Tour de France Stage 6 Preview

A sprint in Châteauroux.

Vitesse Mayenne: the stage started in Changé but nothing had changed, a stage win for Tadej Pogačar who beat the specialists, just as he did in the previous time trial stage of the Tour back in September. The margin of victory is notable, only ten riders within a minute on a 27km course and it looks like he probably sat up in the Slovenian championships to give others some limelight. Jumbo-Visma’s first rider was neither Wout van Aert nor Primož Roglič but Jonas Vingegaard and the Dane’s one to keep an eye on in the mountains. Roglič was seventh, a good ride given all the bandages under his skinsuit. Arch rivals Ineos fared worse, their best rider was Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas paying for his previous crash finished 16th on a day where he would have hoped to take time. Wilco Kelderman was the surprise 27th. It wasn’t perfect for UAE, Brandon McNulty had a big crash and finished last, he’s expected to play a big role for Pogačar. It’s premature to say the Tour is Pogačar’s to lose but whatever happens in the Alps, on Mont Ventoux and in the Pyrenees there’s a 30km time trial for him to look forward to.

The Route: A gourmet’s stage, a sprinter’s stage. there are few secrets to this course. It’s 160km starting in Tours, long home to the “sprinters’ classic Paris Tours, and on the banks of the Loire valley. There’s a quick dash past the touraine vineyards of Vouvray. With 46km to go the race circles Valençay, a town famous for its pyramidal goats’ cheese and the vast château which once belonged to Talleyrand. From here on it’s the same road all the way to Châteauroux.

The Finish: Châteauroux is a flat place and there’s a run around the big boulevards. The section around 2.5km to go has a divider in the middle to split the team trains. There’s almost no elevation change but turning onto the finishing straight with 1.5km to go there’s a small slope, we’re talking 1-2% here or there but enough to make some think their legs are hurting or they’re in the wrong gear for a second.

The Contenders: there’s no hierarchy to the sprinters yet. Alpecin-Fenix backed Jasper Philipsen two days ago, so you’d think this time it should be back to Tim Merlier but the Belgian media this morning say it’s Philipsen again. As you must be bored of hearing by now Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) won his first ever Tour stage here so he can boucler la boucle as they say in French.

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) vanished in Fougères. Earlier this year we saw him unable to follow his train in the Tour de La Provence and he could be having the same problems, if so he’s a harder pick. Now the time trial is done, does Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) try?

Mark Cavendish
Philipsen, WvA, Merlier, Bouhanni, Démare, Bol

Weather: an outside chance of rain, 23°C and almost no wind. The terrain here is very exposed so watch out in case the wind picks up but all the forecasts and models predict a calm one.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.35pm CEST. Tune in for the final hour to see Valençay and the run to the finish.

122 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 6 Preview”

  1. According to a theory I’d like to cling to is that Pogačar is/was/mainly was but still tends to be unless he and his DS watch out prone to go out too fast and capable of going out so fast he burns out relatively quickly and relatively badly.
    In other words, it was the mistake he kept making earlier in his career (when we thought he was as poor in ITTs as most good climbers are) and still made this year in Basque country and in the Slovenian championships.

  2. If it doesn’t sweat, doesn’t breath heavily, but still crosses the line way ahead of the competition… it’s an Armstrong.

    • I thought you were going to ask if it could be killed…to which the answer is, if it bleeds it dies.
      The Slovenian rise appears to be suspicious. But the race is not run yet.

  3. I also subscribe to the line of thought that the younger Slovenian’s lead over the elder, not to mention the other GC hopefuls who haven’t DNF’ed, is actually good for the race.
    There is now a strong and shared desire and a common determination to do something about it, to take advantage of the relatively weak UAE team on the flat and, if we’re lucky, windy stages and to try something at an unexpected moment or perhaps even something different from what everyone expects of them.

    • Replying to Asko: the Tour welcomes a new super team to the race – say hello to Jumbo Grenadiers! They’re big, bad and out to get that pesky Pog. In all seriousness, between them they have four riders within 11 seconds of each other but with a chunky deficit to Pogacar. So why not join forces?
      On a separate subject, what are the chances of Chris Froome becoming the first former Tour winner to be Lanterne Rouge?

      • I had suggested a scenario such as this pre-race but the problem now is that both respective teams do not have a fit and able leader to drive home, and maintain, any advantage gained on Pogacar.
        Carapaz is not that man unfortunately, his TT is not strong enough.
        I think a fit and well Roglic could have been, but he seemed down, out and resigned that his GC was over after yesterday’s effort.
        I never saw Ineos and Thomas as being strong enough either. Chris Froome in his prime would have been a good contest.
        Pogacar is fantastic, the perfect stage racer.

        • I disagree to an extent Ecky. Carapaz has the capacity and Roglic too (his TT was pretty ok all things considered) if he can lick his wounds for a few more days. Carapaz does need to take a lot of time in the mountains as insurance for the final TT, which is why he’ll probably end up failing. Thomas seems very dejected.

    • I wrote three different replies to the above comment – in addition to the two I wrote to another comment – and I’m pretty darn proud I didn’t submit a single one of them!

      • I think it’s strange how this whole current crop of “superkids” are smashing the established hierarchy. It’s perfectly clear it’s impossible and they are all artificially bred from birth by a dark and sinister Flandrian arch criminal with evil intent.

  4. I need to be patriotic and barg 😉
    I surely cannot remember having 5 danes in the top 17 of a GT time trial, ever … That was something to behold!

    • I saw the reaction, too, he definitely wasn’t happy about it. Not sure if it was profound disappointment at losing a TdF stage win after putting in an excellent performance, or if it was indeed contempt. There really wasn’t any of the “oh, well, I gave it my best shot, he was just better today” look to the reaction, though, so you may well be correct.

      • Listen to the reaction from Dumoulin after the last ITT in the 2020 edition. For me that says it all and is exactly the same reaction I saw today from Kūng. Disbelief …

      • I’m not a student of Stefan Kung’s facial expressions, but he wasn’t showing much when riders narrowly failed to beat him either. I guess he’s not the kind of chap who pulls amusing faces and plays to the camera.

  5. A small typo in the chainring picks – “Merlier” has become “Mercier”. Maybe the God of autocorrect is a closet Poulidoriste!

  6. The start of this Tour has reminded me of Tours 20-25 years ago. Hectic early stages, a lot of crashes, big name sprinters winning and the pre race favourite dominating an early time trial so that barring disaster we kind of know already who’s going win.

    I’ll go with Cavendish to double up today.

  7. Gotta be a lot of head scratching going on about how to beat Pogacar, but there are still more than two weeks left. Happy to read “OPI-OMI” grandaughter’s been identified and thrown in the can and hope Soler and the rest of those injured file their own cases against her to send a message to the rest of these “look at me!” dolts to at least stay the hell out of the way while they try to get their mugs on TV.
    Vive LeTour!
    PS-apology to Mr Inrng about that troll thing, but sometimes I feel like one has to bring out the old “put up or shut up!” with folks like this one.

    • I’ve got to agree with the opinion of Ned Boulting (ITV pundit) on the spectator. At almost every moment an accident is caused by experienced idiots within a race (Hoogerland crash, improper race barriers, badly designed finishes, unmarked road furniture, gantry falling on Yates, cars/motos driving into riders or parked badly, poor riding), there’s been a light touch approach to sanctions or simply a closing of ranks to avoid individual blame. A spectator comes to the race, perhaps for the first time, and doesn’t quite grasp the speed or positioning of the peloton. Idiotic, yes, but there’s little guidance when you turn up to spectate and no barriers. It was a accident, so seems uncomfortable that this one person is financially ruined and jailed for the sake of making them a scapegoat.

      • I think they’ve learned a lesson, they did walk into the police station too rather than get picked up. But note they’ve yet to be financially ruined, let alone given a €125 admin penalty. I’m not sure it will come to much, so far it’s procedural. The Hoogerland crash is instructive as it did go to court but took many years.

        • Ah, there was an implication in a podcast that the identity of the Hoogerland driver was not disclosed for some time. The associated court case was an insurance claim, unless I’m mistaken – presumably the spectator doesn’t have the same legal coverage as a French TV company. “Opi Omi” just seems like an unfortunate 1-in-a-1000 incident that will arise from the nature of bike racing, with the obvious caveat that race organises should do everything in their capacity to create a safe racing environment. Feels like they’ve learned their lesson and it’s been a very high profile example of how (not) to spectate – one of the rare times non-cycling friends in the UK have discussed a cycling incident with me.

          • There are so many ‘fans’ who behave like this. Standing on the road, leaning out with phones, etc., running with the riders, slapping the riders on the back, pushing riders… It happens all the time and will continue to happen. (Plus, so many of these people are mugging for the camera and not even looking at the race.)
            Does the procession before the race have a loudspeaker that repeats ‘STAND OFF THE ROAD’?
            That’s all people need to do – stand off the road – and there’s no excuse for not doing it.

        • Anyway, as suggested it looks like the case has been dropped by ASO. As said on here before the French legal system requires a complaint, it’s a way of registering the issue, a procedural step rather than a “sue them for every dime” attitude but this seems to have been lost in translation (which is normal, people are tuning in for a bike race not the Napoleonic legal code after all). Other parties could still try and push the case on but it would be a slow and probably pointless task.

      • No guidance? Whenever I’ve been beside the road for the Tour, there have been several preceding cars, then the gendarmes on motorbikes making pushing back gestures at the crowd, often blowing whistles too. If you can be bothered to look down the road, you can see/ hear the peloton coming, not least because the people just before you are shouting and cheering. And of course the focus of her attention, the phot moto.

        I don’t want to crucify this self regarding idiot, but I don’t see why we should pretend that anyone with one functioning eye, ear or brain cell could have been in any mistake about the imminent arrival of the peloton.

        • There are also several cars with giant speakers telling people to get back and on TV in France the ad breaks regularly have the “don’t run alongside the riders, don’t get in the way” film message. But you can reach 99.999% of the people, it’s the ones who simply cannot be reached that create the problems.

    • So imagine your club is out for a ride, maybe 20-30 strong. Opi-Omi’s sister is driving along the same route, is posting on Instagram while driving and clips one rider with her mirror, causing that rider to crash and take down most of the other riders. She’s embarrassed and drives away. Emergency services are called, and the police, too. Some serious injuries are suffered, bikes and carbon wheels are destroyed, and many other minor to medium injuries occur.

      Seems like so many people are willing to let Opi-Omi girl off the hook, since “she’s embarrassed” and “she’s learned her lesson.” I disagree. In the scenario I described, not that dissimilar to the real incident, would you just let Opi-Omi’s sister off with no punishment? I wouldn’t, I would want her to pay for all medical expenses and all bike repairs/replacements, and be prosecuted for hit-and-run.

      • Exactly.
        The lesson everyone has learned from this is that there will be no consequences.
        No matter how idiotic your behaviour. No matter how many injuries you cause.
        (As has always been the case in the past with fans who interfere with a race or cause a crash.)

        • The decision to back off is likely pragmatic: no-one wants the sport to descend into a cult of litigation against overlooked potholes, brollies blown in the wind, AWOL livestock, collapsing banners, protruding barriers etc etc

  8. Seems a foregone conclusion but we’re still a long way from Paris. Didn’t we all think Roglic was a dead cert until Belles Filles last year?

  9. Not sure I remember a situation where so many teams have multiple riders chasing a single rider from a fairly week team. Astana, JV & Ineos all have two riders clustered around 1:20 – 1;50 down (not counting WvA here) which is going to trigger a lot of fantasy cycling manger style punditry. A good few days of who might attack when discussions in prospect.

    Cav is the emotional pick today, it would be great to see him win again but not sure. WvA says he is going for sprints now (surely he should be saving energy to help the team?). I would have said Tim Merlier but if media stories are true then clearly not but that doesnt make sense as I would suggest on current form he is the beat sprinter left in the race. Perhaps his team are upset by the rumours of his departure to DQS.

    • As you say Pogačar has a lot on his plate now and McNulty took a fall. Hirschi’s still very sore and the rest of the squad will struggle to contain, say, Nairo Quintana or Emanuel Buchmann, let alone the big contenders.

      Similarly for the sprints it’s unusual they’re backing Philipsen today for a Merlier-style finish. Yes to sharing out the opportunities but they could back Philipsen for the hillier stage to Valence or the one to Nîmes with the “hidden” climb 10km from the finish.

    • Cedal Evans had a fairly weak team in the mountains in 2011. But he had to do a massive personal effort in the last 2 mountain stages to make up for it. If your team is weak you do open up for tactics to play out and against a better team he would have probably failed.
      On one year Sky imploded early in stage (i can’t recall the exact stage) when moviestar attacked. Fortunately for sky it was moviestar because they couldn’t work out what to do and sort of towed him along.

      • 2013, stage 9.

        More a hilly stage, not hard enough at finish. Still, Froome neutralised a few attacks 10km-ish to the line. Well, those were pretty half-hearted.

      • Evans’ effort on the Galibier that year was one of the great but (relatively) unsung cycling feats. He dragged a bunch of GC contenders the whole way up, dropping many en route, to limit his losses after Schleck’s long range attack. I could watch that stage on repeat.

        • One of my favourite stages, Andy Schleck was immense that day (I think better than the Chris Froome stage in the 2018 Giro), on one level deserved to win the Tour with it. However Cadel Evans’ response was also immense in a different way and set up his victory a few days later in the TT. Not sure we will see anything like that this year.

      • Evans, like Pogacar, won on virtually the last day. Their teams never had to ride for them. It’ll be interesting how he handles the pressure if he’s to wear yellow for any length of time.

  10. Little talk about Cav notching up another win. Does he go for the sprint points too? Or save the legs for the end? I guess it depends on the size of the break today. With the chance of another win I can see DQS keeping a tight leash.

    • Since Cavendish was rarely a top competitor for the green jersey when he was in his prime, it would be extraordinary for him to suddenly become that kind of sprinter. Of course, this TdF seems almost custom designed for a sprinter like him or the now-departed Ewan, and offers little for Sagan to work his usual magic.

      Today will be interesting for Cavendish. It has seemed for a while that he hasn’t done well when there are lots of expectations placed upon him. This year, having been written off, he’s been racing with zero pressure. The races in Turkey were low-prestige and low-expectation, and ideal for him to just not think but instead follow his lead out. He was a last minute sub at Baloise Belgium Tour and his win was a big surprise. Now he’s firmly in the spotlight, riding a stage that he’s won before, and is now the odds-on favorite. It’s no longer “nothing to lose, anything is a bonus.” We’ll see how he handles a level of expectation and pressure he hasn’t faced in quite a few years.

      • In terms of points jerseys and Cav, you probably do him a disservice. His best points classifications in each Grand Tour (some of those second places include very small margins to first place):
        Giro = 1st, 2nd, 4th
        Tour = 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 4th
        Vuelta = 1st
        That’s a pretty good record! Not a “specialist” like Sagan, but better than every other active sprinter.

      • Whether it’s “nothing to lose, anything is a bonus.” really depends on how you see it. The pressure is from within. Cav may as well feel he’s already done what he was here to do and grabbed the bounce. Everything else is really a blessing?

        There is a reason he got somewhat aggressive when people started to talk about the record. He knows chasing that record is no good for his mental status. Wins are the most important in itself. If record comes, it comes.

  11. “The final time gaps at the end of the stage, with just two riders within ten minutes of Wiggins, showed that it wasn’t just a victory. It was a domination. ” taken from cycling weekly review of TT stage TdF 2012. 53k ride, closest rival C Froome at 1 minute. I’m British and didn’t think anything other than chapeau when this happened. Similar thing happening now and I’m quick to think of sinister reasons for the time splits. That’s obviously a reflection on my nationalistic pride and thrill at seeing Wiggins succeed but are both results ‘out of this world’ or simply great cyclists doing great things? The truth is, we’ll probably never know. For now I’m a believer with a significant slice of cynic, which is uncomfortable, but that’s just the way it is.

      • I think the report of “2 riders within 10 minutes” referred to the GC standings rather than the TT stage result, with only the final stage to come.

    • The difference there was that Wiggins was a TT specialist- a gold medalist, a World Champion, an Hr record holder etc. Dominance in TT’s was expected.

      Pog is a climber who is now- arguably- the best TT’r in the world . People will come to their own conclusions and I’m not saying if this suspicious or not. There doesn’t need to be a national slant on this.

      • Few differances here – Wiggins was a TT specalist and a classic ‘hold in the mountains, mow them down in the chrono rider’ compared to Pog whose a climber who also, apparently, happens to now be the worlds best TTer (but only when he wants to be).

        Plus that TTR was double the length, pretty much perfectly suited to Wiggins style and was at the end of the race so fatigue was a big factor for other riders. It’s a fairly different situation – tho obviously that doesn’t mean it’s not real.

        • Right, some skepticism was well justified in 2012, so why not now? I don’t agree with “we’ll probably never know,” though. One really does need to decide how one feels about Brad’s jiffy bags (and Froomey’s puffer overdoses). For me we seem to be at the point where if a result stands for a couple years without major revelations, it should be considered as “cleanish” as any other. Even SKY’s wins meet my definition of “cleanish.” “Marginal gains” turned out to mean “will abuse TUE’s (ie lie to the public) if we can get away with it.” Don’t want to tarnish the victories of those riders, but I also don’t know that Dave Brailsford was ever properly held to account.

    • That result was expected of Wiggins though, 53.5 km, pan flat course, all the TT specialists (apart from Froome) had left for the olympics

    • Problem with Wiggo was how he climbed so well. Arguably he didn’t climb that well. 2012 was easy yet Wiggo still felt insecure and treated Froome’s bid for stage win as an active act of rebellion.

      That said, if you enjoyed the Wiggins/Froome wins, you should probably give Pog the same benefit of doubt.

  12. There could be a couple of quiet days before the weekend, but hopefully with a lot of between-car communication as teams work out their anti-Pog strategy. That could make for a fascinating tour, and if Pogačar can still hold on, then chapeau to him.
    So far, it’s a classic “supposedly boring week turns out to be fascinating”.

  13. A typo in the first paragraph regarding yesterday´s results: His name isn´t Jonas Vinegaaard. It is Vingegaard. Unusual mistake from mr ring, possibly inflicted by products from vineyards? (vinegaaard comes very close to vineyard in da/no.)

  14. After Stage 5

    32 Alpecin–Fenix
    27   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    17  UAE Team Emirates
    15   Team Jumbo–Visma
    10 Arkéa–Samsic
    9   Team BikeExchange
    7   Bora–Hansgrohe
    6   Groupama–FDJ
    5  Team Bahrain Victorious
    1   Team DSM

    Over the last or so I’ve come to the belief that the Team competition doesn’t reflect the race. At present it is based on a team’s best 3 riders times for each stage. This leaves much of emphasis on the mountain stages. What I would prefer a points system that treats each stage equally regardless of whether the stage is a time trial, flat, intermediate, mountain or even a team time trial. The reason for this is that cycling is a team sport where the individual gets all the credit. I am thinking of a sprint train or a mountain train have the same effect in working for the teams objective of the day.

    I would love to see a points system based on the F1 during the 1990s. 1st -10pts, 2nd-6pts, 3rd-4pts, 4th-3pts, 5th-2pts & 6th-1pt. Each stage has the same points. It is only the top 6 positions because it puts the emphasis on finishing very well rather than just being consistent. Plus it follows the bonus seconds for the first 3 in each stage. I will try to update the list each day to show how it could work.
    This was inspired in part by Inrng’s take on team performance over the course of a year.

  15. That result was expected of Wiggins though, 53.5 km, pan flat course, all the TT specialists (apart from Froome) had left for the olympics

  16. Obviously a lot of suspicion about yesterdays result – and I can hardly move on twitter for alien gifs. I share the suspicions – and I think that’s entirely understandable given our sport’s history – but it’s worth noting that Pog has a long history of being a excellent TTer when he doesn’t blow up. We simply don’t know – his record suggests that he is a phenomon generally and this could just be further development of an already remarkable talent. After all, he was winning his national TT champs and placing at the Vuelta at 19.

    If that’s the case tho then we could be seeing the start of a new era of Meckx like dominance in GT’s. It’s very hard to see how you can attack him when he has 30 secs + over all GT contenders in TT’s and can climb as well as anyone. You can attack him repeatedly (and teams should be coming together to work this out) but he can counter and can climb as well as anyone – can I see a rider taking 2 or 3 mins out of him? Unless he totally breaks no.

    And, of course, the team around him will get stronger.

    • Cycling is a sport based 90-95% on your physical capacities. There always will be, and always was, a freak who due to some blend of genetic good fortune is better than everyone else. Repeatedly, year on year. We can all name the likes of Binda, Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain, Armstrong, Contador, Froome (place asterisks wherever you see fit). Pogacar is likely the next on that list. It’s funny, and probably understandable, that nowadays whenever the next one emerges we just can’t accept it.

      • I find it very hard to warm to riders whose success is purely based on the physiological/genetic advantages, like Pogacar and Evenepoel. Much better that they are average freaks (!) but use bike handling, tactical nous or ability to suffer pain to overcome the opposition. Roglic went up in my estimation to ride that well while obviously in a bad way. The moral victor, almost.

      • Totally agree. I would put Pogacar and Bernal on this list of generational talents.

        Obviously we can be skeptical but it is a waste of time not to enjoy the performances on the road.

        • My friend calls sport theatre. And, a bit like WWF, I think there’s an element of all that. Good news stories to outweigh the bad – such as Cav’s sprint wins. I’m being perfectly cynical – but watching with you mind and eyes open is far better than burying you head in the sand. Enjoy the sport for the spectacle it is, just don’t believe what you’re seeing is entirely authentic.
          Some here seem totally oblivious to Roglic’s rise followed by Pogacar. As if they were completely unrelated, Like a golden age of British cycling, or even the golden age of US cycling – there’s a pattern there, don’t ignore it.
          I’m not trying to spoil things, but I just think a more grown up view of the sport (in fact any sport) is required since the doping genie jumped out of its box over half a century ago…there’s always someone who is willing to do anything to get to the top. It’s funny to think that although there’s always been a suspicion about steroids in body building and WWF no one says anything for fear of being sued. The answer is before your eyes, but you have to pull back the wool – what good the truth does you is a different thing.
          Enjoy the TdF. It’s a fantastic race. It will always surprise and delight you.

    • Nobody is doubting that he’s exceptionally, probably uniquely, talented. But there is no correlation between natural talent and willingness to cheat.
      But to a casual spectator, it does look a bit like a comedy sketch seeing somebody who looks like a child run circles around armies of battle hardened men.
      It would be interesting to read an article by somebody who is both neutral and knowledgeable of how cheating could be done in a foolproof way in the 2020s… I know little about this stuff.

      • I know – and we’ve always seen these periods of dominance, hence why there are so many multi winners and dominant periods.

        The key differance for me here is how young he is – most of the names you listed came into their own at 25+ (aside from Merckx) while Pog is just 22! If he continues like this I’m also not sure we’ve seen the superiority as clear cut for a while – maybe since Armstrong/Merckx? Tho obviously his strongest potential rivals have either crashed (rog) or aren’t developed/here (Bernal/Remco)

        I think dft makes a good point – it’s the look of it and the distance. 19 secs on that circuit, this early on is a huge margin and for a young kid to be busting that out just looks suspicious.

        • There are plenty of examples of riders winning things when Pogacars age or younger. Rik Van Steenbergen won the Belgian title and the Tour of Flanders in his teens, Anquetil won the Chrono des Nations (the TT world champs of the day and 140km long) when 19. I think Merckx was 21 when he first won the worlds, Armstrong likewise on a gruelling course in terrible weather. There are probably others.

  17. Pogacar seems set for a win barring something unexpected but UAE certainly rivals Jumbo for IMO worst DS.
    If you have a weak team and your the yellow favourite don’t let multple riders do a 100% TT effort. One of which crashed joining a list of already hurt riders. Sitting in the leaders chair for a while is not a good alternative to having a nice more restful ride to recover when you have the team leader is going for the overall win.

    They can only equal Jumbo who had the #1 or #2 fav in the race and they let there best most capable domestique freelance just for the off chance he may get the yellow jersey after stage 5. And whilst he is freelancing your #1 guy gets bumped off the course and probably loses most of his chance to win. Not to say roglic may not have crashed anyway but WVA should have been riding shotgun for roglic on the hectic stages to reduce the chances. They didn’t even get him to wait to help tow him to the finish. Maximise your chances of winning by having the entire team dedicated on every stage from start to finish.

    • I wondered about Van Aert shepherding Roglic in that stage too. He appeared at the front with Roglic on his wheel, then a little later he’s on his own on the right of the bunch, while Roglic is back on the left with his climbing doms. As to him waiting, maybe he’s too big a name now and the team need to accommodate his desire to chase yellow.

  18. If people want to get angry, why not direct it at the stupid, archaic rules that cause injured riders to avoid getting medical treatment and being forced to race immediately back to try not to lose further time?
    It’s ridiculous, what other sport does this?
    And if the injured rider dares to get even the most cursory treatment, they’re further penalised by yet more lost time?
    Roglic, brought down multiple times (did his injuries affect his next crash/es), ends up looking like a 20% burns victim, and he loses contact and time as well as his skin!
    The GC is kaput because two out of the three main contenders had the misfortune to get injured and the race rules won’t contend for this.

    • How would you suggest this works in practice? Anyone who needs medical attention gets their time gaps wiped off or a free tow back to the peloton? Whole race gets paused?

      • In theory, they should get the lost time back after the stage end, be allowed to finish at a reasonable pace.
        It’s a double penalty as the rules stand.
        You can get taken out by Mrs Cardboard and lose your GC, it’s not right.
        Chris Froome got his time for the Running Man episode, so it can be done.

        • This would end up with stressed riders taking a dive. It’s like at a crit where the winner is often the rider who took a lap out with three to go by the time they get back in, and who might not have had a real mechanical or puncture at all…

          • Exactly. You could have yourself a minor incident – you could arrange a slight coming together with team mates.

            Plus, some riders have less skill and are more prone to crash. So, if this rule was to be put into place, riding skill would no longer matter.

            Wiggins said on TV the other day that he once deliberately rode into the back of a crash that was within the 3km rule because otherwise he would have lost time.

        • I have some sympathy with this; if you crash on your own, then obviously that’s on yourself. However, if you get caught up in a multiple crash, with bikes & bodies strewn over the road, then it’s a different matter. And especially when it’s caused by an outside influence.
          Happens quite often in motorsport; a multi car pile up; the race director will then either red flag/stop the race or double yellows and they all line up slowly behind the safety car until everything is cleared up. If someone has a big lead, I’m afraid that’s too bad…..that’s racing.

          You could do something similar in cycling; for instance, after the first crash on Saturday, the race director drives to the front, and slows everybody down, until all those in the crash have got back on, and haven’t lost time. Simple – so it won’t happen.

          • But who decides whether or not a crash is the rider concerned’s fault?
            Also, other riders are almost always brought down, so you’d have to pause the race for almost all crashes.
            The other day you had Thomas’ crash, Roglic’s, the one with about 7.5km(?) to go, Ewan’s at the end…
            Basically, you’d end up with the race being paused all the time, commissaires deciding races and all sorts of polemics about whether or not racing should have been paused.
            (F1 was much better before they sent the safety car out for all sorts of reasons.)

    • Pretty much every running event.
      Every type of team event. Hurt yourself badly as roglic and your out until the next game at least. Although you do get a minute to recover where some team events may allow a pause depending on your injury.
      Nobody from the race organisers forces the riders to get back up and ride.

      I do think however on some stages they could put the 3km rule out a bit. If it was 10 km or even more then at least for the last 10 km the race directors would not be telling all their team to be at the front (slightly impossible to say the least) which is really the tipping point which makes a lot of those finishes a low more hair raising then they need to be. These first week sprint finishes are like the mountain top decent finishes. I can no longer watch them because i have to many memories of seeing people crash which i really dislike. And i know all to well how much it hurts to crash so its like watching a horror movie for me.

      • Running events, yes, but falls and injury happen once every blue moon in those types of races.
        Every time the peloton goes out, there’s crashes and injuries.
        We need to look at ways to de-stress the peloton against this, if allowance was given, maybe then the risk, mindset and resulting safety would improve too?

        • Get rid of team radios. Then, riders are not constantly being screamed at to go to the front.
          Racing got a lot more dangerous when Sky had the idea that they could protect their GC rider by riding hard at the front towards the end of the race. Everybody saw it worked and thus copied it. The result is that it’s altogether more dangerous. You can’t put that particular genie back in the bottle, but you can get rid of the DSs shouting at the riders.

  19. Just No to all the 3km rule changes. All well-intentioned but it’s all pavé from there on. What about when there’s a GC team with a sprint train? What about finishes on really windy days with false flat uphill?
    Don’t forget the 1 or 3 second rule on finish time gaps too. Skilled teams put riders ahead to fill in gaps, or to leave them…
    Gain one little thing and lose a lot more finesse. Besides, all the smashes would only move even further back into the parcours, making it impossible for the convoy.

  20. David Lappartient’s comments after the Brittany carnage struck me.
    He laid the blame on the riders taking too many risks.
    This is a classic symptom of poor safety culture in an organisation or place of work.
    Blame the cotton mill workers for sticking their hands into the moving looms.
    Set the culture from the top.
    Road cycling is not necessarily inherently dangerous.
    But it has inherent hazards and risks.
    The hazards are being addressed – barriers, stewards, road furniture protection and warnings etc. The races do a good job on the whole, in difficult circumstances and relying on volunteers.
    But the risks? The chief risk is the riders’ mindset and stress.
    If that can be improved, in addition to hazard reduction, then I believe that safety, and the safety culture, around the peloton can be improved also.

    • OTOH – If I proposed a new sport today, one that had people dressed in stretchy dancing costumes with bare arms and legs and styrofoam hats on their heads racing on public roads (as in up and down, around and through cities large and small and over massive mountain passes where descending speeds can exceed 100 kph) using easy-to-tip-over carbon-fiber, two-wheeled contraptions that lean into turns they had to pedal in close proximity to each other in packs of 200 riders in all types of weather while sitting on a tiny saddle and gripping a set of handlebars with their feet mechanically attached to the pedals, do you think anyone would allow it to happen, let alone organize, control and promote it?
      A moto friend of mine asked me questions like this after watching a stage or two of LeTour on TV. This was a person very much involved in professional motorcycle roadracing in the USA, photographing the action over many years for newspapers and magazines. She couldn’t believe how dangerous pro cycling looked on TV! Yep, BICYCLE racing.
      I’m not suggesting the riders race through flaming hoops of fire or in places a mistake would mean certain death, but the rider’s complaints imply that roadracing over public roads can somehow be “sanitized for your protection” and abdicate their own responsibilities.
      How can the UCI or ASO make a rule preventing Joe Crankarm from overcooking a turn and ending up in the weeds, taking out fellow competitors in the process? Get rid of turns? Should a Grand Tour be mostly a parade with a few timed sections (only on the safest of roads of course) to separate the competitors? Or as I wrote before, held only on motor-racing circuits with fans kept well away?
      The guy who spoke of modern riders being chosen more for how many watts they can crank out over how well they can actually ride a bike might be onto something to explain an increase in crashing, but I’d wager if the routes were examined there wouldn’t be much correlation between crashes caused by the roads (traffic furniture’s increasing popularity might be an exception) vs caused by people who fall off riding over a speed bump or simply overlap the wheel of the rider in front of them for one reason or another.

    • His interview was tone deaf but got taken out of context, it was in reaction to Marc Madiot having a go at everyone and everything, from race radios to the finish line to whether children should ever start racing. On the day in question most of the crashes were down to riders, whether it was Ewan overlapping his front wheel or Geraint Thomas riding over a speedbump, his hand slipping on the bars and crashing.

      • Exactly, interview taken out of context, but it was tone deaf for sure. He should have been more careful. Madiot pushing the radio agenda as if before electricity, cycle races had no crashes or risks.

  21. I am surprised that you didnt mention the heroic ride by Mathieu van der Poel to keep the yellow jersey and finishing only a second slower than TT specialist WvA. For me, Pogacar’s and MvdP ride were the highlights of the stage.

    • Agree. Surprised Mr. inrng didn’t mention it. He usually homes in on these things. To me, it was one of the many amazing performance of this tour.

      MvdP reportedly does not even have a TT bike at home and has never even been to a wind tunnel. His head position was often wrong for his helmet. He didn’t look comfortable on the bike. And he was that close to Pogacar. Could be WC with a little training on the right course (despite the broad shoulders).

  22. I get a lot from cycling, as a rider (very much weekend warrior) and viewer. We are lucky to have Mr Ring’s superb blog to add to our pleasure. But I’m dismayed at the increasing number of ‘he rode very well he must be doping’ comments that I’m seeing here. As I’ve said elsewhere, there are plenty of other sites where such comments seem to be welcomed.

    This is not to pretend that doping hasn’t happened in the past and may well still be happening in the pro peleton. When it becomes an issue – when something actually happens – then I expect Mr Ring will write about it and posters will no doubt comment. But what is the point in someone writing now ‘I’m suspicious of Pogacar’; as far as I can see it just seems to represent a misplaced view that it makes the author look worldly wise – aware that you can’t always rely on what you see. Not to me, it doesn’t.

    I don’t know whether Mr Ring agrees with me nor, if he does, whether it is easy for him to do anything about it; I’m aware that he maintains the site in his spare time and, presumably, doesn’t have armies of staff to do his bidding – which is a shame.

    Anyway, I thought that MVDP rode like a monster once again yesterday, and I hope Cav goes well today. It would be quite something if he were to end up sprinting along the Champs in pursuit of his 34th or even 35th stage.

    • Isn’t this the oldest of issues….if your guy’s not winning it MUST be because the others are cheating? Same as ignoring evidence/rumors/signals that your guy IS cheating while winning.
      Same s__t, different day IMHO. We’re all fortunate (grazie Mr. Inrng) that most of these folks never find their way here and instead infest places like cyclingnews, etc.

    • It’s not about thinking oneself worldly wise (saying ‘I suspect X’ shows no knowledge whatsoever); it’s about the incredible performances we’ve seen in the past almost all turning out to be PED-fueled.
      Doping speculation is mercifully uncommon here (except when something is actually found), but some performances are so amazing that they can’t help but invite suspicion. (Look at GC winners who would win flat ITT stages against specialists in the last, say, 20 years.)

      • I completely disagree. I don’t think that almost all the incredible performances in the past turned out to be PED-fuelled. Lots of GC winners have won ITTs in the last 20 years – often, having a good TT is precisely why they’ve won the GC. Off the top of my head Contador, Evans, Wiggins, Froome, Thomas, Dumoulin, Roglic, Pogacar and, no doubt in the future, Evanepoel have all been excellent GC-winning TTers.

        You say that ‘some performances are so amazing that they can’t help but invite suspicion’ – but that’s really not very different from saying ‘he rode very well therefore he’s likely to be doping’; it just depends on how you define ‘amazing’. If I won a Tour TT I accept that you may be justified in smelling a rat, but Pogacar?? As Mr Ring has pointed out, this hardly came from nowhere.

        • George Vest – Look, on the whole I agree with your argument and I agree not all champions are PED fueled, but some of the riders you mentioned were far from clean:

          Contador – ITT where he destroyed Cancellara
          Wiggins, Froome and Thomas (maybe) – TUE use for corticosteroids at Sky is coming to light now.

          Even Evans in his day may have been prepared the way many of his cohorts were. So, it is not always possible to cherry pick riders from the past who haven’t specifically been caught and say they are clean, because the truth is likely far more complicated…

          • The ITT, where Contador beat Cancellara – he was riding really close behind two motos that had to disperse the crowds – huge slipstream

          • I didn’t say that those riders were clean, just that they were good TTers. And anyway, only Contador was actually done for doping. With the rest you’ve just got various shades of meaningless, pointless speculation, culminating in the ‘Pogacar rode really really fast so, given cycling’s history, he must be doping’ argument. Of course, the same applies to the GC-winning climbers, too – Horner, Hesjedal, Nibali etc. What a futile waste of time.

    • This does seem to happen in the Tour, that people seem to be suspicious but nobody posts anything about, say, Tirreno-Adriatico. The case for the prosecution is that he’s winning/producing big watts and that he’s got people like Gianetti and Matxin in his entourage but there’s not much more to go on. Nobody can know what Pogačar may or may not do in private but the case for the defence is he’s 22, he won the Tour last year, the year before that he aced the Vuelta aged 20 and when he was a teenager he won the Tour de l’Avenir, plus it’s not the first time he’s been TT specialists on a rolling course, this isn’t a “out of nowhere” performance (he was a pick to win in yesterday’s preview).

      As George suggests I don’t have the time to moderate all the comments. It might easier to prune some in time though, like I say this always seems to happen in the Tour, tempers seem to flare up more.

  23. Why isn’t Merlier sprinting instead of Phillipsen… Am I the only one who thinks he is fastest? Phillipsen rarely wins and after getting off final leadoff man he never gaps the guy behind with acceleration… he is actually perfect as the final leadout man and not great as the finishing man because he can wind it up and stretch out the group without ever dropping his team’s sprinter on his wheel.

  24. It is said that Merlier is off to Quickstep next year…..So perhaps the team prefer someone who is staying with them….Shades of Sam Bennett.

    • That explains that… no wonder they don’t switch back to Merlier… it’s too bad, he would have a good shot against Cav.

      But, I’m glad Cav is winning – he has worked really hard to recover his career.

    • In interviews it seems MVdP has discovered he likes being part of a team. He claims to enjoy helping the others win rather than just winning for himself. Merlier already has a win so he said they’re trying to get one for Phillipsen next. I don’t think there are any hard feelings amongst the Alpecin-Fenix riders about Merlier going (if it’s true) to DQS…though the idea does make one wonder what the DQS plans are for the Manx Missile for 2022?

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