Tour de France Stage 19 Preview

A sprint stage on paper but as yesterday proved riders willing to barge clear can get their rewards and today’s course suits the breakaway even more.

Bourg-d’Express: the flag dropped and three riders took off up the road and anyone watching was left to appreciate the scenery or doze off. Still Kasper Asgreen, Victor Campenaerts and Jonas Abrahamsen made a strong trio but the bunch knew it too and they never got more than 90 seconds, although with hindsight the teams hoping for a sprint should have shut them down and let some riders with less power get away. It looked like a nailed-on sprint, so much so your blogger wasted five minutes mocking up an image of Jasper Philipsen reclining in a Sedan chair carried by Jayco and DSM to use for this review rather than typing anything.

Two incidents along the way, first Jasper Philipsen was trying to intimidate Lotto-Dsnty from making late moves; the team might have four stage wins but not hearts and minds. Second Pascal Eenkhoorn sprinted clear of this and Campenaerts dropped back from the break to help pace his team mate across. It looked futile in the moment but it worked and meant an extra rider up front and a stronger sprinter which in turn let Campenaerts dedicate himself to trying to keep the move clear.

Behind the sprint teams were running out of riders to chase and the 20 second gap wasn’t shrinking like it should. Several teams joined in the chase, we saw Astana and Bahrain among them but this proved more is less. Asgreen launched a long sprint and held off Eenkhoorn and Abrahamsen for the win.

A salvage stage win for Soudal-Quickstep reduced to long shot moves but it paid off. The winners get to write history but it’s worth noting how many small factors set up this win. If Fabio Jakobsen was still in the race then his team wouldn’t be up the road, likewise Caleb Ewan. Wout van Aert left the race and Jumbo-Visma might have chased more; Alpecin-Deceuninck ran out of riders and missed Ramon Sinkeladam… and so on. This isn’t coulda, woulda, shoudla, rather come the third week sprint stages aren’t as obvious as they look on paper…

Embed from Getty Images

The Route: 172.8km and 1,950m of vertical gain, plenty and between two small towns, Moirans has a population of 2,120 people and Poligny 4,013 although both swell in summer as campsites fill up. A lively start in the Gorges de l’Ain, a canyon with a marked climb that’s got the KoM point before the top and has a twisty descent soon after. Then comes plenty of lumpy rural routes départmentales until Champagnole just after the intermediate sprint when the countryside gets flatter and the roads wider.

It’s off to Salins-les-Bains, scene of Jonas Vingegaard’s Dauphiné stage win and then the strategic climb of the day near the village of Ivory, and more déja vù as this was used in the Dauphiné too, it’s scenic road but nothing severe but with almost three weeks’ in the legs now it can do some damage. Then it’s a flat run through the wine town of Arbois, home of France’s first ever AOC wine… although this has a lot to do with it being A for Arbois.

The Finish: totally flat to Poligny, a charming town known for its wine and Comté cheese and many heritage buildings, particularly religious… but today’s finish is outside a dull retail and light industrial zone.

The Contenders: Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is a default pick in case of a sprint or he gets in the move, he can win both ways. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) is also polyvalent.

But today’s much more suited to a breakaway and this should be a self-fulfilling scenario where more riders will crowd the breakaway and so out power the peloton. With tomorrow’s stage in the Vosges reserved for a big name climber or the GC contenders and Sunday pledged to the sprinters, today is where anyone with any energy left has to go; and those without energy will be told to move as well in their team briefings this morning.

The archetypal rider will have to be able to handle the final climb and either go solo for the win or handle a sprint, all obvious but stating this helps to reduce the picks. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) can do all three and his team mate Søren Kragh Andersen won a late stage of the Tour de France on the roads of the Jura in 2020.

Rémi Cavagna (Soudal-Quickstep) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) can try the solo option but if both are strong they don’t win often. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) is a fast finisher but the form’s been discreet so far.

Alaphilippe body double Mathieu Burgaudeau (Total Energies) has been close several times, has he still got the same form and if so can he convert this into a win?

Van der Poel, Pedersen, Mohorič
Philipsen, Cort, Cavagna, Burgaudeau, Wright, Trentin, Bettiol, Kwiatkowski

Weather: early rain will clear, it’ll be sunny at the start but clouds will build and there’s a chance of a downpour and with this gusty winds.

TV: KM0 is at 1.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.20pm CEST. Tune in at the start to watch the baroudeurs barge clear, it’s possible the middle of the stage slips into a lull.

44 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 19 Preview”

    • I agree, wtf is he doing Yesterday ? Trying to flex “this is my stage”.

      Anyway You might be right, and this is why this stage will be a breakaway incl. SKA and/or MVDP, for this reason aswell (none will pull this a-Hole)

        • Yes they can and will have seen the video footage. But I think Philipsen was aggressive but not dangerous, negative but not unsporting so he avoided any punishment and if he’d gone a bit further the sanction under the rules isn’t too heavy, it’s only if he gets very aggressive then he’d be in big trouble.

          • It looked to me like Philipsen pulled across Eenkhorn twice, a dangerous move, not simply aggressive. After the result you can see why he was worried!
            The riders disrupting the chase merely followed the wheels and refused to pull when at the front.

        • The UCI should clarify its rules about this kind of events, especially blocking the whole width of the road at low speed at the head of the peloton in order to force everyone behind not to go any faster let alone break away. This is completely anti-sportive. And I know this “tactic” is being taught in cycling schools at even very young levels. Absolutely unacceptable. It should be made very clear to the kids and everyone else: this is inadmissible, at a local criterium as well as in the Tour de France.

          • Do you accept what Alaphilippe was doing to disrupt the chase? Just as bad in my opinion. Feel really sorry for Abrahamsen who worked so hard for the others with very little reward.

          • No. It’s not the same to take somebody else’s wheel and not relay him when he pulls aside, this preventing the smooth turning of another team’s work, but, crucially, leaving enough space on your side for riders to move up if they so wish, albeit at a cost of extra effort, than to make physically impossible for riders to advance by creating a “wall” across the road. The first circumstance is fair play, because you can always overtake. The second is not, because you cannot overtake, unless of course you go off-road, with the risks it implies: the “wall” is not only anti-sportive, it also affects safety.

    • Agree, and would’ve made it even sweeter if Eenkhoorn had taken the win! Though Eenkhoorn must still be happy that he and his companions denied Philipsen a win. I LOVE finishes like this… even better IMO than mountain-top finishes (which never have this peloton vs plucky/doomed breakaway scenario)

    • Yeah ridiculous of Jasper the Disaster to do that… up until this TdF he had years of being an also ran… he has no reason to be overly cocky.

      Cav at his dominant best wasn’t close to as mean to minor sprinters. Jasper needs to apologise.

  1. Those Philipsen antics were not pretty.
    On Norwegian TV2 Thor Hushovd did not like the Quick Step blocking/infiltration of the chase one bit. I found it quite wonderful, also the fact that the escape kept going TTT until Campenaerts swung off at 300 m to go. Normally such breaks kill their chances at 3 km to go or so.
    They call Abrahamsen “The Grenland Plough” btw.

    • Abrahamsen’s got an interesting story for people unfamiliar. He’s been cycling for many years and about five years ago won the Etape du Tour event in the Alps which helped put him on the map as a climber and many cycling websites list him as 61kg. But he’s 20kg heavier now and more a leadout/sprinter guy.

  2. It would have been more effective, and less dangerous, if Philipsen had just sat on Pascal Eenkhoorn’s wheel and said – “go on then, drag me across to the break”.

    Would’ve stopped Eenkhoorn’s effort dead in his tracks – but obviously Philipsen had lost his head by then and wasn’t really thinking at all.

    • Very good point! In the post-race interviews Asgreen and Campenaerts both said they weren’t riding 100% until Eenkhorn joined, which is how they kept enough energy for the finish (and perhaps fooled the peloton about their strength). Excellent tactics… a dull stage on paper transformed.

      • With only two top-tier pure sprinters left – and only their teams to manage the chase, I was expecting a break of ten or more with multiple different teams. Expecting three (later four) to stay away seems almost miraculous but they had the rouleur qualities and knew they couldn’t play games. That was enough and made for a delightful finish.

  3. Inrng, thank you for all you do!

    1. Campanaerts – what a monster pulling, chapeau!
    2. Philipsen – I guess the sweet guy from Netflix is just a show
    3. Why were all these other teams chasing the breakaway? Thinking especially about Bora, Politt did a monster pull in from for a long time.

    • Politt had been excellent, but a little under the radar. I would actually list him as one of the main contenders for todays stage. He’s able to handle the hills and packs a decent sprint. Same goes for Aranburu, who probably preferred a little hillier course, but it’s his last chance today. Get ready for a 20 man break!

  4. This is probably a bit sentimental, but one of the things about the Tour is the heart-warming stories it generates without fail.

    Yesterday’s unexpected result for the breakaway was one of those. Asgreen was generous in praising his breakaway companions without whom….etc.

    And that’s part of the joy of cycling in general. It generates huge amounts of camaraderie, even when it’s competitive.

  5. I too thought that Philipsen was being an A-hole… Until I realised that Eenkhoorn had made the attack off the road, nearly taking out an Alpecin rider and nearly hitting a parked van. Vingegaard was directly behind at that point, so any crash caused by Eenkhoorn there would have surely taken down the Yellow Jersey too.

    Yes, blocking the road isn’t nice, (it wasn’t just Alpecin, it was also DSM and Jayco too) but if you want to try to bridge to the break, do it without nearly causing a crash which would take down half the peloton including the Yellow Jersey.

    He rightly got a bollocking in my opinion.

    • It’s a bike race. The old unwritten rules and tactics used by “the peloton” are surely the culprit here – not an attempt to attack. And who cares whether Vingegaard keeps himself upright? 😉 He is the leading rider, not an icon carried by some Orthodox procession.

      There was space for Eenkhoorn to overtake SKA, but SKA deviated to the right to shut the gap, so Eenkhoorn was forced to deviate off the road, it was SKA who supposedly nearly caused a crash, not the attacker.

    • I agree. Can’t help think everyone here is so upset about Philipsen’s behavior only because he’s won so many stages this year. Maybe a lot of Cav fans who he denied them that big record breaking win? Guys in my races get told off all the time for nearly causing crashes. Not sure why everyone here is so upset.

      • Good grief! Why are you so upset that readers here have opinions, often strong and sometimes different from your own, about things that happen during a race? 🙂

        PS I can´t quite follow your reasoning. Why would a Cav fan care one iota who´ll win a stage? Why would it matter to a Cav fan how many stages Philipsen wins?

        • It’s the my guy vs. your guy syndrome. It’s been that way for years here. We’re all guilty of it. Just as apparently we’re all guilty of being upset over other’s opinions as you have so aptly proven.

  6. I’m curious: when and why or how did Pidcock’s GC ambitions fall apart or get set aside? I wasn’t paying attention. Did Ineos decide to go all in for Rodriguez at some point?

    (I’d still like to see the sedan chair mockup…)

    • He just started to fade in the Alps. Is he a GC contender for the future? Possibly but he’s one of those riders who seems to like having fun on the bike and it’d be interesting to see if he sees himself sitting on the back of the Ineos train. Maybe the Vuelta could suit with the shorter climbs first?

      At “popular” request, here’s the unused image from yesterday.

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