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Paris-Nice Stage 8 Preview

The final stage of Paris-Nice and usually a great day’s racing. A forced course change means less of a wild route today but it’s the last chance for a stage win.

Kanibal: a decent breakaway but a hard chase from Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe plus others reduced the escapees’ lead going into the final climb. Kenny Elissonde, Neilson Powless and Gino Mäder went clear and gradually Mäder went solo. The Swiss climber had a lead going into the final kilometre and it was touch and go, yet at one point, the chase group of Roglič, Schachmann et al seemed to be looking at each other more than the stage win. Then Roglič launched and left everyone for dust, Mäder included.

Could Roglič have gifted the win? Yes, but Schachmann was close by, so it would have been hard to engineer if he felt like it. More importantly, this was no 250km solo from Mäder in front of his family or in the last year of his career. Bahrain is no charity-case outfit either. Plus, Roglič is indisputably the strongest in the race, but he started the day “only” 41 seconds ahead of Max Schachmann meaning a puncture, a late crash or some other hiccup and he could see the race slip from his grip. Given what happened on La Planche des Belles Filles just six months ago, he’s not going to be leaving time bonuses and wins on the table.

The Route: the second of two abbreviated stages, and just like last year, Paris-Nice won’t quite finish in Nice. But we get eight stages this time and the real problem is if Paris-Nice doesn’t reach Nice next year because of the pandemic, then we really are in trouble. Instead, today is three laps of a hilly circuit, about 850m of vertical gain for each 35km lap or 2,600m of climbing in total. The graphic above from the organisers says the main climb up to Duranus is 3.8km at 13.3%, which sounds infernal but it’s just 7% average and a well known road for locals in Nice and Monaco. This doesn’t make it easy, though, and it’s on a twisting road up and then down, which most of the circuit is.

The Finish: a rare bit of flat road in Levens.

The Contenders: Primož Roglič again? Why not, but it’s not so easy here. The finish is flat, and if he comes in with a group he’s not the pick; a strong one, but not the certain one. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) is good in a sprint and outsiders include Movistar’s giant Mateo Jorgenson and Tiesj Benoot (DSM).

Max Schachmann
Primož Roglič, Tiesj Benoot, Dylan Teuns
Jorgenson, Matthews, Izaguirre

Weather: sunshine but just 12°C and some wind from the NW

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CET. It’s on France 3 for locals and VPN users, or Eurosport/GCN for most of the rest of the world and NBC Sports Gold in the US.

Tirreno-Adriatico’s finish is an hour earlier today so tune in first for the “wall” stage in Italy as they tackle the climb to Castelfidardo.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lukyluk Sunday, 14 March 2021, 12:15 am

    Not sure where the 13.3% figure comes from, the road is tough but not *that* tough.

    The route is a good advertisement for the “villages perchés” after a few glimpses yesterday, that’s if you somehow lacked inspiration for places to travel to in post-Covid days. And I don’t think you can get a better illustration of the French idiom “esprit de clocher” (loosely translating to “local pride”) than in the feuds between the villages. Good-natured rivalry, for the most part, but each village tries to outshine the others during their local festivals.

    Jorgenson is an interesting pick, but I’m not sure how much I would rate Benoot for this one, it’ll be hard to break away from Jumbo’s invincible Armada and I’m not sure he has the sprint for a finish in a small group. But then, your picks have often been very accurate, so I’ll keep a close eye.
    Laporte is another rider I’d try to follow if he doesn’t get dropped early, on a short stage it might go too fast for him to hold on but he has good legs right now.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 14 March 2021, 1:21 pm

      It is still a very scenic stage, as last minute replacement courses go this is a good one. Many riders will know the road well from their training rides.

      The bookmakers have Bennett for the win today but can’t see that. Laporte could be there but the preceeding climb should be used by some teams to shake out plenty of riders. The break has a decent chance today too as long as there are no threats to Roglič.

  • StevhanTI Sunday, 14 March 2021, 8:50 am

    Is Bennett thinking he can win this maybe? He was in the break yesterday seemingly on a mission to score points?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 14 March 2021, 1:23 pm

      Roglič is in the points jersey and it’s possible Bennett could win it but only just, as he’d have to win the intermediate sprints and then take the stage today. I think his thoughts will turn to Sanremo now.

  • Rooto Sunday, 14 March 2021, 9:17 am

    A quick bit of maths tells us that 3.8 x 133m = 505m. The altitude of Duranus is 510m. Nobody bothered to check the altitude at the start of the climb.
    A bit of a rush job there on the part of ASO. I imagine the team (like our host) will be a bit more thorough.

    • Lukyluk Sunday, 14 March 2021, 9:22 am

      So they just misused sea level as the altitude for the start of the climb? Makes sense, good thinking there.

  • Ferdi Sunday, 14 March 2021, 9:41 am

    What’s happening in Tirreno-Adriatico eclipses Roglic’s show in France. The close race between Pogacar and Van Aert is probably a defining moment in the history of the sport: the moment when stage race organisers remember that a good all-out stage race requires to make it possible to win a GC while losing significant amounts of time on the climbs, through time bonuses and time trials.

    • Richard S Sunday, 14 March 2021, 10:53 am

      Yes Tirreno-Adriatico is a superior race in every respect this year. The field is exceptional for any stage race, whereas Paris-Nice is Roglic vs pretty much just himself. Any race that has all of Pogacar, Alaphilippe, Van Aert and Van der Poel in it is worth watching. I hope Mr Inrng doesn’t mind me saying that there is a definite bias on this site towards French stage races. Which is fair enough, it’s his site. It could be all about French steam engines if he wishes. It’ll be interesting to see Van Aert trying to get the time back. It could come down to how many of the time bonuses MvdP pinches from him!

      • plurien Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:21 am

        This is an exceptional P-N with one rider taking three stage wins (so far) and some great battles going on through the stages. There’s also another great show going on at T-A, with the fantastic prospect of all these leading riders coming together at a Classic or GT very soon. It will only be a truly enjoyable showdown when we’ve seen what each rider brings to the races.
        Or are you saying there’s too much good racing on right now?!

      • Vitus Sunday, 14 March 2021, 2:19 pm

        This is a free internet, feel free to make your own blog and talk about races you’re interested in. The owner of this blog here doesn’t owe you, me or any other reader anything.

        • Richard S Sunday, 14 March 2021, 6:04 pm

          I know. Hence me saying ‘which is fair enough, it’s his site.’ Chill.

      • RQS Monday, 15 March 2021, 7:09 am

        I would imagine it’s more to do about time and timing than location. Paris-Nice starts first and Inrng doesn’t have time to cover both.

        • The Inner Ring Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:56 am

          It’s pick one and the roads of Paris-Nice are more familiar, usually there’s just one stage that needs to be visited in advance for recon, an effect which has compounded over the years as more previews layer on top of others.

          It’s a concern for the Giro as there are some new climbs but restrictions – much of the country is now a “red zone” – mean travel is off limits for a month (at least).

    • J Evans Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:14 am

      Though I certainly see your point, I don’t think grand tour organisers are going to get any closer to not making their races all about the climbing. And the other issue is that nowadays some of the best climbers are also some of the best time trialists, so it would possibly decrease the number of potential winners.

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:20 am

      I’m not sure if it’s that significant; I’ll leave others to pass judgment on that score.
      But, already in the early part of the season, it does have huge resonance for the Tour de France, I feel.
      Namely, how do Jumbo-Visma get rid of Pogacar?
      They couldn’t last year, he eclipsed them and Team Ineos in a 3 weeks display that was reminiscent of the then World Champion Sagan taking on the Quick Steppers on their home turf.
      Then, it was only after a concerted and at times ugly battle that Sagan was finally brought down.
      The tactic of very aggressive racing, multiple riders shooting off the front from as far as 90km out, finally won the day for the Belgian team.
      That was then, and they were one day’ers, but it may need Jumbo-Visma to be more aggressive too to defeat Pogacar at the Tour?
      It may even need some sort of unholy collaboration with Ineos as well?

      • Richard S Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:43 am

        I’m not sure how you managed to make it about Sagan but, yes, the Tour proved that JV riding on the front for 3 weeks at a pace that Pogacar can match and hoping Roglic can win the punch to the line and time trial won’t be enough. They need to be more aggressive. How they could do this I don’t know. Pogacar can match Roglic, he won’t be worried by Van Aert in a 3 week race and I doubt he needs to worry to much about Kruijswijk either. In the Grand Tours the best riders tend to win again and again, and that’s probably what Pogacar will do all being well.

        • Ecky Thump Sunday, 14 March 2021, 12:57 pm

          More than one way to skin a cat Richard?
          Isolate Pogacar on the flat, in winds, the type of stuff that Sky did to Quintana and Movistar?
          I agree that the mountain train doesn’t appear to be enough to dislodge Pogacar, on the contrary it probably favours him more.

          • plurien Sunday, 14 March 2021, 1:53 pm

            Didnt a bit of Armco do more than Sky to ‘help’ remove Quintana in rosa that time?
            Then there was that time when Stannard got the better of three QS riders at a classic.
            Roglic had more bonif on offer for the win yesterday than he lost the Tour by.
            There’s a lot can happen in bike racing. There are no presents. You have to be super fit a n d stay lucky. We love it so.

      • Ferdi Sunday, 14 March 2021, 12:07 pm

        Anyone remember when the Tour offered 30/20/10 seconds bonus at the end of every stage and 12/8/4 seconds at every intermediate sprint (of which there were 3 or 4 every day), and a guy as heavy as Sean Kelly was considered a possible winner?

        • Bern Sunday, 14 March 2021, 12:56 pm

          Yeah, I’m that old…thanks…

        • ZigaK Monday, 15 March 2021, 8:40 am

          That would be sooo great watching with Sagan in his prime.

          • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:25 am

            Surely – even with training specified towards that aim – Sagan still wouldn’t have had the climbing ability?

    • Road Furniture Sunday, 14 March 2021, 4:01 pm

      Tirreno Adriatico was indeed very good today, and this week, though the weather had some say in it. Paris-Nice sometimes “benefits” from foul weather to add unpredictability, but sadly not this year.

    • StevhanTI Monday, 15 March 2021, 10:36 am

      I am struggling to keep my pessimism and cynicism back but T-A reminds me of a good old fashioned six day race. All stars get a piece of the pie, everyday some thrilling action to keep the spectators in awe and (quite likely) a tight race to be decided in a grand finale (the TT on tuesday en lieu of the final madison). Add to that the public secret that RCS pays the star riders handsomely to join at it really IS a six day race more aspects than we should like.

      • gabriele Monday, 15 March 2021, 10:47 am

        Yesterday (and so many other times, both this year and through the last couple of decades) they didn’t exactly look they were having the fun most riders associate with their six days experiences.

  • Climber Sunday, 14 March 2021, 4:33 pm

    Rogla over and out. Got too greedy yesterday and promptly got punished today. Karma is a bitch.

    • oldDAVE Sunday, 14 March 2021, 6:19 pm

      This seems way too harsh… didn’t he just fall?

      I really don’t think there’s any karma involved from yesterday, it was fair enough him taking that stage win – he’s a paid professional, he’s there to win races and represent his sponsors, in a team where GC is competitive and he’s right to establish his position beyond debate.

      I can’t lie I do, like many others, find Roglic’s wait wait wait sprint tactics a little dull and reminiscent of Valverde – but at the same time, Roglic faced defeat last year so graciously and has come back so impressively I cannot help but admire him, and his first win this week was more than just a simple sprint to the line.

      He seems like a genuinely nice guy who I feel sorry for when he seems to face quite a bit of negativity from Brit fans? Is it because he struggles with English so comes across more robotic than he might in Slovenian? Or are people suspicious of the recent Solvenian run ins with doping accusations?

      I think we should enjoy Rog, he’s getting the best out of his ability and when he’s involved in firecracker races with Alaphillipe, WvA, Pog and others, he deserves as much credit as they do for making this what is looking like it might become a golden era of cycling. I’m astounded by what this new generation can do.

      • J Evans Sunday, 14 March 2021, 9:37 pm

        ‘he seems to face quite a bit of negativity from Brit fans’ – coincidentally, his team is now the dominant team in races like the TdF, where the Brit team used to be the dominant team. Mindless nationalism for many, I suspect.

        • oldDAVE Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:06 pm

          I gotta say actually J Evans – I think you may well be wrong on that.

          I don’t know whether you’re British or not, but living here and being friends with a fair number of cyclists, I think you’d be surprised at how little Team Sky inspired devotion or even any real support here. I realise this may seem odd, but of those Brits I know who follow cycling most seem more inclined to dislike Sky than like.

          I think Murdoch may have something to do with it, but despite being fanatical about our football team and most other sports, it doesn’t stretch into cycling as you might expect outside of the track team.

          I think many can separate the riders from the team, and obviously everyone likes Geraint, Stannard and others, but support for Wiggo has waned in a big way since 2012, support for Froome was never widespread and now Sky is Ineos there’s even more reason to struggle to support.

          I think if you pushed a lot of British cycling fans they might actually like L-J more than Ineos, and certainly most will like Quickstep more.

          I guess for most countries it’s hard to be a fan of a team who’s name is constantly changing and jersey’s have no consistency.

          I also have a feeling a number of European fans are not into Roglic, simply because of his riding style and misunderstanding his quietness for steely arrogance.

          • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:07 am

            I am British, but I’m only going by what I see online where Sky/Ineos fans seem to be primarily British – none of my friends are in to cycling (and almost none of them are British anyway).

          • Richard S Monday, 15 March 2021, 10:22 am

            As a British cyclist I’ll throw my two’penneth in on this one. I would say you can split cyclists in this country into two groups. The old school who have been around for ages from when cycling was very much a niche sport here. They’re the weeknight timetrialists and weekend cyclocross racers, and members of long standing cycling clubs. They probably liked the novelty of a British team with British riders doing well, and will still be fans of Cavendish and Wiggins, but are cycling fans in general and not team focused. Then you have the new school who came in on the back of British riders having success. They struggle to view cycling beyond the Tour de France and support Sky/Ineos as if they were a football team. As they’re probably more likely to be younger they’re therefore probably more likely to be on cycling websites.

          • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:30 am

            Richard S, yes, that’s what I’ve always assumed – new fans who don’t share the same cynicism/realism as the rest of us who have seen this sort of thing time and again (including the previous boasting about ‘how clean we are’), and therefore support Sky/Ineos fairly uncritically. (I’m just as cynical about other teams/riders, particularly as I see so many incredible performances, but without any evidence you just have to try to ignore those nagging doubts and enjoy the racing.)

  • Climber Sunday, 14 March 2021, 8:27 pm

    I don’t know anything about negativity towards Roglic but I know one thing. The peloton is a small world and you won’t get many friends there with actions like yesterday. And sometimes you need a friend who will help you close a gap after some ill-timed crash or mechanical.

    • cp Sunday, 14 March 2021, 8:36 pm

      It looked like he had more than a few friends helping out today after his second crash.

      • ZigaK Monday, 15 March 2021, 8:43 am

        This. Basically everybody who he overtook while chasing, gave him a pull.

    • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:58 am

      The final stage showed why you need to take every second you can get in prior stages.

      How much of a fool would one feel if having ‘gifted’ a stage to another rider you then lost the race by 2 seconds?

      • oldDAVE Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:05 am

        Yeah agree – it’s just a no brainer – Roglic was right to attack, no riders would begrudge him that, and he was given plenty of help yesterday, was it Morkov who shouted at him to keep going? He’s well liked, and seems like a good bloke, we shouldn’t have any bad vibes toward him.

  • J Evans Sunday, 14 March 2021, 9:34 pm

    Tired of British commentators saying there is an ‘unwritten rule’ that you don’t attack the Maillot Jaune if they crash.
    That has never been the case.
    The unwritten rule – and it has never been uniformly adhered to – is if the Maillot Jaune has a *mechanical* you don’t attack.
    This is because a mechanical is – by some – not deemed a ‘racing incident’.
    A crash is a racing incident because if you crash it might well have been your fault.
    Most of all, it’s a race. And if someone has a disadvantage, you try to exploit it.
    Also, if the person in 2nd on GC has a problem, no-one cares, so it’s an unfair rule in the first place.
    For a mechanical, OK, maybe you don’t attack – if you also apply that to other riders.
    However, you cannot have a long list of ‘reasons you can’t attack the Maillot Jaune. It’s a race. (Same goes for Roglic taking the stage win yesterday – you might need the time so you take as much time as you can.)

    • oldDAVE Sunday, 14 March 2021, 11:20 pm

      J – you’re tired of everything! You’re so angry, it’s all good man, chill!

      there was no biggy what happened today, I don’t think that many brits care as much as you think about the unwritten rule, we’re all just loving how brilliant cycling is at the moment. It’s a joy!

      • Rooto Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:38 am

        I understood that J Evans is referring to TV commentators rather than to folk like you and me. On French TV I didn’t hear any mention of peloton rules, just sympathy for Roglic’s terrible luck. Maybe ITV was different…
        I certainly feel it’s OK to like Roglic now. So many times he’s snatched failure from the jaws of success.

        • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:44 am

          Yes, it was Rob Hatch, on Eurosport. And they do this every time. I don’t know if they’re trying to whip up fake controversy, or if they simply don’t know. But the racing’s interesting enough without BS and if they don’t know they really should. All I felt was sympathy for Roglic; I wasn’t questioning the fact that the others kept racing.

    • Vitus Monday, 15 March 2021, 3:35 pm

      “Also, if the person in 2nd on GC has a problem, no-one cares, so it’s an unfair rule in the first place.”

      That. Then second and later overall winner Schachmann had a puncture after 7km and nobody waited for him to come back.

  • Ferdi Monday, 15 March 2021, 9:08 am

    You gotta feel for poor Rogla. It’s already been a few stage races he should have won and hasn’t. Poor fellow.

  • Ecky Thump Monday, 15 March 2021, 10:23 am

    An amazing day all round yesterday.
    As fans, we are blessed to have that quality to watch.
    I feel sorry for Roglic but he did so well to even finish in that state.
    Chapeau to everyone.

  • plurien Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:04 am

    Just to add that the first thing Roglic did after crossing the line was congratulate Schachmann for winning.
    He could have gone to the bus, seen his family and got cleaned up by the medic, but no, he went specially.
    The day before he rode all his rivals off his wheel by attacking first, when they’d either had a pop and been caught or were trying to nick something at the line. Sure, there was a rider with no GC ambitions right there, but Schachmann was not going to wait for Roglic to gift the stage, and why would he, with 10 sec bonif on offer?
    Lots of dropped riders helped Roglic in the chase. None could stay with him and he limited his losses to 3 minutes as 1 guy against an army, despite injuries which will show for weeks, and that we now learn included a shoulder dislocated in the first crash.
    Wow. Give the guy a break and at least some of the respect he’s obviously earned from a top team and the whole peloton. It’s a bike race. Popularity does not assure success like performance.

  • oldDAVE Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:14 am

    Last then on Rog – I think a lot about Landa at the Giro he helped Aru and cost himself the victory, in hindsight I feel he should have won that race, and it just shows you you have to take your chance when it comes, you never know what will happen the next day, and now it seems Landa’s caught between two generations and has no chance of ever winning a Grand Tour when he might have won a couple five years ago.

    Just to swerve debates away from Rog (agree with plurien and others he’s all good) –

    Aside from Landa I wonder if there are a number of riders in that 28-32 bracket who’ve completely missed their chance now, I know we have many stories of final flings of the old guard and riders with a Indian summer to their careers, but the jump to new generation seems so dramatic that it’ll sweep a number of riders into their twilight years fearing they’ve under achieved.

    I’m even wondering whether Sagan will be in that category, three world championships back to back is incredible, but as it stands I cannot see him beating WvA, VdP or a few others and to end his career with a single Roubaix and Flanders doesn’t feel like it shows his talent?

    It’s hard to compute what’s currently happening in cycling, I’m fascinated to know whether it’s simply down to teams holding back young riders for too long previously, but there just seems like a quantum shift in what riders can now do and how they ride – I hope it travels through to the grand tours.

    • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:35 am

      I’m assuming you mean the 2015 Giro here. I too thought it was a shame that Landa was held back to help Aru (purely because Aru is Italian) when he was clearly the better rider, but I think Contador was unassailable in that race – Landa looked good, but didn’t look like he could take on Contador.

    • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:37 am

      There was also the 2019 Giro, where Landa looked like he might have been the only rider who could beat team mate Carapaz.
      (And I too entirely agree with Plurien on Roglic.)

    • gabriele Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:54 am

      Interesting points I have been also thinking about. Landa is sort of a very peculiar case – a nearly unique mentality, probably not very suitable for a competitive sport – and he sort of accepted what his figure is like in the panorama of cycling. He also loves cycling as such and has got a different sort of commitment when compared to most colleagues. Besides, the respect and appreciation he’s achieved among a significant part of the fanbase probably mean that his added value doesn’t depend on victories as much as most athletes’.

      I’ve actually been wondering a lot about the famous magic 1990 generation. That single year! Pretty much curious that a lot of talented riders were born that year. Sagan, Quintana, Aru, Pinot, Bardet, Tom Dumoulin, Chaves, Kwiatkowski, Dennis, Phinney, Matthews…
      Yet, despite achieving a lot (a good deal of Worlds, Monuments, GTs…!), I’d say that the sensation of underachievement is generalised and goes beyond the single stories of accidents or personal decisions. And it’s not just about the new generation. Most of them already looked declining or facing sort of a crisis.
      It should also be noted that they all came on top very young, most of them were collecting white jerseys for years or showing up at the top of different rankings or winning GT stages before being 25, which makes me think that teams weren *not* actually holding them back that much (as it never was case, even in the distant past, when you’ve got superior rough talent at hand).
      And perhaps that’s part of the problem – which doesn’t look promising for some of the present baby talents. But who knows.
      Curious that the 1990 guy who’s actually on the top of his game is in fact Sam Bennett, long underrated and a gradual growth, indeed (besides the QS effect, no doubt).

    • Richard S Monday, 15 March 2021, 12:15 pm

      I was starting to feel a bit 1994 Fleche Wallone about MvdP yesterday, I was relieved when he cracked and nearly threw it away. That stage yesterday was awesome. The top 3, plus to some degree Felline, were in a different race by the end. I agree with what you say about the seemingly very dramatic ushering in of a new generation. Sagan seems to be yesterdays man, but if there is one race that the old dogs can still win its Paris-Roubaix. It also seems unlikely now that GVA will get a Flanders despite being amongst the favourites and seemingly on the podium every year for getting on a decade. The classics in particular look set for a golden age. We still have Sagan, GVA, Gilbert et al lining up against MvdP who seems capable of anything, WVA who is perhaps only marginally less precocious, Alaphilippe and Ganna who has expressed an interest in tuning his thoroughbred Ferrari V12 engine for the classics. Also you have Pogacar as top dog in the Tours but also able to mix it in one day races, along with Roglic and even Bernal. Not to mention Hirschi.

      • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 12:57 pm

        I’ve been wondering where Hirschi has been – saving himself for the Ardennes? But surely Strade Bianche would suit?
        I like that the new generation seem to be going for more of the classics, and not only doing either the cobbles or the Ardennes.

        • Lukyluk Monday, 15 March 2021, 2:10 pm

          I’m a little worried about Hirschi not reappearing and what it could imply in light of the reports circulating that he was let go from Sunweb/DSM because they were worried about him “damaging the sponsor’s reputation” (not an exact quote but that very much was the sentiment).

          I might be imagining things though, it could just be his plan to focus on the Tour and a heavy late season.

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 15 March 2021, 2:13 pm

            His start’s been pushed back several times and the reputational issues are awkward, possibly destabilising as it seems one side is able to brief the Dutch media but he can’t. As well as this though the change of team has meant a change of shoes and he’s had issues with this plus he had his wisdom teeth pulled out which meant time at home and off the bike when he could have been in a training camp. Which of these factors is the biggest one isn’t known.

          • Lukyluk Monday, 15 March 2021, 4:19 pm

            Thanks for the info!

    • Bern Tuesday, 16 March 2021, 5:16 pm

      Is cycling gonna become more like swimming or (shudder) gymnastics? 21 and done?

  • gabriele Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:29 am

    Huge stage in Marcheshire yesterday. All so impressive (and the difference an early waistcoat can make!). The sheer quality of the riders who were able to limit their losses to less than *ten* minutes is simply impressive, just as the shape GC is taking.

    Roglic paying just another tribute to cycling’s more or less *only* unwritten rule: if *the bunch* loves or fears you (the latter normally for reasons which go beyond sporting ones), you’ll get a better treatment, whereas if *the bunch* dislikes you, for whatever reason, get prepared to receive a beating whenever the occasion shows up.
    What happened on Saturday – pretty much irrelevant in itself – just made it easier for everybody to accept what happened yesterday, which wasn’t as much about as “not waiting” as “directly attacking” and pushing harder and harder precisely when Roglic was on the brink of getting back to the peloton.
    People don’t usually do that, indeed, but it’s not a matter of chivalry or respect – it’s just that when you happen to do so, the rest of teams (not only the damaged part) will feel that they’re entitled to do the same to your riders. And that sort of payback or grudge can sometimes go on for years and years, with some teams getting that sort of label – you can go hard on them because they did this or that once upon a time. Which normally tends to spiral down in a self-fulfilling prophecy, given that when a team is already on the “black book”, it’s got much less motivation to “behave properly”.
    It’s been the case for Movistar, for example. They were attacked even during nature breaks “because once at Paris-Nice they went on pushing against Leipheimer who had fallen” (funny thing is that although the bunch believed that, checking timing on video records apparently showed that it wasn’t the case – yet, it became sort of a shared truth). And the story goes on and on.
    I find it a very interesting part of the sport, albeit clearly one that brings cycling further from the concept of pure competition and sportmanship and closer to a sort of social game.

    PS Please note that I personally don’t find anything wrong in what happened, both on Saturday and yesterday. Saturday was simply not very savvy on Roglic’s part and yesterday was a little unpleasant (it would have looked better if they at least kept the pace instead of forcing it, especially when Roglic was so close), but absolutely licit. Saturday’s facts just added that little nudge which made it easier for everybody in the bunch to accept Bora’s hypocrisy (“we were thinking about the stage win”, come on! They had plenty of time to manage that) and probably grant that they won’t pay further for that – unless Jumbo-Visma decides to get their vendetta alone.

    • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 11:49 am

      Odd that WVA – and perhaps to some extent MvdP – were the ones who didn’t get their gilets on in time, seeing as they are so used to cold conditions – but perhaps that was the reason for their complacency.

      • Richard S Monday, 15 March 2021, 12:07 pm

        if there is one thing I hate in cycling its watching riders trying to put coats on, on the move, on a windy day! Bernal yesterday was nearly another Hindley on the Stelvio. Its painful to watch them struggling!

        • J Evans Monday, 15 March 2021, 12:31 pm

          Some of the time – e.g. going down hill (Hindley) – they could just adopt the SE Asian moped rider technique of wearing the jacket backwards: no need to zip it up, that way. Doesn’t work on a cold day.

      • gabriele Monday, 15 March 2021, 12:15 pm

        MvdP is normally thinking a lot about temperature and so on. As he also said after the CX Worlds, he’s got “personal rules” about getting more layers on, depending on real-time temperature, but then, apparently, on that occasion he had to ride into sea water to get a little fresher (that’s what he said, not that I completely believe that). Yesterday he said he decided to attack precisely because he started feeling the cold and no doubt that when on the attack you suffer less than when trailing wheels, yet he probably should have made up for the superior energy waste due to cold and rain by eating even more. Crazy stage, anyway, team cars weren’t always close (speaking about the main group), and maybe when they were available it wasn’t the best moment to get back there (no gregari), or the sheer risk of a rise in pace when you aren’t ready to reply keeps people from doing what was clearly the right thing – which made the difference for many.

        A great example of how a serious attack from the distance can change the scenery in a more global and complex way: as a consequence, 50% of the GC top ten – athletes who already looked to have it essentially assured – were definitely ejected from any GC fight. In a single stage. To get a term of comparison, at the Vuelta you often happen to have 70-80% of the *final GC* top ten corresponding to the same names which made the top ten of the *first uphill finish*.

  • kevinsezer Monday, 15 March 2021, 4:35 pm

    Amazing!!

  • RQS Monday, 15 March 2021, 5:08 pm

    I feel sorry for Rog. The day before with his ‘no gifts’ comment seemed to be making a story where there was none. Other riders have had a breakaway victory pinched from them. I don’t know how much either one of them knew what was happening with the other. It appeared that the road prevented Mode from see Roglic approach and when he did he couldn’t react. Equally Roglic attacked his GC rivals, but he’s not going to sit back down just to let Moder win.
    But cruel fate makes an altogether unwanted storyline when he crashed not just once but twice the next day – no one was going to gift him the win. If I was him I would start throwing coins into wells, Chuck salt mines over my shoulder, hunt a bunch of rabbits and wear their paws in a pelt to get rid of his hoodoo.