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Tour de France Stage 11 Preview

The Mont Ventoux stage with two ascents of the giant mountain. Today’s stage will attract a lot of hype and myth but there’s no escaping the difficulty of the route.

Poly-Valence: the calmest day of the Tour so far, a classic sprint stage and another win for Mark Cavendish. It’s his third this year, his 33rd in total. Deceuninck-Quickstep dominated the finish, trying to split the field in the final hour although it was never quite windy enough; and then they were the most powerful through the roundabouts of Valence. For once Cavendish stayed on his team’s wheels, an easy choice. He’s closing in on Merckx’s stage record, it’d be neat to equal it, special to beat it. Sections of the media are pitting this as a competition but Merckx could surrender the record and it would barely dent his palmarès. We should note the lively finish and the sight of Tadej Pogačar himself having to close gaps and defend his position alone for a while.

The Route: 198km and over 4,500m of vertical gain which makes this a big mountain stage which ever way you look at it, although it’s just that and not much more. After leaving Sorgues the route waves around the plains south of Carpentras on exposed roads. The first climb springs of Fontaine de Vaucluse with some wide hairpins and then climbs up a narrow road. There’s a small descent after the banner but carries on climbing up before dropping down to the intermediate sprint and then comes the next climb through the olive groves to Gordes. From here the race heads east for about 20km on exposed roads, then north for another 20km on an exposed and hillier road leading to Sault via the steady Col de la Liguière.

The climb from Mont Ventoux from Sault is the easiest version of the three roads up, it starts past the lavender fields and is typically 4-5% and eases off before reaching Chalet Reynard and then taking the famous road to the top. The descent is very fast with long ramps in between hairpin bends and on a wide road. Then it’s round to Bédoin via the mini Col de la Madeleine, a climb complete with hairpin bends, only dwarfed by what is to come.

Then comes the final ascent of Mont Ventoux from Bédoin, the classic route. There are three parts, first the section out of town past the orchards where it climbs, often at 5-6%. The comes the hairpin at Saint-Estève and it’s steep from here to Chalet Reynard, often on a long straight road with little to aim for ahead. Then it levels out before Chalet Reynard. After this comes the famous barren white rock section again and the road climbs irregularly with the section after each bend alternating between steep and less steep. There’s the mini time bonus point at the top and if it’s HC rated, points are doubled here today, with 40 points for the mountains competition.

The Finish: the descent to Malaucène again and then a 1km run around town with a small rise to the line. Why the descent rather than a summit finish? To paraphrase Christian Prudhomme, because on a summit finish riders leave it late to attack, with a descent if they still attack late then the action lasts longer.

The Contenders: Tadej Pogačar (UAE) is the safe pick given he can outride the others, take 30 seconds over the top and he can stay away. But today should be for the breakaway, so many strong riders have given up on the overall classification, either by election prior to the race or because of events and this helps create a self-fulfilling prophecy where enough strong riders go clear so that the UAE team can’t chase them back.

Are Ineos riding for a safe podium? Today might help tell us more, they paced Richard Carapaz to Tignes and was this to keep Pogačar in yellow so he gets all the pre and post stage routines, or to defend Carapaz’s fifth overall? They have the team today to exploit the whole course and try to crack the UAE team before Mont Ventoux. Easier said than done and they may prefer to see if Carapaz can win the stage instead with a late move or even from a small group sprint.

The problem for the breakaway is breaking away, if it takes too long for a move to form then it might not be able to build up enough of a lead. The top-13 riders are grouped within 12 minutes and after that comes Dylan Teuns (Bahrain) at 20 minutes. He has a good chance today, as do team mates Wout Poels and Matej Mohorič. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) will want to be in the break for the mountains competition alone. Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves are two cards to play for Bike Exchange, normally Yates excels in picking off stages like this but hasn’t looked as sharp, normal with the Giro in his legs.

Astana are here stage hunting but haven’t been in the mix yet. Jakob Fuglsang has all the attributes for today, arguably he first made a name for himself as an ex-MTB rider with the CSC team on Ventoux.

Michael Woods (Israel) is looking strong, but not sophisticated, he if can manage his energy better he should be a strong pick. Team mate Dan Martin has the experience and craft for today but has cut a more discreet presence so far.

Finally Jumbo-Visma have had a torrid time but with the warmer weather Sep Kuss has a better chance here.

Simon Yates, Nairo Quintana, Wout Poels
Woods, Teuns, Pogačar, Lutsenko, Carapaz
Latour, Fuglsang, Mollema, Kuss, Chaves, Mohorič, Higuita

 

Weather: warm, 28°C and there’ll be a breeze, just enough to help split things at first around Carpentras and then stronger on the approach to Sault.

TV: the stage starts at 12.15pm and the finish is forecast for 5.35pm CEST.

Off on a tangent: is today the Queen Stage? Probably but if you want to argue Sunday’s Andorra stage is, that’s ok. But where does the term “Queen Stage” come from? It’s a literal translation from French, and perhaps too literal. In French all nouns have either a male or female gender, like le vélo (masculine) or la bicyclette (feminine), both terms for the bicycle. A stage is une étape which is feminine so the accompanying regal adjective adopts the feminine ending to become étape reine, literally the Queen stage. But in English where nouns don’t have genders, you could easily say the “king stage” or more neutrally the “royal stage”. Or étape royale if you feel like Vincent Vega. For more on clumsy translations, see the “False Friends” blog post during last year’s Tour.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Spoke n Word Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:14 am

    Beautiful write-up, many thanks INRNG for the depth and breadth you bring to this mercurial sport.
    That descent to Malaucene is treacherous with long fast straightaways then sharp 160 degree hairpins… disc brakes saved me an expensive stay in a Carpentras orthopaedic ward! Here’s hoping all stay safe.

    • Larry T Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:50 am

      “….disc brakes saved me an expensive stay in a Carpentras orthopaedic ward!”
      Yep, the bike makers have altruistically reduced the horrific death and injury toll caused by descending with those antique brakes over so many years. We owe them so much!!!
      But someone forgot to tell the INEOS team, where’s that guy keyboard DS guy when they need to be warned ? 🙂

      • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:58 am

        Here I am Larry.

        As I have replied in my previous post to you, this is about me finding reassurances myself rather than dispensing advice to pro-DS or proving I’m better at their job.

        By the way, I found my assurance on this brake topic. I’m with you on rim brakes and believe good rim brakes are sufficient for road cycling.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:39 pm

          Sorry, must have missed that but I’ll always poke fun at any keyboard DS’ with his/her 20/20 hindsight, same as Magrini does on Eurosport’s Italian coverage.
          Rarely do you read comments by them about what Team X should do on the next stage, it’s always how they screwed-the-pooch on the last one when whatever tactics Mr Keyboard DS advised were not employed…and of course can never be employed since that stage is done….so they’re always right…in their mind anyway.

          • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 2:48 pm

            Go have a check. Though I can’t help myself but poke some fun at Moviestar.

            As to why the keyboard DS-advise is always about last stage. As I’ve put in my last response, I think this is because people want to believe that their hero could have done better had it not for [xxx fill in whatever DS decision you don’t retrospectively agree with]. It gives them hope, helps them convince themselves that their hero was not inferior but just made some bad decisions.

            that said, even if I’m a physiological professional, self-diagnosis is always dangerous. More so When I am trying to generalise my own experience to explain a behaviour exhibited by a wild cast of people.

  • Esteban Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:15 am

    Please, do not Talk about doping again. It IS useless and boring. Muy aburrido. Viva el Tour

    • Shappo Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:00 am

      Pero Esteban, una buena comedia nunca es aburrida.

    • Ben G Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:52 am

      Shouldn’t you be resting, Tadej? 😉

      • Esteban Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 1:25 pm

        ++ for you both. By the way, 6 AM there is 1 AM here. Good time to read IR and then fall to sleep.

  • KevinG Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:18 am

    No matter how many times you have seen it, there is always a sense of pride when the Tour comes through your village. Today it is my village of St Saturnin les Apt in the Vaucluse. Number 84 of the departments, scenically beautiful, but the eighth poorest. This is a rural region with vines, olives and perched stone walled villages giving way to limestone cliffs and garigue. The race drags up the 10 km from Apt, through the village over 100 m of newly laid smooth tarmac before turning sharply right and up a 10% ramp to the start of the col de la Liguière. At first it climbs more steeply up the Monts de Vaucluse, straight stretches of 7-8% with a few wide hairpins that go up to 10%. The surface is smooth but not easy rolling tarmac. Looking over to their left the riders will see a view of Ventoux and if they had time to look behind they would see the Luberon hills, the setting for Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence” which brought over scores of second home hopefuls in search of a ruined “mas” to renovate. Just over two-thirds up the climb it gently flattens out and even I can shift from the Inner Ring to the big ring.
    The summit is at 998 metres and then it is full gas over a plateau of lavender fields which will pass in a purple haze before a no brakes descent down towards Sault, the lavender capitol of the region. As for the rest of the stage the climb from Sault to Ventoux is a much easier proposition than from Bedoin. The first part of the descent from Malaucène has been resurfaced and is fast. I rode the stage from Apt last week, not impossible but then I didn’t have a week of hard racing in my legs. I woke this morning to the sound of rain and the hills behind us are obscured by cloud, but it is set to clear later this morning. There is no Mistral to spoil the last 6 km ascent of Ventoux as in 2016 and neither will it be the boiling cauldron of heat that had such dramatic consequences in 1967.
    So sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery today, but for the riders as the French are so fond of saying “C’est compliqué.”

    • Rooto Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:53 am

      Beautifully put, Kevin. I’ve long wanted to live around where you are, and so know it fairly well. I’d just add, look out for the remarkable red cliffs of Roussillon, everyone. Historical mining has left a tourist hotspot. It’s a mini-mur, and I’d expect plenty of spectators even though it’ll be early in the stage.

    • Rose Dave Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:02 am

      KevinG, thank you for the description of your village in Provence! Wonderful to have some local feel. Take me back to my two days in Caromb. Seeing the tour in Provence and on the Ventoux is such a treat for me in California. I loved getting a feel for the place and the riding there in your comment. ‘

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:30 am

      rode from Apt trough St Saturnin les Apt and up Liguière and down Gorges de la nesques on my way to Malucene on a bike tour back in 2013… tough little climb (harder than Sault climb in my book) and as you describes: beautiful, beautiful…

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:57 am

      And what a village, Saint-Saturnin is a scenic place and well worth a visit or ride for anyone in the area for Mont Ventoux. Enjoy the day, there’s something special about the Tour coming to town, that road with the bakery suddenly becomes the Parc des Princes, Superbowl, Wembley etc for a day, only no need for a ticket, it’s all free.

    • Tomski Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:49 pm

      Be sure to give us a wave when the peloton passes – from a safe distance! (And if you love your grandparents, call them and tell them. Phones are better communication devices than cardboard)

      • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 4:20 pm

        Haha
        Just watched the cheese royale clip on YouTube too 😃
        I’m late to the party today and have nothing meaningful or as amusing as our host’s contribution, but what about a great little slice of pastry-related music?
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jYgctXpajs

  • David OLLE Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:20 am

    Great post, as always. I see Dan Martin didn’t make your podium selections for today. Are you saving him for Sunday?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:59 am

      He just hasn’t done too much to convince so far, we’ll see how he does today and then the Pyrenees. He’s done the Giro and didn’t think he’d do the Tour.

      • Paul. Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:59 am

        He also can’t descend.

  • Ned Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:15 am

    As I was reading the bit about Queen stage, ‘royale with cheese’ popped straight into my head. Then a couple of sentences later, bang, you’ve done the same. Love it 🙂

    Thanks for the great work.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:27 am

    In German words also have a gender and we use gendered articles for showing the gender:

    „der“ is male
    „die“ is female
    „das“ is neutral

    As in:
    der Auftrag (male, the order)
    die Butter (female, the butter)
    das Fenster (neutral, the window)

    Many words exist in a male and female form:
    der Bauer (male, the farmer)
    die Bäuerin (female, the farmer)
    or der Fahrer (male, the rider/driver)
    die Fahrerin (female, the rider/driver).

    A stage is a neutral, objective thing and thus would usually be a neutral gendered word like „das Auto“ (a/the car), „das Fahrrad“ (a/the bicycle). Yet, as in french, „Etappe“ is also a female word in german (probably, because it is female in french). And there is no male form of it, it only exists in the female form.

    And although it is a female word, the important, big stage gets not a queen, but a king attached. Presumably, because the kings stands above the Queen in patriarchy. Thus the big, important stage becomes „die Königsetappe“. And although now a male word has been added, the whole word still stays female, because the female word is still the driver, the denominator of that whole thing. I think.

    • one too many Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:07 am

      Since Slovenian is becoming an important part of the peleton, let me add that we have it the same as in German:
      “kraljevska etapa”, where “etapa” is a feminim noun but “kraljevska” is an adjective derived from a king and not from a queen.
      Only that we do not have articles which makes English more difficult for me … but then: I dare you, I double dare you, to learn inflection of Slovene nouns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovene_declension

      In Slovene as French and German grammatical gender is not a biological gender as it is mostly in English. So, one does not have to use a masculine adjective for feminine nouns because it gets a proper form by inflection, e.g. “kraljevski, kraljevska, kraljevsko” for masculine, feminine and neuter gender.
      Similarly in French you have bon/bonne, intéressant/intéressante, …
      Now, a question for french speaking readers:
      Why is reine used for étape reine? Shouldn’t it be étape roie?

      • Rooto Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:10 am

        Here, as in many things, Italian is gorgeously simple: Che tappone!

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:27 pm

        You often put an -e on the end of words but not always, a king and queen are roi and reine, just you have blanc and blanche, doux and douce, prince and princesse.

        Slavic grammar is a real headache, the declensions are a big hurdle, plus way you have to change the ending of people’s names with this is doubly confusing.

        • Tovarishch Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:22 pm

          I assume it’s similar to Russian (but looks simpler) just don’t get started on numbers.

  • 150 Watts Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:29 am

    Vive les anti grimpeurs!

  • DJW Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:55 am

    The second climb of the Ventoux from Bedouin to Chalet Renard is one of the most relentless in cycling (painful memories on an seventies 42*24!). Sheltering on a wheel gives almost no advantage and in the forest the wind plays no role – though it could do from Chalet Renard. The cream will rise to the top, and that sounds like Pogacar.
    A tough one for Cavendish and the remaining sprinters too. If he can make the time gap here he should get to Paris. Philipsen looked fast yesterday and Cavendish a little sluggish. An indication for the remaining sprints?

    • Canocola Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:31 am

      The delivery Cavendish received was so smooth yesterday it’s hard to know what to make of the sprint. It didn’t feel like he had any need to accelerate and he sat up early to celebrate. My gut feeling is he could have gone faster had he needed to. Hopefully he survives today, though I’ve s bit of a bad feeling given the way the tour had been raced so far.

    • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:11 am

      There was a head wind. So it may have explained why Cav didn’t win with a big margin as others are in his wheel.

      Others can’t come around despite Cav sitting up.

  • hugues Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:59 am

    Really looking forward to watching the Tour on the Malaucene side of Ventoux. To my mind it’s by far the best descent off the mountain; very fast, wide, smooth tarmac, dramatic views over the Drome, great sight lines, some lovely radiused bends, just a really well engineered road that flows beautifully all the way to Malaucene high street. Petit Col de la Madeleine is special too. Only little but very pretty and a joy to ride, a great warm up if you’re ever riding from the Malaucene side to ascend Ventoux from Bedoin. Thanks inrng for your daily insights and all the other interesting articles on this site.

    • Greeny Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:54 am

      Agreed on the Madeleine climb, it’s lovely and is perfect for a Bedoin summit climb warm up.

      My last time up Ventoux I made the mistake of using deep section carbon wheels. The mistral was on form that day, blew me literally off the road about 100 metres from the summit, and that Malaucene descent in what was then an insane crosswind was among my scariest moments on a bike!!

      Should have been doing my third ascent with my lad for the first time yesterday, but for Covid travel restrictions…

  • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:35 am

    I think the stage will explode from Chalet Reynard. Before that getting a gap will be tough as Inrng suggests.
    The passage up from Sault to that point will be fast, and so drafting will nullify the gradient to some extent, making escape velocity hard to generate, but once onto the moonscape it pitches up and the peloton will slow. Though I imagine that there will be a break from the start too, but with a flat approach and anticipation of the climbs I can imagine that unless there’s a selection of no hopers the pressure will be on.

    • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:45 am

      Quintana is my man for the day I should say, for those reasons. He’s wants that polka dot jersey, and this is his territory to defend (well, actually attack).

      • KevinR Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:21 am

        It’s the day Froome does a Cavendish and solos to victory after a vicious Pogacar-style attack on the first ascent of Ventoux, rolling home 15 minutes ahead of the peloton 😂

        • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:29 am

          Oh, so he’s doing a Giro move?! Cunning. I thought he over played that crash the other day. He’s really been super charging himself for today. You say rolling home, but doesn’t he prefer á pied on Ventoux?

          • KevinR Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 3:10 pm

            Sadly, as he’s already something like 260 hours down on GC, his heroics won’t have the same effect as in the Giro. Unfortunately, the marginal gains in ISN aren’t on a par with Ineos/Sky and they forgot to pack his running shoes.

  • Octogenarian Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:45 am

    Cav: “I didn’t really do anything apart from the last 150 metres.”

    You’ve got to admire the modesty of the man.

    Is it true that a benefactor offered t pay his wages?

    Just hoping that he doesn’t get broken by the Ventoux. I don’t know if Inrng has previously mentioned this, but there’s a bunch of guys called ‘les cinglés du Ventoux’ (the nut cases of the Ventoux) whose ranks you can only join if you have done it three times in a single day!

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:07 am

      I think the benefactor was Specialized. We’ll see for Cavendish today, I think he’s better suited to cold day in the mountains than a hot one because of his stocky build but he keeps passing each test and today is warm but no furnace.

      The Cinglés is great initiative, I like how it is run by Monsieur Pic, or “Mr Peak”.

      • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:35 am

        Cingles was my rite of passage on my stag. I loved every second of it (retrospectively). The amazing thing was that I bumped into a friend in Chalet Reynard on my second ascent, which really helped cheer me on the last climb and a half.
        I was supposed to do it with my brother. But he had a chest infection which later turned into pneumonia.

        • Octogenarian Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:10 am

          I was supposed to do it in the spring of 2008 (just the once) with my club when I lived in France, but I had a bad ‘chute’ on black ice the previous Christmas Eve that left me laid up for months.

          With hindsight, it may not have been a totally bad thing.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:10 am

          Three times? ONE was enough for me! I wonder what the point of 3 is but I don’t get “Everesting” or Strava either so it probably doesn’t matter. With some of these things the old “hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels good when you stop” comes to mind. Meanwhile, when it comes to doing down, I forgot to include this in my disky brake comments earlier – https://www.colnago.com/it/colnagov3rs-dv/

          • Adrian Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 1:43 pm

            I believe there are three routes up and you’re supposed to do all three in one day.

          • KevinR Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 3:12 pm

            Still ignoring most of the reasons people ride discs I see Larry.

          • Octogenarian Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 4:43 pm

            No, no. We were only supposed to do it once. And I’m not convinced I would have managed it had I not had a more important date with orthopaedics.

            Three times at my age would have done me. Although there was a guy in his 70s who did all three a few years ago.

          • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:52 pm

            Actually, there’s a fourth route, buts it’s a gravel track. You get awarded the Galerien. But some nutters do it six times in 24hrs, the double Cingles. There used to be this weird narcissistic lady (possibly a man) who posted her repeated summiting of Ventoux on the Cingles Facebook page. Most people were pleased with whatever effort (Cingles, galarien, or double Cingles), and left it at that. But she seemed to post on it almost every day or so “look me summiting everyone”. As appealing as narcissism ever is.

    • MS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:41 am

      Modesty in victory, not so much in defeat.

    • harg Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:50 am

      The Cinglés du Ventoux is great. I did it in 2019 and loved it. Sadly I didn’t organise myself enough to obtain a brevet card so only a Strava ride to prove it!

      I personally found the Malaucène ascent the toughest, might’ve been the wind direction that day though. The climb from Sault was very pleasant, especially as the final climb of the challenge!

      • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 2:51 pm

        Can you not send a link to the Strava profile?

      • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 2:59 pm

        I did Malaucene first, Bedoin and then Sault. The gradient on the Malaucene ascent seemed the worse so was glad to clear that, but the worst part for me was the forest from Bedoin. The humidity that the trees generate was just sapping. It didn’t help that there was a chap sucking my wheel through there too. His family had come to cheer him on. They’d pull over and start cheering him, he’d accelerate to try to catch me and then I’d drop him, after he’d passed them, the family would drive on – repeat. It was a little annoying because it was upsetting my rhythm. I think after the second or third time he went, but i just wanted to focus on grinding this thing out, knowing that I still had Sault to go.
        After Reynard the wind was somewhat cooling and I felt that went quicker.

  • Colin N Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:46 am

    After stage 10:

    Total
    56   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    45 Alpecin–Fenix
    31  Team Bahrain Victorious
    21   Team Jumbo–Visma
    21  UAE Team Emirates
    17 Arkéa–Samsic
    12   Team BikeExchange
    10  AG2R Citroën Team
    9   Bora–Hansgrohe
    9   Groupama–FDJ
    7  Trek–Segafredo
    6  Astana–Premier Tech
    4   EF Education–Nippo
    4   Israel Start-Up Nation
    3   Cofidis
    3 B&B Hotels p/b KTM
    2   Team DSM

    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.

    • plurien Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:56 am

      Got to say this team rankings looks suspiciously correct. Movistar are not even on your list and DSM are shockingly poor too. The teams that have been working as a team are at the top too.
      As UAE’s position shows, though there’s always going to be an issue with any such ranking to do with deployment of resources to protect the lead: Riders get used up so any team working properly for GC will not get any credit here. Sprint trains on the other hand will score highly on successful days.
      Road racing and GC – The team sport where you can’t win by playing the numbers

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:52 am

    Cavendish was suggesting post race interview that Bike Exchange would try and put Matthews in green by getting Cavendish outside the time cut, which if there’s any substance to it would mean Chaves is going to need to be active in the very near future.

    • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:49 am

      Cavendish always talks as if this is an underhand tactic to send him out of the race. But it’s been the same since forever. Of course, that is his perspective, but all the other teams and riders are probably thinking “I’ve not trained to go over mountain passes and drop watts in doing so for nothing”.

      • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:19 am

        Well, we will see if Chavis or Simon work in the group for free.

      • Andrew C Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:59 pm

        I don’t think he considers it underhand, just rather negative. He said in more or less so many words that the other teams should put their efforts into winning stages rather than busting a gut at intermediate sprints and trying to bring the time cut into play. It’s very clear he isn’t targeting the green jersey but could claim it, as he did previously, by picking up the multiple stage wins he wants.

        • KevinK Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:45 pm

          Glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read this, or I’d have spit it all over my laptop! Did Cav really scoff at teams busting a gut at intermediate sprints?!? That’s exactly what he and Morkov have been doing, with Morkov pushing to steal sprint points after leading Cavendish out, and practically mashing Sagan into the barriers on one stage to deny Sagan a couple of points. And today Alaphillipe appeared to time his breakaway effort specifically to make sure Colbrelli and Matthews didn’t get the full 20 points when they got to the intermediate sprint.

          It’s a sign of his ego that he would think a team going for a mountain stage win are actually trying to torpedo him from making the time cut.

  • Josh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:19 am

    I can’t wait for this epic stage. Excuse my naivety, but why would Ben O’Connor not get a ring on a stage like this? Did he go too deep for his previous stage win?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:22 am

      The chainrings are for winning, not placing and I can’t see him going in the break, nor attacking the yellow jersey group. He’s strong and we’ll see if he can defend the podium position he’s got.

      • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:53 am

        Plus, since he is Pog’s nearest competitor I don’t think he will be let off the leash like he was the other day.

  • Graham Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:22 am

    Might Thursday and Fridays weather forecasts decide Ineos tactics today?

  • Timothy Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:42 am

    The language explanation sounds suspicious to me. Are you claiming that ‘reine’ is a regal adjective in the female form? So, if you had a Queen bike (to ride the Queen stage), would that be a velo rein (in the masculine form, without the ‘e’)? Reine looks to me like a noun and so you just have two nouns (one of them adjectival), as you do in the English version. What would stop you having the etape roi (the King Stage)? In any case, it is the grammatical form of the adjective which changes to agree in gender and number, not the gender of that to which the word refers (in this case, queen or king).
    A little bit of research suggests an entirely different explanation. ‘La petite reine’ means bicycle and was used by French journalists (a while back, admittedly) so that they could avoid repeating the word bike (see, for example https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/la-petite-reine.192176/). And so the hardest stage, the etape reine, might be that which belongs to the bikes rather than to the riders….

    • Lukyluk Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:13 am

      Sorry to Reine on that parade, but Inrng is 100% correct, the word ‘reine’ refers to the stage but is not grammatically an adjective, it is a genitive construction. A better translation for “étape-reine” would be “the Queen of stages”, as in the one stage to rule them all (and in the darkness climb them)

      Even gender equality is respected when we factor in the obligatory “sprint royal” (masculine) which occurs on quite a few stages.

      The brutality of those stages is heightened by the French tendency to lop the head off of queens, stages ot otherwise, a time-honoured tradition now seen as a relic of a bygone age with fewer true practitioners, hence the decreased number of French winners of the Queen stages in recent years.

      Huge thanks to this blog for reminding us once more that the grammar of cycling’s Zohar truly is the Alpha and the Omega.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:18 pm

      A “velo rein” would be… a kidney bicycle. Be careful with a “little bit of research” on the internet, it’s fun trying to second-guess etymology but people get into all sorts of woes when it comes to virology, finance, politics etc.

      French has lots of words for bicycle: vélo, bicyclette, bécane, biclou, cycle etc. La petite reine apparently comes from a 19th century Dutch Queen who rode a bike. I think in English the term “bicycling monarch” is still used today to describe a head of state who can travel as they please by bike rather than having to go in a gilded carriage or armour-plated limousine.

      • Mamicus Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 1:07 pm

        Love all this discussion of language and grammar. Only on INRNG. Also, a double thumbs up to
        “Be careful with a “little bit of research” on the internet, it’s fun trying to second-guess etymology but people get into all sorts of woes when it comes to virology, finance, politics etc.” It just occurred to me that there once was an actual etape rein, when Eddy Merckx was slugged in the kidney by a French fan on the Puy-de-Dôme climb in the 1975 Tour. He lost the yellow jersey to Bernard Thévenet the following day and never got it back.

      • Spoke n Word Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 3:12 pm

        A kidney-shaped bicycle would be pretty cool!
        The Dutch word for bike, feits, is rather punnable, too, ‘the agony of de-feits’ is a fave

      • David Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:14 am

        I’d say in English, “bicycling monarch” usually carries more derogatory connotations than that. As in, “that’s not a real monarchy – that’s some weird pinko liberal European idea of what a monarchy should be. A *real* monarchy is dripping with gold and pomp and circumstance.”

        Obviously that doesn’t hold for those of us who are weird pinko liberals and in the Evil Cycling Lobby(tm) though.

  • Richard Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:22 am

    In a non Covid world this would have been the Bastille Day stage wouldn’t it? The Euro football and the Olympics would have been last summer and the race would have started from Copenhagen the weekend just gone, so everything would have been a week later and this would have fallen next Wednesday.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:19 pm

      Yes. And imagine how different it could have been, an opening time trial, different opening stages until Le Creusot, different weather etc etc

  • Kjetil Haaland Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 10:54 am

    I feel like Vincent Vega.
    My youngest son is old enough for that film now. Thanks for reminding me.

  • The Domestique Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:07 am

    What about Ion Izagirre – no rings for him? He’s been climbing well and is a good descender, which seems like will count for something on today’s stage.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:19 pm

      Why not, I had a long list and he was on it but had to cut off some names.

  • Canocola Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:26 am

    The story about Pierre Rolland’s rest day interview is pretty funny. In distillation, he said that the reason he’d been quiet so far this tour is because he was targeting Mont Ventoux.

    “But Pierre, are you confident about staying away on the 22km descent at the end?”

    Pierre Rolland is no longer targeting today’s stage.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 12:15 pm

      He’d be unlikely to win if it was a summit finish as well. He’s not got the legs of old but in a long, grinding day of stage he’s got a chance.

  • RJMD Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:39 am

    Brailsford loves the “iconic” climbs – expect full Ineos train and as 2 flat stages to come. Lutsenko as outside bet.

    • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 2:36 pm

      Yeah, they are pulling at the front for no good reason.

      I suspect they may offer a truce to Pog later on. So when Carapaz do attack and get caught by Pog, he will work with Pog in exchange for Pog not trying to drop him?

      Pretty lame plan but might be the best they can do for the time being. Will be interesting to see whether O’Corner can defend his position.

      • CA Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 4:17 pm

        Totally agree… Absolutely moronic strategy by Ineos.

        Pogacar won’t care about Carapaz, beside Movistar is Carapaz’s biggest problem, not UAE. Note, Movistar is also getting a free ride right now while Ineos is burning every match they have.

    • RQS Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 2:49 pm

      Who is going to do that from INEOS? Carapaz looks like he needs all the support he can get. If they sent Thomas, Castravejo or TGH up none of them seem to have the form for it. And, if they did, they’d be pilloxed at the end of it and might struggle a few days down the line.
      No. Unless Carapaz’s podium tilt falls apart INEOS will be gunning for GC.

      • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 3:37 pm

        If Ineos is on it, they will try to do it with their GC leader. So Carapaz. Just not in their DNA to have a guy stage hunting whilst the GC leader is behind.

  • CA Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 4:09 pm

    Is Ineos bored or something? Why are they doing UAE’s job. If UAE doesn’t have the domestiques for this then yellow jersey needs to pull NOT the third place team.

    Blows my mind they are on the front

    • CA Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 4:14 pm

      UAE has seven riders with Pogacar, yet Ineos is on the front… Anyone, please explain the Ineos team car and radio conversation. I really want to know the rationale.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:18 pm

        Thanks, I thought I had missed something as I dozed off post-lunch with INEOS pulling the peloton for some reason about 5 minutes behind the leaders. Two hours later (nah, I wasn’t out for that long) – INEOS is still pulling the yellow jersey along….about 5 minutes behind the leaders.
        If I didn’t know better it seemed they somehow screwed up and thought the guy in yellow they were towing behind them had INEOS stuck on the front of his jersey instead of UAE!
        But the result is now Carapaz 4th at 5:33 vs yesterday’s 5th at 5:33 so all that work netted a jump over O’Connor in GC. Chapeau!
        PS- has Sonny Colbrelli (this year’s Gianni Moscon) been blamed yet for Tony Martin’s crash?

        • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:28 pm

          Looks like Luke decided to go OTL since his sparring partner Tony crashed out.

        • CA Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:30 pm

          No reason for Ineos to celebrate Carapaz moving from 5th to 4th… At their salary level any place lower than first is a failure. Plus, they gained zero time on GC, maybe because they towed the peloton for three hours instead of the Yellow jersey team doing it.

          Pogacar was at his limit today, which proves my point. If he had been forced to chase after his team blows up there was opportunity to make up time on him. UAE lost men even though they never hit the front.

          What is Ineos doing?? Awful tactics.

          • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:39 pm

            Looks like UAE got burnt worse following Ineos than leading 10-15 minutes behind the break.

            I wonder if Ineos was bluffing today. Carapaz wasn’t feeling great and they managed to not losing time whilst dispatching O’Connor and the like of Mass, Kilderman.

          • Larry T Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:08 pm

            What? You didn’t read the sarcasm in my “chapeau”?
            Had to wonder where that new style of racing Sir Dave promised had gone while watching the INEOS “mountain train” go up the Ventoux,
            OTOH I do have to admit that “royals” were indeed working hard for the “kitchen help” today.
            I don’t fault WvA for not waiting for the cadaverous Dane, he’s not even close to the skilled descender WvA is, so why risk losing the stage for what at best would have been a pretty small time gain if he’d waited?

          • CA Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:18 pm

            Sorry Larry, I was continuing the sarcasm… I totally agree with everything you said.

            Luke Rowe went OTL in protest!

  • DJW Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:26 pm

    Will Vingegaard be regretting his failure to attack earlier, though his ability to drop Pogacar will give him ideas, and make Pogacar start to doubt. Pogacar was helped by Uran and Carpaz on the descent without which Vingegaard would have maintained a gap. The fun’s not over yet.

    • Tedba Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:24 pm

      I don’t think it would have made a difference… Given that I think he lost time in the descent anyway… But anyone else surprised that WVA didn’t get a call to hang back and drag vingegaard down the hill?

      I mean you don’t sacrifice a stage like today i guess… But I wonder, especially if it were roglic having got a gap over the top

      • hoh Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:32 pm

        That would put too much pressure on Vingegaard‘a shoulder.

  • cp Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6:47 pm

    So if van Aert hadn’t had his appendix out, he could realistically have had a shot at winning a TT stage, a sprint stage, and a mountain stage in the Tour so far. Or he still could. I’m guessing that combo is rare.

    I bet JV is wondering if they should have backed ol’ Vingegaard sooner.

    And I loved the excitement from the commentators about Pogacar “cracking”. He still beat his biggest rivals over the top…I realize he couldn’t keep with Vingegaard, but you wonder if he didn’t think, or was told by his car, that he should simply slow down and wait for Carapaz and Uran and just catch Vingegaard on the way down.

    So how to his rivals exploit his “weakness” without killing themselves?

    • dft Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 7:43 pm

      But he would have been dragging extra weight around. (Have marginal gains taken a dark turn??)

      • cp Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 8:27 pm

        Very good point, which I hadn’t considered. I’m willing to bet the extra grams would have helped on the descent. But what do I know? I still have my appendix and it’s been slowing me down for decades.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:25 pm

    And WvA ends up winning on Ventoux!

    One of the many reasons I read mr inrng is to see how accurately he calls the stages. Most years, he’s uncannily accurate in the Tour. This year, much less less so. Expected patterns are clearly being disrupted. It’s been a very unpredictable and therefore interesting Tour!

  • Cycling Nut Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 9:33 pm

    Ineos is trying to get Carapaz on the podium is the only reason for pulling. Theyll do it again on a mountain stage or 2 to try and burn off Uran and Vinegaard. They should have brought Bernal and left Porte at the Giro. Lucky for Ineos Roglic dropped out because Roglic and Vinegaard would have kept Carapaz off the podium. Thomas is too old, now a super domestique.

    • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:27 am

      And another “keyboard DS” steps up. Interesting that so far most of ’em seem to be wannabee INEOS directors. Knaven and Rausch better watch their backs 🙂

  • Rob S Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 11:07 pm

    Vincent Vega… LMAO. Royale with cheese..