Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

A short time trial and significant day for the GC that will tell us plenty about the form of the contenders.

Sporting Dijon: Jasper Philipsen looked to have things in place as Mathieu van der Poel led him out but this wasn’t the snappy jump of last year where Philpsen himself struggled to hang on.

Instead an impatient Arnaud De Lie to launch his sprint with 300m to go and it proved to be the ideal leadout for Dylan Groenewegen. As the Belgian champ faded the Dutch champ went to the left and was clear for the win. Meanwhile Philipsen was drifting right and blocked Wout van Aert and he was duly relegated by the commissaires. Third placed Biniam Girmay extends his lead in green.

The stage was enhanced by crosswinds but if this was spice it was low on the Scoville scale. It was notable for Tadej Pogačar being alone up front while all his team mates were caught out. UAE can be a fearsome team but sometimes remind us they’re the old Lampre that happened to stumble across a gold bar.

Little else happened. Mads Pedersen collected the combativity prize for starting and contesting the intermediate sprint after his scary tumble the previous day. We keep seeing days without attacks, probably something to explore in a blog post one afternoon next week when the same happens again.

The Route: just 25km and a stage in four parts:

  • First after touring Nuits-Saint-Georges it’s out on a regular road to the first time check, it’s fast but no billiard table.
  • Soon after there’s a right turn and four kilometres uphill with the first kilometre at 7% and then a dip before it drags up again to the second time check, not more than 1-2%. After this there’s for 500m at 5-6% again. This is all on a smaller road and while not savage, tricky to know when to accelerate
  • Then a reciprocal descent that twists and turns
  • After the third time check there’s a wide, flat road to the finish.

The Contenders: it’s hard to see past Tadej Pogačar (UAE) and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep). Pogačar was beaten in his last time trial in Italy so he’s not invincible but that was a flatter course, he’ll like today’s version with the climbing and the absence of flat course specialists, no Ganna, no Tarling. Evenepoel won the Dauphiné TT and he’s looking sharper since but the stage win is a goal, closing the 45 second deficit to Pogačar, taking back two seconds per kilometre, feels outlandish.

Primož Roglič (Red Bull) can do great time trials but his form at the same level as the two named already? Ideally he’d take time to make himself a contender after looking on the back foot so far.

It’s another fitness test for Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-LAB) but hard to see him winning… and yet if he missed out on the Galibier he was able to respond when others could not and maybe a single chainring wasn’t the best choice for a tough climb and a terrifying descent. Team mate Wout van Aert has downplayed his form of late but this course suits.

Juan Ayuso (UAE) looks like a climber but he’s yet to win a summit finish but has won three World Tour level TTs. A tough ask today.

Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) is a specialist and if he’s a big build he’s good on climbs. Unlike the others he hasn’t had to fight for position or race hard in the Alps but his energy saving so far is still modest, it’s still the first week; also sitting 75th overall means he goes earlier than the big names but there doesn’t look to be any significant weather advantage. Compatriot Stefan Bissegger (EF) is another specialist but he was a minute down in the Swiss champs which suggests it’ll be harder today.

Remco Evenepoel
Tadej Pogačar
Vingegaard, Roglič, WvA

Weather: hazy sunshine and 24°C and a faint breeze from the south, 5-10km/h.

TV: the first rider is Mark Cavendish and off at 1.05 CEST and the last rider is due in at 5.30pm CEST.

Postcard from Gevrey-Chambertin
If this year’s race is finishing in Nice it still includes a visit to the Champs Elysées as today’s course passes the “Elysian fields” of wine making, or at least that’s what locals and Burgundy wine promoters like to say.

Gevrey is a small place, population 3,000 but famous around the world, at least to wine drinkers for the Côte de Nuits and its premier crus wines. You’ll struggle to get change from a €100 note for one bottle, often you’ll need a fistful of notes for the prized ones; presumably oenophiles are similarly shocked to find you can pay hundreds for a derailleur. At least us cyclists don’t have to lay down our goods in a cellar for a decade or more.

If you want a cheaper souvenir with an unforgettable taste try the Ami du Chambertin cheese for an unforgettable experience. Made from cows’ milk and washed many times with marc to give it a harder rind, the makers say it has a “pronounced aroma” which is a gentle way of putting it.

58 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Just when I had finally given up on Jayco they get their act together!
    Roglic seems to produce good time trials when it matters most … with one glaring exception. Will be interested to see what he can do tonight.

  2. Burgundy is a gorgeous place to ride through. My friends and I dropped down into Gevrey-Chambertin on the D-31 when riding from Chablis a couple years ago. The sea of vineyards that opened up before us was a sight to behold… it’s relatively easy to ride the small roads down to Beaune from there, passing famous chateaux and domaines along the way. I suspect the pros will have a bit less time to enjoy the sights than we did though…

  3. Something (paranoia I guess) tells me this is the day that Vingegaard pulls off something otherworldly to lay to rest any doubts about his condition.

    • Dusting a fading Pogacar, and everyone else, at the end of last year’s Tour is one thing, but doing the same to a fresh Evenepoel and van Aert tonight would be quite another.

      If he does a few dark corners of the interweb will start investigating whether he ever crashed at all in the Basque Country…

    • they’re no doubts, they’re common sense..

      or did he just he let Pog ride away on the non technical bits off the Galibier and didn’t pull him back on the flat to the finish

  4. I am going to open a bottle of Burgundy tonight for the occasion! However, Gevrey is even more famous for its grand crus than its premiers! There’s a reason the name is hyphenated with Chambertin. There are nine Grand Crus in the Gevrey-Chambertin commune, including Chambertin itself. Some of these can’t be had for less than the price of a high-end groupset.

  5. “…the smell hovers somewhere between barnyard and “putrid,” … but the flavor is of grassy butter and cream.”
    “The bacteria Brevibacterium linens gives the rind its aroma; it just so happens that B. linens is also the very same bacteria responsible for making feet stink.”

    I don´t know why but something in that description oddly seems to describe road cycling as well…

    PS This, for once, is an ITT I may well bother to watch.

      • Dan Martin’s autobiography goes into this in more detail. They’re less and less Lampre but it still shows. Take the TT today, Pogačar had a single chainring TT bike, the most aero option; but his spare on the following car was a more regular version with two chainrings. Not the reason why he lost today, but this and other tiny details, suggest they’re not quite as on it as other teams.

        • This is probably obvious to everyone other than me but does the “gold bar” refer to the all the money they’re getting from the Sheikh or to Pogacar himself?

  6. I’ll go for a narrow Remco win today over Pogacar. I think Vingegaard will be slightly behind them. Not sure if Van Aert has the sharpness yet though he was up there yesterday until Philipsen did Philipsen things.

  7. I don’t have a cellar but I have loads of vintage cycling equipment gathering dust in my shed. I suspect many others do to!

    • Yep! Anyone willing to taste a full Campagnolo Centaur groupset 2005 vintage? Smooth, gray, metal. We’ve also got a 1998 Veloce, shiny, sparkling, not to speak of that rare Gipiemme from the mid 80s.

    • And I had a new/old Colnago frameset hanging on the wall for 10 years til I came to my senses. Acquired for roughly the same cost as a bottle of the good stuff.

  8. The lack of breaks is interesting. I guess one interpretation is that it’s one implication of the levelling up of the peleton, given the spreading of best practise on nutrition, equipment, training etc. If the lowest-budget teams feel that they’re closer to the best and more likely to find a way to actually win, they’re less likely to be willing to embark on kamikaze breaks on flat days?

    On a related theme, the first 6 results have been fairly amazing in terms of the outcomes. Before this Tour, there had been 107 WorldTour races so far this season. Three WT teams still didn’t have a single win from those races – those three being Arkea, Astana and Jayco. Of course, all three have won stages in the first week.

    On top of that, DSM and Intermarche had each only won a single WT race before this Tour. And they’ve both won a stage too. On this pattern, the next team to win a stage should be Movistar! (The other team with only one WT win before this race.)

    Quite bizarre the way the most unsuccessful WT teams have suddenly started winning at this Tour. A chunk of it must just be coincidence, obviously, but still – very odd.

    • Levelling up of the peloton? Closer to the best? I guess this is the brand new narrative for this season (when “best practices” suddenly spread around…), but the overview of previous ones doesn’t suggest anything like that, quite the other way around.

    • Interesting point, I’d been keeping a list of WorldTour teams without a win, then WorldTour teams without a World Tour win etc and Arkéa, Astana and Jayco were still on this list but they’ve fixed this. And in style of course given the big stage.

      Similarly for all Decathlon’s wonder season so far, the team management know success in the Tour is how there season will be rated by many including sponsors.

      • It would probably take a Top 5 in the GC to save Decathlon-AG2R from the disappointment a Tour de France without a stage win would give them.

        The past few seasons have been weakish, but the TdF wins in 2020-23 have saved them from humiliation…

    • There is no „levelling up“. At least not in the sense you mean it.

      Things simply have changed. With the advent of the internet and social media, TV time isn‘t anymore the only possibility to be seen. So it has lost some of it’s appeal. Equally riders don‘t „just ride“ the Tour any longer. They all have, down to the tiniest teams „goals“.

      And: riders see themselves as workers and are not anymore so willing to go all in for something, that they think they have no gain from (this can be seen at every Tour on the day with the longest stage. You can be sure, that the riders stage their usual passive-aggressive „hidden“ strike on that day and go very, very, very slow and do absolutely nothing for the race. The miracle here is, that they, after years of doing this, still don‘t understand, that they hurt themselves with this ridiculous thing).

      Times change.

  9. Re: nobody attacking, this is one more example of the shift or rather new balance between the traditions of Giro and Tour… as the former has become more tense and competitive, whereas the latter has lost a pinch of competitivity in these “doomed” stages.
    Even more interesting, we’ve started to see at the Giro that several hilly stages (1500-1800 altitude gain) are raced faster than flatter ones (1000>altitude gain). In the latter, the peloton just cruises through at mediocre speed, while as in the former there’s a serious fight to form the break and then to get to the line, speeds and especially intensity are way higher. A demostration of the paramount role of the “useless breakaway” in order to keep the quality level high.
    Surely now there’s no more Cipollini waving his punches (and more) to prevent serious breaks from raising the pace, but the collective effect is the same (to a lesser extent of course).

    • The solution for such “locked” stages with inevitable outcome (like virtually all sprint stages these das..) is to ban race radios and reduce the team size by another rider. This will allow to have 1-2 more teams. Both the lack of control through radios and the limited number of team members to “burn” on the one side and the increase in different interests on the other (more teams) will increase the uncertainty of the outcome.

      For spectators, this would be great. Look at all the races that have this (Olympics, some continental championships), they are usually lively and spectacular.

      Unfortunately, I doubt that this will ever happen as the current teams (or their managers) want to retain as much control as possible, and the above measures remove control…

      • We’ll see radios restricted in some trials soon. I’m not persuaded it’ll change the tactics much as if sprint teams are worried about a lack of information they’ll just want to keep the breakaway on an even tighter leash to minimise risk.

        • Pogacar seems to agree with the weird lack of attacking: “If there wasn’t a time trial today, then it would be a really boring, strange Tour with flat stages where nobody wants to go in the breakaway…”

        • If sprint teams try to shut down every breakaway instead of riding a steady pace and waiting for a day long breakaway to run out of steam, their riders will be cooked early and we’ll see late attacks come back into the racing again.

          A good way forward would be a two year trial period of handing control of the decisions about rider radio over to race organisers, with them being able to select from the following options:
          – rider receivers: team radio, race control radio, none
          – rider transmitters: to team, to race control, none
          – number of riders per team equipped: all, one, none.

      • More teams yes, but a smaller team would have no one to spare. So they wouldn’t have a rider to spare. Or to gamble w in a possibly “doomed” breakaway. Everyone on that team would have to be dedicated to one tactic towards one goal.
        Seems this would lead to less uncertainty, not more.

  10. Another fairly dull stage yesterday. Start with a prolific weekend and the result is all but two unofficial rest days. The only minor excitement being that UAE team had all but one followed Yates’s habit of hanging round the back. Lucky for Tadej nothing went wrong.

    • Naaah, remember 2018? One of the flattest, easiest TDF start since the Leblanc era with 3 doomed sprints and a TTT, then come st.7 they were already strolling around all the same, averaging 40 km/h on the flat, barely anyone attacking, as in single riders soon reeled in by sheer inertia and boredom, Groenewegen winning 2 in a row. Yesterday was pure fireworks compared to that annus horribilis. At least if you begin with some racing, you bring home some fun to start with, plus some expectations, and tired legs are better than fresh ones, given that also with fresher legs the riders can still end up calling a sprinting truce as soon as they smell the occasion to do so.

        • Speaking of Eurosport, I’m confused about what happens to it in the UK. It comes with my Sky package but I think I saw some information about it ending straight after the Tour – just not sure if that’s in the UK or just Europe. I miss the old GCN with all the races and videos!

          • Kevin if you have sky with Eurosport you should also I think have the right to an included Discovery+ basic package that gives you all the racing as per GCN+, no ads, catch up on obscure races etc. You need to set up an account through the sky browser using your normal Sky login details and off you go. Worked for me anyway and I am on the most basic Sky tv package, no sports add-ons. I am saving money vs GCN! Good luck.

          • I had an annual Eurosport subscription, and they always used to to talk about GCN so I gathered it was the same thing. Something changed and they have now moved me onto a monthly charge.
            But I’ve realized I can access ESPN through Disney+ , I’m very happy with it so far, although I miss Rob Hatch and Dan Lloyd and Sean

          • Comment for JEB as I don’t seem to be able to reply to your comment directly.

            Alas, Dan Lloyd is no longer commentating on Discovery/Eurosport. He’s now 100% focused on GCN after the recent ownership changes there. From reading elsewhere, it seems Discovery wanted him to be exclusive to their channel so he was forced to choose.

          • Thanks Fingineer. I guess I don’t feel like I’m missing out quite as much then.
            Robbie McEwan is alright too.
            Nico on ESPN is good, but don’t know who the main commentator is, I’ll reserve judgment a bit longer.

  11. If you want a softer cheese experience from the same region, try the creamy Brillat-Savarin, but if you go for a ride later you might regret it 🙂

    • Ssshhh – don’t tell Larry!!

      (Although I’m with him sometimes, depending on the course).

      Was it Romandie this year that had that amazing short time trial with a twisty route and tight corners? That was brilliant.

      • The prologue in Romandie. Incidentally it was ridden on non-TT road bikes.

        I think Tour of Hellas and Tour of Austria had a similar thing… maybe it will become a fashion?

        • I’d say a rule forcing riders to ride TTs on road bikes won’t harm anything. (Except perhaps sales of absurd TT bikes, which have no other purpose than to be ridden in suitable conditions – i. e. not meant for transport, or bluntly useless.)

          I like LeMond, but…

        • Tour Down Under last year was the first WorldTour race to have a road bike TT.

          Unfortunately for the prospect of the concept coming to grand tours, road bike TTs still depends on a gentlemen’s agreement rather than being supported by an actual regulation.

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