With just about every serious sprinter on the plane home, tonights sprint was always going to be dull. Demare can’t win a sprint unless he is towed by a car to the final 10km, so he never had a chance. Kristoff I think is past his use by date. I don’t know where Colbrelli was, but 3 days in the alps have probably taken the sting out of most peoples legs. So it was always going to be Sagan who was given the perfect lead out from Kristoff and Demare. I bet Mitchelton Scott wish they had brought Caleb Ewan based on the performance of Adam Yates, They might well have been competing in the sprints. All that they will get from Ewan now, is his signature on another teams contract. The stage was dull, but I think it was a good recovery for the riders and gave Thomas a chance to reflect on what he has done and enjoy the jersey for a day. He is only the 3rd rider in history to win back to back alpine stages after Coppi and Zootemelk. I hope he doesn’t have his usual bad day in the 3rd week, but we shall see what the Pyrenees bring, if they can get through the Massif Central unscathed.
I have to say I love the l’alpe d’huez climb. It is always a stadium of excitement with regard to the race. Cycling is an amazing sport that allows fans unfettered access to the stars. But when that starts to affect the safety of the riders it really starts to be ridiculous. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike. In this case Team Sky. The boos leveled at the riders were audible for 13.8km up the Alpe. It is a complex issue with Froome. His case was leaked when it should not have been, then the UCI and WADA cleared him. Surely the boos should be leveled at the governing bodies for their inadequate handling of the issue. But does it warrant the physical attacks as were witnessed on TV, or being spat at. This is not just at Froome, but at other Sky riders. I don’t like the way Froome rides, but I won’t boo him for it, maybe just tell him to tuck his elbows in a bit. Thomas has been an entertaining rider, working in the service of others at the tour for the past 9 years, does he warrant the boos?
The crowd looked more feral than usual and bore more a resemblance to the stands in a European football stadium. Drunk blokes wearing football shirts and waving flags, letting off flares. I saw a lot of Portuguese flags which is odd as there are no Portuguese riders in the Tour this year. I suspect there were a load of football thugs on their way back from Russia looking to use all the spare flares they had once their teams were eliminated. A mountain stage at L’alpe d’Huez has become like the Running or the Bulls in Pamplona, something one has to do, and you have to get a selfie running next to a rider. Just stupid, and now Nibali is out of the Tour possibly because of these clowns.
Wow, after 3 days in the alps I felt weary and thought I did not have any words in me. Had to dig deep… The tipping competition was as dull last night as the stage. No change in the top three spots with Sicknote 3 holding on the the top spot. Il Papa maintained his Lantern Rouge spot with another solid performance of zero points. In a tight day of movers the big mover was Special K up 60 spots.
The next 2 stages will be testing again, but I suspect breakaways might be let to go, although there are chances for the GC riders to lose time on the steep finish to Mende, but the 1.7km flat after the climb might dissuade riders, other than maybe Big Tom.