OT - Tour de France stage 17

Submitted by jmblue on July 19th, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Last day in the mountains (already?) in the Tour.  Time for the riders to open those suitcases of courage and dance on the pedals:

The Col den Menté is pretty steep but given its early placement, is unlikely to see serious GC action.  It could be the site of a Voeckler/Kessiakoff battle for the mountain points, though.

The final two (or three, if you prefer) climbs of the day:

This is not the best perspective but on the Port de Balès, the riders ascend from nearly sea level to about 5,000 feet in altitude.  

Big questions: Is this the day the Wiggins diesel finally runs out of gas? Will Nibali launch another attack, or play it safe now that he's in good shape for the podium?  Can Van Garderen crack the top 5?  Can Voeckler hang on to the polka dots?  

 

Comments

jmdblue

July 19th, 2012 at 10:50 AM ^

but alas they just haven't seemed like they've been under any pressure at all.  I do think there may be a fair bit of movement from #4 to #15 in the GC.  Roche has had a nice tour and Tejay has been a wonder.  Looking forward to having a few at an establishment and watching without being distracted by the Tigers.

Cheers.

IronDMK

July 19th, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

I think that Wiggins Froome tandom is just too strong and can cover just about anything that the other contendors can throw at them.  I'm hoping that Cadel feels better today and throws an attack or two... just because.  I certainly hope that the riders don't just sit back and let the pieces fall where they may.  The last mountain stage needs a lot of crazy breaks and riders taking chances to win the stage and/or move up in the GC. 

reshp1

July 19th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

Man, you gotta feel a little bad for Froome to be handcuffed like that, he looked like he could've won the stage easily. There have been several points this year where Froome looked like he could have lapped the field, including Wiggins on the climbs. I understand Wiggins and Sky not wanting to upset the GC order if Froome attacked, but if Wiggins is as good a time trialist as he's reputed to be, why worry about a few seconds if your teammate has a chance to win the stage?

stephenrjking

July 19th, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

Pretty clear who the strongest rider is this year, and he's not wearing yellow. I don't recall there ever being a Tour winner whose success is so closely tied to the support of one teammate.

Not to say that Froome would be guaranteed to win if he were unleashed, but a lot of people will always believe that he could have.

reshp1

July 19th, 2012 at 1:53 PM ^

Exactly, wouldn't you want to pay that guy back? especially when all you have to do is wave him on? His interview really left a bad impression of him, he claims he didn't respond to Froome when asked if Froome could go on ahead for the stage because he was fantasizing about winning the tour.

We were talking about Nibali [in the last few kilometres] because we knew he was on his limit. Chris said he wanted to go for the stage and I said, ‘Yeah... ah... pff'. You know. I wasn't too sure on the time gap at that point but from the moment I crossed the Peyresourde [1.5km from the finish] I allowed myself to drift; at that point it was the first time I allowed myself to think that I've won the Tour. All the way up the last bit my concentration had gone. Everything about performance had gone and Chris was egging me on to take time and, ah, I was just in another world really.

You're not on the Champs yet mate. He better turn in the TT of his life Saturday because if Froome is even close he will forever be remembered as the second best rider this year.

jmblue

July 19th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

Yeah, it's a little surreal to watch this.  The last couple of days I've checked a few British newspapers to see what people think about the Froome-Wiggins situation.  They are toeing the party line.  Anyone in the comments sections who suggests that Froome may in fact be the stronger rider gets attacked. 

I was disappointed in Nibali today.  Liquigas did all that work to lead the peleton and for nothing.  I wonder what it was he said to Valverde when he left the breakaway group.

 

gjking

July 19th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

Too bad that Wiggins didn't do the right thing, and let Froome go with 2-3K left in the race. Froome and Sky very well could have won the stage, and Bradley would still have the yellow jersey, and still win the tour on Sunday.

Essentially there was no downside (how much could Bradley really lose over 2-3K when he was already ahead of all his competitors?), and the upside of winning a stage of the TDF, which is super prestigious.

But clearly Wiggins is not at all a class act, and not grateful for the best domestique service in the history of the TDF. No questions remain that Froome is the best rider in the TDF this year. After all, most of the time he lost was on stage 1, a flat stage, losing 1:25 in a crash. In all of the mountain stages, he has held back for Wiggins. Based on what we saw, he has likely been minutes better than Wiggins in the mountains.

I hope that Froome can find a team that will support him for future tours, and we can stop talking about British cycling for a guy who actually grew up in Kenya, and just became British 2 years ago. 

HighKnees

July 19th, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

Froome has a three year contract with Sky that began in 2011.  I have no idea whether riders can get out of those contracts, but if not, it seems like Froome isn't going to be the alpha dog unless Sky management sets Wiggins aside.  That's unlikely in the near term, given Wiggins's history of success in grand tours.

And while I do agree with you that Froome has proved himself worthy of leading a team, I wouldn't bash Wiggins too much.  There hasn't been a real signature victory moment for the yellow jersey in this tour, because the organizers designed such a boring route.  Most of the action was (and will be) in the time trials and not in the mountains.  Wiggins shined in the time trial and appears to be playing it safe through the mountain stages.  That's less exciting than, say a Lance Armstrong stare down of Jan Ullrich, but it's still quite a feat.  

Of course, we'll all be left to wonder what might have been if Froome had been allowed to ditch Wiggins in the mountains.  Could Wiggins have held his wheel?   

reshp1

July 19th, 2012 at 5:35 PM ^

That's unlikely in the near term, given Wiggins's history of success in grand tours.

What history? The only thing he's done in a grand tour was third in the Vuelta last year and that was behind Froome (who would have won if not for dropping back to help Wiggins). Sure, he will likely be the defending tour champion, but again, only because Froome is on his team and not attacking him.

snarling wolverine

July 19th, 2012 at 3:51 PM ^

Froome has played the good soldier, but man . . . he might regret this down the road.  Everything fell into place for him to win this year, if he chose to go for it.  That might not happen again.