Tour de France Stage 15 Preview

Another day, another tricky route. On paper this route looked like 60-40 for the breakaway vs. the sprint but given the tough racing so far and the struggles of several sprinters it suits the breakaway more, which in turn will encourage more to try their luck, and so increasing the chance of a strong move staying away.

Matthews’ Masterpiece: an incendiary stage. A big breakaway got away even before the first climb of the day but only had a few seconds. Then Tadej Pogačar attacked on the climb, it looked like he’d seen Jonas Vingegaard didn’t have team mates around and wanted to put the yellow jersey under pressure as his team mates scrambled to get back. Pogačar was unlikely to keep this up until the end but his move rode down the breakaway and provoked the race even more. Vingegaard was never on the ropes but if other teams had joined things could have got hectic and his team managers must have been sweating, even with the aircon on max.

Finally a maxi-breakaway of 23 riders got away. A group this big lacks cohesion, riders can tag on the back and miss turns. Because of this, others get frustrated and so the attacks started. Simon Geschke and Quinn Simmons were sprinting for mountains points only for Simmons to keep sprinting and this prompted the others to chase, a first attack. When the group got back, more were sitting on and soon after Michael Matthews attacked with 53km to go, a bold move given he was notionally the sprinter but with so many climbers in the move, better to get ahead. He was away solo for 10km when a trio of Andreas Kron, L-L Sanchez and Felix Großschartner countered and rode across. Behind Küng was giving chase but he must have been fried from his breakaway the previous day and it wasn’t closing the gap. Kron had a puncture and all this bad luck’s not exactly the image that Lotto must want.

Louis Meintjes was part of the breakaway and at one point close to becoming the virtual yellow jersey but Jumbo-Visma started chasing, but probably less to limit Meintjes and more to ensure a hard finish to soften Pogačar for the final climb.

Onto the final climb and Sanchez and Großschartner were the climbers. But Sanchez is 38 years old and in his peak never a punchy climber, Großschartner a diesel. Their only chance was to hit Matthews hard from the start. But Matthews hit them and rode off.

Alberto Bettiol winched his way across to Matthews from the breakaway and the two were locked in a duel, the leg-press version of an arm-wrestling contest. Bettiol was gaining ground but only by centimetres but his work to reach Matthews and overhaul him put him into oxygen debt and towards the top the bailiffs came to seize possession of his legs leaving Matthews to attack, go clear and take a masterpiece of a stage win. Matthews has long been a big trophy hunter, a collection of quality wins but his has to be his best win, he took on the field and won.

Behind Pogačar attacked but Vingegaard had him covered, as the Slovenian rocked his shoulders, the Dane was all dainty cadence and matched him. Behind the GC contenders were left to themselves on the climb where David Gaudu fared best, dropped at first but recovering to overhaul Geraint Thomas. But the only change in GC positions was Meintjes up to seventh.

The Route: uphill from the start out of Rodez, it’s not steep but it drags on to Flavin. After here the race takes a small road and dips down into the Viaur valley and back out, all on small, twisting roads and over to Ambialet to cross the Tarn river, another descent and then straight back up, this time for a categorised climb.

The climb at the end crosses the Montagne Noire and it isn’t easy, it goes on and on and while listed as 5km… it’s double that. Sneakily the hardest part of is out of Revel to the intermediate sprint in St. Ferréol, a 2.5km section with some 8-9% sections. It’s only after the sprint point the official climb begins and it’s 5km at 4% but with some 5-6% early. The descent isn’t a cakewalk, there’s another climb of 2.5km on the way down. Then it’s a regular road into town.

The Finish: the habitual route into Carcassonne, the same finish as last year. It’s a flat approach on big boulevards alongside the Canal du Midi. There’s a sweeping right hand bend under the flamme rouge and then a gentle left hand bend with 600m to go and the road rises a few metres to the line.

The Contenders: breakaway or sprint? The sprinters teams chased hard two days ago into Saint-Etienne and they’ll have their work cut out again today, more so given Caleb Ewan’s struggling so Lotto-Soudal’s first objective is to get him to the finish. BikeExchange have just won with Michael Matthews and might prefer to send someone up the road today so they can play the Dylan Groenewegen card if needed but have an option on the finish elsewhere too. It’s hard finish for Fabio Jakobsen who is suffering in the heat on the climbs. Which leaves Alpecin-Deceuninck as the main sprint team left to chase.

For the breakaway, some reductive and deductive choices. Strip away riders with GC or helper roles. Find someone who can get over the climbs in the heat. Then who’s capable of a Tour de France stage win… we’re still spinning the wheel of fortune….

Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) is an obvious pick, he’s got a fast finish and has won in Carcassonne before, as you’ve probably heard already and will be reminded again today a DNS. Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) is a strong rider for a tough course but lacks a sprint so it’s a harder pick. Ineos are going in the breakaways and they’re leading the teams competition. Perhaps today is for Dylan van Baarle? Quick-Step haven’t had terrain to suit of late but Florian Sénéchal might be their best be. Bahrain’s Fred Wright is persistent but might prefer a hillier sprint than a dragstrip arrival. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) can take another but will obviously be very heavily marked, but can also go for the sprint, team mate Jasper Stuyven is another to wach. Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty). The local rider is Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) who is a crafty rider due a big win and middle part of the stage is on his training roads. Lastly for old times’ sake what about Peter Sagan or maybe even Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies)?

If not then Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is a safe pick to sweep up, while Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) is the other sprint pick.

Cort, Pedersen, van Baarle
Wright, Sagan, WvA, Dillier, Sénéchal, Philipsen, Mohorič, B Thomas

Weather: the Vent d’Autan is up, the name for the SE wind and it’ll gust to 40km/h, a hairdryer in the 37°C heat. But it’s a local wind and tends to blow in the area after the final climb and not before, and from here on it’ll be a headwind until the outskirts of Carcassonne, then a crosswind in the final.

TV: the start is at 13.05 CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in for the start to see the battle for the breakaway. The climbing towards the end of the stage from Revel starts around 4.30pm.

Food and drink: after crossing the river Tarn we’re into real sunflower country, a staple of… photographers at the Tour de France. Tournesol (“turns to the sun”) is grown all over France but is most prevalent in the south-west where the hot, dry summers suit it more than other crops. France has 800,000 hectares of sunflower fields and is the EU’s third biggest producer after Romania and Hungary. Whatever France can produce, it’s not enough and Ukraine has been a big exporter, only the Russian invasion has blocked trade routes and prevented a lot of farming so today’s images of the peloton and sunflowers won’t evoke the same easy living/cotton is high feelings.

Reverting back to something more loca, sunflower oil’s not a local ingredient, it maybe grown but it’s hardly celebrated. Regional dishes instead use duck fat for oil which brings us to cassoulet, the stew of duck, sausages and beans that so hearty it’d be foolish to sample it in summer, it’s much better in autumn or winter. And what better to wash it down than a glass or two of Minervois, where an increasing number of independent winemakers are experimenting to make memorable red wines.

74 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 15 Preview”

  1. Thanks again for all the work into doing this site. A long hot day in the Sun – UCI have eased the drinking regulations (up to last 10 km) and extra lenient on littering with bidons, but melting asphalt and 40C will not make it a fun day.

  2. Chapeau to Matthews and Bettiol for putting on quite the show yesterday – neither’s strike rate is very high these days, but when the wins do come they tend to be of a prestigious nature.

    Your remark about the bailiffs coming to requisition Bettiol’s legs was spot on – I was certain that Bettiol would take the stage once Matthews was overhauled on the Croix Neuve, but no man can escape the lactic acid reckoning that comes with riding at anaerobic threshold for that long.

  3. For me it’s a big day out today, that is to say I will be out there riding myself instead of sitting on the sofa or spinning the legs on the trainer. I don’t wish that the stage will be uneventful, but I believe that if I have to skip a stage, this is the one to skip. But again, even if the odds that it will be a relatively dull afternoon for the TV viewers are higher than on many other stages, it’s no guarantee against there being plenty of action and suspense.
    There are a lot of websites with TdF-related content, some quite interesting and some less so. I got curious about the Montagne Noire mentioned in the route description and came upon this little gem:

    • TV is, well…TV. I have regrets from early-on in my race-chasing daze of spending more time keeping up on what was going on via TV at the expense of soaking up the atmosphere of actually being there.
      I eventually started to care less about TV, knowing endless replays are available pretty much anywhere on earth so “buon divertimento”. Unless conditions are really grim, riding your own bike is way, way better than watching others ride theirs on TV! Bravo!

      • The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I mean going out for a ride and watching a bike race live on TV. My normal perfect day, cyclingwise, consists of a nice ride (with a group of similar-minded but slightly better and younger riders), followed by a quick shower and a good meal followed by a short nap followed by an incendiary (to quote today’s bog entry) stage.
        I’m fortunate in that I have the option of watching the races live and for some reason I cannot bring myself to watch replays, it simply isn’t the same for me. It isn’t knowing the result that is the spoiler, it’s knowing that whatever happens has already happened that somehow dampens the thrill – and knowing that a zillion French, Danish, Italian et cetera cycling fans are seeing what I see that is the last piece of the puzzle that crowns my enjoyment of the race.

        • No doubt, I was writing about watching TV INSTEAD of seeing the race live on the roadside. Enjoying a ride followed by a proper lunch and something like Il Giro or LeTour on TV is only exceeded by the first two followed by seeing ’em live, in-person. Vive LeTour!
          Get well KevinR! Plastic bikes are disposable. One of our Italian bike-making friends likens them to potato chips. Unless you REALLY, REALLY trust whoever does the inspection, recycle the thing and get a new one!

    • I wish it was a big day out on the bike for me too but after a crash 10 days ago I’m still battered and bruised and the bike’s have a ultrasound test – impacts at 20mph aren’t great for body or carbon. So I’ll go for a short morning walk and then settle in front of the TV for the stage. It could be fun with the sprint teams chasing the breakaway but finding it tough due to all the hard racing. And surely Sagan needs a Tour win? I don’t think his employers will be too happy with their ROI sporting wise currently.

  4. Question about cassoulet: during a summer in the Loire Valley, we frequented a small farm with a restaurant that served what the server called “cassoulette”–emphasis on the “lette”. It was served in a fair sized ramekin/stoneware bowl, but it was not like cassoulet, which I love to make and have eaten many times. It was cheesy–gratinéed. It had beans and sausages–my kids loved it, as did I. Anyone heard of such a thing? I realize it’s a different region than today’s stage.

    As for yesterday’s stage: I looked down at my book for a minute, thinking Bettiol had the stage, and looked up as the announcers were going crazy and Matthews had been resurrected. Great to “watch”.

  5. Lovely writing about a stage I expected to be fairly boring but which had much more drama than I expected. I got a big smile from the line about the bailiffs coming for Bettiol’s legs!

    I think you left off whatever comment you were going to make about Van der Hoorn, though with Taco’s reputation maybe he needs nothing but to be named.

  6. I would like to add to the thanks to INRNG for all his wonderful effort and hard work. Thank you, very much appreciated. Best blog on cycling anywhere.
    Also the contributors who make this blog so interesting – today Eskerrik Asko for the geological link. ‘Green energy’, as long as we forget the extraction, processing, transport, manufacture and disposal costs and enviromental impact!
    So far it has been a great race not only for the stage wins but also the two main riders for GC. I don’t recall ever seeing such an attacking, aggressive, full on race from the riders – ever.
    It’s not over until the fat lady sings in Paris.

    • There is a certain horrible irony, though, that the race is suffering from heat that it contributed to causing in the first place?
      Planting a few trees is not going to avoid this Malthusian Check.

    • The only green energy is the one we stop using. Yet, even in academia and be it only for the debate’s sake, you must be very careful if you want to publish in some contexts the mere “degrowth” word (sounds better in other languages, too ^___^).
      Quite typical, indeed: policies discover concepts with fifty to seventy years of delay at best, so now policy-makers, think-tanks, foundations etc. are fond of “sustainable growth” or “circular economy”, which obviously won’t bring us far from where we’re currently going sooo fast.
      Let’s see what it takes to at least start steering away.

    • Indeed! The idea that we will be rescued by technology and need not change lifestyles has gone on for too long. ‘Efficiency’ won’t cut it, we need ‘sufficiency’ (ie. hard limits).

  7. Is it EVER not hot in this part of France in July? During the decades we chased-the-race I can remember broiling in the heat there all-too-well. This was back-in-the-day when few hotels had A/C, ice was something you could get only at fish markets and a Tour official once blamed a team’s collective stomach upsets on drinks…too cold! A big sponsor forced a retraction the next day – I’m sure everyone here can guess who it was? “Buvez tre frais” or something like that? 🙂

    • I believe the strictures about very cold drinks in very hot weather is correct – it’s certainly widespread. We were told to drink lukewarm before cold on holiday in Venice in 1958, and the advice was repeated on the Nile Cruise we took in August ( yes, I know but work schedules…). In both cases we took it to heart, and we did not suffer the stomach cramps which doubled up the eager quaffers of the ice cold beer.

      A cassoulette is a small earthenware or stoneware oven dish, quite shallow. In the Loire they are often used for the local variant of Pommes Dauphinois. They are also used in dairies for setting out milk for small individual ‘fresh’ cheeses ( I had several acquired as a by purchase when I Lived there). So I think your dish was precisely that! A pun by the chef.

      • I guess guys like McNulty didn’t get the message as he was shown sucking on one of those push-up ice-blocks/popsicles or whatever you want to call ’em. Quite different from guzzling a bunch of ice-c0ld beer, don’t you think?

      • I lived in Hong Kong for years and you will be served lukewarm water in many restaurants before your meal, even in the height of summer. These days, people mainly use it to wash their chopsticks, but traditionally it was due to the belief that a cold drink was not good for you in hot weather.

    • Always hot but getting hotter.
      On a positive note, interesting to read of the French national approach to extreme heat.
      The 2003 heatwave saw 15,000 deaths in France and a subsequent coordinated approach that included warnings, advice, cool room provision in care homes and a database of vulnerable persons that could be contacted by health workers.
      One piece of advice is to avoid outdoor exercise 😅

      • I’m not denying man-made climate change, just the recent episodes of people getting their chamois-all-in-a-bunch over the so-called “weather protocols”. Too hot? Ride slower, drink more. Too cold? Ride faster. Wear more clothing. Pro cycling always wants us to remember epics of the past, but seems very un-interested in creating any new ones unless you call sit-down tantrums and the like as epic.

  8. Following the mention today and a comment yesterday about Ineos, it’s increasingly clear that they’ve really changed their tactics, as they said they would. They’ve turned into Movistar! Trident, team classification … next we’ll see Thomas leading the team when he’s 40

    • It wasn’t until I read inrng this morning that it occurred to me what might have happened if ineos had teamed up with Pogačar when he attacked the first climb. A big ask I know, but perhaps there was an opportunity for a Formigal manoeuvre?

      Then I got to imagining Ganna, van Baarle and Thomas et al drilling it with WvA and team in hot pursuit? But that might mean no win for Mathews and that would be sad. It was a sensational ride by Michael Mathews. The pedals looked to be turning so well. I’m pleased for him getting a big win after being so consistently close in so many races for so long.

      • Problem with Ineos joining that move is: to what end? TJV may catch the move. Worse, even if they stay away, Pog is bound to ditch them at the end of the stage. All they would manage is to have Jonas replaced by Pog about same distance ahead.

        • And right now, who’d they prefer as a rival for a final GC victory? Open answer, but Pogi’s team is surely weaker and easier to attack.
          Pogacar went hard yesterday and Thomas lost some 20″ or so, which means that he might hace ended up 40″ to a 1′ behind a theoretical yellow Pogi rather than sitting nearly 3′ behind actual yellow Vingegaard.
          Of course, we all know that most people in cycling don’t actually race to win. Thomas and Valverde prefer a podium to losing it all (i.e., being eventually, dunno, 5th or 6th) for the sake of trying on modest chances.
          But it’s not even that (under *proper conditions*, I might even see them trying something) – it’s rather that most people in cycling prefer losing rather than looking as they made an effort while someone else “takes advantage” and wins, even if the latter isn’t sitting on wheels but contributing or sparking the move itself.
          Luckily enough, it’s not always like that, and when people showed a different attitude some of the best pages in cycling history got written.

          • I think Thomas’ racing does have a cautious edge but I’m not sure he races for 5th or 6th at all. I had to Google it but his Grand Tour / 1-week stage race record as a leader is basically podium or crash out. 14 top 10s and 12 of those were on the podium.

          • Actually on second reading I see you said he maybe “prefers a podium” to risking losing it all, which is fair comment.

  9. This is the first Tour that I’ve followed daily for a couple of years, and my enjoyment of it has been greatly enhanced by returning to this blog. I forgot how fun it is to follow the various strands and sub-plots.

    Thanks Inrng!

  10. Is it me or is Vingegaard finding it easier to follow Pogacar? Maybe it’s my wishful thinking for an underdog or he is anticipating better, but I think Pog has lost some of his top end speed at the moment.

      • Yes I would agree with that , they are clearly the best 2 riders in the race and pretty evenly matched. Nice to see a real challenge for Pog who looked like he might be head and shoulders above the rest for the foreseeable future.

      • Figures suggest Vingegaard is following up consistently with his *huge* absolute numbers on Granon (partly “eclipsed”, so to say, by Pogi’s crack and lack of other top-end rivals). Yesterday was mind-boggling wattage over Montée Jaja, I’d be surprised if anybody was able to go much faster pretty much under any condition, so, yes, Vingegaard raised quite a lot his own performance level.

        • Thanks for the insight, I was wondering how things will work out on the TT. From what you’ve said, JV should hold up well against the clock.

        • I hope the day never comes when races are decided by: “figures suggest Vingegaard is following up consistently with his *huge* absolute numbers.” blah, blah, blah.
          Prior to the Granon stage everyone was sure LeTour was over as I recall but now J-V loses two guys to crashes (rather than Covid interestingly enough) and the Sidi/DMT’s are on the other feet with The Cadaver and his team on defense as SKYNEOS lurks in the shadows.

          • Of course, Larry. That’s obvious enough and I wholeheartedly agree with you, despite the efforts by some social agents in cycling to turn the sport into a powermetre wrestling of sort.

            Yet, you might also have noticed that the comment you’re replying to is in fact a reply itself about a question merely on *current* *relative* *physical* performances, which is pretty much answered by data.

          • The only data I care about is who crosses the finish-line first and how far behind (easily checked with an analog watch) the others were. Watts/kg, VAM, Strava, Swift, records for specific climbs where what riders did before them varies widely and renders them meaningless, etc. just bore me.

      • Reminds me of Bernal in the 2021 Giro. Kept nicking easy seconds in week 1, by week 3 was looking a bit dodgy. Has Pogacar done same, but quality of rival(s) means dodgy = you lose?

      • Vingegaard matched Pogacar through the whole final week last year, though Pog might not have been flat out given his lead.

        • If there were bonus seconds on offer, I’d still fancy Pogacar to take them though.
          The problem will be for him to engineer that possibility, Jumbo look to have him a vice-like grip at the moment.
          To the extent that it’s looking like Vingegaard will need to have a collapse of sorts to enable the Slovenian to have a chance in the final TT.

  11. Chapeau to Michael Matthews and 👍👍
    Fantastic le Tour since Stage 1 in Denmark, cant take your eyes off it for one minute.
    How these cyclists manage to do what they do every Stage in the excessive heat and conditions are very difficult to imagine.
    Stay safe and enjoy.

  12. I don’t think the Vent d’Autan will play much of a role today – the local forecasts don’t put it above 20 kph for either side of the Montagne Noir today. You are right about the climbs – from Revel up to the lake is easily the toughest part to Les Cammazes. The Ambialet climb might also be interesting as it comes straight after a very fast descent with a couple of tightish hairpins at the end which might stretch the peleton out. The climb is steep enough to be interesting but too short and too early in the stage to make a difference for GC but perhaps a good place for a breakaway to launch?

  13. I think i saw Pogačar say he didn’t mean to attack at the beginning. He simply followed WVA who for reasons was bridging across to the break from the front of the group with Pogačar on the wheel.
    Quite a humorous mistake at the end of the day. I doubt there was ever a chance of ineos helping out. With 180 odd km top go its a bit far out.

    • Roglic being a DNS and Pogacar is apparently still in good shape (and trying to entice Ineos into helping him) then this race is not quite over yet. UAE need to put on their thinking caps & be alert to possibilities.

      • Yes, I saw an interview with Thomas yesterday and he said Pog came over to me and said look – he’s got no team around let’s go. And G basically said there’s no point, if we attack now he’ll just follow and we’ll be a GC group with 80km to go.
        Bit disappointed, isn’t that exactly the point? Arm chair DS – but couldn’t Yates try and sneak into the break then Pog, then Thomas etc. The point being with no team mates Vin can only mark one or two.

    • For me van Aert was doing his job, policing the break. It was the others, including Vingegaard, who were at fault being out of position

  14. I’m pretty stunned by the Roglic abandon.
    I like him a lot and always seems like a kind guy and team player.
    Plus was a hard nut even staying in the Tour after his crash.
    It’s just having seen him do a lot of good work till now, he didn’t seem to be on his last legs and given the unfortunate crashes of this stage it just seems like a bizarre decision given how long JV have been trying to win this race?

    • The past couple of stages he simply wasn’t able to contribute much. You’d expect Roglic to be able to close at least some of Pogacar’s attacks, which just wasn’t the case. Mende, in any other circumstance, would absolutely be a “Roglic stage” but he was never in the fight at all. If he hasn’t recovered over a week after the crash, does it make sense for him to keep racing and risk aggravating an injury and possibly have long term problems as a result? I’m sure the decision wasn’t easy, but I think it was probably the right call.

    • Roglic has clearly been getting worse for the last few stages. Especially visible at the beginning of the stages where he struggled to make the front with all the surging.
      Leaving now was good before he crashed because of being compromised or aggravated his condition more for his long term health.
      JV are 100% all in on the win yet. WVA has tried for the last 2 days to get in the break and is still sprinting for intermediates and stage finishes. But with another abandon in the team this
      may change because the team is looking weak now. All the work is now catching up with them. Yesterday for the final part of the race Vingegaard only had one helper plus WVA doing his own thing. This is not enough because he is vulnerable to race splits, punctures and he does not have enough team to solidly keep him at the front out of trouble.

      • Maybe – I just feel like an abandon or positive covid test was always a possibility and theyve left themselves open now.

        There’s a lot of riders on teams who miss the opening stages then make it back on and do a job on the flat, even if Rog was only chugging along on the flat to save the legs of someone else that’s better than nothing.

        Aggregating his injury is a fair point but they’ve not won the tour in this guise and this may be the only chance they get if Pog returns a year older and wiser without some classics in his legs… surely Rog winning a fourth Vuelta is far outweighed by this?

        If Rog saves Vanhooydonck a few hours on a slightly more relaxed stage so he has the energy to close a gap in the wind later in the race that’ll make it all worth while?

        Rog shouldn’t feel bad as there’s an argument sucking Pogacar into his fake out on the Galibier got Vinny into yellow in the first place but leaving now seems like an odd decision from the team to me.

        • I agree with brent that Roglic seemed to be getting worse, and certainly was not riding himself back into shape or getting the recovery he so clearly needs. As you (oldDAVE) say, he’s a tough guy, and I have no recollection of him ever just giving up when things are against him, including riding while banged up (and I’ve read that it was management that ordered him to stop, not his own choice).

          What stunned me, OTOH, was that JV still gave WvA to greenlight to sprint at the end of a stage where they’d lost both Roglic and Kruijswijk, and Vingegaard had gone down hard. They already have three stage wins, they have the green jersey sewn up, and van Aert has shown himself to be the team’s strongest domestique. I’ve given this Sun Tzuu quote before, but it still applies: “Never risk the necessary for the desirable.” Since stage 8 van Aert should have taken a spot either directly in front of, or directly behind, Vingegaard for the remainder of the Tour. That that still didn’t happen in this stage just blows my mind. In either of those scenarios they could still give van Aert the green light to go crazy in the final two stages so he could chase more individual glory.

          • Last time I checked Sun Tzuu wasn’t the DS at J-V and neither were you so…come back after the finish and tell us how they blew it or didn’t…and how they did (or didn’t) follow your advice.

          • Larry, what do you get out of spamming these comment sections with your negativity and holier-than-thou attitude? Seriously, you have your own blog where you can share your insights and shout at anyone who dares offer an opinion of their own, why try so hard to turn this comment section into the new CyclingNews comment section?

          • KevinK – couldn’t agree more – and let me preface my comment by saying that all J-V riders have proven to ride selflessly throughout their careers (even Vingegaard last year when he looked superior to Roglic).

            But, I 100% agree that it seemed very odd that given Roglic’s retirement and the in-stage issues (Kruijswijk’s/Benoot’s falls, Vingegaard’s fall and chase, etc) that WvA would have personally decided to ignore the stage win AND if WvA didn’t, then team management would have told him to a) not sprint (save legs for yellow jersey and pyrenees) and b) be Vingegaard’s immediate wheel.

            It was very odd seeing yesterday’s stage… WvA didn’t even drop back to get Vingegaard after his crash.

            In hindsight I bet Roglic was regretting being convinced to leave.

            This might be monday morning over analysis, but either way, I love watching this race… very exciting and you know Pogacar is going to attack all over the place. In my mind he’s still the strongest, and now his team is more matched.

        • Jumbo are still well served for the flatter / rolling terrain though, it’s the climbing side of the team that’s weakened now.
          Having said that, they only need to achieve parity in the mountains and Vingegaard looks able to do that at the moment.
          I still think that Pogacar could snipe bonus seconds off him but there a large deficit to make up.

    • It seems like a completely unforced error – which JV has a penchant for. Kruijswick abandoning during the same stage is almost too perfect of a ‘told ya so’ moment. JV are now down two of their best riders, not just one. Roglic should have stayed in the race solely for the fact there are no substitutions in cycling. He is a body, a reserve for exactly when things like SK happen. Not only that, but Roglic will always represent a threat to their opponents which they can now not threaten with. Even if he was compromised, there is the chance he recovers, or is playing up the injury and other teams have to consider that. Now they don’t. It’s hard to see this as anything but a tactical mistake on their part.

  15. What a tour! Can’t believe how this is playing out… UAE blows it for Pogacar and then J-V decides, “Hey, let’s invite Pogacar back into this!” Honestly, J-V just lost their team advantage, no?

    WvA will continue to roll for the green jersey and you know Pogacar will attack all over the place in the Pyrenees. I can’t wait to see what happens. This is far from settled. Very glad that Ineos is not reverting to their traditional tactics.

      • OK, the Granon stage where J-V tag-teamed Pogacar. UAE “blows it” by deciding not to help him or because the rest of the team was fried as well by the J-V tag-team tactics? No question J-V played that well but I’m not so sure “UAE blew it!” is any more accurate than the “Honestly, J-V just lost their team advantage, no?” via “Hey, let’s invite Pogacar back into this!”

        • Yes, UAE was not able to control the field – normally the yellow jersey’s team can smother repeated attacks.

          Have you ever seen Froome/Wiggins/Thomas/Lance/Indurain/Contador take 2-3 hours of attacks… I can’t ever remember a stage like this.

          • Anon – great memory – I just looked up that stage and even though Froome was isolated, he had 4 guys in a group right behind and they were pulling desperately to catch the Froome group.

            The Froome group had Movistar desperate to keep the Sky group from catching up to Froome, so Movistar pulled for much of the day – needless to say, no one effectively attached Froome 3 hours from the finish. And on the final climb none of the challengers was able to make Froome sweat.

  16. Reading through yesterday’s post I came across our host’s little remark about his brain being fried from having ridden today’s stage from Limoux and back. Assuming that he rode back a more direct route back from Foix, that’s still around 230 km! Some reconnaissance ride in the scorching heat. Wow!

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