15 July 2015

Stage 11 TDF: a pack of GC contenders and a few cows

Fantastic mountain scenery, no big changes

It seems a bike race was just an excuse to send a helicopter over the most beautiful scenery to date on this grand tour of France. No wonder le tour never starts in the Pyrenees, the rest would look so dull in comparison.

The typical viewer's commentary went something like this ... Wow that is beautiful, look at that lake, look how many people are on that climb, nice mountain biking trail, I want to go hiking there, nice costume on that fan, whoa close corner, watch out cows in the road! ... who is in what break? ... beautiful road, wish I was there, fantastic scenery ...  oh yes, the race, must concentrate on the race.

Warren Barguil slaloms cows while descending the Tourmalet, Tour de Fracne 2015. Photo via Sky Sports

Rafal Majka was going to win this stage, it was clear, but the announcers needed to make it sound like there was still a race on with Dan Martin chasing and passing Serge Pauwells. There was not. Rafal was going to win, while Froome was down the road tucked in nicely with his GC clan dripping sweat along each hairpin corner. It was nice to see Bauke Mollema go for his 0.08 second over Froome at the line.

Rafal Majka wins Stage 11. Photo via Cycling New Live coverage
Good post race comments by Rafal Majka: Winner's Interview from Stage 11 (01:25 English) nbcsports (via Steephill.TV). Nice dedication to Ivan Basso. Rafal sure is a capable rider.


Stage 11 Results (full stage results)

1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 5:02:01
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:00
3 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18 0:01:23
4 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 0:02:08
5 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:34
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:03:34
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:05:11
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:19
9 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:05:21
10 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:05:21

GC Standings after Stage 11

1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky41:03:31
2Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:02:52
3Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:03:09
4Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:59
5Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:04:03
6Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo0:04:04
7Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:04:33
8Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:04:35
9Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin0:06:44
10Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing0:07:05
11Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:07:47
12Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling0:09:26
13Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team0:10:27
14Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:13:57
15Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:16:33
16Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:16:38
17Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step0:17:55
18Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:19:14
19Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha0:20:42
20Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:22:07

  • Yellow Jersey: Chris Froome
  • Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (back in green! 7 points ahead of Greipel)
  • Polka-dot Jersey: Chris Froome (Richie Porte will wear it on Stage 12)
  • White Jersey: Nairo Quintana
  • Combative: Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
  • Best Team: SKY
  • Lanterne Rouge: Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge (behind by 2:04:14)
  • 177 riders remain: there were 6 men who abandoned on the road today. A total of 21 men have left the Tour by mid-day in the stage race.

Withdraws on Stage 11

191NERZ Dominik BOAwithdrawal
151COSTA Rui Alberto LAMwithdrawal
43BENNATI Daniele TCSwithdrawal
18VAN SUMMEREN Johan ALMwithdrawal
15GASTAUER Ben ALMwithdrawal
8TAARAMÄE Rein ASTwithdrawal

There were two riders lost by AG2R La Mondiale today. Cycling News also reported: "time cut should have been 15% of 5:02:01, so 45:20. [Zakkari] Dempster still should have been outside the cut."

Trouble at the Office

Yesterday we watched Vincenzo Nibali get fired by (mean terrrible horrible) Astana Team Manager Alexandre Vinokourov, and be replaces within minutes as Astana's team leader by Jacob Fuglsang. Well, today Fuglsang came in 46th on the stage, left in the dust by Tanel Kangert (22nd) and Vincenzo Nibali (23rd). I would say that is a show of loyalty to the leader on the road. Fuglsang is 18th on GC, Nibali is 11th and Rein Taaramäe has abandoned during Stage 11.

There is also something wrong at Cannondale-Garmin. Dan Martin keeps trying and seems to be on his own, battling, winding up second.  Designated team leader Andrew Talansky has not done much at this year's tour, currently in 15th on GC.

Let's talk numbers!

Fast descent: @LeTourdata reports "Top recorded speed on the descent to Luz-Saint-Sauveur: Valverde (MOV) at 93.38km/h."

Let's talk climbs!

Velopeloton brings us a description of the climbs of the Pyrenees. An excellent collection of maps, photos and strava for each climb. VeloPeloton Cols of the Pyrenees.

Let's talk history!

You can not climb the Tourmalet without remembering Octave Lapize, the first man to crest the Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmalet when the climbs where first included in the tour in 1910. His response to race organizers - "Assassins!" Better gearing and lighter bikes in today's modern tour only resulted in perfuse sweating today, no calling of names. Le Grimpeur has the whole Assassins story here.

The famous rebuilding of a bike fork took place in a shed in 1913 by Eugène Christophe on the east side of the Tourmalet. Velopeloton brings us the story when Eugen walked two hours down the Tourmalet "path" only to find a blacksmith who was forbidden by race rules to help assist in repairing his broken fork. These days mechanics leap out of still moving cars to assist their riders. It is a story worth reading.

The building that housed the famous forge still exists in Campan (repaired and with a new roof) and is a national historic site in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan in the Pyrenees. It is marked with a new commemorative plaque placed in 2003.

were the bellows stoked inside this small workshop?
the new plaque on the reported site of the 2 hour fork repair
 old plaque
Location of Saint-Marie-de Campan (between the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d'Aspin)

Let's talk Peter Sagan!

Mark Cavendish might be the leading modern day sprinter, but Peter Sagan spends a lot of time in the color green throughout the year. In 2015 he has already won the points classification at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse. He probably would have had more time in green had he not been busy wearing white and yellow in other races.

Peter Sagan has won the green jersey competition for the past three years at the Tour de France, you bet he wants to win it for a fourth time. He is 25 years old, he is a sprinter and puncheur.

In 2012, Peter stood with Bradley Wiggins, Thomas Voeckler and Tejay Van Garderen on the podium in Paris.

2012 podium in Paris Tour de France.  Photo credit to Graham Watson for VeloNews
In 2013, Peter stood with Chris Froome, and Nairo Quintana on the podium in Paris. Quintana also earned the white jersey classification this year.

2013 podium in Paris Tour de France.
In 2014, Peter stood with Vincenzo Nibali, Thibaut Pinot and Rafal Majka on the podium in Paris.

2014 podium in Paris Tour de France.
In 2015, my guess is Peter will stand with Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Nairo Quintana.

Stage 12 Preview

Stage 12 preview of climbing in the Haute-Loire of the Pyrenees, will be coming soon. I have ridden in this area, mostly because I was inspired by watching the Tour de France on TV. It has beautiful green hills and very rough surfaced roads. Bring new tires to this stage!
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