Tour de France 2024

Also, Jasper Phillipsen is having a terrible year. Last year he was unstoppable and couldn’t be beaten on raw speed - today he was.

Stage 6 brought a little bit of excitement when the crosswinds started up, but in the end it didn’t last for long enough and wasn’t severe enough to cause any significant gaps and allowed the peleton to reach the final kms as a bunch, with sprinters ready to duel for the victory.

In the end, it was Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco–AlUla) who made it three different sprinters who had won a stage at the Tour. The winning margin for Groenewegen was just a few inches over Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin–Deceuninck).

Philipsen then lost his second place as he was relegated to 107th place for a dangerous swing to the right which forced Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease A Bike) to brake suddenly or risk a crash.

UAE Team Emirates will get the sleeping at the wheel award for having 7 of their riders nowhere near the front when the crosswinds hit leaving Pogacar alone and isolated in the lead group. How the team had nobody beside Pogacar or anywhere near the front is mind boggling and there will no doubt be some discussions had by the team this evening.

Stage Seven see the first of two individual time trials. “The Race of Truth” will be 25.3 km from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin. While not pan flat, the ascent in the middle of the stage isn’t so severe that it will immediately remove any non climbers from stage contention. That being said, all eyes will be on the top 8 riders who are separated by no more than 1:32.

For those who might be a little unfamiliar with the time trial, the riders depart the start line in reverse order in the General Classification so that the riders who are battling for the overall will be among the last to go for the stage. This means that the final 8 riders to go on Friday will be:
Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates)
Mikel Landa (Soudal-Quick-Step)
Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers)
Primoz Roglic (Red Bull Bora-Hangrohe)
Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates)
Jonas Vingegaard (Visma Lease a Bike)
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick-Step) The reigning world time trial champion
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

I’ll make the not so bold prediction that Remco will take the win and take back 5-8 seconds on Pogacar. I really don’t know what anyone else will do. I would have thought this would be a chance for Roglic and Vingegaard to maybe take back a few seconds on Pogacar, but I’m now inclined to think that he may take time out of them as Pogacar looks to be on fine form right now.

Should any of these 8 riders have a bad day, they could easily lose a minute. There will be three time checks at the 8.6, 14.4, and 19.9 km mark so we should have decent information throughout the stage as to how the riders are doing.

While Vingegaard is a fine Time-Trialler (as he showed last year), he is unlikely to beat Pogacar today. This is a flat ITT, which favors Pogacar quite a bit (similar to the finale a few days ago) since the latter is heavier. In addition, it comes early in the race, which even under normal circumstances will usually favor Pogacar, and more so today. The hilly, final ITT is where one would expect JV to take time.

Roglic, on the other hand, absolutely must take some time today.

And yeah, this is really Remco’s stage to lose.

Stage Seven saw the big GC contenders give their all. When the dust settled and everyone had done their 25.3 km, it was Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick-Step) who emerged victorious taking time on all his rivals. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) managed to hold his losses to Remco down to 12 seconds while both Remco and Pogacar took a bit more time against Jonas Vingegaard (Visma Lease a Bike) and Primoz Roglic (Red Bull Bora-Hansgrohe).

Stage 8 sees an up and down day with a large amount of categorized and uncategorized climbs. 183 km from Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises will see the riders either climbing up short sharp climbs or doing short descents. It will be tricky for the sprinters teams to control the breakaway and even have any sprinters still in the peleton at the finish line. This could be one for the breakaway and for the puncheurs in the race as the GC favourite teams are not likely to want to manage the breakaway as long as nobody who is a threat to the GC gets up the road.

The near constant up and down of Stage Eight say my prediction come our wrong and it was the sprinters who fought it out for stage honours. Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) took his second stage win of the Tour, just beating out Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceunick). Girmay also took second on the intermediate sprint (first on the sprint going to Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) to put even more distance between him and his rivals for the Green Points Jersey competition.

If there has been two riders who have stood out during the tour so far it would be Girmay with his historic first win and now taking a second stage and Abrahamsen who has been in countless breaks, gathering up as many mountains points as possible. The breakaway started as a three rider effort with Abrahamsen and two EF Education Easy Post riders, Stefan Bisseger and Neilson but Bisseger and Neilson slowed down early on and went back to the peleton leaving Abrahamsen on his own until he was caught with about 15 km left to go.

Sunday’s Stage Nine sees the riders having to deal with gravel which should make for a crazy stage and I will go out on a limb to say that at least some riders will fall and will abandon because of it (not necessarily any of the big GC contenders though).

Stage Nine sees the riders having to do some off-roading as the Tour brings in a stage with gravel sections. The 199 km stage from Troyes to Troyer will have 14 gravel sections, and 4 category four climbs, although as you can see from the stage profile, there are numerous other unclassified climbs on the stage.

This could be a treacherous stage where a mechanical could destroy a riders chance for an overall victory or a podium spot as they wait for someone to service their bike. Hopefully everyone will get through the stage unscathed and any separation will be down to being the better rider on the day and not due to any mishaps.

Stage Nine certainly didn’t lack excitement, even if it wound up not changing anything between the big 4 GC contenders. Both Pogacar and Evenepoel attacked, but each time were brought back, mostly by Vingegaard himself or with the help of the Visma Lease a Bike team. Vingegaard had the added hurdle of having to race on his teammates bike for the last 100 km as Vingegaard had a puncture and had to take Jan Trapnik’s bike. Despite all this, Vingegaard played amazing defence and didn’t lose anytime to Pogacar or Evenepoel. Roglic who was gapped a few times on the gravel kept rejoining the peleton on the paved sections and also wound up losing no time.

The big winners on the day were Anthony Turgis (Team TotalEnergies) who took stage honours and Canada’s Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) who moved into the top 10 of the GC with his third place finish. Gee’s movement into the top 10 was at the expense of Aleksandr Vlasov (Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe) who had a horror crash into a dish but despite looking very wobbly on his feet, was put back on his bike and continued to ride.

The hard luck loser of the day award would have to go to Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) who attacked his breakaway companions with about 10 km to go and looked set to win the stage before getting caught inside of the last km.

Monday brings the first rest day which will no doubt be very welcome to most of the peleton before they return on Tuesday for the flat roads of Stage Ten.

We’ve had the first rest day and now it’s on to Stage 10. The 187 km from Orleans to Saint-Amand-Montrond is mostly flat with a few bumps on it, notably one right near the end. This stage has not categorized climbs so there won’t be any mountains points on offer today. This should definitely be one for the sprinters teams and getting into the breakaway will be a mostly thankless task for the unfortunate riders who do get away.

I had a busy couple days and I’m time lagged before stage 8. Planning on trying to get through 8 and 9 today and then watching the last 5km of today. I kind of like watching these longer flat stages for the scenery and vibes but not in the cards today.

I’m a little surprised that Pogacar hasn’t put a little more space on his rivals at this point. He’s looked great so I can’t imagine he has worries but I still think it’s in play for other teams. I think Jonas was probably smart to not want to turn it into a two person race if that would have been possible on the gravel (I haven’t watched it yet so I just have headlines to go off of vs an understanding of what they might have actually been able to pull off).

It’s “fixed” this year by their ages, but I think there should be a rule that if you win a grand tour you’re no longer eligible for the young rider classification. It’s nice when there’s more jersey competitions available.

This is the first year in like 5 years that Pogacar hasn’t worn the white jersey. They even gave him a plaque for how many days in a row he had the white jersey. It was a crazy amount.

Stage 9 was interesting as two of the big three wanted to race while the other one was content to just stay with them and not risk getting left behind further along in the stage. Roglic spent most of his time just trying to catch up, which to his credit, he did. Short of any crosswind action, I think the next big excitement for GC is on Saturday and Sunday.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. On Stage 10 Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) beat out Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) and Pascal Ackermann (Israel-Premier Tech) to take the stage win. Philipsen has previously finished second three times in the first week, although one of those finishes was later demoted.

The stage itself was quite tame with very little action. With about 60 km to go the big GC teams went to the front and started to ride hard to defend against any crosswinds but the crosswinds weren’t strong enough to cause any splits in the peleton and a dozen km later everything had calmed down until the final run in.

Should be some excitement today. The finish here is a classic “Pogacar” finish (Roglic too, if he were in his best form), and it would be very out of character for TP if he did not try to put a few more seconds in the bank.

If JV is on form, though, one would expect him to mark his opponent closely (perhaps losing a few more seconds). I expect nothing from Roglic, but am very curious to see how Remco fares, since he has had trouble following both JV and TP when the latter accelerates.

Unreal stage, today. Drama. Crashes. The comeback.

The perennial doping issues in the sport have somewhat soured my enjoyment of Professional Cycling, but there is no other sport that is capable of delivering the kind of drama and narrative that today’s stage did. Really looking forward to the coming stages.

Pogacar brushed the question away, and I actually believe him (he’s not the kind of rider who ever seems as if he doubts himself), but there are without a doubt some worried people in the Pogacar camp tonight. It should not be possible for Jonas to beat Tadej on a finish like todays. That he was able to do so, is not a great sign for the latters prospects.

Jonas seems in great form and the stage is set for a grand battle in the last half of the Tour.

Remco paces himself and hangs on. Impressive racing by him so far.

Roglic over-estimated his own strength and then crashed. Crazy how often he does the latter in the Tour. Fortunately he reportedly did not suffer any major injury, but right now I think Remco will take that final spot on the podium.

Very well said, @strategy.

Stage 11 was a crazy one. Also, I apparently forgot to post a stage preview so here is a look at the stage profile:

It took 70 km or so before a breakaway finally got away on the stage with UAE Team Emirates pulling back any breakaway that looked threatening. With the up and downs of the stage, the constant attacking was hard on the riders. It was on the third last climb of the day when Pogacar attacked. Initially he had a lead of several seconds with Jonas and Primoz being the only two riders to try and keep pace. Remco didn’t join Primoz or Jonas.

Primoz however was only able to stay with Jonas for about half a km and then started to drop back and was caught by Remco. Jonas limited his losses and at one point was about 30 seconds or so behind Pogacar who took some time on the descent.

Remco did catch Primoz and they started to chase as well. On the second last climb Jonas seemed to come into his own and started to claw Pogacar back, taking second after second. While Pogacar did summit the second last climb and take the 10 bonus seconds, Jonas was close behind and got a handful of bonus seconds to limit the gain by Pogacar. Remco took the final bonus seconds on the climb with Primoz seemingly unable to challenge for the bonus seconds.

Jonas caught Pogacar on the final climb of the day and the two riders rode with each other, putting 30-40 seconds into Remco and Primoz as the two favourites, now confirming that they are clearly going to finish 1-2 (provided there are no falls or mechanicals) then kept a steady pace until about 1.5 km from the finish when Pogacar stopped taking a turn at the front. It eventually came down to a sprint and Pogacar, for the first time ever, lost a two-man sprint as Jonas was too fast and even with the slipstream, Pogacar was unable to come around him.

Primoz crashed during the final descent and Remco was able to make up time while Jonas and Pogacar played a bit of cat and mouse. It was a crazy stage that people will be talking about for the next few days. It is going to be a night of joy in the Visma Lease a Bike camp while there will be a cloud over the UAE Team Emirates camp I suspect.

Stage 12 should be a calmer stage. 203 km from Aurillac to Villeneuve-Sur-Lot has some lumps, but there should be at least a handful of sprinters who can manage to get over them and stick with the peleton. It will most likely depend on how exhausted everyone is and if anyone is willing to take some leadership in the peleton to chase down any breakaway or if everyone will allow the break to get away and stay away while the majority of riders try to rest and recover.

That Jonas was able to catch him, led the two of them for pretty much the entire last climb and won the sprint indicate that either Pogacar went sugar-cold, or the exertions of the Giro might be starting to catch up with him.

Most importantly, it shows that Jonas is clearly in a shape where he should be able to challenge Tadej. Which means that the stage is set for battle as we head into the real mountains. And that UAE may have to try to do something which they tend to not do very well (and which is against Tadej’s nature): ride defensively.

Roglic crashed, but since it was within the last 3 kms, he got the same time as Remco did. Which is good from the point of view of the neutral spectator, because it means that the battle for third place is still very much in play.

Let’s just hope that the Covid-19 spreading through the peloton right now does not end up affecting the battle for GC (it took Remco out of the Giro when he was winning - it would be a crying shame if it meant that we end up losing out on the fantastic 4-way battle that this Tour is promising).

Roglic out. :(