Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
It’s exciting days at the Tour de France. The sixth stage of the race seemed to serve-up all of the chaos that comes with the Grand Boucle and has us wanting more. There were echelons forming in the crosswinds, general classification riders getting into trouble and being forced to chase back, and the overall contenders finally showed their faces at the front in the finale of a stage for the first time.
Quote of the day:
Story of the day: Echelons wreck havoc
For a brief moment during Thursday’s seventh stage of the Tour de France, everyone’s heart rate in the peloton reached a maximum. Yes, the nervousness and intensity is normally extremely high during the finale of a stage, but this moment occurred with 100 kilometres to go.
The reason for this? Something as simple as the wind blowing strongly.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 12, 2018
Crosswinds have the ability to tear a peloton to shreds in a matter of minutes. Remember when Chris Froome and Peter Sagan sprinted head-to-head for the stage victory on a flat stage at the Tour in 2016. The peloton had completely shattered on that day.
In order to receive a maximum draft from a crosswind, the riders have to ride diagonally across from the rider in front of them, instead of directly behind. The road is only so large, so once the pavement ends the riders are forced to ride behind one another and, thus, the draft is not the best it can be.
Quick-Step Floors is a team of the Classics and love it when the crosswinds begin to wreak havoc. The Belgian squad came to the fore when the crosswinds blew on Thursday and put the other riders and teams under pressure.
Immediately, splits began occurring and GC contenders were caught out of position. It was clear who had done their homework that this part of the course had the potential for crosswinds and who was maybe relaxing a little too much in the bunch.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was caught on the backfoot and as was Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). Luckily for them, the crosswind section only last a short while and they were able to rejoin the main group. However, it was an exciting couple of moments.
Tomorrow’s stage goes west to east across the countryside and the wind off the coast of the English Channel could be blowing strong enough to split the peloton. The longer stretches of barren landscape will provide more opportunity for a team or teams to cause mayhem and put other riders under pressure.
Analysis: WADA appears to contradict UCI over Froome case decision
In a statement on Wednesday, the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has apparently moved to distance itself from the UCI’s statement last week that it followed the agency’s lead in dropping the case against Chris Froome.
Since Froome was cleared nine days ago of his Salbutamol case, both WADA and the UCI have come under heavy criticism for not releasing a reasoned decision. A reasoned decision would explain critical details to the case, like how Froome was able to prove how much salbutamol he was taking during the race without conducting a CPKS study.
WADA repeatedly said in its statement that the UCI was the body which came to the decision to end the enquiry and this appears to contradict what cycling’s governing body had previously stated. The agency thrust ownership for the decision onto cycling’s governing body three times in the opening three paragraphs of the statement, and on several other occasions in the statement.
However, the WADA failed to shine a light as to how Froome’s dosage was proven. It remains clear that in the absence of a reasoned decision, many questions will continue to remain.
Click through to read our full analysis of WADA’s statement.
Dispatches from the Tour de France
Dan Martin jumps clear to win Stage 6 of Tour de France
Five years after he won his first stage at the Tour de France, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) scooped his second with an assertive victory on stage six. The Irishman attacked 1.2 kilometres from the top of the Mur de Bretagne climb, riding strongly despite a headwind and holding off the hard-chasing riders behind.
Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) took second, one second back, while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) led the group containing many of the GC contenders, as well as the maillot jaune of Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing), across the line to take third.
“It is a great feeling to actually get a win again,” Martin said. “I’d got so many second places since I last won at the Tour. I was a bit nervous because of the headwind. Then the race went so hard on the first part of the climb. I saw everybody was on the limit and there were no teammates left. Why not have a try? So I did.”
Notably, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) lost considerable time. Both riders suffered mechanicals at the worst possible moments, a few kilometres from the start of the Mur. Bardet was able to catch back on before the climb started, but the chasing effort had clearly affected him and he was dropped before the finish. Dumoulin never regained contact with the main bunch.
Click through to read out full report on stage six of the 2018 Tour de France.
The town of Mur-de-Bretagne holds just 2,000 souls on a normal Thursday, but today wasn’t a normal Thursday. The town’s two bakeries prepared for the onslaught by ordering ingredients for an extra 600 baguettes, each, and one shop’s bakers were planning to extend their normal 1am to noon shifts out to 4:30pm.
Tomorrow’s Tour stage
Stage seven is the longest stage of the 2018 Tour and there is a high probability of crosswinds in the finale of the race. Interestingly, the stage finishes within 100 kilometres of Paris, but the riders won’t get to see the city for another two and a half weeks.
Van Vleuten crushes time trial, donnes maglia rosa
World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) showed that she can TT just as well when the road heads upwards, absolutely crushing the rest of the field and winning the stage by nearly two and a half minutes. She was one of the only riders to ride a time trial bike for the 15-kilometre effort up the cat. 1 Alpe Gera Di Campo Moro.
The Dutch rider finished with a time of 46:06, making it Mitchelton Scott’s fourth stage win of the race. The pink jersey changed hands, as she took the jersey off the shoulders of her teammate Amanda Spratt, who finished the day in fifth.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla) was second with a time of 48:35, gaining time on all her GC rivals except van Vleuten. In third was Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and American Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) rounded out the top four.
In the GC, van Vleuten has the biggest lead so far at this year’s Giro Rosa with a nearly three-minute advantage over Spratt. Moolman-Pasio is second behind Spratt at 2:54 with Brand at 3:01.
Looking Ahead, stage eight from San Giorgio di Perlena to Breganze could be a day for the breakaway. With the unrelenting time trial and the monster of Monte Zoncolan to deal with on Saturday, the GC contenders may be happy to let the right break go. The 126-kilometre route has a couple of category 3 climbs, one within ten kilometres of the finish.
World Triathlon Corporation attempts to buy Breck Epic
Breck Epic mountain-bike stage race founder Mike McCormack turned down what he described as a “really, really super huge” cash offer from the World Triathlon Corporation, owners Ironman and the Absa Cape Epic.
According to the Summit Daily News, McCormack turned down a “giant sack of money” in favor of being “true to who we are and how we built things.” McCormack informed the Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday that he had ended all talks of selling the popular stage race across Breckenridge’s backcountry trails to Ironman. World Triathlon Corporation was reportedly seeking to turn Breck Epic into “the premier mountain bike event in North America,” and a qualifier for the Cape Epic.
Tour de France stage 6 highlights
Giro Rosa stage 7 highlights
Drafting and echelons explained
On stage six we saw our first crosswinds of this year’s Tour split the peloton and put some of the GC contenders on the backfoot. ASO, organisers of the Tour, put together an interesting video explaining why the riders ride diagonally across the road.