Grid start examined; Sagan crashes; Froome falters: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

It was a blisteringly fast day at the Tour de France with only 65 kilometres on the route for stage 17. The GC stars attacked and a certain four-time champion faltered. The unique motorsport style grid start didn’t affect the racing, but could it become a normal occurrence at the Tour?

Moment of the day: Sagan goes down

Peter Sagan crashed on the descent of the Col de Val Louron-Azet during stage 17 of the Tour and, after receiving medical attention, he remounted his bike and finished the stage. Over the years Sagan has appeared immune to crashing at times, especially going downhill.

Examining the grid start

Stage 17 began as any other Tour de France stage does, the riders slowly rolling away from the start line. The much-anticipated motorsport-style grid to begin stage 17 didn’t do anything in terms of changing the racing aspect, but should it be used to start each stage of the Grande Boucle in the future?

It was a spectacle seeing all of the heavy hitters in the fight for the overall classification at the front of the race with the maillot jaune of Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) front and centre. From head-on, the peloton looked like a flock of birds in perfect formation. The staggered grid for the top 20 or so placings also made it possible to see nearly all of the top contenders.

The start grid allowed fans to spot their heroes easier and also allowed photographers to capture cleaner photos of each rider.

Logistically speaking, a grid start would make each morning a bit more chaotic at the Tour de France, but what if the Tour just grided the top 10 on GC each morning, as well as the four classification jerseys? The four jersey holders take the grid in the top four positions and then the rest of the top 10 in the general classification take the remaining spots.

Cycling is looking for new ways to attract attention and griding the riders could make the starts more interesting. Post your comments below and let us know what you think of having a motorsport-style grid to begin the stage of the Tour each morning.

How often do you see all of the top GC contenders lined-up together at the start of a stage? Photo: Cor Vos

Dispatches from the Tour

Quintana takes stage 17 of Tour de France; Thomas consolidates, Froome cracks

Nairo Quintana proved best on stage 17 on Wednesday, racing to the second Tour de France stage win of his career. The Colombian attacked on the last of three climbs on what was a unique 65-kilometre stage to Saint Lary-Soulan/Col du Portet, caught those ahead of him and soloed in first.

“The truth is this is a well-deserved victory. Not only for me but also for my team who worked really hard and aggressively for that,” said Quintana. “We’ve demonstrated to be a great team. I knew the course. I reconned the final climb but what made me win is above all the support of the squad, and especially Alejandro Valverde who waited for me and put me in a fantastic position.

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) initially went with Quintana but was dropped after a few kilometres. He chased the Movistar rider all the way to the summit, but finished 28 seconds back.

Third place went to race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) tightened his grip on the yellow jersey by finishing at 47 seconds, five seconds ahead of Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).

Four-time Tour winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) cracked when Dumoulin surged with two kilometres to go. He rolled in one minute and 35 seconds behind Quintana, showing the strain of riding four consecutive Grand Tours. Dumoulin jumps up to second overall, 1:59 seconds back, while Froome is now at 2:31.

Click through to read our full report on stage 17 of the of the 2018 Tour de France.

Lappartient says Brailsford was ‘pouring oil on the fire’ with rest day comments

UCI President David Lappartient has questioned the logic of David Brailsford’s rest day criticism of the French public, saying that it is unwise to further stoke the flames of tensions between the team and the country hosting the Tour.

UCI President David Lappartient is in an ongoing war of words with Team Sky General Manager Dave Brailsford. Photo: Cor Vos

According to Lappartient, Team Sky’s top riders are taking a far better approach. “Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome have, for me, the right attitude. Chris Froome says he likes France, and that he trains every day in France. He speaks our language, he also knows what the Tour de France brought him.

“While the riders, like us, try to reduce the pressure, their sports director puts oil on the fire while there is no need to do it. I invite him to pay attention.”

Click through to read the full story on Lappartient responding to Brailsford’s rest day comments.

Greipel linked to new CCC team

Days after Andre Greipel and Lotto-Soudal officially announced they’re parting ways at the end of the year, the German sprinter has been linked to Jim Ochowicz’s new CCC team for 2019, according to Het Nieuwsblad. The Polish shoe brand is taking over title sponsorship and ownership of the BMC Racing Team beginning next year.

“Greipel is, despite his age, a sprinter that still has potential. I also think he will be able to win often at a high-level next year,” Ochowicz said. Greipel hasn’t won a stage of the Tour since on the Champs-Élysées in 2016 and abandoned the 2018 race on stage 12.

Ochowicz’s is building his squad next year around Greg Van Avermaet after multiple riders signed 2019 contracts with other teams, as Ochowicz struggled to find a sponsor earlier in the year. Richie Porte is reportedly moving to Trek-Segafredo.

Tweet of the day

Greipel may be out of the Tour, but he is still paying close attention to the race. In a tweet that has since been deleted, Greipel noted fellow sprinter Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) only lost nine minutes to stage winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the day’s final climb. A screenshot of the Tour’s tracking data included in the tweet, appears to show Demare at the bottom of the climb only 20 minutes behind the stage leaders. The Frenchman finished the stage in second-to-last place, 29:16 behind.

Demare took offense to Greipel’s tweet and responded.

Tomorrow’s Tour stage

Start: Trie-sur-Baïse
Finish: Pau
Length: 171km

In a rare occurrence, a sprint stage is separating the final day in the Pyrenees from the first two. It’ll be an opportunity for the fast men, or those sprinters still in the race, to get back into action. With breakaways dominating the second half of the Tour so far, expect the bunch to come galloping into Pau altogether. It is also the last chance for the sprinters to stretch their legs before they tackle the most famous boulevard in all of cycling, the Champs-Élysées.

Tech News

Tailfin brings new pack and rack to Kickstarter

Earlier this year, we reviewed Tailfin’s lightweight pannier rack and bags, which can be fitted to a road and gravel bikes lacking traditional rack mounts. Now, the company has returned to Kickstarter to seek funding for its next product: a 20L trunk pack with an integrated rack dubbed the AeroPack.

Once again, there is no need for traditional mounts since the rack attaches to a modified quick-release skewer or thru-axle. Pledgers get to choose between the AeroPack with a carbon or alloy rack, plus there is a version to suit Tailfin’s original T1 rack.

See Tailfin’s campaign at Kickstarter for more details. At this stage, the campaign has already raised over 50% of its target with more than a month left to run, so it’s likely to be funded, with delivery expected April 2019.

Moving pictures

Tour de France 2018 stage 17 highlights

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