19 July 2015

Stage 15 TDF: Sprinters to the front please

Two stages of lone wolves and select teams

Stages 14 and 15 are now decided, which leaves only five days of racing left before the final stampede onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Who was not thrilled for Steve Cummings' win on Stage 14, as he executed a gnarly pass next to the barriers to get around Pinot and Bardet, who were busying themselves in a slapping fight. I enjoyed Steve Cummings post race interview. I am a sucker for those "when I was a kid, I loved the breakaway tactics, I dreamed of winning a stage" stuff. Interview: Winner's Interview from Stage 14 (01:41 English)nbcsports (via Steephill.TV).

Stage 14 Stage Win

1Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka4:23:43
2Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:00:02
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:03

Very rarely in this year's Tour have I had the opportunity to yell at the screen "just race, race!" But I did so at the end of Stage 14. I did not at the end of Stage 15. The sprinters were called to the front once again they entertained with power. Andre Greipel's speed over the finish line was 59.33 km/h.

Stage 15 Stage Win

1André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal3:56:35
2John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka
6Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
7Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

Greipel wins Stage 15 TDF 2015. Photo by PhotoNews via team Lotto Soudal


Give it your best 

Every athlete has heard this from his or her coach. The answer to the many whys we ponder while watching the Tour de France come down to team tactics, a rider having good legs on the day, or watching an athlete react in a way he has been trained to do many thousands times over. But sometimes the why is answered simply by witnessing a rider proving to himself that he can do it. Not proving to others (for that does not always work), but proving it for himself.

Why did Chris Froome push for one more second on Stage 13, why does he care about the polka-dot jersey? Maybe because he needs and enjoys seeing a daily result for his months (and years) of hard work. This is what he has been working for. Leaving it all on the field is what the best athletes do, plus it pads the self-confidence (yes I can do this!) when others doubt.

There is also time at stake and money to share with teammates. Remember every day the cash register rings at the Tour de France. Ca ching, ca ching: stage wins, KOM, sprints, days in any classification jersey - it all adds up in cash rewards. Prize money earned by the yellow jersey is typically shared with teammates. I also believe that when it come to Chris Froome, he wants his teammates to know he is working as hard for them as they are for him.

For most, racing to your best ability, is the reward.

General Classification after Stage 15 - every second counts!

1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky59:58:54
2Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:03:10
3Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:03:32
4Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:04:02
5Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo0:04:23
6Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:04:54
7Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:06:23
8Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:08:17
9Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:08:23
10Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing0:08:53

  • Yellow Jersey: Chris Froome
  • Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (44 points ahead of Greipel)
  • Polka-dot Jersey: Chris Froome (Joaquim Rodriguez will wear it on Stage 16)
  • White Jersey: Nairo Quintana
  • Combative: Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo!
  • Best Team: Movistar Team
  • Lanterne Rouge: Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18, behind by 3:14:49
  • 171 riders remain of the original 198 (list of withdraws)


A Red Dossard:

A previous post by Pedal Dancer® - when is it called most combative and when is it called most aggressive? Read: Aggressively Courageous and Combative


An Opinion

Hostility at the Tour de France

I'll put it out there - I too have felt a sadness and disappointment at the harm caused to the riders to the point I did not want to watch the Tour. Like a bad experience at a concert that makes you never want to go back to that venue again, the assault on Froome and Porte (and even Voeckler last year) has altered the way I look at the fans along the road, the reporters, the organizers.

We invest our spirit into a sport, spend the time on it, know it is entertainment, but it is also an escape from the lousy parts of the world at large. I don't like when hatred messes with good entertainment. I understand that this is sport where we root against the other guy as much as we root for our guy. But there is a code in sport that says fans must never physically interfere with the game.

Respect yellow jersey

I was saddened further by the failing to recognize the growing intensity of the problem. There was a noticeable absence of disapproval from official race organizers within the first 24hrs and few words of disapproval on media other than reporting the news. There comes a point when trying to distract with the positives of racing, or reporting on history of abuse, doesn't cut the mustard. I believe the fans needed to see and hear a united starightforward let's stop it now.

The voices are now speaking:
The Tour takes place in a beautiful natural setting demonstrating graceful speed and individual effort. The harshness of assault and insult seem rightly out of place. We can look to history and say this has happened many times against various nationalities and races, but that doesn't make it right or tolerable. Keep all hands off the riders; period. Personal insults hurled hurt, but threats and physical assault is not acceptable.

Christian Prudhomme: "If you don’t like a rider shut up or don’t even come."

good and fair competition tshirt

The majority of fans are there to see a good and fair competition (and to get free swag). Attending the Tour de France with family and friends is a long tradition for most. Yes I am for self policing; it is already a part of French culture and the reason I believe incidents do not happen more often. Yes I am for gendarmes issuing fines on the spot, as well as fans taking and showing video. I am not for riders complaining without representatives of the race organization standing behind them, this only leaves them vulnerable to more anger. There are nut-jobs out there who want attention; I wouldn't encourage them, I also wouldn't ignore them.

I stand by an earlier An Opinion I wrote as part of my Stage 12 report regarding the media: There are three kinds of encouragement.
Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire, France - a recommended town in France near today's stage.

This recommendation comes from my brother Mike, from a visit in 2014. Kim and Greg Hull, the chasing le tour photographers, also happened to have stayed in the village last night. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and makes for an interesting in between cyclist tourist spot in France on the Massif Central.

The village of Le Puy-en-Velay
Location of Le Puy-en-Velay in France
 A map of the mountain ranges of France

Labeling the mountains and general regions for cyclists.

Stage 16 Preview - Bourg-de-Péage / Gap,  201KM, Hautes-Alpes

Mark Cavendish might like tomorrow even less than he did today, I hope his health is better for tomorrow's stage. Stage 16 is basically 189 kilometers of steady uphill with the final 12 kilometers downhill. After the peloton reaches the outskirts of Gap they will loop up and around the Col de Manse. I haven't a clue who will win, but I hope all the GC guys stay safe until the end, the teams will be pressing to the line tomorrow. I hope the breakaway does not succeed until kilometer 166 because I have no interest in watching the same 5 men on the TV for 180km.

Directeur Sportif of Tinkoff-Saxo, Sean Yates, has been banned from tomorrow's stage after an incident when a bottle was thrown at a TV motorbike after a bike exchange between the team car and Peter Sagan. Phil Liggett described it as "a souvenir." Peter Sagan described it as:

Peter is doing just fine in this race.
Did anyone notice Peter Sagan surveying the crowd today from the podium? He was looking out at this crowd. I hope they will be there again for him on Stage 16!

There are plenty of "D" roads tomorrow - those roads perfectly suited for cyclists! 171 men remain in the race, after all they have been through, I'd like to see them all get to Paris safely.

Stage 16 route map TDF 2015
Stage 16 route profile TDF 2015
The final loop near Gap. They will have 2 km to sort things out after the descent. before the finish line.

 Estimated finish time on Monday: 17:20 CET (11:20 AM EDT, 9:20 AM MDT, 8:20 AM PDT).

Tuesday - big rest day!

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Posts by Pedal Dancer on the 2015 Tour de France: