten Reippuert Thursday, 3 September 2020, 10:00 pm

      They are slowing the pace down in order not to drop Bernal. Luchenko is going up the last climbs faster