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Chaos and sadness at Tour de France

The morning of stage 19, day two in the Alps, promised to be epic. Well, it was epic but not on a sporting level. With the shocking abandon of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), arguably the best climber in the race, the most open and exciting Tour in decades slammed shut. By the end of the day, the Tour had shifted back its habitual position: Sky/Ineos in first and third, the yellow jersey on the shoulders of Egan Bernal and last year's winner Geraint Thomas on the third step and likely to step up one more. Deja vu all over again. France is in mourning. Pinot, so confident and aggressive, had a true shot at becoming the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985. A muscle tear in his thigh ripped his chance to pieces. His terrible luck [...]

2019-07-26T19:51:06-07:00July 26th, 2019|Featured|

Alps GC cage match: who will win the Tour de France?

First, a word of thanks to Chris Froome for crashing out on a recon of the Criterium du Dauphine. We wish you a speedy and full recovery but boy has this opened up a conservative and predictable race. Second, thanks Tour de France route planners who kept the action coming and gave plenty of riders -- that's you, Monsieur Alaphilippe -- the places to attack and upset the dreary dynamic. And finally, thank-you ASO for mandating a reduction of one rider for the grand tours. This may very well have impacted the Sky/Ineos dominance -- and more than a few experts have stated their view that it's making a difference. And with Luke Rowe (Ineos) and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) thrown out of the race, two top squads with yellow ready for the taking are a man down at the most [...]

2019-07-24T21:12:42-07:00July 24th, 2019|Featured|

Thoughts on the Tour’s Prat d’Albis stage

First observation: What an amazing Tour de France so far. Experts who have followed Le Tour for ages say it's the best since 1989. That's thirty years, mes amis. We have something wild and unpredictable that could very well go down to the final day in the Alps. Wowza. There is something seriously wrong with Movistar team management or Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa or all three. There was the bizarre lack of communication between Quintana and his team during the Tourmalet stage where Movistar rode flat out for Quintana only to be surprised that he had informed nobody he out of gas. Then today we witnessed a symbolic and deeply revealing moment when Landa caught Quintana, who had been in the early break, and went past him without even a look sideways, a word of encouragement, a pat on [...]

2019-07-21T21:16:13-07:00July 21st, 2019|Featured|

GC destruction on Tourmalet as Pinot soars to victory

BOOM, went Romain Bardet, BOOM, Adam Yates and BOOM, Nairo Quintana. There was destruction all over the slopes of the fearsome Tourmalet as the Tour de France had its first big summit finish in the Pyrenees. Poor Romain Bardet (AG2R) had another jours sans and really, it's been a Tour sans for the diminutive French climber who has been on the final podium twice. If there's a mystery over why Rohan Dennis suddenly left the Tour two days ago, then the bigger mystery is what happened to Bardet and his form? He was dropped on the Col du Soulour and would eventually lose 20 minutes, a disaster of epic proportions. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) followed up on yesterdays disappointing time trial with an even more disappointing performance on Tourmalet. He cracked and his brother Simon spent the afternoon towing him up the [...]

2019-07-20T17:14:20-07:00July 20th, 2019|Featured|

Simon Yates. Climber impersonates sprinter for Tour victory

Simon Yates is well-known as a top climber in the pro peloton. On today's Tour de France stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, he also proved he can play the role of sprinter. The Mitchelton-Scott rider used his legs and his head to outwit breakaway companions Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the race to the finish line. You'd think Yates had been doing this all his life -- skillfully placing himself behind Bilbao and Mühlberger at exactly one kilometer to go, then bursting to the front to take the final left hand corner at the front and holding off his rivals. He now has stage wins in the Tour, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. TV commentator and retired pro Robbie McEwan, a man with a number of Tour sprint wins to his credit, described Yates' performance as "Too clever, [...]

2019-07-18T14:57:14-07:00July 18th, 2019|Featured|

Tour de france rest day ruminations

The Massif Central, the middle mountains, have had a massive effect on the Tour de France GC standings. The three stages that ran a diagonal line right to left, angling North to South, have severely dented the podium chances of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and pretty much killed the hopes of Mr. Hard Luck, Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo). That destruction came at the hands and legs of Team Ineos with Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal and Deceuninck Quickstep and yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe. To use a popular cycling cliche, they put the sword to Pinot and their other rivals. In interviews, Thomas could hardly contain his happiness. The Massif Central, if memory serves, was the creative addition of Tour boss Christian Prudhomme. He wanted to escape the stale formula of the Alps and Pyrenees and [...]

2019-07-16T21:47:01-07:00July 16th, 2019|Featured|

Big boys at Belles Filles

The Planche des Belles Filles promised plenty of drama in this Tour de France. Not the beautiful girls throwing themselves off the mountain to their death to avoid evil mercenaries. No, that was during the Thirty Years War. The modern day drama was the brutal climb up La Planche Des Belles on stage six of the Tour de France. The reigning Tour champion Geraint Thomas said it would be "100%" full on,, serious racing and he was right. There was action up and down the mountain. First, the breakaway actually succeeded as a group of four left early and then the two strongest,  Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) and  Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) waged a battle on the hard packed dirt and gravel of the final kilometer to the summit finish. Teuns would prove the strongest but Ciccone received the Tour's best consolation [...]

2019-07-12T10:17:34-07:00July 12th, 2019|Featured|

Sagan muscles his way to victory in Colmar.

The phrase Peter Sagan repeats most in his autobiography is a glib encapsulation of his philosophy on racing and life: "Why so serious?" Well, this season things had gotten very serious indeed. He wasn't winning, made little impact in his top objectives, Flanders or Roubaix. His coach Paxti Vila wondered if they'd somehow made a mistake in his training. Sponsors were nervously questioning their investments and Team Sagan (as Peter likes to call it) had become a pressure cooker. Then came Colmar. Stage five in the Alsace region proved to be an ideal race course to turn things around. A hilly, grippy stage that chewed up and spit out the pure sprinters like Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Andre Greipel (Arkéa Samsic) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma). It was a stage guaranteed to exhaust even a fastman with decent climbing legs. Sagan had [...]

2019-07-10T20:10:40-07:00July 10th, 2019|Featured|

Viviani takes first Tour de France stage win in Nancy

Nancy, France, July 9th, 2019 will always be a magical day for Elia Viviani. The Italian sprinter for the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad won his first Tour de France stage today in Nancy, beating Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) in the bunch sprint. As Viviani admitted a few days ago, a win in the Tour would go along way to determining which team he will ride for next year and the relative size of his paycheck. "This Tour will probably decide where I go next year but nothing has been decided yet," said Viviani. He's had his best performances with the formation of Patrick Lefevere, but with the team re-signing Julian Alaphilippe, the budget just tightened up. There is also reportedly interest from French team Cofidis, who will be stepping up to WorldTour status and moving on from [...]

2019-07-09T10:04:42-07:00July 9th, 2019|Featured|

Alaphilippe attacks passive peloton and takes yellow

Apparently there was a significant misprint in the Tour de France race book for stage three. What was officially listed as a race day, specifically a 215 kilometer run from Binche to Epernay, was in actual fact a rest day. The entire peloton did indeed leave Binche at the appointed time and head to the champagne region of France but only two riders, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) made the decision to race. Wellens quickly jumped in the early break with Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert), Anthony Delaplace (Arkea-Samsic) and Paul Ourselin (Total Direct Energie). However those four Frenchman, all from pro continental squads, merely wanted a better view of the countryside. When Wellens attacked, they responded with complete indifference. Au revoir, a demain. The Belgian set off on his mission of grabbing the King of the [...]

2019-07-08T10:53:48-07:00July 8th, 2019|Featured|
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