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Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

The longest stage of the Tour and a hard final hour in the Morvan’s mini-mountains before the finish in the industrial town of Le Creusot.

The Town Where Time Stood Still: 2008 is a long time ago, in France it’s the year they banned smoking in bars and restaurants, when Mark Cavendish won his first Tour stage in Châteauroux and when the scientists turned on the CERN large hadron collider. Did something happen in the particle accelerator, a wormhole formed that bent time, casting Cavendish to the same place for the same sprint again? Probably not but it is a remarkable span of time, especially for a sprinter. It was a fast stage, 48km/h with a hectic start and a nervous peloton traversing crosswind terroir. We should note Cavendish hopped off his sprint train to hitch a ride on the Alpecin-Fenix team and came around to win, closing the door slightly on Tim Merlier but not enough to trouble the commissaires. Nacer Bouhanni was third, Arnaud Démare fourth and both had struggled with 2km to go but got back into contention, they’ll keep believing in an opportunity. Cavendish is pulling out a lead in the points competition but we’ll see what the Alps bring this weekend.

The Route: 249km and the longest stage of the race. This isn’t an anecdotal stat, today is a marathon and so the relatively small climbs later can have a disproportionate effect. There’s not much to write home about for the first 150km as the race crosses one of France’s empty areas, it’s farmland and villages where a share of the houses are abandoned, shutters closed in the daytime.

The final picks up the route we would have had from Copenhagen had the start not been switched to Brittany and the traverse via Châteauroux and Vierzon designed in response. There’s 3,000m of vertical gain today, two thirds of this comes in the final 100km so it’s lumpy but not severe, the finale is accessible for many riders.

The climbs are listed as 5% but that’s the average from start to finish, they often have their steeper moments. The Croix de la Libération out of Autun is 4.6km at 5.3% average but after a gentle start past the town’s ramparts and a small descent the final 2km are a more selective 7.5%.

The Signal d’Uchon is the big climb of the day and the official profile doesn’t capture how hard the final two kilometres are, but it’s only two kilometres. At the top is the special 8-5-2 second time bonus. It’s a good launchpad for a move, there’s no immediate descent but a false flat down past a lake and then chased by a twisty descent that opens up but there’s another climb to come, 2km at 5%, a big ring climb before another twisty descent to Montcenis.

The Finish: it’s out of the town of Montcenis on a narrow road and descent into Le Creusot but there’s rollercoaster moment with a sharp climb after the 3km to go point. Then the road drops down into town, there’s a tight bend with 1.5km to go and it’s onto the approach road, it’s a slog up which peaks at 5% before a small dip that’s not on the profile and then it rises again to the line.

The Contenders: it’s a big day for a breakaway and especially for riders who don’t fancy their chances in the Alpine ski resorts this weekend. The local pick is Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo). He won’t pedal faster because of this but he will probably have this in his diary for a breakaway which has a decent chance of making it as 80% of the field is over five minutes down on GC. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) will want to be in the break too and this could give him an option on the finish even if sprinting up the climbs is bound to blunt his legs and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) sat up yesterday to freewheel in, a giveaway he’s got today’s stage in mind.

Sonny Colbrelli is the reductive pick of the day, he can go in the breakaway and he can win what’s left of a sprint, likewise Michael Matthews (Bike Exchange). Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) can also win the sprint but are less likely to get in the breakaway. If they don’t then this means several teams to chase and set up a reduced sprint.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) would be the archetypal rider for today but unlikely to get any room to attack unless the GC teams get frisky, instead Kasper Asgreen could be one to watch. Can Ineos try any ambush moves? They are probably waiting for the Alps but watch Richie Carapaz who was attacking on small climbs in the Tour de Suisse, he could try a surprise move on the Signal d’Uchon but staying away is the harder part, it’s hard to see such fireworks.

Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-Nippo) is suited to the stage, in great form and several team mates are worth watching. Team DSM can play several cards too, think Tiesj Benoot or Søren Kragh Andersen. Ag2r Citroën have Benoît Cosnefroy and Dorion Godon.

Magnus Cort, Omar Fraile, Ivan Garcia Cortina
MvdP, Colbrelli, Godon, Cosnefroy, Schelling, Bernard, Perez

Weather: sunshine and a few thin clouds, 24°C.

TV: the stage starts at 11.00am CEST and could be interesting if there’s a fight to get in the breakaway. The finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST and tune in for the final hour to see the climbs and twisting roads of the Morvan.

Off on a tangent: today’s stage crosses a lot of empty space, a part of France that isn’t in the tourist brochures. But there is a photography project which captures the feel of the place, the Atlas des Régions Naturelles. Abandoned shops, empty houses, architectural monstrosities and silent landscapes are all document. If you visit the website – best on a big screen – you can search by region, or rather imaginary region as the artists have created their own regions rather than use the administrative ones of today. Look for the “Morvan” or “Autunois” on the map, click “rechercher” on the top right to get the photos. The big difference between these often bleak images and today is that the Tour is coming to town. You can see the field art on TV but television just doesn’t how much the whole route adopts the Tour’s colours, rusty bikes get sprayed yellow and placed in people’s gardens, jerseys and bidons are displayed in the shop windows, bakeries have polka-dot cakes. It’s a big day for a lot of small places.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Friday, 2 July 2021, 6:19 am

    Great seeing Cavendish winding back the years but one still can’t help but look at these last two sprints and see him as the beneficiary of Caleb Ewan’s broken collar bone. At least to this armchair viewer the standard of sprinting from those left looks to be, let’s just say not the strongest in comparison to years gone by.

    • BarkingOwl Friday, 2 July 2021, 7:25 am

      Still makes for a great story!

    • LionKing Friday, 2 July 2021, 7:33 am

      I think Ewan’s presence(or lack of) is a moot point.
      Cav beat him in Belgium this year, and the DQS train seems far more drilled than Lotto have. Many times when Ewan didn’t win this year, or even get close, as the team couldn’t even get him in a place to compete the sprint.

    • Tomski Friday, 2 July 2021, 7:41 am

      To finish first, first you must finish.

      • Niobe Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:14 am

        David Elsworth, the trainer of Desert Orchid, used to say when asked whether his horse would have beaten other famous racehorses of past eras ‘ you can’t race against ghosts’.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:26 am

      Alpecin-Fenix also doing their bit by trying to help Philipsen win a stage when yesterday was a real Merlier finish. But that’s sprinting and someone has to win.

      • Richard S Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:48 am

        It’s a very strange approach from Alpecin-Fenix. Cycling teams are usually very rigid, they have a leader and that is that. Merlier has arguably been the most consistent sprinter this year and this is the biggest race of the year. It’s not like Philipsen has a CV or big pay cheque to justify it. If it was his home town or his birthday or something it would maybe be understandable. The only explanation may be that Merlier has already signed for Quick Step.

        • Davesta Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:09 am

          I wonder if the expectation is that Merlier won’t finish le tour, so now that he’s got his stage win, Alpecin-Fenix are all in for Phillipsen in an attempt at the green jersey…?

      • jayjay Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:17 am

        Sure Merlier is usually faster than Philipsen, but Ph. has alot more green points. And if Cav is not making it to Paris, well then there is a chance for Ph.
        Could it be that Ph. goes for the inter-sprint today, and then helps VdP. for the win:)

        • Ed Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:45 am

          Of course Cav is going to Paris!
          He’s going to break the thing that can’t be mentioned on Champs-Élysées.
          Probably 😉

    • PaulG Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:52 am

      …and how many times have other sprinters benefited because Cav wasn’t there due to illness or crashes. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

    • J Evans Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:43 am

      You’re right. It’s not Cavendish’s problem and it happens in grand tours, but Ewan and Bennett aren’t in it, Merlier’s not being allowed to sprint by his team (bizarrely because Philipsen is not going to win) and Démare’s gone AWOL.

      • LionKing Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:12 am

        Gone AWOL? He was never even present!

    • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 3:43 pm

      Augie March – That may be true, but Caleb didn’t crash due to anyone else’s fault but his own. He clipped Merlier’s wheel all by his own, pretty rookie move. So, yes the sprinting group might favour Cav, but that’s not Cav’s fault.

      If you’re a fan of Cav, then there is no reason to discount these wins. No one said to Bennet last year, “hey, Cav isn’t here on form, Kittel retired, Groenewegen’s gone, etc.” A win is a win is a win.

  • Neil V Friday, 2 July 2021, 6:22 am

    Wot no Peter Sagan?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:26 am

      He’s just getting beaten a lot, talk of not being at his best.

      • Sustainer Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:24 am

        One of the interviews had a brief mention that he’s still a bit bruised from the Ewan crash and not feeling 100%. Suspect he’ll begin a more serious/effective chase for the Green Jersey in the coming few days.

  • Octogenarian Friday, 2 July 2021, 6:50 am

    Cav was possibly fortunate to be there at all, given what happened to Sam Bennett, but fair is fair. He grabbed his chance with both hands after illness and ill-luck made it seem that he was down and out.

    A pleasure to see that smile again, and a story to inspire.

    • plurien Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:01 am

      Less of a pleasure came from getting a spoiler in the national radio news about the stage result. When did they ever give tour results, apart from the one day I couldn’t catch it live?!! Guess cycling is a popular sport after all now.

      Today’s stage looks ideal for Bahrain Victorious’ Mark Padun, oh wait.

  • James Friday, 2 July 2021, 7:54 am

    Love reading your posts. The photo project you mention reminded me of this article. Similar but different. https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/society/antoine-dagata-the-geometry-of-emptiness-a-journey-through-frances-diagonale-du-vide/

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:25 am

      The “diagonale”, the long swathe empty across France and today’s stage covers plenty of it.

      • jc Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:49 am

        This and the link in the main post are an interesting contrast to the “tourist office” images that are part of the TdF. It reminds me a bit of similar photographic essays of parts of the USA.

    • plurien Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:13 am

      Marie Marvingt was my tangent of the day. Rode the Tour in 1908. Desgrange didn’t let her enter so she just followed the route anyhow. 36 of the 114 partants completed that year’s course, and so did she! Just one of many achievements on her way to glory. There’s a story about her in Ouest France but Wikipedia is just as good.

      • UHJ Friday, 2 July 2021, 12:10 pm

        Went to the Wiki, what a ride; flying jet-engined helicopters in her eighties …
        Wonder how she financed her activities; perhaps daredevils stood better changes of a good sponsor contract back then. She surely must have drawn a croud every now and then.

  • Charles Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:00 am

    Cav winning again is such a great story. For sure a lot of stars have (mis)aligned – Groenewegen, Bennet, Ewan – but it’s hard to take away from his achievement and yes, I think he has another 2-3 wins in him. A win in Paris followed by immediate retirement and the fairytale is complete. One to give Froome hope.

  • Pete Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:03 am

    Good morning, super review again; always a great way to start the days thinking and anticipation about the action to come. Question: Can someone point me to a website that lists individual wins this year and previous years? Procycling stats has wins per team but I can’t find wins per rider. Thanks in advance.

  • jc Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:13 am

    Great seeing Cav win again but there was a case that he should have been relegated for deviation (not saying I agree). I didnt see anything amiss at the time but after seeing the various comments later looked again (see Brian Smith’s GCN post race analysis on Steephill for good images). Cav goes onto Jasper Philipson’s wheel, who then moves left out of Tim Merlier’s slipstream whilst Cav goes right. At that point Cav has a direct route to the finish line, but he moves left again cutting in front of Tim Merlier. Agree that TM is leading out but there is no distinction in the rules. As Inrng says the commissionaires saw nothing wrong but I do wonder if this had been Peter Sagan or Nacer Bouhanni whether there would have been a fuss and a different result.

    Picking a winner today seems even more random than normal, so many options, a big fight to get in the break would seem certain. I wonder who will try to “police” the break and if we could see a GC threat making it and potentially forcing UAE to chase. In turn this might keep the break close enough for it to be a GC finish. I suppose equally likely we could see a GC truce and the break 10 minutes up the road, though a bit early in the race for that.

    • Tomski Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:42 am

      I thought it was six of one, half a dozen of the other between Cav and Philippsen. Philippsen passed Merlier on the left, the. Veered right; Cav went right, then left: neither to a great degree, and Cav was half a length ahead when they came together. I presume the shoulder barge was more a nudge to say ‘I’m here’, and Philippsen’s raised arm at the finish was one of frustration.

      • Larry T Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:54 am

        Perhaps DQS is paying Bouhanni to be a distraction? Watching yesterday (I think it was) I thought if this guy could ride a straight line he might be able to win…he’s all over the place even when not throwing elbows or head-butting. Makes the Manx Missile look pretty tame in comparison though it was pretty obvious that Cavendish was going to win when Philipson stopped pedaling for that brief moment. The feel-good story now is just way too good for the jury to toss him out or even relegate him unless he does some serious cannonballing to his rivals IMHO.

        • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 12:42 pm

          The overhead replay showed that Cavendish was the one who cut into Bouhanni. Yes, Bouhanni is twitchy as hell and moves erratically much too much. But often, as yesterday at both the intermediate sprint and the final sprint, so does Cavendish. Ewan also does this at times. Both he and Cavendish use their small size and incredible acceleration to get away with these moves, but they often leave riders behind to take evasive action and slow down to keep from being crashed. It doesn’t matter if you’re probably going to win when you cut in front of another rider and take their lane, it’s still supposed to lead to relegation. But you’re right, Cavendish will get a pass on this unless he causes a big crash, and even then I’m not so sure.

          • Larry T Friday, 2 July 2021, 6:05 pm

            Sorry, the Bouhanni sprint I watched had him far away from anyone else, but still weaving around like a drunk. I wonder sometimes how much time some of these people spend just learning how to properly ride and control a bike vs cranking out impressive watts?

    • J Evans Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:20 am

      My initial thought was that Cavendish did move, but then when I viewed from above and focused on the two Alpecin riders I saw that they moved just as much.

    • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 12:37 pm

      The Lanterne Rouge Podcast has a nice analysis showing that the white stripe in the road that Cav went across as he interfered with Merlier was actually diagonal to the road, and created an optical illusion that Merlier also moved into Cavendish while minimizing how much it appeared Cavendish moved over. In fact, Cavendish dramatically cut Merlier’s off, who was sprinting perfectly straight, causing him to take substantial evasive action. I have little doubt if Bouhanni had done this to Cavendish he would have been relegated by the UCI and tarred and feathered by the fans. But this is the Cavendish Storybook Tour, and he can do no wrong.

      Speaking of Bouhanni, he was criticized for making contact with Cavendish in the intermediate sprint, while the overhead replay showed that this was another case of Cavendish lurching into another rider’s lane, with Bouhanni simply protecting himself. And in that same intermediate sprint Morkov nearly crashed Sagan, forcing him into the barrier and making him use his considerable bike handling skills to stay upright.

      There’s a lot of cognitive bias in the commentary (and among English-speaking fans), with the commentators openly cheering for Cavendish and sweeping aside any questionable riding without even considering it. It makes it hard to listen to a lot of the commentators and read a lot of fan comments.

      • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:00 pm

        KevinK – Lanterne Rouge said the commissaires could not relegate Cav because it would be inconsistent with anything they’ve done this year. He didn’t chop anyone, Phillipsen moved on Merlier too.

        • KevinK Saturday, 3 July 2021, 7:59 pm

          Of course they could have relegated Cavendish. What he said was that although Cavendish clearly violated the rule, it would have been unfair to relegate him because they haven’t applied the rule this year. But so what. In a Tour full of crashes, most of which have happened due to riders being inattentive or too aggressive, the rule should be applied whether someone crashes or not. An example of that was the 2019 Giro (stage 3 I think), when Viviani was relegated. Right now the rule is only applied if there is a crash, or if an unpopular rider does it, which is unfortunate.

  • Michiel Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:19 am

    Pete, actually it’s on PCS.
    Check out https://www.procyclingstats.com/rankings/me/wins-individual

    • Pete Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:28 am

      Thank you Michiel

  • RQS Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:22 am

    Sagan must have been busy scratching his head. First he’s chopped in the intermediate sprint and then watched Cav do the same on Alpecin-Fenix. What are the rules?

  • Obi Wan Scarponi Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:49 am

    Pierre Latour the smoky for me, from the break. Was very active on the first two stages, and rode a super TT the other night so his legs are clearly fantastic. Bookies seem to have missed him too, as he’s $151 to win the stage, while the likes of Colbrelli, Cort Nielsen, Fraile and de Gendt are priced between $17 and $21.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:56 am

      Today is one of those wheel of fortune days, a lot of riders can win. Latour though won’t get much room to go in the breakaway, Alpecin-Fenix will probably fight to keep the jersey… unless they send MvdP up the road too.

    • Allegedly_Anthony Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:41 am

      Pierre’s problem is that he’s still too high up in GC, so he won’t be allowed into the break. The only way I can see him winning is if the GC group catches the break and he attacks out of that group near the finish. It seems unlikely to me, but I fancy his chances later in the race, assuming he doesn’t do a stellar GC ride.

  • Kavan Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:30 am

    Thomas de Gendt?

  • DJW Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:33 am

    Think about these empty areas of France for cycling (empty roads, a village with a café every 15kms, and a town with an inexpensive restaurant every 30km) or family holidays. Quite literally unspoilt with, as IR says, closed shutters, peeling hand-painted shop signs from the sixties, a prompt to drink Suze or style hair with Forvil painted on gable ends, and a few gentle oldies pottering about. It’s cheap time travel and you can’t go wrong – unless you want excitement and a hotel with recent beds and aircon.
    And well done Cav. I can’t see him getting to Paris (it was hard even at his fully-prepared best) but enjoyed the victories anyway.

    • Charles Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:12 am

      I don’t know this version of France. In my experience all these places always seem closed due to holidays, or that they shut at 2pm, or that I they don’t open at weekends, or that they don’t open till 11am. More normally they’re just closed and there seems no explanation.

    • Lukyluk Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:22 am

      What’s wrong with Suze?

      • DJW Friday, 2 July 2021, 12:19 pm

        Nothing. Highly recommended, (avec modération) and Yvette Horner

  • J Evans Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:37 am

    Seems perfect for van der Poel for me.

  • Dynamo Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:44 am

    Many thanks for sharing this Atlas des Regions site. I’ll bet even the Movran looks great bathed in July sunshine though.

  • Colin N Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:45 am

    After Stage 6

    Total
    38 Alpecin–Fenix
    37   Deceuninck–Quick-Step
    17  UAE Team Emirates
    15   Team Jumbo–Visma
    14 Arkéa–Samsic
    9   Bora–Hansgrohe
    9   Groupama–FDJ
    9   Team BikeExchange
    5  Team Bahrain Victorious
    2   Team DSM
    1  Trek–Segafredo

    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.

    • J Evans Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:28 am

      Interesting, and I look forward to see how it pans out. Movistar might hunt you down, though.

  • Richard S Friday, 2 July 2021, 9:55 am

    With this stage coming up today it seems pretty strange that GVA wasted all that energy in the break yesterday. I hope we get a break of high quality puncheurs going for it. Wouldn’t be surprised if Lotto have a good go with Gilbert and De Gendt.

    • Davesta Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:13 am

      I thought exactly the same about GvA…a sign, perhaps, that’s he’s no longer the fighting force he once was…

  • Niobe Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:10 am

    Is this turning into the Talleyrand Tour? Valençay yesterday, Autun today : Talleyrand was briefly Bishop of Autun, although singularly uninterested in his diocese ( I think I read somewhere that he never visited it). He actually attended the first Estates General as a representative of the First Estate: the clergy.

    And he spent a lot of time in Paris….

    • Cascarinho Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:49 am

      Ah, Talleyrand… The day he was minister for the first time, he was repeating over and over in the coach that took him home : “And now, let’s make money, let’s make the more money we can… We’re rich !”
      Napoléon said to him, later : “you are some sh_t in silk stockings”.

      • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:58 pm

        It could be apocryphal but as a diplomat on hearing of the death of a Turkish ambassador he remarked “I wonder what he meant by that?”. He might have asked what GVA was doing on the attack yesterday.

        • Cascarinho Saturday, 3 July 2021, 12:30 am

          “M. de Chateaubriand thinks he’s deaf already : he doesn’t hear people speaking about him anymore”

        • cp Saturday, 3 July 2021, 2:55 am

          Unlike the Turkish ambassador, GVA could at least be asked “why”.

  • RJMD Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:20 am

    Mohoric maybe for the win. Lots of candidates though.

    • Treberden Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:09 pm

      Nice one !

      • RJMD Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:16 pm

        Thanks! 🙂

  • Cascarinho Friday, 2 July 2021, 11:52 am

    Just a slight correction : these are not “imaginary regions” in the Atlas des Régions Naturelles, it’s old regions of France (or natural regions), before the Revolution and new administrative division. Here is a (very hard) test if you want to know if you know them well : http://www.slate.fr/story/121225/connaissez-vous-les-regions-naturelles-de-france

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:59 pm

      Yes, they’re often regions the photographers have wanted to recreate with old references. Being much smaller than today’s mega regions makes it easier to search.

  • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 1:05 pm

    A question for all: should Cavendish even be thinking of the green jersey? Here’s how I frame it: he’s won all three GT points jerseys, which is rare and significant. But he only has one TdF green jersey, and doubling that number to two will not meaningfully improve his palmares. By far the most significant parts of his palmares are 32 TdF stages, 15 more in the Giro, a WC, and MSR.

    The most famous thing about Cavendish’s career is that he’s the only rider who has gotten close to Merckx in TdF stage wins. He’s now a mere two stages away from a truly landmark stage win, and this TdF has several more stages that suit him. In the 2022 TdF he will likely have to contend with Ewan and Bennett, and there are suggestions that Merlier will go to QS and I don’t think it’s certain Cav will even be on QS next year. Plus he will be another year older, and there’s no guarantee he will have the form and momentum that he has now. This is his golden moment to do something that for the last few years has appeared unimaginable.

    And yet he (and Morkov) are aggressively going for intermediate sprints. Yesterday they both made moves in the intermediate sprint that could have caused crashes. Why take this risk? Why burn off that energy that could be conserved for the finale? And at this moment he’s working hard in the breakaway of the longest stage in the TdF, apparently with meaningless goal of getting a full 20 points at the intermediate sprint. This, to me, is silly.

    • Felix Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:13 pm

      I think Cav is just enjoying his moment in the sun(set), and getting to be an animator of the race again. I suspect he knows that the mountains will be difficult (too difficult?) so why not make hay now?

      • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:44 pm

        I get that, and it surely an extra thrill to be in the green jersey while he’s winning these stages. He obviously loves the extra attention. But isn’t he risking the real prize (matching or exceeding Merckx in stage wins) to get some extra sprint points? To me it’s every bit as silly, and foolish, as a team having a key GC lieutenant going for stage wins while making their leader vulnerable. This year Roglic was isolated and crashed while trying to move up on his own in stage 3, while WvA was up front, apparently angling to contest the sprint. That seemed a massive error. If Cavendish runs out of gas after this stage and the next few mountain stages, and loses a couple of sprints my half a wheel, the green jersey will be cold comfort.

    • Canocola Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:42 pm

      Cavendish and Morkov are still getting used to riding together. You can’t throw a combination together a month before the Tour de France and expect them to be winning-

      Hang on a moment.

      All joking aside, they’re still learning about each other and the intermediates let them practice. As for whether Cavendish should go for green, if he picks up a few intermediates then decent places on the remaining sprint stages will give him a free jersey. Why wouldn’t he go for that?

      • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:51 pm

        Counterpoint to the practice idea – intermediate sprints are fundamentally different, and scoring points there doesn’t seem to translate to winning stages. Plus, Cav/Morkov are winning together without practicing.

        And would you want a “free jersey” if it’s not free, if it comes at the cost of a decrease in the odds of stage wins, no matter how slight that risk is?

    • Davesta Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:49 pm

      I’m not sure there’s that much energy being used up needlessly…the intermediate sprints aren’t huge efforts – yes, they’re 15 seconds at max, but there isn’t the 10-20min full gas lead in to them like there is at the end of sprint stages.
      And as for today’s breakaway, he simply surfed wheels to get into it. Didn’t look like he even had to get out of the saddle to bridge into it! And it gives him a 5 minute headstart when they hit the hills at the end of the stage, so arguably helps him to save energy…

      • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:54 pm

        According to some sprinters, the energy spent on intermediate sprints does come at a cost, and they avoid it. And it’s not just energy – both Morkov and Cavendish came close to causing crashes at the intermediate sprint yesterday. Cavendish has a pretty substantial history of crashing.

    • Tovarishch Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:55 pm

      You don’t believe him when he says that he is not even thinking of Merckx’s record then?

      • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 3:06 pm

        Consciously, I doubt he’s thinking about it. I’m sure he’s actively trying to block out the pressure. But I think it’s in the back of his mind all the time, and that he feels the pressure very much.

    • KevinR Friday, 2 July 2021, 3:57 pm

      +1 to my namesake. He’ll become a cycling god with 2 more Tour wins. A couple of intermediate sprint wins won’t even live in his memory beyond the race. The stars have aligned – it’s highly unlikely this opportunity will come round again.

  • hoh Friday, 2 July 2021, 2:51 pm

    After 2016, the record probably weighted on him a bit. So much so that he’s kind of “don’t mention the record” in Press Conferences. So he is certainly not gonna actively plan for that record. For him, he’s already got the sprinter’s record by some margin. For all purpose the Merckx’s record is a different thing that doesn’t concern him.

    At the moment, fighting for Green Keeps him motivated for stages that doesn’t suit as much and it doesn’t seem to affect his stage end sprint as much so why not?

    Who knows, the record may come in this process. Or wearing the Green may persuade commissioners to be a bit kinder when he is on the fence of a time cut.

    • KevinK Friday, 2 July 2021, 3:04 pm

      Do you really believe for a moment that the record isn’t massively important to Cavendish? Really?! I think that’s the reason he refuses to talk about it, or even be asked about it. I’m not suggesting he’s expecting it, or actively planning on taking the record, but it clearly concerns him enormously. Otherwise he’d be able to take questions about it.

      • hoh Friday, 2 July 2021, 7:11 pm

        I think in order for him to do well, it is massively important to actively not think about the record. It creates negative energy for him.

        • Kevin Koch Saturday, 3 July 2021, 8:04 pm

          Absolutely, I agree 100%. The pressure became toxic to him. But that’s not remotely related to how important it is to him. He’s as prideful as any top athlete, and seems more prideful than most. His place in cycling history is of paramount concern to him, whether he jabbers on about it or not.

  • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:36 pm

    Roglic dropped and JV don’t send a single rider back for him?!? What is wrong with that team?

    This race has been a display of some pretty brutal team tactics.

    • cp Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:23 pm

      Not to defend it, as I was perplexed as well, but I’m guessing they though the only option to drop back would have been Kruijswijk. Vingegaard was placed above Roglic in the GC standings, they seem to persist in the desire to have WvA win a stage (or in their fantasies take yellow) and race for GC with Roglic, and at the start of the day and Roglic admitted to being in pain. Maybe they had decided he’d be sacrificed, knowing he had no chance to come back in the overall?

      • cp Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:24 pm

        *thought not though…

    • cp Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:36 pm

      FWIW from cyclingtips: “Roglič was dropped on the penultimate climb of the seventh stage, the Signal d’Uchon, and Jumbo-Visma did not send riders back to assist him. Zeeman explained afterwards that the team was “prepared” for the possibility that Roglič’s injuries would put him out of the GC picture.

      “This morning Primoz indicated that he was in even more pain than the previous days. After his fall, we hoped, actually against our better judgement, that nature would be a little more favorable to him,” Zeeman said. “That turns out not to be the case. That’s why we didn’t make anyone wait for him during the ride.””

  • hoh Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:41 pm

    Movie-bloody-star is chasing Carapaz again. Really? Would you believe them when they say they don’t hold a grudge?

    Oh well, season 3 of “least expected day” is going to be fun.

    • Gelato4bahamontes Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:45 pm

      Riding for mas

    • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 4:48 pm

      Lol haha..

      Movistar always does this – truly bonehead move. If Mas has any chance of winning why are they pulling for Pogacar?!? ONLY Pogacar or UAE should be on the front chasing Carapaz down. I am going to change their name to Loserstar because they never race for the win… only to place well…

      • Anonymous Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:17 pm

        John Nash will be turning in his grave.

      • hoh Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:30 pm

        Ineos was a bit too polite. Instead of just follow, they should disrupt Moviestar’ space.

        I suppose there is the small matter of putting that last nail on Roglic’s coffin. But then again, it gives more gain for them to have Carapaz ahead of Pogacar than Thomas ahead of Roglic if the latter was done.

      • Gelato4bahamontes Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:38 pm

        Mas won’t win by giving carapaz some free seconds.

        • Anonymous Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:48 pm

          I’d say if Mas wants to win, Pogacar is going to be a bigger problem than Carapaz over the next few weeks.

        • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:53 pm

          Yes he would – if Mas lets carapaz go, forcing Pogacar to chase then they can attack when Pogacar loses all his teammates.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:01 pm

      I thought Carapaz would try this move (see preview), and think he’ll try the same again on the road to Tignes.

    • jc Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:06 pm

      Well that stage has truly put a big cat amongst a flock of pigeons. A whole host of pre race predicitions have been tossed into the bin!

    • Vitus Friday, 2 July 2021, 5:37 pm

      why wouldn’t they as long as Mas is just 14s behind Carapaz?

      • CA Friday, 2 July 2021, 8:35 pm

        We haven’t hit the first mountain stage yet, why would Movistar think about a 14-second gap to carapaz at this point… It doesn’t matter in any way. What matters is burning as many UAE riders’ matches as possible.

  • plurien Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:38 pm

    Don’t usually do same day comments, but I’d like to complement our host for the preview, as ever, and say this really was a stage that shows the value of long stages in GTs. Q: What idiot would try to go in the break on such a long day, and be in yellow?! A: What idiot would not prevent that breakaway attempt from taking hold? – Breakaways are set to be the dominant tactic from now on and strength-in-depth team tactics mean nothing when there’s a stronger rider able to make allies and get away.
    During the Giro there were commenters saying long stages should be a thing of the past. – Actually, today’s was not long enough, because the breakaway could have done more damage to so many DS’ plans. Sure, the yellow jersey was there, but this was unconventional and uncontained. He just took time off his rivals by riding away, even if it was only about one more day en jaune.
    We’ve also had comments about racing not being the same now any 22 yr-old can come in and be the instigator at GTs. Bring on the revolution!
    But if we had any hope of doing anything away from the TV this weekend, it just got smashed too.