So you’re interested in the Tour De France but don’t know a thing about bike racing? Well thats why this year I’m writing the Tour De France for Normal People. To help you understand each stage in 3 simple take aways. Hopefully to take the mystery out of Grand Tour racing and help you get more into the sport.
Stage 9: Nantua to Chambery
Stage 9 is what all the riders of the tour considered to be the most decisive day in the tour. Because it’s going to be one of the hardest. 181.5 km or 108.9 miles with not 1 but 7 climbs! 3 of the 7 climbs are HC climbs which is the hardest category. The climbs averaged between 6% to 10% gradients. This was one heck of a day in the saddle.
Porte is out
This was the year that people felt that ex-teammate and good friend, Richie Porte, could dethrone Chris Froome. He was on form and showed that he wasn’t afraid to attack Froome when the road pitched upwards. Then the rain set in from the night before making for a dangerous descent down the backside of Mont du Chat. Porte hit the pavement at speeds over 40mph slamming, tumbling across the road, being ridden over by Dan Martin before slamming into the rock wall on the far side of the road. Watching it live you knew immediately that there was a slim chance Porte was going to walk away from that one. Porte luckily is going to be ok; he suffered a broken collar bone and pelvis but nothing to serious to keep him off the bike. Prayers go out to Richie and his family for a quick recovery.
Astana, what the hell were you thinking!!??
Team Astana and tour contender Fabio Aru worked with Froome at the run up to the finish. Aru is in 2nd place over all, 18 seconds behind Froome. Yet when the race hit the flat run in into the finish Team Astana worked to help Froome chase down Bardet. Bardet is in 3rd place 51 seconds back. Not only this but Froome ended up taking 3rd in the stage gaining a 6 second time bonus. Why not sit up on Froome’s wheel and make him do all the work. Let Bardet gain some time, he’ll still be in 3rd, but more importantly for Aru he forces Froome to do all the work. That extra work load could have been what cracked Froome later on in the race allowing Aru to attack. Maybe Aru felt bad for attacking Froome on the Mont du Chat when Froome had a mechanical, this is a no no i.e. an unwritten law in bike racing. You don’t attack a man when he’s having a mechanical issue. Anyways we’ll never know, but that could have cost Aru the race.
Froome was agressive
Froome at times can be painful to watch. Froome is like Floyd Mayweather on a bike. Sometimes the best offense is the best defense. Froome will grab the lead early in the race and then just sit back and defend. Always just using the defense of sitting on his attacker’s wheel. It can be so painful to watch. You want Froome to be aggressive to dominate the race. But instead he sits back methodically holding right with his competitors watching them crack. But that was not the case today. Today you saw Froome go on the aggressive today, putting on multiple attacks up the Mont du Chat. Then he descended like a mad man down the back side of the mountain. It was refreshing to see why Froome should be the in the yellow.