Stage 11: Pau - Cauterets / Vallée de Saint-Savin 188 km Photo: Léon van Bon / BrakeThrough Media / BrakeThrough Media
  • CC

    If I was a Martian…. and saw cycling through fresh eyes, I’m wondering what I’d think?

    • Neuron1

      I’d think, Froome, Porte and Thomas were my next door neighbors.

    • jules

      “they say the objective is to see who go can the fastest, but they get argue furiously about all these rules put in place to slow them down?”

      • Dave

        They might even think that the arguing is the real sport with the bike riding being some sort of sideshow to give them a topic to argue about.

        • jules

          they might even be right :)

        • CC

          I was thinking cheats, scandals and impeccably plucked eyebrows (Mattia Gavazi)….. another “days of our lives” -:)

          • Dave

            If cycling were a soap it would be Greys Anatomy, not Days of Our Lives (except on TdF flat stages).

            • Sean Doyle

              After the recent racing in would be Grazed Anatomy.

    • Arfy

      Boy Martian : “Dad, why do you always take us Earth for take-away? I want to go to Planet M, it’s much tastier than eating these skinny guys.”
      Girl Martian : “Yeah dad, you do know these guys are all genetically modified, don’t you?”
      Dad Martian : “Well they didn’t used to be, Earth was once the healthiest fly-through in the galaxy. OK, off to Planet M, but don’t tell mum!”

  • Jake(Aus)

    Well ignoring Froome for the top spot, any predictions for the remaining spots on the podium by Tour’s end? Might be Teejay’s year to at least grab a spot in the top three? I’ll go Froome, Van Garderan, Quintana….interested in others thoughts.

    • Kieran Degan

      That would be my top 3. But I’d put Quintana ahead of Teejay. I think the upcoming climbs suit him better. Thomas is currently looking very strong but he will need to bury himself more and more for Froome in the Alps and will no doubt lose a few minutes. I’m excited for the alps. I think there will be a few surprises.

    • jules

      I’m going to put a smokey in the mix and put Contador as 3rd. long shot, but..

      • Jake (Aus)

        Big call on Contador, but is still possible in my opinion too. Even a podium spot would be pretty amazing for him after the Giro.

    • Damien

      Gesink will Overtake Van Garderan!

      1) Froome,
      2) Quintana,
      3) Gesink

  • Marcus

    Anyone noticed that Mollema has ditched the Madone in the hills? Interesting…

    I was going to reply to the removed post. Just wanted to say haters will be haters. I for one love this site and really appreciate that it is here. Many thanks.

    • AMK

      Not really a surprise that he would switch to the Emonda. It is the sponsor’s climbing bike after all.

  • jules

    Jalabert is drawing judgment on Froome? is this the same Jalabert – the sprinter who won the Vuelta?

    • Sean Doyle

      Pot kettle.

      While I think LA is a douche of the highest order he is no dummy. His comment about the people still in and around the WT is spot on. Yeah he deserved what he got but there are a lot there who really shouldn’t be and Vino is displaying the reason why.

  • Anto, NZ

    Is it possible to just not put any stories relating to Lance Armstrong on the site?

  • timf

    Odd-Christian is a great name.

  • jules

    I wonder if Nibali has had enough with Vino and Astana, and has decided to take action by working to (the) rule(s)

    • Neuron1

      It’s rather funny that Nibali is always held out as tainted, yet there is no more proof than there is of Froome’s being so. And please stop with the, “Vino did it, so everyone on his team is guilty by association”. Just open your eyes to what is occurring on the roads of France at the present time. When skinny climbers ride like Belgain plough horses and classics guys climb like featherweights, it’s time to wake up and have a strong espresso.

      • jules

        we just don’t know. it’s all speculation.

    • Andy B

      Cant help but feel he looks unwell

      • Dave

        +1
        It’s not just that he’s losing time, his body language doesn’t look racy like it did last year and in the last Giro he won.

        • Neuron1

          Agreed. I think Nibali came into the race mentally tired and very stressed. He went over from stress raising his game to exhausting him. When things didn’t go well the first week he came apart, as evidenced by his snappy comments to the press. He seems to be looking better now and his attack today was the longest and created the most distance, albeit small, than any of the other contenders. If TJ wasn’t such a wimp and contributed to the multiple attacks they may have actually broken through the Sky armor.

    • Oakie

      Eye, my sceptical inner cortex came up with a similar thought: Whats the best way to get out of a contract with a team, that has developed a shoddy reputation, without significant legal fees… pedal slower!

      • Michele

        Provided you are not turning a bigger gear as you pedal slower :)

        That would work.

  • Justin

    Great write up as always
    Personally, I am still on the fence about whether Froome and Sky are riding clean in this years tour. Watching last night, I couldn’t help but wonder that something is up when three of the best cyclists going around at the moment (Contador, Quintana and Nibali) attacked the lead group and couldn’t get more to 20 – 30 meters on Ritchie, Thomas and Froome
    Thomas especially for me put in a “superhuman” ride last night. He chased down every attack, stayed with the group and finished with the best climbers in the world. More than that his facial expressions and body language were so calm and controlled, it seems odd that Sky can simply be on another level from riders of that calibre
    Additionally, and I know its been expressed here before but it is time for Phil and Paul to walk away, the mistakes they make are simply unprofessional and stating to get embarrassing. It seems literally every time say a sentence there will be at least one mistake and its just cringe worthy to watch.
    Time to mute the TV…

    • jules

      someone has to be among ‘the best climbers in the world’ – why can’t it be Thomas? facial expressions aren’t really an objective measure of much. sure, I’m suspicious of everyone, wouldn’t hold that against you, but we don’t really know.

    • Andy B

      But then who would talk about riders slowly firing up their diesel engines?

    • Jessy Vee

      I may be naive and I may not have the years of knowledge that some others have… But here’s my POV.

      Going into the climb, Sky had several riders in support of Froome. Sky has become very good at using their ‘robots’ to slowly, but surely bring back the attacks while conserving energy. Think about it; you make an explosive attack which spikes your HR, and then you’ve got to hold pace (or increase the gap) while trying to bring your HR back down… Whereas Porte slowly increased his pace, his HR increasing gradually, and dragged the attacker back to the group. It’s a sensible way to react to an attack, and it means that they can keep bringing back attackers for longer than the attackers have the energy to attack… Froome just has to sit on the wheel in front of him. When Thomas sat on the front, he wasn’t doing anything super-human either… He was riding at just below threshold, making it hard for others to attack, so they just followed him to the finish. I honestly think that slow, gradual increase of speed will beat an explosive attack any day, and so Sky will always be able to drag back the attackers as long as they have the numbers. We’ll see how fresh they stay when they’re in the Alps, hey?

      As for Froome’s ‘explosive attacks’, all he does is wind up his legs to a super high cadence that he’s been practicing for years, and it’s the same type of thing. His body is used to this high cadence, so it doesn’t increase his HR too much when he does it. It doesn’t stress his muscles as much as a pushing a heavier gear, and probably doesn’t raise his HR as high as if he were to stand on the pedals and chase like the other GC guys do. His spider legs have worked out something that works for him… I ride with chicks that can spin 90rpm up the local 5% climb, while I’m slogging away at 65rpm in a big gear because my legs don’t like high cadence. Ok, ok… maybe I just need to get better at climbing, but…

    • Michele

      I don’t mind P&P.

      Then again, I watch the TdF with the TV muted.

    • Daniel

      My take on last night was that everyone was keen to test it out and see if Froome was weak. When it became clear that they weren’t going to bury him easily, they kept their powder dry. 2013 showed that Froome weakened in the final days, whereas Quintana strengthened by comparison. If you were Quintana, you would save your attacks for the Alps unless it was clear you could deliver a blow in an earlier stage.

  • Kyle

    If I was going to suspect anyone it would be Thomas last night. OK he was distanced at the very end but that was a hell of a performance.

    These guys are among the most heavily tested athletes in sport though so they are either using something which is undetectable or unlisted. Which is definitely unethical but is it against the rules? Maybe they have just found the right ways to train? Who knows.

    I think its very unhelpful for Ross Tucker to throw accusations around like that and not back it up with anything except circumstantial nonsense. Just declaring that it’s physiologically implausible because he rides up a hill around the same time as some other guy 10 years ago is just being a crank. You can’t possibly account for all the tech, training and other variables to be in any way close to being scientifically objective about it. Who is he to set boundaries to whats is physiologically feasible anyway? It’s all just gibbering rubbish unworthy of any airtime.

    • Arfy

      I’d also point out that when the attacks started on last night’s stage, it was Porte who ground away to bring them back. Thomas and everyone else in the group simply rode on his wheel. It was only when Porte cracked that Thomas took over, and then it was actually Froome who did some of the chasing of Movistar, he didn’t bother chasing anyone else. To me it was Valverde who had the most amazing ride, he’s a good rider but he made several high-wattage attacks and still had some left to put some distance on the line.

      There’s definitely something different at Sky, but what is it? I wonder if Sky’s big budget and connections has allowed them to afford something out of reach to lower-budget teams, and perhaps out of reach to Eastern European teams as well (based on country relations, not budget). If Sky have sided with some advanced UK research program then it’s not out of the question. It would be interesting to hear from TSP on the rumours in the peleton.

      • Sean Doyle

        Yes, sitting in a wheel helps on the climbs, but you still have to be bloody good to able to sit in the wheel in the first place. Especially when you are a lot bigger and heavier than those around you.

        • Arfy

          His listed weight is very similar to Froome and Aru, so no reason why his power to weight ratio couldn’t be similar too.

          • Sean Doyle

            Ahhh….. I thought he was taller and heavier. More rouleur than climber. My error.

            • jules

              Thomas has apparently shed weight

              • Dave

                He got swapped to the skinny program last year once Stannard became a credible classics rider and TeamGB decided to form a dedicated team pursuit squad instead of borrowing from Sky.

                • Sean Doyle

                  Oh yeah I can see how that would work…. ;-)

        • Kieran Degan

          How much energy do you save sitting on a wheel on a climb like that? I know on a flat its like 30%, but surely its not too much when the speed drops.

          • Sean Doyle

            Obviously not as much but I don’t know the numbers. Anything is a help especially if there is a head wind which would increase the apparent speed with respect to drag. There is also the psychological tow rope as well.

          • Arfy

            The GCN boys did a video to show the power difference when on the wheel on the flat, and with a crosswind. It was a little over 50% power saving when drafting in the right spot, which I found surprising. These guys are doing between 25 and 30 km/h on the smaller gradients (obviously less on higher gradients), so could be saving significantly for most of a long climb. It would be interesting to know though!

  • Superpilot

    I can’t wait to see if Secret Pro insinuates about the Tour as much as he did about another sky blue squad at the Giro!

    • Dave

      I guess that would depend on whether TSP’s team kept on selecting riders who would get shot out the back on a regular basis.

    • Stefano Ferro

      Maybe the secret pro is in Sky LOL he can’t talk too loud now :D

  • Michele

    Tell you ..Vino is a real piece of work.

    He sits on the same bottom rung of my doping ladder as LA. And that’s saying something.

    Doper. Effectively laughing in the face of the UCI with his antics in the Tour. Buying races. Could be talking about Vino or LA.

    Of course, one has been ostracized – and rightly so, might I add. Whilst the other gets to run a WT team.

    No matter which way you look at it, Vino should not be in a position of Team Manager for Astana.

    Either Astana is involved in a team-wide systematic doping program [which I doubt], or Vino doesn’t have the credentials to be a Team Manager.

    What other WT team has had as many positive results in the past 12-15 months? So if Vino isn’t orchestrating a doping program, he’s at least culpable for not managing his team effectively.

    He is either hiring the wrong type of rider – i.e. one who is likely to dope, or he just can’t get the message across. Of course, there is always the possbility some are turning to doping because of the high expectations Vino puts on them.

    Interesting to compare how Astana/Vino handled Kessiakoff and his return from injury – and the pressure they put on him to recover – with how BMC are handling Taylor Phinney’s rehabilitation.

    Not a big fan of Nibali, but he should take up Vino’s offer. But whilst Vino [and the likes of him] is allowed to run a WT team, and the UCI seems content to allow him to do so, this sport will never mend.

    • jules

      agree, agree. if Nibali is clean (?), then I have little doubt Vino is furious at him for not taking his preparation seriously enough. I agree Vino may not be administering doping products himself, but he’s not tolerating 2nd place either. very Postal.

      • Michele

        Well, Vino wasn’t too happy with the small % of his T-Mobile team mates who felt they could compete without PEDs. If you weren’t on the dope supporting Vino [and Jan when he came back from Team Coast/Bianchi], you weren’t on the TdF team.

        Simple.

        • Sean Doyle

          Yep. Ask Cadel about that. Wasted years.

      • Derek Maher

        There was a rumour that Astana,s sponsorship was looking a little shakey earlier on this year for 2016.Perhaps that might explain Vino feeling a little under threat and putting the hammer down on his Team Leader.Results are what count when it comes to the pay checks arriving on your doorstep.Failure leads to the unemployment queue.

    • Dave

      I don’t think Vino is smart enough to run a systematic doping program, he’s just incompetent.

      Nibbles should negotiate to have Astana buy out half of the year remaining on his contract without any further conditions, then go and sign for another team to screw Astana. Vino would be dumb enough to think he’d be getting a bargain by paying out only half a year.

    • VINO not 4ever

      Not to mention him bringing his gold Olympics bike to the Tour and showing it off. Nevermind he paid off the 2nd place getter for the win. Recorded on tv, bank transfer details found and yet he still keeps the bling. What a joke.

      • Sean Doyle

        I’m pretty sure that was his Liege win not Olympics. Still a farce though.

    • Neuron1

      Not a fan of Vino at all. I met him at the Giro after stage 18 in the hotel and told him I was rooting for Aru. He basically shrugged his shoulders and blew me off. His compatriot, Sergey was pretty nice though. If the same rules you suggest were applied to all the WT teams, there would be virtually no management, nearly everyone was doping or helping the riders dope in the past. Look up how fast Jon Vaughters climbed mountains in has career. do you think he was clean? The number of examples is huge.

      • Michele

        My point is Vino was a doper AND is not capable of running a ‘clean’ team. Hence he is not fit to be a Team Manager.

        JV wasn’t clean. He’s said as much. Everyone knew as much years before he told us too. And if JV’s team [or anyone else’s that is run by a doper, ‘ex’ or not], had had 5 positives in the past year or so, and was putting considerable pressure on their riders to perform, then I would say they aren’t fit to run a team either.

  • Jessy Vee

    “Why am I not welcome? Because I’m a doper?”

    Nobody denies that there is still doping in the pro peloton… But it’s how you went about it, Lance. You were arrogant. You thought you were above the law, and that the rules didn’t apply to you. You systematically lied to the world for years, bought wins, bullied those who spoke out against you. You bullied young, innocent riders into taking drugs because they couldn’t keep up – they were young, they’re not meant to be able to keep up! You ruined careers, marriages, and lives. You spent millions of ill-gained dollars suing people who wanted to stand up to your lies. You lied to sponsors, investors and your fans all while living it up in the lap of luxury. You’ve been found out, but it took you years to confess, but you’re still flaunting yourself as ‘the best’. You’re not sorry. You haven’t paid for your crimes in the least. But you think you can still be a part of this sport? You think you’re still a role model for young cyclists or men who have been diagnosed with testicular cancer? You’re kidding yourself, buddy. Fade away.

    • jules

      he should have been a banker

    • Sean Doyle

      Worst of all was the whole Olsen thing.

    • Derek Maher

      I guess Jessy many cyclists who like to ride with Lance on these charity events and enjoy themselves.Really don’t give a toss about his past indiscretions.Bet they all like to talk to him and have a laugh regardless of the TDF officials wringing their hands in dismay.

      • Jessy Vee

        I disagree, Derek.

        The riders had already signed up (and agreed to pay £50,000 registration fee) before L.A. was announced. He was a marketing afterthought, invited only because of the possibility of raising more funds over the extra media coverage caused by the controversy, than any actual love for the man as a rider. They have even said that there seems to be an ambivalence towards L.A. in the cancer community but there is a huge potential to raise much needed funds; which, for them, was the main draw card.

        In a press release (discussing the decision of L.A. to join the ride) they used these exact words: “Thomas’s cause seemed so pure and here was an association with one of the most toxic, vilified men in the history of sport.” (http://www.beforethetour.com/pdfs/LeTour_PR_LanceArmstrong_Times.pdf)

        Edited to add: Geoff Thomas (the main organiser) was given L.A.s book when he was ill with Leukemia, well before Armstrong-gate occured. It helped him, gave him strength, pushed him through and past recovery… So L.A. holds a special place in Thomas’s cause, EVEN THOUGH he dislikes everything L.A. did… Hindsight is a conflicting bitch… I totally get this…. But…)

        I don’t particularly agree that the riders doing this event are drawn to it because they can enjoy a ride with Lance. We’d have to ask them directly. All you and I are contributing at this stage is speculation, but my original comment wasn’t about why the riders are riding in the chairity event, or even how they feel. It was a comment on why I, as a member of the greater cycling community, feel Lance is extremely unwelcome on the TdF route, in the media (he is a media whore) and a part of anything to do with competitive cycling.

        • Derek Maher

          Yes Jessy I know Lance brought pro cycling doping to unheard of hights in his Team.He has been banned for life and his money looks like being taken from him ?.Still he cannot be stopped from cycling and others are free to join him on the road if they so wish.He will never be involved in official cycle racing again which probably hurts him more than anything.No doubt he had dreams of running a Pro team after he retired now that dream has gone along with his medals and trophys,So Lance will have to watch from the sidelines for the rest of his life.

  • Berk On A Bike

    Astana put out a press release yesterday refuting the claims about Nibali. It said he remains part of Astana’s plans, including him riding the Vuelta later this year.

    • jules

      Vino is also quoted as saying “Vincenzo is doing very well in the team” :)

      • Dave

        Is their press officer also named Vino?

        • jules

          Vino holds all the official positions on the team. The others are just assisting him.

  • Stefano Ferro

    If Vino is really unhappy, he should be with the all team, not just Nibali. Vino look at Sky, everybody up there, everybody so strong, a better than ever Ritchie, a super human Thomas and finally a very energetic Froome (+ all of the Sky team, super good riders). A man alone can’t win.
    Sure Nibali is not even the brother of last year CANnibali (by his own admission) but it seems to me that it’s the all team that just does not work. As they say in soccer this may be due to too much training, lack of motivation, bad team work and finally bad medical support. In any case the team manager is usually fired. Vino I just can’t see you anymore, get out

  • Derek Maher

    The GC wannabe Teams allowed Team Sky to ride tempo for the whole stage.Team Sky were happy they did not have to chase down any breaks and could ride at a pace that suited them.There is no way Sky will be beaten if the opposition just sit in the whole time.

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