Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

The Tour de France leaves the Alps

Stage 12 Review: a slow burn of a stage and one which could have been enjoyed on the radio although the TV meant images of the Alpine peaks in summer and Tom Pidcock slaloming down the Galibier. He’d missed the breakaway but rode across to Chris Froome down the Galibier and the pair made it to the leaders. The escapees seemed to be away for the day until further up the Col de la Croix de Fer Jumbo-Visma accelerated but they didn’t persist down the descent, it looked like they just wanted to push the pace and stress Pogačar and his team instead.

The breakaway reached Alpe d’Huez with time to spare but the riders didn’t waste time trading attacks, instead Tom Pidcock was the first to accelerate and it turned into a mountain time trial as he had a few seconds on Louis Meintjes who had a gap on Chris Froome and gradually the distance grew and Pidcock got his first stage win and a prestige one for a rider whose trophy cabinet is looking full already.

There was nothing spectacular for the GC battle: Romain Bardet slipped two places, Nairo Quintana one and David Gaudu is still seventh but four minutes down. Geraint Thomas is riding high for a podium and Enric Mas was climbing well but still relegated on GC after he lost eight minutes on the Col de Granon Also Simon Geschke still leads the mountains competition but the contest is getting tight and this bodes well for the Pyrenees.

The Route: sprint or breakaway? The course has 2,000m of vertical gain to make life hard for the sprinters. After 25km downhill on a big main road comes a short climb out of Vizille to help a breakaway go clear, it’s mostly a straight road up so hard still. Then it’s an urban ride through Grenoble, along the Isère valley and across the Dauphiné to Tullins for the Col de Parménie, a proper climb up a rockface out of the valley.

At Vienne the race crosses the Rhone and could stick to the valley floor but instead goes uphill to the Col de la Croix Régis and back down via the Col du Pilon. The KoM point doesn’t mark the top but none of it is savage, it’s all steady climbing.

The last 30km drag up the Gier valley. It’s never steep enough to drop a sprinter here, but it can leave them drained.

The Finish: into the industrial city of Saint-Etienne. When the Tour last visited in 2019 they went via a climb, today’s it’s flat and on the same approach as the Paris-Nice time trial from 2018.

The Contenders: a breakaway or a bunch sprint? Alpecin-Fenix, Quick-Step, BikeExchange-Jayco and Lotto-Soudal will want a bunch sprint today for Jasper Philipsen, Fabio Jakobsen, Dylan Groenewegen and Caleb Ewan. Sure it’s a hilly course but if not today then Carcassonne in two days seems less likely, the same for Cahors on Stage 19. So they can try even if containing the breakaway could be harder work, keeping a move on a three minute leash all day is a harder ask. But it all depends on the riders.

Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) can cope with the climbs and can go in the breakaway too. Matthews in particular has many options today, breakaway, a cover pick in case Groenewegen is dropped for the sprint. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) looms over many outcomes too.

For breakaway picks Nils Politt (Bora-hansgrohe),  Magnus Cort (EF Education), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty) come to mind but it’s one of those wheel of fortune days as to who gets clear, let alone whether they stay away.

Jasper Philipsen, Wout van Aert
Jakobsen, Ewan, Matthews, Sagan

Weather: a touch windy when crossing the Rhone valley. And a hot 34°C. That’s the temperature in the shade. In yesterday’s L’Equipe André Bancalà, the Monsieur Route of ASO (“Mr Road”) has been measuring the road temperatures at the Tour for over 25 years now and says the temperatures in July have gone up by 1.6-1.7°C in his time. Part of his job is to obsess over the tarmac temperature. He can manage this by watering the road ahead of the race, it cools the tarmac which stops it melting but also makes it more comfortable for the riders. Now the whole course isn’t rinsed ahead of the race, just the sections that are most exposed or more prone to liquefying. Bancala says his water truck can take 2,000 litres but they don’t use it all in a day. They might in the coming days because of the forecast heat and the rural roads.

TV: the stage starts at 1.00pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.35pm CEST.

Food and drink: more cheese and wine? The race goes through Saint-Marcellin country near Tullins, then climbs by some of Côte-Rôtie vineyards after Vienne. But a mention of walnuts today because they’ve a big staple of the Dauphiné area. Introduced to France by the Romans who got them from Persia, they became a handy source of calories. In the wake of disease for mulberry trees (whose leaves were used for the once big business of feeding silkworms) and the phylloxera louse that wiped out many vineyards, many walnut groves were planted and remain to this day. To ride in the area is often to past, and even through, these shady groves. They’re also an ingredient in many dishes, from leaves used to preserve goat’s cheese to filling for pasta dishes like ravioli.

90 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Oh yes I’m the great descender …
    It might be a guilty pleasure but you can’t help admire someone who dive bombs a descent like that.

      • There was a conversation in commentary the other day. Dan Lloyd said that as a rider he hated going over 100km/h as it felt unsafe to him, Robbie McEwan agreed. Rob Hatch then asked Sean Kelly what his fastest speed was (I guess he knew the answer!). Sean very dryly said “124 km/h” accompanied by the sound of dropping jaws from the other ex pros 🙂

      • I happened to be watching live in 2011 when Tor Hushovd won stage 13 of the Tour, making up more than two minutes to catch Moncoutie and then Roy during a phenomenal descent of the Aubisque, hitting 112kph.

        • Thor was 3min or so behind at the top, hit 128kph (according to the Garmin device, as said by Vaughters after the stage, I can certainly remember seeing over 120 on the motorcycle meter) and picked off Moncoutie and Roy on the rolling finishing 20k. He was afraid he said after the stage, not for himself, but because he became a father not so long before, so he didn’t ‘want to die’ as he sheepishly put it on Norwegian TV

      • It’s not so very fast in the right conditions. Pidcock himself said it was a personal record as ‘the closed roads help’. His speedy cornering is far more impressive.

        For reference, I clocked 68 mph years ago (on a dead straight Spanish dual carriage-way whilst toting panniers) and my highest registered speed on skis is 117kph, though I’m sure I’ve gone faster on a number of occasions. I can assure you I’ve never come anywhere near winning anything of note in either discipline.

        • I once did 70kmh on a long straight hill down into the Lot valley in France, and don’t mind saying I was a bit gripped when I realised what I was doing.

          Then last year I was brushed off my bike by an overhanging hedge in Somerset at 15kmh and ended up with a smashed femur and hip.

          Funny old game.

        • Just over 100kmh once in the eastern Sierras on California Route 168 from Aspendell to the west edge of Bishop. Descends 14oom in 24km.
          • it was a straight shot on pretty smooth pavement – at no point was it necessary to brake for a turn
          • there was no traffic
          • just as we started, a thunderstorm came over the summit behind us with a ~75kmh tailwind
          • both of us about same height/weight, riding similar size Colnagos (his was carbon, mine steel)
          I do not know what it was that caused the high speed wobble that we both experienced at the same moment, but we managed to stop without incident. Probly just as well, ’cause we might have gone even a little faster otherwise…which would have been OK with me, but he has kids…
          I’ve never been anywhere near that speed before or since.

    • +1 No radio description could equal the TV images – there’s a highlight video there on par with the one made on Nibali the year he won Il Lombardia with his masterful attack/descent. While I hate that guy’s team, watching him win the stage after getting up there with skill (there are no PED’s for descending that I know of) was great. While I’m throwing out praise, good on Thomas to call out the lack of crowd control – another piece of video to share with those who go on about how only the Italians can’t control the crowds who interfere with the race. Looked to me like Pogacar’s attack was thwarted a bit by the clogged road and what kind of moron lights up smoke bombs and then runs ahead of the riders with ’em? Too bad the rest of the crowd were almost as drunk/stupid, otherwise someone should have shoved this a-hole out of the way…maybe over the cliff?

  2. When Ineos had the shorts about their riders a while back, in the one where Pidcock was alongside Kwiakowsi, he said that Kia descends better than him. I wonder if he still considers that’s the case still.

    • Pidcock was very modest in the post-race interview, saying he was lucky to be able to descend in the way that he did. He seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole day, which is understandable. I wish I had his kind of luck!

      • There was a moment fairly early in the descent of the Galibier when he went round the outside of a rider on a sweeping left-hand bend that was completely breathtaking in it’s audacity – had the overtaken rider drifted out on the exit, Pidcock would have had nowhere to go.

        • Pogcock’s descending must be a massive weapon for so many races in the future- his body shape made everyone else look like an inflexible MAMIL club!

          • I think Pogcock is the genetically engineered child of Pogačar and Pidcock who will be unbeatable in about 18 years when he matures.

          • They are right not to let him try DH – it’s a totally different world to XC, let alone road descending. I’m sure he’d do ok eventually, but it’s 30-40mph over roots and rocks, 40’+ jumps – the crashes are often career ending. It’s a great sport, but not for guys for Pidcock even.

        • Find it and watch it again for the true moment of genius – Pidcock dips a little bit to shift his body weight and get a little more speed from somewhere. It catapults him around Louvel and ensures he can’t get clipped by exactly that. He then lines Froome up for another clean pass.

          Audi fun to watch the reactions of those two. Louvel spends a literal microsecond starting to chase and then realises he’ll find it terrifying, Froome spots his golden ticket and instantly looks to follow.

    • Didn’t Voeckler say that Pidcocks descent off the Galibier the day before yesterday was the best he’d seen? Presumably he’s out on a tv motorbike like Wiggins.

      • Yes, Voeckler works for French TV, reporting from the back of a motorbike.

        Great to see Pidcock also throwing his rubbish in the bin on the ascent – clearly his parents did a great job!

  3. I missed seeing the signing in and of course it was the day UAE and Jubo decided not to show – and they all got fined and docked UCI points. Did both teams decide it was better to stay on the rollers until the last minute? Good for young Pidcock and Ineos finally got a stage win (and on an “iconic climb”) though Froome did decide to try and upstage him. Pogacar seems determined to repeat 2020 but Jumbo could well do him over again in the Pyrenees. Lotto S will be getting desperate for Ewan to do his thing today but a good breakway will probably upset their plans.

  4. This is the sort of stage where thirty years ago, a big group of 20+ would have gone up the road and gained 30 minutes; they would have detonated the last 20km into dribs and drabs by the finish; and some lurker in the group would have ridden themselves by stealth into the top 10 overall while the main contenders had a day off. Can’t see that happening today!

  5. Fantastic to watch. Commentators were putting his bike handling prowess down to mountain biking. Does that apply to others too? Sagan is also a good defender; but I don’t think Nibali is a mountain biker. Anyway I hope he doesn’t ever fall off at 100kmh – much faster than anything off road.

    • Some people seem to ride bikes for the joy of just riding. Sagan, MvdP and Pidcock all seem to fit in that category as well as the MTB one. They’re happy to ride anything and pick up skills naturally on the way. Always seems that Nibali has that joy too, seems so relaxed as a bike rider. For others I sense the ‘joy’ comes from the watts, the suffering, the focus – the riding itself is secondary. While the skills can be picked up (Evenepoel’s descending has improved), that sense of being at one with a bike can’t be recreated easily.

    • The rough terrains you can encounter on a moutain bike force you to upgrade some aspects of your bike handling skills for sure. But it’s certainly not the only way to do it. I also believe that switching between bikes helps as it forces you to adapt, expand your comfort zone and add new bows to your quiver. Still, as mountain biking involves significantly more difficult terrains, maybe a road biker can get significantly more gains in terms of bike handling skills from the switch than the other way around.

      • I think you may be right about improved handling skills from off-road riding but you definitely put arrows in a quiver…

      • I certainly feel that switching disciplines around gives benefits. It works both ways. My MTB climbing improved after riding a road bike. My road descending is always sharper if I’ve been out on the MTB a bit more frequently. None of this stops me falling over in the supermarket car park mind…

    • There was a video of Nibali descending San Baronto on a Merida(?) gravel bike awhile back, but I couldn’t find it. He’s talking about racing MTB’s and from watching that video I have no doubt he’ll be good at it. Fabio Aru was MTB’ing before his road career…bike handling skills come to the fore when the surface is sketchy and when it’s not those guys can fly!!! I attribute some of my (now waning) skills in this area from MTB’s as well as motos, both on paved and unpaved surfaces. I still get reminded these daze at vintage events where I see a whole lot of folks who don’t have much clue when it comes to descending…and are even more sketchy on dirt.

      • There’s a video on GCN/YouTube of Dan Martin having a go at riding DH with the Athertons. I don’t think Martin would claim for one second he was one of the great bike handlers, but seeing how far he was from his comfort zone was astonishing to me. I don’t think it’s just riding mtb etc that helps skills but also something like embracing ‘playful’ riding, what ever the bike.

  6. Having seen Pidcock win the XCO world cup starts he participated in, I was looking forward to him going for a stage win and was expecting him to get one somehow. But he also seems to be keeping a very respectable GC position as well. I wonder what the future holds for him.

    • I’m not sure Ineos know right now. Cummings said they’re just seeing what happens and playing it by ear this year – originally it was “see how you go staying high on GC”, so he did that, then they had a chat that if he wanted a stage he’d have to lose some time, so he did that, and then yesterday’s stage looked a good one, so he did that…

      It’d be wrong to say it just comes easily to Pidcock, but he makes it look that way.

  7. Ineos seem to have found their future TdF leader. It was not only a great ride but he showed real maturity in the way he went about it. It will be interesting to see if he can stay in the top 10 all the way to Paris. Chris Froome deserves a mention (and probably the combativity award) for a ride of true grit.

    I thought both Jonas Vingegaard & Tadej Pogacer looked tired, the jousting seemed to be pretty nominal, almost for show. Given the heat levels over the next few days this might have big influence.

    • How is Thomas only 4” from Pogacar though?
      When the other two go into warp factor 5, they’re in another dimension to Ineos?

      Good to see Pogacar come out boxing, he’s not done yet, looks like it was a feeding problem two days ago.
      It’s going to be difficult to free himself from the stranglehold that Jumbo-Visma will exert however.
      Harry Houdini would have problems with an escape as difficult as this.

    • You’ve said the word – maturity. That was a very poised and impressive ride from Pidcock. As well as the descending skills (expending minimal effort bridging to the breakaway, even snagging Froome for help), he timed his accelerations perfectly. Forced the final selection on Crois de Fer, then assessed, rightly, he was the strongest on the Alpe and set the perfect pace to stretch the elastic. Chapeau.

  8. Other than MvdP and Pidcock, are there any other male riders who have won World Cup/World Champ level mountain bike and CX races, and World Tour road races or stages?

  9. Astonishing, exhilarating win by Pidcock. I knew he was good, obviously, but didn’t think that at this stage of his career he had it in him to win a proper massive Alpine stage. As we have become aware of in the last 10 years or so, descending skills can be a real additional weapon. (Swooping down those mountains at 100 km/h terrifies me.)

    And good to see Froome getting stuck in again. Even though he’s a skinny climber and not a beefy Flandrian, somehow he’s just about the toughest rider I’ve seen.

    • You can only look at Froome in total and utter astonishment for both his mental and physical toughness. Even the haters have got to respect his ride yesterday. And maybe, just maybe, if he gets the right breakaway on the right day, there’s a stage win waiting for him.

      • “You can only look at Froome in total and utter astonishment ..” If you’re a fan, sure. Kind of the same way some Nibali fans rejoiced when the GC boyz spotted him all that time on the TdF stage when he was hopelessly out-of-contention…but at least he WON that stage while Il Frullatore was spotted 6 minutes at the start of the climb and held onto less than 90 seconds at the end from a group of GC men seemingly uninterested in setting any records on the Alpe yesterday. But hey, if there were 30 more stages and they spotted him 6 minutes on each one…he could be in yellow again! Does he still have asthma..still puffing on the inhaler? Call it a career, join Nibali, Valverde, Gilbert, etc. in hanging up the wheels at the end of the season Mr. Froome there’s nothing left to prove.

        • You can be a fan or not. It doesn’t matter. Coming back from horrific injuries that nearly cost him his life to third on the Tour queen stage when it had seemed like he was never going to be in that position again is an amazing achievement despite your efforts to belittle it.

        • Larry, of course in 2019 the GC guys weren’t “chasing Nibali”, but:

          1) being the stage *extremely* short, the break simply hadn’t had enough kms to build such a significant gap before the very finale
          2) several teams were upping the pace brutally for different reasons of their own, so even if they weren’t after Nibali, they were going uphill as fast as they could
          3) nevertheless, Nibali – soon alone by himself while behind gregari were trading turns and later captains kept surging – only lost one minute in the final 15 kms (to compare it with the Alpe). Losing one minute in 15 kms solo from the break against an unleashed top group is quite a feat (also consider the previous strain just to make the break, that day with little to no time to recover before the climb).

          So I think that while it wasn’t clearly the sort of monstre performance directly challenging the other leaders as in his 2015 stage win (about which we have a good deal of inside info courtesy of Movistar’s feuds), yet it was more than notable from a merely athletic POV, surely behind but not that much behind Contador’s goodbye Angliru.
          Not a competitive miracle of sort against GC riders already clearly superior, among other things because Nibali had ridden to a 2nd GC place at the Giro in May, so no serious GC preparation for the TDF was really ever considered, but you are playing down what happened on that stage in a pretty much absurd way.

          • To put it into context, yesterday despite the reduced number of attacks, only 7 riders lost less than one minute to Pogi, and from the bunch, after having enjoyed free slipstream. And only ten riders from the group lost less than a minute to Valverde on V. Thorens. So, Nibali’s performance would have been worth at the very least a place among the ten best riders in absolute terms – he rode as he did because he wanted the stage, and against more explosive riders it was the only way. Perfectly played.

        • I’m no Froome fan, but it’s comments like this that remind me why I stopped reading them let alone posting here.

          In any case, taking a bit of issue with “from a group of GC men seemingly uninterested in setting any records on the Alpe yesterday.” – even if they weren’t setting records, Pog/Vingegaard/Thomas were 18-20th fastest times up the climb according to Twitter – beaten only by Pantani x 3, Armstrong x 2, Ullrich x 2, Indurain, Alex Zulle, Bjarne Riis, Virenque x 2, 2006 Landis, Andreas Kloden, Laurent Madouas, Sastre and Iban Mayo. I don’t need to tell anyone here what most of those have in common (and no, not insinuating anything about the 2022 riders).

          Pantani was 2 mins 20 faster up the climb than Pog etc. so yesterday was NOT SLOW.

          • Hey Ben, I know what you mean, I’ve been shouted at by Larry more than most and mis-corrected by Gabriele on occassion, plus I guess there’s a rogue bad egg commenting every so often… but I have to admit, along with obviously INRNG’s posts, I looked forward to this TDF because of the community here and generally feel there’s an informed and respectful tone that’s really pleasant to read and comment with.

            I’m sorry you don’t enjoy, I actually liked your comment a lot. And anyway. everyone know’s Larry’s just old (older than me anyway!) and a bit grumpy and Gabriele uses his amazing knowledge as a smokescreen for his heavy biases! 🙂

            What might be less known, is Larry is a genuine cycling fanatic who posted a really nice piece on his own website about one of my favourite lesser known Italian cycling brands, Gios (I own one!), which I enjoyed reading – and likewise Gabriele comes across as a kind and thoughtful contributor whenever I read his posts. I’m as thankful to the people who post here for the conversation as I am INRNG for the posts, as no one could bear the amount I want to talk about cycling, so I need a refuge!

          • +1 to all this! I love the comments here, they’re almost entirely free of the pettiness and aggression you find elsewhere. Differences in viewpoints are usually respected and I enjoy reading them

        • Still wishing that Froome would ‘retire before he becomes a laughing stock’ then Larry? Third on The Queen Stage…..I’m splitting my sides laughing – but maybe not at Froome.

  10. Sorry to be a pedantic pain but:
    phyloxera => phylloxera
    a hand source of calories => a handy source of calories
    is often to past and even through these shady groves => ?

  11. Agreed. It was great to see Froome rolling back the years. I’d forgotten how much I missed watching him stare at his stem! 😉

    • I’d forgotten how ugly his pedalling was! But agree, even as someone who was not much of a fan, it is hard to be anything other than happy to see him have a ride at that level.

      • I always liked Froome and think he never got the credit he deserved for the exciting/aggressive riding outside of the TDF in the early years of 2013-15, there are so many memorable stages in those year’s spring races and the Vuelta that were little seen and near forgotten now leaving on the memory of the Sky train and more defensive riding in 16/17.

        The one thing that will always bug me though is his nickname: FROOMEDOG or the RHINO.

        Both are so rubbish and ill fitting it’s embarrassing – especially when his all-elbows-neck-and-knees riding style lends itself so clearly to one of cycling’s great nicknames – the TARANTULA – which I’m pretty sure I first read on this blog but sadly never caught on.

        I will always think of Froome as the Tarantula, alongside the Gentleman, the Badger, the Professor and all the others even if I’m the only one.

        Ineos should be banned from nicknames, Top Ganna gets me every time I see it printed on his frame… dreeeaadddffffuuuullllll

        • Rhino is more related to his charity work in preserving wildlife. I am not sure it caught on as a nickname.

          I guess Oakley has more to do with Froomedog than Froome himself. But a few of his 2012 photos in a jawbone looks really like a bulldog.

  12. FWIW and IMO, and having raced and ridden MTB, cross, gravel and road at the local level for many years, I don’t find myself thinking that MTB handling really translates to road downhill speed (except perhaps in one circumstance discussed below). My argument for this point of view is as follows. First, MTB speeds, even when doing downhill are significantly lower than road speeds. Second, the MTB tire contact patch is much larger (owing to way lower tire pressures, sheer tire size) and therefore gives greater control. Further to this second point, the MTB’s tire knobs give rise to serious bite, while road tires don’t tend to have the same bite on the road that MTB tires have on the trail. Third, the MTB terrain is very different (even with flow trails) than roads. Fourth, and perhaps related to the foregoing, I have had gravel front tires and road front tires washout on me, whereas I can hardly remember ever washing the front tire out on the MTB. I find that I can hear (feel?) when the front and rear MTB tire is getting close to the limits, but road front and rear tire washouts always seem to happen without warning.

    The one area where MTBing may have an impact on road descending speed is with respect to body english and balance. When Pidcock almost clipped the concrete barrier and pole yesterday, he was most certainly using a ton of body english! Does this argument overcome the contrary arguments I’ve set out above? I don’t think so, but can see that there may be a different view on this.

    Finally, I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Pidcock/Sanchez-style descents. The riders can get really hurt (eg, what if Pidcock had clipped the concrete barrier and pole…that would have been horrible).

    • I think it’s more to do with cyclocross than mtb. Carrying as much speed as possible into, through and out of the corner while at the limits of grip.

  13. I think you are right. When descending on the mountain bike on the more rowdy terrain, you shift your body weight around a lot and you also learn to muscle the bike around a bit, not just steer it. I guess that transferable on the road. I was expecting that being used to constantly being ready for skids and washes from the mountain bike would increase your chances in recovering if one happened.

    Something that might help as well might be just embracing riskier riding or having false confidence from mountain biking.

Comments are closed.