Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stage 15 Preview 2013 Tour De France


 


I am sorry I don’t have time today to do a better preview for Mont Ventoux. But here are the basics:


Stage 15 on the map

The longest stage of the race will end on top of the barren landscape of the famed Mont Ventoux. Stage 15 is 242.5 kms long. The first 220k are mostly flat, but the stage ends with the 20k climb up Mont Ventoux, topping out at 1912 meters.



The intermediate sprint point comes at km 208, so the sprinters’ teams may want to keep it lively. The sprinters were shut out of the points on stage 14 because of the size of the escape group, and the fact that they lasted to the finish. But knowing that the stage battle will go to the climbers, the sprinters could also sit back and let the GC contenders’ teams do the work at the front of the peloton all day.
 
Stage 15 profile

Profile of Mont Ventoux


The climb up Mont Ventoux is 20.8k long with an average gradient of 7.5%. If a break gets away, the climbers will want to catch them on or before the climb. 


The climb has broken men--and even worse. Tom Simpson died after climbing Ventoux in 1967. In 1970 Eddie Merckx had to get oxygen to recover from exhaustion on Mont Ventoux.



By the top of the long climb, only the elite will be left to fight for the stage win. Some may plan to attack Chris Froome to chip away at his lead. Froome may want to rev his engine and go for the win to demoralize his competitors.
Lance Armstrong put the hurt on Jan Ullrich on Mont Ventoux in 2000 when he rode to that well-remembered finish with Marco Pantani.


Finally, Ventoux comes on Bastille Day. A few Frenchmen will definitely have designs on this stage. Pierre Rolland, for one, would love to add a Tour De France Bastille Day win on this renowned mountain to his palmares.



MY PICK: Nairo Quintana. The young Colombian climber is the last Movistar rider to remain in the top ten overall. He is also in a battle with Michal Kwiatkowski for the white jersey, and is a great climber. He does not have to wait to lead Valverde around anymore, so he is free to go for it.


Stage 14 Report and Results 2013 Tour De France


 

 
191k From Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon
Rolling – Med. Mts.
25c (76f) Sunny; wind: 10 mph NE

A maximum total of nine mountain points are available today over the seven categorized climbs. Two are category 3, and the rest are just cat-4’s.

Stage 14 on the map


18-man early break started by Jens Voigt:  
Talansky and Millar (GRS), Bakelants and Voigt (RSL), Van Garderen and Burghardt (BMC), Rojas and Erviti (MOV), Gautier (EUC), Vichot (FDJ), Albasini (OGE), Brutt (KAT), Geschke (ARG), Simon (SOJ), Bak (LTB), Trentin (OPQ), E. Garcia (COF), Kadri (ALM).


Andrew Talansky is the highest placed rider in the break. He sits 13:11 back in 17th place overall.
Euskaltel did not get a rider in the break, so they are on the front of the peloton chasing the escapees down.




*Km 66.5: KOM 1 cat-4 Côte de Marcigny (1.9k at 4.9%):
1. Geschke


Stage 14 profile


-119k the gap to the peloton is :56.
Sky have come up to the front of the pack to temper the pace.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stage 14 Preview and Profile 2013 Tour De France






Stage 14 on the map
Stage 14 takes the race further southeast, from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, in the Rhône-Alpes. On the way are seven categorized climbs, none of which is above a cat-3. It will be a kind of warm-up for the riders’ legs as they get ready to move south on Sunday for the finish on top of the bald pate of Mont Ventoux.

Many riders are going to look to get into a breakaway tomorrow. All that rolling up and down, even though no climb by itself is anything particularly challenging, will tire out the pure sprinters’ legs. It is difficult to say who will chase, and how hard.

The finish city of Lyon




I see the cat-3 climb of the Col du Pilon at km 126 as a good place for a long distance attack. The three cat-4’s in the final 30k do not look like exceptional break points to me.


It is very possible that some sprinters will make it to a bunch sprint, but there will be some very motivated riders trying hard on Saturday, on one of those medium-ish stages that don’t favor the big climbers or the flat sprinters.


Stage 14 profile

Peter Sagan is one who should like the look of this stage. It’s got the type of profile that suggests a strong rider with a fast finish will probably leave flat sprinters behind.

Classics specialists will also have this stage on their radar. Besides Sagan, Sylvain Chavanel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Simon Gerrans, Michael Albasini, Lars Bak, John Degenkolb, and Jan Bakelants are some of the names that come to mind for stage 14.

Maybe Movistar will try something in an effort to make up for their horrible display on Friday. Their team is full of riders who could normally excel on a stage like this. But with Mont Ventoux looming the next day, most of the GC contenders would probably prefer to save their energy for Sunday’s climb.

More good weather is expected on Saturday, around 80 f and sunny.

MY PICK: Peter Sagan

UNDERDOG PICK: Not really an underdog, but it would be interesting to see Michal Kwiatkowski try to gain some time on his rivals.


Stage 13 Report and Results 2013 Tour De France



173k from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond
Flat
Weather: sunny, 25-27c/77-82f; crosswinds expected on the open road.


Stage 13 profile
In a pre-race interview today, Mark Cavendish was full of praise for Marcel Kittel. He said the German—who has won three stages here already—is the best sprinter at the Tour right now. I am paraphrasing, but Cav also suggested that Kittel has established himself as one of the best sprinters in the world, and that this Tour might mark a sort of changing of the guard. “It’s the cycle of life,” he said.  It was strange to hear the 28-year-old speaking as though Kittel were part of a “new generation” of cyclists coming up who could be supplanting him as the fastest in the world.


Stage 13 continues to the southeast
As I mentioned yesterday, Team Sky lost Edvald Boasson Hagen to the big crash that happened with about 2.6k to go on stage 12. That is the second important cog in their wheel to be forced to abandon the race (Kiryienka missed the time cut in stage 9). Boasson suffered a broken bone in his shoulder when he went down hard as riders crashed in front of him and he could do nothing to stop his bike from hitting the pile-up and throwing him to the ground. With Kennaugh and Thomas riding out their own injuries, Chris Froome will have to get the best out of the remainder of his team to keep him protected and help him conquer the Alps next week.


The little hill that pops up in the last 10k of the stage is reported to be insignificant. The sprinters should be able to control the finish. Wind in the wide-open stretches may be a big factor today.



TO THE ACTION:

At the start six men go clear.
The 6-man break consists of: Przemyslaw Niemiec (LAM), Cyril Lemoine (SOJ), Luis Mate (COF), Ruben Perez (EUS), Yohann Gene (EUC), and Kris Boeckmans (VCD). Niemiec is highest place on GC at +24:58. 

Km 28: With 145k left to ride the leaders have a gap of 2:30 to the peloton.
-120k: the lead is up to 3:42.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stage 13 Preview and Profile 2013 Tour De France





Stage 13 on the map
Stage 13 is another flat, southeasterly route, that will take the riders from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond over 173 kilometers. On the way they will top one category-four climb, but the more important hill will be the uncategorized one that comes just a few kms before the finish. A strong puncheur may try an attack there. The sprinters teams will again work to get their men into a bunch sprint.

 
Stage 13 Profile

Stage 13 continues southeast
Marcel Kittel now has three stage wins and is looking like the fastest man to beat in this year’s sprint stages. Peter Sagan has got a stranglehold on the green jersey, but would surely like another stage win. 

André Greipel’s team was blown to pieces in the late stage-11 crash, and Mark Cavendish has not had enough good lead-outs to show his best stuff.

I can’t find specs on that little hill at the end, but its descent looks like it could be steep and maybe technical, though it can’t be more than a kilometer long or so. 

The last 5k are pancake flat to the finish line. I think the sprinters’ teams will arrive there in charge, up front, and prevent others from coming around.

That hill could possibly spoil some sprinters’ hopes at the end, but we will have to see what kind of effect it really has when they get there. 

I would think it is a good launch pad for Peter Sagan, or maybe Juan Antonio Flecha or Sylvain Chavanel will have another go. But an attack on a small slope like that will not have much opportunity to build a big lead for the flat run in to the finish.

MY PICK: Peter Sagan


Stage 12 Report and Results 2013 Tour De France


 

218k from Fougeres to Tours; flat
Weather: Sunny, temp 73-80 f (mid 20’s c); winds 10-15mph



Judges said crash not Cav's (R) fault
Not everyone agrees about who was at fault in the Mark Cavendish-Tom Veelers crash incident the other day. As you know, Cav paid a price already when someone threw urine at him during the time trial on Wednesday. Despite the Tour De France race judges’ ruling, Mark Cavendish has been disinvited to the Boxmeer Classic bike race later this month. A published quote from the race organizer displayed strong feelings against the Manxman.


TO THE ACTION:

A 5-man break got away at km2: Mori (LAM), Flecha (VCD), Gavazzi (AST), Delaplace (SOJ), Sicard (EUS).

Stage 12 Profile
No one who could threaten the overall standings is in the break. The highest placed rider in the break is Manuele Mori at about 50 minutes back.

The GC riders will look at this as a rest day, while the sprinters’ teams will want to chase down the break and set up a bunch sprint finish.
The riders have a nice cross tailwind helping them down the road, which gives the GC guys an even easier day.


Stage 12 route
km42: The lead maxes out around 9:00.
-125k: The gap to the peloton is 7:21.

-115k: the lead is 6:39.

-113.6k crash, Kadri, Geniez: Kadri goes over the handlebars, his bike bounces off the road and spins up into the air, narrowly missing an Orica GreenEdge rider on the right (Michael Albasini I think).

-100k: The gap is now 6:20 as the riders have just gone through the feed zone.
-99k: Crash: Smukulis.

-94k: Bike change, Andy Schleck.
EBH (Boasson Hagen), bike change.
-85k: The lead is 5:34 now.

The tailwind has the race going ten minutes ahead of the fastest expected time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stage 12 Preview 2013 Tour De France



Stage 11 winner Tony Martin on the podium




The stage 11 individual time trial shook up the overall standings on Wednesday, mostly in Chris Froome’s favor. Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde is trailing Froome by 3:25 in second place. Bauke Mollema of Belkin retained third place, and now trails Froome by 3:37. Froome has a comfortable buffer now, going into the next few stages. The GC won’t get another real shake up until stage 15 to the stark summit of Mont Ventoux.

Stage 12 on the map

Alberto Contador and Laurens Ten Dam swapped GC spots after the TT, “El Pistolero” taking fourth and Mollema’s teammate Ten Dam down to sixth. Roman Kreuziger held onto fifth place, and sits just behind his team leader, Contador.

With a fifth place finish in the TT, young Michal Kwiatkowski, Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s young Polish talent, moved himself well up in the standings from thirteenth overall to seventh. He also reclaimed the white jersey off the back of Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, and now leads the Colombian in that competition by :34. Quintana dropped one spot from seventh to eighth today. Roman Bardet the rider in third place among young riders, trails Kwiatkowski by 6:53. It really looks like a two-man duel for the white jersey from here on.

Stage 12 cuts southeast to Tours
Another Movistar talent, Rui Costa climbed from tenth to ninth overall. The new top-ten is rounded out by Jean-Christophe Peraud of Ag2R, whose top-20 finish in the TT was good enough to move him up from 14th to tenth. Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez and Garmin’s Dan Martin dropped out of the top ten.

Omega Pharma-Quickstep was the best team of the day in the TT, with Tony Martin, Michal Kwiatkowski and Sylvain Chavanel all finishing inside the top ten.
Movistar retains the lead in the overall team competition.


Stage 12 Profile

Weather is expected to be 28c (82f) and sunny for stage 12.

Stage 12 is a 218-kilometer mostly flat run from Fougeres to Tours. It is the first of three consecutive stages that cut southeast across France toward the Tour’s rendezvous with the Alps.

The sprinters will do their best to force a bunch sprint finish. Marcel Kittel of Argos Shimano was the first to score two stage wins, but Peter Sagan is holding on to a comfortable lead in the green jersey competition. Mark Cavendish and André Greipel will work to get their lead-out trains firing on all cylinders to set them up for a shot at the stage win.

MY PICK: I am going with Mark Cavendish for stage 12. I am counting on him coming back from the stage 11 urine-tossing incident full of fire and eager to prove something. 


Combined profile for the next three stages, 12-14


Stage 11 Time Trial Report and Results 2013 Tor De France ITT


 


33k ITT, mostly flat
Weather: Sunny, 25c

Mont Saint-Michel hosts the stage 11 ITT finish
The course is 20.5 miles long, or 33k. The intermediate split points are at km 9.5 and km 22.
182 riders will take the start today.

Svein Tuft set an early fast time at the second intermediate checkpoint of 25:35.
Tuft finishes with the currently fastest time of 38:04.

Two-time World TT Champion, Tony Martin is on the course. He sets a new fastest time at the 2nd INT of 24:42.
Jeremy Roy finishes at 38:12, currently second.

Thomas De Gendt comes in with a very good time of 37:30, and takes the lead from Tuft.


Stage 11 Profile
*Tony Martin comes in to the finish, and he has set the new best time at 36:29. That is an average speed of 54.271 kph. That will be the standard to beat for some time. Winds are picking up a bit, and may cause trouble for the later starters.


A report is in that spectators have thrown urine at Mark Cavendish on the course. That is shameful, despicable and dangerous. I hope they catch whoever had the tiny brain to conceive that assault. I know what their punishment should be, too.

Morons aside, let’s get back to the race:

The stage 11 ITT route
Jonathan Castroviejo is a rider I singled out for a good time today. He passes the first INT at km 9.5 with a time of 10:51. That is :30 slower than Martin’s time there.
Castroviejo is fifth at the 2nd INT. He finishes 1:52 off the pace.

Edvald Boasson Hagen would be a good prospect for this course, but Team Sky have been told to save energy for Froome in the stages ahead. This is always a consideration. With the next high mountain stage not coming until Sunday, I thought Boasson Hagen would have been set loose today, but I guess not. EBH comes in almost four minutes off the pace.

The current leaders are:
1.    Tony Martin 36:29
2.    Thomas De Gendt +1:01
3.    Svein Tuft 1:35
4.    Jeremy Roy 1:43
5.    Jonathan Castroviejo 1:52

Tom Dumoulin of Argos Shimano is fifth fastest at the 2nd INT.
Tejay Van Garderen seems to have rediscovered his strength. He is second fastest at the 1st INT, just 18 seconds slower than Martin.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stage 11 Individual Time Trial Preview 2013 Tour De France




Stage 11 on the map

The race of truth arrives to test the riders’ strength against the clock. The stage-11 time trial on the scenic island of Mont Saint-Michel is the first of two TT’s that measure just over 30k. The next one comes on stage 17 and contains two category-2 climbs. This 33k TT however, is relatively flat, and will favor a somewhat different class of favorites.

the majestic Mont Saint-Michel


We viewers get to enjoy another picturesque day as the Tour De France visits Mont Saint-Michel, but the riders will be too busy eating up the road to enjoy the scenery. Some rearranging of the General Classification will be on the menu.


Omega Pharma’s time trial master, Tony Martin, who endured a concussion, a bruised lung, and a battered body in a stage-1 crash, seems to be riding better and surely will give the TT his all. The GC favorites will be racing hard to limit their losses to—or gain time on—Chris Froome, who excels against the clock. But many very good time trial riders are here to contest this stage.


Stage 11 ITT profile


Besides Martin and Froome, strong performances can be expected from the likes of Michal Kwiatkowski, and Sylvain Chavanel. In fact Omega Pharma-Quickstep have several good TT cards to play on stage 11; Peter Velits and Niki Terpstra are also talented against the clock. I would expect a very high finish for Chavanel.



Several top GC riders like Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and Tejay Van Garderen have all been excellent at the TT, but each one’s form has come into question. I think Contador and Evans can pull out good rides on Wednesday, but Tejay doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders. I would expect fast times by Jean-Christophe Peraud, Rui Costa, and Bauke Mollema, and probably Alejandro Valverde. All have shown great form lately.


 
The time trial route
Besides the GC guys, good time trial contenders include Lieuwe Westra, Tom Dumoulin, Lars Boom, Svein Tuft, Michael Rogers, Blel Kadri, and more. I have only named one Spaniard so far, but I like one of Movistar’s young talents as a possible spoiler for Tony Martin: 26-year old Jonathan Castroviejo. He has showed excellent results in time trials like these. I see him in the top five at least.


MY PICK: Tony Martin. I would not bet against him. 
My dark-horse pick would be Thomas Dumoulin of Argos-Shimano.

Stage 10 Report and Results 2013 Tour De France


 

197k from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo
Weather: 25 c (78 f); sunny; winds: 14mph, windier at the finish; (10th sunny day in a row); I heard more sun and heat are expected this week.

The picturesque finish town of Saint-Malo
182 riders took the start today.
Dmitry Muravyev of Astana has not abandoned the race, as was reported yesterday.

Ryder Hesjedal was the man responsible for Peter Kennaugh’s scary crash on the Col de Portet-d’Aspet on stage 9. Hesjedal apparently tweeted an apology to Kennaugh.

This is a day for the GC contenders to take a break and recover further from the mountain efforts. It is the sprinters day to animate the race.


The peloton are on the road now.
The early break of 5 consists of: Oroz (EUS), Simon (SOJ), Mate (COF), Westra (VCD), Cousin (EUC); they escaped at the start.
 
Stage 10 profile
Their lead was up to 5:40 at one point;
-145k (90 miles to go): The 5 leaders have a gap of 4:29 to the chasing peloton.
-125k: the lead is 3:58;

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stage 10 Preview and Profile 2013 Tour De France





The apparent ease of the 4 jersey wearers belies a hectic first week
The General Classification contenders will see only two significant challenges in the coming week before the next rest day. Even the mountain jersey hunters will have a few days off. In fact, the next four stages only include a combined total of 2 available mountain points.

The next test for the GC riders comes with the stage-11 time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel on Wednesday. After that, the next test is the stage-15 mountaintop finish on Mont Ventoux.


The brief but potent sojourn into the Pyrenees created a tense pecking order among the contenders, and now it is time to let the fast men grab some limelight again. The sprinters will have several opportunities in the coming week to stretch their legs on some flat terrain. Stages 10, 12, 13, and possibly 14 could all end with bunch sprints. But let’s take them one at a time.


Stage 10 on the map
The peloton have taken the longest transfer of the race from yesterday’s stage 9 finish in the Pyrenees, all the way up to the Loire-Atlantique department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in the northwest for stage 10. Tuesday’s stage 10 from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo is 197 kilometers of relatively flat roads traveling north through Brittany. Along the way, the views should continue to be spectacular.

 

The finish town of Saint-Malo is an intriguing walled city on the English Channel with much history. An old stronghold of French corsairs and pirates, Saint-Malo’s fortifications endured one of the bitterest battles following the Normandy invasion in the Second World War. The Tour De France will host its own battle there on Tuesday between the sprinters who have come to claim their booty.




Stage 10 Profile

The intermediate sprint point comes at kilometer 127.5, and the only categorized climb of the day is a category-4 veritable bump in the road 55k before the finish. Peter Sagan has been fortifying his lead in the green jersey competition and will look to increase that lead on Tuesday. Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, Marcel Kittel and others will have something to say about that. 

 
Unfortunately for all the sprinters, Sagan’s current lead in that competition will be unassailable on Tuesday, as he holds a 93-point lead over second-place Greipel. Sagan will definitely be in green again for the next stage unless he is out of the race for some reason. In fact it does not seem likely that any of the jerseys will change hands on Tuesday.

Stage 10 final kms to the finish

MY PICK: André Greipel. His lead-out train is strong and organized, and he will be motivated to narrow the margin between himself and Peter Sagan.






Tour De France 2013 Notes from week 1 on Rest Day 1

 
REST DAY NOTES:






Nine stages down, twelve to go.  Chris Froome is where we expected he would be at the first rest day: in charge, although his team has showed serious kinks in the armor. We have a general idea of who the real contenders will be for the overall classification, as well as the other jersey competitions. And we have seen who has not brought their best game to the race. The current jersey holders are all good contenders to be wearing those jerseys come Paris. Two more weeks of testing roads stand between them and the Champs Elysees first.





The Orica GreenEdge bus stuck under the stage-1 gantry
The first nine stages added up to one of the most thrilling Tour openings in recent memory. Corsica hosted a beautiful start, and all of Southern France delivered on compelling action. It has been very competitive, full of surprises, several lead changes, elation and deflation, hot sun, some records broken and others neared, tears and laughs, crashes, sacrifices, failure and success. It is the Tour De France.






Looking back at some of the fascinating events and protagonists of the first nine stages I will just pick a few to discuss briefly:


First of all, Chris Froome: He stayed out of trouble for seven days, and then dominated the first mountain stage. He then responded to every attack thrown at him in the second mountain stage. The only problem for Chris “Vroom” was his team. The normally robust Sky squad showed the effects of the heat and physical damage they have suffered with a terrible showing on stage 9. Worse, Froome’s most reliable Sherpa, the Tasmanian Richie Porte, hit the wall on Sunday, losing eighteen minutes, and dropping way, way out of podium contention (He dropped from 2nd overall to 33rd). The stage 11 time trial on Wednesday will give Sky another chance to shine.


Alejandro Valverde: He is comfortably sitting in the seat vacated by Richie Porte, second overall, and his Movistar team sent a very powerful message to Chris Froome and the rest of the world that they are a bad-ass force to be reckoned with, and that Sky are maybe not so invincible after all. It was the best refreshment after all the clamor about Froome possibly running away with the maillot jaune like Wiggo last year and making for a dull race. No dullness here.  

Valverde also enjoys a top-notch support squad, each one of which is a high talent in his own right. And Valverde is not as bad a time trialer as many are making him out to be. On a flat course he may be not too dissimilar from the three riders behind him on GC. I would not be surprised if there is very little change in the top 5 after the TT.


Alberto Contador: “el pistolero” has not been at his best so far, but obviously this bears frequent repeating: He gets better over the course of a tour. He hasn’t sounded as confident in the last couple of days as he did before the race, but riders find many ways to cozen their foes and the press. Contador is still perfectly placed to stay in contention for a podium spot—at least. It may be that he will not rediscover that top form, but I would never count the five-time grand tour winner out. Plus he has a high-caliber firing squad of support that includes Roman Kreuziger and Mick Rogers.


Cadel Evans The 2011 Tour champ looked a little shaky for a while there, but he stepped up and stayed with the leaders all the way to the stage 9 finish, and picked himself up from 23rd to 16th. Unfortunately the time he lost on stage 8 is probably enough to keep him from hoping for anything above a top-five finish. Still, he recovers as well as any Tour champion I’ve ever seen and if he is one of the few remaining in the last mountainous week, he could still net a high spot.


J-Rod: Katusha’s diminutive torque-thrower Joaquim Rodriguez has not yet tasted the tastiest stages for his mountain goat legs. But he stayed with the front group through the treacherous ninth stage, and more importantly stayed with them all the way through the 30k descent and flat finish. He could have a surprising TT and possibly remain a legitimate podium candidate, at least. Though TT’s are not purito’s forte, so he will have to be patient until stage 15, when the Mont Ventoux finish will beckon for the climbers’ return.


Everybody seems to be calling Bauke Mollema a “surprise”. I do not find anything surprising about the good-going of the Dutch rider for Team Belkin. I mentioned in my TDF race preview several stage races in which he made top-5 this year, including finishing second at the TDF warm-up race, the Tour de Suisse. He has showed good TT results, and continues to climb with the best. Mollema could be just coming into his own now, and although his past Tours De France have not been exceptional, this year does seem to offer him a good opportunity to show what he can do.


The other important riders I want to discuss are the young riders.


Nairo Quintana has been putting on the kind of show that we have come to cherish about him. He rides with calm composure and then periodically, at will, puts in some serious damaging attacks. He reminds me of Contador a few years ago, the way he can attack and come back, and attack and attack and attack. He is one of the most entertaining riders of this year’s race, and a very good bet to win the white jersey now.



Thibaut Pinot: the young French hope was in close contention for white jerseys at stage races all season long. He was also runner-up in two mountain jersey competitions, and rode a powerful Tour de Suisse right before the Tour De France, finishing fourth overall, sixth on points, and 2nd in the KOM. Suddenly, Pinot’s prospects for this Tour are dwindling fast. He was 10th overall last year and 2nd in the young rider’s competition, despite having revealed a serious handicap: he fears descending. How he dealt with it last year, I don’t know, but if he does not find a way to deal with it, then he will never be the grand tour contender his team and his country are hoping for.

Pinot lost a devastating 25 minutes yesterday on stage 9. At the finish he made some damning remarks like, “I cracked on the descent… I'm afraid of speed. It's a phobia,” and “When I saw that I was not able to stay on the wheel of a rider like Mark Cavendish on the descent of a mountain pass, I asked myself: ‘What am I doing on the Tour?' I received the clear response that I have nothing to do here." He continued, ”I don't know if I will be able to get over this trauma.”  We knew he was not a great descender, but this is an issue that should not be rearing its ugly head during the Tour De France. At least Sunday’s revelations will have to inspire FDJ to work on Pinot’s problem, either with training or psychological therapy, or whatever they can come up with to dispel his “fear of speed”.


Michal Kwiatkowski recovered on stage 9 to climb back up to 13th overall. His talent is big and he is showing the heart to capitalize on it. The TT’s might be his friend as he fights to climb higher in the standings, and actively take on Quintana for the white jersey. I cannot wait to see how he goes for the next two weeks.




That’s all I’ve got for now. Enjoy the rest of the race!