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Last alpine stage today, last chance for any real moves until the time trial.
I was pleased to see a few of the attacks go. I was quite surprised to see some of the guys get completely shelled, but man alive they must be fried at this point.
If Richie Porte didn't have bad luck, he would have no luck at all. He was the only one at the pointy end to have a flat.
Switzerland. Known for chocolate. + Hershey, PA. Known for what passes for chocolate. = Hirschi?
I'm 100% fine with Bernal leaving the race. He's young, he's hurt, and when you are hurt you compensate and mess up other stuff. Pretty sure his trophy case won't miss a Participation medal.
Hurray for gravel. In major stage races. At critical times. Meh. I think there is a bit more Saturday if they go high enough on the Planche des Belles Filles? Not sure.
Nicolas Portal received a proper tribute today. I know Ineos is a big easy-to-hate machine with lots of money and top riders, but Portal was a big part of the Ineos story and based on this race, its success. It's sobering the age at which he died, especially for a bunch of people like the members of this site who keep themselves fit.
This is a bit of a spoiler, but whatever. Kwiatkowski has been one of my favourite riders for years. World Champion, monument winner, super domestique. His efforts for Froome a couple of years ago were mind-blowing. He's lost a step in the last year or two, but he showed some strength today. Imagine those two negotiating the victory at the end of that stage. There will be a lot of discussion about the lack of competition at the end. A stage win would be huge for most riders in terms of prestige and salary, but these two have Monuments, a Grand Tour, a World Championship, all kinds of palmares. They were probably trying to figure out if Luke Rowe could catch up so they could gift him the stage. That image will be with me for a long time.
If you are a rider on one of many, many teams without a stage win this year, tomorrow is gonna sting a little. Only one person can win, it's a tough course, and it looks like a rainy day. If you are a leader, you're running your rain tires and focusing on staying upright. A crash tomorrow could have serious repercussions on the TT. I'm secretly cheering for Cofidis, because someone from the bank gave me a beer one time, and because they looked really good early in the race. But it'll probably be some guy from Sunweb.
I'm writing this about 20 minutes before the sprinters will straggle in. The winner crossed the line a couple of minutes ago.
Loto will be hoping for a generous time cut today. It was a fast stage so they should get it.
Not quite the script Bora (and the pain on Schachmann's face after his effort yesterday was plain to see) and CCC wrote, but pretty close. That was a solo win off a near-perfect team execution in a ridiculously fast last 10 km.
Today was the last chance for a lot of teams to win a stage. The ProCons will be looking to make it to France with their remaining riders, and hope for TV time. Bora will be hoping for a mountain stage or for Bennett to miss a time cut. I can't imagine Ineos is in stage hunting mode, but they don't have a stage, and would need a hero move or a couple of big missteps to get white or yellow.
FDJ should send Pinot home and see if he can recover for a later GT. They are the front runner for Biggest Disappointment this year. Gaudu or someone might win from a break and turn that around, but probably not.
I'm happy that Richie Porte is in the top 10 and still in the race. I am curious about how he made it back to a flying peloton after that late bike change. Expect he'll have a fine or time penalty, but a worthwhile one.
Anyone notice that Yates is still hanging around high up on GC? He has looked pretty comfortable. No threat to the top step, but he's obviously trying to secure a role as the Grenadier GC guy for one of the other GTs next year.
Tomorrow shouldn't decide the race (see: Stage 17), but it will thin the herd.
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.