Le. Tour. De. France.
Well you could call it a Sprint because most of the usual suspects were involved less André Greipel who fell on a roundabout 3.5km from the finish and Marcel Kittel who dropped out of the leading group on the Monts du Lyonnais. The commentators keep talking about how frustrated Peter Sagan must be without a stage win but seriously, how frustrated can you be when you’ve been wearing Green for so much of Le Tour and your point position is so dominant that you could practically walk to the Champs-Élysées and still win the class you’ve chosen to compete in and not some wienie also-ran honor like most stage victories or Youth rider? As far as I’m concerned Sagan has run a near perfect multi-stage race to date, you don’t get a fancy Jersey just because you cross the line first on any given day.
Yesterday that rider was Alexander Kristoff who’s Katusha team was able to deliver in a way that Cannondale could not.
Three withdrawls since the rest day, Fabian Cancellaria, Andrew Talansky who gave us that gutty ride on Tuesday (turns out he has a respriatory infection too), and David De La Cruz Melgarejo who had a specatcular crash out and was sent to the hospital. Flaming chunks of twisted metal I tells yah.
On the stage there was certainly a bunch with 60 riders finishing on the lead time. The actual leaders were Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan, and Arnaud Demare. In the General Classification Vincenzo Nibali, Riche Porte closest (2:23), and Alejandro Valverde BelMonte (2:47). Romain Bardet (3:01), Thibaut Pinot (3:47), Tejay Van Garderen (3:56), and Jean-Christophe Péraud (3:57) round out those under 4 minutes behind. Bauke Mollema (4:08), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (4:18), Jakob Fuglsang (4:31), and Michal Kwiatkowski (4:39) make up those under 5 minutes away. Geraint Thomas (5:17) and Rui Alberto Costa (5:34) are less than 6 minutes back, Mikel Nieve Iturralde (6:03) and Pierre Rolland (6:47) 7. Christopher Horner (7:33) and Laurens Ten Dam (7:42) under 8; Haimar Zubeldia Adirre (8:01), Leopold Konig (8:25), and Tony Gallopin (8:57) under 9; Cyril Gautier (9:12) under 10 minutes.
Why so deep (21 riders) into the GC ek? It’s the Alps and 10 minutes is not so far behind.
For the Green Jersey, same as it ever was. Peter Sagan has a commanding lead (341), Bryan Coquard (191), Alexander Kristoff (172), Marcel Kittel (167), Mark Renshaw (118), André Greipel (117), Greg Van Avermaet (100), Vincenzo Nibali (95), Tony Gallopin (87), and Samuel Dumolin (80). In the Climbing competition Joaquim Rodriguez (51), Thomas Voeckler (34), Tony Martin (26), Vincenzo Nibali (20), Alessandro De Marchi (18), Blel Kadri (17) and Thibaut Pinaut (16). Everyone else is at least 4 points behind. Between the Teams it is AG2R, Astana (3:19), Belkin (4:25), and Sky (4:56). Everyone else is over 21 minutes behind. In Youth competition it is Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot (:46), and Michal Kwiatkowski (1:38). Tom Dumoulin is 14:16 back, Peter Sagan (your prohibitive Points leader) is 38:07 behind. Everybody else is about an hour or more off the pace.
And we come to the big hills. 123 miles, only 3 climbs. We start off with a gentle Category 3, 90 km of bumps and flats, mostly descending, then a Category 1, Sprint Checkpoint after the descent, and an uphill finish to a Beyond Category at Chamrousse.
||Col de la Croix de Montvieux
||8 km @ 4.1%
|| Col de Palaquit (1 154 m) (D57-D512)
||14.1 km @ 6.1%
||Montée de Chamrousse (1 730 m)
||18.2 km @ 7.3%
Once again, looks are deceiving. Overall Col de Palaquit is rated at 6.1% but it has 3 sections at 10% gradient or better. Likewise Montée de Chamrousse which has 2 sections at 10%+ but is very long, though it levels off to a mere (mere? Merde!) 3.1% at the top.