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 14: Blagnac to Rodez
Today’s stage was a classic road stage. If you’re not familiar with road racing the classics are races like Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. The stage is not flat that sets up for an all our track style sprint and the climbs are not big enough that the GC and climbers come into play. Rather is a classic rolling road race with the last 500 meters pointing uphill at a 10% grade. As I mentioned in an earlier post, for most people a 4% grade is a steep climb. Thus 10% is brutal. The stage was also more to the standard in length as compared to yesterday’s short stage. Today the race was 181km or 108 miles.
The tour misses Peter Sagan
Why would Peter Sagan, a rider no loner in the race be the most important take away from today’s stage? This is the kind of stage that sets up perfectly for the current world champion, Peter Sagan. Yes Matthews did get the stage win and almost everyone predicted it. But had Sagan been in the race it would have been a battle to the finish line. Yet again we see why the judges blew the call kicking Sagan out of the 2017 Tour.
Another big Showing for Team Sunweb
Yesterday Team Sunweb gets the win on Bastille day and today they get the win with Matthews. This is a big deal to get back to back stage wins for a team that’s not really in the race. Everyone is talking about Sky, Astana, Quickstep, Movistar and Trek. Yet here is Sunweb running away with the King of the Mountains Jersey and getting two back to back stage wins. In the sport of cycling the Tour de France is the super bowl of bike racing and as such a single stage win at the tour could make your cycling career a success. It’s also a big deal to help the team secure it’s title sponsors in Sunweb and Giant for the upcoming 2018 and beyond seasons. The hardest thing in cycling is that it’s all based around title sponsorship and this makes it hard for the fan base to pick a team to support. Sunweb could drop their title sponsorship next year and they would be left to find a new title sponsor and a new name. But getting wins at the tour helps to add incentives to the sponsors to stick around.
Team Astana’s failings
Astana just had to sit back as everyone knew that teams like Sunweb and BMC would be going for today’s stage win. Thus they would be doing all the work. Astana and Aru just had to make sure that they kept on Froome’s wheel and they would ride into tomorrow in yellow. Yet at the last 500m Sky and Froome put the hammer down and lost 24 seconds to Froome moving Aru into 2nd place. Now Aru sits 18 seconds back and will need to find a way to gain some time on Froome and Team Sky. This will be a tough challenge for Aru as clearly he has no team in Astana and is up against a formidable opponent in Team Sky. In a day that wasn’t supposed to mean anything for the overall contenders for race ended up creating a change of the guard for yellow. This is why Froome and Team Sky are the favorites to wear yellow in Paris. When no one expects anything to change they make change happen.