What these charts can tell us about the first week of the Tour de France

by Matt de Neef


We’re nine stages into the 2020 Tour de France and the riders have now enjoyed their first rest day. Before the race resumes on Tuesday though, it’s worth taking stock of how the race has unfolded thus far. Thanks to the work of VeloClub member Cam Harris, we’ve got the perfect way of doing so.

Throughout this year’s Tour, Cam’s been creating a bunch of charts that help turn Tour de France data into visual depictions of the race’s evolution. Today, we dive into those charts to discover some of the storylines that have defined the race’s first ‘week’.

Let’s get to it.

Julian Alaphilippe hasn’t been able to replicate his heroics from last year’s Tour.

The Frenchman started off wonderfully, taking a stirring victory on stage 2 which earned him the yellow jersey. He wore yellow for three days before a time penalty saw him drop down to 16th overall. By the first rest day, Alaphilippe was in 38th place.

This is hardly an indictment on the Deceuninck-QuickStep all-rounder. He was truly extraordinary last year, holding yellow well into the final week and finishing fifth overall. This year he’s already won a stage and worn yellow — far more than most riders will do in their entire career. Another stage win certainly wouldn’t be a surprise.

Thibaut Pinot was looking great for a strong GC result … until he wasn’t.

It’s been a tough few days for Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and his many fans. After making it through the crosswind splits on stage 7, the Frenchman was inside the top 10 on GC and heading in the right direction. But then on stage 8 he imploded, courtesy of a back injury sustained in a crash on stage 1. He dropped a bunch of time and ended the stage in 30th overall. He shuffled a few places higher on stage 9 but his GC tilt is well and truly over.

Speaking of the stage 7 crosswinds, they certainly had an impact on the GC.

Check out the cluster of riders near the top of the GC that lost time when the race split up.

The riders caught out were Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos). While Porte and Carapaz have lost more time since then, Pogacar has gone in the opposite direction. He took time back on his GC rivals with a series of blistering attacks on stage 8, then took back more time on stage 9 thanks to time bonuses and a stage win.

Were it not for the crosswinds on stage 7, Pogacar could well be leading the Tour. He might still get there by race’s end …

There’s a tight cluster of riders at the top of the GC.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) leads the race by 21 seconds, ahead of defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos). From Bernal it’s seven seconds back to Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) in third. Beyond him there are three riders within four seconds: Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling). And let’s not forget about Pogacar who, in seventh place at 44 seconds, looks almost certain to rise through the ranks.

The battle for the final podium — not to mention the race overall — is shaping up as a thriller.

Adam Yates had a good run.

The Mitchelton-Scott leader took yellow on stage 5 when Alaphilippe was handed a time penalty, and held it all the way until stage 9. Expect to see Yates lose a bunch more time over the next week or so. Now that he’s out of the GC hunt, he’ll probably be more interested in stage wins. His best chance on that front is to lose a lot of time so the bunch will let him get in a breakaway in the mountains.

Jumbo-Visma and Ineos are both left with one GC contender.

Both teams came into the Tour with a very strong backup option: Tom Dumoulin for Jumbo-Visma and Richard Carapaz for Ineos. Both of those riders have lost time in the past few days and will now be consigned to super-domestique duties.

Dumoulin looked great until stage 8 at which point he dropped more than two minutes and slumped from fifth overall to 15th. He lost about the same again on stage 9.

As noted above, Carapaz’s demise started earlier, when he lost time in the crosswinds on stage 7. He too lost time on both Pyrenean stages as well.

Jumbo-Visma currently has bragging rights, thanks to Roglic’s overall lead — not to mention three stage wins to zero — but the race is far from over. The chart below shows the placing of each Ineos and Jumbo-Visma rider as the race has gone on (Jumbo-Visma is yellow, Ineos is blue). That’s Roglic and Bernal up top, Dumoulin and Carapaz in the next cluster, and then two Jumbo-Visma riders — Sep Kuss and George Bennett — after that.

Can we say from the data that Jumbo-Visma has the better climbing team? Probably not. But the chart below plus the way the Dutch team has ridden the race so far suggests it’s advantage Jumbo-Visma after nine stages.

The battle for green is the most intriguing it’s been in years.

It’s obvious from the intermediate sprints and stage finishes that Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) isn’t at his best at the moment, but the race data shows that even more clearly. Check out this chart of the points classification so far.

As you can see, Sagan’s leading the race for green, but only just. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is just seven points behind. By contrast, after nine stages last year, Sagan was 60 points clear. Here’s what the battle for green looked like in last year’s Tour at the first rest day (after 10 stages).

Here’s another way of looking at it. The light green line below is Sagan’s points during last year’s Tour. The darker line is this year. Of course, the route changes each year, meaning there aren’t the same opportunities this year as there were last year, but still, there’s no doubt Sagan is lagging behind his previous efforts.

So can Sagan win an eighth green jersey? Probably. He’s still a better climber than Bennett so he should be able to get into breakaways in the mountains later in the race. But if Bennett keeps placing ahead of Sagan in stage finishes and intermediate sprints, well, it could be tight.

Benoit Cosnefroy has been terrific in the KOM race, but the battle’s about to get tougher.

The Frenchman is the only rider to have worn polka dots so far in the race and he’s done a great job accumulating more points along the way. Coming out of the Pyrenees he continues to lead the classification, but his lead was slashed in the last couple days. As the race heads back into the Alps, it will get harder for Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) to get into every break and snaffle the necessary points. Still, he seems committed to trying.

Breakaways in the mountains are great for KOM points.

It sounds obvious, but take a look at Nans Peters’ (Ag2r-La Mondiale) ride on stage 8. As far as we know he had no interest in the KOM jersey coming into the Tour, but by virtue of his solo victory on stage 8 in the Pyrenees he’s now second in the race for polka dots.

We can see a similar thing with Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) after his long solo effort on stage 9. The stage win was his goal, but he’s now into third in the KOM classification thanks to his storming ride (which totally deserved a stage win).

That’s all for now but we’ll have more insights from Cam’s charts as the race goes on. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the page which hosts all of Cam’s work. The charts are interactive so you can have a poke around and check out whatever you’re most interested in.

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