Le Tour 22 – Stages 10-15 Week 2 sees a change in yellow

We left our week 1 round up in Chatel in the shadows of the high Alps.

It had been a fast and furious first week with Tadej Pogacar and Wout Van Aert carving the race and the stages up between themselves.

After a rest day in Morzine we got going again with the hero of the opening weekend Magnus Cort getting a well deserved stage win in Megeve. A narrow sprint win from a breakaway was such a Cort way of getting EF off the mark for this race after a number of close calls.

The next day we got our first look at the GC contenders at over 2000m of altitude although most pundits (including myself) had already called Pogacar the winner of this tour.

Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo team had other ideas repeatedly attacking the Slovenian in the valley roads around the colossal Col du Galibier. Pogacar was able to react to all attacks at this point but when the Dane attacked on the Col du Granon almost in site of the finish, the leader was dropped.

And how.

A deficit of around 30 seconds became over 2 and a quarter minutes of a lead for Vingegaard. It was now on.

The expected attacks the following day on Alp D’Huez didn’t really materialise with the crowds and the breakway situation maybe playing a part.

Tom Pidcock kept up the UKs recent claim on the Dutch mountain with a brilliant stage win forged in his downhill skills and backed up by his speed up hill.

Highlight of the Tour so far for me.

As we headed towards a weekend of 40 degree heat a breakaway was finally allowed its day with Mads Pedersen a deserving stage win after managing his compatriots on the final climb into St Etienne.

Yesterday as the race trundled into Carcassonne we had time to reflect on a brilliant second week packed with mountain views and twists and turns in the race.

Jumbo’s minds were bought back into sharp focus however. Primoz Roglic had left the Tour at the start of the day as a result of his Roubaix tumble. However they hadn’t budgeted on Steven Kruijswijk hitting the deck and breaking a collar bone. Advantage Tadej?

Its all to play for as we head into the key final week of this Tour de France… I am not going to pick it now!

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCITime
11 VINGEGAARD JonasJumbo-Visma2516″59:58:28
22 POGAČAR TadejUAE Team Emirates24″2:22
33 THOMAS GeraintINEOS Grenadiers2:43
44 BARDET RomainTeam DSM4″3:01
55 YATES AdamINEOS Grenadiers4:06
66 QUINTANA NairoTeam Arkéa Samsic6″4:15
77 MEINTJES LouisIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux6″4:24
88 GAUDU DavidGroupama – FDJ4″,,
99 PIDCOCK ThomasINEOS Grenadiers10″8:49
1010 MAS EnricMovistar Team9:58

More questions than answers from smaller tours

As we hurtle full gas towards the Tour de France there have been a number of shorter one week races going on to hone the skills of the multi day rider.

We have seen Primoz Roglic in the Tour de L’Ain and Dauphine (ahead of the final stage!) and Remco Evenepoel in the Tour of Poland. But some if not all of that good work could have been undone by crashes leaving us no further on in terms of indicators of form.

Roglic was great in the northern half of France and but for a spill had seen off Ineos in the Dauhpine. So much so that Chris Froome was sitting up on the climbs, Geraint Thomas was complaining about his weight and Egan Bernal had a back injury that saw him fail to start the last stage.

It could well have been Jumbo’s race with Roglic but he was struggling after a crash and also failed to complete the Dauhpine.

This left the door open for Thibault Pinot to win the race with him leading into the last stage and having a ‘combine’ of the major French contenders trying to keep him at the head of the GC.

However, he couldn’t watch the whole peloton and Dani Martinez of EF Education First/Cannondale snuck off up the road with Tadej Pogacar and held on to win the race. He might have made a few pundits top 10, but I don’t remember anyone tipping Martinez to win the race so this was a real upset.

As well as losing Roglic, Jumbo saw Steven Kruijswijk hit the deck and abandon. So far from seeing off Ineos ahead of the Tour de France and stamping their authority, there are now questions about the teams fitness.

There will also be questions over mentality after the bad crash in the Tour of Poland which was caused by Dylan Groenewegen and left Fabio Jakobsen with every bone in his face broken and in an induced coma.

Whilst the team have been present in most races since, there could be a reaction coming.

The accident in Poland highlighted the danger in the sport and it was in the Il Lombardia classic at the weekend that the Remco Evenepoel run of wins came to an end after he overshot a corner before vanishing over a bridge.

He is young enough to come back physically but will this accident have an effect on his mental ability to push downhill and in sprints?

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned to the blog for more ahead of the Tour de France.

The Dutch are coming

Its been a while in coming, but the Dutch are coming back.

As a kid I grew up watching John-Paul Van Poppel dominate sprints whilst the twins, Gert-Jan Theunisse and Steven Rooks soared through the mountains. 

Greg LeMond won the most exciting Tour in history in 1989 but one of the best stages for me was the mountain time trial to Orcieres Merlette where Rook won. 

It was in part down to those two that Alp D’Huez was christened the “Dutch Mountain”. 

Despite a few false dawns recently the golden era seems to be returning. 

We had Tom Dumoulin going close in the Vuelta last season before an equally late race collapse by Steven Kruijswijk in the Giro. Bauke Mollema was up there in the Tour de France and despite also faltering in the final days the trend was still up. 

I think we will see a grand Tour winner flying the horizontal tricolour before we do that of a Frenchman, but it will be close. 

The old country’s are coming back into cycling rapidly and we had better watch out.