Tour de France Stage 12 Preview

A day to calm frayed nerves after yesterday’s mania but tension between the breakaway and the sprinters.

Massif day: a raucous start to the stage with moves flying and almost 50km covered in the first hour, beaucoup on hilly roads. It took longer still for the breakaway to form with Richard Carapaz among the most persistent until finally after 90km the move went clear, but sans Romain Bardet who had a mechanical just as he got across. He didn’t have long be wistful about missing the break though. UAE kept the gap tight and other teams joined in on the approach to the start of the big climbs. The breakaway was crushed, the script ripped up and this was going to be a GC stage.

A Tadej Pogačar attack was on the cards and at the rate he was using up team mates (UAE have no Plan B, no decoy), you could tell it was coming on the Pas de Peyrol with over 30km to go. He launched and nobody could, or would, follow. Yet if he got 30 seconds here Jonas Vingegaard took this back on the next climb, the Perthus.

The pair would ride together to the finish and this must have been playing on Pogačar’s mind. Worse for him, Pogačar lost the sprint, rare. He seemed to have a low gear, and to borrow from Stendhal, as if “his legs felt to him like cotton, he had no more strength”.

There’s a lot of tea leaf reading, how much to extrapolate? The word is Visma were hoping to make the difference in the third week so coming out on top is a triumph. But the GC changed by one second in the Dane’s advantage: a morale boost rather than a reversal. Ask the bookmakers and things have switched, Vingegaard is now the market pick.

If Pogačar can’t convert the steep climbs to his advantages he might be worried, it’s his speciality. But with the Giro in his legs he’s surely bound to have less zip, was this really the place to try? It’s all deliciously uncertain.

Behind Primož Roglič crashed on the last bend downhill but the three kilometre rule applies to all stages except summit finishes, as it has for ages so he was credited as finishing with Evenepoel. Plenty seemed surprised by this, but the same rule existed in 2016 on the same roads, only nobody stacked it like Roglič that day. Still he and Remco Evenepoel lost 25 seconds, more time conceded. Evenepoel’s losses means he joins Vingegaard in being over a minute down, the Belgian’s gains in the grand cru time trial now conceded in double. Never say never for Roglič but so far he’s not been taking time on the terrain he normally does.

Earlier Romain Bardet rode through the “Virage Bardet”, something to record because if he is retiring perhaps his popularity is growing, or just it was worth paying tribute.

One last note and we go back to the start. Pello Bilbao lost 40 minutes and Fred Wright was outside of the time limit. Your blogger was in the village départ and instead of slamming pâté on toast noticed some Bahrain riders arrived in a separate vehicle, wearing wearing masks, and stayed away from the bus as if quarantined. Cofidis lost two riders. Fingers crossed.

The Route: 203km and 2,100m of vertical gain. The start town of Aurillac is half-famous in France for being the coldest place in the country. TV weather forecasts seem to show Aurillac with the lowest temperature. Yet often does not equal reality, it’s nowhere near the coldest place, whether the average or the record. Instead things can heat up with the big road at the start, a wide route nationale artery.

The goes through Rocamadour and then climbs away from the hilltop village for the marked climb. From here on it’s sunflower country. The intermediate sprint is in Gourdon where Eurosport pundit Jacky Durand won a stage almost a third of a century ago.

The Finish: around town and across the Lot and back out for a big wide finish, easy on the logistics but less so for the charm.

The Contenders: breakaway or sprint? 2,100m of V+ suggests a breakaway as it’s a hard day with some hilly roads but several teams have house sprinters who can still win or even thrive after this distance. But for many other riders and plenty of teams today could be worth trying the early break, it’s not a long shot.

The finish is flat so Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is the first pick, we’ll see his team can control the day. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) would like an uphill finish but could be fresher by the end.

If there’s a breakaway it helps to be able to sprint well or barge clear late so Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek), Dorion Godon (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale), Alex Aranburu (Movistar), Marijn van dern Berg (EF), Michael Matthews (Jayco) are all contenders, so is Anthony Turgis (Total) and Luca Mozzato (Arkéa-B&B Hotels)

Philipsen, Girmay
Groenewegen, Cavendish, Stuyven, Matthews, Aranburu, Gaviria, MvdB, MvdP, Turgis

Weather: sunshine and rain, 26°C and the chance of a thunderstorm or three.

TV: KM0 is at 12.50pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.30pm CEST. Tune in early to see the contest for the breakaway and if it’s sport or siesta.

Postcard from Villeneuve-sur-Lot
Jean-Théodore Joyeux or Carl Naïbo as the local cycling celebrity? Joyeux wins the coin toss. A hairdresser by trade from nearby Castillonnès, he was a keen cyclist at the end of the 19th century. After results in what we could call the amateur ranks he hit on a commercial collaboration with Métropole to undertake “un tour de France” to prove their bike was up to it. Métropole’s bike was the Acatène, a play on “without a chain” because it used a shaft drive to connect the cranks to the back wheel.

Starting in Paris in May 1895 he rode clockwise around France, reportedly doing 19 stages and averaging 289km to complete a 5,500km lap of France for which he went into the French cycling record books. He finished “in perfect health, not at all tired and ready to go again in the coming days“. This can make Joyeux the original pioneer of the Tour de France, before of Henri Desgrange and his colleagues at L’Auto newspaper who launched their Tour de France in 1903 and ahead of the inaugural winner Maurice Garin.

Some reports say Joyeux’s ride didn’t get the recognition it deserved because it was overshadowed by the Dreyfus affair. This was a huge political scandal that divided France, the splits it provoked were even a factor to the founding of the Tour de France. Such claims persist online but are hard to stand up, the Dreyfus news wasn’t boiling in May 1895, there ought to have been room for a cycling endeavour in the newspapers too. Rather it seems Joyeux was on a solo jaunt and promoting a brand, so no race to write up and didn’t have a house newspaper to publicise him either. He does feature in the press who praised the notion of doing 250km a day but it feels like they can’t write up 19 versions of this for each stage.

Continuing with the debunking other articles say Desgrange wrote in his L’Auto column that “the idea of organising the great cycling race as we know it comes from the record of Théodore Joyeux” but who can find a mention in the archives; instead he seems to have said this in passing during a visit to nearby Agen in 1920.

Still, to paraphrase Desgranges, it seems the Tour de France was a Joyeux idea. Or maybe not? As a Breton called Jean-Marie Le Corre also had the same idea in 1895 and presented it to the media to drum up interest. Joyeux might have read this and got going before Le Corre so if not the idea, the first tour of France on a bike in stages was down to Joyeux.

Perhaps the lesson is you don’t always have to be first with an invention, coming along later with improvements, a bolder story and better backing counts for plenty too.

74 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 12 Preview”

  1. Setting aside all the “war of words”, “mind games”, etc tea-leaf reading, these last few years in the Tour have been some of the most exciting since I’ve started watching cycling. Pulling for Pogacar but I’m hoping above all for the Pyrenees and Alpes to be up to the standard of the first half of this race. It’s a privilege watching these riders fight for it.

  2. I hope I’m not the only one but that seemed like a Pogi move too far out. He’s my favorite but this seemed like a move that could have had some sass a bit closer. They are racers, and I get that, I sit on the couch. Unless Pogi really saw Remco and Primoz as risks, I don’t see the sense in burning that many watts on the day. I guess the only question is whether Jonas can hang at altitude. Pogi says hold my beer…

    • Yes, it seemed to me also that Pogacar moved too early. His demeanour changed a lot on the second half of the Col de Pertus – as he hit the bottom he seemed full of beans, high cadence, almost a smile, and probably feeling very confident having put 30-odd seconds into Vingegaard at that point…in the second half of the climb though, his cadence had dropped, his face looked a little ashen and with a grimace, and he was looking behind repeatedly as if he knew he was slowing…
      So feels like he either misjudged his ability to sustain the effort or had under-fuelled – it wouldn’t be the first time.

  3. It’s probably not an issue, because no-one else seems to be bringing it up, and I’m probably biased – but the moto was very close to JV and noticeably closer to JV then Pog on the second climb where JV cut the gap from 35 seconds to 17 seconds. Can’t wait for Saturday!

    • Yes, I noticed that too. Kinda irritating since it killed any hope for that crazy attack to work. Going with two more climbs to go was insanity, even if it was the only spot steep enough to make the separation. Wild tactics again by UAE, perhaps overestimating Pogacar’s strength.

      I try not to get too worked up about the motorbikes giving a draft since it always happens and I just figure that it balances out in the end.

  4. Why was Vingegaard looking at Pogi so much in last 15 km? Might have been encouraging him to work with him, or checking out how Pogi felt but felt more like mind games – ‘hey, look! I caught up with you’

  5. Hi, loved the Stendhal reference and the “sport or siesta” conclusion. Marijn van den Berg would also be one of my picks (I’m Dutch) – he can do without the “r” in “den” and “MvdB” has been included twice in the table.

  6. That to was some ride from Jonas Vingegaard, he rode up the Perthus 30 seconds or so faster than Tadej Pogacer. The display of emotion post race felt like a dam bursting, perhaps emphasising just how remarkable it is that he is racing at the TdF at all let alone being in the mix to win it. I think we forget that this quiet mild mannered man is perhaps the most determined and ruthless rider in the peloton.

    What were UAE doing? There was simply no need to shut down breaks etc. I can see that someone (TP?) thought they might be able to seal victory yesterday but surely the sensible option was simply to let an unthreatening break go, mark any GC threats and ride in, defend the lead, fight another day. Even on the Peyrol they could have used their riders better. Inrng’s comment about UAE being Lampre with a makeover seems very apt

    • I think that’s a bit of outcome bias. Going long worked on the Galibier, so I think it was worth a shot today – didn’t work but given that the next two days are flat, I think it wasn’t a mistake to try it out before what should be Vingegaard’s best terrain.

      • No it was simply wrong tactics, Team Sky would have never ridden thus. The Galibier was different an attack near the top then a long descent into the finish. Perhaps Tadej Pogacer simply cant / wont ride defensively. I know it might be boring to watch but it wins races.

        The issue now is where does Jonas Vinegegaard take back 75 seconds, there clearly is a plan but if Tadaj Pogacer defends difficult to see where that time will come.

        • If Pogacar defends anything, it’ll be a first!
          Attack is always his best defence, but UAE messed up tactic wise and if Pogacar is feeling the effects of the Giro now, then what will happen in a week. Pogacar said before the start, that he never felt so good, well that was then. If UAE thought they could have a nice big cushion of time over everyone else before week 3, they might need to think again.

      • Agree about the outcome bias. If he hadn’t tried and Pogacar ultimately lost the Tour by a minute or two in the high mountains, many would be asking why he didn’t test Vingegaard on tricky terrain earlier in the Tour, and this was a perfect day for that. It’s wonderful to see the yellow jersey attack from 30 km out! The only thing I was surprised by was not giving the break more time, and there seem to be some possible challenges with getting the best out of Ayuso/Almeida.

        A lot of perspectives (perhaps including Pog and UAE) seemed to be framed by the idea that Pog can simply ride everyone off his wheel on command and anything else is considered a failure, especially after the dominant Giro and some one day races this year. Yet he still put in an excellent ride today when framed in slightly more “normal” standards. On the plus side, UAE isolated Vingegaard >30km from a finish (even without Ayuso’s help), Pog can gain time on most technical descents, no-one could follow his initial attack, he’s still climbing very well when compared to Evenepoel/Roglic, and he has retained his >1 min advantage over Vingegaard.

        • I actually think you’ve got this wrong Andy W. Loved the stage but disagree that others takes are skewed by knowledge after the fact.

          99% of the time I would agree with you on outcome bias – it’s definitely a thing and people regularly want to lend their opinions phony legitimacy with the benefit of hindsight.

          Yesterday though felt different and as a Pog fan I’d been thinking about the positive and negatives of an attack (which seemed predictable for reasons others mention here like Pog saying previous stages were boring) and it felt like the risk vs reward was in the negative before any outcome bias. Then the stage actually went worse than I’d imagined…

          My reasons were fairly simple:

          1) The largest possible gain was likely between 30secs-1min but it would require going on the steeper sections of the Peyrol (as he did and INRNG had mentioned in his TDF Guide weeks ago) and that kind of gain over that distance isn’t worthwhile if you *either* have confidence of doing well in the high mountains to come (as time gaps will be almost certainly be greater there so attacking then is a better use of energy) or are fearful of losing in the mountains (as again time difference can be larger in the mountains so you’d be better to conserve energy and crucially retain the ability to bluff your rival if you’re struggling).

          2) All of this gains added weight when you take into account that Pog’s buckled under Vin’s pressure multiple times (losing 7mins in two stages last year) and despite it being possible for this race to go either way (with him or Vin being stronger in later stages) this context would suggest (especially given he already has an time advantage!) that retaining energy to either chip away further in short bursts in the high mountains or hang on for dear life were he to weaken was the more sensible decision.

          3) Finally it was also going require using his team early and likely burning their positions on GC and their energy levels on a stage where it wasn’t necessary and if it went wrong he’d either be isolated or dealt the psychological blow that ended up coming. Again here was another risk just didn’t balance with the reward, especially taking into account he was clearly putting his team’s morale and energy levels on the line at a time when he didn’t need to. (Not to say angering multiple breakaway teams and riders).

          Obviously you can take all of that as outcome bias as I’m writing after the fact and I will not be able to pull any proof out of the thin air to say it had gone through my head before the stage, but if I’m brutally honest as an armchair fan who’s a bit of a fool none of the above feels that complicated to have predicted? And even were it outcome bias, I have sympathy with those arguing that UAE’s management should’ve foreseen that the potential risk and held off for a more controlled scenario, however boring for fans. It was just a bad bet based on historic evidence of this rivalry, the terrain, energy needed vs the likely gain.

          I’m still hopefully of a Pogacar win and enjoyed watching a magical stage, but outside of pure enjoyment, as a fan of Pog I’m just a touch disappointed in him – because I had thought the Granon mistake in 2022 with youthful exuberance but I’m less forgiving this time as it felt like a mix between arrogance, overconfidence and fear of Vin clouding his judgement and if you pair this with his and Remco’s slightly disrespectful comments toward Vin on the rest day it’s just not a good look.

          Conversely, Jonas was exceptional, his defensive ride was outrageously impressive, even more than last years time trial, and if yesterday was where he landed the first blow to win him this Tour he will really deserve the legendary status a third win will bring.

          • Keen & insightful, this!
            Even with explosive power in your arsenal, you have to temper when to use it over the duration of the race. As fit as the best riders must feel, it’s still a long haul, and everyone burns matches as they say.

            I’m now rather nervous, even though this was JV at his very, very best.

          • Spot on! UAE/Pogi stuck their necks out when there was no compelling reason to do so, and severely damaged the gc positions of their second-tier riders while losing a second to JV. Seems like an unforced error to me.

    • I learned, that if you never had a really deep illness or accident, which goes to the very core of your existence/body, you can simply not understand on how many and fundamental levels this works in you. I had quite some illnesses, that my body could deal ok with, so I thought I knew all about how it feels to be ill.

      Till I had 2 pulmonary embolisms and a nasty, dangerous lung infection. And I understood, that I knew nothing at all about this level of illness. I found, that it – additional to the illness itself – depressed my body in ways nothing else had ever done. Everything suddenly felt precarious, slightly out of kilter and potentially dangerous. I could feel how something existential was being asked of my body and how this had consequences.

      Of course, as you get better, this feeling recedes. The same way as you can not feel cold when it is hot, you can not imagine how it is to be ill, when you are healthy. But sometimes, quite out of nowhere, the echo of those days catches me.

      So to me it is not surprising, that Vingegaard held such an amount of emotions still in from that crash. This deep, existential feeling of „lost“, that you could see on his face along with the surprise, that you made it out of that feeling, I know very well from my days in the hospital. Especially as he had probably no time to really process all this, because he was immediately in preparation for the Tour (that btw is bad, one might pay for this down the road as the body has a memory, too). So, even if he had talks with psychologists, the main focus was the Tour – and not him.

      It is no coincidence, that there are so few healthy (happy?) pro athletes in their 60s compared to the massive numbers of those, who die young, are ill or in trouble (I once looked up a few ex nba and nfl pros and it was horrible. Man after man after man was dead, ill or in trouble. It way terrible, the number of those, who did not even make it to 50. Similarly to the many, many actors, when hollywood still had the star system. I once also looked many of them up and it was easier to count those, who made it till 50 than those, who died before that, because there were much less, who lived to be 50 years old than those, who had died before that).

      • A very moving summary, and very well described, thank you.

        We consider these athletes to be superhuman, but they are as fallible and fragile as the rest of us. The human cost of our entertainment is high.

        • Thank you!

          I was caught totally off guard by this „depression of the body“. It threw, along with other experiences, a lot of ideas I had about our physicality over board.

          Of course it was no nice experience, but nevertheless I am so glad I had it and could learn more about myself this way (sounds cheesy, but I can not express it differently. I feel such a profound, deep gratitude for and closeness with my body because of that experience).

  7. I think Vingegaard landed a psychological blow on Pogacar by winning the sprint/stage. However, pogacar put some padding into his lead over Evenopoel which is important with another TT to come.
    I just don’t think it is possible for Pogacar to loose Vingegaard in the mountains because of the difference in weight … mind over matter doesn’t work.
    I really like Monsieur Joyeux!

  8. Well that took some big balls.

    It’s probably the first time in Tour history that stretching the lead over the second placed rider and not losing any to your biggest rival – in fact gaining a second – feels like such a massive defeat (psychologically).

    I felt sorry for Rog with that crash. It didn’t seem like he did anything wrong but still hit the deck.

  9. Thinking Pog could have done with a rider up the road, send Soler or Sivakov in the breakaway and use him for a tow instead?

    Many thanks for the previews and postcards, had not heard of Joyeux until now.

  10. I’d love to know more about Roglic’s crash: was this down to a handling error on the descent or some external factor, eg moto or fan getting in the way? Seems like, if a rider error, then 3km rule shouldn’t apply

    • The replay showed his front wheel sliding out on a wet, slippery hairpin – one which also looked like it had a steepish gradient on the apex…Vingegaard had taken that same corner very gingerly 30 seconds earlier, whereas Remco & Roglic seemed visibly faster, so perhaps Remco was lucky not to crash as well…

    • The back just stepped out on the greasy road, no rider error just one of those things that can happen on wet and dry roads, Pogi had a big moment on a much straighter section higher up the descent and held it brilliantly.

  11. Some questions/thoughts on the three kilometre rule.
    If Roglic had been in a group of three when he fell off in the last three kilometres, and the other two had not finished together, whose time would he have been given?
    If he had been riding with domestiques of a rival GC contender, then I assume they would have been instructed to wait for him, so that he did not benefit from their finishing time.
    If a tiring GC contender was alone with a team mate in the last three kilometres and fell off, would the team mate leave him on the road and ride as fast as possible to the finish to give his team leader the best possible time?
    The three kilometre rule on mountain stages could throw up some unusual future tactics, If I have understood it correctly.

    • If Roglič was with three he’d presumably get the slower time but these instances are reviewed; if someone was gaming them then this could be checked. But it’s hard to tell, someone with a puncture with 4km to go might not go for a wheel change but could wait for the 3km and then raise their hand.

  12. The decision to ride the Giro after two consecutive TdF defeats was a strange one. Is it because they feel Vingegaard has always got the better of them and they needed a safety net for the season?
    The TdF isn’t any other race and it demands meticulous preparation. I believe UAE can beat Vingegaard but for whatever reason they appear to be unwilling to put in that kind of dedication over several months.

    • In part yes, it won’t be said aloud but riding the Giro meant a new challenge and chance to win and rebuild things in a grand tour away from Vingegaard (as written here last year); similarly the idea was to do the Giro and see what happened in July, perhaps have a co-leader etc but they’ve really lent into the double. As you say it can still be done.

      For all UAE biting off more than they could chew yesterday we should also note Visma’s troubles as well, Van Aert is injured with a deep wound, Jorgenson was dropped etc.

  13. UAE is the team with the most moronic management in the whole peloton. Great to see them being humiliated yesterday. Could not happen to a nicer duo than Saunier Duval masterminds Matxin and Giannetti.

      • It was a humiliation in every aspect, less so in the 1 second gained by Jonas but overall a heavy blow to UAE. They lost on ground which favors Tadej, they burned the whole team down for no purpose, they made themselves hugely unpopular in the peloton for not giving the break any time to contest the win, and last but not least losing a two up sprint which was led out by Jonas. This is a mental blow of huge proportions and if they do not change their moronic tactics, they will be humiliated further as the Tour goes on. I am not a VIngegaard or Visma team by any means, but they are racing very smart and will come on top again.

        • Consider the hypothetical scenario Pogacar would hold the lead and / or Vingegaard cracks. UAE needed to attack to make a bigger buffer before third week (imho).

          Sometimes even the best tactics misfire. It’s easy to call a decision blunder, armed by hindsight, isn’t it? Vingegaard’s win is hardly humiliating – except in a mental scape where winning a spoting event means humiliating other contestants. Maybe I’m a romantic, but remember the Coubertin olympian motto which celebrates the struggle rather than triumph itself.

          Anyway, it was surely a hard blow, but I won’t say it was the first blow UAE and Pogacar suffered during the race – even first two stages were probably severe blows to them. Vingegaard seems up to the task (as was to be expected, because Visma won’t let him join the race if they didn’t believe he’d be able to win) – and that’s probably it.

          • I wondered why UAE didn’t just let the break go yesterday, and then turn the screws on the GC contenders when the climbs began. I appreciate that TP wants to win everything, and not take the “safe” route to a grand tour victory, but it strikes me that discretion is the better part of valor sometimes.

          • How much was he supposed to gain? 30 seconds? Did you really expect Jonas to crack on a 4 km climb? They had so many cards to play if they really wanted to make Visma suffer. They have 4 guys in the top 10. They can send them in breaks and put the initiative to Visma, they can let breaks go and save energy for the last part of the stages. Yet they chose the most moronic tactic. As you wrote not the first blow to them and not the first tactical blunder. FIrst they sacrificed Yates on Galibier for no reason whatsoever, now they did the same again adding Ayuso and Almeida to it. It’s just unbelievably bad. Visma is vulnerable this year compared to previous seasons, yet UAE is too dumb to take advantage of it.

          • Oh, I certainly don’t consider UAE strategy sound and their team management healthy or clever.

            Still, I fully expected Pogacar to attack yesterday (esp. after his claims of boredom without a stage to be looking for – “mind games”) because it made sense for several reasons. (Pretty suitable terrain, those mind games, the need to put Vingegaard under pressure…)

            Anyway, Visma didn’t win the race just yet. Last summer, there was a similar stage, across Tourmalet, where Visma crushed the breakaway to watch in horror Pogacar riding away with the stage win and halving the difference made the day before.

            Sometimes tactics backfires, I am afraid even strategy often backfires, especially in such a volatile environment with so many potential hiccups as this sport has to offer.

  14. The question after yesterday’s stage must surely be: Was yesterday one of the well know ‘Pogacar ‘off’ days, or the result of attempting two GTs in one season?

    The high mountains coming up are going to tell us which one of the two it is!

      • I’m not sure you mean ‘canned meat’ , M.Ring. To Anglo readers that tends to imply Fray Bentos or corned beef ( or even Spam🤢) , not the delicious terrines and pate of France.

        We don’t really have a word for them, we just have to borrow/ quote ( I can see the earthenware dish with the delicious jelly now…..)

      • one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had in France was rushing into the supermarche, quickly grabbing some tinned pate and a flûte, plus a whole tray of nectarines grabbed at a silly-cheap price next to the checkout, chucking it in the back of the car and dashing-off to get to the day’s stage ‘the back way’ with the roads closed.
        The tinned pate was in the sun in the back of the car, so when opened was warm and spread beautifully in the bread, followed by half-a-dozen riper nectarines – sublime !

  15. In this discussion of whether Pog burned too much energy it’s worth noting that he made the others work v hard too.

    I didn’t watch the whole stage, but the highlights I saw seemed to show each of the top four isolated, alone on much of th climbs. In such a case it means no one they are all suffering the same wind resistance (even at low speeds). And the usual advantage of not going alone has mostly disappeared.

    Pog may have still suffered from doing an all out attack instead of the more gradual max efforts of Vinegaard, Evanpoel & Roglic. But that’s far less damaging than if those riders had been stuck together with a couple of domestiques to look after them in a small group.

    The scientist side of me was quite excited for the geeks who I expect are working on data showing climb rates for each of the top four , with no slipstreaming effects to muddy their data.

  16. Is Landa riding Remco spare bike, just in case? He doesn’t appear to be offering much to Remco at the moment, perhaps from stage 14 he will.

  17. Well, I won’t say that I told you so since last November, but… there has been a GC contest in the Puy Mary ! I’m happy about it. Also happy that the col du Perthus that I found so hard and destroyed my legs when I rode it made an effect on Pogacar too 🙂 I feel less lonely…
    I didn’t expect the Stendhal quotation, nice one. Even if “les jambes en coton” is a pretty common expression in french – it would have been still better to quote La Chartreuse de Parme when in Italy ! Let’s daydream about Clelia Conti while watching the stage…

  18. Re the ‘war of words’, I didn’t see the live comments, did anyone get a sense of context/tone for Pogacar saying Jonas was “in the form of his life” or what not? Seems odd given Pogi complained of an interrupted prep previously with a lesser hand injury. Heretofore the rivalry has seemed quite sporting and while this chatter makes for interesting media copy I’m finding it a bit distasteful

  19. Thanks a lot for that Joyeux story – fascinating! I occasionally need reminding that there were incredible feats of endurance when cycling was in its infancy, and that ultra-endurance efforts were always the norm in bike racing (and running/walking). 19 consecutive days with an average of 289 km on poor roads, with poor equipment and presumably very limited support is remarkable.

  20. Interesting comparison to made between the venom with which people hate and love Southgate (sorry to mention football) and those on either side of the Pog / Vin debate after yesterday.

    Southgate lovers now feel vindicated and I’m sure haters are waiting to jump on him come Sunday. Vingegaard fans now also feel like they have the definitive proof of their riders superiority after yesterday.

    Generally I feel in these debates as if those invested regularly fail to see that two things can be true at once and it’s generally rare to get definitive moments to sway true believers the longer an argument drags on – but on both Southgate & Pog/Vin it seems like we’re on the brink now…

    I felt Pog’s mistake yesterday was giant and unless he can convince himself of a good reason for losing (fuelling, Giro tiredness, illness) if he has any sense it will change the way he races Jonas in future. It’s the most valuable loss of a second I’ve ever seen in stage racing and feels like Pog lost on every level:

    – lost in basic racing terms by finishing second.
    – lost on his own turf, sprinting, repeated steep climbs.
    – lost in terms in the endurance/energy stakes as he clearly bonked.
    – lost on a psychological level (above all).
    – lost the ability to be able to bluff Jonas later in the race.
    – lost by exposing his and his teams poor tactics so clearly.
    – lost some of his lustre as a leader, as just in a team sense: despite UAE’s cohesion being questionable at times (Aysuo in particular), as their leader he needs to strike a balance between playing to teammates egos and putting them in their place as well as when and where to use their resources, and by losing Ayuso his overall position yesterday and failing his domestiques after they put in so much work, surely their enthusiasm will be dampened along with their energy levels depleted.
    – lost the media battle, as Jonas spoke movingly from the heart after (following both Pog & Remco’s quips in the previous days) whereas (even as a Pog fan) it was hard to believe a word he said after the stage… plus, despite etiquette meaning nothing to me, eating on the podium exposed how far he’d gone into the red.

    I don’t think it’s that impressive by anyone want to do a victory lap now and claim kudos for their foresight by saying ‘Vin beat Pog before so Vin is clearly better’… because that’s fairly obvious and all cycling fans knew that while also knowing there were possible mitigating circumstances which might indicate Pog could restablish himself against Jonas in future (being two years younger often the most overlooked).

    After yesterday though, and certainly if Pog now loses, the argument will become near definitive in Vin’s favour outside of ‘if Pog races more conservatively and reserves energy for later stages maybe he can win’.

    I didn’t expect that to be the case after this Tour and firmly thought the debate over whose a better GC racer would rage on, as I’m sure it will with Southgate’s managerial qualities should he lose Sunday – but should either Vingegaard or Southgate win it will be extremely difficult for the nay-sayers to argue their points convincingly (for this period of the P/V rivalry at least) unless something changes dramatically in future for further re-evaluation.

    But both Pog and Jonas recover exceptionally well… freakishly so… so Pog can still change the tune with his point about training focused on longer climbs making the above mute… as a Pog fan I hope he does… then we can all get back to doing what we do best: arguing over who’s better (as Vin’s fans will legitimately and correctly fall back on his injuries as Pog’s fans did last season).

    Either way the rivalry is a joy to watch and a genuine privilege as a hardcore cycling fan to see two such incredible riders go head to head. Despite being shocked by Pog and UAE’s decisions yesterday, I still watched with glee and amazement. As a fan of cycling I don’t want Pog to change but as a fan of Pog, should he lose this Tour, I cannot see how he can keep racing like this against Jonas specifically.

    • Before the chemins blancs-stage I was fairly sure, that pogacar would win this Tour. But that stage changed that feeling. Now I think he needs a lot of luck to win it. It is still possible, I think, but I think he too was surprised, because he assumed things would be differently to how they are.

      What you mention about the „opinions/discussions“ being sense- and useless is not much of a mistery, is it? The reason for that is, that these people in truth talk about themselves to themselves. Cycling or football or southgate or whatever it is they opine about, could not mean less to them.

      Because of this, every „discussion“ is personal to them. It is their self-identity, that is on the line. Their emotions are the base for their „opinions“, therefore, if their opinion is questioned, it are their emotions, that are questioned. Which means, that their opinions have to carry the weight of their wellbeing.

      One reason for this behavior is this strange idea, that everybody has a right to voice an „opinion“. Per se. Not because they have knowledge, something to add or even have thought about the subject. No. They think they have a right to voice their opinion, just because they exist. Which is of course bullshit.

      That people think this is their right, is, because they were/are used as cattle/product by the tech people.These tech people need(ed) content and users to make money of the internet. And so they created a nice patch of grass, threw a few flowers on it and a bucket full of water and said: „come in, good people!“ Thus they amassed/bought their herds of humans, whom they need to produce money for them. These human herds they now harvest daily for content and data.

      This has of course created many problems. One reason is, that the tech people lied to the herds and said:“ wow, your opinion is so great. Everybody needs to hear this! It is of real value“. The flattered people then thought: wow, I never knew, that everything I say is so great!

      On their patch of grass they then met other people, who, just like them, wanted to be heard and feel important, too. So they made a pact: if we think the same things, let’s do this: I hear you, if you hear me. And I tell you how great what you say is, if you do the same for me (while thinking to themselves: „well, we think the same things anyway, so I can’t go wrong with this.“ Not seeing, that they now were in a situation, in which they talked to themselves and then agreed to themselves, that they only say great stuff!)

      The result of all this madness, is, that now the people think they have a right to say whatever they want (which they in theory have), everybody has to listen (which is wrong) and it even has to be heard and respected (which is nonsense).

      Because what they voice is not an opinion. An opinion is only an opinion, if it has a foundation of knowledge and facts, if it is sound, if it adds value. If it hasn’t that, it is no opinion, it are just words uttered in vain (the funny thing is, that it are exactly this kind of people, who would fight anyone, who suggests they act on their feelings, who in truth act only on their feelings! To use your example: they hate southgate and what he stands for, because they feel in a vague sense, that southgate would not approve of them, sees through them etc and stands for a different way to be and so they feel threatened, because by now, through the manipulation of the tech people, everything and everyone, that is not for them, feels to them against them.

      They therefore rather invent a host of „reasons“ why they say what they say, that mostly can be factually refuted in a second. Nevertheless, when you point this out and prove it to them, they would lay their life on the line, that THEY are not someone, who acts on emotions! THEY are! Those others! And the even funnier thing is: one of the reasons they hate southgate so much, is, because they think HE acts on emotions and they think they despise that! Pure comedy gold! If it would not be so predictable/boring/sad and damaging to the whole world, it would all be first class sketch material!).

      Ok, back on track: when these people suddenly felt, that there was a place where they were IMPORTANT, when suddenly they met other people, who were exactly like they themselves, every restraint and attachment to truth, reality, respect etc. they had had until then, flew out the window. So now we do not talk anymore with each other. We all talk to ourselves. We only hear others, when they say the same things we say – and that is fine, because everybody else is wrong anyway.

      There is no more need for truth, for quality management, for knowledge, for listening or doubting anymore, because „opinion/feelings“ trump everything. And we are perfectly occupied with agreeing with the people, who think like us and hating on those, who don’t and so generally never have to think for ourselves again, because our time is well filled with that.

      The only ones, who slightly resist this are the very young people. I guess the reason for that is, that they grew already up with the internet. So they are not that easily seduced and flattered and understand better how these things work. I feel so sorry for them, that we create this mess for them.

      So the things you mention around our communication won‘t go away till we decide to not be cattle anymore. Till we own up to the truth.

      Personally, based on the things he said and his behavior, I think pogacar is in the Sagan-triangle or close to getting there. If you throw people in a meat grinder at such a young age, expect them to win and at all costs (and sadly he also has people in his team, who should never be allowed to work in cycling teams), they burn out quite easily and fast. I think pogacar wrestles more with himself than with anything else right now? I mean, what is there to motivate him? Another win? Another million? Another fan? Pfff…

      P.S. I‘ve read your post with joy, because it was deliciously long. And had ideas, not only „opinions“.

      • “Now I think he needs a lot of luck to win it. ” Can’t stand this nonsesne anymore.
        So now, all of a sudden the guy who won just one second back and still sits in third, is the sure winner of the tour?
        I don’t know about your and other “experts” math, my mine says he’s still 1:14 back and none of you could tell me where exactly he could gain this time back? he has “the momentum”, yeah, congrats, but momentum doesn’t give you time back.

        • The reason why no one has told you where Vingegaard could gain those 74 seconds is because everyone who has followed cycling for the past two years and who has had a look at this year´s Tour stages should be able to tell where Pogacar would, if things remain the same, not be as strong as Vingegaard.

          In other words, why bother to explain such basics to someone who just comes up with a strong opinion? 🙂

          PS Of course there is no guarantee that things will remain the same, that Pogacar will be relatively stronger and Vingegaard relatively weaker on those crucial stages. But when would we have the fun of speculating, if we never took some things as given and foreseeable?

      • So much there to consider, and indeed to agree with. Some of what you say resonates with me, particularly the urging to “have your say!” Why? There are as many ‘opinions’ as there are members of the population, but not all have equal (or any) value. Thanks for an interesting perspective.

  21. This was the 1st time all season Pog hasn’t been able to impose his will on all others. And he almost seemed confused by it. There was a moment when Jonas was gaining and Pog ‘slowing’ I imagined him thinking, “wait, I just might be human after all”.

    Regarding the motos. I wasn’t worried about them in front but behind. So often they seemed to be right up on the back wheels on those descents. I kept thinking, back off! Then, sure enough, Rog crashes and they almost run over him. And they had to know he was going to crash (ok, that part is meant to be funny)

  22. It was interesting to see Pog on the trainer next to Remco cooling down a few minutes after the stage. He looked totally exhausted in a way that you rarely see from Pog. Would suspect some sort of fuelling issue. Remco on the other hand was looking relatively fresh and chatting away.

  23. UAE has been criticized for poor feeding strategies for Pogacar: he was short a gel at the end.

    Is the weight-weenie thing out of hand? Is carrying an extra gel or two for the final 30 km, even with climbs, so draining that it’s worth it? Or is that just a psychological/lemming-esque thing?

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