2016 Tour de France
July 1, 2016 10:25 AM - Subscribe

The 102nd Tour de France starts tomorrow!

198 riders will tackle 21 stages in four countries over three weeks, ending in the traditional victory parade into Paris on Sunday 24th July.

In the overall competition, Chris Froome and his Sky mountain train are going for a third victory, but Nairo Quintana, last year's runner-up and best young rider, is back for another try. Can Alberto Contador take his third second victory, and can the trio of young French hopes Warren Barguil, Thibaut Pinot, and Romain Bardet give France the win they have been waiting for since 1985?

Peter Sagan has won the green jersey four years in a row, can he make it five or will the pure sprinters spoil the party? Mark Cavendish is third on the all-time stage wins list, with 26; can he take two more and equal Bernard Hinault's record, or will a resurgent Marcel Kittel and his magnificent hair beat him in the sprints?

And most importantly: will any of this year's contenders be able to pull off polka dot shorts?

Official site
INRNG stage-by-stage guide to the Tour, plus predictions for the polka dot, green, and yellow jersey winners.
If you want to watch live, in the US it's on NBC (online only, I think), in the UK it's on ITV and Eurosport, other countries check out steephill.tv for links and broadcast schedules.
posted by penguinliz to Cycling Club (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Great start for Contador.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:35 AM on July 2, 2016

Yeah, time for the three weeks of the year when you brush up on your French medical terms. Sounds like he is banged up - and the shoulder grazes he was having treated mid-race looked not fun at all - but nothing broken so hopefully he can stick it out and get better before they hit the serious GC stages. Looked like everyone was pretty nervous and hopefully it will all settle down.

Meanwhile I am delighted for Cavendish, I thought this might not be his year since he's training for the Olympics and Kittel was flying in the Giro, but he's come away with another win and his first yellow jersey. Plus I am a sucker for riders taking their small children up on the podium with them.
posted by penguinliz at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2016

The TV angle was not the best (and I was watching on my phone), but Contador was lucky on that fall - he was dangerously near the curb and might have been just inches away from finishing his TdF with a broken something.

Cav made the most out of those turns that broke up the Ettix and IIRC Lotto Soudal trains. Wasn't expecting, but he finally got his yellow jersey.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2016

Contador took another tumble. Was that his great plan for the TdF?

Great job by Sagan on the sprint, made Alaphilippe pay for his lack of experience.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2016

Thanks for starting this thread! I have just returned from vacation in Canada and I'm bringing myself up to date. Looks like Porte has already had a very bad day, quelle surprise!

Lovely for Cavendish to get that jersey and a win for a day, for me the TdF is just not the same without him. Also, great to see Sagan continuing to put it all together and win the races he wants. Hopefully he's well treated by the team switch.
posted by selfnoise at 2:29 PM on July 3, 2016

3rd in a bunch sprint and now a win against Alaphilippe and Valverde when the pure sprinters are out the back, Sagan continues to amaze me. I feel sorry for Alaphilippe who was doing some handlebar bashing at the end, but I think there will be a lot more chances for him, and Sagan is an unstoppable positioning machine. And he's done this without a team to assist him, imagine what he could do if Bora built more of a team around him next year.

Porte might have been better off getting a wheel from a rival team and taking the time penalty, couldn't have been slower than that wheel change. I couldn't tell what exactly happened but BMC's dual leader strategy presumably means a split team looking after him and van Garderen, and no one to give Porte a wheel or pace him back after his puncture. Chris Boardman (post-race pundit for ITV) was harsh but probably correct when he said that Porte is not the man to make up a 2 minute deficit in the mountains.

Rafal Majka is already 9 minutes 53 off the pace, so there's no plan B for Tinkoff's GC if Contador's crashes start to bite.
posted by penguinliz at 3:45 PM on July 3, 2016

Alaphillippe seems like he's in the position Sagan was a few years ago. He's tremendously strong, but just doesn't have the complete game in his head yet. Given his youth, he should be fine... anyone who is contending with Sagan one day and then Valverde another is going to be around making heads turn for a long time. And since he won the Tour of California this year and Sagan the prior year, you can see the parallels.
posted by selfnoise at 5:44 PM on July 3, 2016

Mark Cavendish is third on the all-time stage wins list, with 26; can he take two more and equal Bernard Hinault's record

Yep! By a gnat's whisker from Griepel.

or will a resurgent Marcel Kittel and his magnificent hair beat him in the sprints?

Not today! Couldn't really tell what was going on with Kittel and his leadout men but they didn't get it together. Still, tomorrow is another flat stage

Jasper Stuvyen wisely avoided polka dot shorts but he did rock some homemade polka dot shoes.
posted by penguinliz at 9:28 AM on July 4, 2016

Someone pointed out on Twitter that Cavendish is ahead by a country mile once you take out time trials. Not that it affects where you see him vs someone like Hinault, but it points to the fact that there's never been anyone like him when it comes to winning sprints.
posted by selfnoise at 11:07 AM on July 4, 2016

Away from the tour, it's starting to look like there's more fire behind the smoke of the rumors that BMC will be folding. (Sorry, article in French)

Once again it seems like the larger team budgets may not be sustainable. Unclear where that leaves the Worldtour in a few years.
posted by selfnoise at 5:06 AM on July 5, 2016

Either we'll see more oil money teams, or the number of world tour races and average salary will decrease along cuts on sponsorship. Or the number of world tour teams decreases, and there's more slots for continental tour wildcards.

But it's not looking good.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:38 AM on July 5, 2016

Twitter rumour vine says that the Bahrain team may be pushed back till 2018.

So Tinkoff is done at the end of the year, IAM is out at the end of the year, BMC is possibly out at the end of 2017 unless they get a new sponsor, Orica-Bikeexchange will lose Orica's sponsorship at the end of 2017 too. Coming in we have Bora-Hansgrohe, and maybe Bahrain in 2018? I know sponsors sometimes appear at the last minute but that doesn't look like a lot of fights for World Tour places in the next couple of years.
posted by penguinliz at 4:21 AM on July 6, 2016

Van Avermaet with a HUGE performance. Easy to forget what a great year he was having before the crash in Flanders. Between him and Sagan, it's been a great year so far for versatile strongmen who often seem to come in second.

I have to admit I'm pretty surprised he pulled it off, but chapeau. He has a huge buffer in yellow to enjoy before the serious climbing starts.

Contador loses some time, no big surprise as he's riding hurt. Nibali loses more time, but he always rides hot and cold and (theoretically) was never here to win to begin with.

(I'm not sure what the deal is with Orica. They just signed that new title sponsor so I guess they just have to sign another now. I really like the team so I hope they make a go of it.)
posted by selfnoise at 9:04 AM on July 6, 2016

It's a crying shame that the track training for Rio has ruined Cav's ability to sprint.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The fact that I was totally wrong about Cav's prospects this year is one reason I am enjoying it even if it has doomed my fantasy tour team, but also the sprints seem a bit more freeform this year? Less sprint trains setting up and delivering their man to the spot, and more positioning and timing and deciding which wheel to follow and when to go. The Tour data account posted thisneat heatmap suggesting Kittel was faster but went a bit too early and Cav timed it better to get the win. Although the comments also suggest that it could all be nonsense if it's GPS-based, I don't know enough to know for sure.
posted by penguinliz at 3:38 AM on July 8, 2016

There have been a lot of complaints about the sprint finishes being crowded with GC bodyguards due to the 3KM rule, and that may be contributing. That said, this is the first time EVER that the tour has made it to stage seven without a single dropout. No first week carnage for once!

Cavs is great particularly when seeing him zip around the huge Germans. There's something inherently funny there. I do think it's weird seeing articles with headlines like "is it time to start considering Cavendish one of the best ever?". My dude, that time was like five years ago. This is just resume padding.
posted by selfnoise at 4:58 AM on July 8, 2016

Ok, so admittedly Van Avermaet is not a climber, but what the hell is he doing in the break?

I get it, but it's an awfully nice amount of confidence coming from the GC teams. Something slightly irritating about it.
posted by selfnoise at 6:15 AM on July 8, 2016

Getting into the break allows the rest of BMC to sit up and leave it to other teams to reel in. He's Good Guy Greg.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:53 AM on July 8, 2016

Steve Cummings does what Steve Cummings does. Dimension data now 4 for 7(!).

And then the flamme rouge inflatable collapses on the main peloton like an angry octopus. That's definitely one of the weirder ways to get a finish neutralized.

Pinot suffered today and seems out of the running for yellow. Quite depressing... the race needs a French hope.

(for the record, I wasn't criticizing Van Avermaet above, who did wonderfully. I was talking more about the lack of respect in letting him go which is totally logical but feels weird to me. Just my problem I suppose).
posted by selfnoise at 8:23 AM on July 8, 2016

I heard somewhere, probably The Cycling Podcast, that Pinot doesn't like the heat? Maybe he'll get acclimatised and bounce back, or France will have to pin their hopes on Romain Bardet.

Good day for Cummings and Dimension Data, and making it even more awkward for the British Olympic team selectors who didn't choose him for Rio. Surprised to see Nibali in the break and I still don't know what the plan was there.
posted by penguinliz at 1:22 PM on July 8, 2016

A group of the ten or twelve best riders letting their greatest threat escape on a descent is... something. It's hard to believe that there wasn't a single person in that group capable of bridging. All respect to Froome but he's not what I would call a peerless descender.

Particularly with Quintana you have to imagine he needs all the time he can take. Perhaps he's very confident about tomorrow. But at least with him you get that he's not the kind of guy to do what Froome did here... his descents sometimes feel like they go a bit gingerly.

In any event, it's probably time to examine the top fifteen before tomorrow's summit finish.

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 39:13:04
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:16
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:16
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:17
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:19
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:23
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:23
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:23
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:23
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:23
11 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:23
12 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team 0:00:34
13 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:00:34
14 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:01:51
15 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:55

Yates obviously is having the ride of his life so far. Also surprising to see Purito up there considering his form hasn't been as great the last few years. Bardet representing France well and also had a nice little dig today. But there is a LOT of climbing yet to go, including the Alps and some tough time trials.
posted by selfnoise at 9:09 AM on July 9, 2016

And here's the GC after today:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 44:36:03
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 00:00:16
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep 00:00:19
4 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:23
5 Joaquim Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 00:00:37
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:44
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:44
8 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky 00:00:44
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida 00:00:55
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:01

Once again, Adam Yates riding out of his mind right now. 23 years old and racing without his twin brother, who is suspended because Orica's team doctor forgot to apply for a routine TUE on his inhaler.

Contador drops out, greatly increasing the chance that the rest of this race is just a cold war between Movistar and Sky, with Froome separating from his rivals on the TTs. I would put good money on that at the moment. And then we reach the Alps and Quintana tries to make a move? Maybe? Will it be too late like last year?

Dumoulin shows again that he can win basically whatever he wants on a good day. Also continues to be irritatingly handsome.
posted by selfnoise at 9:07 AM on July 10, 2016

WOWOW. What a stage. Inhuman performance.

Bobke is gesticulating wildly, complaining about Quintana holding fire. He can be such a Skip Bayless sometimes.
posted by rhizome at 12:04 AM on July 11, 2016

On the one hand, there's the age old adage of Don't Dance With The Champ, which seems especially pertinent given Sky's huge team talent advantage and the time trials.

On the other hand, this tour has SO many mountains. There is certainly space to go and scope to find a weakness in Froome. We'll see what happens Thursday as it's probably the best single moment for a summit attack this tour.
posted by selfnoise at 6:37 AM on July 11, 2016

I dunno, Porte and Dan Martin (honorable mention: Bauke Mollema) seemed pretty effective at putting the hurt on Froome's support. If ppl gang up on Sky to take out the king, it could be a very exciting last third.
posted by rhizome at 1:04 PM on July 11, 2016

There's a How the race was won video up for stages 1-5 which does a great job of showing how the sprinters manoeuvre and position themselves in the final few km.

Yesterday was a fun finish as well, some nice teamwork from Orica-Bikeexchange to blunt Sagan's sprint just enough for Matthews to get it. Today looked sprinty but the wind is going to make it fun, and Twitter pointed out this video of what the wind might look like on Ventoux tomorrow.
posted by penguinliz at 5:59 AM on July 13, 2016

Apparently the ASO is considering changing the Ventoux finish, no decision yet. I assume they are using the typical exposed approach to the summit? It's notorious for brutal wind since the French cut all the trees down on the mountain centuries ago.

Meanwhile echelons are definitely forming today with the wind blowing. We'll see what happens!

The funny thing about Sagan is that he sometimes presents it as a point of pride that he doesn't take a tactical approach to races. Which is fine and sort of adds to his appeal in a strange way, but it may also be a way to deflect from the fact that his team doesn't always seem to support him in the most consistent way. Maybe next year will be different.
posted by selfnoise at 7:12 AM on July 13, 2016

And of course Sagan immediately turns around and wins a stage with team help.

Meanwhile Froome continues to turn the screws every chance he gets. It reminds me of 2014 when Nibali was tormenting his remaining rivals on seemingly every stage. The race has hardly gone well for Movistar and it's easy to see the possibility of Froome scoring a knockout blow in the next two stages. With Sagan's win and Cavendish's issues today both the yellow and green jerseys could be essentially sewn up this weekend, which would be too bad.
posted by selfnoise at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2016

I've just watched the yellow jersey run up Mont Ventoux in his cleats. What a weird race.
posted by penguinliz at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2016

This last chunk of stages have been as entertaining as any in the last 10 years. That image of Froome is going to live forever.
posted by rhizome at 12:42 AM on July 15, 2016

There's a fine line between "entertaining and unpredictable" and "a chaotic shitshow" and I'm not sure which we've seen here yet. The ASO has got to be overjoyed no one was seriously hurt yesterday.

We are definitely in for an incredibly punishing second half of racing, even for the Tour, and we'll have to see if anyone can challenge Froome's amazing form.
posted by selfnoise at 4:57 AM on July 15, 2016

I'll just leave this here...

Since I feel like I should say something positive, it's really neat to see Mollema getting it done. He's been so consistent the last few years just hanging around the top ten... it would be neat to see him on the podium. That said, I imagine the top ten will change quite a lot before the end of this race.
posted by selfnoise at 6:21 PM on July 15, 2016

At this point we can only assume Kittel's nightmares feature a certain Manxman...
posted by selfnoise at 9:09 AM on July 16, 2016

So, with the final stretch about to begin, does anyone think Froome can be unseated? Seems very unlikely to me. I think it's much more likely that the other podium places will change hands, though.

Cavendish will not be starting tomorrow's stage, so the green jersey is totally sewn up as well.
posted by selfnoise at 2:29 PM on July 19, 2016

Green jersey was almost impossible for Cav before his withdrawal unless he won all the intermediate sprints, so it makes sense for him to withdraw now and get a better prep for the Olympics than dragging himself over the Alps.

I think it's going to be hard to beat Froome unless he has a bad day and the gaps come down a bit. Quintana seems most likely to have a go because he's not going to be worried about hanging on to 4th place, but at his best would have to work hard to pull back three minutes, and if he was in great shape I think he would have started trying that on Sunday. I'm hoping Bauke Mollema will have a go but I couldn't blame him for hanging on to 2nd.
posted by penguinliz at 3:45 AM on July 20, 2016

I think the only bummer for Cavendish is probably missing out on the champs-elysees, considering how much success he's had there. That said, absolutely mission accomplished for him.

Quintana cracked today and I'm struggling to find something to get excited about for the remaining stages. It's not so much Froome, who has actually been a bit friskier than normal this year. It's more just Sky choking the life out of every single stage. It's hardly even possible for people to jockey for podium positions. Just comes down to "will Sky crack me today".

That said, I also wonder whether the wind and heat have been dampening factors. It was blazing hot AGAIN today and whenever it's not hot there are headwinds or crosswinds. Everyone just seems even more exhausted than normal.

Oh well. We got a fun Classics season and a magnificent Giro and so if the highlight of this Tour is an impromptu footrace that's probably not the end of the world.
posted by selfnoise at 8:59 AM on July 20, 2016

As a Brit I can be moderately excited about Adam Yates and whether he will manage to take second place, which still seems possible, and I am enjoying the comeback of Richie Porte and wishing he hadn't had that puncture or it might be a more exciting race. But yeah, these have not been classic mountain stages yet Ventoux aside, the Giro has been much more exciting. I can't really blame Sky, their goal is a Tour win and they have found a Tour-winning tactic which is brutally effective, it's just a shame that it isn't particularly fun to watch at home.
posted by penguinliz at 3:21 PM on July 20, 2016

The worse in this is the TdF is the prestige event, and only thing most people watch during the whole season, and it's so boring I think it really turns people off from following the rest of the season.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:12 PM on July 20, 2016

So, after today's TT here's the race's current fourth to eighth position riders with their times off the podium in seconds:

Quintana 21
Bardet 36
Porte 39
Aru 112

Interestingly, if you reverse this list you'll learn how strong their rides today were. (To be fair, Aru Porte and Bardet set very close times)

This seems to be where all the action will be in the final two mountain stages: can anyone knock enough time off the current podium?
posted by selfnoise at 8:57 AM on July 21, 2016

Man, everybody on the broadcast I watched sure was ragging on Nairo after the stage. Unless he's 11-dimensional chess'ing this, I have to feel bad for him. For some reason I refuse to acknowledge that Froome is as dominant as he is. His little attack at the end was pretty bangin' (technical term).

I've thought the TdF has been more strategic than actively competitive probably since like 2010 (/bayless), but I'm a little surprised that races aren't more evenly matched. Yates and Alaphillipe seem like they might help make things little bit more competitive. Dan Martin seems like he might be the coolest guy in the pack now that Jens has moved on.
posted by rhizome at 12:01 PM on July 21, 2016

So, here's the top ten after today's rain-soaked demolition derby.

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 82:10:37
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:11
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:04:27
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:04:36
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:05:17
6 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:06:00
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:06:20
8 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:07:02
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:07:10
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:07:42

Bad, bad day for Mollema obviously. Froome got bloodied, ended up with the wrong bike and the wrong gears, but still had BFF Pouls who has been noting short of dominating.

Looking at the list, I see the 5 and 6 riders attacking the 3 and 4 riders tomorrow. Quintana and Yates feel vulnerable. Tomorrow has a lot of climbing and then a strange, super tough Col at the end that apparently tends to bedevil riders. Let's see what happens!
posted by selfnoise at 9:53 AM on July 22, 2016

Incredibly, Zakarin managed to complete this stage in one piece.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2016

And the final standings, barring any catastrophes tomorrow, look like this:
1 FROOME Christopher 86h 21' 40''
2 BARDET Romain + 04' 05''
3 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander + 04' 21''
4 YATES Adam + 04' 42''
5 PORTE Richie + 05' 17''
6 VALVERDE Alejandro + 06' 16''
7 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim + 06' 58''
8 MEINTJES Louis + 06' 58''
9 MARTIN Daniel + 07' 04''
10 KREUZIGER Roman + 07' 11''

It seemed quite exciting while I was watching the stage with lots of riders up the road and groups forming and splitting and Kreuziger maybe riding into a high placing, but in the end the GC battle didn't come to much. Kreuziger gets tenth, Joaquim Rodriguez gets up to 7th with some help from Ilnur Zakarin, Mollema and Aru drop out of the top ten - but the higher placings were happy to sit and maintain position. I wonder if it would have been different if the finish were on the summit, rather than after a tricky wet descent? Fortunately there was a fun fight for the stage between Pantano, Nibali, and Izaguirre, I would not have put my money on Izaguirre from that trio but he got a fine win.
posted by penguinliz at 1:13 PM on July 23, 2016

And Froome heads home with his lion collection.
posted by penguinliz at 3:31 AM on July 25, 2016

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