Sunday, July 17, 2016

And then there was one!

One what you might ask? Well...One week left in the 2016 TDF of course!

It's been a pretty good race too. Though once again Team Sky is just invincible thus far. I still find it hard to believe that all the other 'contenders' who have teams built around them giving them their best shot at winning The Tour have just fallen away, leaving MAYBE one guy with their leader, while Sky just drives the pace with 3 or 4 guys protecting Froome. How is it that NO OTHER TEAM can find guys to match Sky's guys? And this has been going on year after year. Does Sky have some magic scouting / recruiting scheme, able to let ONLY THEM find those guys who will still be at the front on the final climb of the day? I sure wish I knew how they do it, as I would guess all the other teams would like to know that secret too.

There's a few guys who are standout to me...I'd say that chief among them is the young Etix Quick-Step Julian Anaphillipe. That guy is really something! Today (stage 15) he was out in the lead group, had some unknown problem and fell back, then just blazed ahead of everybody almost all the way to the front (he didn't catch the 4 front-runners he was with, but he passed up everybody who passed him). And then at the finish he was blazing away. THAT kid is really going places. Another is Adam Yates...though he faltered today and wasn't able to challenge...he was just hanging on. And then how about that Columbian kid Pantano who WON today? Where on earth did HE come from? It's his first year as a pro, and his first Tour, and WOW! I was rooting for Majka after all his work, but on that final descent he was amazing! (and they say that Majka is a great descender). Even after Majka stopped working near the end and made Pantano do the work keeping them from getting caught by the chasing 2 riders, he STILL out-stprinted Majka for the stage win...MOST impressive!

And how about Richie Porte! He has been hanging with Froome day after day, while TJ falters day after day. If he hadn't had that ill-timed-flat on Stage 1 (or was it 2?), he'd be in 3rd place right now! As it is he is now ahead of TJ. Of course, we don't know how he will do in the Alps, but he's looking pretty good thus far. His TT lost him some more time, but even so he's getting close to a podium finish. Also there's Bauke Mollema to keep an eye on...he has come out of nowhere and is now sitting in 2nd, just ahead of Adam Yates (who is wearing the white jersey)! Quintana is still there, but unless he's really holding back, he just doesn't seem to have it this year. He's staying with Froome but totally unable to DO anything else. And speaking of doing anything else, you have to hand it to Astana today...THEY weren't afraid to challenge Sky! And even Valverde went out on an attack, which was fairly quickly reeled back in...but at least he went. He's sitting quite pretty right behind Quintana...much like last year when they finished 2/3 on the podium. This year we have new contenders for them to contend it just seems NOBODY is going to dethrone least not this year. Barring disaster (which could happen in an instant), he is looking pretty good.

Another contender I would have never placed high up is Romain Bardet....he's sitting just behind Valverde and has been looking pretty good. And both Dan Martin and Fabio Aru are both in the top-10 but have faltered when the going got tough. Will they be able to hold their top-10 positions thru the Alps? We will know soon enough. Time is running out for anybody to challenge Sky and Froome...but there is time to be had if they have the form....watching Astana challenge today took them down to just one guy with Froome briefly, but then their attack fizzled and Sky was able to regroup and soon enough there were a BUNCH of them, back in front and driving the pace.

One thing that's been unusual this year is the crashes. For WHATEVER reason, I'd say the crashes have been SUBSTANTIALLY less than in recent years. Yes there are some, but we haven't been witnessing the total carnage and abandons that had seemingly become the new norm. I think as of today the peleton is only down 14 riders, which is pretty impressive really!

Watching Cav win his FOURTH stage yesterday in Stage 14 was something....he soundly passed Kittel who then complained that he was hindered...but quite honestly, Kittel didn't have a chance. Cav pretty much SWOOPED by and then pulled in front...the judges have never been shy about relegating Cav in the past...and they didn't think anything of it....but Kittel wasn't happy. And poor Griepel...he's been totally skunked this year.

Team Tinkoff now has the Green AND Polka-Dot jerseys as of today, when Majka took the KOM's by being out front all day, winning nearly every mountain. Can he hold that thru the Alps tho...THAT is the big question.

The TT on stage 13 was a ho-hum affair (the only way a TT is exciting is in person...where you see every single rider go by...THAT is quite fun!) Watching a TT on TV is less than exciting tho...but I do enjoy the Team TT's... sadly no TTT this year. But we do have one more's a mountain TT..which should be quite interesting. We will see who still has gas in their tank. Any TT is a diabolical race for most of the peleton, but a mountain TT is just plain cruel (to about 95% of the peleton). TO those 5% of the elite mountain-goats, it's a real chance to gain time on all non-goats. I'd think the true sprinters must HATE the mountain TT's. But it should prove interesting.

Anyway...that's my observations of the last few days...we still one more rest-day coming...and by next Sunday it will all be in the history books once again, and we will be left with the annual Post Tour Depression. I'm already getting sad...the final week is always so bitter-sweet.

But it's not over YET!!!

Game ON!

Update...thought I'd add this picture I saw on Velo News, photo taken by
Leon Van Bon / BrakeThrough Media |

It's an AWESOME shot of the madness of Stage 12 just after the Porte/Froome/Yates crash into the camera-moto (just before the finishing barricades on Ventoux)...never quite seen anything quite like this's just an amazing photo!

You can see Froome running, still with his bike at this moment, which he tossed aside (leaned against a camera moto) and continued running up the mountain, chasing all the guys who he WAS ahead of who had now passed him. You just don't see something like this every day.

Today they are in the Alps, and I HOPE we get to see some attacking...and NOT by Sky/Froome. We will know soon enough.

Game ON!


  1. Wow....the news tonight is about the Russian Olympic team. Lester Holt said "independent investigators have uncovered proof of State Sponsored Doping", and that "it's possibly the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports". WADA is calling for the entire Russian Olympic team to not be allowed in Rio. I wonder what USADA thinks...cuz they called Lance and his team the biggest doping program in the history of sports. I mean, how can a State Sponsored doping program of their ENTIRE Olympic athlete pool compare to a cycling team? It can't..come on, can't fool me. NOBODY can outdo Lance...he's the DEVIL after all! (that was sarcasm btw). I wonder how far back they will go...they were talking about the last Winter Olympics 2 years ago...does ANYBODY think this doping program just started in the last 2 years, and that their Winter athletes were clean?

  2. Stage 16 was a good one...I was SO rooting for Spartacus to pull it off...he would have needed to break away before the finish to have a chance, but the pace was pretty high and he didn't get a chance. But good for Sagan...he's on FIRE this tour! Whoever picks up his contract will cost them a pretty penny for SURE! He's really doing the rainbow jersey proud...can't remember a rainbow jersey doing this well before.

    And can't take away ANYTHING from Tony Martin...he was AMAZING! And that Alaphillipe kid...he's got a bright future I think...bears watching for sure! Glad today is a rest day...I can get to bed EARLY...hard to believe only FIVE stages left...already getting sad!

  3. Yep, I REALLY hoped Spartacus would be able to pull that one off in his home town! Oh well, he still did great just to be up there with the other sprinters & Peter the Great.

    I was a bit disappointed with the weekend stages. Saturday's stage seemed to go on forever for no reason (at least I got to see a huge field of sunflowers!). And Cav won his 4th stage & boy, I'm not too impressed with Kittel these days! 1st, he bitched about that finish & then he tells the media that HE is a "bigger champion than Cav". Unless he's talking HEIGHT, the guy is delusional. And then Sunday, there are all those mountains, one after another but no mountain-top finish?! Boo-hiss. And to top it off, TVG lost time. He was right there with all the other GCers all day & then with about 2K to go on the final mt, he started drifting back & then 'unhooked'. Damn. It must be so demoralizing. Hope he can bounce back & go for it the Alps.

    And Matt - you're right, Quintana just doesn't seem to have it this year. At least so far. I can understand why he/no one could attack Sunday because Sky pushed the pace so hard, but that he couldn't keep up with Froome, Richie & Mollema on Ventoux really was a shock.

    Even though this TDF looks like a lock for Froome, just think back to this year's Giro when everything went crazy on one stage in the 3rd week & Nibali came out of nowhere to burst into the lead & eventually win the whole thing. So, ANYTHING is possible! Plus, look at what the Cavs did in the NBA Finals! Down 1-3 & went on to win against the team that had just set a new W-L record! Folks are referring to the Warriors now as Team Death Star. Funny, that's how I've thought of Team Sky these last 4-5 years. ;)

    And Matt - it's the MONEY that Sky spend that allows them to get all those top guys & then be able to hold special Tour mt-training camps, etc. Their budget is 2-10 (yes, TEN) times that of most the other teams. I think Tinkov spent the most next to Sky & he was $10 million less per year.

  4. I haven't read the entire report but I believe they think the Russian state-sponsored doping started after Russia was humiliated at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics (barely won any gold medals) & it continued into 2015 when it all exploded last year with the German (I think) TV show.

    And TYGART, the USADA guy who called Lance & his tiny cycling team the 'most sophisticated doping organization in the HISTORTY OF THE WORLD' (I, er, paraphrased) is not embarrassed at all that his statements are now revealed to be as STUPID, UNTRUE & IGNORANT as anything ever uttered about sport doping. In fact, he's screaming the loudest that the Russians need to be thrown out of the Olympics entirely.

    Putin & Bach, the current head of the IOC are likethis & I will be SHOCKED if the Russians are banned completely. It's sickening! The freakin IOC is as corrupt as FIFA & just remember, they are the idiots that chose Rio over Chicago for 2016.