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2020 Tour Thoughts - no spoilers

MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
Stage 1 -

It's stage 1 of the Tour and we always expect a couple of tumbles, but that was carnage. Everyone crashed. Some more than once.

Note to self - buy disc-brake equipped bike for rainy days. This has been raised before, but perhaps having riders with significantly different levels of stopping modulation and braking power in wet race environments could lead to undesirable consequences? Just thinking out loud here.

Roglic assumes the role of patron, because an Eastern European guy who used to huck himself off huge ski jumps supported by a large (for a cyclist) German dude who was tossed from last year's tour for 'assault' is slightly more intimidating than the Colombian boss in the race. (There is definitely a movie script in there somewhere.)

I'm a pretty big fan of their team, but is Astana just stupid, or what? I doubt Fraile understood the words Roglic used today, but he probably caught the gist. Astana is a wild card for this tour. They won't win yellow but they are going to win stages and stir up all kinds of sh**.

I would say that a couple of teams lost their 'Plan C' riders today, and one team almost predictably saw Plan A take a hit. They are still in the race, but they are going to lose a time over the next few days.

I get the argument about organizers being responsible for course safety, but the number of crashes that happened while the race was basically running in neutral suggest that the sport has some inherent risks.

Is there anything more likely to bring tears to the eyes of a California-based cycling executive than a racer with a fancy-schmancy new Specialized that won't move forward because the front disc caliper won't release?

Did anyone notice the wild card teams all send riders to the front when the pace slowed? "Look Madame Sponsor, we controlled the race for 13 uncontested kilometers today!"
Jennifer PostM_WareAaronWebstey
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    edited August 30
    Stage 2 -

    I need to rethink my life if I'm going to own of the houses on top of a mountain that they kept showing during this stage. What borderline criminal endeavour would be most likely to get me that much cash? Website forum operator?

    As they say in French, Ineos were 'mort de rire' today. They didn't take a pedal stroke in the front thanks to Jumbo. Perfect day for them.

    The race will start when Jumbo says it starts. They controlled the hills today without setting a punishing pace. Early days, no reason to burn matches.

    No serious crashes in the hills today, and the two that I saw were solo falls. The weather was a blessing after yesterday.

    Seeng Kristoff from the side makes me feel slightly better about my dad bod. Definitely not the climber profile.

    The average competitive hot dog eating fan knew who was going to attack late today, and looking at the stage profile probably could have guessed the location to within 350m of where he went. How could no other favourites have been sitting on his wheel?

    That little Ineos flick on Dumoulin is going to come back to bite them at some point in the race. Maybe with one of these:




    One of the greatest traditions in cycling must be the tightening of the shoes in order soft pedal a turn in the sprint.

    One of the greatest images in cycling is a small breakaway fighting for a sprint with a peloton absolutely gunning for them in the chute. You're either going to shed a tear for the break or cheer like crazy if they pull it off.
    Jennifer Post
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    Jennifer PostJennifer Post Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter
    The race was made even more exciting for me, when for some reason, the distance remaining disappeared on my screen right at the 1km flag. Watching the last 1km without a coundown was odd yet even more exciting.

    M_WareMartinTad_M
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 3 - Sprint stage

    Yeah, they are boring as sin, but transition stages at Le Tour pay the bills.

    Alaphilippe's yellow kit is tastefully done, with the contrasting black shorts. I wonder if there are third world countries that receive all of the pre-made jersey-matched team kit if they don't end up getting a jersey, like what happens with the losing team's Super Bowl hats.

    I remember a video @Mark_after_Dark made of one of his races a few years ago. Pretty sure everyone in that Cat 5 Oklahoma circuit race would have put a few minutes into the peloton today. This felt like the old Giros when Cipo was boss. They would take a leisurely 28-30 km/h ride for 200 km, so Cipo could roll up his sleeves and short legs to work on his tan, then push 60 km/h for the last 20k into the sprints. I miss Cipo.

    Sprinters are like ninjas or samurai who can ride bicycles very fast. The way they find spaces to go through, putting themselves at extreme physical risk while putting out enough power to make most people dislocate a hip is incredible. Watch the overhead video of today's finish and take stock of the riders that the winner absolutely blows past, in a headwind, to take the stage.

    I can't decide if tomorrow will be a gong show of attacks, or if J-V and Ineos-Grenadier will control it in an effort to keep Julien in yellow. I'm betting on the latter, but I'm pretty sure Astana and Bahrain won't get the memo. Sivakov freewheeled in a few minutes down on his recovery ride today, but tomorrow will be the real test for guys like he and Gaudu.

    Jennifer PostTad_M
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    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    @Martin , these recaps are better than anything else I find online. Kudos!
    MartinJennifer PostM_Ware
    visit Michigan July 7th to 11th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    edited September 2
    Stage 4 - The first mountaintop

    On paper, this stage is like an NBA game. They need to play four quarters, but the game is decided in the last minute.

    I've been watching the France Sport feed. One of their colour guys (edit: It's former yellow-jersey wearer and breakaway specialist Thoms Voeckler) sounds like he's hammered most of the time. I vote for a Drunk Bob Roll segment on NBC.

    Apparently Alaphilippe is wearing a $120,000 USD watch in the Tour. Unlike your Garmin, it probably tells time properly and has no sync issues. In the asterisked era, there was a T-Mobile rider (I think it was Kloden, who finished as high as 2nd at the Tour) that wore a chunky Breitling or something, and Lance or Bruyneel commented how stupid it was to carry any extraneous weight in a bike race. Of course, that didn't stop them from hiring him as a domestique later.

    The breakaway was pretty uneventful other than a (fortunately harmless) crash that makes me question why anyone would want bladed carbon anything near their butt. Given how pissed off everyone in the break seemed to be at that point, it wasn't going to last a whole lot longer anyway.

    The finish was interesting. Well, not really. A couple of 'Plan B' riders fell off the pace at the very end, but these are South Americans who have shown that they can ride into form later in the race and do great things.

    Watch Nairo in a couple of days.The little Colombian was sandbagging in his interviews this morning, but looked very good. He's probably stage hunting this year, maybe trying for a top-10.

    Tomorrow looks like a sprint stage, but there are a couple of rollers ahead of the finish to tease the Classics guys. It probably means the pace will be very high at the end, so the gravitationally-challenged sprinters might get dropped. I really hope JA attacks in yellow. That doesn't happen enough.

    In non-Tour news, Movistar signed the best women's cyclist in the world, Annemiek van Vleuten, this week. I read that she used to hang out and train with the men's team in the spring. Women's cycling is actually brilliant to watch if you get a chance. The complete dominance of Vos (think Ryf-level dominatrion) over the past few years is fading, and the sport is a bit more interesting for it.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    edited September 2
    Stage 5 - Boring transition stage

    Damn, and I thought yesterday was boring... Not even a broken seatpost until the end.

    I couldn't tell if the maillot de pois accelerated or if the whole peloton just slowed down even further to let him pick up that point.

    Good effort by a couple of teams to break things up in the crosswinds, and as expected most of those heavier sprinters were left for dead. I actually had the winner's name in my post yesterday but edited it out for length.

    A team might have a killer roster, but one brain dead soigneur who didn't check the feed rules can sure screw things up. I wonder what that loss of visibility will be worth in ad dollars for the sponsors for the jersey change. Roughly one Richard Mille watch? Anyway, if you can have bonus seconds, you can have penalties as well.

    Tomorrow looks hard on paper but after the cat 1, the last drag to the top is pretty mellow. If it breaks apart on La Lusette (the chickadee), some people will lose a lot of time, because JV and Grenadier will ride hard tempo and not let them get back on. I expect some opportunists (no threat to the GC) to attack before the first Cat 3, and if the group is right they will be allowed a lot of rope to fight for polka-dot points.

    The over-under on how long the first pan-flat 142 km of the stage takes - with near-perfect weather in the forecast - is 4 hours and 45 minutes.
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    I'll take that under. Mostly because the break will be rolling 42-44 to pad their advantage before the real racing begins.
    Martin
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member

    I'll take that under. Mostly because the break will be rolling 42-44 to pad their advantage before the real racing begins.

    Breakaways are so pre-pandemic.
    Tad_M
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 6 - Mountaintop finish, sorta

    As expected, the long drag after the Cat 1 peak (and the relentless grinding of the Grenadier machine) kind of neutralized things. But what a class breakaway today! Lutsenko is a hardman, Herrera a great all-rounder, GVA showing he can still haul himself up the hills, birthday boy Powless... More of this, please.

    JA looked good not in yellow, and clearly has a bit of anger to work out. His director, Lefevere, razed the earth about how stupid it is that they lost the jersey over this, but was pretty clearly putting the blame on the soigneur that handed off the bottle.

    Mitchellton-Scott showed why they came her to hunt stages rather than defend yellow. They took on a bit of responsibility early but it was the Grenadier Grind on the final climb. (Alliteration is easier with G words than I words.)

    Those roads looked pretty miserable in places, but I would love to ride the narrow roads of that climb someday. Good scenery day.

    Tomorrow is deceptive, because it looks like a sprint stage but it's relentlessly up and down with a very long, mellow grade up, then a 50km mostly descent with a bunch of bumps, then a flat runout to the finish. It looks like a warm day with no clouds or wind. I'm cheering for a breakaway if only because my fantasy sprinter (Colbrelli) is on team orders or something and hasn't scored me a point yet, but I don't see anything on the profile that would prevent a Ewan-Bennett-Bol shootout.

    Speaking of Bol (Sunweb), his performance in this first few days of the Tour is making the team's decision to let Bling Matthews (and his huge salary) leave look reasonable. I'm not saying Bol is going to start winning classics and green jerseys, but he's been within sniffing distance most days, and at 25 years old he has a couple of good years ahead of him.

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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 7 - Sacrément ils sont fous ces coureurs!

    This is why they ride so many kilometers.

    So... I need to find a better weather site, or they were showing average winds rather than gusts.

    You can often gauge the temperature of the stage by how seriously the teams warm up.The Tacx Neos were getting a workout this morning.

    The appliance team dropped a full load of white goods on the peloton early, anyone weighing over 73.2 kg sank like a stone, Mother Nature whispered her sweet nothings into the ears of the peloton in the form of a crosswind, and the finishing speeds topped 70km/h without any of the 'top sprinters' (bar one, who had a mechanical in the sprint).

    ECHELON is a top-secret Five Eyes surveillance thing. Echelons on crosswind days are not top secret, but people get caught out every time. And echelons driven by 'climbers' proves just how much power these little guys can push when called upon.

    De Gendt attacked. It was futile, so this is not a spoiler, and is only news because it has not happened more often this Tour.

    A couple of big Plan B riders were relegated to support positions today, and at least two leaders saw their aspirations fade a bit. (Don't worry, Pinot fans. He learned his lesson last year.) Still a lot of climbing to go, but you never want to see time losses on the flat.

    Tomorrow's Pyrenean stage is stupid hard. Col de Menté, Pote de Balés, Col de Peyresourd in under 150km. The intermediate sprint is at the base of the first climb. DQS, Bora etc, will have to decide if they want to keep it together until then to fight for points, or if they let a break gobble up the points and support their GC guys. If they want to keep it together, and considering today's stage, it could get ugly real fast on those climbs. A smarter move might be to encourage the sprinters to get away themselves to contest the sprint then get a head start on the climb.

    At any rate, I expect the number of guys capable of winning the Tour to drop to 7 or 8 by end of day tomorrow.
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    Do we consider Yates a contender yet? I know he’s leaving for Ineos in a couple months, and he said he has not interest in the overall, but I can’t imagine Michelton just giving up or him losing the kind of time intentionally to open up stage hunting prospects. As you say, tomorrow will tell. Also, good call on picking today’s winner. I expected to see a bunch sprint based on some modest early climbs before 70km of flat, so didn’t tune in until late, only to see all of 40-50 left.
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    Jennifer PostJennifer Post Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter
    I love the echelons. Especially on a day that was to be boring. Unfortunately, I could only watch in bits and pieces this morning so am watching the 90-minute broadcast and it's great. Even decided to record it to watch again later.
    M_WareMartin
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    I think Yates is a top 8 threat. That makes him a contender. But until we see otherwise, this is Roglic vs Bernal and a fight for third.
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    I’m not convinced Bernal is there at the moment. Today definitely mixed things up a touch, but not enough to discount people’s chances. Roglic is absolutely the one to beat with the form he’s carried. Pinot need to be in the conversation until he blows up - he’s been utterly silent all year, much like Dumoulin, but is a week in and completely unfazed. Tomorrow should be interesting. I’m predicting another win by someone on the JV squad. If van Aert were selfish, he has the potential to wrap up the green Jersey by stage 15. Dude is near cannibal
    levels of all-around talent at the moment. Still waiting on the poels (no, not you, Wout! Even- and van der-) to show up. Mid-decade racing should be amazing.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member

    Pinot need to be in the conversation until he blows up - he’s been utterly silent all year, much like Dumoulin, but is a week in and completely unfazed

    What are you, from the future or something?
    Jennifer Post
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    Perhaps. Loved Sagan’s finish line quote yesterday. “...in the final. My chain just drop off and, uh, fucking cycling.”
    So I fell from grace betting on last years debutante for stage honours today, figuringnjts still early enough to get over a HC climb. No dice. As I said, yesterday’s echelons weren’t enough to completely destroy hopes (except maybe carapaz as an ineos backup plan) but Slovenia’s #2 still has some work to do vs. their national champion. Also, when did Tony Martin get so svelte?
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    edited September 5
    Stage 8 - The real hills begin - spoiler below

    That was a perfect breakaway group. and was big enough to have some real racing in the mountains within the group. Good stuff by the Frenchman.

    Don't ever let @KHilgendorf write anything nice about you the day before a race. (See his comment on Pinot above.)

    There's an old saying in cycling, "Dirty faces win races." If a Colombian wins this Tour (and I think there are a solid two in this conversation now), it could be without spending a single meter at the front of the race.

    The Slovenians look so damn strong. It is very possible that these guys regret letting Pogacar back into the race. He's still a kid - there are probably a few states he can't legally get a beer in yet - but he was all class today. Roglic was biding his time. He knows he's boss, as long as he keeps two wheels down for the next 13 stages. There is no Plan B for J-V at this point.

    Don't read anything into Bernal following or not on the lower slopes. That was a really long climb and he and his team know every inch of it. I was surprised that the Grenadier train was gone so early in the race, but that lead group was about as elite as you can get this year so the pace was probably brutal.

    J-V and Grenadier better starting taking these upstart teams Arkea and Cofidis seriously. Guillaume and Nairo have been two of the most interesting riders in the race so far. I think Nairo is the strongest rider not named Roglic right now. We'll see how Guillaume does with the weight of France on his shoulders...

    Tomorrow is another short and hard one. The big difference looks to be a strong chance of rain which could reduce the advantage of the good descenders.

    ETA: Tomorrow being stage 9, odds are that Richie Porte will leave the race at some point. I hope this is not the case, because he looked pretty good today. Someone should pin his race number on upside down to improve his chances.
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    @martin, you’ll always have a guy like roglic or alaphilippe who can bomb a descent in the rain and pull out minutes on the rest. I’d love to see JV let him roll the dice tomorrow if there is poor weather (Dumoulin in only 2 min down, and if he’s feeling good, can make up half that or more on even a short TT) and really out guys like Quintana and Bernal who win their races going up. Not sure JV feels that need though, and it would certainly be a big risk. I wish Nibali were here, and valverde were 10 years younger.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member

    I wish Nibali were here, and valverde were 10 years younger.

    I wish Paolo Salvodelli were here and that I was 10 years younger, but I hear you.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 9 - Pyrenées part deux

    First things first: Chapeau Richie Porte! As long as the race doesn't get called off on the rest day, you will have a chance to complete a tenth stage of a Grand Tour for the first time in eons. And within spitting distance of a top-10...

    Cycling is cruel. 90+ km in the front by yourself, a brilliant descent, in a sprint with a bunch of guys way better at going up that sprinting, and this happens.

    Col de la Hourcère - More, please. I'm sure the riders would disagree, because it shredded the race today.

    Population of Colombia: 50 million. Riders in top 10: Four
    Population of Slovenia: 2 million. Riders in top 10: Two.
    Population of the rest of the world: 7 billion. Riders in the top 10: Six.

    Since we're talking numbers, here is the likelihood of Pogacar being caught out on a flat stage in the future: Zero. He probably would not have taken so much time back yesterday if he had been even, but in the hills he's been the strongest guy in the Tour. Without that bad day on the flats, he would be in a different jersey tonight. Too bad he lost Aru today, but he's basically been making his own race anyway.

    The team strength situation is interesting. J-V has been looking the strongest, but Kuss is on a steep learning curve in the Tour, Bennett suffering from those two crashes in Nice, and while Dumoulin has been in the second group all week he's not been in the finale. Grenadier is either playing rope-a-dope and waiting for week three, or are just happy to not have the responsibility yet and are taking it easy. Sivakov as lanterne rouge is abnormal. We'll see if he recovers any more over the next day or two.

    Looking forward to Pogacar's Strava data from the top of the Marie-Blanque, when he almost rode head-on into the barriers. Glad nothing came of it, and classy of the others to let him regain his composure.

    Rest day tomorrow. It's a Pancake(-flat) Tuesday stage, but an area known for winds, and the day after the rest day can do weird things to the legs. If it is windy, I'm looking at DQS, Bora, and Astana to get all ornery and try to shred things up. The GC teams will need to be alert. Choose your sprinter (or classics guy) now and have a Happy Labour Day.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 10 - Asphalt cyclocross

    I'm glad this has evolved from a tri site to an endurance site. It means the collective bike handling ability of the members has increased 15% to 20%. But can you bunny hop onto and off of a traffic circle at 48 km/h? In a peloton? I can't. I would've been a smear of skin and lost bodily fluids about 15km into today's stage.

    ASO has continued their long-standing tradition of hiding positive tests, with zero riders, four team staff, and the DIRECTOR OF THE RACE being the only people to test positive yesterday. Nervous days ahead for Grenadier, since they have one of two strikes now...

    The day went as predicted, but driven as much by all of the direction changes as the wind. It looks like a truce was declared once the big guys started crashing.

    Is anyone else listening to The Move? Hearing Lance shill for Roka after all Oakley did for him over the years is a bit weird, but I guess that was in Oakley's pre-Luxotica days, so whatever.

    Another flat one tomorrow. Probably not as interesting as today (thank goodness), so unless there is a math error in the team cars, expect a small breakaway full of nobodies (and maybe De Gendt) to get out to a 12 or 13 minute lead quickly, then be caught with 200m to the finish. The map of the finish has a weird u-turn looking thing a few km out, but I'm hoping that's a Google Maps glitch. I expect Ewan to do his best to exact revenge on Bennett. Not many sprints left for these lads.
    AaronWebstey
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    I hope you’re wrong on the Bennet/Ewan finish tomorrow. In an effort to separate from #sworry, i swapped Ewan out in favor of the Irishman. Hopefully he can pull off back-to-backs and I can reclaim my position stop the leaderboard. Sagan looked pretty good in the finale today, too. So that maillot vert battle could actually come down to paris.
    AaronWebstey
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    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    I enjoy Johan quite a bit. He's the real draw of the show.
    visit Michigan July 7th to 11th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Tad_M said:

    I enjoy Johan quite a bit. He's the real draw of the show.

    If Johan posts his show before I finish listening to Lance, I usually switch to that. Wish I spoke Spanish because the show Johan does with JJR is probably pretty good.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 10 - Later news

    Not a shocker given the fall he took, but Pogacar (and my fantasy team) lost another teammate today in Davide Formolo. Davide looks so young that he makes Pogacar look like an old man, so hopefully he bounces back quickly. Pogacar has been mostly isolated for the whole race, so this probably won't change anything for him, but the other big budget teams are almost certainly whispering "We have many strong riders to support you... next year," in his ear these days.
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    KHilgendorfKHilgendorf Member, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM

    I hope you’re wrong on the Bennet/Ewan finish tomorrow.

    Damn it, @martin...
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Stage 11 - A legit sprint stage.

    Just a few quotes today:

    "Bonjour, mon nom est MATTHIEU LADAGNOUS. Vous m'avez laissé tout seul pendant plus que 100 km, m***ites espèces de c**. J'espère que vous avez tous honte. Maintenant, une bière, svp. En fait, deux bières... Mon travail ici est fini." - From today's breakaway artist.

    "No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you... he rubbed you. And rubbin, son, is racin'." - J-V Directeur channeling Harry Hodge to WVP, who to his credit did not even raise an eyebrow when Sagan 'rubbed' him.

    "My couch is far more comfortable than the lead car." - Christian Prudhomme

    "Ouchy." - Ion Iazagirre

    "Fuck, yeah." - Caleb Ewan

    Tomorrow is a rolling kind of day. It's the kind of day we saw when Bora dropped the hammer and the pure sprinters in an effort to get some points. I imagine Sagan will give his chain a once-over before the finish line tomorrow. Barring spectacular fireworks on the GC on that last Cat 2, this stage could be a replay of the MSR showdown between Wout and Alaphillipe.
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    edited September 10
    Stage 11 - Late Update

    Sagan was relegated for gently massaging WVP's ribcage with his elbow and shoulder today.

    ETA: brain fart on WVP. Obviously WVA as @Rash correctly noted below.
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    RashRash Member
    Was a bit funny that WVA was "shocked" by Peter's shove. As good as WVA is, he is not a true sprinter so the fact he was "shocked" by someone moving him out of the way is likely in part due to the fact he hasn't been in enough bunch gallops yet. Also, he sprint wins to date have typically come in reduced bunches with some sort of headwind or uphill ramp and he usually goes early so doesn't deal with the mayhem behind him.

    Not saying Sagan wasn't over the the line or that WVA can't sprint, but that was far from the worst thing I have seen in the sprints. Certainly no "shocking". Just look at Ewan's win last week - can anyone say line variation? (when you are going so much faster than everyone else though no one is really effected)

    I liked Bennett's post stage response best, "when did sprints get so soft?" note - I don't think he had seen the replay when he said it, but still liked it.
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    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    Sagan started his sprint, and in the replay you see him pause when WVA drifts right. Then he accelerates again and gives him the business. I don't see how they hold him accountable in that situation. He shouldn't have tried to butt him a 2nd time, but oh well
    visit Michigan July 7th to 11th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
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