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Tour de France Stage 21 Preview

That final sprint and a big moment for Mark Cavendish who’s up against all the remaining sprinters, and the rest of the field who might fancy their chances too.

Grand Cru: the stage win for Wout van Aert, his second after Mont Ventoux and to go with his sprint stage wins. Many wanted to see a Tour route with more time trials and this year’s route delivered this. But will people want more of the same? Yesterday’s stage just helped widen the time gaps rather than narrow them and only Wilco Kelderman got close to Ben O’Connor, otherwise all the top-10 riders were just further distanced by Tadej Pogačar, a top-10 already 16 minutes apart is now spread across 18 minutes.

The Route: the usual procession through the suburbs and then the Champs Elysées, closed for the day and a privilege normally reserved for visiting heads of state. It’s ight times across the line to hear the bell and then the sprint.

The Finish: there’s a small difference here, the finish line is 300 metres further along the Champs Elysées than it’s always been, the chicane through the Place de la Concorde comes earlier. This means a rider doesn’t have to come through the corner so close to the front but they’ll have to rattle over the cobbles for longer.

The Contenders: there’s Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and all the rest, he can get his fairy tale Merckx-beating stage win and count on a strong team to guide him into the Champs Elysées. He’s not got the green jersey sealed up arithmetically yet with Michael Matthews still technically in reach.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) could back off given his form and the approaching Olympics but said yesterday he wants this prestigious stage win on his palmarès too. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) has a chance while Cees Bol (DSM) will like this flat finish. It’s almost always a bunch sprint but doesn’t have to be, there’s still a chance for a strong breakaway to spoil things for Quickstep, think Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroën), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe). Finally if the fairy tales of this Tour continue then André Greipel (Israel) has announced his retirement and what better way rage against the sunset with a win today?

Mark Cavendish, Wout van Aert
Cees Bol, Jasper Philipsen
Politt, Laporte, Stuyven, Naesen, Mezgec, Colbrelli, Greipel

Weather: warm and sunny, 27°C and a breeze from the NE.

TV: knowledge is knowing the stage starts at 4.15pm, wisdom is tuning in for just the final hour in order to catch the finish around 7.10pm CEST.

Stage 22: slang for the after-stage party but it’ll be subdued tonight. Many riders are catching a flight to Tokyo tonight, others are travelling tomorrow morning.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JV Sunday, 18 July 2021, 6:16 am

    Seems that all outcomes of the stage have something to offer the romantic today. Cav and the record; a new winner in Paris; a rare break; a rider taking a mountain stage, TT, and bunch sprint in one edition of the Tour.

    I wonder, has that last one ever been done before? “The Perfect Hattrick”?

    • IanPa Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:07 am

      Hinault in 79 won in Paris, can be pretty sure he won a TT and, i think he won a mountain stage that year into Morizine too? Could have been a mountain TT though???

      If WvA wins today, his already unique Palmares will be enhanced some more.

  • Larry T Sunday, 18 July 2021, 8:40 am

    I could almost write the same thing I did last year http://www.bikeraceinfo.com/commentary/theobald-larry/Thoughts-on-LeTour-2020.html
    except for the exciting surprise ending part. Thanks for the great work here during LeTour Mr, Inrng, other than the totally unfounded implications of cheating that come off more as sour grapes than anything, the comments have (mostly) been interesting and worth reading.
    I’m happy that “kite-men” didn’t much figure in this tour and the team I love to hate could only muster a third place thanks mostly to the “butlers and kitchen help” though they all eventually rallied to the cause with their “train to nowhere” as someone quipped. Who will they buy next to fix it? Will the petro-sheiks at UAE let Mr. Fracking buy any more good riders now?
    I enjoyed Wiggo being back at LeTour rather than getting drunk at home though the gawdawful EF promos they shoved-in, even on Eurosport Player had me switching to RAI just to avoid them.
    Vive LeTour! Vive Le Inner Ring! Allez Manx Missile! 🙂

  • philip norton Sunday, 18 July 2021, 8:55 am

    Thanks seems inadequate, but what else to say to our host, the incomparable Mr. Inrng?

    • Larry G Sunday, 18 July 2021, 5:44 pm

      +108

      • cp Sunday, 18 July 2021, 6:08 pm

        To the third power.
        Thanks so much Inrng. It’s a real pleasure to follow these races with you.

  • Octogenarian Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:02 am

    I hope that Cavendish gets his fairy-tale climax today, but even if he doesn’t actually beat the Mercx record but manages to stay in green, he’ll have achieved more than most of us dreamed possible at the start of this Tour.

    The ultimate success would be the result of a superb team effort, with Morkov playing a starring role. For that, and for all the other romantic back story reasons, I hope he does it.

    Compare and contrast with Ineos.

    Many thanks, as usual, to Inrng for his superb coverage. It’s not just about his deep knowledge of the game, but his knowledge and obvious love of France, her culture and history.

    From this committed francophile, thanks. Je tire une révérence.

    • George Vest Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:14 am

      Bit hard on Ineos, I reckon. Not a great Tour for them, obviously, but they were clearly affected by the early crashes and then rode hard as a team to get Carapaz his third. Whether that’s ‘good enough’, whatever that means, given their budget, I shall leave for others to judge, but as far as I’m aware the team ethos seemed to stay strong.

  • jc Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:04 am

    Today has an end of a era feel about it. Back in the mists of time – 2008 a brash, young, fast, would be scouser started an era of British dominance of the Tour. Up until then the brits had been also rans, even the Irish had been more successful. Mark Cavendish’s unprecedented ability to win multiple sprint stages changed the game.

    Today he will almost certainly take the green jersey and maybe the stage with the outright record. A feat that seems likely to bookend an era in the TdF. It seems unlikely that we will see him, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas riding at the tour again. There must be questions about Dave Brailsford too.

    Hopefully he and the team have recovered sufficiently from the Pyrenees to get the win and the record.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:39 am

      Perhaps you should Google the name Barry Hoban who won 8 Tour stages between ’67 &’ 75. Kelly won 5 stages in his career and Roche 4,one being a TT.

      • Michael B Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:24 am

        To be fair Kelly won the green jersey four times and of course Roche won the Tour outright, plus Martin Early’s stage win.

        But growing up a fan in the late 80s / early 90s Hoban’s achievements were overlooked – I presume the footage wasn’t great / available as I can’t ever remember it being shown.

      • Dave C Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:56 am

        Barry Hoban does seem to be the forgotten man of British cycling

      • Matt Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:14 pm

        Kelly and Roche are both Irish, not British.

        • bonzo Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:42 pm

          I think Anonymous was trying to say that Brits had more success than the Irish in response to jc

      • jc Sunday, 18 July 2021, 1:44 pm

        I wasnt saying that no brits had ridden the Tour, Tom Simpson being a particularly tragic part of the history but their participation had been without a big impact. Philippa York has a decent TdF Palmares. Chris Boardman won stages taking yellow along the way, though this was seen as a bit of an oddity rather than the start of a new era in professional cycling. Mark’s impact has been completely different, it changed not just how bike racing was perceived in the UK but also how British riders were perceived in the traditional cycling areas.

        • John Williams Sunday, 18 July 2021, 2:47 pm

          Unfortunately the TdF is seen by many people as the only thing worth anything in pro cycling.
          95% of the peleton would and should be green with envy of the palmares of Simpson & Hoban.

          • Larry T Sunday, 18 July 2021, 4:15 pm

            +1 …It’s pelOton BTW. I often wonder why Simpson is so revered in Britain while Pantani is reviled? I don’t think the reverse is true here in Italy.

          • Wipperman_15 Sunday, 18 July 2021, 4:37 pm

            Agree – and something I wish would change; and something that needs to change. A whole season of sport – but only 3 weeks matter. Not a surprise the sport struggles. If it brought in mega millions, then you could understand, but it doesn’t – it’s peanuts in global sporting terms.

            For myself, the TdF/Road cycling are not the the be all and end all; I’ll watch XCO, Enduro, DH, CX, etc there are some great riders in those disciplines.

    • David Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:25 am

      Would be scouser? When did he say that was an ambition?

      • jc Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:39 am

        That came from a recent comment by Geraint Thomas on Mark turning up at the British cycling academy along the lines of “none of us could quite work out this would be scouser in a souped up gold Vauxhall Astra, but he was fast”. By Mark’s own admission his younger self was not the most likeable of individuals.

        • Cat & Fiddle Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:00 pm

          Just so you know, anyone driving a souped-up Astra in Liverpool in the mid 2000s would have been rightfully branded ‘a wool’ and laughed out of town. Cav gets a pass though, obviously.

  • global nomad Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:49 am

    You mention the 18 minute spread for the top 10 and there is an hour for the top 20. Any idea the biggest time spread for the top 10/top 20 and the smallest – we always hear of the 8 second 1st second and the 28 minute gap by Fausto Coppi in 1952.
    Thanks for another great 3 weeks of coverage and the surrounding season coverage too

  • George Vest Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:09 am

    ‘there’s still a chance for a strong breakaway to spoil things for Quickstep’ – but surely it’s a very very small chance? Apart from Quickstep, there will be a number of other teams also keen to set up a sprint – Alpecin, DSM, Israel, JV etc. When was the last time there wasn’t a bunch sprint on the Champs?

    • Pete Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:22 am

      Vinokourov in 2005 possibly?

      • George Vest Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:42 am

        Yes, I think you’re right

    • plurien Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:02 am

      Oh but we’d all love to see Ineos giving it a try on the breakaway #unexpectedteamtimetrial #gottoactuallywinsomething /s

  • 150 Watts Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:29 am

    I can’t see it happening but if anyone deserves a consolation win tonight it is Colbrelli.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:56 am

    Bit of a dull tour as far as suspense goes. Feels like we’ve been reduced to discussing side plots like Carapaz’s bluffing since the GC was wrapped up on stage 8.

    I’ve enjoyed it in the background but it hasn’t been must-watch telly for me. The two mountain stages won by Pogacar this week had a real sense of inevitability about them.

    As always though, there’s been Inrng’s insight to keep me interested and some good stuff BTL too. Thanks all. Let’s hope Pogacar doesn’t turn the Vuelta into a damp squib.

    • jc Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:03 am

      Rumour has it Tadej Pogacar is not doing La Vuelta https://twitter.com/cirogazzetta/status/1416442163852894211

      • Virenque Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:35 am

        Indeed, Vuelta is Roglic’s domain.

        • bonzo Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:44 pm

          apparently Bernal is off to Sunny Spain with Yates as Super Domestique

          • MM Sunday, 18 July 2021, 1:47 pm

            Adam Yates? The guy hasn’t raced since Liege in April and I don’t know of any injuries. Is this what he signed up for when he joined Ineos, to take the summer off?

          • Tovarishch Sunday, 18 July 2021, 6:11 pm

            I think he is using a different approach for the Olympics.

      • Larry T Sunday, 18 July 2021, 2:14 pm

        As late as Thursday night UAE’s Giuseppe Saronni was saying Pogacar was excited about going to La Vuelta. Sounded to me like the management was trying to slow-walk the idea with Beppe saying something along the lines of “we’ll see, we’ll see”.
        I have to wonder about over-racing the kid even if it might be HIS idea? While Gimondi and Merckx were good at a young age and had long careers I think it’s the exception rather than the rule. Plenty would say Damiano Cunego was a victim or over-racing at a young age no matter who might be to blame.

        • CA Sunday, 18 July 2021, 6:13 pm

          Totally agree – it would be foolish to send Pogacar to the Vuelta. Past eras raced two or three GTs at peak because they were stacked on top of each other and much of the peloton followed the same training/racing patterns.

          In 2021 if Pogacar raced the Vuelta and was anything close to his TdF form that would be fishy. Roglic is different because he barely raced this year

          • CA Sunday, 18 July 2021, 6:18 pm

            Plus, at this point in 2021 Pogacar has already trained at a huge volume, but he is 8-years younger than Roglic and some of the other key Vuelta favourites. Kids need to build up volume slowly. Even during the peak EPO era riders backed off throughout the year.

  • Dane Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:31 am

    “otherwise all the top-10 riders were just further distanced by Tadej Pogačar”.

    That is not true. Jonas Vingegaard, 2nd in the race, gained 25 seconds on Pogačar.

    • Somers Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:44 pm

      Came to say the same thing – wasnt sure if i had misread. Adds interest for next year too – if Vingegaard was more switched on for those earlier mountain stages, it might have been a closer race.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 18 July 2021, 4:37 pm

      I know but not by much. Vinegaard and his huge thorax have been the revelation of this race. Who do Jumbo-Visma bring as leader next year? Answer they’ll know more by June probably.

  • Ecky Thump Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:36 am

    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That rode with us on Saint Cavendish’s day 💪

    • B Sunday, 18 July 2021, 4:30 pm

      How many saints were known by surname alone?! Saint Becket? Saint Newman?

      • Ecky Thump Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:58 pm

        Saint Mark (The Evangelist) is already taken 😀

  • kokolores Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:41 am

    Will UAE get the “honour” of leading the peloton into Paris? I mean, they haven’t been at the front too often, so I would probably start smiling a bit when Quickstep or Sky take over the role of the winner’s team here.. 🙂

  • Rooto Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:51 am

    Thanks very much for all your hard work and hours of publishing and replying to enhance our enjoyment of the tour, Inrng. I was going to ask, facetiously, if you’d scouted out today’s climb. But of course you have… https://inrng.com/2013/11/roads-ride-champs-elysees-paris-cycling/

  • Anonymous Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:56 am

    A massive thank you to the author of this blog. The insights into the cycling sport as well as the excellent “on a tangent” section about french culture made reading the blog a daily ritual for me.
    Ps: Now Im looking forward to reading Vailland’s book recommended in one of the posts, I already managed to get hold of it 🙂

  • bonzo Sunday, 18 July 2021, 12:51 pm

    Thanks Inrng, a must read at breakfast each day, and I understand that Mr Chris Boardman is a regular reader here too.
    Come on Cav, Come on Wout, first and second please, in that order.
    I’d like QucikStep to repeat that magnificent sprint train win into Valence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy6Si1wJ7WI

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 18 July 2021, 1:10 pm

      +1

    • Tom Sunday, 18 July 2021, 7:16 pm

      Rob Hatch complimented Inrng on the Eurosport/GCN coverage this year as well.

  • Steve Sunday, 18 July 2021, 1:54 pm

    I’d like to add my inadequate thanks for all of the hard work of previewing, and reviewing, for this year’s Tour. I enjoyed reading the interpretation of the previous day’s stage as much as the stage preview.

  • Colin N Sunday, 18 July 2021, 1:57 pm

    After Stage 20:

    Total
    82   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    71   Team Jumbo–Visma
    51  Team Bahrain Victorious
    49 Alpecin–Fenix
    44  UAE Team Emirates
    38   Bora–Hansgrohe
    28  Trek–Segafredo
    18   Groupama–FDJ
    18  Movistar Team
    18   Team BikeExchange
    18 Arkéa–Samsic
    14   EF Education–Nippo
    12  AG2R Citroën Team
    12  Astana–Premier Tech
    12   Cofidis
    9  Ineos Grenadiers
    9   Israel Start-Up Nation
    6   Team DSM
    5 B&B Hotels p/b KTM
    4   Lotto–Soudal
    2   Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
    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.

    • Fan of Colin N’s idea Sunday, 18 July 2021, 4:32 pm

      I like this idea very much.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 18 July 2021, 3:08 pm

    Rainbow stripes is required to win today, and today was a Mads P day.

    (not the timestamp and grammar)

  • Peter Ryan Sunday, 18 July 2021, 3:33 pm

    Thanks Inrng for all that you do to make this blog. I learn so much from your insights and from the comments, they add massively to the understanding and the spectacle! Stay well one and all, Peter.

  • Toppcat Sunday, 18 July 2021, 5:25 pm

    I would also like to add my thanks to our host. This really is a fantastic blog, one of the best I read on any subject.

  • Arnav Kapur Sunday, 18 July 2021, 8:17 pm

    Many thanks to our host, the polyglot whose encyclopedic knowledge of cycling, cycling history, niche history, geography and culture never ceases to amaze me and has me truly dumbfounded as to their identity!

  • md3 Sunday, 18 July 2021, 9:13 pm

    Big Thanks to our host and all who contribute here.

  • KevinK Sunday, 18 July 2021, 10:55 pm

    Well that was an exciting finish. WvA is a beast. I wasn’t surprised to see the DQS leadout train disintegrate at just the moment it was most needed, given the energy they’ve squandered throughout the three weeks chasing intermediate sprint points. Cavendish and Morkov looked completely drained by the final kilometer, while Teunissen seemed to have the power to do a long one-man leadout for WvA. Meanwhile, even after emptying himself yesterday in a very impressive ITT, van Aert could provide a generous lead out Cavendish and still have the power to easily take the win.

    It’s still impressive that Cavendish got four stages to tie Merckx, even with absolutely everything breaking just right for him. I have the feeling that Cavendish will miss this perfect opportunity to drop the mic and saunter off into the sunset on a high. My guess is he’ll now sign a fairly fat contract with another team and we’ll have two more years that end up looking a lot like the last two years. (I’ll be surprised if Lefevre will commit big money for a new contract, or that Cavendish would consider a deal like he’s on currently).

    • RQS Monday, 19 July 2021, 8:31 am

      Yes. Cav picked the right wheel, but as I watched I was thinking “how is he going to get himself out from the barriers?”
      Without his sprint train Cav was vulnerable to being pinned and his rivals took perfect advantage of that. It was the sprint that never was. Cav gave a very long sideways glance at Fenix-Alpecin train before slamming his bars. It was a shame that he didn’t get to compete, but you have to say that his opposition finally found the answer to “how do we stop Cav?” Even if it didn’t help them win. Chapeau to Van Aert though. I think “the perfect hat-trick” is apt name for his achievement.

      • JeroenK Monday, 19 July 2021, 10:36 am

        You make it seem A-F was racing to make Cavendish lose, which is reasoning you allways hear from fans, not from racers, who allways believe they can win. The team simply tried to make Phillipsen win and offcourse they ride as close to the leading riders as possible. Riders allways converge on eachother to get a bit of draft.
        KevinK’s analysis makes sense to me: DQS had too little left to keep Cavendish clear of a position in which he could be overrun by another team, which happened and that’s racing. Kudos for Cav for not trying to pry himself between the barriers and WvA, as it seemed there was enough room for that initially. He seemed to hesitate a bit, also sensing the option to go right, between WvA and Philipsen, but the latter closed that gap and in the meantime WvA closed off the left option just enough to make a rider think twice to ride through it.

      • KevinK Monday, 19 July 2021, 11:02 am

        But he wasn’t that close to the barriers, and van Aert sprinted very straight, without ever really closing the door on the left. There was one overhead shot where you could see sprinters behind Cavendish right next to the barriers, and clearly there was a lane there Cavendish could have taken.

        My take on Cavendish’s long look and bar slam was his tendency to blame somebody else when he loses. I can’t think of any other sprinter who wouldn’t have taken that lane to the left of van Aert. I think what really stopped Cavendish was that Morkov was out of gas from pointlessly chasing intermediate sprints for him, and Cavendish just isn’t as fast as WvA or Philipsen when he not given a limo ride to the finish.

        • RQS Monday, 19 July 2021, 1:21 pm

          Cav has to check his launch at just the point he’s going to sprint he never really gets going. He leaves it late for sure, but as I said it was the sprint that never was.
          I agree that it looked like there was “some” space on the left, but my reading was that Cav thought this was perhaps too tight. Certainly WVA’s move to the left probably confirmed this.
          I’m not suggesting Fenix-Alpecin did anything wrong. You’re allowed to bring your sprint train alongside another train, but let’s put it this way, it doesn’t hurt F-A if Cav is boxed in and doesn’t get to sprint. Without Mørkøv muscling the space it was always going to be a bit harder for him. If the sprint had been more central (and Cav had found space) I think it would’ve been tighter, it may not have changed the winner on this occasion, but since Cav checked his sprint he never got going.

          • KevinK Monday, 19 July 2021, 1:59 pm

            You can see in both the overhead and the front-on shots that there is an open lane to van Aert’s left when Cavendish checks and briefly stops pedaling. It’s not a wide lane, but it’s there, and at the moment Cavendish is coasting you can see an Astana rider further to Cavendish’s left pedaling away. I think he simply lost his nerve, and at the same time he stops pedaling he looks to his right to see if there’s open space there. He’s panicked and and fear has entered his mind. His body posture through all of this (leaning to his right, as if he’s on the verge of hitting the barriers) supports this fearfulness. So you’re right in a sense, I think Cavendish thought it was too tight to the left, but there were several other sprinters in that lane (behind Cavendish), so there was clearly room there.

            The bottom line from looking at the replays is that Cavendish abandoned Morkov, and got into a position where he seemed to think he was boxed in but wasn’t. The space was there, he just didn’t take it. If you want to see what I’m talking about, check out the Lanterne Rouge podcast youtube video. Check the video at 5:07, with 210 m to go, then Teunissen has pulled to the right and WvA is starting his very straight sprint. There’s space for two small sprinters to get past WvA on the left. The overhead views can be a bit deceptive until you realize that the area in the shadow is open road – from above the shadows make the road appear narrower that it is.

            And I think Cavendish checked his sprint not because he was in danger, but because his wheel was overlapping van Aert’s, and he’d made the snap (wrong) decision that his best option was to go to the right of WvA.

  • Pete Sunday, 18 July 2021, 11:26 pm

    Did Cav possibly get spooked by the barriers?
    He never even got close to them, and certainly no attempt to.

    Or at the end of these weeks was the power of youth simply too much?

    • cp Monday, 19 July 2021, 12:05 am

      I had the same thought when watching the replay. I swear he checked himself when he would otherwise have punched forward at one point.

      I’m glad Wout won to get that amazing TT, mountain stage, sprint hat trick.

      Now if Pogacar could learn to sprint…

      I know a lot of folks thought it was a boring TdF after stage 8 or the one where Pogacar put 3 minutes into everyone. I wish Roglic had been there and that Ineos hadn’t crashed themselves into oblivion, but I enjoyed watching this young kid just crush everyone. I’m a fan–I retain a bit of Slovenian pride from my grandparents and father, I must confess, though it’s silly–and it was really enjoyable to see a really just incredibly talented athlete perform like crazy.

      I was a grad student at Duke during the Grant Hill/Christian Laettner/Bobby Hurley basketball years. I loved the close games–like a win with 1.2 seconds left over Kentucky–but the blowouts over rivals were equally enjoyable! And the kid rode with some panache; when he left Carapaz behind after the latter’s bluff, I thought that was the way to tell your that you saw his bluff and, thank you very much, will crush you anyway.

      • cp Monday, 19 July 2021, 12:05 am

        *tell your rival

    • KevinK Monday, 19 July 2021, 10:57 am

      It almost appeared that he was afraid to put his nose into the wind until the final hundred meters, at which point he clearly didn’t have the power to get past either WvA or Philipsen. One thing that has struck me about his wins in the TdF is the way he has been delivered to very close to the finish line almost every win, with Morkov also giving him a clear signal for when he needed to start his sprint. Here Cavendish seemed indecisive and uncertain. Or maybe he just knew he wasn’t as fast, and kept waiting for van Aert to fade. Regardless, I’m seeing people talk about Cavendish being boxed in, but two Caleb Ewan’s could have fit side-by-side to the left of van Aert.

  • 150 Watts Monday, 19 July 2021, 3:53 am

    A tour bookended by van der Poel and van Aert and dominated elsewhere by Pogacar and Vingegaard … a clear changing of the guard.

  • Adrian Dobbie-Holman Monday, 19 July 2021, 9:13 am

    When was the last time that a rider won a high mountain stage, an ITT and a pure sprint in the same Tour? An amazing feat!

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 19 July 2021, 9:14 am

      It’s got to be Merckx (a reflexive answer). Hinault came close in 1979 but his mountain stage was a TT to Morzine, turns out Merckx did it in 1974.

  • Colin N Monday, 19 July 2021, 9:27 am

    After the Final Stage 21:

    Total
    86   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    81   Team Jumbo–Visma
    55 Alpecin–Fenix
    51  Team Bahrain Victorious
    44  UAE Team Emirates
    38   Bora–Hansgrohe
    28  Trek–Segafredo
    21   Team BikeExchange
    18   Groupama–FDJ
    18  Movistar Team
    18 Arkéa–Samsic
    14   EF Education–Nippo
    12  AG2R Citroën Team
    12  Astana–Premier Tech
    12   Cofidis
    11   Israel Start-Up Nation
    9  Ineos Grenadiers
    6   Team DSM
    5 B&B Hotels p/b KTM
    4   Lotto–Soudal
    3   Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
    0  Team Qhubeka Assos
    0 Team TotalEnergies

    The official Team rankings are:

    1 BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS 249h 16′ 47”
    2 EF EDUCATION – NIPPO 249h 35′ 59”
    3 JUMBO – VISMA 250h 28′ 22”
    4 INEOS GRENADIERS 250h 43′ 57”
    5 AG2R CITROEN TEAM 250h 48′ 41”
    6 BORA – HANSGROHE 250h 53′ 31”
    7 TREK – SEGAFREDO 251h 03′ 51”
    8 ASTANA – PREMIER TECH 251h 18′ 32”
    9 MOVISTAR TEAM 251h 21′ 15”
    10 UAE TEAM EMIRATES 251h 54′ 55”
    11 DECEUNINCK – QUICK – STEP 252h 53′ 34”
    12 B&B HOTELS P/B KTM 252h 59′ 57”
    13 GROUPAMA – FDJ 253h 03′ 13”
    14 COFIDIS 253h 07′ 09”
    15 INTERMARCHE – WANTY – GOBERT MATERIAUX 253h 32′ 21”
    16 TEAM BIKEEXCHANGE 253h 48′ 18”
    17 TOTALENERGIES 254h 18′ 49”
    18 TEAM ARKEA – SAMSIC 255h 07′ 25”
    19 ISRAEL START-UP NATION 255h 09′ 03”
    20 ALPECIN – FENIX 255h 24′ 16”
    21 TEAM QHUBEKA NEXTHASH 256h 12′ 39”
    22 TEAM DSM 256h 50′ 16”
    23 LOTTO SOUDAL 257h 02′ 31”

    The question is which is a better representation of how each team fared. Did Deceuninck–Quick-Step dominate or were they just a mid table team? Did Alpecin–Fenix punch above their weight or were they a poor team? Where EF Education–Nippo & Ineos Grenadiers two of the top four teams or were their performances much worse than that. I appreciate it is all perspective however a points system seems to give a better overall idea on how a team has performed. What are peoples thoughts.

    • Rooto Monday, 19 July 2021, 12:33 pm

      I feel that your system is a much more viewer-friendly way of showing which teams are at the pointy end, and so it’s definitely something that should be seriously considered as a simple way for teams (let’s be honest – sponsors) to be promoted to the wider public. F1-style.
      But…
      The results have slightly mirrored the green jersey results (if riders like MvdP were still in the race), so it maybe follows the fortunes of the team’s 1 star guy a bit too closely. It might need different points scales for sprint stages (where it’s all about the top 6, or even fewer) and mountain stages (where the glory could be shared around between breakaway survivors and the front of the yellow jersey group). That opens up a new can of worms – just like with changing green jersey points schemes – about what your priorities are. You might not want to go there!
      Overall though, a very worthwhile exercise, which I followed with interest. Thanks Colin N!

      • Colin N Monday, 19 July 2021, 5:20 pm

        Thanks for the feedback. You’re right that on this Tour the results have mirrored the green jersey. I think that is more of a result of the parcour & how it has been ridden (check out he 21 stage 2021 Giro D’Italia below). Remember only 8 teams have won a stage at this years TDF. Deceuninck–Quick-Step won 5 stages. It isn’t just about Cavendish winning 4 of those it is how Deceuninck–Quick-Step put Cavendish & Alaphilippe into a position to win the stage. In football it is the scorer who gets all the glory however it is the team who wins the game. Deceuninck–Quick-Step were very consistant throughout & scores points on the last 3 stages, mountain, time trail & sprint stages, a real all round performance.
        I kept it simple (KIS principle) so each stage is treated the same so I don’t want to try to weight different types of stage
        2021 Giro d’Italia (every team scored & Ineos are 22 points lower than Deceuninck–Quick-Step in the same number of stages yet they came out top)
        2021 Giro d’Italia
        Total
        64  Ineos Grenadiers
        44   Israel Start-Up Nation
        43  Team Qhubeka Assos
        39  Team Bahrain Victorious
        36  UAE Team Emirates
        34   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
        30   Team DSM
        30 Alpecin-Fenix
        29   Lotto–Soudal
        28   Team Jumbo–Visma
        27   Cofidis
        23   Bora–Hansgrohe
        21  Trek–Segafredo
        16   Team BikeExchange
        16 Eolo-kometa
        14   Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
        12   EF Education–Nippo
        11  AG2R Citroën Team
        10  Astana–Premier Tech
        9 Bardiani
        4  Movistar Team
        3   Groupama–FDJ

  • plurien Monday, 19 July 2021, 10:52 am

    Excellent edition of the Tour. Enjoyment and understanding massively enhanced by wonderful writing and insights here on INRNG. Thank you.

    Early stages were the usual frenzy of everyone’s-ambition-into-any-road-won’t-go. A prologue wasn’t missed by me but those early stages need to find some wide roads with long uphill drags and no street furniture when every team leader is trying for yellow. There may be no answer to this problem and it’s always bad to lose riders in crashes, but nor will they back off.
    Jersey competitions were each fantastically well fought for and added to many stages. By now it should be obvious that the young rider award needs a tweak to under 21 and the team competition has to be looked at if the organisation wants it to have any importance.
    Polka dot was fine: Won by the best climber but only at the last opportunity. It was fought for all the way before that.
    Green: It’s points and not ‘best sprinter’, but there’s invariably a sprint to win points on those occasions when the breakaway hasn’t swept all before. There was time cut jeopardy too, so it does kind of work.
    Finally they got the ITT stages right. TT specialists won’t agree but wins by WvA and Pogacar can’t be wrong in the overall picture.
    The stage parcours were all good. The longest had action all the way, while some of the last mountain stages showed how many teams feared to take the initiative and burned slowly at first. Scenery and presentation were brilliant.

    Bring on the Olympic road races.

    • plurien Monday, 19 July 2021, 11:34 am

      Second bite: Yes there is the combativity award each day and overall, but how about a breakaway/baroudeur jersey where intermediate and finish sprint points count towards that competition instead of green jersey in the event of a breakaway getting there first?

  • Bonzo Monday, 19 July 2021, 12:17 pm

    I think DQS ran out of gas, trying to chase down the very strong break with Schelling, van Moer and Bisseger/Hundahl. In the end it was Kwiatkowski leading out Thomas who pulled them back before disappearing into the pack and I wonder if Thomas did that for his mate Cav?

    Moving the finish further down the Champs may have contributed, though of course everyone knew that and had 7 laps to figure out how they would approach it. On ITV Daniel Friebe pointed out that much of the extra 300 metres was slightly downhill as well.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that we are seeing a changing of the guard and that it helps to have all 8 riders still on the Tour at the end, even Jumbo Visma with their shapeshifting WvA!

    I was surprised to see Cav contest the intermediate sprint but I was also surprised that it was still mathematically possible for Matthews to take the Green Jersey at that point.

    Based in England and watching the race on Eurosport/ITV there has obviously been a real focus on Cav’s exploits. He is of course regarded with affection across Europe, you could see how much he enjoyed the Time Trial through St Emilion with the crowds cheering all the way. In the same event Alaphilippe found himself racing even though he didn’t intend to as the adulation swept him along. May take a little wander round Google to see how the Danish media has reported the race as the fish factory boy for Jutland has shown his true colours. There were 4 Danish riders in the Time Trial top 10 Asgreen Vingegaard, Bjerg and Magnus Cort.

    A tour of breakaways and solo wins and 15 teams with out a stage win, no wonder they all wanted to rip up the Paris script.

    On to the Olympics and La Vuelta, did someone say Roubaix?

  • Larry T Monday, 19 July 2021, 12:53 pm

    “There were 4 Danish riders in the Time Trial top 10 Asgreen Vingegaard, Bjerg and Magnus Cort.”
    Yet not a peep about cheating regarding riders from the land who brought us “Mr, 60%”, Michael “The Chicken” Rasmussen and many more. All we hear about is Pogacar and his bicycles…always from anonymous sources. Maybe the anonymous family members who post here can clue us in…maybe with some FACTS or real NAMES? Even Italian TV news piled on Pogacar last night – including images of Merckx at Savona and BigTex at LeTour. Oddly, no images or mention of Marco Pantani during their “report.” 🙁

    • Larry T Monday, 19 July 2021, 3:19 pm

      https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/brailsford-reveals-health-issues-could-spell-the-end-of-his-ineos-grenadiers-reign/
      Now we know how come it all went sideways for INEOS. Why am I so not surprised that it’s not Sir Dave’s fault? It was ROGLIC’!!!!! Another f__king Slovenian!!!

      • Eskerrik Asko Monday, 19 July 2021, 5:22 pm

        Brailsford may have a point, though: it wouldn’t necessarily have been an entirely different kind of Tour in the mountains if Roglic hadn’t hit the ground so hard, but it isn’t impossible that those mountain stages would’ve been raced differently by a Jumbo Visma team still captained by a Slovenian.

        Whether that could’ve made the race better suited to Team Ineos’ and Carapaz’ strengths is another question – perhaps not as interesting to anyone not particularly keen on that team as it obviously is to Sir Dave.

        • Larry T Monday, 19 July 2021, 6:33 pm

          Maybe it was just me who took the 4-pronged fork idea pushed by INEOS to mean they had an answer or tactic for every possibility, but that seemed to be what they were implying, no?
          So when Roglic crashes out where was plan B, C and D? Plan C seemed to be Carapaz but B and D (and in a way C) all seemed to be the same “train to nowhere” rather than the “We’re ready for anything!” bullspeak shoved out pre-Tour. Of course I’m biased and totally unqualified to be a DS of anything, but if these people would just shut-up-and-race I’d have to think of something else to rag on them for 🙂

    • CA Monday, 19 July 2021, 3:41 pm

      I know, the comments are always biased towards “others”.

      I agree it is important to be skeptical in your own mind but until there’s anything definite or concrete it is better to keep it to yourself.

      Inrng – thanks for another great TdF. Your daily previews set-up the race perfectly for me and many others. Thanks for this great forum.

    • RQS Tuesday, 20 July 2021, 12:00 am

      Yes Larry, the sudden rise of the Danes is suspicious…

  • Larry T Monday, 19 July 2021, 4:11 pm

    CA don’t misread my comments, I’m NOT saying ANY of these people cheated, just pointing out the insane “reasoning” behind the innuendo and gossip around Pogacar and wondering why it applies ONLY to him and his team when the same “We’ve seen this movie before” baloney can be said about plenty of others? This kind of s__t is really damaging to the sport and the UCI, ASO and the rest need to make a real effort in the PUT UP or STFU area with those making these anonymous and (so far) totally unfounded claims.

    • CA Monday, 19 July 2021, 6:19 pm

      Sorry, I was completely agreeing with you.

      Why do journalists bring it up until it can be verified? I’m not saying anyone is either clean or dirty, but I’m not going to name an athlete until there is a fact to support a doping claim. Journalists must adhere to this as well.

      • KevinK Monday, 19 July 2021, 7:09 pm

        I think the history of the sport is such that if journalists didn’t bring up things like this, it would often have simply remained hidden. What you’re saying is much that many of the great cheaters said – “I’ve passed all the tests,” “show me your proof,” etc. To some extent the sport has itself to blame for creating a situation where these arguments can simmer for years, often without resolution.

        • CA Monday, 19 July 2021, 7:28 pm

          I think you’re misinterpreting me:

          My complaint is when a journalist makes a comment in passing questioning a performance it is always general and not based on anything other than a successful race. It makes the journalist and the sport look stupid. You’d never catch an English Premier League or Major League Baseball commentator making the same general comment. It all has to be based on fact.

          Cycling shoots itself in the foot time after time, and normally because of unprofessionalism.

          Dopers need to be punished, testers need to keep improving and speeding up their processes, authorities need to investigate, etc. But, the sport suffers when journalists make dumb comments that aren’t supported. My buddy who isn’t a cycling fan heard Pogacar was cheating… purely because he heard a journalist who questioned his performance! It wasn’t a comment based on any fact, but my buddy thinks this year’s TdF was as dirty as 1996 because there a journalist made a stupid comment.

          • KevinK Monday, 19 July 2021, 9:20 pm

            Most sports journalists either greatly admire the athletes or are ex-jocks themselves, and will rarely say out loud what many insiders will say privately. That’s not a credit to them, frankly. You mention MLB – I remember well the home run battles between guys who were obviously juiced to the gills, and it was virtually unremarked upon in the sports pages, except when Barry Bonds had people testifying against him. Lots of people knew Pete Rose was a gambling nut, but he got a pass from the journalists for years until he was busted. Joe DiMaggio hung out with mobsters, many of whom ran gambling operations, but in the press he was as all American as apple pie. Remember watching the Olympics in the 1980s, when Soviet athletes looked like comic book characters, but there was no proof and so it was left to viewers to speculate. From reading and listening to journalists in that era, it was all about the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat.

            There are cycling insiders who are questioning some of the recent performances, including fellow riders, sports directors, etc. You can debate how much of that should be reported by journalists, but the fact is that it’s newsworthy. The omerta of the sport, which used to be all pervasive and is still very much present, is not a sign of professionalism. And the fact is, some of the testing has been severely degraded (e.g., the biological passport), and I don’t see any evidence that the testing process itself has been improved in any meaningful ways.

  • Felix Monday, 19 July 2021, 6:14 pm

    Another vote of thanks to Inrng, not just for your Tour coverage, but on the fantastic forum you provide throughout the year. I mostly lurk – possessing of cycle racing knowledge that’s more enthusiast than expert – but enjoy the way all the topics of the day will be discussed sooner or later. Cheers!