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Tour de France Stage 5 Preview

A big day for the GC contenders, today’s time trial will reshuffle the pack of cards with the kings and aces coming to the fore.

Fou, fou, Fougères: we’re only into the opening bars but this Tour keeps plucking at the heart strings like a flamenco guitarist. The day before spate of grisly crashes meant few spoke about Tim Merlier’s win, now not one injury and Mark Cavendish’s win in Fougères seems to make it the most important event to happen in town since Balzac stayed to write a novel.

We’ll get to Cavendish’s win in a moment but let’s note the protest by riders at the start of the stage, a gesture but no rider came forward to say what their concerns were to the cameras, the helicopter shots showed plenty of riders urinating, as riders wanted to empty their bladder more than get something off their chest. And then it was over. Hopefully something constructive can come of this, improved dialogue.

Brent Van Moer and Pierre-Luc Périchon attacked with the hallmarks of a fruitless “commercial break”, Cofidis racing like they’re still a Pro Conti team and Lotto-Soudal doing something in the wake of Ewan’s exit. Yet Van Moer gave it more, went solo and behind the peloton had a stand-off with 10km to go. The Belgian had won a stage of the Dauphiné a month ago in the same scenario and the suspense rose. But the day’s fairytale had a different script, one that included Sam Bennett clattering his knee a few weeks ago. Van Moer would be caught but just and Cavendish rounded the stalling Lotto rider with millimetres to spare as he dashed for the line. This was the Cavendish of old, the “Mozart of the 11 sprocket” and he had a late kick to win by a bike length. He can retire now, not today of course as there’s Châteauroux tomorrow. No, the blank years at Dimension Data and Bahrain culminating in a DNF at De Panne, a Belgian seaside resort on a grey day in October and the prospect of a backdoor exit from the sport, that’s all gone. Cavendish is back on the stage and played an encore. He can do another and if cycling has a furious tendency to bank wins and within minutes ask what a rider can do next… well Cavendish is in the green jersey.

The Route: It’s 30km and a rolling course, twice as long as the Dauphiné’s TT stage last month with the same amount of climbing. There’s no obvious climb, instead a series of rises and falls to be mastered but the start out of Changé has one of the longest drags, a kilometre at almost 6% which needs to be carefully paced. It pays to know the course well to gain every second, do you stay in a big gear and use momentum to get over the next rise, or change down? There aren’t too many technical points, it’s got a lot of straight roads and has a flatter feel to the second half, the pure TT specialists and those with the most aero positions can recover time. With 2.5km to go there’s a tight bend away from the river bank and a short kick upwards that eases but doesn’t quite flatten out for a while. It leads to the finish outside the Espace Mayenne, a newly built concert hall and sports arena that has a outdoor velodrome, so new that it’s not quite finished

The Contenders: let’s tour the specialists first. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has a good chance today, third in the Dauphiné on a hilly course, today’s the course suits his big power. Two Swiss riders in Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and Stefan Bissessger (EF Education-Nippo) are the specialist contenders, Küng won the Tour de Suisse opener but just and perhaps took more risks plus he’s been doing more work so it looks like advantage Bississger. Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) can surprise but probably needs a more daredevil course. Astana had a 1-2 in the Dauphiné with Alexey Lutsenko and Ion Izaguirre but today’s course isn’t as technical nor hilly so they could be close. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has been avoiding the sprints to save himself for today but sits just fourth overall at 31 seconds. Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Nexthash) is becoming a time trial specialist but a win is an upset. UAE have two outsiders in Mikkel Bjerg and Brandon McNulty.

Among the GC riders Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has won a Tour time trial but that was behind Pau in the Pyrenean foothills, a stage win is going to be tough. But the form is there, so much so that when he rode the Tour de Suisse earlier this month he did the final time trial on standard road bike out of politeness because he planned to leave the race to attend the birth of his son and so he couldn’t really win that day and back on his TT bike he’s got a shot at yellow if he can take back eight seconds on Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and hold off van Aert. MvdP is good at everything but he’s never won a time trial although he can be close, he’d really prefer a more technical course with ramps to sprint up and corners to carve.

Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) is under the radar so far but looked spritely at Mûr de Bretagne. Normally Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) would have been a big pick for today but he must be smarting from his crash, just avoiding a further time loss to rivals would be a small victory. The same for Geraint Thomas (Ineos). Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) won the last time trial in the Tour but there’s no mountain-top finish today, he can be very close. Rigoberto Uràn (EF Education-Nippo) is one to watch to see if he can confirm the ride he did in the Tour de Suisse where he won the mountain time trial to Andermatt.

Wout van Aert, Stefan Bissegger
Stefan Küng, Kasper Asgreen, Tadej Pogačar
SKA, Thomas, Alaphilippe, Uràn, Kelderman, Porte, McNulty, Roglič, Lutsenko

Weather: sunny but with clouds building and the outside chance of rain, 20°C and a light NW wind of 10km/h.

TV: the first rider is off at 12.15 CEST and the last at 16.50 CEST.

Off on a tangent: today’s stage is in the Mayenne department, and in the world of French cycling this equals the Boucles de la Mayenne, (the first stage race won by a certain Mathieu van der Poel), Laval as the birthplace of Jacky Durand (the 1990s version of Thomas de Gendt and today chez Eurosport), and the Madiot brothers Marc and Yvon who run the Groupama-FDJ team. They’re from Renazé and for years they’d hold the team’s annual training camp, making riders take part in cyclo-cross drills, you might remember the video of Bradley Wiggins wiping out in the mud. Today Marc lives in the Parisian suburbs and his wife Jennifer runs a Breton bistrot. Apparently Marc sometimes staffs the bar. Restaurants and bars have had a tough time because of the pandemic so if you happen to be in Suresnes one day, try the Pourquoi Pas on the Place Henri IV.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • stuie Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:10 am

    Be interesting to see how Carapaz does today. If he has a shocker, it could be curtains for his GC ambitions. I’m going for WVA.

    • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:27 am

      As Inr Ring writes, yesterday was almost a metaphor for life, never mind the Tour.
      Life always goes on, new stories emerge. Old stories used to be tomorrow’s chip paper (that’s a *very* British reference, google it), now they’re lost bandwidth.
      I think that the GC is boxed off, barring further accidents.
      Pogacar is too good and the pity is that this has all happened so early on.
      So if we know how the book is likely to finish, at least we can enjoy the read, right?
      But, at the same time, this is why cycling is so conservative to change. Because life, and its wheels, just keep rolling on.
      Perhaps that’s is how it should be anyway?

      • RQS Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:55 am

        There’s still a long way to Paris. You may think you know the ending but it’s how the story gets there that counts…

        My thoughts are that although we have GC riders a minute or so down that once you take out MVDP and AP the differences are more like half a minute. It’s all still there to play for. Though it would be naive to think that Pogacar isn’t dangerous, he is bouncing around a lot and may pay for it in the last few weeks.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:11 am

          I’ll never understand the mindset: “It’s over, rider X has won” when we’re not even a week into the race. Before it even started that Secret Pro guy had tipped Porte to win. Porte, the guy who falls off as much as Thomas!
          The “protest” looked pretty silly IMHO. The riders need a patron to point out that it’s THEY who control pretty much all of it – if the GC boyz and their teams want to stay out of the sprinter’s parties, they can all agree to back off with X kms to go, no? Why do they need the UCI to mandate it, just let the sprinters and their teams have at it. The roads don’t cause crashes, riders trying to squeeze each other off the sides of ’em does, no matter how wide they might be. Other than “OPI-OMI” everyone of ’em has been a rider’s “own goal” due to their own f__kups. What is the UCI or ASO supposed to do about that? A real patron might be able to lay down the law and punish the offenders..the UCI, ASO or CPA not so much. Sagan seems to be hinting at this if I’m reading it correctly – https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/peter-sagan-not-convinced-by-symbolic-protests-about-rider-safety-at-tour-de-france/
          Vive LeTour! 🙂

          • RQS Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:36 am

            I feel like you’re in my head Larry. +1
            I’ve put Sagan’s comments below, but the simple fact is that the roads are not dangerous. It’s how you ride them. Arguably you can say that the organisers can take into account the pressure in the first week, but riders go down (a la Thomas, Roglic and Ewan) on perfectly straight roads, so how do you stop that? Sagan’s point, I think. The mentality with which you race the course…

          • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:47 am

            Chris Froome did speak to the cameras pre-stage yesterday to explain that much of the ill-feeling amongst the riders, and their protest, was due to their request to relax the 3km rule to 5km (for one or more of the Brittany stages) but this was refused.

          • jc Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:33 am

            Not sure I understand what difference it makes whether the cut off is 3km or 5km. Chris Froome seemed to be the main instigator of GC contenders mixing it all the way to the line just in case splits appeared, so perhaps not the best advocate of a different cut off point. I have not noticed any great reduction of stress in sprints stages once the race passes the 3 (or wherever) km point.

            In any case the point of the race is to get to the finish line, are we seriously suggesting one finish line for GC riders and another for sprinters? Not sure that makes sense.

          • Nick Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:20 am

            the narrow twisting downhill where Haig crashed was between 3 and 5km from home, wasn’t it? Taking the GC timings beforehand would have eased the pressure.

            I can see the case for flexibility on the GC timing point on sprint stages, just as there is when the stage has a finishing circuit.

          • Sam A Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:34 pm

            As I understand it, the 3km rule only means that time can’t be lost due to a crash in the last 3km – there is still incentive for GC riders to not lose contact with the bunch in those last 3km as time is taken at the line, not at the 3km mark. i.e. you can’t just get to 3km to go and sit up and let gaps open.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:47 pm

            Correct Sam, although this could be re-written.

            Ideally all has to be agreed before, when riders come and ask for times to be taken at some other point on the course on the morning of the race or even mid-stage it’s not easy to implement, timing mats and photofinish cameras have to be moved etc

      • hoh Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:33 am

        “Fish ‘n chip” paper. And it still is. Though now more likely on high end places rather than your usual workman cafe and they “sanitise” the paper.

  • Marlon Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:21 am

    This tour has been an emotional roller-coaster to be sure, but today’s TT will be the first big test for the gc contenders, I feel like JA could get back in yellow.

  • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:46 am

    Like Cavendish’s re-emergence as an old skool rock n roller, a blast from the past –
    ps which one on here is a young IR? 🤣
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijjPEmej-eg

  • DJW Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:47 am

    I always enjoy more a last (?) big win for a declining star than the multiple wins when they are coming easy. No fan of Cav but it made me smile anyway, and he navigated himself through the sprinting bunch as in the old days with the good fortune to find the right gaps at the right time.

    • RQS Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:59 am

      He really looked like the old Cav when he bounced through the Lotto Soudal rider. The tolerance for that move must of been millimetres but he still went for it and “bang”, laid down the power.
      With Ewan out the stars are aligning for Cav. This could be his golden tour. They mentioned that if he holds on to the jersey for three more stages he’ll have the record for having it(?!) or did I miss that.

      • Dan Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:22 am

        He was very lucky that Cees Bol let him through – Bol is probably 20kg heavier than Cav, so, it wouldn’t have ended well if he shut the door like Merlier did to Ewan.

        • Tom Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 5:28 pm

          Merlier didn’t ‘shut the door’ on Ewan. Ewan tried to push Sagan off Merlier’s wheel (ignoring grade school physics) and lost control of his bike. Ewan bounced off Sagan, overcorrected as he was headed toward the barriers, and clipped Merlier’s rear wheel. Lucky that he didn’t take Merlier down as well with his poor bike handling and decision making.

          It’s clear in the video.

          • Tim Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 6:29 pm

            Precisely. His frenetic sprinting style made the outcome that much more likely.

      • KevinK Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:05 pm

        You’re thinking of Sagan. Cav’s had strikingly little success in the green jersey competition.

  • RQS Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:11 am

    “I ask myself what the protests will change. We have to change our mindset, otherwise it will only get worse,” Sagan said. “We’re racing and so I think that’s a factor, we’re rivals. I don’t know who [is] to blame for the crashes.

    “Nothing is going to change,” said Sagan. “In the last ten years, it’s just getting worse and worse. Nobody is taking responsibility. I ask where the CPA is in all of this? They’re our organisation but what are they doing? The CPA has to listen to the riders and speak to the UCI and find some solutions.”
    Sagan knows – it’s not the course per se, it’s how you approach it. Riders and teams need to take responsibility in these early stages. But I concede that there was an element of prescience when the riders demanded the 3km time lock stretched to 8km – not that it would’ve done those that crashed at 9km any good.
    I wonder if GC teams couldn’t come to some agreement or understanding to back off in the first week to stop this super charge to the front – but it’s racing, so how do you put the brakes on?

    • Tomski Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 11:15 am

      It seems to me that the peloton seems to miss the element of respect for the elder statesmen these days. Sagan asks who should take responsibility, yet as a senior sprinter, he should have been leading the protest from the front. Enough riders were unhappy with the parlours, and he should have recognised this despite his own feelings. The final corner on Monday was dangerous: I had a bad feeling looking at the preview map, and it was borne out by Ewan’s crash which also took him out. Had they not all been going for the inside line, everyone would have finished (and perhaps Cav wouldn’t have won yesterday)..

  • Richard S Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:21 am

    Very much enjoyed Cav’s win yesterday. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so emotional after winning anything. Fair play to him.

    I’m hoping WVA can bag the win and the yellow jersey today. I think the main things to look for are whether or not Roglic struggles and ships a load of time and how Carapaz does compared to Pogacar.

    • Bonzo Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:21 am

      If Wout goes into yellow, that adds to the Jumbo Visma cards and allows Roglic to recover unless they feel the need to control the peloton and short staffed and banged up, they have to ride on the front for hours. The whole team has been on the deck together twice now already. Perhaps it’s just as well there isn’t a Team Time Trial this year. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=688129468318382

  • weeclarky Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:23 am

    Fantastic result yesterday. I told you Cav deserved a chainring for the green jersey 🙂 Who would bet against him now?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:51 am

      Still a long way to go for green and the mountains to come, a big challenge. But this weekend’s mountain stages are not too wild, a warm-up of sorts.

  • jc Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:49 am

    I cant remember a race where there has been so many highs & lows packed into the opening days, it is going to be difficult for the rest of the race to compete.

    As was said about another sportsman in a different sport on their comeback “who writes your scripts!”. What I thought was so impressive was that, this was not some “standard” sprint win where the sprinter is dropped off by his lead out 250m from the line, something DQS excel at. Cav had to do it for himself, surfing wheels and picking his moment. Whilst the man himself is bridling at questions of what comes next (he is right, celebrate the achievement of still winning TdF stages 13 years after the first one), further wins at this race must be possible, even the Green jersey does not seem an impossibility if he can get over the mountains.

    As to today, there does seem to be a thought that JV are targeting Yellow for WvA, not sure that really makes sense given the Promoz Roglic situation. No idea how Geraint Thomas will fare, after he was wiped out by the motorbike at the 2017 Giro he was only beaten by Tom Dumoulin in the TT two days later, so who knows. I guess we shall also see how seriously Julian Alaphilippe is chasing Yellow.

    • DJW Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:07 am

      Quite right on Cavendish. In the HTC days he often just had to come round the final lead out (often Renshaw) to win whereas yesterday took some nerve and good fortune.

    • Canocola Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:29 am

      Not diminishing Cavendish at all here – it was a vintage performance in every way – but you’re selling DQS a little short. First Alaphilippe putting in a big old dig to move him back up, having lost control to other teams, then Mørkøv diving through the remaining thirty or so riders with Cavendish in tow and dropping him off on the perfect wheel to jump from.

      Then some Cavendish brilliance on top of it.

      And really, the ability of Cavendish to convince others to work for him throughout his career had been one of the reasons for his success, as well as his ability to regularly repay that effort for them. That he can slot in with the best in the world at short notice and do this shows just how good he is at working with a team.

      • jc Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:47 am

        I wasnt trying to suggest DQS didnt work for Cav, they did to pull back the break at the last minute. More that the pre race talk, not least from the man himself, was that if the lead out was Michael Morkov, then even a club rider on a granny bike could win (or words to that effect 🙂 ). Michael Morkov did indeed provide an excellent lead out at the intermediate sprint but the ending was all down to Cav.

        I agree about how good he is in a team, cycling is an odd mix of personal wins largely being down to team efforts. Cav would not had the success he has had if he didnt inspire those around him. His comments about Michael Morkov being typical of that.

        • Dan Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:28 am

          Morkov singlehandedly took Cav from 30th wheel at 1600m to go (at the roundabout) to 4th wheel at 400m to go… Through the bunch that was doing 60km/h.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:41 am

        +1 Canocola! Makes me wonder what happened to “not at this salary”? Did someone pony up more loot or did the Manx Missile realize what an opportunity he was being offered?
        Either way, it’s a great comeback story and at this point I’d assume everyone’s happy with the results – except maybe Mr. Bennett?

        • Canocola Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 12:41 pm

          Larry – it’s been suggested that a large part of the comments about salary was Patrick LF rattling the metaphorical tin to see if anyone dropped some pennies in. Like you it seems hard to believe it’s an opportunity that would be passed up by Cavendish.

          • Larry T Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:16 pm

            https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/lefevere-the-whole-staff-was-crying-after-cavendishs-tour-de-frace-stage-4-win/
            I haven’t read anything from the Manx Missile denying he made the “not at this salary” statement so while Lefevere might well have been trying to do what you say I still wonder how they worked it all out? Did the Big-S come up with some loot once it was clear Bennett wasn’t going to collect any LeTour sprint wins for them? If so, did that loot come from the budget they might no longer have in 2022 for Sagan and Co? Or did Cavendish realize his last-best chance was worth taking at any price, giving the team and sponsors gifts that will keep on giving…and hoping they’ll reciprocate with a fat contract for the future?

      • Davesta Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:22 pm

        He did have to fend off Bouhanni – not at the finish, but at a roundabout with a few kms to go, where the chopper in red tried to divebomb on the inside of the roundabout and got Cav’s shoulder for his troubles !

        Cav’s leadership qualities are definitely a huge part of his success. You could see the bond he had with his teammates after the finish yesterday, and I’ve heard stories before about his ability to make everyone else feel like the most important person in the room, making them willing to do everything they can to support him.

    • hoh Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:45 am

      Quickstep adapt. They put Cav on the wheel of Trek duo.

      It was a smart split-second decision by Morkov. He knew he got to bring Cav up and he knew he wouldn’t have the legs to open up a sprint.

    • T-72 Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 11:06 pm

      The last time the TdF saw similar action in the first week was probably in 2014. Nibali´s GC win by a modest margin of 8 mins was a bit of a «last man standing» victory as Froome and Contador crashed and couldn´t finish the race. After stage 5 Nibali was in yellow and Porte the closest competitor in the GC was some 01:54 down. In the end, he had 7 minutes and 37 secs to JC Peraud in the 2nd spot.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:18 am

    Well played Cav, without the illness and the “wilderness” teams I think that may well have been your 40th win!

  • George Vest Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:19 am

    The wins by Alaphillipe, MVDP and Cavendish at the Tour, with WVA and Pogacar still to do their things, plus Evanepoel, Bernal and Pidcock etc. Has cycling ever been this good?

    Fantastic exposition of why Cavendish has been such an outstanding sprinter by Nick Schultz (ex team mate) on the CyclingTips podcast – particularly his leadership qualities in getting the best from team mates. Think Gordon Ramsay shouting at junior chefs and completely reverse it. Thoroughly recommend a listen.

    • Allegedly_Anthony Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 12:16 pm

      Surely Nathan Haas?

      • George Vest Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:31 pm

        Quite right – thanks. I have no idea why I typed Schultz

  • Richp Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:19 am

    Sagan has a bit of a nerve to suggest it’s riders’ attitude that needs to change. He’s correct but it’s a bit rich coming from him after some of his reckless sprinting in the past.

    • RQS Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:34 am

      “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone”. I don’t think there’s a rider in the peloton who could say that they’ve not ‘asserted’ their position. If you didn’t then you wouldn’t be a pro. I know some of Sagan’s move have been deemed egregious. Two notably come to mind, one of which involved Cav, and the other was a set of moves which caused problems. But as the Bible says, sometimes it is only you have passed through the eye of a needle that wisdom is passed down to you. So perhaps his punishments have led to introspection and a greater understanding?! In any case I don’t think it invalidates his comments. It what he feels and thinks.

      • A Pedant Thursday, 1 July 2021, 2:10 am

        Which bible is that, then?

  • oldDAVE Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:36 am

    can’t remember being so happy for a win in a long time, brilliant from Cav – and I had Van Moer in my fantasy team!

  • Colin N Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:38 am

    After stage 4
    Total
    30 Alpecin–Fenix
    26   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    10 Arkéa–Samsic
    9   Team BikeExchange
    8   Team Jumbo–Visma
    7   Bora–Hansgrohe
    7  UAE Team Emirates
    5  Team Bahrain Victorious
    1   Team DSM
    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.

    • Adrian Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 2:41 pm

      This is great, thanks for doing it. It’s certainly more meaningful than the current system. Next we need a fix or replacement for the polka dot jersey.

  • Louis le Blond Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:39 am

    Today will be a fantastic ‘Danish Day’ – nice INRNG also is aware that the danish vikings might defeat Brittany again…:-)

  • Mamicus Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:51 am

    Also, after Switzerland’s epic win over France in the Euro, it would be sweet to see Küng or Bissegger take a win.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:00 am

    Just dwelling on that Thomas crash, it just struck me what a difficult job the medics must have… big calls have to be made without the help of scans etc.
    Brilliant from Cavendish again yesterday, and recent months have been such a great story for him that’s hopefully still got a long way to go.
    For the race’s sake, hopefully Roglic and Thomas don’t lose too much time today.

  • IanPa Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:40 am

    Rider protest was muted to say the least…

    Its right to call out the riders as much as the organisers… after all they can crash and do major damage (ask Tom Boonen) on 6 lane highways in the UAE just as easily as they can crash on small roads in the French Countryside.

    Its the Tour, pressures up, form is raging, results means cash dollars on big fat contracts, which all basically means take 10 points off the IQ of each rider for the first few days until number of brain cells equals form levels and then we are back to normal and calmed down bunches… till the wind blows in the South.. then all bets off!!

    Carapaz not to lose a packet of time today, MVdP to surprise, Van Aert to win though i suspect.

  • Nick Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:49 am

    The comments from Sagan make a neat companion piece to (I think?) Mitch Docker on the Cycling Podcast last night. He mentioned that there are more riders in the sport because of their numbers than racecraft. I don’t know whether that’s true, and as a point of view it does set certain “not like the old days” bells ringing, but would be interesting to do a wee longitudinal study on.

    I guess, if racing has become more hectic with GC teams desperate to be at the front to avoid crashes (I don’t know if Sky/INEOS started this, but they’re certainly the avatars of that approach), and if there are more riders without racecraft in the peloton, two different questions are “should it go back to how it was?” or “this is how things are now, how do we as a sport adapt?” Course designers not planning a route with consideration to how the peloton rides now is inconsiderate as well as the targets of Sagan and Docker’s ire. It’s very hard to turn the clock back in most things in life, how we react to everything changing all the time is the more relevant inquiry.

    • Nick 2? Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:50 am

      Also scrolling upthread I’ve just realised there’s another Nick posts here. Should probably mark myself differently!

    • Wipperman_15 Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:07 pm

      That’s an interesting point; you quite often see comments that it is good that cycling can attract these athletes from other sports – and be competitive. But is it? They have all the physical attributes, V02 max, etc In what other sport can you basically switch to and be competitive?
      Being a good cyclist is more than just good numbers; having racecraft and technical skills is also important.
      That’s why you don’t see these athletes switching to the technical off road side of cycling….they’d be out of their depth.

  • plurien Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:52 am

    Viktor Campenaerts. No ring..?

    What’s to be done about the aero advantage of tubigrip and mesh bandages on riders in today’s stage? Far more beneficial than a bit of sock length. Come on UCI, let’s get a ruling.

    Was there a cunning plan all along 😉

    • Spofferoonie Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 11:47 am

      He apparently doesn’t consider himselt a tester any more (hence the Giro breakaways) – doesn’t believe he can win in the TT so he’s reinvented himself. Expect to see him in breakaways later in the Tour

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:48 pm

        Exactly, plus when he was a TT rider he was almost always beaten too.

  • Cascarinho Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 1:35 pm

    “the most important event to happen in town since Balzac stayed to write a novel.”
    For those interested, it’s Les Chouans, a novel about the monarchic resistance to Revolution in Brittany (a lot of the action takes place in Fougères) in the late 1790’s. I’m not sure though it was a big event for the city at the time : the novel is from 1828, and would be the first success of Balzac. At the time he was completely unknown, wrote a lot of feuilletons (novels wrote and read rather quickly ; think about comics in US), tried to become rich by every way possible, trying to be a publisher, a printer, etc, failing each time and declaring bankrupcy.
    We could almost do a Tour with all the places where a Balzac novel takes place ; thanks for the idea, Inrng ! Tomorrow the stage starts from Tours, where he grew up and a lot of his stories takes place (Le Lys dans la vallée, etc.)

    • cp Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:30 pm

      That’s a great idea. ( The theme for this year’s crashy Tour could be “Les quatre cents coups,” Truffaut’s classic that features Balzac as the young Antoine Doinel’s hero. )

  • Kjetil Haaland Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 2:11 pm

    Chapau commenters and chapeau inrng!
    “The Mozart of the 11 sprocket”; The way he passed Van Moer indeed was in the high Köchels.

  • Gregario Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 3:00 pm

    Anyone who believes in Cav’s sudden resurgence after joining Quick Step must also believe in miracles and santa claus. This is one of the most suspect performances ever seen. And only because he is a sprinter nobody seems to question it. This guy was nowhere to be seen for the last 3 seasons, could not even follow lead outs last year, was out of contract and on the verge of retiring, suddently rejoins QS and becomes a force of 10 years ago at the age of 36. Yeah, right. About the same story as with Viviani, Kittel etc. They join QS and are world class and unbeatable, they leave and drop down 2 or 3 levels. Same with Gilbert, same with Terpstra.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:00 pm

      What a load of BS.

      • Gregario Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:18 pm

        great post, thanks for sharing your thoughtful insights

        • Andrew Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:48 pm

          Unfortunately it was the response your post deserved.
          Would you care to share some evidence for your suspicion? Other than just a list of riders who’ve been successful with one team and less successful elsewhere. Which is not unusual.

          • Anonymous Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 6:39 pm

            It was 4 words too many!

    • Not anonymous Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 4:44 pm

      Curious as to how this works in your head:
      New rider wins something for the first time = that’s come out of nowehere so suspect!
      Rider that has come close many times, finally wins something = he’s never wone before and now wins, so suspect!
      Rider with proven wins time and time = well how can someone continue to win so much, so obviously suspect!
      Most successful sprinter ever at the tour, recovers from illness, manages to get a new contract, gets a few wins at the age of 36, was not even down to race at the tour until a week before, with a field no longer containing the current best sprinter = suspect!

      Truly curious, at what point do you consider a rider to not be suspect.

      “becomes a force of 10 years ago” – he won four stages of the Tour de France five years ago, but please don’t let that get in the way of your rhetoric

    • Larry T Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 6:33 pm

      Hmmm, in one way I don’t want to dignify this comment but I gotta ask – so you think Lefevere has some sort of exclusive on a secret special “sprinter dope” that he gives only to his chosen one(s)?
      Guys like Morkov and the rest of the DQS lead-out team are pretty much worthless unless the sprinter has the secret sauce? When you leave DQS and you no longer have access to the “sprinter dope” you don’t win much anymore, no matter who is leading you out?

      • Gregario Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 7:27 pm

        José Ibarguren Taus and Yvan Vanmol – nothing more to add

        • George Vest Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:32 pm

          So you reckon that DQS have invented some sort of miracle drug that can turn a carthorse into a thoroughbred, pretty quickly, which no other teams know about and which is undetectable by testing?

          Yeah, right. CyclingNews and its army of amateur doping-spotter posters is that way.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:22 pm

          That’s all you got? Their records involving doping seem kind of mundane rather than some sort of doping masterminds who use products so secret the riders they dope with ’em have no idea of what they are or how to administer them, nor do other teams in the sport. Otherwise how would you explain your claim that the riders on DQS go from hero to zero once they leave if it’s not from losing the tough-to-beat help from the rest of the so-called wolfpack?
          Was the Manx Missile using this secret sauce during the rest of his career? He seemed to be halfway decent at sprinting earlier in his career while racing on teams that didn’t employ either of the villains you named.
          While you are certainly entitled to your own humble opinion, if you’re going to make claims like these here rather than on cyclingnews.com, I’d ask for something more than a couple of names and “nothing more to add” if you want to be taken at all seriously, but that’s just me.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 9:49 pm

            Save me the bandwidth please by not feeding the troll.

          • Gregario Thursday, 1 July 2021, 9:42 am

            So voicing concerns about a miraculous transformation of someone who has done nothing for 3 years, to being back to his best and winning races at the biggest stage at the tender age of 36 after joining a team which is famous for transforming riders and having one of the most notorious doctors on their payroll (link to his history in the post of RQS for someone who couldn’t be even arsed to google his name – and the post only goes till 2012!) is now the definition of being a troll? Fair enough, I can accept that. I am sorry that I am a cynic and don’t believe in miracles. I heard that sentence once before.

        • RQS Thursday, 1 July 2021, 4:28 am

          Interesting. Here’s a link I found: http://www.cyclismas.com/biscuits/so-just-who-is-dr-jose-ibarguren-taus/
          While I get your point I think the thing is that Cav won’t be doing anything different from those that throw there bike at the line around him. The difference maybe the quality money can buy, and I’ll leave it at that.
          Cav beat what was on offer yesterday. He had arguably the best sprint train, but that jink to thread the eye of needle that he did can’t be bought. That was instinctive. And, yes, DQS have saved his career. It’s an amazing story, and you have to understand the relativism, but once you get beyond that you have to hand it to Cav and Lefevre that it is quite something.

          • cp Thursday, 1 July 2021, 4:37 am

            I’m not sure what a “jink” is, but that was something to watch on overhead replay. To do that at speed. Nuts.

    • CA Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 8:32 pm

      Gregario – clearly you don’t understand the sport… it is pointless to give a detailed response because your responses below don’t make any sense.

      You named two people down below as if it means anything. Maybe they have pasts supplying doping products, but they wouldn’t be the only 2 that are still in the sport.

      QS has the best leadout team right now, Cav is the best sprinter of his generation, he’s recovered from illness, fortunately a handful of sprinters are at home or below form (Caleb, Bennet, Groenewegen, Jacobsen, etc.). Cav is not destroying people right now, but he is a very crafty and talented rider that thrives in the right environment. Dimension Data and Bahrain didn’t have anything close to the support that QS does.

      The riders you mentioned all left the best team in terms or organsation, planning, support, etc. to a much lower quality team – Viviani, Kittel, Gilbert, Terpstra, Gaviria (you forgot him). Watch, Bennet’s performances will drop too.

      Obviously, I don’t have proof, but in my mind, Cav is clearly a clean rider… there is very little doubt to me. That’s as conclusive as your wild guess, but based on your understanding of the sport, I’d say my opinion is worth much more than yours’.

  • Pete Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 10:16 pm

    It could have just as easily gone terribly wrong for Cav had Bol not been a sportsman in that nanosecond.
    Not to take away from the performance art, but it’s such a fine line between glory and guts in the asphalt.

    On another note, VdP still in the jersey says he left nothing on the road today.

    • AndrewMcK Thursday, 1 July 2021, 5:48 am

      I think MvdP has that rare – but not unique- athletic ability to absolutely empty the tank to the finish line. See also Amstel Gold Race – 100%-100%-100%-0