Tour de France Stage 6 Preview

The longest stage of the race with a lively uphill finish. There will be a tailwind that’ll turn into a gusting crosswind later on.

Bibendum: the Michelin Man was well ahead of its time as a marketing method, the branding featuring a cartoon-style mascot called Bibendum. The name means “a drink” or “drinking” in Latin but the name isn’t about thirst or alcohol, instead the French phrase boire l’obstacle literally means to “drink an obstacle”, like clearing a hurdle, the idea being that Michelin tires can take on anything the open road can throw at them. The same is true for another jovial character in white, Tadej Pogačar, who floats over cobbles when not soaring over the mountains. While Simon Clarke won the stage thanks to an ice-cool poker play in the finish letting others make their moves before sniping a fine win on the line, Pogačar won the day too thanks to a late move with Jasper Stuyven that allowed him to take time on all his GC rivals. The gain was only 15 seconds in the end, modest and it used a lot of energy. But a sign he can pick his moment to ride away on terrain normally the preserve of Van der Poel or Van Aert and while rivals were changing bikes, he was swapping turns with Jasper Stuyven on a day when others might have hoped to get lucky given they can’t see how to beat him in the mountains or a time trial. He barely seemed to need his team either, none of whom were with him for the latter cobble sectors.

Wout van Aert had huge day too, just not the kind he wanted. He crashed early and his yellow jersey was conspicuous at the back of the peloton. Unable to race for the win, he came into his own later when he helped tow Jonas Vingegaard back to the rival GC contenders after the Dane had a jammed chain. Jumbo-Visma had a set of clumsy bike changes, Vinegaard first taking Nathan van Hooydonck’s bike which was visibly too big, then getting another from Steven Kruijswijk before waiting for one from the team car, it left the team looking like they’d bought a consignment of bikes online and were having a party to try them on for size. Meanwhile Primož Roglič was taken out by a crash and dislocated his shoulder, he popped it back himself but this and the injury cost him, he had help from three team mates but ended up chasing for the rest of the stage, effectively pursuing the group ahead which was being towed by Van Aert who, having saved Vingegaard, then pulled to shrink Pogačar’s lead which kept him the yellow jersey. Roglič lost two minutes on his GC rivals; Ag2r Citroën’s Ben O’Connor fared worse losing three.

The Route: 220km and the longest stage of the Tour with 2,500m of vertical gain, but a course with few secrets. It starts in Binche, home of the Intermarché-Wanty team. The race passes Les Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure, a scenic spot in Wallonie – that hopefully doesn’t smell bad – and then crosses the Ardennes. Once in France the race runs parallel the Belgian border down to Longwy and near Luxembourg.

The final 20km is in the Chiers valleys (chier is a vulgaire word). The first climb isn’t much, a big ring job on a wide road. The second is harder, the route drops into the outskirts of Longwy and then there’s a snaking ben on the left to line out the peloton before hitting the climb, it’s only 850m long but averages 12% and there’s some 14% to eject sprinters, take it fast and riders losing ground here will struggle to recover. There’s a flat section over the top, a right turn into a small road and back downhill again on boulevard roads in Longwy.

The Finish: with 2.3km to go, a left turn to start of the climb to the finish, here the road rises a little more than the profile suggests before the start of the the Rue de la Banque, the steep part of the finish, a pinch-point where contenders need to be well-placed, and then they climb with 8-10% biting soon before the slope eases to 6%. There’s a left turn where it’s steep on the inside but worth the shortcut and then comes the flamme rouge, followed by a sharp bend to the right and the climbs at 3-4% to the line, easing for the final 100 metres.

The Contenders: the Tour has been to Longwy before and Peter Sagan won, you might remember his shoe coming out of the pedal before he calmly clipped back in and won the sprint. Today has the same finish but with an added climb before so it’s more selective, it’s not an uphill sprint but a climb, a descent and then a sprint again.

Who to pick? It’s not easy at all because of competing scenarios. Normally a breakaway has a good chance because plenty of riders have lost time, many riders will be licking their wounds, and others thinking of tomorrow’s Planche des Belles Filles summit finish. But the forecast for a cross/tailwind could make plenty nervous as well, any move could get mown down by the big teams upping the pace later on.

For the breakaway… Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) is suited to the stage but has to be cooked by now, maybe Alberto Bettiol tries to make-up for his surprise chase work yesterday? Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r Citroën) has a good kick for today’s finish but is still an infrequent winner, team mate Bob Jungels has his mojo back and we’re almost in Luxembourg. Marc Hirshi (UAE) is way down on GC and suited to a finish like today. More outside picks could be Victor Lafay and Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Andreas Kron and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), or Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) but all are infrequent winners. Matej Mohorič (Bahrain) is a more regular winner who might find the final climb hard to win from but his style would be to have gone clear by then already.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) feels like an easy pick for almost any stage but today’s within his range of course. Likewise for Tadej Pogačar (UAE) because the peloton comes in he’s got a good chance. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos) should like this kind of finish too.

WvA, Pogačar
Mohorič, Cosnefroy, Teuns, Pidcock, Jungels, Bettiol

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 20°C and a tailwind which get stronger in the stage and become a 3/4 tailwind for the finale, apparently gusting to 50km/h at times and if sustained can spice up the stage.

TV: the stage starts at midday and the finish is forecast for 5.30pm CEST. Tune in early in case there’s action at the start – last year’s stage to Le Creusot didn’t look too exciting only to have a wild start – but otherwise aim to be in front of your screens for the final 30 minutes.

Food and drink: today’s start is in Binche, home to a brewery and if you want something local to eat why not try some escavèche, a jellied fish preserve pickled in vinegar (photo from and typical of the Binche-Namur area. Once made of eel, these migratory fish have declined in numbers such that the dish is more likely to be made from trout or pike. The dish has disputed origins in Persia and north Africa where a sikbaj was meat preserved in vinegar, it became popular in Andalusia when much of Spain was an Islamic caliphate, it stayed and spread, finally reaching what is Belgium today under the Spanish Crown. So what is a very local dish to Binche and the surrounding area has more exotic origins.

71 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 6 Preview”

  1. Pogacar was great, but surely even he can see that his team is poor, just one bit of bad luck yesterday and he would have been in big trouble.

    Wonder what’s up with MvdP, he says he is a shadow of himself and was only good at the Giro (i’ll take that!) – come back too quickly from his back problems, not a big enough base so now feeling flat?

    Think JV might consign Bettiol to litter picking duties after yesterdays domestique work for the ‘Bibendum’.

    • Pogacar is a great rider but luck is definitely on his side at the moment, with the weather and he’s been near to crashes but not close enough to be too affected.
      Lady Luck is a fickle mistress however, so they say, and will his luck hold for another fortnight?

      Jumbo-Visma, in stark contrast, had a collective nightmare of a stage with gremlins at almost every turn seemingly.
      What was supposed to have been an opportunity to distance Pogacar turned into a desperate chase to save time.
      You wonder about their direction now; do their road captains have an input to tactics?
      Whose voice resonates loudest now?

      If today was a Sagan day, that means it’s another Wout day as well.
      It’s only week one but already it feels like a Wout overload, the guy is going to be on his knees by week 3?
      Not to mention the Yellow / Green conundrum again.

    • MvdP clearly learning you can’t be superman and ride every stage of back to back Grand Tours at top form. It’s a little curious how this appears to be news to him…

      Hope he learns from this and next year we get a WVA-MvdP showdown. We rarely get them head to head.

      Great summary with the bibendum reference Mr Inrng! Thanks for setting up the race perfectly for all of us.

  2. Still not certain who’s technical repertoire is the more impressive – WvA’s or Pogačar’s. Both make a mockery of the discipline specialization of modern riders, and both can (and do) win on virtually any terrain, over any distance, and in any weather. Incredible stuff to witness in real time.

  3. Simon Clarke channeling his inner Matthew Hayman … and Stuart O’Grady. Older riders seem to become young again on the cobbles and hay bales.

  4. No star for Mathews. Although if i was greenedge would would try to get a rider in a break. They have a couple that could win from a break. If the big teams are a bit tired from yesterday they may let a break go. Jumbo in particular must be willing to let a break win even with WVA.

    Calib Ewan was going so well yesterday until a hay bail ended up on the road. Roglic may be crash prone but like Thomas he sure is tough to get back up and chase. Super bad luck. He also suffered from the team have 2 leaders because he couldn’t command the entire team to help chase.

  5. Bit ironic that more chaos seemed to be caused by hay rather than stone cobbles.

    It was difficult to follow what was happening as the TV coverage didnt seem to be able to keep up. With a Classic the only real interest is with the front group(s) here there were relevant riders spread all over which meant many key incidents were missed. It is not clear what happened with Primoz Roglic, as far as I could see he wasnt involved with the hay bale but went down shortly afterwards.
    Geraint Thomas was apparently brought down when Jack Haig crashed in front of him, Jack Haig is out of the race and G was left with damaged gears which limited him for the rest of the stage.

    WvA clearly put in an immense pull (he seemed to be assisted by a big effort from Tom Pidcock but again wasnt clear from the images) which limited the gains Tadej Pogacer made. At one point with around 13kms to go Tadej Pogacer had over a minute on his main rivals and it looked as if he would get more. Instead he faded a bit and the group behind got organised and the lead was pretty small by the end. Difficult to tell whether this was a missed opportunity to take time on TP or whether this was a successful defensive ride by his rivals.

    JV have a difficult decision to make, all in for Jonas Vinegegaard or is Primoz Roglic still in the game? Presumably the extent of his injuries will play a part in any decision.

    Not sure about today, if Tadej Pogacer is near the front difficult to see any other winner but the other teams might want a break to go clear and then see what happens with any winds. Will JV start pulling on the front?

    • Roglic was involved with the hay bale: Ewan’s crash took him out. Presumably the rest of JV then towed Vingegaard past Roglic while he was sat on a spectator’s chair, resetting his shoulder.

  6. If Roglič is phisically 0k, and with time lost, I could see him attack in the last 30km. With possibly some strong satelite riders waiting. (Bettiol?)
    Uae seem ripe for a test.

  7. Brilliant ride from Pogacar, but a hell of an effort for in the end was only a few seconds.Ineos had a few riders in that chase group but they didn’t seem to want to contribute? Bettiol performance was bizarre.

    • The lack of pulling from Ineos (and Bora) riders towards the end of the stage confused me too. As well as trying to catch Pogacar, they had an opportunity to put even more time into Roglic and O’Connor. They couldn’t be certain that WVA would do the job he did, so a few turns from the three Ineos co-leaders could have helped and wouldn’t have put them in the red. Perhaps a minor early problem of the co-leadership situation they have?

      Conversely, I wonder if Pogacar’s strength will be his only weakness – the only GC guy strong enough to break away yesterday but then only 15 sec gained. There’s a *small* chance that repeated shows of strength for small gains will reduce his ability in weeks 2-3. Or he’ll win the Tour with ease!

  8. Wikipedia tells us “The Eau d’Heure lakes (French: lacs de l’Eau d’Heure) is a complex of five artificial lakes in Wallonia, forming the largest lake area in Belgium./…/It is a popular tourist attraction, with water sports, including fishing, kayaking, diving and windsurfing.”, which doesn’t quite explain the reference to a bad smell?

    Yesterday’s stage was entertaining, no doubt about it, but I think we can consider it fortunate that only two riders had to abandon the race. This is, of course, no argument against the inclusion of these kind of stages in a Grand Tour, just an observation one can’t help making.

    PS It was pretty much a quesion of which rider you fancied to win or choosed to root for – and I’m not saying Simon Clarke wasn’t a worthy and sympathetic winner – but I was still “a little bit gutted” that Boasson Hagen didn’t get a fourth Tour stage victory.

    • Very typical from binche is the carnaval. And I am afraid that the presence of a brewery in town is not an item that distinguishes one town from another in belgium 😉

  9. Ya gotta wonder if Roglic figures he’s just jinxed at Le Grand Boucle? J-V seems smart not to have all their GC eggs in his basket. Looked to me like Pogacar was having fun…something great to see in the pressure-cooker that is the modern Tour. Doesn’t look like he needs much of a team, but there’s a long way still to go, but at the same time I started to wonder if there was a fat envelope of UAE cash on offer for Stuyven when it looked impossible to win the stage but he kept on pulling? Did someone then decide the help wasn’t needed and withdrew the offer?

    • I think Stuyven fancied his chances in an exhausted sprint, and stopped pulling hard when it was clear the catch wasn’t going to happen. Bettiol’s work for Pog was less understandable.

      • Bettiol’s chasing was interesting, to say the least. VeloNews had an article saying Bettiol was contracted to the end of 2024. So, some possible conjecture for why Bettiol did what he did: (1) EF is trying to curry favor with Pogacar (Why? Future signing of Pogacar, building the “I did you a favor, now you do me a favor” account that EF can call on at some future time? who knows) ; (2) Bettiol is trying to curry favor with UAE or Pogacar (again who knows why?); (3) EF or Bettiol owes UAE or Pogacar a favor; (4) Pogacar has developed relationships in the peloton that he can call on; and (5) Bettiol is (and EF?), to use Horner’s parlance, is a knucklehead. Bettiol’s on-the-bike arm hug of Pogacar indicates some connection between the two. In any case, there is somewhat of an argument to be made that Bettiol’s pulling cost EF and Powliss the yellow jersey. Hmm…

      • Pogačar apparently asked Bettiol for help and he said ok, according to La Gazzetta. Unusual because there can be days when you don’t know who is up the road but yesterday EF had clear plan to get Powless up the road with help.

      • I have no doubt Stuyven thought he was going to catch up, but he seemed to keep pulling long past the point of hope, which made me wonder if some sort of deal had been made?
        Regarding the hay bale – it’s a real shame when stuff done to supposedly make things safer ends up causing more hazard, but the thing didn’t just jump out there and catch the riders napping..or did it? OTOH watching Oss get taken out seemed to me caused by racing so far over to find a smooth path, taking a big chance you wouldn’t hit any spectators…

    • Watching Roglic at the TdF is like watching Sergey Bubka at the Olympics … or Ivan Lendl at Wimbledon … or Sam Snead at the US Open.

    • Was wondering about Stuyven too. Could be a monetary incentive yes, but there are alternatives. He may not have had adequate info on the gaps? Or Pog took a page from the Contador book of tricks and is trading favors on a long term basis.
      Bettiol looked to me like he was trying to get away to bridge to the leaders but couldn’t make it stick. Kind of like Asgreen earlier on.

  10. Love the reference to Bibendum. I worked on a Michelin commercial a few years back (NB: never work with French art directors, especially when communicating only by email and their English language skills are poor!) and found the figure’s history fascinating, especially his origin as a Bacchus-like figure originally designed for a German brewery. The association between driving and alcohol always seemed odd, but in context it kind of makes sense. The variety of Bibendum advertising art and paraphernalia is astonishing, some beautiful, some frankly bizarre, and worth doing a Google image search.

    Roglic is a tough guy, and him crashing hard enough to separate his shoulder and then putting it back in place himself fits. Likely he’s separated that shoulder before, perhaps when ski jumping, and so had some experience with this, but it’s still studly (as we used to say).

    Was that hay bale possibly nicked by the camera bike as it went by, and that’s why it suddenly appeared in the road? Had it been in the road for long, I imagine someone on the roadside would have quickly pulled it out of the way, so it can’t have been there long, and the riders appeared utterly surprised by it. Ewan is having no luck at all, and I feel for him. One disadvantage of being so small is you can’t see anything when you’re in the bunch, and perhaps that’s why he was the one who hit the bale squarely.

    Ordinarily I’d have thought MvdP would be worth a chainring or two for a stage like today, but after his performance so far it does seem very unlikely he can handle the final climbs. Still, it won’t surprise me in the slightest to seem him going for it.

    • Paris-Nice, stage 8, 2021. But it is indeed possible there is an earlier injury,
      One of my cycling buddies is a former volleyball player and he has a “loose” shoulder that I’ve seen him put back in place. He has finally decided to opt for the operation named after a French dude, but I can see why Roglic would prefer to defer it until he has retired.

    • That story about Roglic feels like it’s out of a Rambo movie, where the hero will splint his broken leg with two branches, stop the bleeding from the shoulder bullet wound by ripping off his shirt, and then get straight back to shooting the baddies.

      I’m not always a huge fan of his racecraft, often too formulaic and calculated, but in a sport where the top athletes’ ability to park the pain has always impressed me, Roglic seems a step above, downright spectacular.

    • On the footage from the camera bike you can actually see when it hits the bale and the bike gets moved. Can’t tell if the bale was already a bit on the road first.

      • Sounds like he over extended himself. His pre-season wasn’t ideal so probably didn’t build a big base. He is now doing two GTs in a row, kind of waiting for a burn out to happen. Interesting to see if he can ride into form but that is not likely to happen in modern days.

        • I believe as well these are the reasons of mvdp current form. If he does not go well in the mountain, he should probably better take some rest so he can come back with a more solid basis.

        • Agreed, except that riders still do commonly ride into form these days (not just “look better because fresher guys get tired while those who started average keep their level”, no, I’m speaking of pushing higher watts for longer and so overcoming rivals who, in turn, actually “kept their level”). We had an example in Simon Yates last Giro and of course Hindley this year, but you have examples among stage hunters, too, although it’s more complicated to “measure” how deep they’re going throughout the whole race. Yet, Carthy provided last Giro a decent example of riding into a better form (in comparative and quantitative terms)… through progressive exhaustion!

          There’s obviously a whole debate on the subject because some experts defend that it just isn’t possible in physiological terms. On the one hand, I get their point but I don’t want to debate the possible implications of it happening nonetheless, OTOH I also think these people drom time to time end up believing too firmly in their “science” (still not that mature a discipline, actually) and prefer to ignore some facts, like this very sort of things, or experiences, i.e. “growing into form”, sometimes historically happening before blood doping and corticosteroid.

          Back to MVDP, and along with what’s been well pointed out above, I’d also stress that when you not only race with little base, but also achieve very high levels of form very very fast, jumping into the top competition pool with little to no warming up (first race, podium at Sanremo, second race, smoking Hayter after just three stages, third race, winning a Classic, fourth race, winning a Monument)… well, that approach normally puts a cap to the maximun shape level you will further achieve during that season. This is *not* science , just “traditional knowledge”, and as such probably biased and flawed. Actually, I hope that it doesn’t work and we’ll soon see the best Mathieu which is highly needed to foster competition. Soon, or later in Autumn. Fingers crossed.

  11. Just read the Bibendum paragraph.
    Possibly my favourite INRNG paragraph ever.
    Thank you for the excellent writing.

    Maybe in the thousands of articles written by INRNG there’s been better but the reason I love this is because it’s starting to feel like we’re all collectively lost for words by Pogacar’s brilliance…. then I woke to this. Magical rider and writing.

    • Exactly right. The but that had me laughing was mention of ‘chier’ and then the climb being a ‘big ring job’.
      Do you think he does it deliberately?-)

  12. I am in favor of including cobblestone stage in the Tour, but yesterday seemed a bit too much to me, with all this narrow and twisted roads within villages. I think wva raised the point too.
    I think there was a bit too dangerous, and i am not very keen in seing cycling becoming a contest of taking physical risk. For the same reason I was not too enthousiastic about mohoric victory in msr this year. Bike handling is an art and it makes part of racing, but to the point that you should take important physical risk, I am not sure.

    • I think the pavé will be back again and again. Yes there is always the debate about it but they are just spectacular, it gives the Tour a chance to avoid a plain sprint stage. Then it’s a matter of degree about how many kilometres of cobbles and whether to use the rougher ones.

      • Does the pavé exist for the cycling now? It looks so uncomfortable there must’ve been requests from local farmers etc to tarmac everything.

      • I agree. It is good to have pavés in the tour, it creates an alternative to flat stage and always proves selective and very spectacular too. But I don’t know, maybe I am getting old, but I found yesterday’s stage particularly dangerous, also between the pavé section (many narrow and twisted roads in villages). When you see that an expert as wva just finds it too tricky to escalate positions in the bunch, I am questionning myself whether this one was not a bit too much.

        • I understand your point, but on the other hand, it clearly wasn’t too much. Hardship of the road is part of the racing, and stage such as yesterday is not particularly dangerous – well, in comparison to say fast wet descent. (Where small error can literaly kill you.) Ok, you can lost the Tour here, and it’s sad that probably the most likeable contender lost his race here yesterday, but that’s part of the racing. Stage such as this enriches the race, because it makes other demands on riders than mountain stages, time trials etc. Well, at least until we claim road racing to be about riding on tarmac and tarmac only – which seems a rather random and perhaps boring criterion to me.

          Would I want to take on yesterday stage? Hell, no. Not it the bunch, anyway, with all the dust. I ride on cobbles (much more benign) for say 500 meters every day during commuting and it’s shit, of course. But the GT must be hard, it’s a race of race craft, endurance, and yesterday’s stage valued that, it valued Pogacar’s daring, WvA’s (and Vingegaard’s) toughness…

  13. Wooooo ….i thought you promised us croissants ? Maybe even the sinful almond one with the dusting of sugar?

    Reclaimed meat, vinegary jellied fish …I suppose you are saving up the andouille for a really tense stage. Sosssis in a bun? Anyone? 🤢🥴

      • The glass eels used originally for this dish are hors prix, so it really is gourmet. There’s a whole feature in the democracy of Tour food as eaten in the varying levels of hospitality. For every regional or local dish of haute cuisine, there’s a popular dish the locals adore from childhood.

        • Should probably add that the european eel is protected and you should only marvel at seeing a rope of tiny ones, thousands and thousands creeping upriver, and not call someone in Belgium who will send a refrigerated truck to suck them all up like they used to.
          There’s probably a lesson here somewhere

    • Andouillette would be more in the spirit of the previous mechanically reclaimed meat…I made the mistake once–one only ever makes that mistake once–of confusing it with andouille…The waiter was kind. “Tourists often make that mistake. I’ll bring you a nice salad and another glass of wine…”

      • Tourists are like that, aren’t they? I doubt Moroccans actualy do eat sheep brains and genitalia that avidly, but it must be fun watching endless crowds of tourists showing off their courage / lack of taste and reason.

  14. Another hat tip for the Bibendum paragraph. I can’t think of many riders who had/have nicknames apart from “Perito” but I hope this one will somehow stick.

    Brilliant for Clarke. While I felt sorry for the others they have future seasons to win and this means he can retire on a high.

    Even watching it live I struggled to keep up with where riders were and why they were there. Some shocking footage of Oss being taken out by a spectator on Twitter and you wonder how many other incidents or near misses there were. Such a shame for O’Connor to lose so much time and put a podium out of reach.

    The race is still just about alive but I it’s for 2nd and 3rd now unless Pog crashes out.

      • Of course now I think. Cannibal and Badger come to mind. I suppose I was thinking more along the lines of Gabrielle when riders are mostly referred to by nickname rather than actual name. And yes. Typo for Purito Rodriguez

        • In the current pro peloton, I’d say Superman López might perhaps be an example (for those who are still amazed by the nickname, it’s not because of his riding skills, unlike Purito, in a sense; it’s because when still a teenager or little older he fought back bare-handed two men armed with knives who assaulted him while training to rob his race bike. He also suffered several injuries, among which one in the calf which sometimes affected him back again in the long term, but he successfully defended the bike and had the two bad guys running away. Speaking of “Rambo-like” stories as Lukyluk hinted about Rogla above).
          Rigo has growing success also because he’s pushing it as a brand. Perhaps not exactly a nickname, more like Rogla, Pogi, Wiggo and so, although Rigoberto is a first name. G for Thomas?

          • The Shark! Can’t forget Nibali.

            I don’t count it a proper nickname if it’s just an adaptation of their actual name, like Wiggo, G or Froomey.

    • “Perito” looks like a typo, but does it stand for “Perico” or “Purito”? (the latter, I guess. Hopefully, no “perrito”).

      What’s interesting is that the two above were (and are) being called by their nicknames regularly – more often than not, I’d say. It’s not just that ol’ epic stuff Barthes wrote about (neither look especially epic in this case), and it isn’t about not repeating the names again and again, either (which was an issue for the press articles when cycling was being narrated mainly through them). Obviously nicknames are still a big feature in cycling (great link, Larry), but it’s interesting to notice which are really being used a lot, in Italian it happened with Bettini with “il Grillo” and Cipollini (Super Mario, Cipo), and also Di Luca, perhaps, others were less common in everyday practice.

    • Not even one week in and we’re gonna pronounce the race over-and-done-with? Or done-and-dusted as the Brits like to say? I hope not, but if you’re tuning out, have fun and get back to us on the 24th…and I hope you’re not betting-the-farm on your decision..GT’s are GT’s because they go on for 3 weeks and your predicted winner’s not even in yellow at present..though he IS looking pretty damn strong. A couple of years ago I remember people saying the same thing about Roglic…and how many times has HE won Le Grand Boucle?

  15. Got a feeling for Roglic. The roads, climbs and finish suit him, he should have the right team for support at critical moments – though all that depends on the damage yesterday may have done. Pidcock too with last year’s form, though the edge seems to have gone.

    And it’s thrilling to see the Tour on my home roads, passing the cafes I frequent…

  16. Lots of tired riders – see Sagan’s BFF Oss is a DNS and Haig gone. EF have certainly livened up proceedings – Pogacar though looks in another league. Long day today – breakaway and maybe Jumbo give up the Yellow Jersey. Thinking about Friday’s stage might hold back the GC guys.

  17. On a chaotic day, the take home message for me was that GC riders these days (Pogacar obviously but I’m talking generally) are incredibly versatile and adapted to the era of grand tour spectacle. Vlasov, Gaudu, Bardet, Uran, Mas, Quintana of course, Martinez, Thomas, Yates, Vingegaard were all there in the end…while most specialists either didn’t have the legs or made the mistakes (positioning, accidents or otherwise) that you have to avoid. Judging on yesterday, Rowe’s lamenting of “guys that don’t really know how to ride on the cobbles” seems to miss the target as it is more about positioning, handling stress and avoiding accidents, and here today’s GC riders and lieutenants (and in a few cases – JV, Bora, Ineos – their entire teams) certainly know a thing or two – to such an extent that the classic specialists seem to be the one’s having trouble to adapt and shine in races that are on similar terrain but have a different dynamic – dictated by the GC riders/teams – than the cobbled classics.

  18. I’m not usually one to say ‘what about ….’

    But just have a feeling Yates might go well today.
    Maybe not win but as he was the only person there two days ago and has finished well on similar stages just a hunch he might take a flyer and be pipped by WVA or similar.

    • I thought the same. If Pog is getting tipped then so should Yates, like you say, might not win a chance of snatching a couple seconds.

  19. I’m still trying to figure out what WvA was doing today. I heard a JV DS explain the strategy (get WvA into a large breakaway so JV wouldn’t have to chase all day), but on the face of it that seems like a lame strategy (would everyone just sit back and let WvA go in a large breakaway?). When he ended up in a tiny breakaway, why didn’t he pull the plug? Was his ego so great he thought he could win solo? His recuperative powers are obviously substantial but this seemed like a massive waste of energy, and we’re not even to the mountain stages. And he really seemed to want to stay in yellow, and this appeared to be the best possible way to get the jersey off his shoulders. If he’d chased a breakaway he wouldn’t have done more work than he did riding in a group of three, then two, then solo.

    • Team Meeting:

      DS- “Wout, today we don’t defend your jersey, because normally you will lose it tomorrow and we want to save our legs after yesterday’s sh**show”

      Wout- “Ok, I defend my own jersey with same outcome and more style.”

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