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Geraint Thomas is wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. He has won back-to-back stages in the Alps. Thursday marked the second straight day that he padded his lead over Sky teammate and defending Tour champ Chris Froome.
At least for now, however, Thomas continues to toe the party line.
“Froomey is still our leader. He knows how to race three weeks,” Thomas said after his triumph in stage 12. “Who knows? Anything can happen to me. I could lose 10 minutes.”
Thomas stayed safe through a hectic first nine stages and benefited from an excellent team time trial to put himself in great shape in the GC before the Tour arrived in the Alps. Since then, however, he has confirmed his credentials with two brilliant rides high up in the mountains. He stormed into yellow with a stage 11 victory Wednesday and rode to a second win on Thursday atop one of cycling’s best-known climbs, the Alpe d’Huez.
The Welshman survived a brutal final few kilometers on the switchbacks and then turned on the afterburners in the last few hundred meters to win the day.
“Even as I crossed the line, it was, ‘Surely there is someone still up the road,'” he said. “Insane, like not even in my wildest dreams did I think I would win at Alpe d’Huez, and to do it in the yellow jersey …”Geraint Thomas led out the sprint and won atop Alpe d’Huez. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Thomas now finds himself 1:39 ahead of Froome in the general classification, with third-placed Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) a further 11 seconds back. With the Alpine stages done, Thomas will — barring a crash — likely remain in yellow through the second rest day.
Sky started this Tour de France featuring Froome as the leader, with Thomas given wildcard status after years of putting in loyal domestique work. With Froome staring down a lingering anti-doping case and coming off a hard-earned win at the Giro d’Italia, it was logical for Sky to have a second option.
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Analysis: Craddock’s data reveals extreme demands of TourAmerican Lawson Craddock continues to churn away stage after stage through the Alps, despite a broken shoulder.
Few expected that second option would enjoy a commanding race lead after the midway point of the Tour de France. And he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Froome has described Sky as being in an “amazing position” with two riders so well-placed after stage 11.
Sky principal Dave Brailsford echoed that after Thomas doubled up on stage 12.
“It doesn’t change that much, it’s still a similar position as we were in yesterday. It’s still a nice position to be in,” he said.Thomas has publicly remained loyal to Froome in interviews. He seemed to back that up, if only briefly, on the road Thursday. When domestique Egan Bernal pulled off the front for Sky, it was Thomas who hit the front to pull back an attacking Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). From there, he mostly followed wheels. Froome was the only one of the Sky duo to put in a sustained attack, one that was ultimately reeled in by Dumoulin.
That said, Thomas did go all in for his own stage victory aspirations in the finale, for the second day running — and for the second day running he pulled it off.
He says he’s just trying to make the best of his form for now, without knowing what the full three weeks will hold for him. After all, Thomas has never landed even a top 10 result in a grand tour. It remains to be seen whether he can keep this up into the Pyrenees.
“It would be nice [to win the Tour] but I’m tired, everyone is tired,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen. I am just going to try to enjoy tomorrow.”Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Thomas gains time but stands behind Froome on VeloNews.com.

On a day when his EF Education First-Drapac team leader Rigoberto Urán abandoned the race, American Lawson Craddock continued to churn away stage after stage through the Alps, despite suffering a broken shoulder on stage 1.
Through Tour de France stage 11, Craddock had ridden for 49.5 hours, 1,156 miles, averaged 271 watts (normalized power), gained 70,900 feet in elevation, and averaged a heart rate of 137 beats per minute.
“Everyday has gotten a bit better for sure,” Craddock said after stage 12, which finished atop Alpe d’Huez. “Obviously the mountains are quite a bit different than the first nine stages. It’s just been a lot more torque on [the shoulder] than usual when I stand and get up. I was really happy just to make it through today’s stage. It was carnage out there.”Through stage 11, Craddock rode over 1,100 miles, nearly 71,000 feet, and averaged 271 Watts.
We first took a look at Craddock’s Whoop data after stage 4. As a reminder, it’s helpful to understand how the Whoop strap works. The “strain” score is a summary of cardiovascular load, or how hard the heart is working. It measures this by analyzing heart rates relative to your heart rate zones. The more time you spend in the upper reaches, the higher your strain score gets, on a scale from 0 to 21. It is a logarithmic metric, rather than linear, meaning the higher you get on the scale, the more difficult it is to build strain.
The “recovery” score is, simply, an athlete’s capacity to take on strain. In the morning, an athlete generates a recovery score (on a scale from 0 to 100; scores closer to 100 indicate an athlete has more capacity, both physically and mentally, to deal with strain). The metrics which comprise recovery are heart rate, heart rate variability, and sleep performance.
Let’s take another look at the Texan’s Whoop data to better understand the extreme physical demands of the Tour de France. Through stage 11, Craddock averaged a recovery score of 46 percent, a strain score of 19.6, and average sleep of seven hours and eight minutes, or 72 percent of what he needed.Craddock’s Whoop “strain” scores for the past two weeks. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Since the Tour began, Craddock has accumulated a string of incredibly high strain scores. He posted his highest, 20.7 (out of a possible 21), on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez. His lowest score, 18.3, came during the team time trial, when he was able to sit up during the last portion of the stage after dropping behind his teammates. It’s worth reminding that Craddock has been posting such scores just to make the time cut, and is obviously not competing at the front of the race. While we can’t compare his figures to those of the GC contenders, it’s fair to say that everyone at the Tour is pushing himself to the limit day after day. In Craddock’s case, that has meant altering his riding technique in order to complete the stages.
“I’m definitely riding a lot differently,” he said. “It’s not ideal. You spend seven months riding in one position and then at the Tour you have to switch it around a bit. My body has been adjusting.
I’m having to pull up with the pedals a lot more, instead of using a fluid pedal motion. I’m using my hamstrings a lot more than I usually do. And I’m feeling it a bit. I’m still here, today was one of my better days.”Craddock’s Whoop “recovery” scores for the past two weeks. CLICK TO ENLARGE
If we look at Craddock’s recovery scores during the past two weeks, we notice that he’s actually improving from the place he was at coming into the Tour. Ironically, Craddock noted how the few days prior to the Tour are not ideal preparation for one of the most demanding athletic competitions in the world.
“The few days running into the start of the Tour de France are unlike any other,” Craddock said. “The stress surrounding the race is almost worse than the actual stress during the race.”
In the past week, Craddock has posted two good (green) recovery scores. The first followed the flat stage 8 into Amiens. Following a much-needed rest day on Monday, Craddock awoke with a 70 percent recovery.
“While I’ve made improvements in my recovery, I’m still quite sore from the Roubaix stage,” he said. “Today was a rough day for me. I felt better than expected on the first climb, but that feeling was short lived. I suffered over the second mountain pass, but once we hit Col de Romme I was cooked. I struggled mightily to maintain contact with the gruppetto, and forced myself to only look at the next kilometer.”
Despite the strenuous ride in stage 11 on July 18, Craddock still managed a yellow recovery, after getting nearly eight hours of sleep.
“Stage 11 was a nasty day,” his coach Jim Miller said. “The stage had 11,000 feet of climbing, over which Lawson posted a 261 TSS and a 308 Watts normalized power for 4 hours and 10 minutes. And with all that, he still finished 26 minutes behind the stage winner. It is hard to convey just how good these guys are.”
His sleep data reveals that over the past two weeks he’s averaging almost nine hours in bed per night, and sleeping more than the average athlete in Whoop’s database during this same time period. He’ll need to continue to rest and recover as hard as he rides to combat the high strains he’s posting.
“The last three days that have been extremely difficult,” Craddock said. “Straight out of the rest day they threw everything at us. A lot of the peloton was in pure survival mode today so yeah, I’m really happy just to make it through another day at the Tour.”
Read the full article at Analysis: Craddock’s data reveals extreme demands of Tour on VeloNews.com.

For a brief moment, three kilometers from the top of Alpe d’Huez, a chink appeared in Chris Froome‘s armor, and Tom Dumoulin saw it.
Sky’s defending champion had spun up the road in his familiar style, head down, elbows out. It looked like he was on his way to his first Tour de France victory on the famous climb in stage 12. But with a churning tempo behind, Dumoulin chased Froome down, nevermind the fact that he was marked all the way by Sky’s Geraint Thomas, wearing yellow.
Now, he and his Sunweb team director Luke Roberts say they think they’ve cracked the code to beat Team Sky.
“Yeah, I learned they try to keep both in GC and don’t ride behind each other, and Froome had the chance to attack and G [Thomas] didn’t. So, that’s good to know for the future,” Dumoulin said.
Dumoulin is perhaps the only rider with a legitimate chance of challenging either Thomas and Froome in the overall. He is third overall after stage 12, 1:50 behind. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is fourth, 2:37 behind, but his future is unclear following a crash that sent him to the hospital after Thursday’s stage.
After that duo of former grand tour winners, the field thins out. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) is fifth, 2:46 back but completely unproven as a GC leader in three-week races. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) is next, 3:07 behind in sixth but his weakness as a time trial rider could spoil his Tour on stage 20‘s ITT. Plus he has only four teammates left in the race. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana is the only other proven grand tour winner in the top 10, ninth and 4:13 behind after faltering on Alpe d’Huez.The group of GC favorites approached the Alpe d’Huez summit finish. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
So it is up to Dumoulin to challenge Sky. Roberts says that, based on what he saw in the Alps, the possibility to take yellow remains.
“In the last two days they’ve shown their weakness,” said Roberts. “They have a high level with five-six riders. They can ride a hard tempo, but they can’t make Geraint go much faster. Bernal was there and had a good day today. But then Thomas himself was put on the front to pull relatively early. Should they start to feel the effects of the Alps in the Pyrenees, they could show weaknesses.”
Plus, Roberts and the Sunweb team should be encouraged by Dumoulin’s fighting spirit and confidence. After stage 12, the Dutchman fumed.
“I wanted to win today,” Dumoulin said. “I let myself down and made a mistake with shifting in the finale and it was my fault. It was lost before the sprint started. I think I had a chance. Thomas was slightly stronger, but if I played it smart I would have had a start and now it was lost.”Dumoulin chased down Froome with Thomas right on his wheel. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
Dumoulin went on to say he felt he was stronger than Froome on the day and that Thomas sat on his wheel when the wind picked up. “That is the advantage of having two guys in the GC,” he added.
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After a flat stage 13 and two medium-mountain stages through the weekend, the Tour reaches the Pyrenees Tuesday. That is where Dumoulin and his Sunweb team will need to determine the best tactic to unseat Team Sky.
“We’ll have to assess after Monday as we head into the Pyrenees,” Roberts added. “Is Thomas still a contender or is he showing weakness into the last week? Do we need to keep the gap close to Froome and then go toward the final TT or do we need to bring some time back on Thomas? We’ll have to see how it pans out.”
Team tactics and missed shifts aside, Dumoulin should be able to count on one thing in the Tour’s second half. Stage 20’s 31-kilometer time trial through French Basque Country will be an ideal day for the world time trial champion to challenge whichever Sky rider is wearing yellow.Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Dumoulin, Sunweb say they’ve found Team Sky’s weakness on VeloNews.com.

ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — Everyone in the Tour de France peloton seems to be on their knees after three days across the Alps. Except Team Sky.Sprinters are abandoning, pre-race favorites are fading, yet Team Sky looks as strong as ever with Geraint Thomas in yellow and Chris Froome tucked in at second.
Yet Movistar’s Mikel Landa sees a ray of light. The former Sky rider is sensing a few fractures in Sky’s Fortress Froome.
“We are seeing Sky strong, but maybe they’re not as strong as a unit as they have been before,” Landa said after Thursday’s stage 12. “That gives us a little bit of hope to be able to do something in the Pyrénées.”
Landa rode two seasons in Sky colors and was instrumental in helping Froome win last year’s Tour en route to his own fourth place overall.
From the outside, Sky might seem as strong as ever. Landa, however, sees hints of an opening to attack Sky’s flanks.
“These three days have been brutal in the Alps and we saw Sky a little bit more tired as well,” Landa continued. “If there’s an opening, we have to be ready to take it.”
Mikel Landa rolled up to the start of stage 10 bandaged from a fall on the cobblestones, but he had no trouble in the Tour’s first Alpine stage. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Landa’s take might seem a little off-kilter considering how Thomas has won two stages in a row and holds a commanding lead over his teammate and defending Tour champ Froome.
But Landa is also seeing how Thomas and Froome might start to fray at the edges if the leadership issue isn’t resolved. Team Sky continues to say its first bet is on Froome.
“I don’t know how they will handle [leadership],” he said. “Sky is always strong, and Froome is always good in a grand tour, but the Tour is far from over. We have to keep fighting, be it the podium, a stage win, or whatever.”
Movistar has done its best to take it to Team Sky for two days in a row with mixed results. Alejandro Valverde attacked Wednesday and Thursday but lost time, while Nairo Quintana struggled to keep pace Thursday and on Alpe d’Huez lost 47 seconds to Thomas. Landa rode through back pain to fight for the stage 12 win, crossing the line fifth at seven seconds back. Landa, who crashed heavily on the cobblestone stage, leads the Movistar “blues” in seventh at 3:13 back.
“My back was hurting even worse today than it was yesterday. When I make a hard push, I can feel I am losing power,” Landa said. “I gave it a little run there at the end, they caught me, and I ended up even losing a little bit more.
“I am very satisfied, to tell the truth. On the first climb and descent, I was really suffering, and I had in mind to go home. That things turned around and I was able to be in the fight leaves me very satisfied.”
Landa vows to keep fighting and is emerging as Movistar’s best GC candidate after the team came to the Tour with three options.
“I have a problem; I know I should be there, but my crash at Roubaix is really impacting me,” Landa said. “The last week the heart and the head will count for even more.”
Read the full article at Landa: Maybe Sky isn’t as strong as before on VeloNews.com.

On a Tour de France stage that finished with a thrilling GC showdown on the Alpe d’Huez, early escapee Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) gave the day’s most stirring performance.
The Dutchman soloed out of the breakaway 72 kilometers from the line on Thursday’s stage 12. For a while, it seemed like he might take the stage and perhaps even the yellow jersey. Unfortunately for Kruijswijk, the final climb saw Egan Bernal (Sky) set a vicious tempo in the chase, and then a knockout battle among the GC riders.
Kruijswijk’s advantage evaporated and he was left with nothing but the day’s combativity award.
“It’s painful. This was one of the stages that was high on my list,” Kruijswijk said after the finish. “It’s a big disappointment for me, but I’ll keep on fighting.”
Even if he came up short, Kruijswijk’s impressive ride will have his team optimistic that the next mountain raid might succeed.
“A lot of respect for my roomie and what he did. He is riding really strong, really relaxed this Tour,” LottoNL’s Robert Gesink said. “I think he’s going to do some more impressive stuff in the day’s ahead.”
Kruijswijk started the day 2:40 down on race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky). That made it all the more interesting when he and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde decided to have a go in the breakaway. The other escapees were none-too-pleased to have a pair of GC outsiders for company, but the peloton allowed the riders up the road to work up a decent advantage nonetheless.
Kruijswijk had Gesink in the break as it forged up the day’s first climb, the Col de la Madeleine.
“On the bottom of Madeleine, it was quite hectic. Everyone wanted to be in the break it seemed, and also some of GC riders went,” Gesink said. “Stevie [Kruijswijk] was there and we made the best of it together.”Kruijswijk was one of the surprise riders in stage 12’s breakaway given his standing in the overall. Photo: Justin Setterfield | Getty Images
After the hors categorie Col de la Madeleine and the category 2 Lacets de Montvernier, Kruijswijk, Valverde, and Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) found themselves in the lead on the lower slopes of the day’s penultimate climb, the Croix de Fer. That’s when Kruijswijk threw his Hail Mary, powering away solo on the 29-kilometer climb, with an ascent of the Alpe d’Huez still to climb.
Incredibly, he went up and over the Croix de Fer summit with a six-minute advantage, giving Dutch fans reason to believe in his chances of the stage win at the very least. A Sky-led pack of chasers, however, cut his gap significantly on the ensuing descent and the flat run-in to the Alpe d’Huez.
“Sky came together as a team and did a lot of pulling in the valley. It was quite quick towards Alpe d’Huez,” Gesink said. “Solo, it takes a lot of energy out of you.”
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He started the final climb with a gap of a little over four minutes. The tireless efforts of Egan Bernal ate into that advantage and soon the yellow jersey was out of reach. Then the stage win came into question. Kruijswijk’s advantage was down to one minute with five kilometers left to race — and finally, Bernal pulled off the front and left the GC favorites to battle it out.
The back-and-forth of attacks spelled the end for Kruijswijk. Chris Froome (Sky) surged past 3.5 kilometers from the summit, followed by a selection of other overall contenders. From that point on, it was a matter of limiting the time losses in the general classification for Kruijswijk.
On the bright side for LottoNL-Jumbo, Primoz Roglic managed to hang with the GC favorites most of the way up the final climb, finishing just 13 seconds down on stage winner Thomas. Kruijswijk came home inside of a minute on Thomas. Fellow early escapee Valverde, by comparison, ultimately gave up over four minutes on the day.
As the Tour leaves the Alps, Roglic sits fifth overall, with Kruijswijk eighth on GC. Considering the brutal Alpine terrain the Tour has now traversed and the immense strength Sky has shown so far in the race, LottoNL should be pleased to still have a pair of riders inside the top-10 overall.
Kruijswijk will have a chance to recover Friday as the Tour takes on a mostly flat stage 13. Before long, however, the race will reach the Pyrenees. Don’t be surprised to see the Dutchman giving it another go when the road tilts upward again.Andrew Hood and Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Kruijswijk resolute after stage 12 heartbreak on VeloNews.com.

A win atop Alpe d’Huez is a crowning achievement for any cyclist, especially a GC favorite in the Tour de France. Yet in his four times racing up the 21 hairpin bends, Chris Froome has never come home first.
Thursday’s stage 12 will likely go down as a particularly sour vintage of Alpe d’Huez for the Brit.
Throughout the 13.8-kilometer summit finish, he was harangued by the public lining the roadway with boos and jeers. His teammate Geraint Thomas sprinted to win the stage, wearing the yellow jersey. He is the first yellow jersey-wearer since Lance Armstrong to win on the Alpe.
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Thomas was not perturbed by the verbal abuse.
“People have their opinions, and that’s fine,” said Thomas. “As long as they don’t affect the race that’s the main thing.”
Froome did not speak to media after the finish of stage 12. After the three-day gauntlet of Alpine stages, he is 1:39 behind Thomas.
Thomas was also booed when he took the podium following his victory.
However, on his way to finishing fourth, some reports indicated that Froome endured more than just jeers, that one fan spat on him.
“Yeah, I didn’t see that but if people don’t like Sky and want to boo that is fine, do all you like but let us race, don’t affect the race, don’t touch the riders don’t spit at us,” Thomas added. “Have a bit of decency. Voice your opinion all you want but let us to the racing.”
At one point, a fan lunged at Froome on the final climb. Fortunately, he did not interfere with the race.

Some idiot having a go at Froome #TDF2018 pic.twitter.com/ZM2E6jtE5D
— Trevor Ward #FBPE (@willwrite4cake) July 19, 2018
Former Tour de France stage winner and three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwan, who now does TV commentary on the Tour, posted a photo of a fan being arrested. Although he said this fan was the one who punched Froome, the man looks to be wearing different clothing.

The “fan” who punched Froome during the climb of Alp d’Huez. Cuffed & processed pic.twitter.com/zCIIWF9n8s
— Robbie McEwen (@mcewenrobbie) July 19, 2018
Andrew Hood and Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France. 
Read the full article at Froome endures abuse on Alpe d’Huez on VeloNews.com.

ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — This year’s Tour de France is proving too punishing for the peloton’s top sprinters.
A day after Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) were time-cut, several more marquee sprinters abandoned the Tour en route to Alpe d’Huez on Thursday.
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and two-time Tour stage-winners this year Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step) abandoned stage 12.
All three pulled off as a dangerous breakaway chugged clear on the brutal three-climb stage across the Alps. With some GC threats in the breakaway group, including Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) who started the stage sixth overall, the main pack led by Team Sky set a menacing pace. The peloton fractured early and several top names pulled the plug on their respective 2018 Tour.
The high-profile abandons have immediate implications.
First, Gaviria’s exit all but assures Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) a record-tying sixth green jersey if he makes it to Paris. Gaviria was the only rider challenging Sagan up to now.
Second, the departures mean more chances for the sprinters still in the race for the three sprint-likely stages remaining in the Tour.
Other riders to abandon include Tony Gallopin, a key helper to Romain Bardet, who only has four Ag2r La Mondiale teammates left in the race.
EF-Drapac’s Rigoberto Urán, second overall last year, also did not start in the wake of heavy injuries from his crash in stage 9 on the cobblestones.
Greipel’s Lotto-Soudal teammate Marcel Sieberg is also out, as is another lead-out man, Katusha-Alpecin’s Rick Zabel, who was granted clemency by the race jury on Wednesday after finishing mere seconds after the day’s time cut.
Read the full article at Sprinters keep suffering in Alps as Gaviria, Groenewegen abandon on VeloNews.com.

BOURG-SAINT-MAURICE, France (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida team are making a plan to overthrow Team Sky for the Tour de France victory.
His masseur Michele Pallini works his muscles and coach Paolo Slongo looks over the Tour’s road book. Slongo checks Nibali has everything he needs before the Alpe d’Huez and steps off the bus.
“Vincenzo is not racing only for the podium or a placing in Paris, he has a winner’s mentality. He is, and he believes, that he’s a champion,” Slongo said.
“For him to attack from far out is not a scary thought. Sooner or later, he’s going to do something to try to win this Tour.”
Nibali sits fourth overall, 2:14 minutes from leader Geraint Thomas. Thomas and his Sky teammate Chris Froome seem to have a firm grip on this Tour de France only half way into the race.
In the Bahrain team, they are saying that Team Sky is on another planet. And budget-wise, the British team is.Nibali said the other day that maybe budget caps would solve the problem. Sky races with around $42 million a year. Bahrain-Merida’s budget is more or less $15 million.Vincenzo Nibali led teh GC gorup down the final descent of the day in stage 10. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
The Sicilian, 33, won the Tour de France in 2014. He counts two overall winner trophies from the Giro d’Italia. And the third grand tour, the Vuelta a España, he won in 2010.
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As Slongo said, he is not aiming for a podium spot, and certainly not one like 2012 when he finished third behind Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. He wants to win with what the Italians call “grinta” — the same showmanship/strength mix that saw him ride free on the Poggio and win the Milano-Sanremo this March.
“Sky is unbelievable, really strong,” Nibali said. “But come on, there are still some stages left for us.”
“If Sky remains like this for the rest of the Tour, and above all in the third week, it’s going to be impossible to break them,” said Slongo.
“Thomas and Froome, the team, gave a show of force on La Rosière. Thomas looks stronger, and if I was him, I’d name myself as the leader.
“What we are looking over in the book is the many difficulties to come. Maybe someone will crack, especially those that came off the Giro d’Italia. Froome raced it, Vincenzo didn’t. Based on how he’s feeling, maybe in the third week, we can come up with something.”
Read the full article at Nibali not racing for the podium, he’s racing to win Tour on VeloNews.com.

ANNECY, France (VN) — For cycling fans who are bored by this year’s Tour de France, a more exciting viewing experience may lie within the women’s peloton, says South African rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The 32-year-old believes women’s racing can gain attention through exciting, aggressive racing, because fans may be tired of the formulaic dynamics at the Tour.
“Men’s cycling is getting criticism for being boring and monotonous and repetitive,” Moolman-Pasio said. “Right now we have an opportunity to take advantage and show that we’re more exciting to watch.”
Moolman-Pasio spoke to VeloNews just hours before Tuesday’s La Course by Le Tour de France race from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand. The women’s event was held alongside the 10th stage of the Tour de France.
Indeed, the two races featured a contrasting style of racing. The Tour stage saw no change to the general classification, as the group of contenders crested the final climb together and then descended to the line.
By contrast, La Course saw a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat finale. Dutch riders Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) battled over the Col du Colombiere and roared down the finish within seconds of each other. Van Vleuten mounted a charge in the final 50 meters to overtake her countrywoman and take the win.
That’s the type of excitement that Moolman-Pasio believes can win fans over to women’s racing.
“I feel that women’s cycling is somehow different than men’s cycling,” she said. “We need people who really believe in women’s cycling to begin pushing it forward.”
Perhaps Moolman-Pasio is such a person. Throughout 2018 she has raced with aggression on the various climbs featured in the UCI Women’s WorldTour. During La Course, Moolman-Pasio rode on the slopes of the Col du Colombiere alongside van Vleuten and van der Breggen and eventually finished third, 1:22 behind van Vleuten. At April’s La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, Moolman-Pasio launched the decisive attack in the waning meters — her surge drew out van der Breggen, who won, while she coasted across the line in second.
During the recent Giro Rosa, Moolman-Pasio attacked relentlessly on multiple stages and rode herself to second overall, 4:23 behind van Vleuten. She may not have won the races, but her attacks injected excitement and action.
Moolman-Pasio’s runner-up result at the Giro is, in her eyes, the best result of her professional career. Yet she said the result failed to generate the level of media response she expected in her home nation. Moolman-Pasio became the first South African rider to finish on the podium at the Giro Rosa. The 10-day race is the longest in the Women’s WorldTour and holds grand tour status within the women’s peloton.
“This is the first grand tour podium for a South African — the first grand tour podium for a rider from Africa,” Moolman-Pasio said. “There’s been a lot of talk of [men’s team Dimension Data] and their plan of finishing on a podium at a grand tour in 2020. There’s a lot of focus on the men and the Tour de France. I’m pretty proud that I’ve been on the podium as a woman, and shown to South Africa what is possible for cyclists.”
Moolman-Pasio has used the Giro as her personal measuring stick since she first entered the sport’s top leagues in 2010. She finished 17th overall that first year, and in subsequent years she notched two top-10 finishes. The next step in her progression is to dethrone her two Dutch rivals, van der Breggen and van Vleuten, who still hold a slight edge over her in the major races.
Moolman-Pasio is unsure whether she will someday match the Dutchwomen, however. After all, they came up in a cycling system rich with history, talented coaches, and tradition. Moolman-Pasio, by contrast, said she has had to learn the lessons of cycling often on her own. South Africa has a growing tradition in men’s cycling, while the country’s collection of female pros is small.
Whether or not Moolman-Pasio ever beats the Dutch duo, she will continue to attack.
“I’m trying to close the gap to them,” she said. “For me it’s still important to make the race exciting, even if that means I finish second or third.”
Read the full article at Moolman-Pasio: Women’s cycling should capitalize on boring men’s racing on VeloNews.com.

ALPE d’HUEZ, France (VN) — Alejandro Valverde went all-in during Wednesday’s Tour de France stage and went bust.
The Movistar veteran did what everyone was hoping someone would try in the Alps — he attacked Sky. Valverde bolted from the peloton near the summit of the hors categorie Col du Pré with 54 kilometers remaining and surged down the descent. A short while later he linked up with teammate Marc Soler, who was in the day’s early breakaway.
The duo powered away from the group on the descent from the Cormet de Roselend and built a sizable gap. Valverde even rode into the virtual yellow jersey at one point. More Tour de France newsUran withdraws from Tour de France after Roubaix crash
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Uran withdraws from Tour de France after Roubaix crashThe Colombian pulled out of the French grand tour after crashing hard during Sunday's cobblestone stage.
The gap, however, was not meant to be. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) attacked out of the group on the descent from the Cormet de Roselend climb and caught Valverde. The move forced Sky to place its domestiques onto the front of the group and churn out a speedy tempo. On the lower slopes of the final climb, Valverde was gobbled up by Sky and the collective force of the peloton. He tumbled out of pole position for the yellow jersey to 11th at 4:28 back.
“We were the team that tried the most, but you have to congratulate Sky,” Valverde said at the finish line. “They were on top and now it’s up to us to keep trying.”
On a day when Movistar’s three-pronged attack tried to derail Team Sky, the team got pummeled on the push to the finish line. Sky’s punishing tempo shed Mikel Landa. Then when Geraint Thomas attacked, Nairo Quintana did not follow the Englishman, deciding instead to shadow Froome.
Froome eventually surged away from Quintana in the final kilometers, and Movistar’s captain was left to pedal in alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Bardet (Ag2r LaMondiale), and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Movistar is now in worse position going into Thursday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez, which closes out three stages in the Alps.
Was Valverde’s move worth it? Valverde said yes.
“We did what we planned to do,” Valverde said.
Indeed, other riders agreed. Frenchman Pierre LaTour said the Spaniard’s attack forced Sky to up the pace to keep him in check.
“Valverde attacked from far out,” LaTour said. “That’s what threw them into a panic. It was always flat out after that.”
Thus far, Valverde’s move marks the most serious challenge to Sky’s domination of the race.
“We gave everything, and that’s the most important. There is still a lot of Tour,” Valverde said. “We’ll give everything to continue to be protagonists.”
Valverde and Movistar didn’t wait long. Valverde snuck into an early move on the Col de la Madeleine with Andrey Amador in Thursday’s decisive stage to Alpe d’Huez.
Read the full article at Valverde: No regrets for attacking Sky at Tour on VeloNews.com.

Colombian star Rigoberto Uran withdrew from the Tour de France prior to Thursday’s stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, citing injuries he sustained in a crash earlier in the race.
In a team release from EF Education First-Drapac, Uran said he felt “pain in my body” during Wednesday’s punishing mountain stage from Albertville to La Rosiére. Uran was dropped early in the 110-kilometer stage and finished in 111th place, 26 minutes behind winner Geraint Thomas. The result effectively eliminated Uran from the GC battle.
“It’s difficult for me and also for my team,” Uran said. “We prepared for this Tour, all season we were focused on the Tour. Sometimes this happens, and this time, I think it’s the best decision for me to recover and to recover well.” More Tour de France newsValverde: No regrets for attacking Sky at Tour
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Uran was one of more than a dozen riders to crash during Sunday’s ninth stage from Arras to Roubaix, which included 15 sectors of cobblestones. Uran went down after one sector of cobbles, landing hard on his leg and arm. He lost more than a minute to his GC rivals on that stage. On Tuesday, Uran lost more time on the Tour’s first Alpine stage.
EF Education First director Charly Wegelius said the injuries compromised Uran’s position on the bicycle, which “could create problems down the line.” The team said the injuries had compromised Uran’s ability to pedal.
“We along with Rigo felt it best to pull out of the Tour this morning so he can recover and look toward the remainder of the season,” Wegelius said. “Ultimately this decision comes down to the rider. If a rider wants to continue the race, we look to ways to do that safely. If a rider feels it best to pull out, we do not push them to continue.”
The move brings an end to the team’s GC ambitions for 2018. EF Education First’s highest-place rider in the general classification is now Pierre Rolland, who sits in 39th place, 37 minutes behind Thomas. The team came into the 2018 race with major ambitions for the overall with Uran. In 2017, Uran rode a near-flawless race to finish second overall behind Chris Froome.
In September 2017 the team — then called Cannondale-Drapac — nearly dissolved when a potential sponsor decided not to come on board. Rather than seek another contract, Uran continued with the team as it sought out a new deal, eventually inking an agreement with EF Education First.
Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said Uran’s departure means “another Tour starts today.”
“We look forward to getting him back healthy for the rest of the season,” Vaughters said. “The guys that remain are fighters, and we have some chances coming up in the mountains.”
Read the full article at Uran withdraws from Tour de France after Roubaix crash on VeloNews.com.

L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — There are bad days, and then there are days like Mitchelton-Scott endured on Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Tour de France.
As the peloton roared up the lower slopes of the summit finish at La Rosiére, the team’s GC rider, Adam Yates, rode near the back of the group. Just inside 10km remaining, Chris Froome’s Team Sky teammates upped the tempo on a steep ramp. The tempo was too much for Yates, who nearly came to a standstill on the steep road.
Up ahead, Mitchelton’s climbing domestique Mikel Nieve pedaled along the final kilometers at the head of the race, the last survivor of a day-long breakaway in the mountains. Nieve, 34, appeared to have the stage in his grasp, until a sudden attack from former Sky teammate Geraint Thomas reeled him in within 300m of the line.
Nieve’s head bobbed in disappointment as Froome and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) roared past in the final meters.
In the span of 15 minutes, the team’s two best opportunities for a result went up in smoke.
Matt White, the team’s sport director, maintained a diplomatic perspective on the two disasters.
“We need to asses how things go tomorrow to see if we can still chase GC with Adam,” White said. “If he bounces back, then GC is still in the cards. If he can’t bounce back we’ll have to reset and think about the Pyrenees.”
The double setbacks will certainly fuel debate about the team’s decision to leave Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan at home, and bring a team built around Yates’ podium bid.
The team’s two-pronged attack for the day was hatched prior to the stage, White said. The short 106km stage looked perfect for a breakaway, and thus the team had Nieve, who raced on Team Sky for four seasons, and Damian Howson attack into the early move. Behind, Yates rode alongside the main group of contenders. He sat in 7th place overall, tied on time with Chris Froome.
The break built a sizable lead on the group of contenders across the two opening climbs. Midway through the stage the team called Howson back from the breakaway to ride alongside Yates.
White said he had no indication that Yates was suffering in the group of contenders until midway up the steep final climb. Yates dropped back from the group as Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski hammered on the front, and White assumed Yates had decided to ride his own tempo. After a few minutes, however, Yates nearly ground to a halt. He dropped back to the team car to ask for water.
White said Yates was suffering from the heat. Yates eventually ceded 4:42 to Thomas by the finish.
“There was no indication anything was going bad with Adam until he was dropped. He was sitting nice and pretty on the wheels,’ White said. “He lost contact and we realized that he had blown quite hard. He couldn’t hold the wheel of anybody.”
White said the team did not consider pulling Nieve back from his breakaway attack to help Yates on the final climb. The stage win was within Nieve’s grasp, and the speed at which Yates popped simply caught everyone by surprise. Up ahead, Nieve powered to the finish. But inside the final kilometer he lost speed and began to rock back and forth on his bicycle. When Thomas attacked up to him, Nieve simply could not hold the Englishman’s wheel.
White said the team plans to “remain positive” despite the setback. While the team’s ambitious goals for the day fell short, there are still 10 stages remaining for Mitchelton-Scott to earn a result.
“We knew it would be an aggressive day,” White said. “It was a risk we had to take for the stage win and it came really close.”
 
Read the full article at Yates implosion changes focus for Mitchelton-Scott on VeloNews.com.

More episodes of The VeloNews ShowVN Show: How will top Tour contenders fare on cobbles?
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VN Show: How will top Tour contenders fare on cobbles?How will the Tour's top GC favorites fare on the dusty, rough pavé of Paris-Roubaix? We rate their cobble-worthiness.
Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes footage from Twitter/Pais do Ciclismo, YouTube/Tour de France, YouTube/UCI, YouTube/The Mig Cycling, Getty Images/Velo Collection, WikiMedia Commons, Twitter/Peter_SagFanThis week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by ROKA, which makes unbelievably lightweight eyewear for some of the world’s best cyclists. Did you notice what Dan Martin wore when he won stage 8 of the Tour? They were ROKA sunglasses, and he says ROKA is the best eyewear he’s ever ridden in. Check out ROKA’s website for more >>
We were treated to some unbelievable racing Tuesday, with a down-to-the-wire finish. In the Tour de France? No! In La Course, where the Women’s WorldTour peloton stole the show and Annemiek van Vleuten won the day, proving she’s the best in the world in the high mountains.
As for the men’s Tour de France, we need to see some attacking from the top GC favorites. But where should they do it? We consider a few key riders, their individual talents, and where they might make their moves.
All that and more on today’s episode of The VeloNews Show!
Read the full article at VN Show: Tour de France hopefuls must attack… but where? on VeloNews.com.

The challenging climbs that made stage 11 of the Tour de France a thriller for the GC contenders proved too much for star sprinters Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).
The fast-finishing duo, as well as Cavendish’s lead-out man Mark Renshaw, came across the line well outside the time limit of 31:27 behind stage winner Geraint Thomas (Sky) on Wednesday.
For Kittel, it’s a disappointing end to his first Tour with new team Katusha on the heels of a dominant campaign that saw him take five stage victories last July. For Cavendish, it marks a second straight Tour without a win. Two seasons ago, his 30 career Tour stage victories seemed so close to Eddy Merckx’s record of 34, but Cavendish will now have to wait until next July to have another shot at adding to his total.
“We wanted to come in hot and win some early stages and see how we go in the first week. Neither materialized for us,” Dimension Data team principal Doug Ryder said. “It didn’t materialize for Cav and for what we wanted to achieve. He misses the time cut today, it’s obviously disappointing, for him, for us.”Stage 11 was a delight for the climbers, but it was miserable for the sprinters. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
Tuesday’s stage 10 had already seen a number of riders cutting it very close to the day’s time limit. Cavendish and Kittel crossed the finish in Le Grand-Bornand among an 11-rider group just 30 seconds before the time cut. With that in mind, stage 11 was always going to be a major challenge. The parcours featured a pair of hors categorie ascents and closed with a category 1 summit finish at La Rosière. Dimension Data knew that making the time cut would be a tall order.
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“Everbody expected this. It was this stage and the 65-kilometer stage that was challenging,” Ryder said. “It was definitely a concern.”
Cavendish was suffering early in stage 11, gapped and bringing up the back of the race by the summit of the first categorized climb, 26 kilometers into the day. He initially had Renshaw and Jay Thompson to help but waved them on ahead as his situation worsened. That allowed Thompson to make the cut, although it wasn’t enough to save Renshaw.
“He’s a champion. He doesn’t just give up. But he started to realize that we weren’t going to make it too, so that’s why he told us to go and he’d try for himself,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, we did what we could but it isn’t what it is. The Tour de France isn’t easy.”
Kittel spent the day a bit farther up the road than Cavendish but still marched up the final climb well behind any of the larger groups that might have provided wheels to sit on. His lieutenant Rick Zabel was up the road fighting to stay in the race himself. As it became clear that the clock was ticking down, Zabel made a dash for the line. He technically rolled home mere seconds outside the limit, but the race jury granted him clemency, noting in the jury report that he had suffered a mechanical while far removed from any support vehicles.
Kittel, however, was too far back to save his Tour, and it would be the same story for Renshaw and Cavendish. All three did finish the stage to applauding fans, but that would be their only consolation for the day’s hard work. Cavendish headed to the team bus without speaking to media.The climbers finished, and then many minutes later, Cavendish and Kittel came home. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
Cavendish’s Tour exit is just the latest in a series of disappointments for Dimension Data going back to last year. Cavendish abandoned the 2017 Tour after getting tangled up with Peter Sagan in stage 4 and breaking his scapula. He fell on the same shoulder blade at the Abu Dhabi Tour this January and abandoned that race. In his return to racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, he crashed in the opening team time trial and broke a rib. He still managed to make the start shortly thereafter at Milano-Sanremo, but crashed again and broke another rib.
Dimension Data had hoped that Cavendish could ride his way into form at the Tour de France, but they’ll need to look elsewhere for results now.
“It wasn’t what we expected at the start and we were hoping that if we could get Cav through the mountains, we’d have another chance to win on Friday and that he’d get better,” Ryder said. “But I guess it wasn’t to be.”Fred Dreier and Andrew Hood contributed to this report from La Rosière, France.
Read the full article at A sprinter’s nightmare: Cavendish and Kittel out of Tour on VeloNews.com.

It is business as usual at the Tour de France for Peter Sagan. He has won two stages by the race’s halfway mark. He is wearing the sprinter’s green jersey and going off the front on raids to snatch more points in that competition. And as he does in every race, big or small, he’s been goofing around and having fun.
However behind the scenes, he is getting a divorce, and he made the news public with a post on his Facebook page Tuesday after stage 11.
“After a long and thoughtful discussion, Kate and I have come to the conclusion that we would be much better if we separated as a couple,” he wrote. “We feel we should continue our lives as good friends and we both agree it is the right decision.”
The Sagans have been married for less than three years. They had a son, Marlon in late October.
Most sports scientists would agree that external stresses, like relationship problems or work stress, can diminish performance. On cycling’s biggest stage, the Tour de France, you’d think this might affect Sagan’s racing. It hasn’t yet. In addition to his two wins, he’s been on the podium four other times and wore the yellow jersey for one day.
And, as always, he’s keeping things fun and light in the bunch, whether he is creeping up the side of the peloton in an aero-tuck:
… Or doing his best Superman impersonation:
He even gave his friend Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) an unexpected high-five when the Italian was simply calling his team car up from the caravan:

Good old times revive between @vincenzonibali and @petosagan at #TdF2018 #Stage_8 #SupportSagan #PeterSagan #PedalForGreen pic.twitter.com/M9EwXwTtP6
— Peter SagFan (@Peter_SagFan) July 16, 2018
Here is Peter Sagan’s full statement from his Facebook page:After a long and thoughtful discussion, Kate and I have come to the conclusion that we would be much better if we separated as a couple. We feel we should continue our lives as good friends and we both agree it is the right decision.We fell in love, went through a fantastic journey together and were blessed with a beautiful and lovely son, Marlon. Kate has been an important part of my life, supported me all these years in my professional career and is a great mother. We don’t have any hard feelings for each other, we will just go our separate ways, with mutual respect.Our main focus will now be Marlon. We will do our absolute best to provide a caring environment for his upbringing and be the dedicated and loving parents he needs.I will not comment any further and I would like to thank everybody in advance for respecting our privacy.
Read the full article at Despite divorce, Sagan keeps entertaining at Tour on VeloNews.com.

The Tour de France is devolving into a two-man race — Sky versus Sky if you will. Geraint Thomas now leads the overall with his teammate and presumptive leader Chris Froome 1:25 behind after a display of dominance in stage 11’s uphill finish. There seems to be a little confusion. Froome says they’ll defend yellow. Thomas says he’s racing for Froome. So who is the leader? We’ll get this sorted out on today’s roundtable and discuss how rivals on teams other than Sky can shake up the race.First, the million dollar question: Who is Team Sky’s leader and why?Chris Case @chrisjustincase: Chris Froome. Given his track record, as well as Geraint’s lack of leadership experience, it will be no surprise when Froome chips away at his teammate’s lead in the mountains, and puts the nail in the coffin in the final TT. Plus, Froome is the chosen one, and he needs to win so Team Sky can rub in all our noses the fact that Froome was cleared of any wrongdoing at the Vuelta.Dane Cash @danecash: Froome-ish. I don’t expect Sky to burn too many resources if Thomas has a bad day at any point in the coming mountain stages, but at the same time, it’s not like he’s going to intentionally lose time to put Froome in yellow. Froome will be “protected” because of his track record. Thomas’s strong GC position at least earns him the right to keep plugging away in pursuit of the win though.Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: Thomas. Yes, it’s unknown how he will handle a full grand tour as an outright leader, but it is also unknown how Froome will perform after winning the Giro d’Italia. Can he achieve this feat for the first time since the EPO era? Seems like a stretch. Geraint’s in yellow and it suits him.Marc Soler did a huge turn to help Valverde extend his lead. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty ImagesEvaluate Movistar’s tactics in stage 11 — poorly executed or poorly conceived?Chris: Neither. I think it was a reasonable tactic to send Valverde up the road. Problem is, they came up against an incredibly strong Sky team. When a team has six guys riding at the front of the group, and one after the other rides tempo until he detonates, how do you beat that? Especially when Nairo then proceeds to bungle a response to Dan Martin’s move which took Froome with him.Dane: Poorly executed. It would have been a nice attempt by Valverde if Landa or Quintana had been able to capitalize. Sky was pretty short on riders for the final few kilometers, but Froome and Thomas were clearly way stronger than the Movistar duo.Spencer: Poorly conceived because of that long gradual descent off the penultimate climb of the Cormet de Roseland and the fact that the finish climb up to La Rosière was gradual enough to encourage groups to work together. I honestly don’t think any team — even Sky! — could pull off this ambush. The terrain just didn’t allow for it. Should have saved those matches for Alpe d’Huez, hombres!Why do you think Nibali chipped in to help Team Sky chase Alejandro Valverde?Chris: Racing for third?Dane: Valverde did have a decent gap there for a little while, so it’s hard to blame Nibali for wanting to chip in just in case of the disaster scenario (for everyone not on Movistar, that is) where Valverde surprises everyone and snatches the race lead. That said, Nibali probably was hoping to protect at least a podium spot too.Spencer: Wow, this one truly baffled me. Perhaps he’s already racing for the podium, not for the win. … No, it can’t be! Nibali would never do that. I think it was a matter of principle. He was too proud to sit back and let Sky do everything. Sorry Franco Pelizotti, that means you’ve gotta take a pull!A chase group of five formed after Froome escaped late in stage 11. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty ImagesSky put six men on the front for today’s final climb. What can their challengers do on Alpe d’Huez to break the stranglehold?Chris: 1.) Get a good night’s sleep; 2.) Taunt them in the coffee line; 3.) Pray; 4.) Throw tacks in front of their wheels; 5.) When all else fails, attack, attack, attack!Dane: I still see Movistar’s approach as a viable strategy. Sky’s six riders were down to two by the final kilometers. Unfortunately, those two guys were the strongest riders in the race in stage 11. For all the hoopla that is made about Sky’s domestiques being too strong, the team’s biggest asset is how much better Froome (and apparently Thomas at the moment) are than their rivals. It’s not like Froome and Thomas aren’t suffering just as much when Sky sets that high tempo. They’ve proven strong enough to benefit from it so far, but they’re not immune to bad days.Spencer: Boy what a pickle. Sky’s riders asserted themselves so much on Wednesday that even if a rider is willing to attack them on the Alpe, I doubt another would have the courage to make a counterattack. I think their best strategy is to avoid losing any time in stage 12 and hope to regroup and go on the offensive in the Pyrenees.
Read the full article at Tour roundtable: Who is actually Team Sky’s leader? on VeloNews.com.

After a few minutes of looking like he was cooked, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) was quickly back in the GC conversation at this year’s Tour de France with his second Alpine attack in two days.
He may be over three minutes behind race leader Geraint Thomas, but Martin’s not afraid to take the fight to Team Sky.
With six kilometers left to race in stage 11 of the Tour de France, the 31-year-old Irishman looked to be in trouble, lagging behind a group of GC rivals that included Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). With four kilometers to go, Martin clawed his way back to the favorites and immediately shot off the front, bringing Froome with him.
“I just had a bad moment at the wrong time. But I had it under control and I knew where the top was. I kind of had a feeling the group would stop as soon as it got to the flat section,” Martin said. “With that little bit of gap from behind at first, I thought why not have a try?”
The Martin-Froome pairing collaborated well in pursuit of Thomas (Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) up the road. Their combined efforts put significant time into those behind, as the chasers opted to zig-zag across the road marking each other, rather than working together to close down the dangerous move.
Inside the final two kilometers, Froome dropped Martin and bridged to Dumoulin. Thomas surged ahead to take the stage victory with Dumoulin and Froome crossing the line behind.
Martin rolled in sixth on the day, 27 seconds down on Thomas and just seven behind Froome. That put him 32 seconds ahead of a group containing GC rivals Quintana, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), with other overall hopefuls even farther back. He may have shipped some time to the Sky duo and 2016 Giro d’Italia champion, but his late-stage aggression propelled him into the top 10 in the overall standings.Chris Froome and Dan Martin before the start of Tour stage 10. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images
“I was very happy that Chris came with me and decided to ride. Maybe he does kind of owe me one — over the years I’ve definitely helped him a bit inadvertently,” Martin joked. “He was definitely hurting me the last 3k but I knew the more I was hurting, the more time I’d be getting on the guys behind.”
After Tuesday’s stage, Martin suggested that Team Sky’s firepower was scaring the rest of the GC hopefuls off from putting in attacks. On Wednesday, however, he declined to express frustration with either Sky’s collective strength or the rest of the GC hopefuls’ tactics.
“The speed is so high that everyone is on the limit. Even Chris [Froome] and Geraint [Thomas] are on the limit, you can see that,” he said. “It’s an incredibly hard day, especially the heat.”
Even on a day that saw Thomas take yellow and Froome snatch time on nearly every other rival, Martin saw reasons to be optimistic about the possibility of overhauling the Sky train in the stages to come.
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“Everybody had a go today. It was a really open race. Movistar really tried to break it up and then Tom obviously had a go as well,” he said. “[Sky] aren’t unbeatable. They’re obviously incredibly strong at the moment. Everybody has a bad day sometimes.”
Martin’s strong ride will have him confident in his own chances in the mountain stages on the horizon at the Tour. He has proved on multiple occasions already in this Tour — most notably by winning stage 6 to Mûr-de-Bretagne — that he is on terrific form. His back-to-back high-mountain raids are confirmation that he has recovered quickly from what looked like a nasty fall in stage 8, and they have propelled him to 10th place overall in the general classification. With more climber-friendly days looming, Martin is trending way up.
Nonetheless, he downplayed his overall chances after Wednesday’s stage, returning to the familiar “day-by-day” mantra he has always had when racing for the general classification in a grand tour.
“After the crash, I’m not really thinking about time or GC,” he said. “I’m just doing my best every day and we’ll see the results at the end.”Andrew Hood contributed to this report from La Rosière, France.
Read the full article at Martin: Sky is not unbeatable on VeloNews.com.