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Tour de France Stage 4 Preview

Another sprint stage, it’s the last day in Brittany but on larger roads for much of the stage.

Embed from Getty Images

Plus ça change…: there are so many crashes in the opening week of the Tour there ought to be an investigation into the factors behind this. Well that’s what people said in 2015 and the UCI duly made a report which wasn’t published for mass consumption. At the time people wondered if it was race radios, the rigidity of modern bikes or carbon rims causing braking issues, alongside the ever-present pressure of the Tour de France. Jonathan Vaughters suggested to Outside magazine “The primary cause is just higher and higher pressure on the riders to perform at the Tour. No one uses their brakes”… and he tweeted something similar yesterday. Just because it’s always happened doesn’t make the crash risk any more acceptable, if anything it’s worse because it keeps happening. Instead of talking about sport we’re caught up on the crashes. There’s talk of a rider protest today but this will need to be carefully managed with an agreed agenda and clear communications rather than the usual CPA confusion.

Geraint Thomas crashed on a speed bump and dislocated his shoulder. It was popped back and he popped back to the peloton but looked to be inconsiderable discomfort but he fared better than Robert Gesink who was loaded into an ambulance. Later as the pace got frantic on the run to the finish Primož Roglič crashed, he blamed a bodycheck from Sonny Colbrelli as riders jostled for position, the Italian later apologised saying it wasn’t deliberate and Roglič looked sore, his clothes in tatters. Yesterday’s preview warned of the narrow roads in the approach to the finish (not to alert the peloton as they all knew too, that was the point: everyone had to be at the front to avoid the crashes caused by everyone trying to get to the front) and on the downhill run to Pontivy a crash took out several riders, including Jack Haig who is now out of the race and this was where you could criticise the course choice: too small for the biggest race? The final crash was Caleb Ewan who wanted to come off Tim Merlier’s wheel but overlapped his front wheel and crashed hard, taking Peter Sagan with him. This thinned what was left of the sprinters and Alpecin-Fenix were able to launch Tim Merlier for an easy win. Merlier did everything right and couldn’t know what happened behind but the sight of him celebrating while Ewan was prostrated on the tarmac was a cruel image.

The Route: 150km and the last day in Brittany but today’s terrain is softer, less granite rock poking out of the ground and more muddy farmland. There’s just a more open feel to today’s roads, it’s flatter and more exposed.

The Finish: some wider roads to the finish and then it’s the same final 3km used in 2015 when Mark Cavendish won. Fougères is a small place and there a few roundabouts to negotiate on the approach road around town. There’s a pinch point roundabout within the final kilometre and then a wide road until the line. It kicks up right before line with a 4% rise for the last 250m.

The Contenders: Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won yesterday with a strong leadout from his team, he’s the best bet again but given the ease yesterday they could easily play Jasper Philipsen or even Mathieu van der Poel. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) was taken out by a crash yesterday but crossed the line with a thumb’s up and so should be ok today and we’ll see what he can do. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain) will like the final rise to the line. And Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has a chance today too.

Tim Merlier
Arnaud Démare, Sonny Colbrelli
Cavendish, Bol, Philipsen, MvdP, WvA, Bouhanni, Laporte

 

Weather: cloudy at times, a chance of rain later and 18°C at most.

TV: the start is at 1.00pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST. Tune in for the final sprint.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 6:19 am

    While everyone loves the aesthetics of medieval towns, to stage a bike race there requires some significant sacrifice on the part of the riders. Would it be too much to ask them to put the scenic stuff earlier in the race and then have the finishing kilometres on wide and straight modern roads if you’re anticipating an all out sprint? Not only the twisting course and narrow gaps between the buildings, but the finishing “straight” wasn’t straight as Ewan and Sagan came down at a bend at about 150 metres to go. I know the TDF exists to sell tourism to France, however as Soviet filmmaking pioneers such as Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov elucidated all those decades ago that when you place two images in sequence the audience will imply a connection between them; thus you can finish on a wide straight modern boulevard then cut to helicopter shots of the scenic old town and ruins of ancient castles and the effect will be much the same only with less riders out of the race and in hospital.

    • Gee Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:10 am

      Come for the cycling commentary, stay for the Soviet propaganda insights! Chapeau

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:34 am

        I would object to considering Eisenstein (and Vertov) a soviet propagandist; while he certainly made propaganda films (Potemkin, October, The General Line, Alexander Nevsky) he was first and foremost an absurdly influential pioneer of cinema – and without those “soviet propagandists”, modern film would be impossible to concieve.

        Secondly, those films (and Eisenstein’s work in general) are much more than propaganda and while Eisenstein was I’d say even an avid propagandist during the early 20s (while he was of a bourgeois origin – his father, an architect, is supposed to be the last person promoted to the nobility during the late tzarist regime – Eisenstein believed in the new red regime as a liberating force), since at least General Line / October he was pretty critical and his films were often duly re-cuted by more conformist editors. The regime became uncomfortable with him and Eisenstein left for Europe, the US and Mexiko. And than there is the glorious Stalin-slapping Ivan the Terrible… a mastership of mise-en-scene in lieu of editing accompanied by peak Prokofiev.

        That said, the principles of montage were first formulated by Lev Kuleshov, who teached both Eisenstein and Pudovkin, during the WWI and prior to the the Civil War.

        ***
        Eisenstein would certailny most appreciate the juxtaposition of images of Ewan (Sagan) and Merlier (VdP) that our beloved blogger highlighted as cruel – because thus contrasting those images are much more powerful than alone.

        • noel Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:29 pm

          this is to me the essence of this blog…. Inrng writes so intelligently that he captures an audience of folks who can really illuminate the whole in the comments section, what a joy.

          • Andrew Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:00 pm

            Agree. The other astonishing thing about the comment above is that I strongly suspect English is not his/her first language (“teached both”). 99% of native English speakers can’t write English as well.

          • KevinK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:20 pm

            +1 to everything noel wrote.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:55 am

      This often happens, today’s stage is like this with a run on the roads around Fougères rather than in town.

  • Colbagger Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 6:33 am

    Perhaps it’s time that road cycling did what every other sport does, and developed protective clothing. what’s available today comes from mountain biking and is heavy and uncomfortable but if the same effort went into making kit safer as goes into making it faster I’m sure that could be addressed.

  • Ned Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 7:21 am

    They don’t have (frequent) crashes like these in the classics, and they are on narrow roads with plenty of pinch points and riders fighting for position.

    I know it’s easy to say and less easy to do, but maybe there should be a less aggression from riders in the opening week unless they are going for the stage win. Just a thought.

    • Brent Sword Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 7:52 am

      One big difference in the classics is that by the point they get to the hard dangerous point of the race they have had a sufficiently hard race to thin the field and of energy as well.
      A big difference here is that in a 3 week tour they mostly ride as soft as possible for as long as possible leaving everybody in the group and full of energy at the pinch points.

      • Peter Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:35 am

        In a GT, in addition to the contenders for the stage, the GC specialists and their teams are at the front to prevent their captains from losing time. This obviously makes the finish much more hectic because it is contested with more riders han a classic one-day race.

    • CA Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:59 pm

      Interesting idea… The last crash was rider aggression/error – Caleb clearly made a major error that was predictable.

      Roglic’s crash also was preventable if he had team protection.

      Haig was more of a course design issue but imagine if the day had more rain… Any aggressive riding would have resulted in more crashes.

      Geraint crash was a classic Geraint crash unfortunately. Random spot and being honest never should have happened.

      Less aggression could have prevented at least one crash. The other ones safer course design, better team tactics by JV, Geraint better concentration… Overall looks like the soft skills need to be better.

  • 150 Watts Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 7:23 am

    Sort of agree with both of these but they always seem to find ways to crash no matter what. Bicycles are very unstable and you are on the deck before you know what is happening.
    For me the red light is the downhill run into a sprint finish.

    • Pedalling squares Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:28 am

      [Pedantic corner] Not really, with the possible exception of TT bikes, bikes are actually very dynamicaly stable – once up and moving they will stay upright and generally go straight for quite a while – even over bumps/jumps. Its something to do with the wheels’ gyrocopic effect but also the frame geometry – steering angle behind the front hub creates stable steering. With a rider’s weight and control it’s even better and able to steer simply by leaning, which contrasts with a trike (or quad/car) that are inherently statically stable but dynamical unstable (although suspension largely mitigates that for cars).

      As pointed out above (and every year at his point in the Tour) it’s the people on the bikes doing the crazy stuff for cash which causes the crashes.

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:29 am

        sorry, gyroscopic

      • Brett Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:42 pm

        Pedalling squares, the technical term you are looking for with the angle of what is your wheel pivot axis plane being negative is – Caster.

      • 150 Watts Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:19 am

        Not sure about “simply steer by leaning”. In my mind the leaning is primarily to counteract the tendency of the upper half (which includes the body) to continue straight ahead at a tangent to the curve of the corner. If you go through the same corner at half the speed you will have half the lean.
        Different bike geometry creates different stability. I think I read somewhere that Greg Lemond used to prefer a more stable set-up. Gravel bikes are more stable than road bikes and flat bars are better than drops from this point of view.
        What is certain is that once the front wheel goes it is all over.

  • Shappo Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 7:32 am

    Whilst rider nerves, racing pressure, DS team tactics, parcour choice, road furniture, spectators and the bloody weather all play there part in the TdF’s annual first week crash-fest surely the bike itself must play some significant role. When I started road racing alloy frames were just coming in but (Italian) steel was still the standard. I never raced on a carbon frame but rode one of the early types (Madone) for many years in retirement. There’s no doubt in my mind that the carbon build, whilst lighter, is less stable to handle than steel, far more prone to not absorbing road shocks and thus, potentially, more likely go down.
    Like everything else in (professional) road racing risks are part of the public package, crashes and rider injury go with the job. Harsh, yes, but ultimately, possibly sadly, part of the danger factor that makes our sport so watchable.
    Read you and enjoyed you for years IR, not commented before but felt the ‘twitchyness’ of the contemporary bike was worthy of mention.

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:33 am

      Surely that’s highly contextual? A fidgety bike could allow a more nimble response to avoid a hazard whereas a (relatively) more stable and heavier frame would be slower to move due to more inertia, for one. Also, surely the riders are acclimatised and used to the bikes they ride – they ride them every day…

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:01 am

        Back in 2015 some were citing carbon bikes as a factor too but in the past surely riders wanted their steel frames to be as stiff as possible? Also today many riders have big 25mm and 28mm tires when “back in the day” they’d race on 20mm which must have been awkward.

        • Gelato4bahamontes Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:53 am

          Apparently pantani raced on 19mm

          • Bern Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:55 pm

            We could get “19”s if we wanted but back then I never measured them with a caliper. Might have been even narrower than that (given that tendency of most ‘clincher’ tires.)
            The frames are way different than they were, yes, but there’s another really significant difference – aero rims are radically stiffer than the box rims of the old days. I try to describe that difference to young riders who’ve never ridden box rims – not just the extra energy needed to steer aero rims, but also the much harsher ride quality. Hard to capture the difference in words. No wonder everybody wants wider tires now…

    • UHJ Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:46 pm

      That may apply to “old” carbon frames, but carbon-frames of today actually does a pretty damned good job of being flexible in all the right places and very stable. More so than 753/531/Tange/SLX or other steel frames. Alu bikes on the other hand; these are stiff and responsive s#ckers and more prone to resonating and becomming unstable.
      I don’t think bikes in general are the cause. Nervousness, edgyness and a general feeling of “I must perform” combine for a more apparent cause, me thinks.

    • Vedrafjord Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:43 pm

      Don’t think it’s the bikes. I dislike twitchy bikes, but more because they’re not fun on descents with the kind of wind and rain we can get in Ireland, especially with aero wheels. The carbon bike I use for races is jumpier than the alu bike I cycle around town, but they both have plenty of flex and it’s down to frame geometry, not materials.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:10 am

    Too easy to look to blame the course, the ASO, the UCI.

    The crashes of Thomas, Roglic and Ewan were all rider errors. They weren’t mass crashes. Road racing happens on real roads and it’s all the better for it.

    Haig’s crash was at a pinch point, but again this didn’t take out the whole peloton and it’s pro riders’ jobs to navigate the course.

    It’s awful to witness crashes and robs us of seeing what could have been with all the riders involved, but it’s part of cycling.

    • Marcel Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:40 am

      The main reason Haig’s crash didn’t take out the whole peloton was the fact that half the peloton had been held up by Roglic’s crash just before.

      These are great roads to race on… in the finale of a hilly stage or classic. For a bunch sprint, they should stick to wider roads with as little street furniture as possible.

      • broken spoke Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:06 am

        A “bunch sprint” is an inherently dangerous thing – and somtimes sprinters do inherently dangerous things in them. I’m thinking of the Groenewegen incident or maybe Abdoujaporov in 91. Even on flat straight roads the competitors can get massive injuries because what they are doing in “unsafe” in itself.

        I also note that seemingly every year people “hope” that races like Paris-Roubaix will be wet because it will make for a better spectacle and tougher challenge. There comes a point at which everything has been neutralised so much you realise its all become a bit of a con.

    • David Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:04 am

      Too easy to look to blame the Riders.

      Roglic and Haig crashed on the narrow road into the finish with less than 10k to go. The tension is so high, I cant even imagine that. And going downhill with 70k on such a small road just calls for crashes.

      I think you can’t blame the riders, because they can all ride their bikes reasonably well and everyone who has been in the Tour knows how to handle his bike probably.

      Of course the riders are still the ones crashing, but its just unnecessary to provoke these “rider errors”, and having 3 of them in a stretch of 12 km from the finish (Madouas, Roglic and Haig) just shows that this was unnecessary risk

  • DJW Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:11 am

    Coquard suggested team sizes might have to reduce from eight to seven but, as the reduction from nine to eight appears to have provided no improvement, logic appears against – unless the teams are reduced to three or four (only joking!). Madiot raised the question of radios again though there seems no evidence that they are a direct cause of accidents. DJW’s theory is that the accident rate is down to pressure to perform (look at film of a seventies TdF and see how “cool” and widely spaced the riders are), and secondly on the massive increase in street furniture, traffic calming, mini-roundabouts and chicanes over the last twenty years. They have worked to reduce road fatalities yet cycle races pay the price and they are impossible to avoid. Marc Madiot also made the wiser comment that who would want thier partners, sons and daughters to take part in such a spectacle. Who indeed.

    • Lukyluk Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:59 am

      I like Madiot in spite of all his quirkiness, and it’s hard to disagree with the expression of his sentiment, but that’s what it is: a sentiment. Solutions are harder.

      Everyone seems to agree something must be done, everyone seems to disagree on what actually should be done. Reducing peloton size? Doing away with team car radios? Restricting racing to wide, open highways? I sometimes feel that the ones yelling the loudest often are the ones I’d expect to see change come from, I’m not specifically aiming at Madiot here but team managers have their share of responsibility in rider safety and would have the influence needed to get things done… but few would do it at the expense of their team’s results, obviously.

      • DJW Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:22 am

        Yes Lukyluk. I like Madiot too, and he’s certainly a refreshing change from the usual formulaic cycling press conference banalities. We know what he thinks and we know that he cares.

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:36 am

        But Madiot is as much trapped and conditioned by the same conditions that cause the riders to take risks to win. Worse, he has to motivate and encourage his team to do it!

    • Nick 1 Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:21 am

      It is ironic that making towns and cities safer for normal cyclists makes them less safe for racing cyclists.

  • jc Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:23 am

    William Fotheringham made the point the other day that first week crashes have been a feature and a topic of discussion since he began covering the Tour in 1990. Nothing that has been done (and there have been a lot of safety improvements) has made any real difference. That said I do think the route yesterday was poorly designed. For an early race sprint stage there really is no need for narrow twisty roads, it helps no one. There was a noticeable downhill run into the finish, after the issues in Poland I thought downhill sprint finishes were no longer allowed but I suspect ASO can ignore the rules if a town is prepared to pay for the finish!

    We wont really know the longer term affects of all this for a few days, perhaps after stage 7 but clear some of the pre race favourites are going to be struggling.

    Fingers crossed for Cav today, it sounded as if he was lucky yesterday a few broken spokes not broken bones!

  • RQS Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:25 am

    I’ve seen narrower roads. But twisting descents are hard to navigate. Crashes in the first week are inevitable. Etc. Etc.
    Yesterday was attritional, but not unexpected. Each year we have this. The level of outrage is usually measured in the number of key cyclists who get injured and/or abandon the race, and here we have Thomas, Roglic, Gesink and Ewan. I remember when Cancellara and a platoon of riders met a telephone mast. That was spectacular and catastrophic. Spartacus went home, and shortly there after Tony Martin did too. In those cases the issue wasn’t the parcours, it was rider error. In at least three instances yesterday’s crashes, all including the above named riders, were rider errors. My point being that to focus on the parcours is a fallacy. The first week of the tour is always full of crashes and by and large this is because of a strong desire for riders to stay near the front.
    Maybe better stewardship by team patrons is needed, but I would imagine that anxieties about keeping their team at the front make it hard for these people to look at the wider interests. But I just can’t see how you stop this. These crashes tend to dry up as the race progresses because riders are too tired to ride as tightly, the peloton becomes more strung out, and the fear of crashing subsides to be replaced by the desire to hang on in the race just to survive. You only need look at the likelihood of a breakaway succeeding the first few races to know that this is true.
    Lord knows Thomas needs a separate rule book to help him though. An avalanche suit might be what he needs.

    • KevinR Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:42 pm

      +1 for this although David above doesn’t seem to think that touching wheels is rider error for some unfathomable reason.

  • Ferdi Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:31 am

    -It’s the number of teams that we have to reduce (look at a 1970s startlist and count how many squads), in order to reduce the field. Less teams wanting to be in front. (But I guess you won’t see the riders asking for this, which would be in the interest of their safety).
    -My son is into cycling, and I can really relate to what Madiot says. (In cycling school, kids get more and more “cycling as a contact sport” training, which is very telling). The status quo on this matter is no longer an option. We obviously have to at least experiment without race radios, but let me insist: much longer stages are safer, because riders get more tired and go slower (speed is one of the worst factors here), and take things easier.
    – There are too many sprinters, with too many riders at their service. “Sprint trains” are a big danger factor. Solution: reduce the prestige of sprinting. A stage sprint victory shouldn’t be worth even a top-15 in GC, or a polka-dot jersey. And a third place in a TdF sprint shouldn’t be worth anything. Too many sprinters, too much pro-sprint racing.
    But whatever one’s opinion, something has to be done (but don’t ask the riders for a solution).

    • MadMax Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:30 pm

      A reduction of the number of teams would only shift the problems towards other races. Less teams means less employment opportunities and an even more increasing economic pressure just to make a living. In consequence e.g. (prep) races (Dauphine, TdS etc) would be much harder fought in order to gain a selection for the tour or in order to earn a new contract. The tour might have less crashes on the price that the number in other races will increase.
      The too many sprinters argument sounds for me like an artificial occupational ban. Sprinters can argue “we have too many GC riders and domestiques. Really bad crashes (Horrillo, Casertelli, Beloki, Weylandt) can also occur in the mountains.” In the end a reduction of sprinters would also just increase the economic pressure on this riders and would jusr shift the problem.
      Overall there is no simple solution to the problem.

  • George Vest Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:34 am

    I agree with Anonymous above, that it’s easy to overreact to yesterday’s crashes. As s/he says, you could only attribute the Haig crash to the parcours – those relatively narrow, twisty Brittany roads. But surely riding on different types of local roads is, to some extent, the very essence of the Tour.

    This is not an original thought, but I feel the same way about yesterday’s stage as I did about the rider-neutralised stage in last year’s Giro. The teams know the route months in advance and, particularly with modern technology, are well able to acquaint themselves with any risks involved. There’s plenty of time before the race itself to alert the organisers to any perceived excessive risks. I consume a fair amount of cycling media, but I wasn’t aware of anyone making the point before the stage that the parcours was too dangerous to race on. With its risks, yes, but you could say the same about many stages – particularly the way they whizz down mountains at terrifyingly high speeds.

    I can remember previous Tours marred by lots of early crashes but the reality is that, except in the case of very serious injury which luckily doesn’t seem to be the case yesterday, we are quick to forget them as soon as the next stage starts. Who now remembers that there were a couple of big crashes on stage 1?

  • Mbappe Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:46 am

    Talk of a rider protest today. I don’t see the point to be honest, nothing ever changes. At least it’s an easier ride for the pedaling wounded.

    • plurien Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:13 pm

      Haha and +1!

  • broken spoke Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:49 am

    I hear there might be a “rider protest” today? What for? You are entered in a 3,500kms race around France, uphill and down dale, in which you are going to push your body to the limit. You will be expected to descend off huge mountain passes at [literally!] break neck speed. You might fly off a mountain [as we have all seen some do] or hit the armco barrier with injurious effects [we’ve seen that too]. You might misjudge a corner and end up in someone’s back garden or pay a trip to the woods. You might have an insignificant tap of wheels, go down, and break your wrist [as a certain C. Froome has done before]. A dog might run into the crowd or you might misjudge a sleeping policeman [and if anyone will, Geraint Thomas will]. In other words, your sport IS INHERENTLY DANGEROUS. If a narrow French lane is too much to take [like the rain was on a long day in Italy not so long ago, upsetting Mauro Vegni] then, please, for all our sakes you pampered riders, just get off the bike and go and do something where you can wear a bubblewrap suit and not have to worry that you might fall off and/or hit something. This babyish crying every other grand tour that its too long/too wet/too narrow, etc. is just getting too damn boring now. Yes, of course your sport is dangerous but, at the cost of being overly nostalgic, the bike riding gladiators of the past did much longer, harder races on much worse equipment, often with barely any safety precautions at all. I’m not saying it should be made dangerous but you guys have it infinitely safer and better than they could have ever expected. And, holy hell, weren’t plenty of you pumping yourselves with god knows what not so long ago or swapping out your blood at regular intervals with all the health risks that entailed? These days, a narrow French road is just too much!!

    So if you want your “protest” today then go right ahead. It will only confirm to watching fans just how ridiculous all this has got. But then, maybe from next year, the CPA and Jonathan Vaughters can organize grand tours on Zwift for the future. After all, safety is all that matters right? And what could be safer than putting these over-protected squeamish children in their front rooms or garage? I’m almost done.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:15 am

      I might disagree with some of things you’ve raised but your post makes the point that if there is a protest today it needs to be clearly managed and well-communicated, a “here’s what we don’t like and this is what we want to fix” explanation in multiple languages and not the confusion we’ve seen in the past from the CPA when they said one thing in public and another in private at the Giro earlier this year, or the bungled last-minute protest at the Giro last autumn.

      • Lukyluk Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:38 am

        I think the issue is that a rider protest at this point can’t do much more than stress that crashes are a problem that needs to be dealt with, and that’s already on everyone’s mind right now. We’d expect rider unions to come up with solutions, but those would require planning, feasibility studies, consultation with all different actors of the sport, and votes from members. You can’t do that in 12 hours, and it’s not a given you can do it at all, when everyone seems to be tugging the rope in a different direction – see the media mayhem that followed the “Mohoric position” ban.

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:26 am

      Exhibit A, Your Honour.
      The statement from ‘broken spoke’.
      🤣

    • Larry T Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:15 am

      +1 I couldn’t have written a better rant myself.
      The sport loves to remind us of the golden age (whenever that was, take your pick of the era) with epic stages held under horrific conditions, but there’s zero interest in having ANY of that nowadays, it’s just a whine-fest: too hot/cold/wet/dry/narrow/twisty/steeply downhill/badly paved/full-of-traffic furniture/long/short/crowded at the roadside, etc.
      You start to wonder when this became little more than a job for so many and why the loudest whiners don’t find something else to do -nobody’s holding a gun to their head and making ’em climb on a bike every day.
      No need for a protest – but why not an entire peloton meeting where someone steps up to be le patron ala Hinault? Someone to lay down the law and threaten to find and punish the dolts who cause these pileups? And I don’t mean Ms. “Allez OPI-OMI”.

      • Vitus Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:45 pm

        And I don’t know it for a fact, but I’m pretty sure it’s true, that most of those here who blame organizers for choosing too narrow roads, are the same guys who would rant about boring finishes if stages end on a highway way outside of town centers.
        Like every year you can read the same comments about boring Vuelta stages when they ride the wide highways of Central Spain.

    • DJDeath Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:14 pm

      I love the irony of people whining about pro-cyclists being whiners.
      I read the comments and came up with my own biased opinion on TDF crashes.
      No-one in professional sport continues to love what they do – it is a job, period.
      Cycling is a business, the athletes are the executives, they train better, have better equipment, go faster, are stronger and better athletes than anyone from the past period, period (I will leave that period there) – It is silly nonsense that past athletes were superior, stronger, tougher etc as Lord Nelson would say this nostalgia is ‘mere enthusiasm’.
      When you put a larger group of faster, stronger, better athletes with less internal variability in ability (i did it again) within the peloton, it goes quicker. Speed creates crashes.
      As the sport has gotten quicker the “field” or parcour has to adapt and it hasn’t.

  • Richard S Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 8:59 am

    People talk about the Champs Elysees as being the unofficial sprint world championship. It isn’t though because by then half the sprinters have gone home and most of the field can’t be bothered. I’ve always considered the flat stages at the start of the Tour as the pinnacle of sprinting. The big guys are there and fresh and all want to win. It’s hectic and dangerous and deserves to be played out on big wide open roads. Throw in the permanently paranoid GC teams jostling desperately to be at the front and there will be crashes. Put it on narrow winding country roads and you’re effectively creating the crashes yourself. I’m not usually for moaning about dangerous roads but the start of this Tour has looked a little silly.

    • tedba Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:31 pm

      I get your point on the Champs Elysees… although there is more to GT sprinting than just being the fastest over a 2km drag… navigating 150+km a day and getting over the mountains with enough left is all part of it for me.

      I find it odd that your second part on paranoid GC teams doesn’t get talked about more… I don’t want to see neutralized stages… but we’re always hearing about the comradery in the groupetto and the unwritten rules of the game… if all the main favourites are in the peleton at 5km – what’s to stop them sitting up with a handshake and rolling across the line together 10 seconds back… I guess to answer my own question someone like allaphilipe a couple of years back who finds themselves and unintended contender could be sitting on a bonus couple of minutes.

      But slight meandering of thought aside… It’s still odd that it isn’t talked about how the way the big teams ‘look after’ their GC guys is the reason we have 16 sprint trains and not 8.

    • Michael B Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:45 pm

      That’s a really good point.

      • Michael B Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:47 pm

        (By Richard S, not that I disagree with the follow up comment either.)

  • Paul. Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:01 am

    Merlier knew, MVDP knew.
    The sound of these crashes are deafening when they happen.
    Their celebration was appalling in my opinion.
    No class whatsoever.

    • 150 Watts Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:29 am

      +1 for MVDP knew. If they had a jersey for the smartest ride I think he would have cleaned up all the points.

    • Josh Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:48 am

      Ewan rode into Merlier, who stayed up and won his first TDF stage. Behave yourself

    • JeroenK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:04 pm

      Every other sprinter would have cheered and they are allowed to too. They put in a lot of effort to stay at the front and out of trouble. Behind them, it was a body check fest with all the usual suspects. Just check out the footage. Also check the footage of every Tour sprint win in the past with a crash behind it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them, and you’ll see cheering winners. Calm down.
      I feel sorry for Ewan, but that’s racing. Overlap of wheels – really unfortunate, but as Chris Horner pointed out in his vlog: Not a great descision to choose the inside for the pass.

  • Larry T Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:03 am

    “Who now remembers that there were a couple of big crashes on stage 1?” While I’ll admit not counting for much, for me the OPI-OMI fiasco is hard to forget. There should be “WANTED” posters of this moron all over Europe, but it does get harder to be outraged when the riders manage to crash without this kind of help. As the TV camera switched to the peloton coming around one of the corners I wondered how big the crash would be…and sure enough, it was like MOTOGP with bikes and bodies flying straight on instead of making the turn. But getting rid of narrow roads? How dull would that be? Like dozing off with one of the “sandbox classics” going on….bicycle racing on multi-lane roads with concrete barriers is dull, dull, dull. The races would avoid any town without wide boulevards leading in/out? Maybe Grand Tours should race on circuits instead – stages at LeMans, Paul Ricard, etc. for LeTour with Mugello, Misano, Monza for Il Giro? I hope not!!!
    “…everyone had to be at the front to avoid the crashes caused by everyone trying to get to the front) ” seems to be a more recent development, somehow related to race radios IMHO. Banning them for a season would at least create a chance to compare and determine if they make any difference or actually help with safety as is so often claimed.
    As to modern bikes, I too find them too rigid and unstable, but I kind of get used to it when I (rarely) rent one and ride it for awhile, so it’s hard to blame the crashing on stiff bikes and stiff wheels, especially when they now have fatter tires at lower pressures and disc brakes – those MUST be safer….the marketers wouldn’t lie to us now, would they?

    • broken spoke Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:11 am

      Some of these “safety conscious” people won’t be happy until we’re doing laps of the runways of France Larry.

    • Nick Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:43 pm

      How about using the narrow roads judiciously? And at least trying to avoid the combination of downhill / lead-up to mass bunch sprint / 90+ degree bend with the narrow roads? Narrow roads alone are dangerous and challenging and nerve-wracking for the peloton; using them a situation like the one Haig crashed in yesterday is definitely forseeable. I don’t overly like it as a solution (yet) but I’d be interested to see if a long stage race has, or would consider, different finish lines for taking GC times and for deciding the stage winner. Depending on the distance from the finish, at least it might negate somewhat of the “every team trying to be at the front at the same point, with predictable consequences” aspect, even though it would like pretty weird to watch

    • RQS Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:03 pm

      Pretty much agree. I think there’s too much looking retrospectively without real analysis. There may have been another crash which didn’t involve Thomas, Roglic or Ewan, but only the Haig accident could be called a parcours issue, but is it really? All we know was that it was a narrow descent with corners. There are lots of those every year. They are dangerous, but that’s why you string the peloton out. If you’re going down that you ease off – I’m not trying to blame anyone in particular, but it’s not the same as failing to mark a traffic island, or a downhill sprint finish. I’m going to compare it to Cancellara’s crash – a big pile up because of a bike handling error. A perfectly rideable piece of road which turns into a mass of broken bikes and bodies because of… rider error. Happens on the flat, happens on a downhill. Main factor: pressure to be near the front.

  • Canocola Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 9:31 am

    I’m usually wary of people who blame the riders and teams themselves for creating the issue – it doesn’t absolve the organisers of their obligation to create the safest route they can.

    However the number of people claiming foresight with the Haig crash suggests that DSs might need to have a think about whether their instructions into that corner should have been “just get round it safely and pick the piece back up afterwards” instead of “At the front! At the front!”

    Rogliç’s accident will get sorted out by the peloton itself deciding who was at fault and making their life difficult. That’s always been how they police themselves.

    As for today, hopefully it’s a bit more sedate. Might even see Schelling knock it off for a day…

  • Colin N Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:28 am

    After the crash filled Stage 3:

    Total
    26 Alpecin–Fenix
    16   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    8   Team Jumbo–Visma
    7  UAE Team Emirates
    6   Team BikeExchange
    5   Bora–Hansgrohe
    5  Team Bahrain Victorious
    4 Arkéa–Samsic
    1  Trek–Segafredo

    Over the last or so I’ve come to the belief that the Team competition doesn’t reflect the race. At present it is based on a team’s best 3 riders times for each stage. This leaves much of emphasis on the mountain stages. What I would prefer a points system that treats each stage equally regardless of whether the stage is a time trial, flat, intermediate, mountain or even a team time trial. The reason for this is that cycling is a team sport where the individual gets all the credit. I am thinking of a sprint train or a mountain train have the same effect in working for the teams objective of the day.

    I would love to see a points system based on the F1 during the 1990s. 1st -10pts, 2nd-6pts, 3rd-4pts, 4th-3pts, 5th-2pts & 6th-1pt. Each stage has the same points. It is only the top 6 positions because it puts the emphasis on finishing very well rather than just being consistent. Plus it follows the bonus seconds for the first 3 in each stage. I will try to update the list each day to show how it could work.
    This was inspired in part by Inrng’s take on team performance over the course of a year.

    • Greasy Wheel Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:42 am

      It’s nice to know that someone else cares other than Movistar cares about the team competition…

  • Nick Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:30 am

    It feels disingenuous *not* to focus on the Haig crash when discussing the course design. This is the utterly avoidable one, sticking a sharp turn in a downhill segment on narrow roads when expecting a full peloton 4km or so from the finish. Of course it’s going to be chaos. The only thing missing from this being a full house of awful course design is road furniture.

    With the others – it’s not ASO’s fault Geraint Thomas is about as adept at riding over speedbumps at me. The Roglic crash – ehh, I can see nerves (justified nerves!) about what’s to come making everything a bit twitchy in the peloton, and look what happens. The Ewan crash was interesting – UCI guidelines (I think?) themselves say no bends in the last 200m, which there was. The crash was rider error, but it was still poor course design, just that wasn’t the reason for the crash this time.

    I generally get a bit on edge when people rush to defend the organisers and have a go at the riders, it seems to close a reflection of aspects of society that make the world a worse place to live in.

    • Gordon Forbes Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:02 pm

      Agree with this a lot.

      Responsibility needs to lie with the organisers – there will always be crashes but there are far too many foreseeable and avoidable ones. In most of Europe employees are responsible for crating safe working conditions. In cycling organisers repeatedly fail to take into account basic safety considerations.

      Taking GC times earlier in the stage in sprint stages seems an easy way to reduce the pressure on a stage – even 20k from the finish wouldn’t ruin the race – we’d still get a sprint which is what we want to watch but less crashes. Unless there are crosswinds flat stages never change the gc standings

      For me the crashes ruin the racing. I’d have love to have seen Caleb Ewan sprint against Mellier yesterday. Having Rogilic injured, and down on time will make harm the GC race. Loosing contenders from races makes them worse.

      The sport needs to take responsibility for crashes and be prepared to make drastic changes to make it safer.

      • broken spoke Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:30 pm

        Enjoy you “health and safety” cycling Gordon. I won’t be watching.

        • Gordon Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:44 pm

          Why not? What’s not to love about sprint stages where all the sprinters can contend the sprint or a gc competition where half the protagonists aren’t out of contention because they got held up in crashes in the first week.

          Crashes add nothing to the sport.

    • JeroenK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:07 pm

      Well said. I looked up the map of this town and it looked like there were wider entrance roads available. It would be interesting to know what the considerations were in pre-tour meetings between organiser and local authorities.

  • weeclarky Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:33 am

    I always wonder why the GC contenders/teams don’t have a pact to ride in together on sprint stages — rather than trying to be at the front, they all try to be at the back and roll in like the groupetto.

    • Charles Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:12 am

      How would QS or JV play it in this sort of pact? Or other teams with both GC and sprinters? And who’s to say what a GC contender is. Give anyone enough time and they’re in yellow for multiple stages which for many teams would be a fantastic result.

    • Ferdi Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:57 pm

      Or better, why don’t they give away flat stages to breakaways? It’s much safer, much more fun to watch, and it messes the GC up, which spices up the rest of the race.

  • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:39 am

    We’re left with the remnants of a race…
    Two of the three main contenders are most likely out of it, barring more crashes and misfortune.
    Inherent danger, ill-luck, rider error, poor design, whatever.
    But after three stages the GC picture has radically changed because the show must go on.

    Can’t injured riders who’ve fallen badly not get some treatment at the roadside and then not get double-penalised when they’re being cast adrift?
    We get the very unedifying sight of tattered and torn rider trying desperately to get back to the race, probably making his injuries worse in the process.
    Can’t each team not start with a bank of, say, 10 minutes for injuries, to be withdrawn when most in need?
    They could at least get some first aid, a once over by the medical staff, and then however many minutes it takes, plus their time lost at the stage end, can be taken from their allowance and parity is awarded?
    Or am I being too radical and soft?

    • broken spoke Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:13 am

      You say its “unedifying”. I say its the consequences of the heat of battle and its why anyone is watching. Surely, in this of all sports and all races, the point is to overcome adversity?

      But I guess I’m made of different materials. These days people need attention, they need neutralisation for unfortunate incidents, they need coddling. It was too wet. Let’s go in busses to where its stopped raining. Its too long. Let’s use the same buses to shorten the stage. The road is too narrow. We must use 8 lane highways only. In other words, “The show” must be fiddled with, artificially, to produce an outcome.

      NO!

      Guys used to ride this race carrying their own spares and with no team car support whatsoever you know. I’m becoming more and more minded to think that its now the trans-continental racers who are the real riders. Grand tours and road racing in general is suffering a more thorough-going sanitisation year on year.

      • Marky_marksafc Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:48 am

        Thanks, @broken spoke – you have already made your point eloquently above. While I have some sympathy for your point of view having grown up watching cycling (& the tour) in the 1980s, I don’t think anyone is arguing that it needs to be ‘sanitised’ out of existence.
        To take your argument to its logical (or perhaps reductio ad absurdum) conclusion the riders should just get on with it (because cycling is ‘inherently dangerous’ and they signed up and are getting paid for it). F1 motor racing is also ‘inherently (much more) dangerous’, but they are constantly looking for ways to make it safer. No one is saying that drivers should just suck it up because they signed up for it (granted, in F1 not solong ago a driver had a 1 in 5 chance of being killed if he competed in a full season!).
        In a GT people (or me at least) want to see a battle for the overall between the main contenders into the final week. If we have already seen at least two of the top 3 out of contention, that does reduce the spectacle somewhat.

        • Richard S Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:27 pm

          That is exactly what I say about F1. It has sanitised itself into parody. I used to love it, haven’t watched for years. I believe and sincerely hope cycling never becomes like that. The only thing I would say about yesterday’s stage would be about that descent before the finish. I’m guessing that isn’t the main road into town. If it is fair enough, but I’d be pretty certain it isn’t. What were they hoping to achieve by funnelling them through there. We all tune in for the sprint, get them to the sprint. Nobody wants to watch Merlier win a sprint against himself.

    • Andrew Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:46 am

      Interesting idea. I don’t think it would work for situations like Thomas’s yesterday. He crashed so early in the stage that if he hadn’t made the hard effort to get back to the bunch quickly, he could easily have lost half an hour riding alone as the race sped up in front. You can’t adjust for that with an “injury allowance”.

      For better or worse, staying upright is a key part of winning a race.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 10:55 am

    The tour’s maybe starting to shape up like 2014, with all-but-one GC contenders crashing in innocuous circumstances. Pogacar’s competition, to the extent there ever really was any, could be blown away by the end of the TT. Or maybe he’ll come a cropper too soon, who knows anymore.
    “And Cavendish has a chance today too.” Indeed he does, and if he just stays on his bike he’s already half way there.

  • BC Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:52 am

    From what I could see most incidents were the result of rider error or nerviness. What we could not see or hear were the senseless instructions being blasted into every robots ear, reducing audio sensitivity and causing instant mass movements.

    Nothing wrong with the parcour in my view. Riders and DSs should be taking most of the criticism.

    Hope for better today, although the final 20 odd kilometres are a bit narrow and twisty.

  • ave Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:11 pm

    I think cavendish’s chance doubled with his body double having crashed out.
    I’d prefer Demare win, but it depends more on positioning/leadout than ability.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:24 pm

    Switch off ALL race radios with 20km to go! No more Ds’s balling out “move up move up”.

    • JeroenK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:09 pm

      You’ll have riders looking at their gps devices for waypoints indicating points of danger.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:27 pm

    The job of a rider also contains the ability to ride in a way, that you make it to the finish unhurt. This is a huge part of cycling. I of course feel for those, who are hurt. But I have not much pity, that they have crashed. The way they ride is the main reason they crash. Nobody wants to break and thinks, if they just push hard enough the next one will move and make place for you. If the peloton does work against each other, crashes are what happens.

    You KNOW in advance, that the roads are this or that way – then you have to adapt to that. Not the roads have to adapt to the rider, the rider has to adapt to the road. That is the very essence of out door cycling. If you ride through a small, ancient town, you can not ride five riders next to each other. Period. If you insist on it, you also insist on living with the consequences. And the consequences will be crashing. So do not expect, that I feel for you, if you crash.

    But the riders never want to be responsible for their actions these days. The riders come across more and more like spoiled children every year: There is a huge and growing list of things, that they demand. They think, that all they should do is come in, everything is in the best of conditions and then they do their tricks and then move on to the next station. Nothing means anything anymore. It is only a job. And then they accuse others of „treating them like circus acts“. THEY degrade themselves from grown up beings, that take responsibility and live and deal with the world around them, into some world wide wrestling – trick.

    Cycling grew on people, because here where people, riders, who were willing to go where it hurts, who took on adversity, who understood, that nature and natural forces, that the world are greater than we are. And despite that, they tried their luck. Convinced, that somehow they will be the one surviving, conquering. Cycling is affirmation of human life. Cycling is hope. If you ride next to a mountain, you know, that you are tiny. That you are lucky, if you are allowed to carve your small existence out of it. We admired, that the riders could find it in themselves to get the best out of themselves no matter what the circumstances. That they saw the huge distance, the rain, the bad road in front of them – and still jumped on their bike and tackled all that. That they knew, that they would not win, maybe would not even reach the finish – and still, they tried. It is a metaphor for us getting up every day and facing our life. Riding a race was in itself the belief, that you can last. That you can outsmart and outlast anyone and anything. That you count.

    All this is lost.

    If you try to morph cycling into a normal workplace cycling will be destroyed. Cycling becomes ever more insignificant because of that. Just as you can not have „a little bit“ of capitalism, you can not have a sport, that is a little bit like a workplace. These are contrary things: work and sport. They have contrary needs. When you go to one side, you take away from the other. They will fight each other till everything is destroyed.

    A few years ago there was the chance to really grow cycling. There was a convergance of a few things, that meant, that it never was so easy to become a really big sport. The teams and especially the riders are 80% of the reason why cycling fell back into obscurity. The ewp was the beginning of the end. Personally I havenˋt watched a race for more than a year. I keep up with the results, read a bit cycling, but I simply can not watch races, I can not stomach the selfish, childish, respectless behavior of the teams and riders. I doubt I will ever watch a race again.

    • Ferdi Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:03 pm

      +1. Very strong points (although I don’t get the thing on capitalism).

  • plurien Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 12:48 pm

    Just re-read the Stage 3 preview. I’m in awe at how our host storyboarded the highlights show. Chapeau.

    Save of the day (and villain of the day..?) to Sonny Colbrelli for going wide at the final turn.

    Riders can contrive a crash on straight roads. They can neutralise when riders go down, or when it’s simply too apparent the parcours demands it. They could have neutralised or slowed a bit yesterday without being blatant about it and had an agreement to turn it down until the descent into town was done. They didn’t because it’s bike racing, there’s GC seconds and a stage win up for grabs.
    Imagine they were being brought into town on one side of a dual carriageway and someone in fifth wheel clipped a kerb at the first turn into town. – way worse.
    The point is really that we all want the GC pressure, we want riders to win sprints, we want to see skilled cornering and smart bunch riding; skills which not all are blessed with. We don’t want racetrack-style courses away from regular roads with all their foibles. Sure, we can offer objection to road-calming street furniture but the Tour gets a lot of this taken up anyhow. Im 100% on wanting all obstacles below 2.4m removed or marked.
    In any one-day classic such hazards are routine, the peloton just as big, the pressure to win just the same so team support counts the same as GC pressure here. The descent into Pontivy featured heavily in previews and the riders had nearly four hours to sort out a plan. They took the option to put sprint trains into it and we all saw that was not the wisest thing to do. Racing is actually not about wisdom a lot of the time, we learn…
    Who or what exactly will any protest be against? What is it for?

    • Bern Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5:28 pm

      Interesting to contemplate your point about a subtle ‘neutralization’ thru that section with increased risk. It implies a concept I’ve been reminded of: it is good race nous to know when to cool it so that each individual rider gets thru the tricky part intact so as to make the rest of the race more competitive for everyone. It is in the peloton’s collective interest to sustain all the star riders as far into the race as possible to keep spectators engaged.

    • Larry T Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 6:01 pm

      “Save of the day (and villain of the day..?) to Sonny Colbrelli for going wide at the final turn.”
      WTF?

      • plurien Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:34 am

        Colbrelli is at the scene of Roglic’s downfall and waves away blame as he looks back to see the fall. Some interpret this as Colbrelli having barged Roglic off the road and set him as the cause. Hence the villain part.
        In that sprint Colbrelli was behind Sagan so when they went down with him intending to pass L side, he had to straighten and go really wide over to the barriers, ending with a tight turn away. He’s out the frame of the static cameras

  • KevinK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 1:59 pm

    Amidst all the suggestions here I’m surprised no one has mentioned the lack of an opening TT as a potential contributing factor to the tension and bunching up that has contributed to many of the crashes. I’ve never been a huge TT fan, esp. at the beginning of a GT, since it immediately rules out about half of the supposed GT favorites and turns them into stage hunters. But maybe that’s a feature and not a bug. Watching this TdF, I can imagine that a lot of the peloton would be much more settled if the GC pecking order was already partially established after stage one, instead of after stage 5 as it will be this year.

    • Larry T Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:31 pm

      Yeah, even better do it with Zwift..no problems with narrow roads, traffic furniture, morons with signs, etc. At some point you have to ask what is the point of the damn race if all these measures are needed to keep the riders from crashing into each other constantly? My question is what has happened recently to explain these crashes? One of my favorite TV commentators mentioned something about the increased number of Anglo-Saxons and a change in the culture of the peloton, but I know plenty of folks here see that as racist so I’ll leave it at that. But SOMETHING must have changed to cause this current stupidity – the question is what…and can/will pro cycling change it back to fix it? Move the 3 km timing thing out to 5 km just to shut up the folks who claim that will fix it, then ban the radios for a full season to see if that has any effect.

      • KevinK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:12 pm

        Are you sure you responded to the post you meant to respond to, Larry? All I suggested was that the tradition of starting a grand tour with an ITT might have the advantage of calming the GC contenders, and make the early flat stages less about GC teams trying to eke out tiny advantages by scoring time bonuses or taking advantage of crashes, and you respond with a bunch of angry and semi-coherent non sequiturs. Not sure why you’re whinging about Zwift or Anglo-Saxons to me, except I suppose to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.

        • Larry T Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5:56 pm

          You wrote: “Amidst all the suggestions here I’m surprised no one has mentioned the lack of an opening TT as a potential contributing factor to the tension and bunching up that has contributed to many of the crashes.”
          Which would fix what? How is that going to stop the “get to the front to avoid the crashes caused by everyone trying to get to the front” issue? Perhaps nobody mentioned this because they don’t see how it would solve the problem?
          The rest of my post wasn’t directed at you but just (as you did) throwing out some ideas about what the cause might be and how to solve it. Sorry if you found it incoherent, perhaps because you (wrongly IMHO) took it as a personal attack rather than a different view?
          Meanwhile – BRAVO to the Manx Missile! STFU and let your legs do the talking. BRAVO!

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 6:29 pm

      I’ve seen this hypothesis too but not sure about it, I referenced 2015 above as a year when people were nervous about crashes in the opening week and that began with a 14km TT. Also a lot of riders had lost time yesterday because of the hilly opening weekend too, arguably more riders losing more time than they would if we’d had a prologue or two plain sprint stages.

  • MS Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:24 pm

    What if some problems are without solutions? Should we keep discussing them over and over again or just accept that life (and bike racing) will never be free of problems?

    Life, as our love for bicycle racing, is ambiguous. I for one would love to see my son in a bike race. At the same time I would be scared to death thinking of the risk involved.

  • John I Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:26 pm

    I’m curious about the average age of the peloton compared to 10 or 20 years ago. If there are proportionally fewer seasoned veterans, and more brash youngsters, I would expect more rider-error crashes. (Thomas being the exception that proves the rule).

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 2:36 pm

      I thought about that, too. Plus with 18 or even 21 you are still in a very hormonal phase. And when you are 20, you do not say „no“ to a coach or ds. And you surely do not have the skill or gravitas to communicate your point of view and find a compromise etc.

      Aside from everything: It does not seem right to me to put a 21 or 23-year old body through wt-races. Riders, as other top athletes too, often have damaged and transformed their body so much after a career, that they have heart problems, joint problems, problems with their immune system etc. It feels wrong to think, that such a young person has to put their body through such a heavy load. Because you change the body, when you train it for long distance sport. To do that to a body, that is not yet fully formed, just does not seem right. It worries me a lot.

  • SYH Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:04 pm

    This is why the peloton had leadership in the past – to stop this kind of stuff from happening.

    I do not understand the mentality of protesting when we saw teams pushing the pace hard in the (realized) hopes of getting to be on the front and put time on GC riders in case a crash splits the bunch. We saw at stage 1 last year that a big GC team is fully capable of shutting a race down if it deems the conditions too difficult to push the pace in, but the teams are too tempted by the prospect of GC seconds. It seems really, really hypocritical to push the pace hard in the hopes of a peloton split, getting a minute on a major GC rival, and then complaining that riders crashed.

  • Michael Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:10 pm

    Would we all be debating this quite so much passion if the only crash yesterday was the corner one that took out Jack Haig who might be an interesting future rider but lets face it not a contender for anything but a top twenty place. I suspect not.The three ‘big name’ crashes where either rider error (Thomas) or racing incidents (Rog & Ewan) where riders accidently bumped each other. There might, just might, be cause for criticising the route design for the Haig incident but if the first forty and final ten K had been ridden on the same roads flattened and straightened those ‘big name’ incidents would still have happened. The story is about the no. of big names who are out or injured in single day and not about the route design.

  • CA Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:30 pm

    Look, I’m not trying to blame anyone for the crashing – so take this comment with that in mind:

    Isn’t today’s “Go Slow” protest exactly what the race needs in these early stages? I mean, I get there are a lot of factors that created the conditions for week-1 TdF crashes, but one significant solution would the entire peloton could cool down their pace for the final 30-40km. I realise this is extremely hard because the pack mentality will always prevail.

    However, I think we need to apply creative solutions here. For example, on a sprint stage like yesterday, push back the 3km line to 10km (or 15, or 20). Then, the GC riders and their support should have gentlemen’s (and women’s) agreement to all flow to the back and ride tempo at the back of the pack – UCI should complement this with very liberal time scoring. Keep in mind this should only be on sprint stages.

    Or, for added protection perhaps the riders’ jerseys and shorts should have some thin slippery plastic in strategic spots (shoulders, back, bum cheeks, etc. – the normal spots that get ripped to shreds by pavement). This second suggestion will help riders slide on the pavement rather and help to save skin.

    Radios don’t make a difference, people need to stop giving solutions that affect other agendas. The concept that there were no crashes before radios is ridiculous. Radios could even coordinate the above solution about GC team gentlemen’s agreement to sit up. The DS’ could coordinate with the Commissaire and then relay the message to “knock off” for the day, your efforts are done… save your powder for the mountains (which would also help have more exciting mountain stages).

    Granted, the above solution about gentleman’s agreement requires a lot more cooperation than we’ve ever seen in cycling, but as Inrng keeps pointing out, this cooperation and stronger CPA is necessary.

  • Steve Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 3:54 pm

    What’s with all the ‘cycling’s gone soft ‘ shite from so many of you? Coppi and Merckx, let alone Binda and Christophe, weren’t in a 180 strong group going full gas very often. And moaning about the course is as old as racing itself- ‘Assassins!’, ‘Nous sommes les forcats de la route’, etc. At least the crowds aren’t offering poisoned bottles, I guess. Personally I’m horrified that the spectators didn’t at least lynch the idiot grandchild before handing the corpse to les cochons. They at least really are going soft…

    Is there any truth in the rumour that Granite Thomas crashed while filming that Zwift ad?

  • JeroenK Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 4:42 pm

    After all the debate about safety, let me just post my prediction for today’s final, just in time for 20k to go. Alpecin-Fenix will at some point play the card of MvdP doing a faux leadout and the other sprinters of the team letting a gap open and forcing others to close it. Might be today.

  • Dave C Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5:18 pm

    Has anyone ever won Tour stages 13 years apart?

    • Pete Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5:57 pm

      Poulidor won a stage in 62 and 74.

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 6:27 pm

        Jean Alavoine in 1909 and 1923, via Twitter’s David Guénel… and Gino Bartali in 1935 and 1950 via Yassine Ben Rajeb.

        • Michael B Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 11:00 pm

          Lance Armstrong won a stage in 1993 and, erm, “won” another in 2009 via a TTT. Although that probably doesn’t count for multiple reasons…

  • Paul Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5:59 pm

    Tour de fairytale

  • Steve Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:16 am

    He escaped from a prison island for Scousers, and won tour stages in three decades. And yet why is the word for ‘butterfly’ so different in so many otherwise related languages? ‘Papillon’, ‘Schmetterling’, ‘Farfalla’, ‘Mariposa’ etc etc.

  • cp Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:54 am

    So when you look like you’ve been worked over with a cheese grater like Primoz “the Mummy” Roglic does, what sort of toll do those injuries take on you and your performance? Is he hooped for the TT? Perhaps Mx. Inrng will address that in the preview…

    Is Carapaz the only GC contender who hasn’t crashed?

    • Hari Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:45 pm

      I dont think so regarding Roglic. If you consider JA as a tour contender then he is also in the frame.
      The early 2000’s hardman, Tyler Hamilton did an entire Giro with a broken shoulder and finished 2nd, and 03 Tour with broken collarbone and finished 4th. But in the process ground 11 of his molar teeth to the bone. The key issue of needed high power delivery without increasing pain or soreness is a real test of pain threshold and superhuman endurance. As someone who really wished Roglic win the tour this year, I can only watch and wait and hope he doesnt suffer much. He can probably win next year too and could target Olympics.

  • cp Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 2:32 am

    I meant to add: I haven’t been this interested in a TT in quite a while. Somehow it feels potentially…revealing?

    I’ve been frustrated with all the crashes–seriously, roglic down a minute on Carapaz because of a crash? Pogacar behind Carapaz at all? Etc.

    But the Tour feels open because of it and intriguing.

  • Steve Potts Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:08 am

    And cutting through the crashes, the mangled men and machines, the pain and the pomp, the blood, sweat and tears, the roadside fools, the bitter words, the sun and the rain, rising like a tiny blue Manx phoenix from the ashes, shot out of a canon in rural France, ladies and gentlemen, I give you three simple words – Mark Caven Dish…