Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

The other baroudeur stage of the Tour de France, today’s stage is a crucial day for many riders and teams desperate for a stage win given they’ll be harder to come by in the remaining mountains and sprint finishes.

Moulins Vert: the flag dropped and Andrey Amador made what looked like a mock attack but he pressed on with Mathis Louvel and Daniel Oss. The trio never got three minutes, the nervous bunch worried about rain and crosswinds helped keep the speed at 45km/h for the day. Oss persisted and got the combativity prize for the day, a chance to stand on the podium before he bids goodbye to the sport.

In the sprint Jasper Philipsen took a fourth win and extended his lead in the points competition to an almost unbeatable 323 points, he’d have to sit out every sprint, voluntarily or not, to let Bryan Coquard and Mads Pedersen back into the competition. The difference this time was a sprint sans Mathieu van der Poel, and also without anything to trouble the commissaires either. Philipsen made his own way through the peloton while all his rivals seemed to find obstacles in their path. Just as Dylan Groenewegen looked set to surge, Philipsen came around in the final 50 metres with a burst of leg speed to take the win and arguably his best so far. There’s every chance he can win still more as his rivals will be run ragged by the Alps. While Philipsen has plenty to cheer he was also telling French TV that he didn’t get a leadout because Van der Poel was “sick, a cold, breathing problems” but adding Van der Poel wanted to save himself for [today’s] stage.

The Route: 168.8km and 3,100m of vertical gain across the Beaujolais vert hills and past vineyards, this is one of those days where the roadbook also reads like a wine menu at times and if you’re not an oenophile these are just great roads with plenty of mountain passes and little traffic, many races have been here before and having criss-crossed these roads many times they’re a pleasant destination in their own right.

The start is in Roanne, a market town not famous for much but it’s home to the CR4C Roanne amateur team which has counted Romain Bardet, Simon Guglielmi and Nick Schultz as riders and that’s just the ones in the Tour now, it’s also had George Bennett Rudy Moland and more but it’s a town people come to in order to get out. Likewise for the Tour and it’s out via Le Coteau, host of a Dauphiné stage finish this year and a big road that leads into the hills where things get steeper once out of Ranchal to the Col des Ecorbans, as used in the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné and then across to the Col des Echarmeaux where Paris-Nice was halted in 2016 during a blizzard and then across to the Fut d’Avenas where Primož Roglič won a stage of Paris-Nice in 2021… by now you can see the peloton has borrowed these roads many times. Here there’s a long descent but a rest with nothing technical.

The only regret is that the mid-stage part is flat when the race could take in more hills to make a real rollercoaster mid-mountain stage but all the same even this part isn’t as flat as it looks, the section to the intermediate sprint is up and down through the vineyards.

The Col de la Casse Froide is the last of the “easy” climbs, it’s a big gentle road that winds its way up to barely perceptible pass. The Croix Montmain is a smaller road but a regular climb all the way up for 6%.

The Col de la Croix Rosier is the hardest of the day, 5km at 7.5%, never much steeper but on a smaller road. At the top there’s the 8-5-3 second time bonuses before a matching descent, fast and on a small road.

Then it’s carefully around Mont Brouilly but even going around the base of this hill means a small unmarked climb. Then comes the fast descent into Belleville.

The Finish: gently uphill from 2km to go and then a right turn where the road is flat with 400m to go.

The Contenders: now or never for Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), if he wants a stage then today’s the day. It won’t be easy but all the more reason for a selective stage, the Col de la Croix Rosier is a test but he’s got over bigger mountains before of course but and the finish with the uphill slope, well it’s almost what he’d design. One question is whether he can play cool poker here today.

What’s true for Van Aert holds for the rest of the peloton, today is a big day for the breakaway. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) didn’t do a lead out yesterday, and we’ll see if the talk of him being ill holds him back today, it certainly makes him a harder pick plus the course is hilly for him.

Our archetypal rider for today can have the power to get in the break, cope with the hills and clean up in a small group. Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quickstep) used to fit this bill but his form’s not like it was, still he’s a “client” as they say in French, likewise fellow ex-world champ Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos). Pello Bilbao (Bahrain) is a form pick but high on GC with less room, his team mate Matej Mohorič has more room. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) doesn’t rate his form but he’s still going well and there’s a finish to suit better than le Puy. Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X) might prefer more climbs but is riding well, Pierre Latour (Total Energies) is struggling on any descent so tomorrow looks better but today’s manageable and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) is a diesel but packs some grunt for the finish.

A GC stage? It’d be great to see and riders have had a chance to recover from Tuesday’s stage but tomorrow’s Grand Colombier summit finish awaits and this probably for the breakaway. Still Tadej Pogačar (UAE) is an easy pick if there’s a sprint among the big names.

Van Aert, Kwiatkowski, Bilbao
Pogačar, Madouas, Mohorič, THJ, Powless, Jorgenson, Latour

Weather: sunshine and 26°C, a light 10km/h breeze from the north-west.

TV: KM0 is at 1.20pm and the finish is forecast for 5.20pm CEST. Tune in from the start to watch the breakaway form, it could take a long time.

Baroudeur? Cycling uses lots of French terms like grimpeur, rouleur and so on and every French speaker will know the meaning of the word. But baroudeur is less obvious, it’s meant to mean a “battler” and baroud can be French slang for a battle – Sartre used it – especially a baroud d’honneur which means a last stand, a heroic battle or a hail Mary move. In the French foreign legion it means a determined fightrer. But the origins of the word come from the Berbers, also known as Amazigh and other terms, a larger ethnic group some of which speak the tamazight language of which includes the word baroud. It’s all a long way of saying it’s an adapted import, a loan word to mean a breakaway specialist.

101 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 12 Preview”

  1. As pointed out a few more hills mid stage and another 40 km could have made for an epic day’s racing.
    Going from what happened at the beginning of stage 10, the first 30 km or so, should be interesting viewing.
    (Thanks again for the daily previews and work you do!)

  2. “The only regret is that the mid-stage part is flat when the race could take in more hills to make a real rollercoaster mid-mountain stage…”
    Comments like these wind me up. Why? Because the author usually has no clue as to what went into making the route they came up with. Zero. Why do I care? Reminds me of our bike tour routes – someone would miss a turn, get lost and when finally found (usually by me after they phoned for help) would then proceed to tell me how great the route they rode was..and how much better it was than the one we laid out for them! They never rode that one so how could they know? And they weren’t there when we (probably) drove “their” route and rejected it in favor of the one we used. Everyone and his frere’s a f__king expert! 🙁

    • Larry… are you implying that our esteemed author has no knowledge of these roads…. have you not been reading this blog for a while… informed and informative has been the long standing standard and why many read it and return.
      Sure, you are entitled to your own opinion, but a little respect here to the efforts put in by Inrng isnt much to ask.

      • When he looks back on a career working with ASO laying out routes for LeTour I’ll call him an expert. What pro teams has he run? What famous race routes has he laid out? How many high-level bike races has he pinned a number on for? How many high-level bike races has he produced/organized?
        As far as I know he’s just a guy with a blog…a good one…but just a guy with a blog. A guy who puts a lot of work into his. Pretty much anyone can have one…they even let me have one. The address for mine goes in every time I make a comment here. If someone has knowledge of his actual credentials/experience feel free to enlighten us all.
        Worship him as much as you like but I’ll call ’em as I see ’em, good or bad… until he bans me…which would be his right since it’s HIS blog, not yours.
        I let an earlier comment about route design pass but when it showed up again…

    • It would have been at least moderately interesting if you´d have given us your best educated guess as to why the ASO route planner didn´t or couldn´t take in more hills (and therefore chose or had to choose the roads that robs us of a real rollercoaster mid-mountain stable).

    • Chill man. I think it just means a lull in terrain that means some teams can regroup and pull breakaways back leading to more attacks – which might make it more interesting or more GC biased. Who knows!
      Looking at street view for that flat(ish) section it looks like narrow vineyard lanes so could be interesting to see how it affects things. Peace.

    • So, your complaint is as follows:
      a) you previously had a bike touring business;
      b) some customers wouldn’t follow your bike route and would form the opinion that their route was better than your route; and
      c) you are of the view that because the customer didn’t ride your route, they couldn’t logically form an opinion about what route was better.
      The above is all fair enough. The problem I have is in your application of it to the present circumstances. In your scenario, your customer hadn’t ridden your route. What evidence do you have that the author hasn’t ridden the actual route? Everything on this blog suggest otherwise: that the author is intimately familiar with the actual route.

      • Inrng, Wednesday: “where’s the beef?”
        Larry, Thursday: “I’VE GOT A WHOLE DAMN HERD”

        Seriously dude, you need a better chamois cream or something, because right now all I’m hearing is a painful ass.

        • Ha – this made me laugh.

          Bit daft from Larry but he’s alright, he’s just made a mistake I’m sure he’ll reconsider and apologise – we all make them, I’ve made enough here.

          I guess the only thing you sometimes think from Larry’s comments is he’s got that classic older person syndrome where he’s too quick to think everyone’s at fault other than himself but this is easily done as someone who’s also over 60 can attest!!

          Just takes a bit longer to see when you’ve overstepped the mark, but we should also make an effort to see things from his point of view and welcome him back to the fold once he’s chilled out.

    • Is this necessary? I don’t noticed Inrng to claim some expertise, on the contrary – while he/she/them (or what’s the correct word nowadays) actualy reasonably could claim expertise, they are very critical, especialy for current standards. Notice that Inrng usualy don’t claim they has the answers, they rather try to pose interesting, valid questions.

      The “rivalry” post is good example – it mentions a perhaps interesting observation and discuss some approaches without claiming answers. It’s this quality of critical approach which I appreciate here the most. The blogger is clearly well studied and unusualy able to think critically, aware that there are hardly any simple truths.

      It’s fine of you to stirr the discussion, but this is unfortunate way to do that. You can offer different opinion, but don’t play the game of laymen and experts (your experts running teams and races are sometimes fools) and don’t argument ad hominem, please.

  3. Bilbao is now well placed and surely won’t be allowed in a breakaway again, and in the event of a reduced bunch finish he won’t have the speed to beat the likes of Van Aert.

    • You’re right, he fits the bill as a rider suited to the course but is too high on GC so let’s scratch his chances of a stage win. But keep an eye on a few others who could hope for gains on GC, maybe Romain Bardet.

  4. Today’s stage could bea full on and exciting or one where a break of no chancers with little influence on GC disappear up the road early on never to be seen again.
    Larry. We all offer views on the Tour like many of us do on life. Some wrong, probably like mine above, some right and some in-between. In the end none of it is important. What is a wonderful starting point for the day is our hosts hard work to keep us informed to the best of his undoubted foresight, knowledge and ability. Maybe a little appreciation and respect for our hosts hard work would not go amiss.

    • “Maybe a little appreciation and respect for our hosts hard work would not go amiss”
      The blog I’ve repeatedly said I would pony-up money for to help with his expenses? But the guy refuses to monetize it beyond selling some schwag which I have more than enough of already.
      Hard work doesn’t = expertise IMHO and I’ll wager Mr. Inrng takes criticism very well. I like what he does but have no qualms about calling out things I think are wrong, whether they be hubristic, xenophobic, or just plain dumb. If he wants to ban me or you guys want to “vote me off the island” as a result, that’s OK, it’s just a blog.

      • Larry you seem to have the point of view that the comment section is there for you to ‘call out things you think are wrong’. It is not, most people are here to add constructive comments about bike racing. Just because you state you would help put money towards the blog, does not give you the right to act anyway you think.
        I don’t recall anyone on this blog say, gee I hope Larry has chimed in again today to tell us more about his bike tours as you so often do. Yet nearly every response to you has been polite. Our host has been gracious enough over the years with your many different comments and talk of your work. It is not our job to ‘vote you off the island’, it is your job to contribute with respect to our host and others, as nearly everyone else does.

        • I’m not promoting any cycling tours – we stopped during the pandemic and decided not to continue afterward. If you think the point of the comments section is for folks to post atta-boys for the blogger, that’s OK, but I don’t, so I’ll add atta-boys when I think he deserves ’em and throw stones when I think he doesn’t. If they come off as impolite..perhaps you read that into them, it’s not my intention.
          It’s too easy these days to hide behind monikers or worse, as a member of Anon Y. M0us’ family. If you don’t like what I write, my name is on top of each post so you can easily scroll past ’em as I do with all the posts from the Mous family.

          • “Throw stones”? Why? If you disagree with something state your opinion politely. The internet has more than enough anger and confrontation. Kindness and respect is not a big ask.
            I rarely comment myself but the comment section here is one of my favorite parts of the Blog. It’s informative and interesting all year round. Amazingly, that doesn’t change much during the tour when traffic and interest goes up.
            Read the room, your tone is out of synch.

          • Oh… maybe I spoke too soon…

            Larry take a breath, all is well, we’re all friends, but you’re getting a bit heated here and it’s not worth it – just enjoy the racing.

        • I don’t actually think Larry means to be rude. He’s being a “blowhard” as they say in the States. To us Brits it comes across as ill mannered.

          Personally, I think @inrng has shown time again that they have “expert” status and I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog mainly comprises work they do professionally in their day job with some added flavour and observation thrown in.

          Vive Le Tour! Vive Le Ring!

  5. Any chance for Girmay today? He hasn’t looked very incisive in any of the finales so far but he seems like he could be good for today. He basically did everything MVDP did on the Giro last year, though perhaps this stage could be too hilly for both of them.

    • Seems too hilly for him and he’s not having a great Tour so far, nothing bad but maybe he’s just not 100% so far and the final climb is tough, not impossible but he’d have to attack the breakaway and get some lead on the climbers.

  6. The paragraph commencing “ The start is in Roanne, a market town not famous for much …” and the Baroudeur postscript are typical examples of what sets your writing so far above the usual race previews inrng. Whether through daily research or deep experience it’s a joy to read each morning. Chapeau and thank you. (Long time reader, first time commenter)

  7. It is interesting you have Bilboa as 2 chainrings. Ineos would surely counter that. If Ineos let him go up the road without a fight they might as well pack their bags and go home now. Could be an interesting day.

  8. I know it’s been already months so, but I find a bit sad to see Alaphilippe riding like the day before yesterday. Such a rider in a break and he never seemed to have the legs to land the win. Let’s hope he finds back his best level soon.

  9. It makes me feel old that Sagan (much younger than me) hsan’t had a chain ring this tour. If it’s a now or never for WvA does the same stand for him, looking at pro stats his last stage win was 2019. The memory is an unreliable thing but i’m sure he has been competitive in more recent years than that

      • Anon, I think dominic was talking about Sagan, not WvA with his mention of 2019. And I think our host mentioned “now or never” for WvA because he’s rumored to be leaving the Tour early, and because the remaining stages either favor better climbers or better sprinters.

    • In 2020 Sagan was competitive but just overpowered by Bennett having his best year ever, Ewan in fine form, and WvA. I’m pretty sure he got a share of chain rings that year. In 2021 he was starting to show some form but was crashed out by Ewan pretty early. Last year he was consistently up in 4th-6th place in the sprints but clearly didn’t have the top gear he used to have, and didn’t have the climbing legs to take any classic ‘Sagan stages’. This year is another drop down in top end speed.

        • Sagan won a Giro stage in both ’20 and ’21, along with the points jersey in ’21. But the comment above was about the Tour, which is definitely a tougher ask. His biggest stage race win last year was at Tour de Suisse, which seemed promising at the time but didn’t translate into a decent TdF.

  10. For future sprint stages, and after yesterday’s and the previous sprint stages Soudal-QS and Lotto-DSTNY will surely decline to assist Alpecin in bringing back breakaways only for Philipsen to win the sprint.
    This site provides wall-to-wall knowledge and insight, and well-written and sometimes quirky look at the strange world of pro cycling – and all for free. We should be appreciative of IR, opinionated if required but always polite and respectful in our comments.

  11. I actually enjoy judging the parcours, especially if I know the road like today, And I agree with thinking that the race would be spicier if it didn’t go straight south through the Beaujolais Crus slopes, in parallel to the hills, but zigzagged across them instead. But yes, they are narrow vineyard roads, a bit technical, and shouldn’t help the peloton too much.

    • Definitely. Commenting on the parcours on a blog which… is almost based around discussing the route every day – and we read it to inform ourselves about the route – is hardly a misdemeanor.

    • His descending was always excellent, but his way of holding the bars (not really “holding”, just leaning on them, letting his core muscles and legs do alone the job of keeping his bike straight) always left me puzzled. Seemed to be inefficient, but also seemed to work for him. He’s perhaps corrected it a bit, but still does it. Idiosyncratic rider.

      • My wife calls him “The Wiggler”. A guy who wears the headset bearings out before the ones in the bottom bracket! Form and function don’t always mesh well. Look at old videos of Kelme’s Fernando Escartin – we called him “The Crab”. Gawdawful to watch, but he was up there!

      • Staying relaxed on the bars is actually a _good_ thing for descending. You want to have enough grip to keep control, but you want to have /just/ a certain level of a relaxed grip so that your arm and the bars form a damped system. I.e., the bars can move just a little in response to bumps, /and/ naturally back inline thanks to the castor angle.

        What you do NOT want is to have a really tight grip on the bars, with stiff arms, such that a) the bike can not naturally respond to bumps or (_worse_) you get resonance between the bumps of the road and an overly rigid bar+arms and induce a speed wobble.

  12. There’s a big bike race and a very promising stage coming up, let’s talk about this rather worry than someone who, deliberately or accidentally, trashposts and provokes online arguments 😉

    • Regarding route design, perhaps the flat middle section will improve the racing as it allows for chasing groups (ahead of peloton) to try and catch the leaders? I’m sure Inrng, gabriele or others can recall similar stage profiles from previous GTs, i.e. rolling/mid-mountain start, then flat, then return to mid-mountain finale. Is there a typical dynamic for these types of stages? Or perhaps the sample size is too low to say.

      It would be interesting to identify the variables that contribute to stage 10-style racing in GTs, i.e. not GC or sprint days, multiple breaks, uncontrolled from the gun. It might be so stochastic that identifying robust variables isn’t possible, but I’d guess it depends on the parcours, weather (crosswinds etc), and timing of the stage within the GT (probably second week (?) so that GC is somewhat established and there’s variable fatigue among the riders). But then there’d be so many specific factors, e.g. rider and team dynamics, that would depend on the overall context of the race (i.e. if a GC rider has crashed and lost loads of time, if a sprinter has crashed out, etc, affecting how the rest of the team rides. Plus desperation from teams or riders who’ve expected victories that haven’t yet come).

      @Inrng, have you written any previous posts on ‘what makes for an exciting/unpredictable GT stage’? Maybe there’s a sports/data scientist out there somewhere who can crunch the numbers : )

  13. It feels possible there could be a GC selection that’s near enough the front to compete for bonuses.
    Or maybe it’s wishful thinking…

  14. The riders decide how the stage goes, not the course. Some of the ‘best’ viewing days are on the ‘easier’ parcours.

    Make it too hard and they just ride steady for longer.

    • Yes, at least these days such equation seems to be about true.

      In my country a cycling podcast reproached ASO’s parcours, particularly stages such as the Basque ones, the Pyrenean combination and tuesday + today’s breakaway stages. I, equiped by Inrng’s notes about those stages, happily enjoyed the racing. Those podcast guys eat humble pie stage after stage. 🙂 Ok, ridets make the race, but I’d say the route prompts them to make bolder tactic moves than a procession of flat stages and summit finishes. We’ll see what the Jura + Alpine menu of next five or six stages brings, the racing seems pretty hard and therefore tiring.

  15. @Looking over my shoulder. Well the new found chaos continued for another fine day of racing. And welcome it is. A deserved winner.
    There are going to be some very tired legs come the third week!

  16. Really looking forward to tomorrows stage.

    Brutal uphill finish climb with those bonus seconds at the finish. If I was Pogacar, I would be all in for tomorrow and let the other alpine stages for grabs with riders from the Bkwy.

    Polka dots competition is getting really excited too. Should be a good battle between T.H.J and Powless, hopefully he still has something in his legs.

      • He told French TV today that his “Christmas” is the Tour of Flanders-Roubaix week and with this in mind, this year’s Tour route is hard, he’s probably a few kilos heavier for results right now, especially on a course that is either very mountainous or sprint stages. But if has good recovery powers the potential sprint stages of the third week provide opportunities, his problem here is that many other riders will now be looking to Stage 19 and the road to Poligny.

  17. Baroudeur has always equalled marauder in my head.
    As with others very long time reader and very rare commenter, but today there was a line that was crossed. Mr/Ms Ring has benefitted hugely from their anonymity over the years as have all of us who read the blog either regularly or intermittently. If contributors here wish to “out”them , then they would lose the joy that all of us have gained over so much time and the anger and sadness here portrays that perfecly.
    However I am not sure that contributors here really know who Inrng is. I have always presumed Inrng is European and has inside contacts within the industry if not works in the industry and has the time and support to ride the routes the rest of us could dream of.
    As many of us have said today a little kindness goes a long way and offering to pay for the blog does not give anyone the right to be so rude. The response from Inrng has been as dignified and restrained as one could possibly imagine and my respect goes up even more

  18. I was wondering why this preview of a run-of-the-mill stage had got 100 comments. It didn’t take long to find out. That faux-innocent shitposting was something else, even for Larry.

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