2012 Le Tour – Stage 17

Bagnères-de-Luchon / Peyragudes (89 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Here’s an article alleging that one goal this year was to use the course setup to encourage competition.

Unprecedented climbs, with record-setting steep slopes, and sprint stages that ended in surprising uphill drags, were among the novelties planners threw into the mix with the hope of boosting the suspense factor in the 99th Tour de France.

Yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins and his Team Sky have so dominated the Tour that the race’s top 10 has been all but set for the last six stages.

Now if you ask me we spent entirely too much time Sprinting the first week and the Mountain stages, while having severe climbs, were too short with not enough climbs and not enough days doing them.  Individual Time Trials are a pox!  I admit that all this dominance seems quite nice when your side is on top, but having Red Bull win every week is not good for business.

Today are the last hills with an uncategorized climb, two category 1s, a category 2, and a category 3.  The Award point is after the initial 1, 2, 3 climbs.  Tomorrow is Plains, Saturday the Time Trial, and Sunday the Champs.  Formula One at Hockenheim Saturday and Sunday.  Olympics Wednesday.

Yesterday’s winner was Thomas Voeckler (five or six stage wins for France) followed by Chris Anker Sorensen, and Gorka Izaguirre Insausti.  Evans is now in 7th, over 8 minutes back.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:05

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 7:30 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

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  1. In the break away group.

  2. Too big a target.

  3. Bagnères-de-Luchon

    Again Le Tour starts where it finished yesterday, Bagnères-de-Luchon.

    Bagnères-de-LuchonThe stage will depart from the main artery of the city, les Allées Etigny. This avenue, characterized by its row of architecturally varied buildings is opposite the Thermal Springs for which the city has been known since Roman times. Busiest station of the Haute-Garonne and the Midi-Pyrénées, Bagnères-de-Luchon, that joined the European Association of Spa Towns in 2011, originally specialised in the treatment of respiratory tracts and rheumatology. It added lombago, fibromyalgia and cures for smoking cessation. Its vaporarium, huge natural steam room, is unique in Europe. It consists of a network of galleries built underground in the late 60s and renovated in 2010. From the depths of the mountain, the water filters through the rock walls giving out a soft vapour whose heat varies between 38 and 40 degrees. In addition to their therapeutic properties, the sources have geothermal potential which, in the near future, will be used to heat the spa facility and supply a heating network.


    A new mountain and a new finish.

    Peyragudes Ski SationAt the heart of the Pyrenees, Peyragudes is a mountain resort that offers 60 kilometres of ski pistes in the winter and a variety of mountain activities in summer. Created in 1988 following the merger of two ski resorts, the resort of Agudes and the resort of Peyresourde, Peyragudes straddles two departments, the Haute-Garonne on the Agudes side and the Hautes-Pyrenees on the Peyresourde side. In summer, many mountain activities are available such as paragliding, hiking, mountain scooters, mountain climbing and fishing while many cyclists frequent the resort to climb the surrounding legendary mountain passes like the Col de Peyresourde or the Aspin. In winter, Peyragudes is a modern ski resort with more than 1500 hectares with magnificent scenery on the highest peaks in the Pyrenees. The resort also offers many after-ski activities: discover the world of the piste-basher, have an introduction to driving sled dogs, try nights in an igloo but also relax at Balnéa, the natural spring spa located fifteen minutes away on the banks of Lake Genos-Loudenvielle.

  4. … day faded when I heard him refer to seeing how his “health” recovers. Word was he had a “parasite” he was diagnosed with two hours before the race on Wednesday’s stage. Oh, joy! No wonder he lost big time ~ the wonder is he didn’t drop out of the top ten altogether.

    The problem with the Yellow Jersey competition is that the race was designed for a four way show-down between Evans, Wiggins, Andy Schleck, and Alberto Contador, and then Contador was found guilty of doping, Schleck was knocked out by injury, and it seems like Global Warming conspired to do Evans in ~ he’s not got a reputation for coping well with the very hot conditions, and this was one hot run through the Alps they had in week two. If he was fighting at his limit just to hang on, catching some bug on the rest day is no surprise.

    What made today’s stage was the King of the Mountains competition ~ Voeckler vs Kessiakoff was a fine fight.

    As far as the Mountain stages, its not how long they are, its how long the top contenders put each other under pressure. If you add one more HC to the front of yesterday’s stage ~ the Queen State ~ it wouldn’t add any more racing. Indeed, by wearing down teams other than Sky, it could easily have led to less. Without Schleck and Contador in the peleton, then the two remaining serious climbing contenders, Evans and Nibali, are more pace-climbing riders than attacking climbers.

    Some commentators on PodiumCafe question the design of the course for some of the stages. But I can see places on each of the stage where earlier attacks could have been made ~ had someone had the GC contender and the supporting team to launch the attack and then back it up.

    In the end, the riders make the race, and the two best GC riders in the race this year were riding on the same team. Move Froome to BMC or Liquigas, and run it again, and the same course would see fireworks, and we would have Froome going into the final time trial leading by a minute or more, but Wiggins making up time in the time trial, just as Evans did rising as second last in the time trial last year, except with an excellent time trialer riding last defending his yellow jersey, instead of Andy Schleck.

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