Tour de France Stage 11 Preview

The first of two big days in the Alps, the profile above says plenty especially if you study both axes, just 151km on the x-axis, but a y-axis of evil, today has 4,000m of vertical gain, almost all of which comes in the second half of the stage.

Nielsen ratings: the stage started sans George Bennett, the UAE rider having tested positive for Covid while team mate Rafał Majka has the virus but was eligible to continue thanks to a low rate. There’s no clear way to view this, it’s just as likely that after losing Vegard Stake Laengen and Bennett, Pogačar could be next, or equally he has the winner’s luck and swerves trouble. Either way it’s proof that our July distraction can’t escape the world it lives in.

Otherwise the Tour de France is meant to be a long, gradual event where it’s quite alright to have a boring stage now and then, a day when viewers can exhale, even sigh, from time to time. But so far the quiet moments are hard to find, step away from the broadcast at your peril. Stage 10 had a hilly course that rode through the mountains and not over them. It made for a frantic day’s racing where the only downtime once the breakaway had finally got clear didn’t last. A purple mist as flare-wielding climate change protestors blocked the road, a moment of a drama as the race was halted. The bubble was burst a second time, July’s ivory tour besieged for 12 minutes. That’s three short of Warholian fame but with social media, plenty to go around the world.

Alberto Bettiol was away solo up the road on a raid to the finish line but this allowed his team mate Magnus Cort to sit back in the breakaway and follow plenty of moves. The final seemed to have more attacks than a Bruce Lee flick with L-L Sanchez attacking out of Megève, being joined by Nick Schultz and Matteo Jorgenson, then Dylan van Baarle, before the temporary quartet was caught by a chase group including Cort who made his way through the group to win in a photofinish. The break included Lennard Kämna all day who came close to getting the maillot jaune but seemed to suffer, understandably, from yellow fever in the final, making a flurry of moves that didn’t work, neither the stage win nor the overall lead for just 11 seconds.

The Route: first there’s 46km up the Maurienne valley via the early intermediate sprint. Riders can try to barge clear in waves but there’s nothing selective.

The Lacets de Montvernier (“Montvernier hairpins”) is the first climb of the day. 3.2km at 8% and crucially there are 2.5km with 18 hairpin bends, that’s one every 150m or so and all on a small road, the bends are often tight and steep which matters as it’s a place to line out the peloton and launch attacks. It’s then along a small balcony road before descending down a more regular road to the valley floor and there’s 15km up the valley.

The Télégraphe-Galibier combo is a Tour classic and a giant climb. The Télégraphe starts off steep and eases to a steady 7% for the rest of the climb on a wide road. A quick descent into Valloire and then the Col du Galibier begins, a steep part out of town before easing to the Plan Lachat area. Then comes the hardest part of the climb, about 8km and all above 2,000m altitude.

The descent is in two parts, fast and a small road down the junction for the Lautaret pass. Then a big road and easier gradients.


The Finish: a left turn and the Col du Granon, 11km at over 9% and a touch of mystery as the climb’s only been used once before in 1986. The slope is hard, the length tough and it starts at 1,400m. A one-way road built to serve a fort at the top, it winds up through pastures and wide open spaces without feeling too engineered yet the gradient is even most of the way up which, whisper it, takes a way a bit of the fear factor but also means there’s never a place for recovery, it’s relentless. It’s been resurfaced in places but retains rasping road surface in places hat slows everyone. The Granon is a colossus of a col that never lets up to the line at 2,400m above sea level.

The Contenders: the big test for Tadej Pogačar (UAE). So far he’s doing everything right which is why he’s in yellow. In the last five stages he’s won two, been second in another and won the sprint from his group in the other two which are all deafening clues about form. Yet today’s a very different test, a big climb to altitude and in hot weather. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) is bound to be close too and this is a big test for him and his team but they might still hold fire to measure what happens today and try more tomorrow. Likewise Ineos, Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas are high on GC but how to win today or take yellow? The worry, based on history more than scepticism, is we keep waiting for them to make a move and before we know the Tour is on Champs-Elysées bell lap.

The breakaway has a good chance because while we wait for Ineos and Jumbo-Visma to take the fight to UAE… we wait and wait which means the rider wanting to slip away will probably get mowed down another day rather than today. Climbers who are down on GC include Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Michael Woods and Jakob Fuglsang (Israel) and these names should in the mix for the mountains competition but both Pinot and Verona have GC leaders and could be held back to support them. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) leads the mountains competition on 19 points but first place for the Galibier brings 20 points, the Télégraphe 10 points (full points scales at

Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogačar
Thibaut Pinot, Adam Yates
Verona, Teuns, Fuglsang, Woods, Jungels, Izagirre

Weather: hot in the valleys, warm at altitude and sunny.

TV: the stage starts at 12.15pm CEST finish is forecast for 4.55pm CEST. Tune in early to watch the breakaway battle. The climb to Montvernier begins at 1.35pm; the Télégraphe at 2.15pm and the final climb of the Granon around 4.20pm.

Food and drink: not far from the start in Albertville is the Beaufort area, yet another mountain cheese but one which can be proclaimed as the king of gruyères. Eat yourself silly, instead a mention for the local wine, in particular the Mondeuse grape. It’s low yielding and harder to grow but makes for a peppery taste that’s not often grown outside of the Alps. For a while the variety was also called refosco, a grape that also grows in Friuli and Slovenia almost at the other end of the Alps… but which DNA testing has shown to be different. Confusingly visit these areas and the Schioppettino grape, “gunshot” on account of the small fruit, can also have a similar black pepper note. It may seem odd if you’re reading this over a coffee but works with any dish you’d top with pepper. Cheap Mondeuse wines have an acidic taste, decent enough to cut through a hunk of Beaufort or an oily pizza. Better ones, like a Domaine des Côtes Rousses by Nicolas Ferrand, are not out of reach either at €15 a bottle. Clément Chevrier, once of Ag2r and now a wine waiter in a top restaurant in Annecy rates it to the point of having helped with the wine harvest. As yesterday’s L’Equipe related, Ferrand recently left a corner of his cellar to Axel Domont, also once of Ag2r and for many years a key domestique for Romain Bardet, to start making his own wines and by all accounts Domont’s wines are on the up. Just like today’s stage.

113 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 11 Preview”

  1. No chain rings for Nairoman or Bardet?? Nairo seems to have wound back the clock this year, even if he still looks 62 years old! He was second on stage 4 at the Volta a Catalunya on a summit finish to 2000m, beating Carapaz and Hindley, and we all know what they did next at the Giro. When the tour went over the Galibier in 2019, albeit not a summit finish, it was Nairo first, then daylight, with Bardet second.

    • When you are within 2.5 minutes of the lead it is a bit harder to get in a break than when you are 9 or 27 minutes down on GC (not to take away from their solid performances so far).

      • Yes, hard to see them winning because it’ll be hard to ride away, UAE and Jumbo are bound to have riders to set a tough pace so going early is hard, jumping late is a big ask as both can’t be given much time.

  2. Looking for moves from bardet and quintana – I appreciate they have been quietly in the mix so far. Might be early but they gotta if they gonna.

    • Agreed. It’s looks like a day for Quintana and the altitude should suit. Maybe for the very discrete but effective Mas too. Probably a stage too far for Pidcock. He’s been hanging onto the lead group – by his fingernails at times – and his GC place so far, but today’s altitude and gradient are going to be hard. Good luck Yorkshire lad Tom!

      For the Brit interest, another good team ride from Fred Wright yesterday. A strong and versatile rider.

      • Would a suicidal Pidcock attack be initially given some room given that he is not a proper GC climber? Or if he can survive the Alps still hanging on by his fingernail, it would be better for him to attack in a medium mountain/undulating transition stage?

  3. I just finished watching footage of the Granon stage from the 1986 Tour. It looks like a long, brutal slog. If anyone has a bad day (like Hinault did) they can lose the race here.

  4. I think INRNG may well be right about Yates and Thomas. Lurking on the wheels, like packing, can become a habit that becomes hard to break, even for professionals. INEOS will be pushed to win a stage or even maintain their current GC positions if their race strategy remains unchanged.

    • Agreee. Ineos, and the others, can’t keep coming up with reasons why each stage isn’t the right one to attack or they’ll be on the Champs before Vinny tries a last-lap breakaway. If they want to win, they’re going to have to start getting clever with tactics and accept they could blow it. I’ve seen several comments from Geraint Thomas, though, saying he’d just be happy to be on the podium. That leaves Yates for Ineos…

      • Also agree. Ineos have wasted Pidcock and his GC position. He probably won’t survive in the top 10 after today, but if he had gone up the road yesterday, or before, he would have put some serious pressure on UAE.

        • It’s his GC position that makes it almost impossible for him to get up the road, though. The alternative would have been for him to lose time earlier, but they seem to want to see how long he can hang on

          • That’s the point. He should attack now and so should others quite high on the GC – thinking Roglic for instance – once Pogacar’s lost his team. Force him to close each one down or decide to lose time that he thinks he can make up later.

        • Pidcock had been very active in early breakaway skirmishes in the last few days. It’s just that the fight for break away was so fierce that non of these moves worked.

        • Ineos has historically been a Conservative Team. But, when you no longer have the best GC Riders and Domestiques in the World, you gotta change tactics.

    • I think it was Enric Mas who was saying earlier in the Tour that viewers don’t always realise that most of the GC group are often on their limit, and have nothing in reserve to attack on the biggest climbs.

      INEOS have a realistic chance of a podium, and with Thomas’s TT ability they don’t really need to attack to do it. That obviously changes if, for example, Roglic jumps up the GC tomorrow, but for now they have far more to lose than gain.

      And while TV keeps telling me they’re sending riders up the road to set up some grand scheme for the GC, is the simpler explanation that that’s the only way they can win a stage? Maybe they’re just not as ambitious as we assume them to be…

      • Ineos don’t though. Unless their target has changed from nothing less than Tour victory. And 2nd or 3rd doesn’t add too much to Thomas’ palmares.

  5. Congrats to EF & Cort who’ve really done well so far. Lotto S have to get Ewan home before he’s OTL – not an easy task I expect. Ineos said, “We’re going to push and we’re going to not just be sat in the peloton and follow we’re going to be aggressive.” As Johnny Cash sang, “I hear a train comin’, rollin’ around the bend.” Unless UAE blow up shortly after km 0, I could see next to nothing happening GC wise until a sprint for the line. There’s still tomorrow to think of. If Pogacar is isolated on the Galibier it could provoke Jumbo or Ineos to try something, but it’s still a long way to Paris.

    • Addendum – How Roglic feels could well decide today’s tactics – Jumbo will aim no doubt to have at least Kuss and Kruisjwijk with Vingegaard at the foot of the Granon. WvA I would guess will light things off on the Galibier. Ineos have not won a GT stage since May last year at the Giro – wonder if Sir Jim thinks he’s getting his money worth, but Sir Dave loves those iconic climbs (remember Froome at 2018 Giro who was shipping time every day until the Zoncolan – of all places – where he won?) so I would not be surprised to see Yates or Thomas give it a real go today or tomorrow (which seems a slightly easier stage).

      • With their classic season? Oh hell he’s getting his money’s worth. It’s also the Classic watching middle age worriers not the Tour watching general public that have the spare cash to buy his 4 x 4. All just to show that they have more Land Rover spirit than the current Land Rover company.

        You can host down the interior of a car? God, that’s a killer feature for a serial killer.

  6. Many viewers were probably frustrated by the climate protest which blocked the road. Yet over 1500 vehicles covering several thousand kms in what in supposed to be a green sport! ASO needs to wake up and take some serious action for 2023. Even the idea that electric vehicles are green is false for the moment. As there is never enough renewable energy to meet demand, additional demand for charging electric vehicles is currently met by fossil fuel generation, and as has been widely calculated, one would be better putting the fossil fuel directly into the car rather than using it to generate electricity to charge that car.

    • And how did the ‘protesters’ get to the road side yesterday. I somehow doubt they walked ( in their trainers made in China and shipped to France) .

      Let’s have just one event unsullied by ‘protest’.God knows we need some simple joy and wonder.

      • I’ll respectfully disagree. There’s a very long history of protest at the Tour. If it makes you uncomfortable or disrupts your “simple joy” that’s kind of the point.

        • The Tour has regular protests but the convention is they don’t stop the race, instead the cameras film them. The CGT trade union even has vehicles in the publicity caravan so they can be ever-present at the race in this way rather than blocking the road. But climate activists are more radical and self-organising, and their protest stopped the race just as the same group stopped tennis in the French Open.

          The Tour is gradually going greener, more and more politicians, especially mayors, in France are ecologists and they are essentially the Tour’s customers, certainly hosts. Some have refused to host the race, others have put down conditions. Watch French TV coverage of the race and there are regular ads about how cycling as transport, not sport and during the live coverage Thomas Voeckler gives a daily comment about road safety/rules (which doesn’t land very well, it’s him talking into a microphone on a motorbike, needs some visual cues and graphics). See for more about the green mayors

        • I think protesting European energy policy in general (restarting coal, phasing out nuclear, addiction to gas from mafia states) would make more sense than targeting a bike race.

          • Bike race is not the target per se, it’s an opportunity to set an agenda – and civic activists usualy lack other means of agenda setting – i. e. money. I don’t claim that’s the right, original or ingenious way, it’s perhaps rather stupid (while blocking the start or finish town with several hundred of activists and therefore stopping a stage from happening would be a better way of making point), but at least it’s something.

        • But it’s a perfect example of whataboutism / red herring / argumentum ad hominem.

          The race is not above the future of younger generations, eventhough it’s perhaps a favourite boomer pastime. Inrng often reminds us that TdF is so much more than a bike race – a nation-wide phenomenon with great cultural, social and political overlaps. It’s natural that activists aims for using the race as a means to set an agenda – because they lack other means of agenda setting, a local but at the same time world-wide sporting event is the perfect opportunity.

    • Sweeping aside sthe whole what is green and whast is not discussion, surely the vast majority of kilometres during sthe Tour are covered by the roadside spectators in their private cars. The distances driven may be short, but the number of cars must be enormous.
      That said, being the father of two teenage daughters I found it wise to pre-empt protests from green acstivists by cancelling plans to fly to Mallorca or Sicily for a week of riding 🙂 And I consider myself lucky that I don’t have to drive somewhere in order to ride my bike.

      • But you should compare it with driving/flying rates among live spectators of sports/entertainment events of similar relevance.

        The point is not “oh, people move by car to watch the Tour live (or whatever), live events are *bad*”.
        Up to a certain point they are, indeed, as an attraction which, as such, generates mobility needs – whose reduction is the first and most substantial step towards reduction of mobility-related energy waste.
        Yey, maybe the point is rather changing radically the range of options people can pick for their mobility, generally speaking, then let’s just see what happens with the events. On the one hand, a change in the event structure might be expected, OTOH a whole different… structure of events might be set in place. Less global superleague and more local events? Less ski station finales (oh wait, ski stations, how do people use to reach them? Will they still make sense under changing climate which they contribute to accelerate?), maybe more urban ones, or in mountain area which are actually inhabitated.

        Cycling as a sport worked quite well before car mobility was rampant – or even existed as such.
        And it was *not* that different a sport, really, as for the nature of events. Roadside public wasn’t bad either. Sure not a fully crowded Izoard, but you still have very old b/w Giro photos with the generation of my grandpas (who long had no car at all) lining along Alpine passes, not to speak of Prealpi or Northern Appennines.

        Finally, because of well-known cognitive reasons which also have long brought us great esthetical and poetical theories from the Eastern Formalist and pre-Formalist school on, or linguistic-philosophical ones by the “second” Wittgenstein… well, in sum, we tend to focus on exceptional situations and invisibilise daily ones – yet, the volume and quantitative significance of the latter is utterly superior and it’s where action is mainly required. The rest might have symbolic impact, but, surprise surprise, some studies show that it could also be counterproductive (a long story I won’t start here).

        • To throw in some data now that things calmed a little down on Galibier (all that fuss might have made my figures wrong, corrections welcome), the whole CO2 impact of running team QS all season long would be equalled by 0,1 to 0,5% of people currently using a car for their mobility in the (not so) tiny island of Tenerife… just stopping for good doing it – just as we and hundreds of thousands of people here already do, not everybody exactly for the planet’s sake, of course – far from – yet it shows that isn’t impossible at all

    • I’m not sure many viewers would have been frustrated by the protests as the delay was minimal, and I’m not sure many people who have seen the convoy of vehicles, tour buses, private plane transfers etc. would consider professional cycling a green sport. But you are right – electric vehicles are not environmentally friendly and renewable energy cannot meet demand. The answer is, therefore, to reduce demand. However, any large sporting or similar event involving the movement of quantities of people and equipment to a specific location is going to involve a carbon footprint – are you suggesting a halt to the World Cup, Olympic Games, Paris-Dakar rally, world tours in tennis, golf, athletics? Then add Glastonbury and other large concerts, world tours by bands etc…While developed nations, especially in Europe, push for tougher carbon emissions targets to be met, China in particular continues to build numerous coal-fired power stations, and electricity created by coal increased by around 9% in 2021…….

      Back to cycling, and it was a fantastic last 30km in particular, with a magnificent win for Cort.

      • A return on the point “renewable energy cannot meet demand.” Existing installed renewables can’t but potential renewables can, if humankind and resolve the engineering to get oil from the depths of the earths crust it can figure out how to get electricity from the deserts / windy seas to the populated areas at scale and manage the storage

        • It’s a matter of investment (meaning while investing in say military complex or fossil fuels you can not invest the same amount of resources into energy transformation) and of doing it sooner than it’s too late (in shorter to medium to even quite long perspective), too late meaning a situation which destabilizes considerable part of the world to the point it hinders our potential of transforming our energy sources globally. In other words – it is perfectly possible we must act swiftly while we lack the social and political will to do that (because acting swiftly actualy may mean sacrificing parts of our riches).

          As far as I know even nowadays we invest more in developing fossil fuels that in transforming our energy sources to more renewable ones – or at least we did that until very recently.

        • Agreed that potential future renewables may better meet energy demands. My point is that at the moment they don’t and won’t for the forseeable future. In addition, it will take more than W. European countries to do it and other countries don’t have the incentive at the moment.
          Reduction in demand through personal and governmental choices and more efficient technology would help.

      • It’s a complicated subject and not really the point of IR’s splendid blog, but in highlighting the efficiency of electric vehicles one needs to take into account the low efficiency of fossil fuel power stations and the associated transmission losses. I would accept that EV charging during periods of high renewable energy generation and low demand can be useful as a grid balancing mechanism. Back to the bike now!

    • For the record about 90% of french electricity is carbon neutral (mostly nuclear) so electric cars circulating in France are clearly more climate-friendly than “putting the fossil fuel directly in the car”. Besides, internal combustion engines are much more inefficient than power plants as a lot of energy is lost (in the form of heat)

    • I thought it was pretty amusing that the protest didn’t actually stop bicycles getting through, only the race vehicles.

      The whole thing caused a lot less disruption than when the climate protested in 2019, foreshortening the stage.

    • Not to mention the environmental impact of building all the carbon fibre bikes and so on. I’ll leave it there as it’s probably worth a debate on its own.

      Thanks for the preview as always Inrng!

      • I’m currently reading a book called How Bad Are Bananas, about the carbon footprint of many different activities and products. It’s very thought-provoking.

        I’d thought of cycling as a low-carbon activity but actually it isn’t, unless compared with a car as a means of transport. Of course the manufacture of the bike (and to a lesser extent the consumables) is a problem but for those of us who ride for leisure, the factor we overlook is the carbon footprint of the food we have to consume to propel the bike. (In this context, bananas are actually quite good. Burgers for example are terrible.) The human body doesn’t convert that fuel into movement very efficiently either. E-bikes are better because the electricity can be green and motors are efficient.

        As I say, a very interesting book.

        Also, as an aside, based on figures from Volvo, the increased carbon footprint of an EV’s manufacture means that up until 40k miles an ICE is better. That’s based on one of their models, I don’t recall which, and of course depends on how green the electricity is. But for many low-mileage drivers the rush to electrify may not make so much sense.

        The Tour of Britain had a large number of electric SUVs last year, and I challenged one of the organisers on whether they needed to be so big. A different question maybe, but one that’s pertinent to cyclists on the UK’s narrow lanes.

        • I’m old enough to remember a time in post-war France when everyone who wasn’t rich in rural areas got around by bike. In fact bikes were such an important means of transport that you had to have an official permit to ride one.

          Many years later, I was riding with a club in a remote part of the Lot. It was a Sunday and we passed a little old lady (must have been in her 90s) riding back from the local boulanger with a long ‘flute’. I looked over at the club président and muttered something about it being ‘classique’ and he smiled.

  7. Stages like this are always hyped when we first see the profile, but they very rarely live up to the hype especially from a GC perspective. Yates would be the best bet for Ineos if they want to be a bit proactive and let him fly off early on Galibier, especially if they have riders up the road. Jumbo could use Roglic, but he doesn’t look great and could really struggle early today. I see it as Jumbo isolate Pogi early on Granon and Jonas attacks. Pogi will be glued to his wheel until the final few metres and will out kick him for a few seconds. Thomas, Yates, Bardet and Gaudu will come in 30s-1min down.

  8. “..decent enough to cut through a hunk of Beaufort or an oily pizza.” You are correct, I should have waited to read this until AFTER breakfast!!! The guy we used to work for fed us “oily pizza” way too often, it was like he thought eventually he’d find a good one somewhere in France if he kept trying….UGH!
    DJW- why do you think pro cycling, especially Grand Tours is a “green” sport? It’s anything but. Is the America’s Cup yacht race “green” because wind powers the carbon-fiber racing boats that are transported all over the world, along with their crews, support staff, etc. using fossil fuels?

  9. Unsurprisingly Tadej Pogacer seems to be rather stressed more surprisingly he is letting it show. At one one point yesterday he chased down Primoz Roglic (who seemed to be stopping for a wee!) and at the end shouted at photographers at the finish line. Perhaps relative youth / inexperience showing but not ideal going into potentially the two key stages of the race. Perhaps its wishful thinking but there seems to be a feeling that despite the physical mastery so far he is vulnerable. I dont think a long range attack on the Galibier from Primoz Roglic or Adam Yates can be ruled out, by that point Tadej Pogacer will likely be pretty isolated, can he afford to close down every attack by himself? Of course in all probability he will ride tempo all the way and drop the rest of the last 3kms of the Granon to all but seal victory.

    One small point, the Col du Granon marked the end of Bernard Hinault’s career, he lost the yellow jersey here the last time the Tour visited and retired a few months later.

    If anyone is going today beware of the horse flies. Apparently the area is infested with some particularly nasty ones who bite even through a layer of clothing.

  10. If Bike Exchange and EF are having a good tour and scoring plenty of UCI points, have they done enough to put Movistar or even Astana under pressure?

    • Astana are having a shocker so far, aren’t they? On French TV, commentators pointed out that they are the only team without a single Top 10 finish so far. “They’re well set to end that today”, said Marion Rousse. “But there are 11 riders in the breakaway…”, replied Laurent Jalabert.
      Velasco came 12th!

      • As I showed some months back, Astana was destroyed before season even started, probably some 12-months ago or so, and when they noticed, it was maybe too late.

        • It’s surprising that Vino as an ex military of Soviet background wasn’t more beware of Canadian agritech, the Trojan horse for the operation which brought down the whole USSR, imagine a cycling team 😛
          …or was he? 😉

          • Indeed, hidden deep inside every Massey tractor was a radio permanently tuned to the CBC. Listening to Ideas convinced the intelligentsia, the Massey lectures the factory workers, Hockey Night In Canada the athletes, and about the Canada Wheat Board and dairy quotas the collective farmers: therefore convinced most Russians of the superiority of Canadian society.

    • No, because stage wins are great in many ways but don’t bring a huge amount of UCI points. The take Nick Schultz who was second yesterday, he wins points but he’s still not among the team’s best ten riders. If Mas can stay upright he’ll plenty of points.

      • Although if Powless can also maintain his GC position then Cort’s stage win will narrow the gap.

        I reckon EF, Movistar and BEx are all within 100 points now. But as Lotto don’t have a GC threat, all 3 are pulling slightly clear of relegation.

      • This comment about Mas made me think even more how unfair this points system feels.
        I realise an injury can happen in other sports and if you can’t deal with it that’s your problem but in a sport with so many different disciplines and some teams solely built to support those few riders capable of excelling in those disciplines, if losing your key rider can suddenly sink you (even in a three year spell) that feels just too random.

        That’s outside of my main two criticsms being A – that Grand Tours can invite wildcards anyway making it completely defunct relegating people in the first place. B – cycling isn’t a mainstream sport with endless fans and if we lose, for example, one of the few US teams or the lead Spanish team, that’s a real blow to growing the sport in that country when it’s already hard enough.

        • Note that I generally agree with the importance of nation-related teams, yet, to show a different angle, you should consider that in Italy or Spain cycling is actually a mainstream sport under most POVs (unless you defend that only *one single* mainstream sport exists there, that is, football). In fact, Italy survives the long term total lack of top teams – however, yes, the impact of poor sporting institutions and the team factor are putting the sport under huge stress and slowly pushing it into decline. OTOH, the USA use(d) to have a decent number of registered top teams but that didn’t help much ’em to grow a serious movement, either. Well, of course it sure didn’t hurt. Anyway, no doubt that cycling is niche in the USA, that’s for sure…

        • That list does not seem to 100% agree with the list on the UCI website where o,brien does not appear in the top 10. He got most of the points (95) in the Dwars door Vlaanderen in march. I can’t see why these points are not on the uci list.

          • If you go to the UCI’s individual rankings, you can see that O’Brien does have his DDV points, but also picked up a 50 point penalty somewhere along the line, so his official total is 51.

  11. “y-axis of evil” – that’s a good one, for any of us aged 30 or over!
    “The climb to Montvernier begins at; …” any info yet? 🙂

  12. It seems Pog’s biggest threat is COVID. Will his team be keeping him completely separate from his team mates before and after stages or is that not feasible? Suppose that doesn’t really matter if he’s sat on their wheel for 5+ hours a day.

    • Eurosport commentary made the point he was keeping away from his teammates in the peloton yesterday. I think the biggest risk will be soigneurs as he’ll need someone to look after him post-stage and back at the hotel.

      • Today seems like the decisive day in so many ways…

        If Vinny drops Pog and Pog tests positive in a few days/nxt wk it will feel less egregious that Pog has to withdraw as Vinny might have already shown he’s the best. If Pog drops Vinny and either tests positive or loses more teammates then suffers a reversal because of a reduced team, this will feel like a real gutter as the best man will have missed out.

        Outside of Covid I feel like it’s almost the first stage of the Tour today?
        Vinny can play it traditional and wait till the final climb to truly test what he’s capable of and we can all find out what type of battle this will be – will he drop Pog? will he need to use his team later in the race? will Pog follow him similar to Contador/Schleck? will Pog attack aware his team are weak so in the hope of solifying his lead? will Pog just drop him?

        In hindsight I’m glad we didn’t get a crazy stage yesterday so we get to see a proper mano a mano battle today. Everything points to Pog going well and being fine, but Vinny has lookig extremely strong so no surprise if he comes out on top today.

      • I hope team management are taking notice of the real science, rather than some so-called experts. There’s plenty of evidence that with the right type of air filtration and controlled circulation you can reduce the risk in enclosed spaces to just about zero. This risk is going to be in enclosed, public spaces. It would be interesting to know what the teams are actually doing.

        • I think you’re asking a bit much! As far as I understand the Tour dictates where teams stay and the hotels aren’t much to write home about (I don’t mind this, keeps everyone’s feet on the ground!) – but to expect a team to have the man power to scout 3weeks worth of different hotels and plan air filtration/controlled circulation in each along with their bus is surely impossible. They surely follow the science very well but must beyond also aware what is beyond them.

          The one thing I was curious about was whether certain teams gave riders booster jabs before the tour and whether that would even make a difference? As aside from social distancing, masks and maybe kitting out their tour bus with some bling air filtration, I’m not sure what else they could do. Personally I think riders shouldn’t have to go home with covid anymore tbh.

        • yes I bet smart teams are toting around portable air purifiers etc for their riders, since they cannot be certain of the accommodations.

      • And what are those folks saying today when he’s right up there with the rest of the UAE team? IMHO they were talking out of their a__ yesterday. I realize they have to fill the time but some of these people a) Don’t seem to know much b) And even if they do, they aren’t very good broadcasters – they just fill the space with tired phrases and lame speculation ala the old Phil and Paul show. Even the Italian commentators are getting way-too-caught-up in the social-media BS storm….ZZZZzzzzzzzz.

  13. A good Chinon can also be really peppery.

    I am actually running a race series right now, and it’s amazing how many people have ideas about how to do that task, yet there remain so few of us.

  14. neilsen ratings – wow! i thought that was a usa phenomenon. someone from neilsen ratings contacted us to put some sort of box on our tv and even wanted to give us a fruit basket to say yes. we said – we don’t think we’re good for you cuz we don’t really watch tv. nice reference!
    yesterday’s finish – i’d call the fight for the stage high drama. only cort made it from the back (kamna /ben thomas group?) group to the front 4. none of those first 10 or so looked like they were anywhere near catching their breath (most of them barely made it over the line before laying down). cort made up about 150 meters in that last k (thanks to ben thomas going all in) despite a huge attack from van baarle and jorgenson’s effort to bring him back.
    i wonder if the lactate levesl of top 10 yesterday were higher than top 10 at planche (vinge looked wrecked there and kamna in both finishes!)?? looking forward to another bruiser today (and tomorrow)!

  15. What.

    One for the ages?

    Best TDF stage in a long time. Probably since 2011?

    Even if I loved Pogs 2020 TT win, his attack last year, 2014s Roubaix and this years Roubaix as well as Froome’s attacks in 2013/15 and a little Alaphillippe in 2019… but today it right up there…

    • I have a feeling Vinny has been the best climber all along and todays stage was inevitable.

      But I still feel very sorry for Pog as he got worked over on the Galibier and suffered badly for having a weak/ill team and closing the gaps to Roglic solo. It must be hard see Roglic pop and knowing in hindsight he should have let him go and just marked Vinny and saved himself the effort of dragging Vinny up the last 4kms of the Galibier that told on the Grandon.

      Full marks to Jumbo, they rode perfectly – even though I have a feeling an old school train from the bottom on the Grandon might have had the same effect.

  16. “It must be hard see Roglic pop and knowing in hindsight he should have let him go and just marked Vinny” Too bad you weren’t yelling this into his ear at the time…because somehow you just KNEW what would happen…well…in hindsight anyway. Is it modern TV/video replay that makes people this kind of after-the-fact expert? What would you write here had he let Roglic ride away…and Roglic ended up taking the stage win and jersey while he “just marked” Vingegaard?

    • He is right though. Roglic was over 2 minutes down, at over 60km out you have to question whether Roglic is going to be able to hold that to the finish or if you’ll just catch him going backwards on the last climb a la Barguil. Pogacar was jumping on everything, even when Van Aert came steaming past in the last valley. I wonder if there was a bit of personal rivalry with Roglic at play. Also up until today, like everyone else, Pogacar probably thought he was invincible and could follow everyone and then drop them. He found out he isn’t. But obviously it’s easy saying it on the sofa afterwards. It was a great stage, maybe the best I’ve seen. Pogacar played his part in entertaining us all and may yet still win the war.

      • I won’t say he thought himself to be unbeatable – but he was never in such situation before. Vingegaard is his equal (or more) on hard climbs and J-V attacked his covid stricken team ferociously – both those factors are pretty new for Pogacar.

        Pogacar did show weakness in TdS recently (unable to fistance Mohoric in last stage) and on the Planche (if I am not mistaken, Majka’s gesture was clear – here you go, Tadej, ride away – which he was unable to do). Today, he was beaten in a quite meaningful way for the first time, it’d offer him valuable experience, I guess – he was isolated and J-V were super strong, so it makes sense he cracked in the end. We’ll see whether he’d be able to take time back, it would be hard against this Vingegaard (but Vingegaard may also overstretch himself…) – but perhaps more importantly, Vingegaard vs Pogacar rivalry seems to have quite a potential.

    • Hey Larry,

      You’ve misunderstood me:

      > I think Jumbo tactics were superb, I also think in the moment Pog made a good decision of the two he could make as he had no idea how Roglic was feeling. I wrote *hindsight* specifically because had Pog the knowledge that Roglic wasn’t going well at the time he might have adjusted his approach but it’s part of the intelligence of Jumbo’s tactics that they used Roglic early before his condition was clear to draw out Pog. I was praising Jumbo’s tactics not saying Pog should have raced differently.

      I did not know what was going to happen and to be honest as someone who’s pretty impulsive I probably would’ve done exactly what Pog did. I just feel lucky to have seen the stage and enjoy talking with everyone here before/after about what might/has happened.

  17. if pogacar doesnt have covid (i hope not – it looked like classic running out of fuel b/c he dropped the bejeebers out of all those same guys (save Vinge) all day until the last 30 minutes) – i don’t see him having the mentality to do anything other than come out swinging – starting tomorrow. pogacar also knows how to take time out of a jumbo leader on the final tt (prob not more than 40-50 secs on a flat tt though). if i were jumbo – i’d look for a chance to pad this lead a bit tomorrow.
    i don’t see that vinge and rog vs. pog on the shallower ramps at start of galibier was any harder for pog than the other 2. they all had to accelerate for every attack. only thomas kept it closer to diesel for those attacks. the twist the knife in person in me would really like to have seen Wout and Roglic time a fly by attack from the back of the gaudu/yates train coming down galibier. trying to get 50-100 meters back on wout would really have cost some folks. will jumbo put anyone ahead again (like mcnulty and wout on stage 9)? they really only have 1 gc guy now and could easily ride fortress style.

      • Considering UAE team’s situation, the unfortunate virus may prove to be part of the explanation in the end – but Vingegaard seemed the equal or better climber potentialy, anyway.

    • Especially G.Thomas, age 36 ! So many pundits & Ineos management were writing him off & trying to ease him into retirement. This year, GT has also managed to avoid the “bad luck” he’s been prone to.
      Hope he does well — podium may be out of reach, but if he keeps going and races smart, maybe a top-5?

      • It’ll never live up to the hype!

        I think we should just enjoy what we’re getting now – although I will be all over the hype train next year when this happens…

        Total aside… I’m still surprised by reports Rodriguez Cano is leaving Ineos as I thought he was Pog’s most likely serious contender in a few years till today. Watching UAE’s struggles even before Covid has made me wonder if there’s any chance Ineos might nab Pogacar… I’m saying that because I don’t think Bernal is his match and have a feeling Ineos might know it.

        • Very good point to hold off on hyping next year. I’m very much enjoying this…

          Interesting your take on Bernal – on a GT, I thought Bernal would be a great matchup with Pogacar and Vingegaard. However, I qualify that statement based on how well he comes back from his big injury this past offseason. Very glad that he is back on the bike.

          Pogacar definitely needs a better team, or else today would have played out differently. But, if Pogacar switched to Ineos would he have the freedom to do Slovenia or Flanders? I wonder. But, even with this current Tour, it isn’t over yet and with UAE off controlling duties will Pogacar have a chance to attack for the win? He did way too much work on his own over the Galibier-Telegraphe…

          What a race!

    • I think moreso than the tactics in this case is that JV just backed the right rider and that rider is on par – and chapeau to Roglic for being such a great team player of course.

          • No asterisk – the race is what it is.

            Unfortunately, every race has flu’s, colds, viruses, crashes, mechanical issues, bowel issues (food poisoning, etc.). Cycling is a very complicated sport.

            The winner is the winner is the winner.

          • Half? Laengen and Bennett. That’s two.
            If you count Trentin, that’s three (but I’m sure he’d have made a difference yesterday).
            Hirschi? I’d say it is something other than or something beyond anything to do with his body putting the fight against viruses above the fight against Jumbo Visma..
            Majka? There’s that positive test, that’s true, but it didn’t seem so much as to put a dent on his climbing – and there could well be another perfetly plausible reason for why he wasn’t there with Pogacar when Roglic and Vingegaard played the two against one.
            Pogacar himself? Again, it’s a possibility we cannot rule out, but also one we shouldn’t be so quick to assume must be the case.

            In short: if Vingegaard is in the yellow jersey in Paris and we insist on an asterisk, then I’m afraid all but maybe two or three Tours in the past twenty years come with an asterisk following the winner’s name.

  18. What an absolutely incredible stage the like of which I can’t recall seeing before. Who knows how this shakes out but it’s just what the race needed. Chapeau to Roglic for putting team before ego. So great to see Quintana, Bardet and Thomas all putting in great rides. My bias hopes Thomas was keeping something back for an attack further down the road. Surely tomorrow can’t be as extraordinary as today but I can’t help but think 1-2 in the top 5 might struggle tomorrow as a result of todays efforts. Occasionally the tour over delivers. Sport… bloody hell

  19. Amazing how far we’ve come in a few years: _no_ big team trains pulling their GC guys up the HC climbs today, but actual tactics being worked out over the whole of the last two climbs. Pogacar may have been smiling at the bottom of the Grandon, but it sure looks likely that what J-V did on the Galabier, playing the one-two repeatedly, is what did for him by the end. Hugely entertaining to watch. And, _chapeau_ to the ITV-4 commentator team, David Millar in particular, for great insights into the tactics as they play out.

  20. A couple of days ago I wrote that JV needs to work over TP.Finally they did thanks to TP’s mistakes. Tomorrow, the Alpe may be Ineos turn to keep TP down.

Comments are closed.