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. That's weird...I added a picture to the post, the 4 comments disappeared! Strange stuff...

  2. Wow...yesterday's stage was something! Almost no attacks...well, that's not true...Astana gave it their all, and Valverde gave it one attempt and wasted himself doing it...all to no avail...Sky and Froome are just too strong. Quintana sat there hanging on all day as he has been, likely unable (he did try near the end to stay with Froome and Porte, but it was obvious this isn't the Quintana we've seen in the past). You've gotta hand it to Porte...he's riding quite well. And poor TJ fell off the planet on that last climb...sure hope he stays in the race this year and works for Porte...he said he would. I'll respect him a lot more if he does.

    And today's mountain time-trail will be something...I suspect Froome will be in the top 3, but I'm hoping Porte can pull back a bunch of his lost time...gosh, if he hadn't had that untimely flat he'd be in 2nd or 3rd place right now...2 minutes back would put him tied for 2nd. Doubt he can take 2 minutes on those guys today, but who knows...he's now the team leader and finally sees what he's capable of. It's going to be a good fight for 2nd and 3rd these next 3 stages, that's for sure!

  3. Hey Matt - yep, Richie was fantastic yesterday! And poor Tejay, my gosh, I guess we shouldn't be totally shocked as he had been losing a bit of time on every stage that went uphill, but to crack on the 2nd to last & not even the last mt was, well, just shattering. Not just for this race but for his career! If team managers don't think you can podium let alone win a Grand Tour, you won't get paid as such & won't get the teammates necessary to support you. It must just be devastating for him. And I know he's not your favorite guy but I was very impressed with how he spoke to the media afterwards.

    But you know, I think Quintana is having even a worse Tour since HE was expected to actually contend for the overall win. But unlike with TVG, Quintana has been twice runner-up so people know he can at least podium in this race. Thus, he won't be subjected to quite the same "it's all over for you" trash-talk.

    I don't want to give away too much about today's TT, but the only way Froome loses now is if he FALLS OFF his bike & breaks an arm/leg OR one of the Zika skeeters get imported in. ;) But, the race is ON for the rest of the podium! Tomorrow is the only summit finish left (although Saturday is a mt stage too), so I expect attacks & collapses aplenty. Wish the stages were reversed so I could see the whole damn thing! Oh, Matt - tomorrow & Saturday's TV coverage starts at 6:30 AM my time.

    One more thing - my memory is fading a bit on Lance's 'wins', but I don't remember 5 (FIVE!) Postal guys still with him half-way up the final mountain on EACH mountain stage. And now tell me that MONEY is not a PED...

  4. Watched the ITT today (Stage 18). Froome is just on fire. Unstoppable. Everybody else is racing for 2nd place (again). Let's talk about Richie Porte...the ONLY guy to stay with him at the end of the climbs. If not for that horrible flat in Stage 2, he'd be in SECOND PLACE by almost a minute right now. Terrible luck. Making it further unbelievable/miraculous that He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) went SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW with no bad luck. I don't care how great a team you get a flat 5k out and drop behind the SCREAMING peleton, you lose time. He could stop and change bikes with a teammate but he'd have already lost the peleton and would lose a nice chunk of time. I still can't believe BMC didn't have a guy with Richie for just this purpose...he was one of the "Co-Leaders"...what were they thinking? It cost them a high podium spot (as of now anyway). He's been doing everything right, and is showing his mettle as a Grand Tour podium rider. He hasn't faltered except for that one spot of bad luck.

    Quintana? He's done. Sure, he's still in like 4th...but I can't help but wonder if he's one of those 'flash-in-the-pan-riders who does good for a very few years and then fades away. Supposedly he had everything right this year, INCLUDING Valverde TOTALLY disposed to take care of him (instead of competing against him). It's looking like Valverde might have been able to make podium if they had reversed things and protected him...he's riding pretty great, and only loses time by killing himself for Quintana, with nothing to show for it as Quintana is consistently unable to attack. But yet he still has been trying. And slipping further and further down the top 10 by doing so.

    Adam Yates is very impressive can be said for Bauke Mollema...those 2 guys bear watching closely in the future for sure!

    OK...enough for tonight...stage 19 tomorrow...big mountains! Can ANYBODY make a dent in Superman?

  5. Just saw this article on Velo kind of summs up my feelings.

  6. Hey Matt - I wasn't able to follow along on the cyclingnews LIVE update blog today but apparently LOTS of action/chaos happened in today's stage! Partly because of the... dunh, dunh, dunh, RAIN! Damn! Anyhoo, some bad things happened but some good too it seems. Can't wait to see the stage tonight!

    I will mention that going by the results list, TVG had an even WORSE day than Wed! Not sure if that was by design or not, but wow. Maybe he can use the ALLERGY excuse that Quintana is throwing around. Sorry, I know you like him, but I thought that was lame! You either have an allergy & you can state to what or you don't, none of this "maybe I have an allergy" excuse as to why he's riding subpar compared to his previous Tours.

    Anyhoo, I think I read that it's supposed to rain AGAIN tomorrow (boo-hiss!) & they have even more mts & DESCENTS, so based on what happened today, ANYTHING could happen. As excited as I am to think of the race possibilities, I still HATE when it rains during the Tour & especially don't want the podium dictated by it!

    BTW, I totally agree with you about questioning WHAT BMC was thinking on Stage 2- WHY did they not have MULTIPLE guys around 1 of their GC leaders? Bobke said there's no one on his team that is the same size so they couldn't have swapped bikes anyway, but I say WHY DIDN'T they have a guy the same size! I have never understood BMC's Tour team selection over the years. They always seemed to do a good job on picking the flat road guys but never enough (or any!) mt goat helpers. At least this year there is one or two (including Tejay but he unfortunately has been of little to no help in the mts this year). Maybe after this year when they've seen that Richie really could not just podium but WIN the whole thing one year, they will go looking for guys to better help him in the Tour. And at least one HIS SIZE! ;)

    Can't believe another Tour is almost over. Thank goodness I have the Olympics to look forward to but with all the craziness surrounding that, I'm worried already!

    Talk to you next week & have fun watching these last 3 stages!

  7. Thanks for the updates on todays stage...I'm cringing already at RAIN in the high mountains...they've been pretty lucky thus far...luck was bound to change. Sure hope nobody is hurt (bad)...crashes inevitably cause hurt in the best case.

    I've only been a Quintana guy cuz I was HOPING somebody would be able to compete w/ Froome. Back 2 years or so ago it seemed this might be that guy...but he's kind'a fizzling out as of late and maybe he never will be. There is a nice crop of young'uns though coming along...we're seeing that in the top 10 this year. Aru, Aliphillipe, Yates, certainly Porte...who am I missing? There's a few others of note...just can't think of them just now...but it's nice to see that there seems to be the next generation of podium guys breaking out. Today and tomorrow...then into Paris, and it's all over but for the crying. I was sad to hear Fabian pulled out...I'd have thought the peleton would have let him have a moment out front on the Champs, maybe bring them onto it and part of the first lap alone in front...he's missing that forever by leaving. He's certainly a highly respected cyclist by pretty much EVERYBODY. Hope he does well in the Olympics, making his NOT finishing his last Tour worthwhile.

    Yak at ya next week...when it's all in the history books. PTDS is coming on FAST now!

  8. I also was hoping that Fabian would get some recognition. I am afraid that his chances for glory in the Olympics are slim, so although I understand his reasoning, I really hate to see him leave the Tour this way. I will certainly be cheering for him in August and hoping that he can show some of his old form again!

    What a crazy stage today -- who didn't crash?

    I am thrilled with the crop of young contenders and really glad to see some from the smaller teams making a splash. I would so like to see Cannondale have a contender (in any race) but that doesn't seem to be in the cards, either from not having a good enough support team, enough money, or just what I don't know. Riders show flashes (like Talansky) but are they going to continue to improve?

    I have a hard time thinking of BMC as a "home team" even if it is based in CA, but I was really hoping that TJ would find his groove. He has won in Colorado, so we know he can handle the altitude -- I guess the climbs, though high, aren't as steep and taxing as in the Alps and Pyrenees? I just think that this tour, he has shut down mentally. Kind of like when I am on the track putting in my miles, happy in my 12 min mile pace, until a group younger and faster comes in -- and suddenly my legs feel like lead. All mental!


  9. Hey Elsie...Stage 19 was pretty wicked for sure! As for TJ, I know Susie is really a fan, but I think he just isn't a Grand Tour guy...he does GREAT and wins shorter stage races, and maybe he might be able to win the Giro or Vuelta...but the TDF is THE race. All the riders say it's harder, faster, more nervous...all from the publicity I think. It's the biggest bike race in the world. I think I'm most sad for Richie Porte...ended up in 5th...but IF he hadn't flatted, OR his team actually had someone WITH him (like you do for our CAPTAIN), he wouldn't have lost that 2 minutes, which would put him SOLIDLY in 2nd place right now. But hey...that's all spil't milk, water under the bridge, that sort of thing...would'a, could'a, should'a...maybe in a different universe Richie is 2nd on the podium tomorrow. But I do agree the coming years should be FANTASTIC! We've seen some real greatness from this young group...Aliphillipe (sp? Never can spell that kid's name) was pretty fantastic today! To watch him and Pantonne DESCEND away from Nibble? (had it been dry roads I think it MIGHT have been a different story tho...young'uns aren't yet afraid of death...Nibbles has seen enough pavement I'm sure that he knows discretion is the better part of valor). But I was rooting for Nibbles after the 3 of them crossed the top of the last climb together. Can't take anything away from any of them...they all worked like dogs to be there!

    Adam Yates must have been DYING not to try to attack to get just a handful of seconds back to get onto the podium...Quintana was a total fizzle this year, however he did end up in 3rd. I think if Movistar had a crystal ball and knew Q wasn't going to be able to do what we all HOPED he would, they would have protected Valverede...who was pretty amazing all 3 weeks! He totally destroyed himself over and over for Q...I was impressed. In years past he had problems in that huge kudos for him this year. And you can't take ANYTHING away from Bardet the little Frenchman...he came out of NOWHERE yesterday to steal away 2nd...that was some pretty great riding and a breath of fresh air for France (which they really needed)!

    Yep...the top 10 is a pretty good group this year...and as to Froome and the SUPER-TEAM-SKY...what can you say? Froome made a comment that if he was on any other team the results would be different...sure he's a GREAT rider...nobody can take that away from him. But take away some of that amazing team protecting him, and he'd finally be vulnerable to some attacks. They were pretty invincible AGAIN this year for sure.

    And so...Stage 20 is in the history books, it's all over but for the toasting and glory...and some MAD laps around the you think Sagan can take this? I'm really pulling for him...THAT would be a pretty fantastic end to his amazing race! I'll really be rooting for him in the Olympic Mt bike race...I think the other Olympic mtb'ers should be quaking in their boots right now. It will be VERY INTERESTING for sure!

    OK...tomorrow we are in Paris! (boo hoo)

  10. oops...just noticed I'm getting the young'uns mixed was Izigard (or something like that) who descended away from nibbles w/ Pantonne in the rain to win the stage him confused w/ Aliphillepe. Dang those kids..too many to keep track of all of a sudden!