Tour de France Stage 3 Preview

A pure stage for the sprinters on paper, and the forecast says there won’t be enough wind to blow the paper plans away either.

Import/Export: the crowds were out in force, a joy to see so many people enjoying a bike race. There are a few gripes in France about the race starting abroad but surely even the most ardent French nationalist-mercantilist ought to celebrate millions of Danes turning French for the day. Sure there’s a tidy payment of a reported €5.8 million from the Danes to a French company, ASO, as the hosting fee. But way more important than the cash, the Tour is a textbook export of France’s soft power. It’s also working the other way with the Danes showing how you get people cycling around town, an example many cities in France can learn from.

A less successful export was the B&B Hotels team, a case numerical inferiority when Pierre Rolland and Cyril Barthe were half of a four man break but got outfoxed by Magnus Cort for the mountains competition and the Dane ended up with a victory salute at the top of the third climb having taken each of the climbs and with them, the polka dot jersey. Sven Bystrøm held out solo for a long while to collect the combativity prize.

The Great Belt Bridge came and went, a tangle for Rigo Uran on the approach but he got back on with help from his team, ditto Yves Lampaert, but the wind wasn’t strong enough to ravage the peloton. A big crash inside the final three kilometres but no time losses, almost the entire field got the same time.

Fabio Jakobsen won the sprint showing the power that’s he’s famous for, surging past Mads Pedersen and Wout van Aert in the final 50 metres. He told France Télévisions afterwards that he’s living a second life now after his crash in Katowice; the channel didn’t show his accident once either because of good taste; or because they don’t own the image rights.

Although beaten to the line, “again” he exclaimed afterwards, there was consolation for Van Aert as he took the yellow jersey, his first, and the green jersey too. It’ll be interesting to see what Jumbo-Visma do next, do they roll on the front of the peloton as tradition insists, or do they have bigger herrings to fry?

The Route: 182km mainly south, and in this long opening week, arguably the most straightforward of stages, the second of two sprint-friendly routes. It’s Denmark and so full of flat and exposed terrain. The climbs today are even softer than yesterday, just uphill drags but enough to justify a few mountains sprints but if someone can win all three, they’ll be tied for points with Magnus Cort so they’ll have to be ahead of him on GC to lead the competition and take the jersey although that’s quite possible as he lost a lot of time yesterday; equally possible is he goes up the road today.

Much like yesterday the route uses some big roads but keeps darting down smaller lanes to visit a village here, a beach there and these are the danger points, the peloton has to funnel into a tight corner and the changes of direction mean the wind direction relative to the peloton changes.

The Finish: into town across the King Christian bridge and then a loop left to pass underneath the bridge via a narrow road (just visible on the left of the map) before picking up a bigger road with about 6km to go, from here the road is wider and more regular. There’s a left turn in the final kilometre.

The Contenders: Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step) made it look easy yesterday and can do it all again today, especially with the more classic finish today, it’s a sprint stage rather than a sailing race in the crosswinds.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) had a mechanical yesterday, let’s see what he can do. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) just needs an opening. Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) should be around too. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is contesting sprint finishes and always has a chance at victory but can keep racking up points for his green jersey.

Ewan, Philipsen
Groenewegen, WvA, Pedersen

Weather: sunshine and a few clouds, 23°C. It should be a calm day with only 10-15km/h breeze from the west.

TV: the stage starts at 1.05pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST, all live from start to finish.

Stage 3b: the race leaves Denmark with flights departing from Sønderborg airport to Lille and Calais in northern France while all the caravan of vehicles has a 1,000km journey via Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium to do on Monday… which means racing resumes on Tuesday.

42 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 3 Preview”

  1. I too was impressed by the crowds … 1 km climbs stacked with people like L’Alpe de Huez!
    Thought Groenewegen was a bit unlucky last night getting checked as everyone was winding up for the final sprint.

  2. Thanks for the awesome previews!
    Team B&B hotels featured well yesterday. 2 in the break and then totally missed Magnus Cort jump on the first KOM, but couple of their sprinters finished in the top 10. I know he’s not a serious contender for green or the sprint finishes but good to see Lecroq ride well. Was that an extraordinary effort or about par for him?

    Thanks again

    • I thought B&B Hotels had learned from the Dauphiné – “Team Attack!” I hope to see at least 3 guys helping Roland today (one to be Schönberger to counter Cort in the “facial hair fight”). Lecroq’s result seems to be the best for this year, but we’ll see how he does when the sprint teams are more intune. Jakobsen seems to not mind having to bump people in the sprints after his big crash – he and Sagan had a little argy-bargy.
      Good to see the big crowds – let’s hope today they stay off the road, and watch the race and not try to be on the TV.
      I expect Jumbo will let the sprint teams chase down the breakaway today and WvA will just jump onto whoever’s team is at the front. Can Lotto or BikeExchange can their desperately needed win (and UCI points)? Ewan maybe but Groenewegen looks out of sorts.

  3. “/…/almost the entire field got the same time.”?!

    Surely everyone, all 176 who started, got the same time?!

    1 F. Jakobsen Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 04H 34′ 34”…
    …176 A. Turgis Team TotalEnergies 04H 34′ 34”

    The entire price tag for the three days is (according to Danish media) around €24 million.

    The deal between ASO and Grand Départ, the Danish company set up for the purpose, is not public information, because ASO wants it that way. The municipalities are not allowed to tell the taxpayers what their money is used for or indeed how much they are directly or indirectly paying ASO. The sums mentioned are estimatiaons or educated guesses.
    No surprise then that critical voices hae been raised and there will no doubt be newspaper articles written by investigative journalists later this year 🙂

    • The results were updated later on when they sorted out the few riders who were behind the peloton at the time of the crash. Guerreiro lost 11 minutes, and Cort Nielsen 8 minutes which counts in case anyone’s tied on mountains points.

    • Whether the sums are made public or not (I suspect that they would be, in the fullness of time), there will be accountability to those bodies funding the stages.
      They will have set targets (like footfall, hotel stays, merchandise sales etc) that are used as indicators of how the local economy was boosted by the Tour’s arrival.
      And it may well tie in with cycling projects, public health drives etc.
      I, personally, think it is a good use of (mainly) public funds and the crowds and scenes cast Denmark in a most favourable light.

      • Agreed on all counts. Denmark is a country where a huge amount of public money is spent on things that indirectly benefit the broader population and most people seem to like it that way. The last time I was in Denmark for a while there was a bit of a public comment against people who were abusing the free higher education system by getting advanced degrees as a hobby. Apparently there is a non-trivial number of people who get multiple and unrelated degrees at the public’s expense (I’m talking 3-4 Masters and Ph.D.s and continuing in school into their 40s and 50s) without ever making a career out of any of them, and yet the outrage seemed quite muted.

        Spending some public money on what is obviously an extremely popular sport and pastime doesn’t seem like it’ll be a big cause for outrage among the Danes.

        • Did someone suggest spending public money on the opening stages was unpopular among the Danes or that it would ause outrage?
          But enough on a subject that has very little to do with the sporting side of things…

  4. As a ‘Yorkshire lad’ I would think the Grand Depart is excellent value, it is a great pity the Tour De Yorkshire seems to be a victim of COVID.

    A little off topic for non English readers but QS not taking Cav seems at once to be justified.

    Further off topic does anyone know if there are any post Tour Crits in the Netherlands?

  5. As ever, Patrick Lefevere has not been slow in proclaiming “I was right”. To be fair, after a pretty average season by QS standards, the first two days of the tour could not have gone better. Must be a high chance of making it three in a row today.

    Short of an accident or medical intervention looks like the green jersey competition is going to be a non event. Wout van Aert might not win a stage but when he is even getting points in TTs nobody else is going to get a look in.

  6. Re the French complaints. If I lived in West or North West France where the Tour barely goes anymore and it’s dismissed as boring I think I’d be a bit miffed at people getting excited about stages in a country as flat and featureless as Denmark. As a neutral it is nice to see the crowds and somewhere new.
    I’m going for WVA third time lucky today..

  7. What a brilliant and moving win for Fabio Jakobsen yesterday.
    I have red quite a number of places that he and Sagan almost collided during the sprint. To me it more looked like Sagan was trying to muscle and shouldering Jakobsen all he could for a better position, but for once he came out short. Jakobsen just didn’t move and it seems fair to say that Sagan was simply overpowered.

    • They had their elbows out but it wasn’t wild, although if someone had crashed then there would have been an enquiry and blame dished out. Jakobsen seemed cool about it, saying [translated] “Today I was the fastest, on the planet for sure”.

    • Jakobsen was a lucky boy, I felt, as Sagan usually takes no prisoners in those situations.
      The resulting effect put Sagan off any sprint he had after that but good to see that he may be a factor in the race and Green Jersey anyway.
      Saying this, I’m impressed that Jakobsen still has the bravery to put himself in harm’s way in these sprints.
      Groenewegen, on the other hand, looks to have been badly affected by everything that went on, he’s not up to his old level yet.

      • My take was that the shouldering between Sagan and Jakobsen was fairly routine and was notable mostly because it was clearly visible and they were two of the riders everyone was watching. It seemed among the sprinters just behind there was even more dicey stuff happening.

        When I rewatch overhead sprint finishes I almost always see this kind of rubbing and bumping among the top dozen or so sprinters, but it usually goes without comment because the involved riders end up off the podium. And I see other powerful sprinters (e.g., Kristoff) routinely doing the same as Sagan was doing yesterday. Big strong riders like Sagan and Jakobsen with good bike handling seem jostle without much danger, it’s the smaller, quicker, and less savvy sprinters who seem to cause the crashes and near crashes when they do something aggressive or unexpected.

        In the end, it was nice to see Sagan putting his hand on Jakobsen’s shoulder and talking it out, and then congratulating him.

  8. It’s great to see the big crowds and (so far, one more day to go) they don’t seem so keen to mug for the TV cameras that they get in the way of the race. But before anyone gets too carried away, how much are the crowds due to a once-in-a-lifetime free show on a summer weekend where nothing-much-else might be going on vs some huge interest in pro bike racing? As to the costs involved I’d rather see “your tax dollars at work” on something like this vs pouring ever more tax revenue into the military-industrial complex…a world-wide issue IMHO.

    • So much once-in-a-lifetime, that all those people chose to stay at home watching the hugely popular sport of cycling pass their locale, at a time of year when most would have been off on holiday elsewhere.
      Nobody was paid to be there; basically, they paid for the spectacle to come. For something so big as the Tour, this turnout was expected – as it will be when DEN host a WC sometime again.
      We do get carried away on cycling in Denmark. No hairs in that soup …

    • right now I’m more than happy for my tax payments to go to the ‘the military-industrial’ complex. The soft power of trade and thoughts-and-prayers has been exposed as a sham.

  9. Oh come on Larry. Stop trying to set another agenda. This is a bike race + business. It doesn’t demand deeper inspection ( until our marvellous host decides it is, somitime in the off- off-season )
    More people on more bikes more of the time. Hurrah!

  10. Just like to thank EF Education for the entertainment yesterday – fighting for KOM, fighting other riders, crashing and fighting to get back – should have a Compative Team Award!
    I suppose we will not find out until we get to France who get hurt in the crashes yesterday – Martinez, O’Connor and Pogacar (hope it’s not a repeat of Froome’s 2014 wrist) seem to be the big names involved.

  11. It’s ironic that WvA screwed himself today. By deviating from his lane to slam the door on Sagan, he opened a clear path to Groenewegen (who was, like Sagan, trying to go to WvA’s right, which was wide open before the deviation).

    • It also looked like it slowed van Aert down a touch…perhaps a tire-width’s worth…
      But how much control do these guys have at that speed and under that effort? The deviation wasn’t, dare I say, Groenewegen-esque; it was noticeable but not much…

      • It was actually a fairly massive deviation. This was a wide, straight road, and he started in the middle of the road. There was room for three riders to go on his right, all side-by-side. In fact, that’s exactly what Sagan, Groenewegen, and Ewan started to do (not that they were side-by-side, but there was room for all of them). There’s a double white line to WvA’s right that is parallel to the race course and watching his position relative to that line shows that he moved over not just one lane, but about two and a half lanes before shifting slightly back to his left. It’s true that he didn’t take Sagan all the way to the barrier, but I think that was because Sagan was pushing back and wouldn’t let him.

        And even if Van Aert’s deviation slowed him slightly, if not for that deviation Groenewegen would have had to outsprint Ewan and also get around Sagan against the barrier. Instead, the seas parted for Groenewegen just as he really started accelerating and he had an absolutely straight shot to take the victory.

        • Yes, WvA was lucky, I think, not to be relegated. If there had been a crash he surely would have been, but his deviation was bad nonetheless. Ironically, very similar to the move Sagan pulled on him in 2020

    • I think Van Aert’s mistake was to go a fraction too soon, into a head wind too. Gives the others time to draft from him. Easy for me to say, but I think he should have followed his lead out man who accelerated at the same time as him. That would have given him less time in the wind, plus a further slingshot coming off Laporte’s wheel. On the other hand it would probably have opened the door for Ewan, who looked like he was cruising (albeit in the wheels)

  12. Glad Groenewegen won. He paid for his mistake, but he is somehow still marked by the past – understandable, but we should know better – and the media should know better than raising the crash ghosts again and again.

    Why to ask Jakobsen how he feels about that? Ok, he can’t forgive what can’t be undone, and that’s fair, but it’s also ridiculously irrelevant.

    It’s nice to see both of them won a stage, but imho Groenewegen’s win is even more heartwarming.

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