12 Jul Tour de France 2019: stage seven – live! | Sport
178km to go: The gap from our two-man escape party to the bunch is 4min 20sec. At the back of the peloton, Movistar rider Carlos Verona has just raised his arm to call for assistance from his team car.
An email: “I know that on some mountain top finishes, such as yesterday, there is not enough room for the team buses at the top so the riders have to freewheel back down again after finishing,” writes Luke Harrison. “I noticed from the helicopter shot soon after the soon after the leaders finished yesterday that some of them were already starting to head down while the slower riders (most of the race) must still have been making their way up the climb.
“What is the protocol here to prevent the descending riders going round a bend straight in to a group of ascending riders or an official car? Do the slow guys know that they have to keep to the right side of the road for this reason?”
A good question. I’ve seen this happen, but I don’t know what – if any – the protocol is. There may well be some fenced off corridor for the riders who are finished to descend down, but I can’t remember. Perhaps they just rely on good sense and trust that these guys know what they’re doing. Anyone?
186km to go: “Like James Davidson I’ve always thought bike racing makes for better written accounts than TV,” writes Martin Gilbert. “The classic writing comes from the early Tours when the heroism and mystery was preserved by the riders being out of view for long periods.
“Tim Krabbe captures it well. I’d also recommend Tomorrow We Ride by Jean Bobet- inside knowledge but he’s a proper writer too. The modern Tour is often a bit like watching a travel show with some sport going on. Look at the transcontinental race for a bit of the original Tour spirit.”
188km to go: Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) and Stephane Rosetto (Cofidis) are 5min 38sec clear of the peloton. Offredo, who has spent an inordinate amount of time in assorted breakaways this week, has got the point on offer at the top of Col de Ferriere, a category four speed-bump.
An email: “Long time reader, first time emailer here,” writes Riocard. “Just on the subject of great cycling books, Paul Kimmage’s Rough Ride has to be up there? Perhaps a somewhat controversial choice, but nonetheless a great and revealing read. Also, on the matter of pointless and futile tasks – I work in finance, so I reckon my jobs up there with the most pointless and futile?”
192.5km to go: BIG NEWS!!! Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) has just dropped back to his car to change his shoes. Rather impressively, he did so without getting off his bike.
197km to go: Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) and Stephane Rosetto (Cofidis) are 4min 52sec clear of the bunch. I’m about to abandon my post for five minutes and 52 seconds, which is just enough time for you to enjoy yesterday’s thrilling instalment of the always entertaining Mitchelton Scott Tour diary in my absence.
An email: “I also enjoyed Max Leonard’s Higher Calling, his examination of why cyclists feel the need to taste the exquisite pain of riding up higher and higher mountains,” writes Philip Laing.
“The Rider by Tim Krabbé is, I think, a semi-autobiographical work of fiction, in turns a rider’s description of an amateur bike race in France and a history of the anonymous rider’s life in cycling. Thoroughly examines the mindset of a racing cyclist, and all the whims and doubts therein.
Lastly, I read the Escape Artist, by the Guardian’s Matt Seaton, years ago, a real autobiographical work, taking us through his life on and off the bike, his racing career and his family life, encompassing both triumph and tragedy. It’s stayed with me over the years, which I put down to it’s authentic humanity.”
205km to go: We’re 2,470 or so kilometres from Paris, but just 205 from Chalon-sur-Saone. The gap from the two lads to the other 172 lads is out to 4min 28sec.
An email: “I am recording the diameter of craters on a bit of Mars’s surface,” writes Adam Hepburn, who is a PhD candidate in Glaciology. “I take great comfort in knowing that someone else is spending their day watching a screen on which nothing happens for six hours. At least yours vaguely promises some action at the end.”
Yours might too, Adam, if a little green man pops up out of one of the craters. OK, we have our challenge for the day – can anyone top the tasks being undertaken by Adam and I this Friday for futility and pointlessness? As mine is guaranteed to liven up at some point, our clubhouse leader is currently recording the diameter of craters on the surface of Mars. That’s going to take some beating.
211km to go: Stephane Rosetto, for anyone who’s interested, began the day in 128th place, over 49 minutes off the pace set by maillot jaune Giulio Ciccone.
214km to go: Arguably the most reluctant two-man breakaway in Tour de France history, Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) and Stephane Rosetto (Cofidis) are now 3min 50sec clear of the peloton. In 174th place out of the 174 remaining riders, Ofredo is currently the Lanterne Rouge … which seems as good a time as any to recommend the excellent book of the same name, by Max Leonard.
An email (and please keep them coming): “I hope the scenery and roadside antics are able to make up for the lack of sparks today,” writers James Davison. “The TV commentators will need some content. There was an article the other day about the relaxing nature of watching a stage play out on live television. I’d not thought about it in that way before but makes sense.
“I’ve always thought that a bike racing was best reflected in writing (a stage race and long Monument all have their narrative arcs, heroes, villains and intrigue, even apart from the human endeavour, geography, elements etc), and there are no end of cycling books that to me are not far short of literature. Maybe in the quiet periods today we can suggest our favourites – I’ll kick off with Riding In The Zone Rouge by Tom Isett, recounting the 1919 stage race around the Western Front battlefields.”
Maybe in the quiet periods? Today will be 229 kilometres of period, followed by one kilometre of hot sprint action.
223km to go: With the peloton dawdling along at a snail’s pace, Several EF Education First riders hit the deck and Tejay van Garderen takes a while to get to his feet and back on his bike before getting going again. He’s got a cut under his left eye and has clearly clattered his left knee too. He pedals away looking very sorry for himself after hitting the ground hard.
223km to go: We have our breakaway and it’s a reluctant two-man kamikaze mission b eing carried out by Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) and Stephane Rosetto (Cofidis). They have opened a gap of 1min 57sec on the bunch.
229km to go: Cofidis rider Stephane Rossetto shoots off into the distance, somewhat reluctantly if the way he’s jabbering into his radio is anything to go by.
Behind him, Wanty-Gobert rider Yoann Offredo bridges the gap with all the enthusiasm of a condemned man walking to the gallows. He’s obviously under orders from his directeur sportif and keeps looking behind him in something approaching desperation to see if anyone else is coming with him. There are no takers.
A point to ponder: Ahead of this stage, the riders will have spent 20 minutes or so warming up on their rollers by the team coaches. They’re now engaged in what is ostensibly another 10-kilometre warm-up before the signal to start racing is given. And once that signal is given, the vast majority of the field will find themselves on what is ostensibly yet another warm-up – one that is 200 kilometres in length – before it’s time for them to start getting their ducks in a row ahead of the inevitable sprint finish.
And what do you know? Once that’s done with and the stage is over … it’s back to the rollers by the team buses for a warm-down!!!!!!! It all seems rather unecessary to me. I suspect Dave Brailsford, Sky and their small margins have an awful lot to answer for – and I don’t mean the kind of questions they fielded so unconvincingly when called before a government select committee.
The roll-out has begun: THe ridfers on their way out of Belfort, going at a gentle pace before the signal to start racing is given by race director Christian Prudhomme. Once he waves his flag, a breakaway group will get away and cycle along on their own for several hours, before getting caught by the bunch ahead of a sprint finish in Chalon-sur-Saone.
Schedule: Today’s stage is due to start in 15 minutes or so. At 230 kilometres in length over a largely flat parcours, the Tour organisers have dubbed it “The Longest Day” – metaphorically and existentially, as well as liteally, one presumes. Barring accidents, police intervention or very strong crosswinds, it’s likely to be an utterly forgettable day’s racing. Don’t touch that dial!!!
The Move podcast: Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and JD look back at stage six in the podcast many cycling and Tour de France aficionados can’t quite decide whether or not it’s OK to like.
Stage six review
Jeremy Whittle was at La Planche Les Belles Filles to see defending champion Geraint Thomas throw down a marker, as Belgium’s Dylan Teuns won the stage.
General Classification after stage six
Giulio Ciccone came up agonisingly short on yesterday’s brutal summit finish, but earned himself a day – and possibly more – in yellow by way of consolation.
Stage seven: Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône (230)
William Fotheringham: The longest stage of the Tour follows one of the toughest, but will give the flat-road sprinters another chance. It’s a hilly start, but a very flat run over the final 80km, plus there is a good chance that one of the favourites will have taken yellow the previous day which will lend some structure to the race. The pressure will be felt the most by the older sprinters, led by André Greipel, who moved to the small French team Arkéa-Samsic over the winter but hasn’t produced much, and Cofidis’s Nacer Bouhanni, who has never shone in the Tour.