Friday, 17 July 2015
#TDF2015: Sky smother attacks on Plâteau de Beille + lumpy finish in Rodez
Top 21 from yesterday's stage won in fine style by Joachim Rodriguez
Overall after Stage 12
Mirroring the weather yesterday's stage turned out to be a damp squib failing to live up to expectations as far as the anticipated shake up of the GC contenders was concerned.
Joachim 'Purito' Rodriguez produced a fine ride to win the stage from Jakob Fuglsang and Romain Bardet. In the Yellow Jersey peloton there were attacks on the final climb from Valverde, Quintana, Contador and Contador. All appeared to be half-hearted. None of these riders appeared to have an real zip in their legs. Down to the conditions – very hot initially and the cooler later in the rain – or are they just disheartened by the dominance of Sky? The effectiveness of Sky was highlighted by the presence of Richie Porte, almost all the way up the climb, and Geraint Thomas right to the finish protecting Chris Froome. All are now hoping that Froome asa bad time in the Alps.
Several riders, however, will have taken some encouragement from their performance yesterday. For once Nibali wasn't dropped and neither was Thibault Pinot. Romain Bardet had a good day coming in third. Others went backwards – Bauke Mollema, Tony Gallopin and Warren Barguil. Nibali's preformance has moved him up to 9th overtaking Bauke Mollema and Warren Barguil.
In the very early intermediate sprint André Griepel took the maximum points and closed to with two on current leader Peter Sagan.
Chris Froome's electrifying performance on Stage 10 continues to attract controversy. Some of the French press and people on social media appear to have forgotten how dominant some the performances of France's last Tour winner – Bernard Hinault – were. I well remember being on the Alpe d'Huez in 1986 when Hinault and Greg Lemond came up together well ahead of the rest of the field. Equally consider Eddy Merckx's career.
Stage 13: Muret to Rodez 198.5 kms
This stage takes the Tour into the southern part of France's Massif Central. The first part of the stage is relatively flat, particularly after three days in the Pyrénées. The Intermediate Sprint comes at 92.5 kms by which time a break will surely have gone, so there may be limited points available for the leading Green Jersey contenders unless someone like Sagan manages to get into the break.
There are three categorised climbs in the second part of the stage and for the finish there is a sharp 570 metre long climb at 9.6%, so surely not a day for the sprinters. Will it be one for John Degenkolb or Peter Sagan? I suspect it will be difficult for Sagan as he is unlikely to get much team support. The victory may again go to someone in the breakaway.
Sometimes these transitional stages that are supposed to be relatively easy for the GC contenders can be deceptive. Sky will need to be attentive. Also some GC riders could lose a little time on the final climb.