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Tag Archives: Alpe d’Huez

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And Now, On To Paris!

The second rest day arrives just in time for “gorilla” Andre Greipel to recharge following his third win du jour of the Tour in stage 15, while Peter Sagan is forced to rest with that same old number after the historically dangerous descent of the Col de Manse takes him to the line of stage 16 in– you got it– second.  That’s now five #2 finishes for the points-leading “green machine.”

Stage 16 Stage 18

Then come the Alps, along with further losses to the overall field.  As American Tejay Van Garderen had been sitting in third place overall, on stage 17 he meets an illness-induced end before reaching this Tour’s highest elevation point on the Col d’Allos.  Meanwhile, other-American Andrew Talansky (of only three in this Tour) notably finishes the day in second with a GC 12th place.  A French 1-2 closes stage 18 in Saint-Jean-de-Maurine, as Romain Bardet takes his first-ever Tour de France stage win, with Pierre Roland shortly behind.  The GC standings and Froome’s longstanding 3:10 lead still don’t change, that is until the following day.  Defending champ Vincenzo Nibali, nearly written off in the first week, proves he’s back by attacking on the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, winning stage 19, and moving himself up to fourth place overall, while second place Nairo Quintana pulls ahead to narrow the gap on le maillot jaune by 32 seconds.

Stage 19 Stage 20

This feeds into the penultimate finish atop Alpe d’Huez, at the end of a final climb long predicted to shake up the Tour even further.  A great day it proves for the French, as Thibaut Pinot ascends to a remarkable stage 20 victory, holding off the young Colombian in white who crosses the line in second while erasing another big chunk off that GC gap.  As such, to keep it interesting if not exactly shaken up, Chris Froome begins the Tour’s last day with a lead of 1:12, down from 2:38, down from 3:10, certainly a humbled presumed winner.

As always, it all comes down to Paris.  The champagne soon again shall flow!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in 2015 Tour de France

 

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Encore!

France is one happy country today.

Not once, but twice it was on this most difficult day of Le Tour– an arduous climb up the famed Alpe d’Huez, followed by the obvious descent, and then to reach the finish of stage 18, encore!  The much-anticipated second zigzagging ascent of the same mountain clearly put the D in difficulty.

Overtake on the final stretch.

Capping off unpredictability aplenty, this iconic Tour leg finally earned France its first stage victory of the year, following the near miss in Lyon.  For a good stretch it looked like it might have been this Tour’s first American winning day with Tejay Van Garderen in the lead up that wall-hitting final climb.  At just two kilometers to the line however, the result made itself clear, and a French win could not have come on a more celebrated day than this.  Christophe Riblon is France’s well-deserved hero du jour.

France’s very own stage 18 winner!

What was I just saying earlier this week about spectators?  Today’s extremely crowded finish has to exemplify cycling fans at their craziest, so much so that in sections without barricades, thousands of overly amped onlookers consume nearly the entire road!  While this is not new of course, it leaves me pondering the detriment to riders such as Van Garderen in this case, who might have better maintained his line and his concentration if not for getting chased, slapped and screamed at in the face by such “spirited” fans.  Their passion and energy notwithstanding, should not a bit more control in such crucial moments be imposed?

A hard day in yellow.

In any case, now second-place Contador still can’t catch the leader, even with Froome’s 20-second penalty today.  Le maillot jaune remains on the same shoulders with a now more than five-minute gap and two remaining climbing days before the ride into Paris.  As always, anything could happen yet– even France shouting “encore” for another stage victory!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in 2013 Tour de France

 

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Day of… Fear?

As printed on letour.fr, this succinct and accurate analysis by race director Jean-Francois Pescheux labels Stage 19 as the one everyone is afraid of.

“Today’s route runs in the opposite direction to yesterday’s. The riders tackle the successive climbs of the Col du Télégraphe and the Galibier, and then finish with the climb to Alpe d’Huez, which returns after an absence of three years. It is a short stage. Nevertheless, all of the riders will be afraid of it. Those who aren’t going so well will be concerned about the cut-off time for elimination and the favourites will know that they will pay a heavy cost for any sign of weakness. The shortness of the stage allows the climbers to attack from very early on, which is not something they will be used to. This stage will be thrilling and, bearing in mind that it comes on the back of two other tough days, there is a chance that a lot of damage will be done today.”

The Road to Alpe d’Huez

The infamous, feared and celebrated climb of Alpe d’Huez has been completed for the year, with now a new man in yellow!  And it’s not last year’s Tour winner.  But who am I to spoil your own viewing?

 
 

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