Le. Tour. De. France.
Yesterday all the action took place at the back of the race as Andrew Talansky (team leader of Garmin from the USA), the very last rider, struggled against back injuries caused by 2 crashes, one in Nancy and one on the Gérardmer descent Saturday, to avoid the broom car, so called because it picks up riders unable to continue, and time disqualification, on this day 37 minutes from the stage winner, Tony Gallopin.
After a a solid 4 minutes on the side of the road talking with the team manager and unkinking his back, he remounted and struggled to the finish a mere 32:05 behind. It was, as the French say, an outstanding example of cran, guts, and whether he starts today or not he did not quit and that is a quality so admired that about half the (French) TV coverage was devoted to his effort and they stayed with it long past the normal post stage wrap up.
Otherwise it was a breakaway day with a pack of about 36 riders including most of the top contenders slipping away into the hills at the end and Tony Gallopin, the maillot jaune on La Fête Nationale, capturing the finishing sprint for the stage victory.
So the the results for Stage 11 look something like this. On the stage it was Tony Gallopin with John Degenkolb in 2nd and Matteo Trentin in 3rd. In all 35 riders scored the lead time including most of the usual suspects, an additional 10 riders were within a minute of the lead. Nothing much changed in the General Classification with Vincenzo Nibali leading, Riche Porte closest (2:23), Alejandro Valverde BelMonte (2:47), Romain Bardet (3:01), Tony Gallopin (3:12), Thibaut Pinot (3:47), Tejay Van Garderen (3:56), and Jean-Christophe Péraud (3:57). Bauke Mollema (4:08) leads a group of 4 riders at under 5 minutes behind, Gerant Thomas 2 at under 6, and Mikel Nieve Iturralde 2 at under 7. Everyone else is farther back than that. In Points Peter Sagan has a commanding lead (301), Bryan Coquard (164), Marcel Kittel (157), Alexander Kristoff (127), André Greipel (111), Mark Renshaw (110), Greg Van Avermaet (100), Vincenzo Nibali (95), and Tony Gallopin (87). Everyone else is over 11 points behind. In the Climbing contest 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. In Team competition it is AG2R, Astana (3:19), Belkin (4:25), and Sky (4:56). Everyone else is ove 21 minutes behind. For the Youth contest it is Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot (:46), and Michal Kwiatkowski (1:38). Tom Dumoulin is 12:42 back, Peter Sagan (your prohibitive Points leader) is 38:07 behind. Everybody else is about an hour or more off the pace.
I hesitate to stick a fork in it with both the Alps and the Pyrenees to come, but with over 50% of Le Tour complete were I a betting man I’d start putting my money on stage wins, place, and show. It’s starting to look very America’s Cup/Formula One.
Today’s stage is about 115 and a quarter miles and is another one of those ‘hilly’ sections that encourages breakaways instead of bunch sprints. The Sprint Checkpoint is early (40 km) and uphill after a little dip and there are 2 Category 4s and 2 Category 3s with the finish on the flat after a descent.
|Km 58.5||Col de Brouilly||1.7 km @ 5.1%||4|
|Km 83.0||Côte du Saule-d’Oingt||3.8 km @ 4.5%||3|
|Km 138.0||Col des Brosses||15.3 km @ 3.3%||3|
|Km 164.0||Côte de Grammond||9.8 km @ 2.9%||4|
Now tomorrow there are only 2 climbs, but we are in the Alps for sure. One is Category 1 and the other is Beyond Category. Things could still change so stay tuned.