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Tour de France Stage 19 Preview

A flat day should mean a sprint stage but with few sprinters left in the race and the remaining ones worried they’ll get smoked by Mark Cavendish today could see a breakaway stick.

Stage 18 Review: with the tufts of hair sticking out of his helmet, Tadej Pogačar looks like a boy on a ride to visit his grandmother. With the repeat attacks and stage wins in the yellow jersey he looks like a mini-Merckx or Hinault. Time will tell what rider he’ll become but given he’s still eligible to ride the U23 category in the Worlds this September, he’s got plenty of time and telling ahead. Still, his win for the second day was a close one rather than something you could wager on an hour before the event. Today’s stage starts in Mourenx (see below) and if Pogi is a cannibal it’s nouvelle cuisine, sniping Vingegaard and Carapaz in the final moments of the stage rather than roasting them over an open fire or boiling them alive in a cauldron. Beyond the trio, who are The Trio as in the podium, Rigoberto Uran cracked on the Tourmalet and lost 9 minutes, falling to tenth overall. David Gaudu put up the biggest fight but he was too strong on the Tourmalet, he dropped Julian Alaphilippe and only had Pierre Latour for company on the descent for the first two hairpins and went alone, he might have regretted this given the way Enric Mas was briefly troubling our Trio in the final kilometre.

The Route: 207km and away from the Pyrenees. There’s a hilly start but gentle rollers and with the Pyrenees in legs will almost feel flat. Then the course flattens out and passes the flat Landes pine forest on many long, flat and featureless roads before emerging later for the vineyards around the Garonne river and the crossing over to Libourne.

The Finish: a dragstrip of a finish, even the bridge over the Dordogne before the flamme rouge is flat.

The Contenders: who is Mark Cavendish‘s biggest rival today, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Cees Bol (DSM)… or all the teams who have no hope of a sprint win today and know today is their last chance of a stage win? Deceuninck-Quickstep and Alpecin-Fenix have to control and chase today and that’s a tall order but if only a small group of riders from wildcard teams manage to go clear then it’ll be a long day before the inevitable sprint. Cavendish is the obvious pick but as we saw in Carcassonne the sprints are getting more ragged and he’s not winning by bike lengths like old.

For a breakaway Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) is the archetypal rider, a finisseur who is powerful on the flat, he could go solo late into the stage or clean up from a small group. Think Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) and maybe Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) who can hitch a ride and sit on citing his sprinter. Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos), Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar), Magnus Cort (EF-Nippo) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroën) fit the bill as riders who could win from a move.

Mark Cavendish
Wout van Aert
Bol, Philipsen, Asgreen, Stuyven, Politt, Naesen, Kwiatkowski, Cort, IGC

Weather: sunshine and a top temperature of 26°C.

TV: the start is at 12.20pm and finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST. Tune in to see the early action and if things calm down once a break goes then come back for the finish.

Off on a tangent: the start in Mourenx rhymes with the 1969 Tour de France and Eddy Merckx’s stage win from Luchon to Mourenx. That morning he was leading the Tour by eight minutes and untroubled. But he attacked, went solo almost accidentally and followed through to double his lead overall. Some of this was down to a stand-off behind over who should chase but that’s petty details. He’d been winning plenty before but this was both a masterpiece and a signature raid, a demonstration of his cannibal appetite.

For non-cyclists Mourenx is probably more famous in France because of the Lacq gas field underneath and the new town built in 1949 for the swelling population. It’s hardly Texas but that’s the point, the town is an example of French planning rather than a wildcat growth. The gaz stopped in 2013 and the “new town” looks pretty old now but contributed to plenty, French corporate giants Sanofi and Total were built on the resources underground and of course Total now has its own team in the race.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:14 am

    Time to reform the KoM rules? The only exciting competition in this year’s Tour is now also locked down by Pogačar, I’m not sure that doubling points for the big HC finishes is actually a brilliant idea, rather than reward attacking riders it just confirms the GC leader is in fact the default best climber.

    • weeclarky Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:52 am

      Yes, it kind of ruined that competition

    • Beaujolais Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:53 am

      I tend to agree. Perhaps if the organisers were not so set on having summit finales doubled, and could be a bit more strategic about which climbs get double points – i.e. Tourmalet is doubled yesterday, not the finale – things would be more interesting (a big maybe).

      • RQS Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:45 am

        You can never tell how the race is going to be run. Some years there are lots of breakaways and so a rider, like Thomas De Gendt hovers up lots of points. In others, the GC battle takes things over, like this year, and the real KOM gets to wear the jersey.
        It’s just another competition to help drive the narratives of the race itself. Pogacar is rather ruining it for everyone with how easy he is finding it. Perhaps they could have a slightly lighter shade of yellow jersey or something this year for the “second place jersey” where the real competition is happening.

        • The Inner Ring Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:51 am

          It’s been a good competition, but perhaps an unsatisfying end because there’s no reward to those battling. Quintana, Woods, Poels have all made the mountains stages better going for the jersey. Pogačar wins it, and in part because Ineos rode so hard yesterday to ensure no breakaway could stay away.

          It’s a competition that’s always being reformed, where they keep changing the points system like generals trying to fight the previous war, this year’s double points for the HC summit finishes and Ventoux skewed it. It feels like a competition that gets rated by the satisfaction or worthiness of the eventual winner in Paris but I think it’s worth noting that it’s the contest along the way that is as important.

          • Matt Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:07 am

            Also hard to argue against the fact that the best climber in the race has won it.

          • Augie March Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:03 am

            No dispute that Pogačar was the best, I’m not like Phil Liggett droning on for year after year about how Quintana was “the greatest climber in the world” while Froome won four Tours to his zero, but it’s a disappointing end to what has been a great contest, I just think it would have been fitting if one of the guys who have really lit up the race got at least something for their efforts.

          • GeorgeY Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:36 am

            @Augie March

            Even if Quintana was “the greatest climber in the world” he can’t time trial to save his life (ie GC position) so a Tour win is impossible.

            I agree that it’s a nice thought to reward those who light up the race but if a rider is so dominant like Pogačar the point system would have to be skewed to deny him the KOM jersey.

        • David Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:08 am

          The real KOM doesn’t get to wear the jersey, because, as we all know, ‘he’d get too hot’.

          Ironically, it’s the very fact that there has been such a close battle that has allowed Pogačar to come in and snipe it at the end – if the rest of the points hadn’t been shared around by so many others, he wouldn’t have been within striking distance.

    • Frood Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:34 am

      Yeah, I mentioned this yesterday. It has totally skewed the competition. It now feels like quintana, poels, woods et al were merely competing to wear the maillot pois for a few days rather than win it outright.

      On the other hand, Pogacar is surely the best climber in the race so perhaps it is just after all.

    • Tom Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:45 am

      But if the best climber (Pogačar and it’s not even close) doesn’t win the King of the Mountains jersey, does that not make a mockery of the competition? It’s not every year that the yellow jersey also wins polka dots. I think it just shows 1) that Pog is on another level in winning these last two stages, and 2) the GC is geared towards climbers.
      At least the KoM competition (and green) has gone down to the wire. They have animated the race unlike other years.

      • Digahole Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:28 am

        Agreed. The ‘problem’ that there is a rider so dominant that he has a 5 min buffer and the luxury and of imposing his will on the race.

      • Martijn Friday, 16 July 2021, 12:55 pm

        So the actual ‘problem’ seems to be that there a no longer two 50km ITTs and a TTT in the Tour, because in the past that often made that there was a real difference between the best overall rider and the best climber. Since a Tour that is decided mostly in the mountains is much more interesting to watch than one that is decided by TTs, I can’t see Tour with over 100km of time trialling making a comeback.

        An idea would be to award more points at the smaller climbs, less at the big ones and rename it something like the ‘best puncheur’ jersey, which sort of what it had become.

        • Will Friday, 16 July 2021, 2:09 pm

          Also worth noting who’s won the last two TTs at le Tour …

    • Brent Sword Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:32 am

      It happens sometimes and thats okay. Those going for the jersey had to be stronger.

      Pogacar last year and this has benefited in this jersey by the willingness of other teams to bring the break away back.
      Particularly stage 17 when non of the jersey contenders went in the break and had the teams chance it down only to get clobbered in the final. If those teams had got in the break or not chased it down then pogacar may not have one the jersey.

    • oldDAVE Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:37 am

      despite being in favour of wholesale change to the calendar and reasonably being warned _be careful what you wish for_ by many – I don’t think we should throw our polka dot format after one bad year? It’s fine, there’s been good competitions many of the last few years, I think it says more about this being a weaker TdF that we’re having to focus on the polka dot competition for interest as it’s usually the most forgettable of the jersey’s (does INRNG even do a preview?).

      I feel like we’ve been spoiled by spectacular Giros/Vuelta’s in the last decade and a few good TdF’s so I’m not complaining at all that this year was a great edition, my only thought is that a _brilliant_ first week was actually just a week of crashes that ruined what came after. Anyway, just my POV.
      D

      • oldDAVE Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:38 am

        throw OUT
        WASN’T a great edition.
        Apologies.

    • plurien Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:47 am

      For goodness sake. First we get the pundits saying there ought to be more mountain top finishes in the Tour [Mont Ventoux, Colombier], and now, when there are the iconic stage finishes, you want them somehow not to count for those who are winning the most?!

      There are no gifts in our sport. You win: You get the prize.

      I think the balance in this year’s KoM competition has been absolutely correct. Up until the moment when stage finishes were GC battles, the competition brought a great three- way ding dong which was definitively put to the sword only when there were no points scoring opportunities left.

      It’s a sign of how good this year’s Tour has been that it’s now a disappointment that the GC top 3 seems finally to be settled.

      AND there’s been the green jersey jeopardy with time cuts and intermediates.

      Just need Larry T’s grey monseigneur competition jersey in play to further entertain. Can Ineos possibly pull a win from this Tour?

    • AndyW Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:40 am

      Perhaps reform the young rider classification too so that riders called Tadej can’t win? Unfortunately for Quintana et al, the race will be won by the best climber.

  • Tom Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:53 am

    I really don’t get why everyone is whinging about the polka dot jersey. It’s for the best climber in the race. Pogačar has demonstrated he’s the best climber in the race. If the others “in contention” wanted to win the jersey, they needed to beat him up the enormous climbs. If they were the best climber in the race, they would have.

    • Larry T Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:35 am

      Agreed! When they gave points for every overpass on the route guys who weren’t much-in-the-way of climbers would gather enough points to hang onto the polka-dots even after the big climbs. Lots of complaints, so they try this. Result, more complaints. Now that the mountains are all done and dusted, is anyone going to claim Mr. Pogacar was NOT the best climber in the race?
      All the whining from various sources (dull procession, the leader is doped, etc.) reminds me of what the guy I used to work for told me one day at LeTour as we escorted (with lots of help) a group of 150+ clients around France following Le Grand Boucle. He said he felt most of these “race fans” would prefer their Tour to be a massive circuit race around their 4-star hotel not too far from the Paris airport. That way they could stagger away from the breakfast or lunch buffet, go outside and see the race pass-by anytime they wanted, then go back inside the air conditioned hotel and watch it on TV.
      That sounded awful, but over the years I’ve come to think there was some truth to what he said.

    • Brent Sword Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:35 am

      Its a points jersey. Its not really for the best climber. It also rewards people who get in the breaks which is a big effort in itself for stage after stage rather than getting drafted for the entire stage except the last few km’s.
      That’s the entire point of it – to enliven the race. If the guys don’t go in enough breaks they don’t deserve to win it and Pogacar is the deserved winnner.

      • Vitus Saturday, 17 July 2021, 4:17 am

        That!
        +1

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:48 am

      It’s not for the best climber though, it’s for the rider who gets the most points on marked climbs and that’s a subtly different thing. It’s been a good contest this year to enliven the mountain stages but right at the end Pogačar’s taken it.

      • Wayne Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:49 am

        The big question is how would you change the competition? I agree that seeing the Kom jersey on someone’s shoulders just because he’s looking after it for the leader of the GC is a bit anticlimactic. But, at least this year there has been a fight for it. I’ve heard people mention timing climbs instead of first to the top a la Strava but not sure if that would work?

        • Brent Sword Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:59 am

          That would not work.
          Go slow until the climb and have your team drag you up.

          I like the current competition. The winner is either a GC contender or somebody how got into many breaks on hilly stages. Which is the entire point it enlivens the race and rewards getting into lots of breaks on these stages when a break away may win which is a super effort to back up many time.
          I think the jersey has gotten more focus in recent years with some quality riders targeting it.

          • Wayne Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:08 am

            Yeah I think you’re right. Maybe get rid of these double points on summit finishes? But as you said this year it has been a good scrap.

      • Anonymous Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:38 am

        The TdF website says the polka-dot jersey is for: le leader du classement du meilleur grimpeur . OTOH the green “sprinters” jersey is actually for: le coureur leader du classement par points.
        My French is awful, but I thought “meilleur grimpeur” translated into best climber?
        In 2021’s TdF how can anyone claim it’s not Pogacar? Meanwhile, we should all remember the other jerseys are to liven up the competition and provide something special to big sponsors while the big prize remains le maillot jaune. How they structure who gets those other jerseys (I kind of miss the combine which I guess WvA would be wearing?) is really up to the organizers and sponsors rather than anything regulated by the UCI, right?

        • Larry T Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:39 am

          Ooops – that was my comment above, sorry.

  • Bonzo Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:57 am

    As well as the polka dots the White Jersey is now problematic too. But given the generational change were witnessing in the last few editions perhaps it should be offered to the best oldest rider?

    • Tom James Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:13 am

      There is a generational shift, though how prolonged it will be is another question – is it a genuine change in the sport, or will things shift back? Pogacar’s total dominance reminds me of Laurent Fignon in 1984 – and how many Tours de France did he subsequently go on to win?

      One subtle change you could make to the white jersey, without significantly altering its intent, would be to make it for the best debutante (or maybe best in their first two Tours) rather than an age limit. It would still celebrate the future, but couldn’t be dominated for years by the same very talented young rider.

      • Vitus Saturday, 17 July 2021, 4:26 am

        If you make it only for debutantes, you may never get to see the “race within the race” for that jersey, cause it may only happen in lower ranks. Since the the absence of such “race within the race” is, as far as I understand it, the main point of criticism about this years competition.
        I’m all for not changing jersey rules every year, just because some viewers felt a personal lack of entertainment.

  • Björn Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:02 am

    IMO the polka dot jearsy is a silly consolation prize for would be-, or has been GC contenders. Get rid of it.

  • Digahole Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:24 am

    I suspect you’re not French 😉

  • Georges Guêpe Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:31 am

    As a soon to be OAP, I support Bonzo’s suggestion that there be a jersey for the best old dog in the race. Perhaps Schmackos would be interested in sponsoring it!

    • RQS Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:34 am

      Or Wether’s Originals…

    • Larry T Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:39 am

      Yep, a gray jersey for over-35’s. A golden opportunity for Geritol, Metamucil, etc. as sponsor:-)

    • Octogenarian Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:02 am

      Given that I’m seeing more and more old codgers like me riding these days, I think that an ‘old dog’ award would be great. It would hopefully incite more third agers to take up the sport, and encourage those who are still riding despite the inevitable decline in muscle mass.

      • hoh Friday, 16 July 2021, 12:14 pm

        Not sure cycling helps maintain muscle mass. It certainly does not help bone mass.

        On the other hand, it may get people who would not otherwise use gym in there. Now that a lot of people are advocating the benefit of gym work to cycling.

  • Digahole Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:35 am

    I think Majka deserves a mention for two strong rides these last two critical stages… he must be on his best form since he wore the polka dots how ever many years ago that was. I don’t think Pogacar actually needed him, but he’s match’s the strongest domestiques in the race on these stages

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:52 am

      He’s done well but only on the last two days, had been quieter until now but was strong yesterday to the point that when he was done it was everyone for themselves.

  • Sean Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:53 am

    Personally I suspect Merkov is the fastest person still in this tour. Reckon he’s worth a chain ring.

    • DJW Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:29 am

      Yes. That Cavendish is looking less sprightly than in early stages is hardly surprising nearly three weeks in, and given his late call up and lack of specific preparation. Morkov could win a sprint, maybe even Ballerini. Who will Lefevère choose?

    • Anonymous Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:47 am

      Cant even see Mørkøv (Moekoev on a non-nordic keyboard) trying, he is the pro’s pro and takes his leadout very serious. Besides he will have his personal success when he wins the Olympic Madison.

      • osbk67 Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:45 pm

        DQS spend hours, days, weeks and months at training camps every season refining their sprint lead out with various combinations all tested. It’s inconceivable to me, nonsense even, to think Morkov is the best sprinter on anything but a very occasional, irregular and unpredictable basis. If he was he be protected. Atmo.

  • Colin N Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:04 am

    After stage 18

    Total
    75   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    54   Team Jumbo–Visma
    49 Alpecin–Fenix
    44  UAE Team Emirates
    41  Team Bahrain Victorious
    36   Bora–Hansgrohe
    27  Trek–Segafredo
    18  Movistar Team
    18   Team BikeExchange
    18 Arkéa–Samsic
    15   Groupama–FDJ
    12  AG2R Citroën Team
    12  Astana–Premier Tech
    12   EF Education–Nippo
    9  Ineos Grenadiers
    9   Israel Start-Up Nation
    6   Cofidis
    5 B&B Hotels p/b KTM
    4   Lotto–Soudal
    2   Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
    2   Team DSM
    0  Team Qhubeka Assos
    0 Team TotalEnergies

    Over the last year 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.

    • JamesG Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:22 am

      Thanks Colin, it’s interesting how low INEOS are on your list compared to their official ranking of 2nd place. Due to multiple INEOS riders finishing just outside the top 6 on mountain stages, so not scoring any points in your system?

      Unsurprisingly DQS and ALPECIN-FENIX are doing much better than their official positions of 19th and 16th.

      • Colin N Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:56 am

        That is why I came up with the idea. Which is a better reflection of how a team has performed over the whole tour. Are INEOS the 2nd best team or is it JUMBO-VISTA so far in this tour? I just don’t think the present method reflects that.

    • Canocola Friday, 16 July 2021, 12:20 pm

      I’ve enjoyed following this.

      One tweak in future might be to award a single bonus point daily for teams holding one of the jerseys? Admittedly that’s almost entirely UAE, having the effect of bumping them right up the rankings, but that reflects how dominant Pogacar has been (and their work to make sure he’s right up there). It would certainly make an even clearer demonstration of who’s having a good tour and who isn’t, though it might need a little balancing.

      • Colin N Friday, 16 July 2021, 1:04 pm

        I will add that in after the final day. 1 point for each jersey each day. While UAE would get 11 points for the yellow jersey, Deceuninck–Quick-Step gets 18 points for Green as they are the only team to wear it. As you say its a work in progress.

  • Global Nomad Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:37 am

    All this talk of the polka dot jersey, best climber etc makes me wonder why its a points competition rather than a time competition….fastest rider up climbs would be a different thing than first ones over the top. timed between start and end of particular climbs….was Pogacar the fastest up the climb? I know it sounds a bit more strava but perhaps thats what the tech is allowing us but its not being utilised

    • Tovarishch Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:47 am

      He was on Luz Ardiden. Only a certain American has done a faster time.

    • Davesta Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:19 am

      But would the strava idea actually make things any more exciting? It would surely just turn the climbs into a series of time trials for a number of riders – it wouldn’t matter when they started it, so some riders would happily softpedal to the start and we probably wouldn’t even see the battle on the tv as it would happen at the back of the race. We also wouldn’t have anybody fighting to be in the breakaway or racing for the line at the top of mountains…seems like a way to make the competition a lot less meaningful and more boring…

      • global nomad Friday, 16 July 2021, 2:46 pm

        ok, point taken, but you could always get points for time and position….in any case you would still win the competition by being the quickest over a number of climbs not individual ones, so it is about consistency (the best climber)

  • Ecky Thump Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:42 am

    For all the criticism that Ineos have taken for their “odd” tactics at times in this race, was there any real alternative?
    Even if Roglic and Thomas hadn’t been injured, the GC would most likely have seen them in 2nd and 3rd respectively anyway, perhaps 2’ or more down?
    The interest would have been the concerted pressure that both teams together could have put on Pogacar – Thomas / Carapaz and Roglic / Vingegaard / Kuss.
    Whilst this would take one team risk giving the race to the other, it’s probably the only way to even have a chance of defeating Pogacar?
    But that’s for another year although, intriguingly, maybe the Vuelta later this?

    • Digahole Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:13 am

      The alternative would have been to do what they said they’d do: Attack the race. And when the GC win was no longer an option, go for stage wins.

      Ineos and Jumbo were in similar positions after the first week, in that their leading rider was a level below and minutes behind Pogacar. JV changed tact, left Vingegaard almost isolated and animated the race and were rewarded with stage wins, likely a 2nd place and generally positive exposure for the sponsors. Ineos stuck with the the ‘Sky train to nowhere’ (thanks Alexander Cole from the comments a few days ago) after it was proven multiple times to be ineffective. (What’s that apocryphal expression about the definition of stupidity?) It’s a bit like their public stance on doping back in the day – If you repeatedly discuss a new attacking brand of racing and then come out and ride exactly the same as before AND fail, then you’ve earned your criticism.

      • Anonymous Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:43 am

        But winning a stage would mean sustaining an attack for more than 200m.

      • Canocola Friday, 16 July 2021, 12:22 pm

        Attack with who? Most of them are injured after early tour crashes, and Carapaz is far too close to the GC for anyone to risk him going off without them. It’s not like previous GTs where they’ve been let off the leash and could hit opponents with attacks from different riders until someone snapped.

    • KevinR Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:26 am

      The Ineos tactics have only been odd in the eyes of people thinking they were going for yellow. They’re far less odd when the aim is to put Carapaz on the second or third step of the podium and no more.

      • CA Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:46 pm

        I don’t get that logic. They can aim for 2/3 on podium and not pull the peloton around France. The yellow jersey team must take control of peloton and Carapaz should glue himself to Pogacar’s wheel.

  • 150 Watts Friday, 16 July 2021, 9:57 am

    I think prizes for different weight categories is the way to go. The mountains are too slanted in favor of those who are only 4 kg heavier than Anna van der Breggen.

    • RQS Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:55 pm

      When I did the ride across Britain I’d finish early, stretch, hydrate, feed well and be ready for a good nights sleep before repeating.
      But in the midst of my post-ride routine these old fat riders would come in and I was impressed. Their journey had been a much greater fight of wills, gravity, strength and age. My hat went off to them. To struggle through that and finish was epic and heroic in a completely unimaginable way to me. I just hope that their effort was matched by their sponsorship because it was amazing.
      But your idea makes me think of some sort of golf handicap Tour de France. Going back to Goddet, and awarding wins to the most heroic, valiant weight adjusted performance. Only guys who leave it all on the road need apply….

  • Wayne Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:00 am

    A couple of ideas I’ve been mulling over for jerseys are best “home” rider, so it could give something for the locals to get behind. And one for most time/kms in the break away. Obviously consolation prizes but could be an interesting fight.

  • charlie Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:00 am

    Can’t help but feel Michael Matthews and his hunt for green has been overlooked by every preview of this stage I’ve read. He’s 38pts behind Cavendish. Pip him at the intermediate and finish ahead of him and he’ll take the jersey.

    I don’t think he will, but I certainly think BEX will be riding to keep the break in check rather than give up hope of this one. Forlorn sprints for 4th are Matthews speciality these days.

    • 150 Watts Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:11 am

      He just keeps on coming up a bit short all the time.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:14 am

      The problem for Matthews is he has to do more than pip Cavendish, he needs to score big and somehow keep Cavendish out of the picture. It’s still possible but hard.

  • Kjetil Haaland Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:13 am

    Gaudu’s Tourmalet descent was a smoker. Someone please Youtube it, like someone dis with Bardet’s descent ogf the Allos at the Dauphine some years ago.

  • RJMD Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:21 am

    Who would have thought that AG2R would be the only team with 2 guys in the GC standings in the top 15? Weaker teams I suppose, Ineos in particular.

  • Oskar Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:43 am

    Wout van Aert said on Belgium TV that he isn’t going to contest the stage win today. He is taking it easy, to fully focus on tomorrow’s time trial.

  • Brent Sword Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:46 am

    The sprint point seems to be uphill but i can’t tell how much from the profile.
    Sprinting is a diabolical endeavor. The slightest bad luck and you get nothing.
    So if Mathews can pip some points in the intermediate and cav has a little bad luck it can happen.
    Not likely but also not impossible.

  • Anonymous Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:42 am

    Magnus Cort is saving himself for the ITT.

    Assume Asgreen proberbly also will, in the sense no breakaway effort but participating in the leadout.

  • Snoop Friday, 16 July 2021, 12:55 pm

    The King of the Mountains hasn’t really worked probably since after Rasmussen won it. Since then it has struggled as a classification – either won by someone who targets it via breakaways but isn’t the strongest climber or incidentally by someone going for the GC.

    Time to retire it and replace it with a jersey for combativity, perhaps weighted by how challenging the terrain is?

    • Ecky Thump Friday, 16 July 2021, 1:05 pm

      Warren Barguil was a worthy winner a few seasons ago too.

      • Snoop Friday, 16 July 2021, 1:46 pm

        True, and Majka the year before won two mountain stages on the way to it.

  • CA Friday, 16 July 2021, 3:29 pm

    No talk of discounting any of Cavendish’s 2021 TdF wins please. He’s 36, coming off of 3 brutal years (by his standards) and is beating men much younger than he is.

    PLUS, if you want to look at Eddy’s wins, he was head and shoulders better than the competition most of his career. How much of a talent gap was there between him and his colleagues? The era’s are just too different to judge either one. Besides, no one is saying Cavendish is a better rider than Eddy if he breaks the record, that would be ridiculous. We’re just saying that Cavendish is cementing his “best pure sprinter” of his era legacy with these wins.

    Anyways, I hope everyone can enjoy today (no cranky pants saying it is boring – next week will be extremely boring with no tour, so suck it up today!) and I really hope Cav can pull it off!

  • RQS Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:16 pm

    Mohoric’s “shhhhh” gesture will not go down well. This isn’t football. You win one day, but not the next in cycling.
    The police and the those that made the complaint will not like that one bit. Silly boy.

    • osbk67 Friday, 16 July 2021, 6:49 pm

      That stage was looking a helluva lot more interesting at 30km to go than it became at 25km to go. That’s without starting on the prolonged head-on footage and moto fleet leading the way.

    • Anonymous Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:15 pm

      I wish he just took his own advice and shut up. A fitting moment to a weird tour.

    • cp Friday, 16 July 2021, 7:26 pm

      Simply bizarre way to celebrate. Worthy of Vince Pentangeli…

      • RJMD Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:05 pm

        Mohoric? He doth protest too much. (Lance must have had a good chuckle though)

  • Thierry mtl Friday, 16 July 2021, 8:41 pm

    I can’t believe he doesn’t no the historic meaning of this gesture in cycling.
    What an idiot !

    • RQS Friday, 16 July 2021, 10:59 pm

      To be fair Armstrong did a zip and key motion.

  • Lee Woodhead Friday, 16 July 2021, 11:05 pm

    The KOM jersey is a relatively recent addition & it is not really working currently as there isn’t enough time trialing to eliminate the pure climbers. Do we even have pure climbers anymore? I am not a massive fan of the green jersey either.

    • David Saturday, 17 July 2021, 8:46 am

      Relative to what? The classification is getting on for a century old, and the jersey nearly half a century.

    • KevinK Saturday, 17 July 2021, 9:42 am

      It’s ironic that in a year in which the KOM jersey fight was especially interesting, and fought over by several excellent climbers, that the comment section here is full of whining about how the classification should be eliminated or revamped. The green jersey competition was also interesting until Cavendish and DQS put their full attention to it, and even then there is still a mathematical possibility that Matthews will win it. The jerseys exist to enliven the racing (which they have done, in spades), to give recognition to more riders than just the top GC riders and stage winners (check), and to give fans a reason to follow entire stages and then have spirited debates afterwards (the comments section indicate that is definitely the case).

      In years in which one isn’t a fan of the green jersey holder, or a bunch of nobodies hold the polka dot jersey until the third week, it seems easy enough to simply tune out that competition and focus on stage winners and the GC competition. Why let it bother you (this is a general question, not aimed at Lee Woodhead). I can’t imagine a baseball fan complaining that too much emphasis is placed on pitcher’s ERAs and hitters batting averages when all that matters is winning games and who takes the World Series. It’s all part of the game, and the history of the game, and it gives us more to obsess over. Participating in that obsession is always optional.

  • Bern Saturday, 17 July 2021, 1:05 pm

    “Participating in that obsession is always optional.”
    is my new mantra…