Charting the Tour: What the data show us as the race heads for the Alps

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We’re well into the third week of the Tour de France and still we have no idea who’s going to win the race — we’ve got a few more mountain stages before that will become clear.

Throughout this year’s race VeloClub member Cameron Harris has been turning Tour de France results data into interesting charts and graphics to help provide a different perspective on the world’s biggest race. These charts allow us to see storylines we wouldn’t otherwise, and better comprehend the significance of certain riders’ performances.

All of the images you see below are screenshots taken from the Tour de France visualisations hub page. Head there for interactive versions of these graphs and more, all of which are updated daily. And if you haven’t already, check out our breakdown of the first 10 stages of the race.

Without further ado, here’s what we can see in the Tour charts after 16 stages.

Thibaut Pinot will be ruing his time losses on stage 10.

As Neal Rogers wrote earlier in the week, Thibaut Pinot would be second overall (10 seconds behind Alaphilippe) if it weren’t for those pesky crosswinds on stage 10. He’s been the best climber in the Tour and the trajectory of his line in the GC position swarm chart shows this.

Pinot has gained time on every mountain stage since stage 10, and assuming he can handle the heat, a podium (or even a win) is looking very possible indeed.

Tony Martin is the biggest “swinger” in the race.

Martin is the rider with the greatest variation in GC placings throughout the Tour. He was fourth after the stage 2 team time trial, and was as low as 172nd just two days later. Note that he’s now up to 160th … largely because a whole bunch of riders have abandoned.

That bump on stage 9? Martin was in the breakaway and finished nine minutes ahead of the peloton, moving him up nearly 40 spots on GC.

An honourable mention in the “big swingers” category goes to Kasper Asgreen whose highest position of 12th and lowest of 176th came on consecutive stages (stages 2 and 3). It’s no coincidence that both he and Martin have had similar roles at the Tour — riding strongly in the TTT for their GC contender, then riding the front of the bunch on the flat stages, for hours on end, before dropping off and taking it easy to the finish.

35 riders have been in the top 10 so far this Tour.

Note that Richie Porte is the latest inductee to the Top-10 Club, courtesy of Jakob Fuglsang’s unfortunate departure on stage 16.

No one has been in the top 10 for all 16 stages. Geraint Thomas, Steven Kruijswijk and Egan Bernal have enjoyed the most time in the top 10, with 15 stages each.

Alaphilippe’s lead is still considerable with five stages to go.

Against the odds Alaphilippe padded his lead with a win in the stage 13 time trial, and again when Thomas lost a bit of time on the Tourmalet on stage 14. But as you can see in the GC time swarm chart below, Alaphilippe’s lead started to contract on stage 15. (His is the horizontal line at the top of the chart).

With three tough days in the mountains ahead, it will be tricky for “Loulou” to hold onto yellow. But we said that before the time trial and the Tourmalet, didn’t we?

Second to sixth on GC are very closely bunched.

Alaphilippe leads Thomas by 1:35 after stage 16, but from Thomas to Emanuel Buchmann in sixth is just 39 seconds. That’s a close tussle for the podium, particularly when you consider that Alaphilippe is likely to drop off the podium by the end of stage 20.

Note the significant gap from Buchmann in sixth through to Mikel Landa in seventh. That’s 2:40, 36 seconds more than the gap from first through sixth.

Here’s another way of seeing how closely clustered the riders from second to sixth are:

There’s a massive gap between 17th and 18th.

First through to 17th (David Gaudu) is 15:33. From 17th to 18th (Romain Bardet) is another 13 minutes. That’s easily the biggest time gap between consecutive positions in the race, even considering those at the very back of the field.

Here’s another way of visualising that gap:

How can we explain this large gap? Well, looking back at the GC time swarm over the course of the Tour, it seems stage 6 did the damage. It reduced a big clump of riders near the top of the GC down to a select group and put a big gap between those top 30 or so and the rest of the field.

We’ve seen a bunch of riders drop out of that top group since — e.g. Guilio Ciccone, Romain Kreuziger and Alexey Lutsenko — but as you can see below, we really haven’t seen anyone that lost time on stage 6 move up.

Yoann Offredo seems to have gotten better.

On the last rest day we wrote about how Yoann Offredo was sick and how that put him last on GC, more than 20 minutes behind the next-slowest rider. Well, the Frenchman is still last, but the gap has narrowed significantly.

That narrowing is mainly due to Sebastian Langeveld who has put some serious time into, well, dropping time. He’s now just three minutes ahead of Offredo, at 3 hours 12 minutes and 46 seconds behind the lead of Alaphilippe.

Could we see a tussle for the lanterne rouge as Paris approaches?

The battle for the points jersey podium is heating up.

Ok, there’s no podium for the points classification, but let’s just pretend there is. Elia Viviani moved into second with a runner-up finish on stage 16, overtaking Sonny Colbrelli and Michael Matthews. Caleb Ewan’s stage win moves him up onto the wheel of Matthews in fifth too. In fact, just 26 points just separates second from fifth — roughly the equivalent of second place on a sprint stage.

Of course, the green jersey belongs to Peter Sagan. But the battle behind is still quite interesting. Are the likes of Viviani and Colbrelli chasing points on the off chance that Sagan crashes out of the Tour?

It’s mathematically possible for Sagan to finish the Tour and not win green, but it’s very unlikely. Viviani could take green if he wins on the Champs-Elysees, wins two intermediate sprints … and if Sagan doesn’t score any points for the remainder of the Tour. As long as Sagan is scoring any sort of points from here on out, he’ll win green.

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So, what do you see in the data after 16 stages of the Tour de France? Have a play around with the interactive charts at the visualisations hub page, and let us know in the comments below.

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