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Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

A likely sprint stage but a tough course with plenty of small climbs including one 16km from the finish. Watch out for the gusting wind.

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Stage 11 Review: once upon a time a dog called Hachikō would walk every evening to a Tokyo railway station to greet his master as he emerged on his way home from work. Only one day his master didn’t come back, he’d died at work. But this didn’t stop Hachikō who would still walk to the station again and again out of loyalty, expectation and habit. Yesterday Ineos were aligned in front of the peloton in a mountain stage. They did what they’ve always done, only this time there was no yellow jersey to protect, nor were they going to launch Richard Carapaz. Ineos’ pace did soften up the yellow jersey group but it was a Goldilocks job for Jumbo-Visma, neither too fast to bring back Wout van Aert, nor too slow so that it was open season for attacks.

Wout van Aert won the stage, he’d bridged across in a group to an early attack launched by Julian Alaphilippe and was an ominous presence in group, like a prison guard watching over inmates exercising in the yard. If they wanted to break free they’d have to do something about him, if they wanted to win the stage they could not take him to the line. But van Aert turned the tables, profiting from Trek-Segafredo’s work and Alaphilippe’s showmanship, chasing down Kenny Elissonde to go solo over Mont Ventoux and salvage a win for Jumbo-Visma.

Behind Jonas Vingegaard launched an attack and this shook off Alexey Lutsenko and Wilco Kelderman, then Rigo Uran and Richard Carapaz. Pogačar was in trouble, his head tilted, a grimace on his face, then he cracked. Cracked but not shattered, this was strong by Vingegaard but he’d get caught on the descent. The yellow jersey isn’t invincible any more but if this was an off-day no time was lost and his nearest rival, on paper, Ben O’Connor, was distanced.

The Route: 159km and a lumpy stage with 2,000m of vertical gain, this is a possible sprint stage but it’s hard going throughout. The first climb is unmarked as the race rides up the Ardèche gorge on a sluggish, hard road. Then it’s onto roads used by the Etoile de Bessèges and also the Tour.

The late intermediate sprint in Uzès is followed by some plains a bridge over the Gardon river. From here there’s another unmarked climb with 16km to go. It’s 3% for almost 3km and twists up the hillside. The sprinters won’t be dropped here but the likes of Mark Cavendish and Nacer Bouhanni can be put in the red if rival teams want to try. But it’s not severe, in 2019 the same finish didn’t trouble the sprinters much.

The Finish: a ride through the city on big roads to finish on the periphery and it’s flat.

The Contenders: a likely sprint stage but not an easy day to control the peloton. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was supposed to be today’s pick. A close second in Valence, he’d be fresh for today and suited to the hillier stage. Only he’s bound to feel yesterday’s stage in his legs. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) can climb well on good days but he had a rough day yesterday so he’s a harder pick too.

Which brings us to Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain) and Michael Matthews (Bike Exchange), all picks for today but they’ve been beaten in dragstrip finishes, they need to deploy their teams to make the race tougher today to boost their chances. Even then the flat finish makes Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) an obvious pick too.

Wout van Aert, Mark Cavendish
Philipsen, Bol, Bouhanni, Colbrelli, Matthews

Weather (updated): last night’s forecast has got upgraded or downgraded depending on your point of view. It’ll still be a pleasant 28°C but now there’s an increased chance of bother from the wind as there could be some stronger gusts, it’ll blow from the north at 15km/h but could reach 40km/h at times before and after the intermediate sprint in Uzes.

TV: the stage starts at 13.40pm and finish is forecast for 5.20pm CEST.

Off on a tangent: rider transfers can’t be announced yet, officially they can’t be signed until 1 August but the story during the Giro that Peter Sagan is going to Total Energies is now being reported as fact, as long as the contractual ink dries. It’s worrying for the team, they’re having import ageing talent at a premium, quadrupling down on the signings of Niki Terpstra and Edvald Boasson Hagen. For years it was an exporter, picking the best riders from its Vendée-U feeder team such as Bryan Coquard while open to foreign talent, this was the team that backed Yukiya Arashiro, Dan “from Nam” Craven and Natnael Berhane. Even if Sagan can find a new lease of life it’s signalling the conveyor belt of home-grown talent has halted, as has the globe-trotting recruitment.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:56 am

    Interesting news on Sagan.
    Does this mean that Total Energies will be on Specialized next season?
    I can’t imagine Sagan on any other brand tbh.
    I also wonder whether the Green Jersey competition will revert to a less sprinter-friendly format points-wise too?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:17 am

      Yes to Specialized apparently. Presumably the company is funding a large part of this.

      They changed the points system in 2015 to be less sprinter friendly, I think next year’s course is more likely to make the difference.

      • Netserk Friday, 9 July 2021, 11:10 pm

        The change in 2015 made it more sprinter friendly. I take it this was merely a mistype.

  • Foley Thursday, 8 July 2021, 7:09 am

    Yeah, re Ineos, “because that’s what they do” seems like the best explanation. See if maybe lightning strikes for Carapaz. It didn’t, but when he and Uran are chasing down yellow jersey things seem like they might be opening up a bit. And with Rigo looking so good maybe the “deux vitesses” angle has been a little overstated this year.

    • Ecky Thump Thursday, 8 July 2021, 7:39 am

      Has there been an explanation from Ineos yet?
      They’ve gone and lost Luke Rowe for today’s stage too, it seems very odd.
      Their efforts probably played a part in Pogacar’s eventual fatigue but was there any other goal as such nearer to home?
      This is shaping up to be about the most disappointing Tour so far for the British team since their inception I’d say?

      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:20 am

        I heard Lionel Birnie on The Cycling Podcast who’d spoken to Dave Brailsford (yes he’s on the race but like the Giro it seems he’s not talking in public) who said they wanted to soften up the race and see what happens.

        But it was a lot like “we’ve always done this, let’s do it again” rather than the inventive, dynamic tactics sold pre-Tour, but harder to to implement with the way the squad is riding at the moment.

        • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:40 am

          Kind of read it as a defensive move. Make sure Carapaz don’t loose time when he’s not feeling well. Fairly lame.

          This would turn into a master stroke if lightning did strike for Carapaz in the Pyrenees. And DB would swing out to the media talking about how the master plan adapted to the situation and form of their leader.

        • Tovarishch Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:31 am

          I don’t see what else Ineos could do. They can only win if Pogacar cracks, so they have to try to make that happen and if not that they have to shake off the contenders to finish second. They don’t have anyone to send up the road as Thomas is still not 100% and both Porte and TGH seem way off the pace. They’re left, basically, with a 3 man train and Carapaz.

          • kingmod Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:29 am

            Agree that Porte and TGH are below par, so why not give them an easier day and put them on the offensive in the Pyrenees. Kwiatkowski could have tried to get in the break today and put some pressure on Team Emirates.

          • AndyW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:48 am

            Tovarishch, as much as it pains me to see such unimaginative racing, I tend to agree – there’s probably a reason why it was such a successful strategy over the years. I was assuming that it was to soften the legs of rivals and deplete rival support to then provide a platform for a Carapaz attack, which could have worked if he had Vingegaard legs. As it was, it moved Carapaz up GC on a day when he apparently wasn’t feeling great. Wonder if Ineos would be “happy” with a steady 2nd place on GC for Carapaz? I guess an alternative take is that Uran is currently achieving this without the need for a mountain train. At least yesterday indicated that Pogacar is human and may not thrive (relatively speaking) on long, hot, mountainous days.

            Ineos’ form does beg the question of what went wrong – Thomas has an excuse, but Porte ‘s pre-tour form was superb, while TGH seemed to be slowly building through the year to be a decent reserve leader (or contender for stages like yesterday) – outside of Pogacar, he should be the equal of the rest of the top 10 (especially as he’s been taking it easy) yet Kwiatkowski was the last man left in the train. For a team that prides itself on preparation, this is the second Tour in a row that they’re in danger of bungling.

          • KevinR Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:15 pm

            AndyW. Looks like they’re just trying to grind Carapaz up to 2nd spot in the hope that Pogacar falls apart – either in the heat in the Pyrenees or through the pressure/fatigue of all the leader’s duties or has problems through something else – sickness, mechanical. As for TGH, there’s got to be something wrong. He’s hardly featured for Ineos.

          • Digahole Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:43 pm

            @Tovarishch: What else could they have done? What about nothing? They could have let the other teams ride, sat in and saved energy, not have their road captain OTC’d and then hit UAE and Jumbo another day.

            Going into this Tour I was very interested in what Ineos’ tactical game would be. It was pretty clear that the train strategy wasn’t going to work against Pog and Rog who are basically both better versions of Geraint Thomas… equal in the TT, I would say slightly better climbers and better punchers for time bonuses… so they had to come up with something new and I was curious to see whether their seemly one dimensional strategy of past Tours was due to a lack of necessity or a lack of creativity.

            Yesterday, we got the answer, at least for now. They were Movistar-esque: Ride hard, never attack and drop your own man… in this case Luke Rowe who will be sorely missed.

          • Davesta Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:11 pm

            To be fair, I’m not sure they could have done much to save Luke Rowe from being OTC’d…the time limit was based on WvA’s finishing time, and I don’t think Ineos’ forcing did much to speed up the breakaway or the winner. And it sounds like Rowe was struggling from the start when the breakaway was forming…perhaps they could have sent riders back to help pace him, but that would’ve left Carapaz with little support…

        • Cilmeri Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:31 am

          If I was defending Ineos, I’d argue that they’ve said they wanted to “take the stage on and make it tough”, but this is the first time they’ve been in this position on the Tour in any year (they’ve completely lost leaders before, but first time with a guy still there but 5mins behind) – so it takes a few trial and errors to work out the best plan.
          Carapaz is in a better position for the podium now than he was yesterday morning – but is that what they want? It’ll be interesting to see whether they repeat the tactics or not.

      • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:40 am

        Ecky – for what it’s worth: https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/pogacar-still-the-strongest-in-the-tour-de-france-says-ineos-director/
        Sir Dave promised a new style of racing, no? Is this it? 🙂
        On the Sagan rumor mill, it seems the Big-S is stepping up to take on the likes of Canyon? They’ve got the German market covered with Bora and the low countries with DQS so they’ll battle in France now. Wonder if they’ll also push Willier out of Astana if Nibali goes there as some say he will, making a push for Italian sales? Probably impossible to know the real numbers but my guess is “Kim Il Sinyard” sees Canyon as a serious threat to his hermit-kingdom in Morgan Hill. If Sagan wants to race, it seems Total (or whatever they call it) will be a shoe-in for invites to the biggest races despite not being part of “Heinie’s Folly”.

    • J Evans Thursday, 8 July 2021, 2:59 pm

      Pretty much the only tactic for all other GC contender teams must be ‘Let’s get our guy into second place and hope something catastrophic happens to Pogacar’.
      That something catastrophic is far more likely to be on a windy, flat stage than up a mountain. We’ve seen that Carapaz isn’t the equal of Pogacar going uphill so why push the race and needlessly knacker your riders? It was like the poor Sky tactics of old: ‘we do the train no matter where our guy is on GC or how the team’s riders feel’. They’d have done far better to leave someone to help Rowe and maybe get him through the day as he might have been useful if there are winds to exploit on a flat stage.

  • Tomski Thursday, 8 July 2021, 7:33 am

    Wasn’t sure if ineos’ tactics either yesterday, but as Wiggo highlighted was great to see G back in super domestique role towing the train up Ventoux pt1 a week after dislocating his shoulder.

    Superb win for WVA yesterday and great write up as always Inrng

  • DJW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 7:43 am

    Quite a gamble for Total on an ageing and expensive Sagan. French teams don’t have good recent record at buying success with stars approaching career end. Whether Quintana at Arkea, Van Avermaet at AG2R, Viviani at Cofidis, or Terpstra and Boassen Hagen at Total, the results must have disappointed. It all feels, in Johnson’s elegant phrase, a little like “spaffing money up the wall”. Maybe the root problem is the current weakness of French cycling at grass roots level where the majority of cyclists I see riding here (Lorraine) are around my age (old!). Who should the teams invest in?

    For today, Philipsen, who looked more sprightly than Cavendish, Van Aert and Bouhanni in the stage 10 sprint and who has the build to have coped with stage 11 better than Cavendish and Bouhanni.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:24 am

      It’s true you ride and see lots of old guys about, the same in Italy etc. The French grass roots has its problems but still a very good system, there are lots of good U23 teams and Ag2r and Groupama-FDJ have excellent ones which attract plenty of non-French riders even. But Total’s Vendée-U team has dried up, it used to be one of the best but Lilian Calmejane was probably the last great rider to emerge.

      • Duncan Lally Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:30 am

        Although Aurélien PP and Victor Lafay, both from Annemasse I think, seem to be doing well.

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:38 am

          Both from Ag2r’s feeder team although seems Lafay had injuries etc and left for another team. Aurélien PP’s brother will join him from the feeder team too. For all Ag2r’s big spending, also on ageing riders, the development team path is a good one, it can bring on riders but also increases the chances of finding a future star. But it’s expensive, BMC were a good case study as they brought on Pavel Sivakov only to see Team Sky sign him to the pro ranks. Matteo Jorgenson impressed at Ag2r but they wanted him for another year in the U23s so he signed for Movistar, which made them give another of their U23 riders Clément Champoussin a contract quickly in case he went elsewhere too.

          • Lukyluk Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:52 am

            Quite right about talent in the Vendee-U club drying up, but I think the main cause is the spread across many other clubs in the region, either youth structures of pro teams (VC Loudeac in DN1) or very good amateur teams like UC Nantes-Atlantique. Also some of the talent has been siphoned by the bigger French clubs like Groupama and AG2R that recruit on a national scale now.

            I find it quite healthy that you can now find good junior/U23 teams a bit spread out, many youngsters don’t want to make the huge leap to move across the country (or overseas) and drop their studies of choice for the dubious prospect of becoming an underpaid athlete. Support from the family and local habits/schedule arrangements can go a long way in smoothing that transition.

        • DJW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:52 am

          Both the riders you identify have been good recruits and form part of a solid team base, though they hardly look likely to win major races – I hope to be wrong – and are already approaching mid-career, while much younger riders are now dominating stage races.

          Part of my concern at the recruitment of stars in French teams is the forced inclusion of an entourage. In Quintana’s case that not only included support riders but also his doctor and an assistant/soigneur.

      • RQS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:41 am

        I think there’s the fact that retired guys have more time to spare and probably are on the roads for longer, ergo you’re more likely to see them. Faster and time pressured riders are less visible for the obverse reasons, anecdotally speaking. Not denying, or corroborating a fall in the French junior set-up as I have no knowledge on that front.

        • DJW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:01 am

          You are right RQS. I am retired and ride during the day so am more likely to see other retired riders, but even at weekends and in local clubs the mix seems the same. Maybe French youth needs a French rider in a French team to win the Tour to stimulate a grass roots boom. I can’t see that rider on the horizon and, as the French press regularly points out, Hinault is distant history.

  • Octogenarian Thursday, 8 July 2021, 7:54 am

    A hell of a ride by Van Aert. To win the Ventoux stage having been half a length behind Cav on the previous day’s sprint was a true all-rounder’s feat.

    Maximum respect to him. Meanwhile Cav survived, and is surely destined for the green jersey barring accidents.

    In some ways it would be nice if he equalled, but did not beat the Mercx record. They represent two entirely different kinds of achievement, but are equally meritorious in their separate ways.

    • Shappo Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:38 am

      In total agreement with you re the voracity of the ride yesterday’s stage winner produced. The boy kicks ass. However, GOAT stage item, I don’t think either Cav or the DQ squad will feel that the Green jersey is safely theirs until after beating the time-cut for Sunday’s stage into Andorra. Not only are there 30 plus km of climbing in a 190 km stage – one that rises to over 2,400 mt. – but the stage starts on a climb; the worst possible parcour option for a pure sprinter such as Cav.

      • Shappo Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:00 am

        Just in case anyone assumes I’ve conflated the terms voracity/veracity allow me to retort that I really do mean voracity… When Alaphilippe started pedalling squares and Elissonde skipped his 50k body off up the road, the Pac-man that is WvA came alive and took off in chase that saw him veritably gobbling-up the road, the gradient, and any other rider that stood in his way of the stage crown. Superb.

        • Octogenarian Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:37 am

          “…gobbling-up the road…”

          Your phrase reminded me instantly of Michelin’s early slogan “Michelin boit l’obstacle”. This was eventually compressed into the Latin phrase “nunc est bibendum” (now is the time for drinking) further compressed to “bibendum” which for many years was synonymous with the Michelin brand.

          Thanks for the Proustian moment.

          • Bern Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:35 am

            …begs question: what tires does Wout ride?

          • Shappo Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:37 pm

            The JV website informs that the team uses Vittoria tyres. Of course for yesterday’s stage WvA’s mechanic probably built him up some special wheels and these, through choice, could have been shod with hand-made, non-proprietary tubs. Yesterday’s photos of the stage however clearly show that WvA was sill riding proprietary Vittorias. The team uses The Corsa graphene 2.0 range.

  • jc Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:25 am

    The downhill finish did not seem to achieve its objective, Jonas Vingegaard would have taken 40 seconds if the finish line had been at the top, all the descent did was compress the race though maybe helped most with the time cut.

    I wonder if we saw a couple of future yellow jersey contenders yesterday. I know there has been discussion about WvA previously but the conclusions have seemed to be that he could not climb well enough perhaps yesterday shows that not to be true.

    Perhaps its not that Tadej Pogacar is particularly brilliant more that he does not have any real competition at the race?

    Could not work out what the Ineos plan was yesterday, very odd. I did wonder about Luke Rowe, there have been a few similar occurrences over the past 9 months or so with the rider testing positive shortly afterwards, hope not in this case.

    Cav continues to be very impressive, he looked at ease in the clip of him riding past the Simpson memorial. Not sure about today, if a break goes who but DQS will chase?

    The wind is forecast to be gusting up to 40km/h though easing in the afternoon, no idea if this will be enough to cause splits but guess it will add to nerves.

    • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:51 am

      He’s rooming with Thomas. On the other hand, Thomas is likely to have been vaccinated given his position in the Olympic team.

      • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:17 am

        On the other hand, are they still testing? Didn’t get a press update about COVID during test day.

        • jc Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:43 am

          Yes they are still testing all clear currently. Back in the autumn at the Giro there were a few occasions where a rider put in a sub par performance only to test positive a couple of days later. I wonder about Egan Bernal too, his performances dropped off at the end of this years Giro and tested positive just after the race. Of course there are plenty of other explanations, it could be a simple as not feeding properly.

          • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:56 am

            Not sure if there is in race testing this year. According to this article, they will only be re-tested on 2nd rest day. And that is the result of re-entering France. Otherwise it is pre-race test and vaccine proof.

          • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:06 am
          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:20 am

            Yes they are testing, riders and team staff were tested after the TT stage (practically on the finish line), and on the rest day too. All negative so far.

          • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:55 am

            Oh mine, I won’t enjoy a swab after such a hard effort.

    • Frood Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:32 am

      Vinegaard looked very handy yesterday and that makes me think an in form Roglic would have been at least as competitive as Pogacar. His build up strategy this year might have left him in a stronger place in the third week than in previous GTs, but we won’t know until next year, I guess. All very speculative of course but perhaps Pogacar’s domination is down to a weak field. Even carapaz looks a little uninspiring.

      • T-72 Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:54 am

        Roglic´s weaknesses includes a fear of falling that he seems to be struggling much more with now in the past 2 years when he´s been at firling distance of the really big victories. He seems to do more odd things in the peloton and often he has played a part in causing his own failures.

        The long hiatus from racing (prioritizing a long training period) doesn´t make a cyclist more street-smart, and a previous Sky DS indicated that the lack of racing as preparation was partly to blame for all the accidents in Bretagne, possibly also Roglic´s although details of that incident wasn´t clearly shown on TV.

        • Anonymous Friday, 9 July 2021, 5:02 am

          I’m not one of this column’s more astute observers, but I have wondered if Roglic is a bit reckless (?) which causes him to crash more often. I also wonder if, by coming to cycling later than many of the other pro riders, he has the same poise and bike handling skills of other riders. It appears he has more than his share of bad luck and I wonder if it’s down to just bad luck.

          • Pete Friday, 9 July 2021, 6:24 am

            How was Rog on the ski hill? Was he a tumbler (‘ala the old WWoS’ “agony of defeat”) or was that rare for him on the skis?

  • Richard S Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:30 am

    I’m going to say Jumbo will ride a hard pace today, shed the sprinters and WVA will win the sprint in jelly legs against some also rans…

    • StevhanTI Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:44 am

      With only five riders left and a good GC position to defend that would be folly.

  • Stuie Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:37 am

    I think Ineos pre-tour statements depended largely on having more than one rider challenging for GC. Thomas is understandably suffering due to his crash, Porte has his usual tour form and TGH has been anonymous. Carapaz is a quality rider, but he’s been a massive disappointment in the mountains. Can’t imagine Brailsford is happy atm. 😂

    • JEB Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:36 am

      Harsh, but fair assesment.
      I honestly thought Porte’s talk of being a mere domestique was just to get the pressure off. Afraid it doesn’t look like he really went all in as a GC contender this year.
      Carapaz has put so much effort in every stage I can’t see him improving as the race goes on, more likely go the other way.
      Maybe a good tactic could have been Carapaz to go hard in the early week, and Thomas/Porte/TGH sit tight and go hard in the final week and hope Pogacar cracks a la Yates/Pinot.
      Shame they were working on the front, not just letting riders attack and forcing Pogacar to chase them down. Then shame they worked with him to chance down Vinyagaard rather than sitting on for a while and going over the top. Really are fighting for 2nd and 3rd. 🙁

      • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:59 am

        I thought they caught Pogacar over the top. Well, minor details.

    • dft Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:46 am

      The random odds of at least 1 of those 4 ‘leaders’ being on form is 15/16. So either they’re very unlucky or they’re messing up prep.
      Not sure Thomas’s problems are fully about the crash either… Porte looked at least as good as Thomas in the Dauphine.

    • Davesta Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:32 am

      Porte is a bit of an odd one in this TdF…he won the Dauphine just a few weeks ago, and was 2nd in Catalunya & Romandie. So clearly he’s been on great form all year…perhaps he couldn’t maintain that form, but based on those performances I would’ve expected him to be more useful in the mountains and replaying his ‘lieutenant to Froome’ role from ~6 years ago. Instead it’s Kwiatko again who’s last man in the mountains…

  • gringo Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:42 am

    Dropped in today to see what we all have to say about a big Belgian putting a van load of climbers to sleep on Géant de Provence….alas, he only ‘salvaged a win for Jumbo’ it would seem.
    Celebreating things worth celebrating is more than half the fun of all this actually.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:23 am

      Hmm, you wrote “only”. I’ve got him getting across the breakaway, the looming threat, turning the tables on Trek-Segafredo too. With Vinegaard as well Jumbo-Visma must have gone from despair to joy and hope now but they’re still struggling, Vinegaard will need protection today and tomorrow and they might need WvA as well as Mike Teunissen.

      • RQS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:09 pm

        Trek tried the old tactic of sand bagging the rider they deem the biggest threat by dropping the wheel in front and letting it slip back so Van Aert had to constantly bridge a gap. Didn’t do them any good. Was fun to watch though.

    • AndyW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:04 am

      Agreed, although slightly hypocritically given that I first commented above about Ineos’ form… Stunning performance – while he’s not going for GC (and may never do it), there’s something of a throwback to Merckx/Hinault in the way he can go for sprint, TT and mountain stages alike. The passion of both WVA and his fans at the finish was fun to see too.

      • J Evans Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:09 pm

        I really hope WVA doesn’t become yet another rider who gives up everything else to become a GC also-ran.
        Winning on one mountain is not winning over weeks of mountains, and I can’t see him ever rivalling someone like Pogacar.
        Alaphilippe seems to be resisting this clamour and remaining special (even if his tactics are baffling at times), and MvdP is saying ‘no’ to all that as well. I fervently hope WVA does the same.

        • AndyW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:59 pm

          I think that’s a fair assessment, although depending on how much he wins over the coming years, you could imagine him giving it a shot one year later in life if he achieves everything he wants in one-day races. Also, a bit more focus on climbing would put LBL, Lombardy or a tough Worlds within reach (perhaps they already are?), along with GC efforts – recent LBLs and past Nibali rides have shown that you can be a GC rider and retain some punch.

          I should have said that I don’t think he will be the next Merckx/Hinault, rather that it’s exciting to see a rider willing and able to be competitive across diverse stage types, which contrasts to some recent specialists (Thomas was a good classics rider but didn’t seem willing to mix it up once he switched to GC).

      • Bern Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:30 pm

        And that no-handed, out of the saddle finish – Woutstanding!

  • KevinK Thursday, 8 July 2021, 8:44 am

    I agree with jc that WvA’s performance should reignite the considerations of him pursuing GC in the Tour. He obviously has the potential to win a LOT of other prestige races, but living in the Netherlands for the last few years I’ve come to realize that among cycling fans here the Tour has a special hold, with Tom Dumoulin inspiring Dutch fans who weren’t that impressed with classics winners. Might WvA feel he’s proved enough in his battles with MvdP, and want to challenge the boy-wonder Evenepoel in future tours?

    The Sagan signing makes more sense to me than the signings of Terpstra and EVH, at least for the sponsors. A 2020 Sagan getting close but barely winning any races generates more publicity and attention than the entire Total Energies team does. This year he was winning again, despite being slowed by COVID, and if he hadn’t been taken down hard by Ewan he’d probably be making a lot more noise at this Tour. If he does well at the WC and/or PR later this year, the signing could turn out to be a brilliant move.

    • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:35 pm

      “I’ve come to realize that among cycling fans here the Tour has a special hold,”
      Isn’t that pretty much everywhere? No argument LeTour is the biggest show in town but these folks who want to turn every gawddamn cyclist into a Grand Tour rider annoy the hell out of me!
      GT’s are a special challenge, much different than the Monuments of Cycling but IMHO true cycling fans understand and appreciate winners like WvA just as they are, whether they ever stand on a GT final podium or not. I wonder 40 years from now when WvA is asked about his greatest career win if his response will be the same as yesterday?

      • KevinK Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:11 pm

        I guess maybe it is the same everywhere, but I’d assumed that in the Netherlands there’d be a ton of appreciation for classics riders, just as Spanish fans seem to hold the Vuelta in special esteem and the Italians the Giro and great Italian one-day races. I was just surprised when I arrived and asked a couple of avid road cyclists if they followed cycling races, and they told me they had only started to “now that we have a Tour contender in Tom Dumoulin.”

        I’d also assumed the same for Belgium, if not an even more avid appreciation of classics and cyclocross riders, but the insane response to Evenepoel makes me think they are no more “true cycling fans” than, say, Americans are.

        And, before anyone write the obvious, I know full well European fans have a much much wider and deeper appreciation for cycling history and races aside from the Tour, but speaking superficially the difference from fans in the US isn’t nearly as extreme as I had expected.

        • J Evans Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:12 pm

          I see Evenepoel as entirely unproven as a grand tour prospect. I’d like to see him focus on a variety of races first and see what he is best at.
          Throwing him into the Giro GC contest this year was ridiculous given his health prior to the race. I’d like to see how he does at one-day races and have him go stage-hunting at grand tours for now.

        • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 5:36 pm

          Italians rightly love “The World’s Toughest Race in the World’s Most Beautiful Place” but they know Tour de France is the biggest deal in cycling and go crazy when an Italian wins, especially when he’s a guy who has already won La Corsa Rosa.
          IMHO there are just as many Italians as Belgians, Dutch, etc. who (wrongly) try to pressure any cyclist showing promise into being a Grand Tour contender. Filippo Ganna’s probably the current victim of this idea 🙁

  • Daniel Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:27 am

    I think it’s not been said enough how weird and dissapointing is the performance of Tao (last year Giro winner) and Porte (great performance so far this season).

    • cp Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:57 pm

      What happened to TGH on the first stage? I know he lost time but at the time there was no clear explanation–crash, etc.

      And similarly for Porte–is there any explanation?

  • Colin N Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:34 am

    After stage 11

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

    Just over half the stages complete & Ineos finally scores a point, however still nothing for Movistar. Compare that to Non World Tour teams Alpecin–Fenix & Arkéa–Samsic.

    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.

    • Pete Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:42 am

      I’ve enjoyed this Colin, thank you. A point for Ineos! Maybe that was the point of their train yesterday as per the questions btl here – to finally be on Colin’s alternative scoresheet…

    • Davesta Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:40 am

      Likewise, I’m finding this very interesting…are Movistar targetting the Team Classification this year? It doesn’t feel like they are so far…

    • Cochisecito Thursday, 8 July 2021, 5:17 pm

      Interesting idea. My only concern would be that pressure to place at the top in every stage would surely increase accidents at the end of sprint stages, no? We had a lot of those last week, even without the added consideration of having to put your riders on the top 6

  • RQS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 9:50 am

    I actually felt that INEOS’s move made some sense. Shaking off Ben O’Connor and getting Carapaz up the GC is about all that they can do. So they’ll do it. Seems that getting him on the podium, and hoping something happens to Pog is their goal – you’ve got to live in hope. I mean they succeeded in gaining a GC place which means two to go.
    I think there is the other aspect that none of the INEOS train look capable of winning a mountain stage going solo, so putting them in the break at the expense of Carapaz’s modest ambitions is probably like throwing matches into the wind. Maybe things will change in the third week, but this might be the first tour in a long time where they come away with nothing.

    • George Vest Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:46 am

      I agree with this. I’m not sure why Ineos’ tactics have been criticised so much. Even with his wobble yesterday, Pogacar looks uncatchable, so why not work to get Carapaz into second. A podium at the Tour is always good, and if something unfortunate does happen to Pog – a crash, or illness – voila.

      • d. nixon Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:55 am

        Tactics always seem to be criticised if they don’t pay off on the day. If you did want to unseat Pogačar then making the race hard might be the way to go about this. It might not have had an impact yesterday but it might later in the race. Ineos’ broken plastic fork of a leadership plan might have more strength in depth than the UAE team such that if Ineos manage to shed them Pogačar will be left isolated.

        • RQS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:11 pm

          Plastic prongs. Titanium handle..?!

    • plurien Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:52 am

      Wake up and smell the sulphur. Ineos were on fire yesterday. They used up all the matches and burned the team down. Bryant & May are on the phone about sponsorship.
      With Luke Rowe cut off and out there are now so few options open to them that yesterday’s mountain train looks completely foolish, even without what all the other team principals were able to do.
      Ben OConnor may have cracked from second, allowing Ineos the modesty PR blanket of Carapaz moving up to 4th, but OConnor was last seen like a mountain Lazarus with Porte and Kwiatkowski, just catching them as they finished to let Carapaz, er, launch the final km to the summit. OConnor came in less than 4minutes down on Carapaz, who gained nothing on his other adversaries. He’ll be back, which for a nobody in the pre-tour predictions is a win.
      Ineos without Rowe still has some power for bordures and emergencies but Carapaz is going to need another team to pull when the attacking starts. And who’s going to attack?
      At least Carapaz will be free of GC worries to go stage-hunting, so that’s a good thing.

      Loved the shaggy dog story INRNG!

    • MS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 2:07 pm

      +1
      Based on the team’s history, riding hard yet conservative in their typical mountain train-fashion and then hope for the opportunity to attack Pogacar all in at the moment he starts to falter (be it this stage, the next, or the very last one in the mountains), is an expected and IMO sound tactic. If it doesn’t succeed it will probably be because Pogacar is too damn good and would’ve won pretty much no matter what. Never liked the team but criticizing Ineos for their proven GC tactics from a performance perspective seems groundless. From an entertainment perspective however..

  • Archie Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:24 am

    Just thinking that if anyone had said Cavendish was the obvious pick for the tour sprint stages in mid June you’d have been told to behave. Funny old world.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:44 am

      The chain of events is fascinating, the survivorship of how he’s kept it together when so many sprinters have fallen away, some literally so. He also keeps passing every test, got over the Alps in the cold, over Ventoux in the heat. The Pyrenees will be hard the forecast for the weekend looks very hot.

      • gringo Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:16 pm

        Cav and the gents from the Low Countries have made this edition of the Tour way more exciting than recent years’. I think its safe to say everyone loves to watch racers who ride hell bent for leather.

        Its strange to say so having followed his whole sparkling career, but Nibali it seems, is old hat anymore. Race to win at any cost seems to be something that most of Cavs generation have forgotten, if they ever knew it. I guess his forced almost-retirement gave him a different perspective to that of (most) of the rest of the Peloton.

        • MS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:02 pm

          Not disagreeing that Cavendish has added to the excitement of this Tour. Just wanted to ask if you really think that the recent editions have not been very exciting? My memory is that two years ago pretty much everyone were in awe of first Alaphilippe and then Pinot for the way they lightened up that Tour and certainly “made this way edition more exciting than recent years”, before a combination of mother nature and unsatisfactory rules resulted in one of the more exciting editions of this era ending up in something of an anti-climax. Then, last year, the other way around, a rather ordinary Tour dominated by the strongest team with the seemingly strongest rider (it was a bit refreshing however that that team was not British) was turned on its head in one of the most exciting final stages (not counting Paris) for many, many years. I would also suggest that there is some lack of short-term memory involved when people continue to insist that the Giro is ALWAYS exciting.

          • MS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:03 pm

            Sorry for not quoting you correctly. Should’ve been “made this edition way more exciting than recent years”.

  • RJMD Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:51 am

    The intermediate sprint today is only 26km. from the finish – and then route turns due south after the sprint to the finish. QStep might well have a busy day depending on the wind.

  • Louis le Blond Thursday, 8 July 2021, 10:58 am

    Just for the record – his name is Jonas Vingegaard Rasmussen….. His name will pop up a lot in the future, so let’s get the spelling right, okay 🙂

    • jc Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:20 pm

      A pronunciation guide would be helpful, though I guess Carlton Kirby is a lost cause 🙂

      • Bern Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:24 pm

        kårl tun ker bee, no?

      • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:25 pm

        HA! I wrote an Italian one a long time ago for TV’s “Shill Phiggett” I mess up his name since he doesn’t even try to pronounce any Italian names even half-right. Back-in-the-day my wife argued with clients who talked of CLOD-E-OH CHEE-A-POOCHY because “that’s what Phil says” while I asked if they’d enjoy a bottle of CHEE-ANTY with him? Later it was EYE-VAN GODDY which even made La Gazzetta dello Sport where the author wrote of Americans speaking about cats (gatti in Italian) Don’t waste your time 🙂

    • Rooto Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:05 pm

      Thanks. I wonder if he was advised to go with his first surname / mother’s name.

      • Anonymous Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:44 pm

        Just about every dane has a *sen surname, and 80% of us has the same 10 *sen surnames

        The middle name is no longer only a mothers maiden name. Must of us just strip the *sen surname either officially or unoficially, its just a lot easier when we are not all called the same.

        name means wing-farm

        In the 19th century selfowning farmers often took their last name from their family farm. In the early 20th century people also took a lastname after their village when they moved to the cities.

        Rasmussen means son of Rasmus, which is the old norse naming convention.
        ex Knud Rasmussen’s son Erik would be named ‘Erik Knudsen’. If Knud was married to Sofie their daughter Line would be named Line Sofiesdatter. This naming convention worked i rual villages, but not so well post urbanisation.
        In Iceland and Faroese the *sen/son (son) and *datter/dottir (daugther) are stil used…

        • Morten Reippuert Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:51 pm

          ups, forgot to enter my name in the above.

          addition: today women dont take the surname of their husbands when married… If married both parrents will often chose a common familiname once they have children, but the default in 2021 is both will keep their names and may strip their *sen surnames to simplify things. Children will be given both parrants midlenames…

          • Rooto Thursday, 8 July 2021, 6:44 pm

            Thanks Morten. I love learning stuff on this blog!

        • Andrew_S Friday, 9 July 2021, 2:18 am

          Would not Line be Line Knudsdatter?
          Iceland uses the fathers name regardless of gender – eg the current prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

  • Mikael Aagaard Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:46 am

    For all the talk about Ineos tactics and getting Carapaz into second place, people seems to forget that he lost over a minute to Jonas Vingegaard in the first TT. The next TT does not seem to benefit Carapaz in any respect compared to Vingegaard. In other words somewhere on the road to Paris Carapaz will need to put at least 1.30 between him and Vingegaard to get on the podium. Uran will probably face the same challenge. He lost 41 seconds to Vingegaard in the same TT.
    Obviously this is a big ask for Vingegaard as he never entered as GC competitor, and this only being his second grand tour, but as things stand for now, I believe Vingegaard is as much, if not more, a competitor for second than Carapaz and Uran.

    • plurien Thursday, 8 July 2021, 11:54 am

      +1

    • hoh Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:15 pm

      Did Vingegaard decide to attack himself yesterday? He’s more aggressive than JV let out. Don’t expect Uran to make a move but him and Carapaz are definitely going to try something.

      As much as Porte & TGH are underperforming, JV has even less fire power to support Vingegaard. Kuss is not on form, and there’s a limitation to what WVA can do when pace really pick up in the mountains.

      • Mikael Aagaard Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:19 pm

        All though it is true about the lack of firepower at JV, according to yesterday Vingegaard may be able to handle it on his own in the mountains. It didn’t seem like Ineos spared any matches in trying to advance Carapaz yesterday.
        The biggest threat for Vingegaard and the team is more likely to be on the stages where crosswinds are a threat. On the other hand, he comes from a part of Denmark, where the wind almost constantly blows from the west, so nothing new there for him. Still, hope that WVA and Teunissen will stay with him and keep him well positioned and shielded.

    • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:43 pm

      Yeah, sure. Past performance predicts….well, something. But that kind of logic indicated Roglic was a shoe-in to win LeTour last year..until he didn’t. Fignon had it won in 1989, until he didn’t. Jan Ullrich was a shoe-in for 1998 until he wasn’t.
      That’s why the prizes aren’t handed out until the end in Paris.
      Vive LeTour 🙂

      • Mikael Aagaard Thursday, 8 July 2021, 2:16 pm

        A bit harsh I must say. Overall one the of the things I like about this blogg, is the educated predictions (guesses if you like) that the contributors present. On the other hand, I dont think some of your examples holds much validity. Last year Rog lost on the only TT in that tour.
        My prediction about the time needed to dislodge Vingegaard is based on the fact that there is two comparable TTs in this Tour. So I dont see why this should be an invalid prediction based on the past.

        • MS Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:16 pm

          Certainly not an invalid prediction but neither are Larry’s examples. They all point to one important point that seems to be forgotten in the first two weeks of every Grand Tour – and then re-remembered in the third week – that the third week is something special. The accumulated fatigue introduces the riders to a challenge of resilience that cannot be tested and measured anywhere else – not in the laboratory, not in a one week stage race, and not in the toughest stages of the first two weeks of a GT. Let’s see if Vingegaard “has it”. I, for one, think that he does but wouldn’t be surprised if he cracks either.

          • Larry T Thursday, 8 July 2021, 3:42 pm

            That’s what I was trying to point out – sport is not a static test where X + X = Y every time.
            How one racer goes in a chrono at the start of a Grand Tour is no guarantee of how he’ll go in one at the end. I was there in 1989 and pretty much everyone (including yours truly) thought LeMond had zero chance to take enough time from Fignon to win. But we were all wrong.
            THAT is the essence of sport, otherwise for the chrono we could just prop ’em up in a wind-tunnel and measure their drag #’s, then factor in their power #’s and declare a winner. In the mountains we could just calculate the watts/kgs and be done with it.
            Thanks be to gawd sport doesn’t work that way, no matter what the equipment/nutrition/etc. marketing-mavens and pundits would like us to believe.
            LeTour 2021 is barely halfway to Paris…anything can happen. Vive LeTour!

          • Mikael Aagaard Friday, 9 July 2021, 8:17 am

            Well well. Point taken. Never the less I don’t mind being proved wrong by the forthcoming reality. Until then we will have to wait in expectation.

  • plurien Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:34 pm

    Vingegaard came so close to getting on the Trek train down to the finish. Would have been a different story then.
    Was amusing watching Elissonde trying not to make Mollema’s descending skills look even worse.
    OConnor first looked to be getting help from Porte but team orders..

  • DJW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 12:39 pm

    The start has been delayed due to strong winds! Sounds like we need to tune in from the start and expect surprises. Echelons…Rowe would have been useful.

    • DJW Thursday, 8 July 2021, 1:37 pm

      As today’s course direction is predominently North-Easterly and wind from the north that sounds more like cross/head wind than tail, though meanders and exposed roads will give scope for echelons. The much depleted teams (JV, FDJ, Lotto-Soudal…) could be at a severe disadvantage