Oh to be a bike racing fan!
Thomas De Gendt won a fantastic breakaway, out-sprinting Pauwels and Navarro. He dedicated his win to team-mate Stig Broeckx. Rather poignant after the events that followed behind him on the road. It was a big win for Lotto Soudal who’ve been struggling so far this Tour.
Behind, well, I’m pretty sure by now if you’re reading this you know what happened. There are fair arguments to both sides of the outcome, however, the more I think about it, the more I think the incorrect decision was made. As bad as it was, it was a racing incident at the end of the day. If it had happened to De Gendt and co would there have been the same jury decision? Froome and Porte getting the same time as Mollema is wrong too in my opinion. The riders behind, Yates etc., were all held up by the crash as well, who says they wouldn’t have made attacks to catch up with them. Or the opposite is equally possible, the way the trio were riding they could have easily gained more time. It’s not even just Froome/Porte that this benefits, Quintana and Valverde get the same time as Yates (because they were in his group at the time of the accident) even though they actually finished the stage 7 seconds down.
The main thing that should come from this is that the UCI need to be a lot clearer with their rules, rather than just giving vague guidelines that are open to interpretation. While the ASO need to get their act together with everything, they’re turning into a laughing-stock this year. All we need now is a doping scandal to take everyone’s mind off of the farce!
But alas, the show must go on and the circus makes its way to Bourg-Saint-Andéol tomorrow.
A 37.5km ITT with a real mix bag of terrain.
I’ve once again made a Strava profile of the stage that you can view here.
Out of the blocks the riders almost immediately start the Côte de Bourg-Saint-Andéol. The climb is 6.9km long with an average gradient of 4.9%. There are some steeper gradients, of roughly 7%, but those sections are very short and last no more than 100 metres. It is a big ring, power climb!
The riders will then travel along a plateau, although the road does rise and fall throughout, it is mainly flat for the next 13km.
They then hit a fast and pretty technical descent with around 16km left in the stage. It only lasts 5km at most, but the riders will welcome a little bit of respite.
Therein they have a flat run to the base of the climb up to the finishing point of La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc. 3.3km in length and at a 4.9% average, the riders won’t be overly concerned by the numbers, however, they will need to keep something in reserve for it in fear of blowing up! If they do, time lost could end up being quite substantial here.
One of the main influences on ITTs this year has been the weather. There is no rain forecast for tomorrow but the wind, like the past few days, could be a big factor.
Thankfully for the riders, it looks set to be similar all day.
If anything, it looks to favour the GC guys. Although some reports suggest that the wind will turn slightly later and be more of a North wind, rather than the NNE. This would turn some of the sections into more of a headwind and actually hinder the later riders. One thing is for certain; is that no one is certain!
There is quite a lot of tree-cover out on the course tomorrow so it might not play a big a part as predicted, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Who can contend in a TT like this?
Power riders and GC guys.
The normal TT candidates such as TMartin, Cancellara, Dumoulin and Dennis should all be up there. The first three have all looked very impressive this race so far, doing their various team jobs or going on the attack. Martin and Dumoulin have looked the best when in the break, whereas Cancellara has done a lot of work for Mollema. I’d normally expect Dennis to go well in an effort like this, he’ll view it as a great practice for the Olympics. However, he’s not been going great so far but was up there in the first split today. Maybe he’s been saving himself for this? Kiryenka is another great candidate but he’s potentially been doing too much work for Froome and could be told to take it easy here. Do you really tell the World Champ to do that though?
Of the GC guys Quintana and Froome are hard to split on this seasons ITT form. They’ve only pitted their wits against each other in one TT (at Romandie) and both finished on the same time. I wanted to back Quintana for this TT pre-Tour. I’ve been really impressed by his progression on the bike this year and he’s now one of the best all rounders in the world. Supposedly they have a new TT bike and Nairo practices on it everyday. However, he wasn’t on the best of form today. Maybe he just had an off day or he’s not in great shape at all, only those inside the Movistar camp will know. If he’s recovered for tomorrow he has a real shot of going well here. He seems fairly upbeat…
Froome himself has to be a favourite for this stage. He’s looked incredible on the descents, on the flat and on the climbs. His seated attack on today’s stage was unbelievable. His TT hasn’t been great recently but riding the way he is, you can’t discount him! There might be question marks over possible injuries that he sustained today, he seemed to be hobbling after the crash.
Porte could go well here but he seems the worst off after the crash. His team-mate TVG could also put in a decent time. As for the rest of the GC riders, I can’t see them breaking into the top 10.
An outsider who I like for the stage is Luke Durbridge. We saw on stage 10 the amount of work that he was doing for Matthews and Impey, he looks to be on good form going from that effort. He’s not done fantastically well in TTs recently but if he gets the rub of the green here then that could change.
I really want to write that Quintana will be the winner here. As I said above, I’ve had him penned in for this stage pre-Tour, but his performance today though has cast doubts in my mind. Froome knows if he puts in a big effort here then that could end the GC battle so he’ll no doubt go well. I’m just not convinced by either of them, in fact, I’m not really convinced by any of the favourites. So sticking to tradition and naming outsiders, Luke Durbridge will put in an incredible ride and pull of an amazing win. After all, he is a former U23 World TT Champion and you don’t get the nickname Turbo Durbo for nothing!
Another one where it should be a no bet day but I’m willing to back Durbridge at the price he is.
0.25pt EW 250/1 with Various bookmakers.
How do you think the TT will go tomorrow? I think it’s wide open! As usual, any feedback would be great. We should be in for a calmer day of racing tomorrow, enjoy it wherever you’re watching it from. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.