Le Grand Boucle 2014

Le Grand Boucle 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TDF Stage 17 Race Report and Stage 18 Preview 2014 Tour De France


Stage 17 on the map
124.5K From Saint-Gaudens to Pla d'Adet
Weather: Sunny, 80 f; light wind

The 17th stage of the 2014 Tour De France was dubbed the queen stage of the race. It began with about 50k of relatively flat roads.  The final 75k featured virtually no flat roads. What it did feature were four big mountains for the peloton to climb. First, three category-1 climbs: the 1292-meter high Col du Portillon, the 1569m Col de Peyresourde, the 1580m Col de Val Louron Azet; and then came the finish, 1654m up on top of the Hors Categorie Pla d'Adet.

An 8-man break got away early, without the top mountain jersey contenders. Joaquim Rodriguez tried, but failed to get into the break again.  As a result, his Katusha team chased hard to try and bridge the gap to the leaders before they reached the mountains.

Stage 17 profile, with four big Pyrenean climbs

The 8 escapees were: Gautier, Slagter, Elmiger, Arashiro, Edet, Kadri, Voigt, and Paulinho. They held a lead of one minute by the intermediate sprint point at km 31. Kadri took the INT ahead of Elmiger and Paulinho...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TDF Stage 16 Race Report and Stage 17 Preview 2014 TOUR DE FRANCE


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stage 16 on the map
 After the transfer west, from Nimes to Carcasonne, the riders enjoyed the final rest day on Monday. Today the peloton headed out of Carcasonne and into the Pyrenees for the longest stage of the race. 237.5 kilometers From Carcasonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, featuring the hors categorie climb of the Port de Bales late in the stage. The finish line comes just after the fast 20k descent off the big mountain.

The weather was clear and sunny for the riders, as they prepared for a long day in the saddle. Everybody wondered who would benefit and who would suffer after the rest day. Simon Yates of OGE was a non-starter, as was World Champion Rui Costa, who is suffering from pneumonia. 

 Rafal Majka of Tinkoff Saxo grabbed the first category-4 climb at km25. The single KOM point was all he needed to take the lead away from Joaquim Rodriguez in the king of the mountains competition.

Stage 16 profile; into the Pyrenees

Various breakaway attempts failed, until after almost two hours, 21 riders broke free to form the day's main break. They were:

Kwiatkowski, Bakelants, Voeckler, Gautier, Reza, Albasini, Keukeleire, Rogers, Gallopin, Serpa, Izaguirre, Van Avermaet, Slagter, Roy, Montaguti, S. Dumoulin, Delaplace, Kiryienka, Vachon, Eisel, and Kluge.

The highest placed rider in the break was Kwiatkowski, who came into the stage in 16th place, down 19:24 to the overall race leader, Vincenzo Nibali. Europcar's Thomas Voeckler had won here in Luchon twice before: on stage 16 of the 2012 Tour De France, and on his way to winning the 2013 Route du Sud, so it was no surprise to see him make the break.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Saturday July 19, 2014

177k from Grenoble to Risoul; High Alps; cat-1 summit finish.
Weather: High 80s f , cloudy; much cooler at elevation.

Rafal Valls (LAM) has abandoned.

172 riders on the road today.

A 17-man escape group has formed:
Rodriguez, Roche, Rogers, Majka, Sagan, De Marchi, Thomas, Nieve, Kruijswijk, Gautier, Moinard, Edet, Taaramae, Serpa, Yates, Herrada, Riblon, Timmer.

Most of the break are expected names, but noticeably absent is Thomas Voeckler.
I would have thought that the Europcar star would make the break to battle for mountain jersey points today, and perhaps the win...

The leaders build a three-minute lead.

Stage 14 race profile

-134k: Nieve punctures

No one bothers to contest the sprint with Sagan.
km40: INT:
1. Sagan  [no other green jersey contenders in the top 15]

Vincenzo Nibali's entire Astana team ride at the head of the peloton as they start the long climb up to the Col du Lautaret...

Friday, July 18, 2014


Stage 14 on Saturday will look something like Friday's, only tougher. At 177k, it is shorter than stage 13, but has a lot of climbing. Most of the stage goes uphill, except for a very few flat sections, like the approximately 10k flat around La Paute and Bourg-d'Oisans. That's where the intermediate sprint point is located, just about 40k into the stage. We'll see some action there. Sagan would have a better chance than most of the sprinters at capitalizing on that INT.

The treacherous trio on stage 14

Bourg-d'Oisans is a launch pad for some epic mountains, Like Alpe d'Huez, The Col de la Croix de Fer and Les Deux Alpes. Stage 14 will make it's way out of Bourg-d'Oisans skipping Huez, and head east. Then the peloton go up, up, and more up, to the first KOM summit of the day: the 34k-long, category-1 Col du Lautaret. The first two-thirds is easier than the last 10k or 11k, and it never gets really steep at all, but it's a long time to be going up, and it will put some hurt into a lot of legs that will have two more big, bad climbs still ahead of them.

The Lautaret tops out at about 2058 meters, the highest point the race has seen so far. Then comes the long descent that leads to the second challenge of the day: The Hors Categorie Col d'Izoard. This beautiful climb is a Tour favorite--and one of mine as well. At 2360 meters of elevation (or about 7740 feet) it is the highest point in the 2014 Tour. It's characteristic serpentine switchbacks and distinctive exposed summit has become somewhat emblematic as a French Alp Tour de France climb.

Profile of the Col d'Izoard
The Col d'Izoard is officially 19k at 6%. It has a couple of brief respites in the first half, but the final 9k offer no breaks, and rise fairly steadily at grades of between 7.5% and 9% most of the way. The first rider over the summit wins the " Souvenir Henri Desgrange" prize, in honor of the father of the Tour De France. I think it usually comes with 5000 Euros or so.

Then a long descent to the final climb of the day: The cat-1 Risoul climb. This is the Risoul's first time as a finish climb in the Tour De France. It runs 12.6k and averages 6.9%. The summit and finish line are at 1855 meters up, and it has about an 880m drop.

If you've been doing the math, you see that the categorized climbs on Saturday's stage 14 add up to over 65k of climbing. There is even more climbing than that, but that's just the measured ones. The first 82 kilometers are almost entirely uphill, as you can see in the profile, so it will be a war of attrition out there tomorrow.  The riders will also have to go through some severe weather changes as they climb through the heat, up to the cold alpine climate above the treeline, and down, and up again and again. With bronchial infections going around the peloton, we will probably see some more riders getting sick, and maybe dropping out. That cold air can get to ya.

Profile of the final climb, and new finish

Well, I dropped the ball on Porte today, but pretty much everything and everyone else I mentioned and predicted about the stage came true. [I scored very high in my cycling fantasy games!] I even said that Majka could have a go, and sure enough, he made his moves and finished the stage in 2nd place! He had been sort of anonymous and unimpressive in the peloton the first two weeks. Usually a great talent in the hills (He finished this year's Giro d'Italia in sixth place overall), I think that--with or without Alberto Contador--Tinkoff Saxo planned to save Majka for the big mountains. I think I recall in 2012, in the Vuelta a España, Team Movistar saving the young Colombian Nairo Quintana until very late in the game, to become Valverde's top lieutenant in the high mountains.

Rafal Majka follows Leopold Konig on stage 13
So, what about today's picks?
Picking Nibali would be too easy. In fact, maybe the real question should be how much is Nibali going to win by? He would certainly love to put another minute or two in his pocket before the race hits the Pyrenees...

Tejay, Valverde, Pinot, Konig and Bardet have been great in the mountains. They all need to attack Nibali, but who can beat him across the line at this point?
I want to say Pinot or Valverde or Van Garderen, but they are all a step behind NIbali right now.
So, I will pick Joaquim Rodriguez to win from the break.

Long[er] shot pick: Mikel Nieve from SKY. He didn't finish so well on Friday on the Chamrousse, but SKY may want to make a statement after what happened to their first replacement leader. Give Nieve a long leash, and he just might pull it off.

I would not be surprised to see Thomas Voeckler and Purito Rodriguez doing their best to get into a breakaway, and chase those mountain points; and the summit finishes all get double points, so that's incentive to go for the win, too.

There you go.

Enjoy the race!


Stage 13 Report

197.5k from Saint-Étienne to Chamrousse. High mountains; HC summit finish.
Weather: Clear skies; Hot, high 80s f.

Stage 13 forays into the Alps

Matteo Trentin was relegated from 6th to 60th place on stage 12, after his crooked sprint in the finish, which blocked out John Degenkolb. Trentin made a public and genuine apology for the illegal move, which he said was not intentional.

Arthur Vichot (FDJ) abandoned the race today, due to bronchitis.

To the road:

A 9-man breakaway group has gotten clear. The break includes:
Bakelants, Visconti, Durasek, Brice Feillu, Oss, Kadri, De Marchi, Molard, and Huzarski.

Van Den Broeck and Kittel have been down on the ground, before the race came on the air.

*Visconti was first over the first cat-3 KOM, and Kadri was second.

Katusha are driving at the front of the peloton.

By km85 the lead is almost five minutes.
They have averaged 44 kph (27 mph) over the first two hours on the road.

Stage 13 profile shows two long climbs

-97k: The lead is 3:50.

-96k: Cofidis leader Daniel Navarro is off the bike getting attention on the roadside. He has been ill with bronchitis, and is now climbing into the team car with a painful grimace on his face. The Spanish climber's race is over.