Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

The first summit finish of the Tour de France. Sure it’s not high altitude but the climb’s usually very revealing of form.

Longwy à votre vélo: a wild start to the stage with 104km covered in the first two hours, they covered the 220km stage in under four and half hours – quicker than taking the train from Binche to Longy – and arriving 45 minutes ahead of the fastest schedule. The tailwind helped but a large part of this was down to Wout van Aert who kept making moves. At one point he was towing away a group with Pogačar and Vingegaard but obviously nobody could let this go clear. Finally the peloton gave in and Van Aert was away with Quinn Simmons and Jakob Fuglsang for company but it was a doomed move, the peloton kept them on a leash and Fuglsang even sat up realising resistance was futile. Van Aert kept toiling, each time he took a pull on the front you could see Simmons shoulders rock in response to the pace and finally the American cracked on a section of open road. Van Aert continued but was caught and dropped, his spell in the yellow jersey over. It’s hard to know what to make of his raid, if he’d sat back in the peloton he was probably the only rider who could have beaten Pogačar for the stage win, or at least pushed him to the line. But if he’s out of yellow it’s just a day earlier and in the green jersey he came for.

Coming into Longwy and Alexis Vuillermoz made a darting attack that enlivened the finish. He wasn’t a priority to mark nor to close down but it kept the suspense going. Climbing through Longwy Michael Matthews did everything right but couldn’t do anything about Pogačar’s jump in the final straight, he left everyone behind and collected the yellow jersey. Pogačar is now in yellow, this feels almost as familiar as fields of sunflowers in July. Will he keep it all the way to Paris? He’s looking strong but his team much less on.

The Route: first Tomblaine to Gérardmer in 100km, it was 160km in 2014 with more climbing when Blel Kadri won the Tour stage here… and vanished from the sport a couple of years after. This time there are two small mountain passes to scale soon after. The second has a mountains classification point but it’s only 3km at 6%, although steep at the start. Then come a succession of unmarked mountain passes, they’d be certain KoM points earlier in the week but the race is going up in the world today. The final one is the Col de la Chevestraye, a warm-up for what is to come at 10km at 3-4% most of the way before a quicker, steeper descent. The Tour’s visited the Planche des Belles Filles five times before and sometimes there’s more climbing before, today is a more direct approach.

The Finish: a sharp right turn and the road soars. The climb is only 7km long and averages 8.7%, steep enough. The reality is that it’s frequently much steeper, the opening ramp is 14% and that first red part of the climb on the profile? It includes a brief descent. After a long steep ramp to the first hairpin, things then ease with a variety of steep inclines and flatter sections. Higher up and the road gets progressively steeper. In the past the final straight was 300 metres between 14 and 20% but now that’s just part of the road leading to the flamme rouge and the “Super Planche” which is 900m longer and involves a gravel section around the side of the mountain where the final section is tarmac… but little relief as the road reaches 22% for the last 150m to the line.

The Contenders: the breakaway has a good chance. UAE have a yellow jersey to defend but Bjerg, Hirschi and Laengen were dropped yesterday so the team is lacking horsepower and they might well be happy to loan the maillot jaune to another team for a few days. Ineos and Jumbo-Visma might pick up the pace on the approach to the final climb but there’s time to build up a lead.

Yes Thibaut Pinot is stage hunting and this is his local mountain… but Marc Madiot sounded firm when he said the team is 100% behind David Gaudu for now and Pinot can guide Gaudu on the final climb. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) was second here in 2019, but form is unknown and team mate Bauke Mollema could be more reliable but a steep summit finish isn’t ideal for him either. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Easypost) is climbing very well but can he float up the road when Neilson Powless is sitting second overall? Yes because Powless is unlikely to overhaul Pogačar today so they can spare him for the breakaway. Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën) climbs well but a summit finish win is a tall order. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) is having problems descending so today’s course suits if he can make the breakaway. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain) suit but are only three minutes down on GC. Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) have more room.

Michael Woods (Israel) is perfect for this steep climb and five minutes down in GC so he’s the ideal rider today, however getting in the break and covering the moves doesn’t make it formality, far from it.

Otherwise if the breakaway can’t stick, it’s hard to see past Tadej Pogačar (UAE) who returns to the climb where he sacked Primož Roglic but how will he do in match against others on the steep slope? Adam Yates returns to the climb where he held the Strava KoM for many years (normal, not the Super version) and rode as an U23 nearby, more importantly he’s in shape and good on sharp climbs and it’ll be interesting to see how Tom Pidcock does. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is riding well and also suited to shorter climbs like today.

Tadej Pogačar, Adam Yates
Woods, Guerreiro, O’Connor, Gaudu, Bouchard, Teuns

Weather: sunny and a light S wind, 25°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.30pm CEST. Check in early to see if it’s another bar fight for the breakaway, then be sure to tune in for the final 45 minutes for the approach to the climb.

The Super Plank of the Beautiful Girls: that’s the literal translation of today’s finish. “Super” just means higher up, some ski stations do this, think Superbagnères above Bagnères de Luchon. Planche comes from the nearby town of Plancher-les-Mines and whose name is an old word for a bridge, a village that grew up around a river crossing. The mountain above Plancher does have the Etang des Belles Filles, a small lake where legend says some beautiful girls, the belles filles, threw themselves rather than face Swedish invaders in 1635; but the mountain has been covered in beech trees which were called fahys in an old dialect. So today’s finish might really be “the nice trees above Plancher” but that would never sound as good. Either way it’s a fixture for the Tour de France because it offers a sharp summit finish that’s just 20 minutes long, enough for a big test at the end of the first week while still leaving room for next week’s giant Alpine summit finishes of the Col du Granon and Alpe d’Huez.

96 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 7 Preview”

  1. I thought that I was going to get a look at Rimbaud’s home town but as soon as they got there my coverage went to a food interlude followed by a commercial.
    To top it off Matthews lets Pidcock have Pogacar’s wheel when he could have stayed on it.
    Powless seems to be quietly going about his business so it will be interesting to see how long he lasts.

  2. Pog and Van Aert as so clearly the best cyclists in the world. The diversity is skills they possess make them head and shoulders better than their rivals. I think we are witnessing some very special years with these two.

    Pog for today, he is on cannibal mode.

        • Still a bit less explosive, and a pinch below in handling skills and descending (which may sound odd, but it’s all in comparative terms and against sort of top-ever benchmark), but WVA is clearly stronger on longer efforts. Sagan was also decent climbing, but that was before his actual prime, in a sense, because he tilted his skill according to his objectives and the Worlds’ routes.
          So should we speak of an utopic Sagan or the real one in any given moment? ^___^ Theoretically, Matthews could have become a Zabel or a Freire (to say the least!), whereas unless he finds a further couple of big big big victories from now on, he’ll fall somewhere in between Olaf Ludwig and Thor Hushovd.
          Generally speaking, this sort of question is always fun although it makes little sense. Very top riders are often such a specific mix that they’re hard to compare. Is Van Aert stronger than Boonen? Yes, clearly. No, wait, I meant clearly not. Or yes… of course! 😛
          At this level, and I don’t mean pro level, I mean absolute monstres among the pros, at the end of the day a lot is going to depend on what you actually make of your career, which by definition, especially in cycling, isn’t totally up to you.

      • Me i personally think so. But they are different riders. Van aert is better as a overall rider, Sagan could not climb as he does, van aert can fight on hilly stages with much steeper and longer climbs. He can win or is even favorite in time trials if pog is not in best shape. In sprints in can happen sagan was slightly better at the best, but non of them was better or could outrun the best sprinters like cav in their prime shape. For me their sprint abilities is very close to same, but van aert is much more visatile and can win so many different stages. Perhaps he won’t because he has other captains on his team and is some time a helper. Yesterday was a bit stupid team tactics. I can understand it as team was tired from running hard to save rog and vingegaard the day before. But did they really belive the other team was gone let van aert in a yellow jersey in a breakaway with 15 other riders??

        • If you don’t think Sagan couldn’t climb, check out 2013 TA, when Sagan was essentially out climbing Nibali. He was also a solid TT rider early in his career, though not as good as WvA and it was a discipline soon neglected. There was talk early in his career that he could possibly be a GT rider if he set his mind to it, that’s how good he was at a full range of stages. His natural adult weight was too high for that, and Sagan wanted no part of such a path, but it wasn’t crazy talk based on his skills and abilities in the first four years or so of his career.

          • You’re quite right below about recency. It was ten years ago or so, people maybe weren’t around (while I’d be slightly surprised they just don’t remember).

            Sagan’s Forrest Gump antics, if I am not wrong – I’m going by memory so maybe it wasn’t that day, but it definitely happened ^___^ – were on a Liège-like day with a final côte harder than yesterday’s.
            And Sagan was also winning Marche’s walls stages on other occasions, I remember one finish line over a vertical ramp of sort in Chieti where Sagan bested a top-20 of pure climbers after some 3,500 m of altitude gain.
            More recently he did the same in Fermo outsprinting after crazy climbing a shortlist of pretty much the best climbers over the world. It’s an area I know well, so it’s easier to recall, but there must be more examples from other races, too.
            Somebody cited here the 2015 Mende stage… that finale with Bardet and Pinot beat by Cummings is hard to forget. But in the break there was Sagan, too, and on the hard climb to Mende only Urán, apart of the trio above, climbed faster than him. It’s sure a climb Sagan likes, as in very recent years he also performed decently from a break, but I can’t recall the details, just thinking “hell, he likes that climb” – and it’s some 3 km avg. 10% or so, not your usual côte.
            And what about that Grindewald stage where he won after catching Cunego in the descent from, heck, the Grosse Scheidegg!

            Mind, it’s not just how much you win, it’s also about how you win and in that sense WVA and even more so MVDP are just great, and may get even a step further when compared to Sagan (of course, different cycling era, sometimes lesser rivals etc.), who on turn looks hard to match in quantitative terms. But it’s not like Sagan’s only show was about celebrating. He just won so much it may become difficult to remember!

          • You are right, i was not following tour de france as well in the early years of Sagan, so i have no memory of him beating nibali. Perhaps both these riders struggles a bit with the discipline. They are both on 78kg now. I guess its possible to loose some kilos and get even better in climbs. But all depends on what you aim for. Thor Hushovd changed his career a bit when he stagnated a bit.. lost weight and went for early sprint points even in mountainous stages. So who is best of these riders is difficult comparison. Like messi against ronaldo and maradona, specially against maradona, who played in a different era.. you cant objectively tell for sure. Both grait cyclist to enjoy, possibly van aert could loose 2 kilos and climb even better?

      • I see this question a lot recently, and it also sometimes includes MvdP. I think the answer is pretty simple: Sagan by a wide margin. By age 27 Sagan had three WCs, five green jerseys, been ranked number 1 twice, and had won over 100 races, the vast majority of which were high quality races. WvA has done none of that so far. Of course it’s problematic to compare palmares, since WvA stayed focused on CX in his very early 20s and came into road racing fairly somewhat gradually, but results are all we have to compare them. On that basis WvA needs to do much more than he’s done the last couple of years to even begin to match Sagan’s accomplishments.

        The question of how a 23 y/o Sagan (then still an excellent climber and a pretty good TT rider) or a 27 y/o Sagan would fare against current WvA is a fun one, and we could while away many hours speculating, but I think the best we can say is they both have entered an astonishing range of races as favorites, and had a very high percentage of amazing rides and proportionally top results. Inevitably, though, in these kind of fantasy athlete comparisons there is a recency bias, and so it’s not surprising that so many people put “peak WvA” over “peak Sagan.”

        • But in terms of career you are comparing almost ‘complete’ Sagan against WvA and MvdP who have already had CX careers for the ages and are potentially still not even halfway through their road careers. Though the depth of field may be less, you add in the off road wins and they at least match Sagan’s record at a similar age. I get the feeling that Sagan may be petering out into ‘what could have been’ mode but of course the other two are all likely to fade too. I can’t help but wonder if Sagan now wishes he’d have been allowed more freedom to carve out an off-road career too. He did try.

          As Gabrielle pointed out, we are just splitting hairs in considering genuine galacticos and in the end that just comes down to who you like most. On that score I would repeat what I said to Larry before he overcame his MvdP aversion, in closely following their careers since they were juniors I’ve always been impressed by what professional, polite, respectful young millionaire superstars Matthieu and Won’t seemed to be……….now Sagan, not so much.

          • I cited accomplishments that Sagan had done by age 27, which is the age both WvA are MvdP are now. The question was about “peak Sagan” and his peak in terms of results was either age 22-27 or 21-28, depending on how much of a ‘peak’ you’re looking for. Of course we don’t know where WvA and MvdP are in terms of their peaks for road racing, which is what we’re talking about here, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the last three years are part of both MvdP’s and WvA’s peak periods. Perhaps the two of them will have another 3-4 incredible years as they’ve just had, but they need to do better than they’ve done the last three years to come close to matching Sagan’s palmares.

            As for their professionalism and so on, I have seem evidence that all of them have their egos, and episodes that don’t meet the definition of politeness. I suspect one’s judgement here comes down to confirmation bias.

  3. Pidcock was well placed in third wheel but somehow seemed to get boxed in and had to come from further back. He finished as sprightly as any – bar Pogecar. Could he be a candidate today if the breakaway doesn’t stick? It’s steep but not high altitude, and the gravel should suit.

    Thomas dropped 5 seconds after being well placed while Fuglsang did well to finish in the same time after energy spent in the break. What’s his objective?

    • Pidcock said after the stage that Roglic sprinting so early surprised him, he got boxed in, and effectively ‘stalled’, so he did well to get back to 4th. And Roglic’s early jump provided a perfect leadout for Pogacar… A tactical day to forget for Jumbo.

      • That would be most days in a Tour for JV. Even when WVA does his thing and bag a big win, tactically that would also be a day to forget for JV.

    • I presume given Israel–Premier Tech’s need for points I suspect they will be hoping Fuglsang can ride a decent GC, especially now they have a stage win. It is not something he’s been able to do often in the past, but when you look at the riders that made the top 10 last year something I think he could be capable of if the forms there.

    • Fuglsang has on several occasions said, that he wants to go stage hunting and that he consider his days as a GC man in the TdF is over. From earlier he has a couple of second places, and he would really like to add that stage win to his palmares.
      Fuglsang is very diplomatic when being interviewed,but in interviews given you sense that even though that is still his objective, his team wants him to hang on or better his current GC position.

    • I wonder if Thomas thought the allowable gap was 3 secs rather than 1 – he seemed to me to not bother rather than being cooked.

  4. There is something not quite right at JV. Wout van Aert’s windmill tilting display made no sense from either a personal or team perspective. I can see that there was a hope it would be a bigger break but when that didnt happen, sit up, dont ride yourself into the ground, WvA hardly needs combativity awards. By sitting in the bunch he could have hung on to yellow for another day, helped in the finish (he could have led out Primoz Roglic, who knows he might have won) and still collected green jersey points. It was the culmination of three strange days of racing for JV, an ill timed mechanical now for Jonas Vinegegaard would leave them struggling for the podium let alone yellow.

    Surely today the other teams have to get UAE to chase, no point in potentially giving Tadej Pogacer more bonus seconds. I think a largish break which stays away maybe even takes yellow.

    • Might other teams think, “help UAE today and force them to spend many tiring days chasing on the front with the Yellow Jersey in the team”? The alternative – one day’s half-arsed chase followed by 5 days with your feet up – is possibly playing into Pogačar’s hands. UAE should be ‘condemned’ to holding the jersey!

    • He threw away up to 50 green jersey points. Even if he didn’t win (against Pog uphill that’s a tough ask) the 1st 15 places scored sprint points. The idea of making uae chase makes little sense: surely JV had to know that ef would pull for powless, ineos for their trio, other squads for a stage win, while uae would hang fire for Super La planche. He’s going to do a MvdP and burn all his matches before the race is half run.

      I also can’t believe this was WvA’s idea. I can see that he’d buy into it if he were convinced it would benefit the team. He was a mensch yesterday, sacrificing green jersey points to save Vingo’s bacon. What I can’t see is how it benefits JV or weakens Pog.

    • I’ve always thought that this Yellow / Green balancing act that Jumbo-Visma are attempting was difficult and, in hindsight, they did look to get yesterday all wrong.
      But two things –
      1. I am in favour of an attacking, positive mindset in sport. We are seeing it in many sports at the moment and it is really fantastic to watch.
      2. What do you do with a rider like Pogacar? He’s got all the answers to any puzzle set for him. Best GC rider I’ve seen, I think.

    • Agreed – very odd. He was no use up the road. Surely an injured roglic needs helps and wva’s forcing just put JV under more pressure until the break went.

    • I cannot claim I completely understood either van Aert’s thinking or sthat of his DS, but if van Aert had sat in the bunch, we would’ve seen a different race.
      There would have been another breakaway, quite probably larger, quite possibly stronger.
      Who or which team(s) would have given chase? Would it have been succesful?
      Would anyone in yesterday’s Top Ten have been there to fight for the victory?

      PS Pogacar wouldn’t have won the stage and gotten the bonus seconds and he wouldn’t be in yellow. Van Aert wouldn’t be quite as tired today. But, oh my golly, it would’ve been a much poorer stage for us specstators and road cycling fans!

    • They said they did this to not have to tow the main gropetto and control breakaway. The reason was the team was battered after towing vingegaard and roglic up in 2 different groups after 2 accidents the day before. They wanted to send of van aert in a larger group, witch was stupid to think that would be possibly allowed. That was their stupidity. He was only alowed in a smal group with only 1 other very strong cyclist. Their logic was also that if they let any other group away without van aert in it… the stage victory would have been in that group. Witch might be true. And that would have been the normal approach to let that happen. Yet perhaps they just wanted to allow van aert to try. He could normaly not win todays stage. But they should have understood how futile it was to try yesterday as long as he did not loose time to the yellow jersey. But the logic was to let the rest of the team rest while giving van aert freedom.

      • To control who is and who is not in a breakaway in this stage is difficult. Many riders have not lost time yet. And the problem now is how to beat pogachar. It looks impossible. But there is 2 weeks more, and perhaps the biggest chance is to give uae the lead very early and make the weaker team a hard as possible task… if pog shows weakness in the last week or have some accident, perhaps its possible. So there might be some logic to it in depth.

  5. ” Longwy à votre vélo ”
    Another delectable ‘jeu de mots’ (i.e. a French pun – “longue vie”). Chapeau Inrng!
    If sport were scripted, today would be where Pogačar loses time, to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. However, form points to him for the moment, and we must hope his rivals can cling on now and get stronger later.

  6. Van Aert’s raid yesterday was definitely a bit weird. It would’ve made some vague sense if he’d sat up after the intermediate sprint. If he’d just stayed in the bunch you’d imagine he’d have won the stage. As a general rule of thumb if Michael Matthews can be there then Van Aert can. Sean Kelly, brought up in the best old school conservative ways of bike racing, was getting exasperated with both him and Van der Poel on commentary. He suggested at one point that MvdP needs to learn how to bike race… reckoning he’s so tired at the Tour because of his constant need/pointless attacking at the Giro. Van Aert might have been pointlessly burning through reserves yesterday that he’d have been better holding back for the worlds.

  7. Sean Kelly may have been right and maybe it was a bit futile (but aren’t 99% of breaks?) but did it not make for a thrilling stage to watch?

    • Not sure what’s thrilling about watching one guy, no matter how talented, ride himself into the ground for no purpose? There never was any hope he could hold on for the win. His raid into Calais was exciting, his efforts pulling over the cobbles were impressive even if the riding was tactically inept at times but yesterday was pointless and damaging to his team. Sean Kelly might be rather old school and overly dismissive of newer ways of racing but he is spot on here.

  8. “There never was any hope he could hold on for the win.” I’d like to know who was saying this and how early into WVA’s lone escape they were saying it? I wonder if that same person would be crowing about how they predicted the win had WVA managed to hang on? Hindsight’s always 20-20.

    • I don’t think I could maintain your view point for more than about 50 km, it would wear me out pretty soon after that 🙂
      Anyway, if you like I can give you names of eight (out of eight who were watching) guys who said or agreed with this long before Fuglsang stopped on the roadside. (All are passionae road cyclists, but no one has any eny experience of racing at pro level…)
      PS There were four different “armchair DS” explanations for van Aert’s and/or Jumbo Visma’s tactics – but no one was willing to claim that there couln’t be a fifth one…

      • “(All are passionate road cyclists, but no one has any experience of racing at pro level…)
        I was asking about someone who knows WTF they are talking about, as in someone who HAS experience being the one making predictions like these. The rest of these people are just drunks yakking in a bar IMHO.

        • I think you moved the goal posts :- ) I mean I cannot imagine your *someone who knows WTF etc* *crowing about how he predicted etc had WVA etc*…

    • Personally I thought he would pack in after the intermediate sprint, after that could not see any sense in it. Its not just “armchair experts” but the expros on the commentary were stumped too, they have been there and done the lot and they could not make head nor tail of it.

      All great sportspeople need a degree of arrogance to succeed but there can be a fine line been arrogance and self indulgence.

  9. “The climb is only 7km long and averages 8.7%, steep enough. The reality is that it’s frequently much steeper, the opening ramp is 14% and that first red part of the climb on the profile? It includes a brief descent”

    –> Sounds to me like the Tour should indicate the standard deviation next to the average gradient (in total and for parts) to get at least a slightly better idea of a climb

  10. Is there a precedent for teams colluding against pog/yellow? If Roglic or pidcock go in a break and jumbo/ ineos refuse to chase who knows where it might end up?

    • It would be nice to see, especially to see how Pogacar reacts under pressure which we haven’t really seen much in his career so far… sadly history often shows that if this situation were to happen Pogacar would have willing helpers in Movistar (defending Mas’s potential top five), FDJ (for Gaudu) etc. I think deep down most teams know they won’t win the tour but a top ten placing has value both to the team and individual rider so is something worth defending… especially if the alternative is letting a rider as strong a Roglic back into podium contention.

  11. I loved yesterday! If it wasn’t for Wout, it would have been a proper snooze fest and then Pog still probably would have smoked everyone at the finish!
    Personally I think the sport is much richer because of these guys “who don’t know how to race”. VDP’s antics made a pretty dull giro quite exciting and Wout has been the star of this Tour so far! Watching them makes me want to ride my bike. I can only imagine the effect they have on young kids watching!! I for one hope they never change.

    • +1 As WVA himself said- “I wanted to be in a big breakaway. That way, we wouldn’t have to waste too much energy in the chase. Right from the start, I took the initiative. A lot of teams had the same idea. Unfortunately, we only got away with three. Because I had already used up all my energy at that point, I decided to push on. I did my best and said goodbye to the yellow jersey in style. I enjoyed today’s stage and I hope the fans did too. It was a nice way to end my time in yellow. It’s not bad at all to be wearing the green jersey now.” – from-

  12. RE the strength of uae, were not majka and mcnulty making the pacefor pog on the last climb? How much stronger do they need to be?

    • They need someone to pull more in the valleys. If Thomas or Roglič, or Thomas and Roglič attack somewhere well before the final climb, McNulty is a previous help but if he’s used up it’s not ideal. Worth keeping an eye on UAE’s riders, many are finishing well down every day and it doesn’t look like they’re just sitting up to coast in, they’re being dropped.

        • Contador and Valverde on Fuente Dé. One went on a rampage – er, quite lot like WvA yesterday – and Valverde just sat on till Purito Rodriguez was empty and then rode away.

          If all the other teams hadn’t been so stupid yesterday by helping the chase maybe we would all be celebrating the most fantastic bravura performance where Pogacar got his team and then his pants pulled down by all the others just waiting for him to start working and then sticking at it till empty.

          • Agreed. It was strange to see so many riders from other teams than UAE absolutely kill themselves in the pursuit of Wout. It did not make sense at all if you want to find out if there’s any way to best Pog.
            But it’s the TdF where everyone feels the urgent need to show themselves no matter what, and as we know most of the DS are not great tacticians with analytic minds but just ex-racers who are hired by other older ex-racers to sit in team cars and shout the same old orders into a microphone.

          • @hoh Ineos were among the ones, or the ones, chasing harder and, AFAIK, beating Pogi *is* their main goal. Not that they now won’t be able to, but their chasing yesterday was still notable…

      • Hirschi looks like he isn’t 100% after having covid, and he crashed on stage 2 which it looks like he’s suffering from. Bennett apparently crashed on stage 5, so he’s also in the infirmary. Sounds like Bjerg isn’t at 100% either after having covid just before the Tour as well. Laengen has a good motor, but he’s no Declercq and he’s being asked to do a lot of covering for Hirschi and Bjerg at the moment. So they are quite weak on the flat, even more than it looked before the Tour. Looks like Soler is also being used on the flat, and they would probably have liked to save him more at the moment.

      • “If Thomas or Roglič, or Thomas and Roglič attack somewhere well before the final climb”

        If Thomas or Roglic can attack, then Pogacar undoubtedly will be able to also 🙂

        • Sure, but then vingegard and yates can go.
          All of this requires good legs, guts and tactics – and other teams not defending places 5-9
          so nothing will happen

          • We’ll see but the idea is yes, that an attack can go in a point where Pogačar won’t want to follow like a valley road, or if he does, they sit on his wheel and a counter attack. All easy to type rather than do but UAE do look to have cracks, we’ll see if rivals can exploit this.

          • “but UAE do look to have cracks, we’ll see if rivals can exploit this.”

            Isn’t the question rather whether they’re tactically able and ready to exploit it?

            If other teams continue to help team UAE reel back any attackers who might endanger their leaders’ top ten places in the GC it will not happen.
            I really wonder how much of this eventually comes down to to economic pressure. Pressure that team directors feel because of their sponsors’ interest in getting the most visibility out of the TdF coverage. And pressure that individual riders feel who might want to change teams, whose contracts are up at the end of the season, or who simply want to show their worth / significance to their team directors.

  13. I wondered about the pun in “Longwy à votre vélo,” after yesterday’s brilliant Lacs d’Eau d’Heure. However, I learned yesterday that it’s pronounced with a W as in Wout, not as a V as it would be in French. Too close to Flanders.

  14. My take. Jumbo all had an easy ride whilst Van Aert was up the road. Green not yellow is his target and he would have lost yellow today anyway. Good to see an attacking yellow jersey enlivening the stage.
    Thomas. Once again an increase in pace sees him lose contact. Difficult to understand how a fast legs ex team pursuiter lacks that little extra acceleration, but it seems to be the norm -Wiggins was a similar type.
    Sunny here so off for a ride. Look forward to todays finish.

  15. Do we think that UAE would be happy to let yellow go today. Giving chances to the likes of Teuns and Barguil or is that ‘old school’ thinking and Pog going to catch them at the line and eat another stage up? Every time I think they going to take a ‘day off’ he proves me wrong. Surely can’t go at this intensity for 3 weeks!

  16. A crazy +1 to Larry, Wayne, BC, plurien and everybody “defending” (in a sense) WVA’s move. From the POV of obvious meanings, it’s hard to make much of it, but luckily (let’s go on with Roland Barthes), there’s also an “obtuse” – “blunt”, “thick” – meaning to be found in a decision which doesn’t look brilliant. Barthes said that words struggle to account for that kind of meaning, so I won’t try much, but I’d say that WVA was a sacrifice of sort – where he didn’t really sacrifice much in the broader picture – to buy back two things: a very very slight probability to achieve a *huge* success (different options: rest of teams not helping Pogi might lead to an epic stage win or even big troubles for Tadej), which happens seldom, of course, but surely doesn’t at all if you don’t ever put something at stake in order to create the adequate setting for the mere possibility; and a tale of sort about himself as a person and athlete, and his racing style, too – which isn’t just about his opinion of himself or “producing content”, it’s also about generating future strategies (through expectations by other riders or teams). Contador is a good example, indeed. I’m applauding him much more than if I saw him just quitting the break after the intermediate or before… which would have been the obvious decision to take. Obviously. Luckily things have *thicker* layers, too, although most people will look upon those who try that path as… “thick” (until they succeed and everybody jumps on the wagon).

    • WVA= panache. More racing-to-win, less racing-not-to-lose 🙂 Far too many out there are critics once an audacious move has been tried and failed…but all too happy to “jump on the (band)wagon” when/if one succeeds.
      Reminds me of all the people during my 6+ decades who have told me “I would race, except……(insert excuse here)” as they criticize the skills, tactics, etc. of those who actually DO. IMHO they fear finding out they don’t have what it takes…they’d rather just run-their-mouth. That’s when I joke it’s too bad for them you can’t make a bike go with your jaw muscles!!!

      • Hi Larry, I think your critic of genera life condition is quite on point. Though, I don’t think WVA’s exploit yesterday is a good place to argue that point.

      • My concern with Van Aert, and I say this as a fan of the man, is that he probably starts each season with 3 highlighted, in bold and underlined targets – Flanders, Roubaix and the Worlds. And so far he has won none of them. Other monuments and one day races fair enough, but I’d argue that for a rider such as himself stages of races are a bonus. And perhaps, as long as he keeps going mental in races like Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of Britain and the Tour de France he’ll keep missing those major targets. I think that was Kelly’s point yesterday, you only have so much energy and so much top form. Save it for when you most need it.

        • Agreed. If those are his real targets then he should really get (even) more focused. For with every other stunning stunt like the one he did yesterday achieving one of those targets will become even more difficult. The leash at which the rest of the peloton keeps him will ever get shorter and shorter.
          But, maybe, his real no.1 target is another one? Just enjoying the racing at the front of the pack, demonstrating the phenomenal shape he’s in once again while getting paid some very good money for it.
          I mean that’s what professional sports fundamentally is all about, isn’t it? Providing a show, creating entertainment and thus inspiring spectators to watch it, admire the athlete and then maybe sympathize with his / her sponsors.

          • ‘But, maybe, his real no.1 target is another one? Just enjoying the racing at the front of the pack, demonstrating the phenomenal shape he’s in once again while getting paid some very good money for it.
            I mean that’s what professional sports fundamentally is all about, isn’t it?‘

            Not if you’re a professional sportsman.

          • I consider myself fortunate that I cannot production road bike frames. For while watching yesterday’s demonstration I felt the strong desire to own a Cervélo S5 which is obviously so slick that a World Tour pro in your draft is suffering like hell just to stay there. 😉

      • It’s a good thing that in the real world it’s perfectly acceptable to criticize without having been a successful professional at something. I’m just as happy to criticize an athlete who does something misguided (which I thought was the case for WvA looong before he was caught) as I am to criticize a writer who does bad writing, or a doctor who commits malpractice, an artist who creates crappy art, or a filmmaker who produces a boring film. If a plumber works on my pipes and they’re still leaking the next day, I don’t need to call in a consultant plumber with years of experience in the trade to decide if a good job was actually done, and I don’t need someone minimizing my judgment by saying “hindsight is always 20/20”. The argument that only authorities are allowed to critique is a particularly weak argument, and only slightly above simply saying “I wish everyone who disagrees with me would just shut up.”

        • “… that only authorities are allowed to critique is a particularly weak argument, ..”
          Indeed, this happens so often it even has a name — the “Appeal to Authority Fallacy”.
          The world suffered a lot of that during the last 2 yrs due to covid … eg, “…we have to shut down businesses and schools indefinitely because professor XYZ of the university said so … “

          • Yes, but at the same time (actually, two sides of the same coin) when official expert panels said something which would’t work well with the general popularised narrative or the economic and political interests, they were just ignored or even said to shut up. Covid vaccines for children in the UK is a good example, as well as that same subject plus restriction for the unvaccinated in Spain. The media, corporations and politics (in Spain even security forces) too often played a way greater and more decisive role than “scientists” in this whole story.

            Besides, and as a more general point, people tend to ignore that there’s a huge chasm between “science” and “science-based technomedical solutions and policies”. Both are great and very useful despite their – different – very significant intrinsic limitations (which become even more significant when there’s a trend to deny or undervalue such limitations – and the other way around). Yet, they fundamentally don’t work the same way irrespective of their manifest common pointsm and the confusion can become really tragic. As it did.

        • As they say, “Everyone is a critic” qualified or not. The difference is qualified ones get paid for their efforts while the rest….play keyboard DS, race organizer, racer, etc. without any risks.

          • Larry, your opinion about critics is not qualified at all ^____^

            AFAIK, you’re neither an expert in sociology, nor in content production, nor in text analysis, nor in critical theory, nor in gnoseology, nor actually in any field which could qualify you to evaluate this sort of materials or the process through which they’re generated … so, of course, you can entertain the rest of the pub with your take about the whole subject as we’re sipping our beers, but doing so while at the same time defending that only professionals are entitled to properly criticise is quite paradoxical.

          • Gabriele – I was gonna let it go there but the comparison to plumbing assumes the person unhappy with the work and entitled to be a critic paid the plumber and discussed the desired outcome before the work began. Unless this critic pays WVA’s salary and discussed how he should race beforehand…it’s a false comparison. This fellow is just a spectator, one who is unlikely to have ANY experience in bike racing. My points were based on Riccardo Magrini’s response to criticisms like these relayed to him by Luca Gregorio on Eurosport. “Magro” dismisses most of them with “Who is this person? I don’t remember seeing their name on any racing results list. Who are they to criticize?” I agree. It’s not that you can’t write your criticisms, but you can’t also expect nobody to question your qualifications to make them from the comfort of your couch.

          • So when you pay someone to do something that you have no knowledge of or experience with you automatically become an expert? Who’d have thunk it!

          • I promise to leave it here, and I believe I got what you’re insisting on, with which I may even agree – up to a certain point.
            That said, I think that Magrini and/or Gregorio aren’t doing their job that well in the anecdote(s) you tell here.
            They’re paid by users, in a way (not many degree of separation between the ES fee and their wage – not that I like at all this money argument), and what users need is that the commenters do use their experience to make it clear what’s happening and why.
            Questions from home should be selected in order to highlight points which are indeed hard to understand for the inexperienced viewers, however arrogant the latter might present themselves as while writing down their texts (by the way, why do they read precisely *those* questions when they can perfectly skip them?), then the commenter’s experience should be use to make all that clearer, not to dismiss the questions faced and the people debating them. The wronger the POV presented, the stronger the need of tackling it with pedagogical attitude.

            Now, the above is naif, of course; they’re playing this game for an audience which mostly believes to be entitled to judge the rest of fans (typical in cycling, and sadly sometimes on the road, too), and the scene, probably sometimes even made-up (not that you’d need it), creates a feeling of mutual understanding between the journo and the viewers, a wink or knowing look of sort among the Magro and the Larries of the world, hence improving the overall sentimental experience for the niche audience of “long-time cycling hard-core fans” they’re actually after, given that otherwise RAI is too strong a competitor.

            Well, things are complicated. And all the world’s a stage, after all 😀

  17. Pogacar is a beast, but both Ineos and Jumbo might not be that interested in fighting to defend a 2nd or 3rd place and have the firepower to create authentix mayhem. Other teams caring about top-10 placings might just be too weak to save Pogi. Ineos and Jumbo are probably the most serious obstacle for each other to win the TDF, in a sense even more than Pogacar himself… can he really mark each and every move from half a dozen top riders by the above superteams? Could really be a craxy Tour ^____^, he’d better grab as much time as he can.

  18. Crazy fast start to yesterday’s stage. If Jumbo think 2 weeks of attrition will knock the stuffing out of Pogacar, then WvA’s stint in the break makes more sense then it appeaed yesterday. Jumbo and Ineos need to put on their thinking caps to use their better teams to upset Pogacar otherwise this Tour could turn quickly into a procession.

  19. And I’d also stress that when the break goes from a situation like yesterday’s, it’s a bit beyond any decision of sort by the peloton, the teams or any rider really, it’s a complex combination like those in front having to go hard, those behind not really able to match that easily and, even more important, nobody being able to make the jump across those two speeds. And this is a simplified version of sort, of course. It’s not like when a break is actually “allowed” or “selected”.

    2 hrs. at over 50 km/h on rugged terrain means most riders there are holding on for dear life, and those who feel at ease or ok in any comparative way are forced to be the ones giving it all in the constant actions, hence coming soon very close to their own limit. As WVA said, he felt that the day was gone for him *before* the break finally went…

  20. For people who are connoisseurs of the limitations of literal translations I can recommend Pedro Carolino’s masterpiece from the 1800s “English As She Is Spoke”.

  21. A bit late to comment, but Roglic resetting his own dislocated shoulder after his stage5 crash seems outrageous … like performing unanesthetized surgery on yourself … and then bouncing on the cobbles to finish the stage.
    I’ve never suffered any dislocation and can only imagine the trauma. Seems the shoulder would be sore and painful for days.
    During a very hard effort or sprint, you’d be pulling on the handlebars and seems you’d be limited by the injured shoulder.
    If any reader has had similar injury, would you care to comment?

    • Not me, but my brother was a fairly competitive youth swimmer for a while and he dislocated his shoulder more than once. But he was insanely flexible and could do things with his arms that were a little freaky. He popped it back in whenever it happened….it didn’t seem to slow him down too much in the pool, but god knows what pain killers he had…

      The one that really hurts is an elbow…google Koy Detmer dislocated elbow. Former backup Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. His reaction to the injury was so extreme that some of his teammates–large tough linemen types–almost passed out from watching.

      • Yes, you can pop a shoulder back in with only slight, brief pain / discomfort.
        You’re good to go again straight afterwards.

        • It depends on how it comes out – some ways are easier to reset than others – and how long it was out for. Generally speaking, I find that the longer it was out, the more it hurts when reset.

          Roglic apparently couldn’t reset immediately himself, but needed to sit on a spectator’s chair to get his position right. That suggests it will sting for a while longer than if he’d been able to get it back in straight away.

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