Rest Day Review

If you want to annoy a rider, ask them how the transition stage went. Once upon a time as the race rode between the Alps and Pyrenees a breakaway could slip away and everyone else was left to complete the course stress-free. Not any more.

Yesterday’s stage looked like it was going to offer some siesta opportunities when only three riders went up the road. Then one of them, Wout van Aert, sat up to leave two. Nils Politt and Mikkel Honoré had a go but the latter’s team didn’t send a team car behind him, preferring to keep one behind the bunch, and the other was further back covering Michael Mørkøv who’d been dropped and was alone. Then a lot happened. Primož Roglič had already left the race before it started but Steven Kruijswijk was the first of several Jumbo-Visma riders to crash, he was out and taken away in an ambulance. Then Tiesj Benoot and Jonas Vingegaard fell, they got up but crashes are almost never without consequence, whether it’s soreness, loss of sleep or trauma.

BikeExchange-Jayco reverted to the team we saw in the Dauphiné, toiling across the plains only to get caught out by the climb as the race crossed the Montagne Noire where Dylan Groenewegen was among several sprinters ejected, likewise Fabio Jakobsen and Caleb Ewan. Over the top of the climb local rider Benjamin Thomas and Alexis Gougeard made a premeditated move with Thomas staying away until the final kilometre, albeit with some help from a TV motorbike keen to film him front on rather than in profile. Then Jasper Philipsen won the sprint, finally a win for Alpecin-Deceuninck who’ve been orphaned without Mathieu van der Poel and a team built for the sprints.

A big win for Alpecin… but oddly it doesn’t seem possible to buy their caffeinated shampoo in France, no supermarkets or pharmacies stock it, although it does retail online. But for a consumer product with a logo being beamed into millions of French homes right now – France TV is purring at its domestic audience numbers – it’s unusual.

Jumbo-Visma’s woes have matched those of UAE as each has lost two riders, although that’s in numeric terms, the Dutch team looks stronger. Wout van Aert is worth two riders because he can pull on the plains and on the passes alike. But it does leave Jonas Vingegaard more exposed now because Roglič and Kruijswijk are quality riders, more than mountain gregarios.

Vingegaard and Pogačar look inseparable. At least they did until the Col du Granon of course. Jumbo-Visma’s attacks dismantled the UAE team but arguably Pogačar’s undoing was a lack of energy which is why he lost so much time, it’s like he’s 5-10W short of Vingegaard, this was a “lights out” moment, he cracked. Obviously the attacks put him in trouble and emptied the tank but the point is it’ll have take something similar to dislodge Vingegaard who leads by over two minutes and his handy for the final time trial. Still there’s a frisson in the air as the Dane is untested, he could sore from his crash to Carcassonne and Pogačar knows a thing or two about sacking Jumbo-Visma’s Tour dreams.

Ineos look content to have Geraint Thomas diesel to third place, a solid result. He’s only 21 seconds behind Pogačar but looks likely to lose more time if the lead duo trade attacks but his position and time trial ability means he’s a safe podium pick, although we did use to worry about Thomas and consistency over three weeks, but he’s riding very steady. Adam Yates is in an interesting position but will he be used for any risky moves, or just be kept in reserve?

For Pogačar and Thomas alike, we should think what they and their sponsors want. Thomas you sense might like another podium at the Tour more than Pogačar while the Slovenian might be prepared to gamble more. For both sponsors though, securing a podium finish is a big result, the kind of think they can have as the first slide in their year end Powerpoint presentation but at the same time it’s also a meagre result. DSM or Groupama-FDJ would crave a podium in Paris but for Ineos or UAE it’ll be part satisfying, part consolation. Do they gamble for more?

Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana, Louis Meintjes and David Gaudu are all high on GC but it’s looking very hard for them to move up. Even if one or more of them could improbably take a big chunk of time in the Pyrenees they’d surely lose this back the long Rocamadour time trial.

Wout van Aert is well clear in the points competition, he’s on 378 points ahead of second placed… Tadej Pogačar on 182 points and Jasper Philipsen on on 176. It’s still mathematically possible for Pogačar to win the green jersey but if he wins every stage from here to Paris and van Aert doesn’t score once then he’ll take a four point lead in the competition. In other words, Wout van Aert just needs to reach Paris.

The mountains competition hasn’t caught fire yet. Simon Geschke leads but will have his work cut out to infiltrate more breakaways and take maximum points with six first category climbs (10 points for first) and two HC climbs (20 points) to come. Louis Meintjes is second but doesn’t have much of a kick. So the competition is open to others and they’ll take comfort from the relative weakness of UAE and Jumbo-Visma who’ll find it harder to control the race all day and mow down the moves.

Another other business? That’s the odd thing, there’s not been much news today. There’s usually a team presentation about a new sponsor, or gossip about transfer moves but there’s not much of that. The B&B Hotels team have been rumoured to be lining up a new sponsor that’ll give them funding comparable to a World Tour team like Cofidis, and there’s talk of a women’s team. The team’s given promising Italian sprinter/finisseur Luca Mozzato a new long term contract which is a hint of something but others say the potential sponsor has yet to have its board sign off the deal. It’s coming to late to move up to the World Tour but a bigger budget means more riders and with a few stars they could be a “must have” team for the next few years, that’ll be their method.

Lastly it’s going to be hot in the Pyrenees, it often is. But the area looks to be spared the various weather warnings that are in issue in other parts of France, where some places have recorded record high temperatures. Just not where the Tour is going. There’s the outside chance of rain, a thunderstorm too.

25 thoughts on “Rest Day Review”

    • There’s talk but it feels a bit 2+2 = 6 for now. It makes sense as he’d ride the Tour and all that. But the team’s management, their bikes etc, he doesn’t just want to start the Tour, he *needs* a stage win.

      • I’d argue he would bring across a lot of support if it was serious. New sponsor might replace KTM which opens up opportunity for a bike or simply rebadge a specialized.

        Cav arguably needs his coach who has transformed him. After that he’ll always do better with a lead out but can wheel surf with the best.

        Yes a lot of 2+2=6 but Cav is going well, clearly other sprinters fear him (Phillipson’s comments), he brings a buzz, he is on the cusp of more TdF history, a struggling team that needs wins and profile or one that wants to have that picture that will be used forever and a day when he gets that win

  1. After Pidcock’s demon descending on stage 12 he and Ineos could usefully scour 2023 road books for stages or races with a finish at or close to the bottom of a technical descent. If he could stay with the best to the summit he could probably open gaps to the rest on any tricky descent and win.

    If B&B really find a WT type sponsor and budget then they’ll be looking for some French talent with the potential for featuring in big races. Given that FDJ, Cofidis and AG2R have their local stars tied up where will that talent come from? Grégoire and Martinez from FDG-Conti… B&B will surely expect more than a few aged imports in the twilight of illustrious careers.

    • Grégoire and Martinez are very promising. FDJ’s conti development team is impressive and they can’t hold onto every rider, but those two must be priority signings, Eddy Le Huitouze too, on account of nationality in part but also the promise.

  2. the only team news I’ve heard is about Cavendish, his side-story to the tour continues. I myself was sad to see him not selected. Now Morkov didn’t make the timecut so maybe it was another protest to befall the tour (I’m joking).

    I’m going to make a bold unfounded prediction: final podium: Pogacar, Thomas, Yates in some order.

    Been a great race so far, really enjoyed almost every stage. Outside of the GC contest, Froome’s ride really stood out to me just because I love an underdog/old man does good story (I must be getting old) and never saw it coming. Michael Matthew’s win as well – and that late stage duel was so epic when he just crushed bettiol’s soul over the top. Great race.

    • Thanks. Won’t delete yet as fixes always appreciated, think of it as a quick turn on the front for the next reader.

      Brain fried from riding tomorrow’s stage from Limoux onwards and back, some familiar roads but helpful to see what state they are in. Several regular water fountains dried up.

  3. I have a sneaking feeling that Ineos/Thomas/Yates, who are still at full strength with multiple riders in the top 5 may be able to put in a similar effort to the Granon stage on the final Pyrenean stage. It seems that so far, they are allowing both Jumbo/Vingegaard and UAE/Pogacar to lick their own plates clean before eating their own, to use the old expression. With each of these teams missing a couple of members, in addition to the stress of each defending yellow for a week, as well as their leaders attacking each other relentlessly thus far, one wonders whether both are leaving themselves vulnerable to a third week attack from another team in the Pyrenees. Ineos would seem to be best placed to make such an attack, but it could come from elsewhere as well (Bardet, Quintana, Gaudu).

    • It’s interesting because the traditional dynamic of the Maillot Jaune team setting a strong pace to ward off attacks in the mountains may now not be possible, which would leave Vingegaard open to numerous opponents that you’ve listed.
      I think he’ll just look to stick rigidly to Pogacar’s wheel, come what may.
      Ineos could try the 1-2 on Vingegaard if they have the legs (big if), it’s just the where and when.
      Thomas does strike you as being slightly conservative in his approach but it’s all so fascinating to contemplate the possibilities.
      It seems like a lot of pundits have Vingegaard falling away in the final week.

      • yes, we’ve seen nothing really from ineos in terms of attacking the GC, ganna has been quiet too so should have legs to act as a relay. vingegard should have learnt from pogacar’s mistake – focus on the main threat rather than jumping on everything that moves. thomas won’t attack much as its not his style – he’ll be sitting back and seeing what happens as yates attacks. yates will lose time in the TT so can be given a bit of rope

        • Yates does surprise in TTs here and there. Problem is that he doesn’t seem to be climbing with the top tier at the moment. Might also be the fact that he’s covering for Thomas and thus burnt a few more matches. If Martinez and Castro can recover then I guess it doesn’t hurt for Ineos to have Yates try something crazy.

          Problem with Thomas is that he isn’t that explosive anymore, plus he’s too close on the GC. Even if Vingegaard doesn’t, Pog would shut him down whenever he can. I guess they can try the JV tactics, but to crack both of the top two would be difficult.

    • Until yesterday, I would have thought that the tactical opportunities for Ineos to use their numbers in the top 10 we’re gone. JV before the abandons were strong enough to control and they missed their chance when UAE were supposed to be controlling.

      Now with two key mountain helpers out for JV, the setting may be ripe for Ineos to send Yates up the road and see what the others do.

    • My thoughts exactly. Ineos seems to have barely broken a sweat and the team looks relaxed. There is an entire week left and they can make opportunities on more than just mountain stages. Could be an Astana Giro 2016 story, who knows.

  4. I too am not convinced that all of the current top 5 will make Paris, there is a level of exhaustion in the peloton unusual even for the Tour. As Philippa York noted, Primoz Roglic abandoning was odd, no doubt JV are now much weaker though probably still stronger than UAE. Ineos seem to have the strongest team left (not that it compares with some in the past) but not sure it makes much difference. If Jonas Vingegaard & Tadej Pogacer are fit they can probably cope with weaker teams though the risk of a puncture or mechanical becoming a a problem is higher.

    The TT on Saturday is going to be a factor in the stages beforehand. Given its length it is going to be possible to lose a ton of time. How much energy should the riders conserve, how much of a lead is “enough” to keep your rivals at bay? Who will prefer to secure their position and who will be prepared to risk all?

    • Roglič seems to have been badly injured, he stayed on to help. He had that big crash last year and rode a great TT all things considering in Laval, before throwing in the towel.

      Saturday’s TT is hard, at 40km it’s long for a TT these days and the final 10km are the notionally the hardest part with two climbs but the preceding 30km are where gains can be made too for fast riders, advantage Vingegaard when it comes to his team’s bikes and investment in TT for this first part.

      • What, Vingegaard to take time out of Thomas and Pogecar? I assumed it would go Pogecar – Thomas – Vingegaard based on historic TT prowess. It is the 3rd week in a GT though so whoever has coped best (probably the fittest – so advantage Vingegaard).

      • The only recent comparable last stage TT I can think of was 2108, which was 30km rather than 40km. Primoz Roglic lost a minute to Geraint Thomas / Tom Dumoulin / Chris Froome. 2011 was a similar length and Cadel Evans took minutes on Andy Schleck but Andy was a poor TT rider at the best of times. It could come down to who has the best kit & coaches.

      • For a TT I still favour Pogacar – save for his rookie mistake to lose time to Vingegaard he is the fittest and fastest.

        Everyone writing him off will help him, he is clever when it counts and will learn from his (many) mistakes on stage 11.

        What a race, one of the best Tours in years.

    • Oh DOP! Nostalgia…..they make great shower stuff too. What is the Marseillais connection with soap? I still import Le Petit Marseillais when I can find it. Maybe the Tour will go there one year, and our learned host will be able to enlighten us.

      Last week! it seems to have been going on for longer, it has been so exciting ( we can’t remember ever watching so many stages in full) and yet the end always takes you by surprise. Thanks for the urbanity, wit and insight this year as ever.

  5. I’m thinking Thomas fades a bit in the mountains and TT and Bardet is third in Paris.
    If Benoot is undamaged JV will win, if damged TP will win.

    • I expect Vinny made a sacrifice to Thor and Odin for Benoot to make a full recovery and for Kuss et al to stay upright. All I could think of on Sunday was if Kuss crashes too then it’s game over for this year.

  6. If Pogacar’s youthful exuberance gets the better of him, he could well lose more time to Vingegaard, but would make for exciting viewing. Thomas seems to be hoping to hang on in mountains and wait for the TT. Bardet, Yates, Quintana, Meintjes & Gaudu will lose time on the TT so I’d expect these 5 to try to gain time in the mountains to get a top 5 spot.

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