85km to go
Jumbo-Visma has all eight of its riders sat on the front of the peloton. Amund Grondahl Jansen is pulling on the front, sharing the work with three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin. trucked in behind is Robert Gesink, George Bennett, Tom Dumoulin, Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss and, of course, race leader Primoz Roglic.
Storm clouds rising . . .
Meteo France is forecasting some nasty looking weather atop the col de la Loze this afternoon. Those that watched the Vuelta a España last year will recall that a certain Tadej Pogacar went fairly well in the bad weather; equally so did Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) who won his first grand tour a year ago yesterday. What does it all mean?
Wiggins: ‘Bernal has many years ahead of him’
Speaking with Eurosport and GCN earlier, 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins said he believed Egan Bernal’s departure from the race is not the end of the world for the Colombian, though he did — once again — question the selection process of the British squad for this year’s race.
“It just shows you fragile things can be in this sport. Last year, the winner of the Tour and tipped for big things, potentially winning the next five, six, seven Tour de Frances. A year on, he’s having to abandon the Tour de France. It’s not the end for him, he’s only 23 and he’s got many, many years ahead of him.
“It does raise the question now of course whether Ineos made the right selection in this Tour de France, leaving our Geraint Thomas and the four-time winner Chris Froome. What will happen for Ineos now? Much like yesterday, they will deploy the tactic of putting someone in the break and [will] try to chase stages, it’s all they’ve got left in this race.”
105km to go
Jumbo-Visma continue to monitor the pace on the front of the peloton, allowing the five-man breakaway no more than 4min 45sec.
Bennett tightens grip on green
Sam Bennett extends his lead in the points classification. In all likelihood, that will mean Bora-Hansgrohe will be dismantling the kitchen sink from their team bus on Thursday night, preparing themselves to launch it in the direction of Bennett and his Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mates during Friday’s rolling stage.
124.6km to go
An unchallenged Julian Alaphilippe takes 20 points at the intermediate sprint. A shade over three minutes later Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate Sam Bennett gains two points more than Peter Sagan to extend his lead in the race for the green jersey. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) appears to have given up the chase.
128km to go
Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-Quick Step have riders on the front of the bunch as the riders fan out across the width of the road to stop any further attacks off the front. This is an ideal situation for Sam Bennett who will most likely not lose any points to Peter Sagan in the upcoming intermediate sprint — in a one-on-one sprint the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider is much stronger than Sagan.
132km to go
Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) attacks off the front of the peloton. The South African may prove to be a useful ally to team-mate Adam Yates, Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve later on this afternoon should he bridge over to the leading pack. Jumbo-Visma are now on the front of the peloton, guessing they are now thinking about slowing things down a little, keeping their powder dry for later this afternoon.
135km to go
It has been yet another fast start to today’s stage, the leading riders having clocked an average speed of 48kmh in the opening 45min.
140km to go
After a group of around 20 riders formed at the head of the race, five — Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) — create a split on a short sharp little kicker. The five-man group lead by 25sec.
145km to go
A strong group including Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) bridges over to Thomas De Gendt.
150km to go
Thomas De Gendt‘s advantage grows to 25sec. The Belgian keeps looking over his shoulder, perhaps hoping for company.
153km to go
Here we go, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) goes off the front and the breakaway specialist gains over 10sec on the peloton.
155km to go
Peter Sagan regains contact with the rear of the peloton, while on the front Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is looking lively. Daniel Oss, Sagan’s loyal lieutenant, is sat on the front of the bunch monitoring any moves, no doubt also making sure the pace is not too high as his team-mate works his way up.
157km to go
Peter Sagan is back in the cars, not too sure what is up with the seven-time winner of the green jersey — possibly a mechanical issue — but he loses contact with the front of the group. Matteo Trentin, who started the day third in the points classification, puts in an attack, but it soon peters out.
160km to go
A very lively start to the stage, Daniel Martínez and Esteban Chaves are looking lively, but as it stands the peloton is all as one, albeit fairly strung out due to the rapid start to this stage.
Dylan van Baarle(Ineos Grenadiers) is the lone leader, the Dutchman pokes his nose into the wind, but a there’s a flurry of activity not too far behind as the sprinters — well, those thinking about the green jersey — and the riders thinking about getting into a breakaway jockey for position.
168km to go
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) and Krists Neilands (Israel Start-up Nation) clip off the front from the flag, the trio gain a handful of seconds on the peloton, but they are not being allowed off the leash. Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quick Step and CCC all looking poised to chase.
And they’re off!
And this, the stage that many are calling the queen stage at this year’s race, is on.
So, what’s on the menu today?
In a similar vein to Sunday’s stage, today appears to be another race of two halves: the first hour or so will most likely be animated by those focusing on the green jersey — Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Matteo Trentin (CCC) — before the mountain goats take command.
The intermediate sprint in La Rochette comes after just 45.5km of racing where there will be twenty points of offer for the first rider over the line. With the stage finishing atop the hors catégorie col de la Loze, today is not a stage weighted in the favour of the fastmen and so there are just 20 points available on the line. Here’s a breakdown of what is up for grabs in what has become a fascinating battle for the green jersey.
Featuring two huge hors catégorie climbs — the col de la Madeleine and a new one for the Tour, the col de la Loze — I think we can expect to see a new leader in the mountains classification later on this afternoon. As the highest point in this year’s race, topping out at 2,304 metres above sea level, there are double points on offer atop the col de la Loze and so unless Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) somehow manages to finish with the stage leaders — Benoît Cosnefroy will not finish with the stage leaders — then the Frenchman will be handing over his polka-dot jersey today.
Once beyond the intermediate sprint, I wouldn’t be surprised if a breakaway clipped off after the heavier fastmen eased up, before the stage really lights up. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) will be keen non adding some more points to his account in the mountains classification, but does he have the legs to take him all the way to the final climb? The 33-year-old has been very lively over the past few stages, and is not quite at the level of the real big hitters, and so I think once Rolland goes over the col de la Madeleine, his day will most likely be done.
Don’t be surprised if EF Pro Cycling put two or three riders — Hugh Carthy, Daniel Martínez and Neilson Powless — in the break, while Mitchelton-Scott may fancy their chances with Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve. Ineos Grenadiers, surely, will also get involved? That said, there will be an awful lot of other that will ‘ fancy their chances’, but will they be able to get into the breakaway should one form and if so, will the have the legs to finish it of on the final climb of the day?
So, will today’s stage be won by a breakaway rider? If so they will need a decent lead by the time it reaches the bottom of the final climb of the day. The final kilometres of the col de la Loze will be contested on what has been described as a cycle path and so it is very narrow, meaning positioning will be absolutely key. Get stuck behind somebody who has a mechanical or a crash and that’s it, your Tour de France hopes could be over. Also, the gradients are insanely steep. Very un-Tour de France like, with pitches reaching 24% in places and long stretches at over 11% this really is terrain for those with an explosive edge. Someone like Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Anyway, enough of this idle speculation, racing starts in 10 minutes.
As it stands . . .
Those familiar with the race, or stage racing in general, will realise that there are a number of jerseys on offer at the race, here’s a very quick explainer for anybody that is new to the sport . . .
And here are the current leaders in the respective competitions . . .
But if you want to take a closer look at the details, here you go . . .
And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 17 at the 107th edition of the Tour de France, the 168-kilometre run from Grenoble to Méribel. Before we have a look at today’s stage, let’s have a recap of what happened yesterday. First up, here’s Tom Cary‘s report in which Sir Dave Brailsford defends Ineos’ tactics and team selection at the Tour . . .
Various theories have been put forward for Ineos’s struggles at this Tour, and Brailsford addressed them one by one. On the selection controversy, specifically the decision to leave out former winners Froome and Thomas, and instead bring in Ecuadorean Richard Carapaz, he was unequivocal.
“I don’t gamble,” Brailsford said. “People are entitled to their opinions, but I didn’t gamble with selection. They were big decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I’m sure that people have a lot to say but they’re not privy to the facts that I’ve got.”
Meanwhile, our colleagues at The Cycling Podcast published their latest episode on Tuesday night. While we are waiting for today’s stage to get under way, why don’t you give it a listen?
In this episode of The Cycling Podcast, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and François Thomazeau are in a bustling square in Grenoble.
They recap a stage to Villard-de-Lans which was won by the Bora-Hansgrohe rider Lennard Kamna, who succeeded where he and his teammate failed last week when they were outfought by Dani Martinez.
We hear from Team Ineos Grenadiers boss Dave Brailsford about how they are recalibrating after defending champion Egan Bernal faltered at the weekend.
And from Rod Ellingworth, enjoying his first Tour as the big boss of Bahrain-McLaren and hoping Mikel Landa can still make a run for the podium.