Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

After yesterday’s stage for the age, a superb encore. There’s more climbing and the final climb of Alpe d’Huez, a celebrity climb because of numerous appearances but also just a steep one. Can Tadej Pogačar mount a comeback in the heat or will Jumbo-Visma have the race under their grip?

Granon, grand oui: in the end, the old “1-2” tactic worked a treat. It just took time to set up, and then patience to see it pay off. The stage was frisky from the start with a joint attack by Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. Jumbo-Visma seemed to have a plan because Tiesj Benoot was busy monitoring the moves.

Once the race reached the Col du Télégraphe Jumbo-Visma activated their plan with Benoot launching Roglič in an attack. Pogačar gave chase. This was early to make moves and it seemed too early even as once onto the Galibier ,Vingegaard was making searing attacks like it was the final climb. Faced with the splendour of the mountains, Victor Hugo once remarked that “in the Alps you are either an eagle or a cretin” and it was becoming hard to tell which camp Jumbo-Visma’s fell into. It was thrilling and they did crack Pogačar’s UAE team mates. At one point Jumbo-Visma looked like a swarm of bees surrounding the yellow jersey. But Pogačar was holding his ground and as the higher the Galibier got, the more it looked like Vingegaard’s team had gone too soon. By the top of the pass it was just Pogačar and Vingegaard, a situation the Slovenian must have preferred.

Up ahead Warren Barguil was leading solo into the start of the Col du Granon. It was his team mate Nairo Quintana who set off in pursuit. It looked rude towards Barguil who was slowing but Quintana’s style is to go early and just ride half a kilometre an hour faster than everyone else. Quintana was closing in on Barguil but crucially building up a lead on the yellow jersey. Then Romain Bardet had a go and it signalled open season on Vingegaard and Pogačar and that the pace wasn’t so high. With 5km to go Vingegaard attacked. Rafał Majka gave chase but crucially Pogačar could not follow and in a flash Majka vanished, Vingegaard was away and Pogačar losing ground, dropped by Geraint Thomas and his yellow jersey flapping in the breeze. He was soon overhauled by David Gaudu and Adam Yates. Vingegaard took the stage and 2m51 on Pogačar to turn the Tour upside down.

There was the sense all this was coming but it was spectacular to see. This blog’s suggested UAE is a weak squad, but in relative terms with riders who could lead other teams; but now blunted because they’ve been riding on the front for days already. Jumbo-Visma by contrast look much stronger but the burden is now on them. As TotalEnergies boss Jean-René Bernaudeau said in Longwy last week about UAE, “everything comes with a price, move in the Tour and you pay“.

As well as the sport we enjoyed on the day, the stage was also good because of the tantalising promise it offers for the days ahead. First let’s hope Pogačar’s problems are temporary, a Haribo crisis rather than the onset of a Covid infection because if he’s in the race he’ll keep attacking and Jumbo-Visma will find it hard to contain him. But there’s a lot more than a Pogačar-Vingegaard duel, Romain Bardet is second overall now at 2m16, then come five more riders in less than a minute. There’s a lot more sport to come. Starting today.

The Route: 165km and 4,650m of vertical gain. Riders will be warm-up on rollers for the start as it’s straight up the Col du Lautaret and to the Galibier although it’s a climb that starts gentle on a big road before getting steeper and steeper, especially after the turning at the Lautaret. The HC point at the top is big goal for anyone with an interest in the mountains competition.

Then it’s back down the Galibier, into Valloire and the climb to the Télégraphe before dropping down to the Maurienne valley.

The Croix der Fer is a giant of a climb and a staircase, 29km at 5.2% but the mean average includes a descent along the way. It’s a hard climb and this time goes beyond 2,000m and followed by a reciprocal descent that’s not too technical and got some climbing on the way down and then a quick 10km valley section that’s a slight uphill drag, short but enough for some to flounder.

The Finish: the famous 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez. There are actually 23 to the finish once you include the extra two bends once inside the ski resort. It’s 13.8km at an average of 8.1%, but the main climb is consistently a steep 9-10%. The climb is regular and the famous hairpin bends matter, as they’re engineered and flat so that tourist coaches can pass with ease and so offer the cyclist a change in rhythm. As an engineered road it’s also got large rock walls to reflect the heat making it more of a furnace and the temperature is raised further by the dense crowds. The slope eases into town and there’s a final bend to the left and then the 220m finishing straight.

The Contenders: a straight match between the breakaway and the GC contenders. Thibaut Pinot didn’t go in the breakaway yesterday, he wasn’t on team work duties for David Gaudu either. While Gaudu is high overall in seventh place, getting him higher up GC seems a big ask and so Groupama-FDJ can spare Pinot today. He’s won on Alpe d’Huez before in 2015.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE) has promised to attack today. But the how and where is of interest. He doesn’t need to set his team to work from the start, instead just a straight contest on the Alp might suit. But Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) got the better of him yesterday and in the heat can hope to do the same again, this time if only to snipe the win rather than take minutes although if he spots weakness, he’ll take it.

Geraint Thomas (Ineos) was ever-present yesterday but always reacting rather than making any moves. He’s clearly not here to win the race but his steadier riding yesterday can help here and if he’s in the mix for the finish he’s got a chance but expect more linear, steady riding.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-hansgrohe) is in form but has been overdoing it, if he can make the right move today but play it calm he’s got a good chance although he’s not a pure climber. Rigoberto Urán (EF) can have a go here. There are other climbers but it’s hard to see who can ride away, Michael Woods (Israel) might have to wait for the Pyreenes to get over his injuries.

Thibaut Pinot, Jonas Vingegaard
Pogačar, Uran, Woods, Kämna, Thomas, Mollema

Weather: hot and sunny, 33°C but Alpe d’Huez is south-facing and the rocks beside the road radiate back heat.

TV: the stage starts at 1.05pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.55pm CEST. The Croix de Fer should begin around 3.40pm and the foot of the Alpe is 5.20pm.

Food and drink? the choices here aren’t so obvious. There’s a Galibier-brand of saucisson, the dry cured sausage, but if it borrows the name of the mountain pass, it is made from it. Instead a linguistic deviation because today is the quatorze juillet in France, the French national holiday, the national festival of the French republic. Outside of France it’s called “Bastille Day” as a nod to the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 which marked the definitive end of the monarchy in France. But the national day of celebration wasn’t so obvious, the date moved around until almost a century later in 1880 it was decreed that this day should be the national holiday of the French republic and it’s stuck ever since. The 1989 Tour de France is probably the best ever edition of the race and largely for the sport but it was all enhanced as the bicentenary of the French republic, France was saluting a 200 year history, a bigger party than usual and the Tour was part of this.

95 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 12 Preview”

  1. On days with long climbs (~40 min) Pogacar doesn’t seem the strongest of them all. He was slightly distanced 2020 on Col de la Loze, last year on Ventoux and yesterday a bit more on Granon.
    That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was much better today, and sure he’ll try to attack.

    Vingegaard looks so lean, and according to the numbers he pushed last 5km at Granon yesterday were huge, especially considering they were attacking Pogacar very early on. Will be interesting to see how this effects his performance today.

    I doubt there will be such fierce GC action as yesterday, but maybe someone will crack after the efforts.

    Stage win for Pinot would be great, but Nairo looked pretty good yesterday too.

    • I’m also interested in how much yesterday’s efforts will take out of Vingegaard. No doubt Pogacar cracked and massively, if its a temporary blip and hopefully nothing more sinister like covid we are in for a cracker.

      I feel despite him saying he is going to attack the wisest move I think his keep his powder dry and be patient as Jumbo now have to control the race as reliant on others to make the work hard.

      Should be interesting

      • Maybe that is his Grand Tour weakness – the need to attack constantly or close down rivals’ attacks. I’m not sure he needed to chase down Roglic each time yesterday. He could have let him go and said to Vinny “ok, let’s see how he does on his own while injured” given they were 60-plus mountainous kms from the finish.

        • Or perhaps his “Grand Tour weakness” was having almost no team to help him combat J-V’s tag-team tactics? If he’d let Kite-man race away to yellow while marking the Cadaver you all would be saying he should have done the reverse!
          On the descent before the Granon when J-V blasted by and Pogacar had to hurriedly get on the train, I thought they well and truly had him on-the-ropes..finally. I feared his eating/drinking routine was upset by all the chasing he was doing, but then forgot all about that when he seemed just fine on the way up the Granon….until he wasn’t. My hope is that he’s not suffering from Covid and just ran out of sugar…and he won’t let it happen again. His post-race appearance suggested as much…but it could be just wishful thinking on my part. Vive LeTour!

          • Good point on sugars, Larry (and drinking). Actually, both Spanish commenters and Italian ones on TV were insisting – before the Granon – on the fact that, of course, the footage didn’t include every single moment of racing, but they’d expect Pogi to be seen eating and drinking more often, while at the same time they praised the Jumbo work in keeping the pressure again on the descent, too, precisely to prevent him focussing on “fuelling” (Brailsford’s copyright as somebody noted above). They were commenting on the subject also every time you could see riders of Jumbo or FDJ going to the cars and then coming back with the goods.

          • That’s the point Larry, Roglic didn’t have the legs and he’s injured. Pogacar should have let him go and blow out – he was never going far on his own.

        • KevinR – 100% – If Pogacar let Roglic ride solo up the road it could have worked much better for him. Pogacar and his teammates could have stayed glued to Vingegaard’s wheel. Roglic was nearly 3 minutes down at the beginning of the stage. UAE would have had teammates there with Pogacar too in order to collect food for him. Also, did Pogacar bonk? He was covering moves for hours and didn’t seem to go back to the car for food.

          Anyways, WHAT A Stage… loved every minute of it. Can’t wait to catch up on today’s stage.

        • My thoughts exactly, Kevin. Pogacar could have played it cooler and just marked his main rival Vingegaard, then reeled Roglic in towards the finish if necessary. Easy to make those decisions while sat on the sofa of course, rather than in the heat of the battle!

    • This has been going around a lot, and it could make sense, but isn’t there a selection bias of sort?

      The Portet isn’t a short climb, nor it is the Grand Colombier. And on Prati di Tivo Pogacar offered one of his most commanding displays ever. And let’s not forget that yesterday he still appeared the dominant rider despite his greater efforts on the top of Galibier itself.

      Others suggest that it may about him suffering when the stage requires a significant global energy output, but that’s also way at odds both with his performances in the Monuments and some great feats like Gredos at the Vuelta, the Queen Stage when he brough home Valencia, the Carpegna stage this season etc. (including some of the above mentioned, which were the finale of a serious stage).

      Frankly, yesterday looks… the most normal outcome when one thinks in realistic terms about what he had gone through from the Telegraphe on. Of course, we were expecting something beyond normal, in a sense! There’s a limit to the amount of greater effort you can undergo – greater than the one your opponents are facing at the same time – before you need to scale down your performance or crack.

      We sure need to see more from him to better understand the athlete. Being so young the sample is relatively small, and made even smaller because the changing conditions which do characterise cycling must also be factored in.

      • Right! Like you very well wrote, there are many examples of Pogacar doing great on long climbs and long sustained energy output as well. And of course, Jumbo Visma putting him under pressure and him responding since the Telegraphe is a big factor in what happened.

  2. A Changing of the ‘Gaard it seems.
    No doubt Pogacar will bounce back but picking up an average of 14 seconds per day is unlikely.

  3. Very rare for me but last night i watched the stage (finishes between 1 and 2 in the morning) because i had the feeling that Pogacar was going to struggle. A combination of working himself and his team much harder than they needed for a week plus the covid exclusions and one team rider appears to have been on his last legs before the race even begun.
    For me the deciding factor on the stage was when Pogacar kept riding hard all the way to the top of the Galibier. Riding hard with your main rival siting on your wheel seemed a bit much with 50 km to go and asking for trouble. That said Pogacar and Roglic did crash out more than i expected. It was a bit like carapaz in the giro. Totally in control until the moment they were totally out of control.

    That said Pogacar can still win. I don’t think he needs to through caution to the wind today. The first objective should be to not lose more time until he is recovered from whatever. He should only go on the attack if he is really confident his opposition is faltering. The pyrenees and the TT are still available for him as long as he does not loose more time.

  4. Quite the most exciting and unpredictable TdF stage I can recall.

    Was Pogacar too confident with his cheeky smile and gesture for the camera at the foot of the final climb?
    So many riders dropped and then coming back to form new lead groups, which would then blow up again. Voeckler descibed Pidcock’s descent from the Galibier to rejoin the lead peloton (briefly) as one of the most daring and spectacular he had ever seen.
    For today, why not Gaudu who after struggling and much-needed support from Madouas and Storer, finished as sprightly looking and stylish as any.

  5. “Stage for the age” smacks of hyperbole but as to: “As well as the sport we enjoyed on the day, the stage was also good because of the tantalising promise it offers for the race to come.” my fingers are crossed. Vive LeTour!

    • It was an amazing stage though Larry, no?
      For me, to see Team UAE’s numbers diminished, emboldened Jumbo-Visma to attack so audaciously.
      At one point, as Pogacar gestured cheekily to the television camera that he was eating it all up, I cursed Ineos’ lack of action, sat on the wheels like unwelcome party gatecrashers.
      They weren’t able to contribute directly at all.
      Now, as Guilleme Martin observed, if you haven’t got the legs, you can’t attack.
      But the stage didn’t show Ineos in their best light. OK, Thomas snuck away at the end but, from where they were just a few tours ago, it does demonstrate that sport is cyclical in providing its winners.

      After yesterday, I’m in underdog mode big time. I’d love to see Pogacar rise from the ashes and soar again.
      If anyone can, Pogacar can.

      • I’m not sure what people expect of Ineos, they are not JV, they have more limited riders and have totally different objectives. Thomas’s riding was perfect given that he’s a 36 year old aiming for third. His biggest threat for a podium in Paris yesterday was probably Roglic so Thomas marked him. It will be interesting to see who Thomas sees as the biggest threat to his objectives for the remainder of the tour.

      • Someone on Eurosport asked someone with J-V about combining forces with INEOS and the guy replied they had their own plan, thank you…and had the riders to make it work, so they were going to try it. They came, they saw, they won, taking the jersey in the process. CHAPEAU! It was entertaining to watch but I’m still short of “stage for the age” maybe just because I’m an old-fart who has seen a lot over the years.
        As to entertainment – CHAPEAU to Pidcock for his descending on the Alpe d’Huez stage going on now..I love to see someone who really knows how to ride a bike demonstrate his skill – reminded me of Nibali or maybe Savoldelli back-in-the-day.

    • Name a better Tour stage that you’ve seen then Larry. Maybe Hinault-Lemond back in the 80s – a different age. Or would you put Froome’s Giro rampage from the Colle delle Finestre up there for Grand Tours?

      • Do you REALLY want to get me started on this? If so, start with Giro 1998 – Pantani vs Tonkov on Montecampione. Next try Chiappucci LeTour Sestriere 1992. I can go on, but I think you’ll get the hint…maybe….unless “for the age” is like those “Best of All Time” things when “all time” starts when the author started paying attention to cycling, which usually seems to be within the last 10 years or so. Don’t get me wrong, it WAS entertaining but “stage for the age” is a bit hyperbolic, even for me 🙂

    • I would say that for the TdF the 2017 stage over the Colombier into Chambery was better. The drama ran for the whole stage. Geraint Thomas & Richie Porte crashed out (Dan Martin taken out by Richie Porte). Rigoberto Uran won despite not having all his gears. It was emotionally very draining to watch. Yesterday was different almost something from a cycling computer game, the sort of racing often discussed in the media but very rarely seen in top level racing, Both very different again from the solo long distance raid eg Andy Schleck / Chris Froome.

      • It made me smile to read your comment, jc. That is the best stage from a GC that I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never heard anyone else mention it until now.

      • If I remember rightly unsettled and uncertain weather conditions added to the stresses of that day, something we haven’t had in this tour. I remember Bardet flying down Cat’s Mountain like a lunatic.

  6. Still buzzing, incredible day.
    Stage for the age for sure.

    Don’t mean to be a downer but haven’t seen a rider crack like Pog yesterday and come back immediately, if at all. But admittedly I’ve not seen a rider like Pog before so who knows?

    I expect things to go from bad to worse for Pog and Jumbo-Visma to be far to strong for anyone to move the dial for the next week and a half. Race for the podium from here is all I can see, hope to be wrong.

        • Listening to Cycling Podcast and McNulty interview you get the feeling they knew this might be coming, not just the attack but Pog getting dropped. Even talking about him fighting back McNulty sounded like the writings on the wall.

        • It was the day before Finestre though, that his cracks started to appear – he lost approx 30 seconds I seem to recall, on a rather tame mountain top finish…could today be Pogacar’s Finestre stage where he completely cracks and loses half an hour? That’s the big intrigue for today for me…

    • (George Hincapie saying it’s hardest start to a stage he can think of plus a short stage so I guess maybe there’s a chance of some craziness… would be stunned to not see Jumbo police having GC contenders on lock down though)

  7. I’m interested to see what Bardet does going forward. If he hopes to finish on the podium he is going to have to claw back more time as there are a lot of other contenders that will take chunks of time out of him on the TT. Therefore is he a contender today? How to get a way from the main group now he is in the mix is the question I guess. But I’m assuming a stage win is still more enticing for him than finishing say 5th on GC?

    • I have a feeling Bardet benefitted from not taking part in the Galibier madness, and knowing he needs 2/3 minutes on nearly anyone in a time trial I think it’s unlikely he beats Thomas when all is said and done and third will depend on Pogacar’s race from here on out. Personally I think he’s racing for third but more likely to be fighting for fourth or fifth.

  8. leaders amongst themselves, attacking each other 60k from finish, two alpine giants still in front of them. Maybe thats what these 50ies tours must have felt like, where leading riders crested the passes often alone. it felt epic.

  9. The key moment of the stage was when Tadej Pogacer chased down Primoz Roglic on the Telegraphe. Jumbo Visma clearly knew that PR still had issues but TP didnt. In retrospect he could have let him ride away and paced up the Galibier thus saving his energies, keeping enough to counter on the final climb. But that was not clear in the heat of the moment and Tadej Pogacer’s character and relative youth mean he is always likely to chase rather than wait. Jonas Vinegegaard bided his time and rode away to victory, a masterful display (quite possibly a Tour winning display) by both rider and team. A great ride from Geraint Thomas too, he kept cool on the base of the Galibier not expending unnecessary energy, only blemish was that he probably could have gone earlier on the Granon which let Romain Bardet get clear.

    Who will have kept enough in the bank for today, especially with the heat? I understand that the Granon was not that hot yesterday and was exposed to the wind whereas today will be enclosed and hot. Not convinced that Tadej Pogacer has the patience to leave the “fightback” until another day, the crowds will add an adrenaline factor which might not be helpful. JV look very strong, as strong as Froome era Sky, difficult to see them being dislodged and suspect they will be happy to see a break go and mop up the bonus seconds.

    • “The key moment of the stage was when Tadej Pogacer chased down Primoz Roglic on the Telegraphe. Jumbo Visma clearly knew that PR still had issues but TP didnt.”
      A very good point, and it shows that yesterday *had to* be the day, because Roglič couldn’t bluff it for more than half a stage.

      • Exactly. And he had to really push it on a flatter section because he and JV knew he couldn’t do it on the climbs. Pogacar’s tactics were poor there. He should have let Roglic go because even an in-form Roglic would have struggled to stay away for more than 60km on his own.

  10. Reminded me somewhat of Yates at the Giro. Contesting all those wins / sprints come at a cost. However it’s made for one hell of a days racing. I couldn’t believe the attacks with 50km still to go! ‘Twas brilliant to watch’

  11. You’d think today must have a bit of an ‘after the Lord Mayors show’ feeling about it. The speed, the climbs and the heat has to have an effect. As such I’m saying the breakaway will win. Probably Pinot. Re the GC I’m quietly hoping Pogacar and Vingegaard dash each other against the rocks and allow Bardet to sneak through for the win, though I appreciate it’s a long shot.

  12. just wonder if pogacar is healthy and yesterday was indeed a feed issue not anything worse, maybe we look back on this as a pyrrhic victory for jumbo – have they prodded the beast? vingegaard went deep yesterday, a brave move in the middle of a triptych of alpine stages, and let’s see how he can respond today

    • I’ve seen a lot of comments like this, but remember that however deep Vingegaard went yesterday, Pogacar went deeper (and for 3 minutes longer!). It’s not easy to recover quickly from a hunger knock, if that’s what the issue was. But it shows the reverence we as fans have for Pogacar that we expect him to bounce back within 24 hours!

      • completely – and vingegaard went deep and was rewarded with yellow, a much nicer outcome than for pog! but i still think pogacar is a generational talent able to pull off generational comebacks, and yesterday might have just made him angry…

  13. Henceforth all hunger knocks shall be known as “Haribo crises”. 🙂 Absolutely love that turn of phrase.

    I was fortunate enough to be on the lower slopes of the Télégraphe yesterday to witness this stage in person, at the point in the race when the break of 20 or so riders was still up the road and the peloton was some 5 minutes in arrears. I ran back to my hotel room and watched the final 50 km on Eurosport; the sound you may have heard was that of my jaw dropping forcefully to the floor.

    These are the days which we cycling fans live for – what’s more, unlike the 2018 Giro or 2020 Tour, there are still plenty of kms left for this race to get upended a half dozen more times.

    Vive le Tour.

  14. To reflect on this blog and the excellent one on Blondin before… the mood has definitely softened on the all conquering Pogacar seeing him have his fist proper sans jour… makes him more human and vulnerable- a bit like us all.

    • Agreed regarding the Blondin article and Pogacar looking more human. Not sure he’s quite like us all, though – I wish I could ride like that!

  15. Once again I had to do a Zoom meeting during the last hour of the race, though this time I was able to watch it with the corner of my eye, minimized and with no sound. It’s interesting to watch such a race silently – I could tell it was super exciting, but without the commentators keeping me oriented I would frequently be confused if I was watching a solo rider and not know if they’d made a move or been dropped. I didn’t see Vingegaard’s move or his catch of Quintana and Bargil, and for a few moments though HE was the one who cracked. At first I was glad to be rid of the bombast that I knew the commentators were surely producing, but in retrospect I realized that’s an integral part of the experience. And this was a stage that deserved bombast and sports clichés.

  16. Great stage, great television viewing. It’s not often that us armchair DS’s get what we ask for (and ASO too for that matter)! Can I be greedy and ask that JV go for the kill today? The two-time defending champ is on the ropes and I want to see what they’re going to do about it, and how Pogi will respond – I actually don’t think a mountain train will work as towing Pogaçar to the foot of Alpe d’Huez plays to his advantage.
    And chapeau Roglic for buying in to the strategy and giving up his dream for another year – yes you can say he’s not the boss and should follow team orders but we’ve seen in the past how that doesn’t always happen (Wiggins, Valverde et al)

    • To put my money where my mouth is, as JV DS I’d put Benoot and Kuss on the front for Galibier, then Kruiswijk needs to show his final day Dauphiné form on the Croix de Fer and Roglic serving as bodygaard. If Vingegaard and Pogaçar arrive together at the Alpe then it’s a good day. Great day if they can drop him again.
      As UAE DS I’m hoping for a JV train at a high tempo and an attack late on the Alpe to gain a few seconds back.

      • And as Ineos DS what would you do Tom, given that they’ve done nothing yet only follow? Maybe that’s the tactical masterstroke. Let the others blow their doors off and then attack. I have my doubts.

        • I think Ineos are realising what it’s like to race when you don’t have the best rider(s) in the race. Yesterday, all they could do was follow and then take advantage of JV’s work, but then couldn’t keep up with Quintana and Bardet. Do they try and get Yates in an early break to put early pressure on JV today, or will their conservative style lead to another day of following the wheels? Appreciate that letting others blow their doors off might be the best strategy for now.

        • With free reign I would give up on the GC and look for stage wins, which I think they might be doing to a degree – they have tried to get in the break a couple of days ago, it just didn’t work. They just can’t let go of that GC craving! Thomas is hanging in there but only 3rd seems achievable.

        • As I read elsewhere, Geraint Thomas is pacing himself perfectly for a 5 week grand tour, as Vingegaard and Pogacar will be exhausted after 10 more days of this.

        • Unfortunately, I say this as Ineos fan, they don’t have any fight in them. All they are aiming for is a podium for Thomas, and a stage somewhere. Either Pidcock getting in the break or/and Ganna for the final time trial.

          Yesterday was all about damage limitation. Both Yates and Thomas clearly had more and could have left Pog behind earlier. Yet they waited and waited and only make the move until they are 100% sure Pog is cooked. I guess with Yates, a bit more time behind may give him a bit more leeway to manoeuvre. That said, he is so packed with Quintana and Gaudu, surely those would respond if he goes.

          I hope they prove me wrong and do something crazy today. Or maybe they are just waiting for Martinez to go back online.

          All this makes me missing Bernal. He is the one with the fire and would go down fighting in form or not. Ineos also needs a leader that is clearly above the rest, that can deliver, that everyone can look up to. That is what united them during the Froome years. That’s what makes all the domestiques pulling that extra kilometre. Bernal has that quality and there is a reason why Martinez could do what he did in that Giro.

  17. Great viewing and chapeau to Jumbo for giving it a go from so far out. How will the riders be the day after I wonder. Stalemate I would guess unless someone’s feeling really good still. Bardet confirms his form from the Giro but he’s going to have to get a good lead before the TT to secure his podium spot. Lutsenko appeared from nowhere and Gaudu had a good showing plus Vlasov had a good day. Ineos must have hoped more from Yates but Thomas is playing a cagey long game – if Pogacar has another bad day G will have all to play for on the TT. But there’s the Pyreness first. Quintana seems to have been around for ever, but another classy performance yesterday. Today, let’s hope the hordes on the Alpe let the riders ride and no interference.

  18. Watching all the GC men put the knife in was thrilling.

    A rare opportunity well taken.

    Today’s stage will define the tour. Either a comeback or coputulation by Pog.

  19. The work done by WvA on that stage, bringing that train back for Roglic to stage that last attack at the foot of le Col de Granon was something, eh!? Worth mentioning, definitely.

    Anyone else think WvA knows how to be happy at his trade and so the work rate is just higher.

    Also, it’s worth watching a documentary about how Haribo is made. The works manager is sooo pleased about the stainless pipework and proud to show it being stuffed with … er, the basic ingredient ewww No

    Bonne Fête!!

    • I don’t think the brief Roglic pull does any physical damage. That said, Roglic coming back into the group definitely deals Pogacar a phycological blow.

  20. Yesterday just proves the folly of tackling Granon in yellow. Based on available samples, there is 100% chance of losing yellow jersey there. If only Kämna took 12 more seconds in Megeve…

  21. Today’s stage is a mish-mash of the Marmotte in reverse. I was looking for some sort of pun in that regard. Still, there’s always tomorrow’s recap for such a doff of the casquet.

  22. Wonderful racing – like a Spring Classic played out at 2000m.

    “He’s clearly not here to win the race” seems a bit hard on Thomas – he’s in a virtual podium spot given the TT to come (appreciate/hope that *a lot* will likely happen between now and then), and with Pogačar and Vingegaard slugging it out, he could yet benefit, although it’s not at all certain.

    • Thomas said so himself that he’s happy with a Podium again.

      In itself, this is not that bad a thing for Ineos. They are just waiting for the return of King Bernal.

  23. I think Jonas attacks again today and tries to consolidate his lead while pog is in a moment of weakness. Jumbo did the dress rehearsal of this stage at the dauphine, they’ll be confident.

  24. I don’t think many people including Ineos were expecting a 36 year old Geraint Thomas to win the Tour. As it is he still has an outside chance but clearly he isn’t the strongest rider in the race. Ineos could ride a more attacking race and probably get a much worse result.

  25. This is was the most exciting stage of road racing I have even seen in my short time appreciating the sport. I watched the stage in the wee hours of the night on rewind and I’m so glad and thankful I resisted the urge to check the results in advance. I was on the edge of my couch and gobbled up every second. I was expecting to forward through most of the stage and be done with it before midnight, but it was wonderfully enticing all the way through. Now I have to try and put in my weekly 4 hours 50-tooth night climbing on less than 4 hours of sleep after work. I guess I traded in my summit legs for tonight for yesterday’s excitement. Absolutely worth it! I hope I will not sleep much tonight for a similar reason.

  26. Stage for the ages, indeed. Two marginal points related to recent debates. First, the importance of Roglic *having done in the past* a handful of very apparent and very successful long range raids, one of which directly cost Pogacar a race. That’s what you also gain with these sort of moves, like those by WVA many criticised here. The from-then-on available strategic use of a potential menace based on proven skills. Of course, one has to add all that’s properly been commented above about Roglic’s current conditions, the need to exploit him today etc., but a very basic factor is that the menace is much more real than if you had, dunno, Tom Dumoulin, Purito Rodríguez, Hugh Carthy or Enric Mas trying to do the same. Secondly, we had some good examples of using early break to allow bridging of sort. WVA was obviously floating up and down the course as he pleased, dropping then bringing back whole groups to the front etc., he reminded me when a rider of superior category joins a friendly ride and on the climbs goes back and forth across the group as a TV moto, then towing the rest all the time on the flat, that sort of situations. But he wouldn’t have been there and crucially so fresh hadn’t him gone with the early move. Laporte also played a very small but very important role, throwing in a stint of continuity which build the gap (which the stop and go of attacks doesn’t) that created the situation of a mere handful of men on the front, i.e., the guarantee that nobody else but Pogacar would be every time the “first man” following the flurry of attacks by the Jumbo duo, which is especially expensive for a series of reasons. Finally, as stated when the debate came up, WVA being on the front was also crucial as a menace which in that intermediate phase had Pogacar forced to chase every attack or pull himself a steady pace, because if any of his two rivals was ever to get the smallest gap after Galibier, WVA would have put his huge firepower into making the gap huge already before the Granon, and Pogacar would have been the only rider back pulling all those tens of kms… yesterday’s crack is still “small” compared to the outcomes of such a scenario.

  27. After considering yesterday’s stage some more overnight… I think Pogacar is still the strongest rider, but he was absolutely cooked after J-V’s onslaught. If he had a decent team Pogacar could have controlled the race more, but he was covering moves for over 2 hours. Not possible.

  28. Indeed a “stage for the ages”. The kind we all clamor for. Teams with a plan. Not waiting til the last climb of the last stage. Riders risking everything to win not just podium. And we’re only half way through. Pogacar is famous for his ability to recover. He loves racing and relishes the fight. Pure class going over to shake hands with Vingegaard. Jonas Vingegaard has enormous heart. He wants it. And the other players have been brought in close enough to motivate plans for their teams not previously considered. It’s on! And I love it.

  29. I think those comparisons to Merckx may have gone to P’s head. Stage 11 may have been the slap in the face he needs to bring him back to reality. He’s incredibly talented, but his tactics throughout the race — burning his team, chasing everybody — have been unsound. He’s not (yet?) at Merckx’s level of dominance, and he paid the price.
    I was impressed that, completely blown, P only lost 3 minutes: that was a tribute to his underlying talent and grit. Looking forward to seeing how he responds today.

  30. Is certain “Plastic Brits (Thomas’s word, not mine)” four time winner playing ageing grandpa and sneakingly missing turns in the break? It would be nice if he ended up leading Pidcock out for a stage win.

  31. Victor Hugo once remarked that “in the Alps you are either an eagle or a cretin” and it was becoming hard to tell which camp Jumbo-Visma’s fell into.

    My god man, you are a world treasure

  32. Probably going to get shot down here – but I think Alpe D’Huez in recent times has been hard enough for modern riders to drop the top10 but not clearly separate the top3 or even top5. I expected things to go from bad to worse for Pog today so very impressed he bounced back, but yesterday was far harder than today looked (from afar) and modern riders need something like the Granon to truly separate.

    Still loved today but not expect Alpe D’Huez to be the historic difference maker in future that it might have been in the past.

    • Recent times, you mean 2018 and 2022 only, I must guess.
      Not a great sample, and it still makes little sense given that speeds didn’t change enough when compared to 2013 (slightly faster than 2018) or 2015 (very similar to 2022) – in those occasions the riders who’d make the final top 5 in GC were coming to the line one by one or in couple at most, split by more than a minute, or two.
      In the late 90s and first 00s speeds were higher meaning the climb was “easier” for the athletes, still it often produced gaps.

      As an exception perhaps similar to 2018 and 2022, but surely not in speeds, was, in a way, 1995, when Pantani outclimbed the rest and got the record, but 1’25” behind him Indurain, Zülle and Riis, who’d make the final podium, crossed the line together.
      Or even more so 1999 when Armstrong, Zülle, Escartín, Virenque and Dufaux finished together, and alsonthe speed was similar to recent ones.
      My impression is that in a range of avg. speeds of 20-22 km/h the *modernity* of riders isn’t really a factor to determine if the climb will be steep enough to produce gaps, it’s rather how each stage and finale is actually raced.

    • Don’t think so unfortunately… both V & P beat him in Prologue and P is an excellent TT’er, far better than 2022 G – Vinny is also pretty damn good, so well capable of maintaining 2mins+ on that course.

      It’s also more likely G drops further time on climbs so it’ll go north of 3mins by then.

  33. I don’t believe I’ve read (or heard it mentioned) anywhere about the radiant heat from the rocks on L’Alpe d’Huez. Another invaluable insight, and again, Inrng, thank you.

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