23 July 2015

Stage 18 TDF: A French victory

Lesson #1: Do your homework!

If there is one lesson from today, it is that studying a climb pays off. As Romain Bardet descended the final kilometers of Stage 18 into Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, it was clear he knew every corner, he knew the road furniture and the corners. He was not taking risks, this was a local rider executing a plan that had been studied at training camp.

Romain Bardet knows this land; it helps that he is a business student in nearby Grenoble. Bardet's work ethic should be an example to every young French rider. Not only can you dream big and train harder, but doing your homework really matters. Smart, studied racing is what we were shown on Stage 18. No matter if he said he did not feel all too well physically in the earlier kilometers of today's stage, knowing the route eases the mental energy. Calm, confident mental energy makes for a stage winner.

Romain Bardet wins Stage 18 and moves himself into the Top 10 overall General Classification of the 2015 Tour de France.

Romain Bardet wins Stage 18 TDF
Stage 18 Win (full results Stage 18)

Here is the dream team of climbers and break away specialists. Keep this list of riders tucked away for your 2016 Fantasy Tour de France teams:

1Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5:03:40
2Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:00:33
3Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team0:00:59
4Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
5Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka0:01:01
7Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:50
8Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
9Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin 0:01:55
10Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin0:03:02
11Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
12Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
13Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
14Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
15Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
16Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
17Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
18Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
19Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
20Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team0:03:21
21Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
22Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida0:05:12
23Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo0:05:33

General Classification after Stage 18

1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky74:13:31
2Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:03:10
3Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:04:09
4Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:06:34
5Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo0:06:40
6Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:39
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:08:04
8Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling0:08:47
9Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing0:12:06
10Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:13:02

  • Yellow Jersey: Chris Froome
  • Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (89 points ahead of Andre Greipel)
  • Polka-dot Jersey: Chris Froome (countback; Joaquim Rodriguez wears on Stage 19)
  • White Jersey: Nairo Quintana
  • Combative: Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
  • Best Team: Movistar Team !
  • Stage 18 Winner: Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
  • Lanterne Rouge: Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) FDJ.fr, behind by 4:06:38
  • 161 riders remain of the original 198 (list of withdraws)


The first appearance of the Lacets de Montvernier climb was spectacular as riders and cars carved their way up the hillside (video aerial over Lacets de Montvernier by NBC). I am always curious from what angle the very experienced tour photographer Graham Watson (@grahamwatson10) will shoot the shot. Here is his photo from today:

Lacets de Montvernier climb by Graham Watson
Here is mine from eight years ago. Who shot is better? Okay Graham did. I just needed some riders in my shot!

Lacets de Montvernier climb by Karen Rakestraw


Big change for the dots today. The Climbers Jersey is still in contention (Rodriguez wears the jersey by count back):

1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha68 pts
2Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale68
3Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team64
4Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky61

A Leadout Man Goes home:

Mark Renshaw is out of the race and will not be there to help Mark Canvendish as his powerful leadout man in Paris. Uh-oh. He too was suffering stomach issues and had to abandon during the stage.

115RENSHAW Mark EQS withdrawal DNF

That was a hard stage:

Chris Froome looked tired after the stage; the red eyes and low cheeks showed his fatique. That is a good sign in a cyclist - that is what you see when a racer fights hard. Froome also knows these climbs, and that passage between the Glandon and Croix de Fer is used often in races in France, but today's stage was tough for him, as it was for everybody.

We know who won, who brought up the rear? This is the part I look for on stages like today - who was left behind, who suffered? Today there was a large group of 60 men who crossed the line 0:35:51 behind Romain Bardet. Full stage results at: CyclingNews.com

A race camera moto took out Jacob Fuglsang:

It was a race photo moto that caused Fuglsang to hit the pavement today while climbing, barely seen at the edge of this video. Red card!:  Race moto takes out Jakob Fuglsang at the front of Stage 18 (01:08 English)nbcsports (via Steephill.TV). Jacob's interview after the race about being "driven down from behind" from the moto driver (near the end of the video) "He can be happy he is not close to me now, that motorcycle rider" said Fuglsang.

Who else needs a lesson in French?

Romain Bardet eloquently delivered one of the most gracious stage victory interviews of this year's tour (although that doesn't mean I like it any more than Simon Greschke's). Perhaps his graciousness is something he has learned in business school, but his impressive inclusion of thankfulness to the fans who lined the route was very professional. Meanwhile his teammate Jan Bakelants was vocal in praising their Focus bikes. Who is working to secure sponsorship - team AG2R La Mondiale, that's who.

Lesson #1 in French - do your work
Lesson #2 in French - be gracious
Lesson #3 in French - say thank you

The Frenchman of the Peloton who were in the Top 50 today on Stage 18:

1. ROMAIN BARDET (age 24) AG2R La Mondiale @romainbardet
Pro Cycling Stats Page 
Romain Bardet. Photo Patrick Dorchel on cyclismactu.net
2. PIERRE ROLLAND (age 28) Team Europcar @PierroooRolland
Pro Cycling Stats Page 
Pierre Rolland. Photo velorooms.com
7. CIRIL GAUTIER (age 27) Team Europcar (Does not Tweet)
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Ciril Gautier. Photo lechodelargoat.fr
10. WARREN BARGUIL (age 23) Team Giant-Alpecin @WarrenBarguil
Pro Cycling Stats Page 
Warren Barguil. Photo Cor Vos on VeloNation
25. MIKAEL CHEREL (age 29) AG2R La Mondiale @mikaelcherel
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Michael Cherel. Photo Twitter profile
31. FLORIAN VACHON (age 30) Bretagne - Séché Environnement @vachonflorian
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Florian Vachon. Photo wikipedia
32. THOMAS VOECKLER (age 36) Team Europcar  @voecklerthomas
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Thomas Voeckler. Photo by Danielle Haex VeloVoices.com
39. PIERRE-LUC PERICHON (age 28) Bretagne - Séché Environnement @PerichonPLuc
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Pierre-Luc Perichon. Photo vcamberieu.fr
44. THIBAUT PINOT  (age 25) FDJ.fr @ThibautPinot
Pro Cycling Stats Page
Thibaut Pinot. Photo cyclismactu.net
Hooray for the French!


Over the Croix de Fer we go tomorrow, Andy Hampsten's favorite climb, and a climb typically combined with today's climb of Col du Glandon. The finish is at yet another ski station - La Toussuire - Les Sybelles (local tourisme video) (how to pronounce Toussuire). More on the preview of Stage 19 later today.

One of the grandest loops in the Alps - Stage 19

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