Lower than two weeks away from the Tour de France begin in Bilbao, however with riders coming down from the latest drama (Gino Mäder’s tragic dying, Tour de Suisse, Dauphiné) and largely heading dwelling to combat for fancy nationwide flag jerseys, it’s a little bit of a lull earlier than the déluge of Tour media to start no later than subsequent Monday. To fill the time, let me toss out a number of matters.
What Are You Gaunna Du?
For those who watched the Nextflix Tour de France: Au Coeur du Peloton (which doesn’t translate to “unchained”), you then noticed how the present — notably a French manufacturing — hyped the efforts of David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ to seize the third podium place in Paris final yr. You may even have detected the absurd “drama” we have been handled to when Gaudu, who began the ultimate mountain stage of the Tour an nearly insurmountable 3:01 behind Geraint Thomas of INEOS for that third spot, raced again as much as catch Thomas earlier than the ultimate kilometer!! Thereby clinching his place… nonetheless 3:01 behind Thomas!! It was an expertise I’ll always remember, particularly after Gaudu blew a gasket within the time trial and shipped one other three minutes and would have been wanting over his shoulder to see if his fourth place have been in jeopardy, had his closest pursuers not have been even worse in opposition to the watch.
Anyway, whereas nearly nobody alive thinks Gaudu will discover some nine-to-eleven minutes the place he could make up his hole to the leaders, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, who’re two wholesome campaigns away from locking up these spots (in both order) once more, there’s a fairly entertaining query on the market as to who will be part of the 2 latest winners on the rostrum in Paris this time. Notably since a Frenchman is concerned, and the racing for third factor, not all the time de rigeur on the Tour, can be very actual this time round.
By dint of primary math, Gaudu is available in because the presumptive favourite to ascend to the rostrum, becoming a member of Jicé Péraud and Romain Bardet on the twenty first century Legión d’Honneur — simply subtract the absent Thomas, who cashed in his chips on the Giro d’Italia, and the pathway is cleared for the brand new Better of the Relaxation. Gaudu, for his half, kinda-sorta seems like he’s positioned to defend his place, though it’s not with out pink flags. His efficiency on the Dauphiné was someplace between forgettable and alarming, particularly the time trial the place he once more shipped massive chunks of time to the favorites with a efficiency that foundered within the latter half of his stage effort.
However! Gaudu wasn’t any factor particular finally yr’s Dauphiné, coming in seventeenth, and insisting (with purpose) all through the Tour that he would peak late within the race. Furthermore, Gaudu is coming off his finest early season marketing campaign of his younger profession, coming second this spring at Paris-Good to Vingegaard and roughly repeating his efficiency (with native boys Landa and Izagirre sandwiching in there) on the Itzulia Basque Tour. So you could possibly argue that he began off by reaching a brand new degree, then took a protracted break and was a bit sluggish coming again. I’d additionally throw on the market that this yr’s Tour has an absurdly low 22km of time trialling, only one stage in Week 3, nearly as if ASO went out of its option to decrease Gaudu’s weak point. They wouldn’t, would they?
Anyway, let’s do a fast handicapping of his threats to the third throne.
- Ben O’Connor — think about if a Frenchman have been booted off the rostrum by an Aussie… using for a French group? Insert discontented murmurs. Anyway, O’Connor’s case is that he was simply third within the Dolphin race and 4th within the Tour two years in the past, however crashed out final yr earlier than we may see him and Gaudu face to face.
- Jai Hindley — Extra Aussies? Their two-year drought since Richie Porte’s third place looks as if it may not final for much longer. Hindley’s case is that he gained a Giro, final time he went all in on a grand tour. That was truly his first main goal since becoming a member of the sturdy Bora squad, and this yr’s Tour is the second. Having Sergio Higuita alongside seems like both sturdy help or a attainable flip in management if the Colombian, nonetheless simply 25, makes the leap.
- Richard Carapaz — The Ecuadorian switched from INEOS to EF Schooling-EasyPost for a clearer shot at management, and the previous Giro winner will get his want this month. For a number of non-2020 years working Carapaz has made the rostrum in his greatest grand tour goal, with a 3rd in Paris two years in the past, the final time INEOS allowed him to race the Tour. The one actual pink flag is that, after profitable the MercanTour Classique Alpes-Maritimes final month, he sort of laid an egg on the Dauphiné, coming in near final within the remaining stage. Unsure what occurred there however no person is reporting something disastrous that I can see. Yearly we discuss how neglected EF’s chances are high, to the purpose the place you surprise what “neglected” even means anymore.
- Somebody from INEOS — Take your choose. You have got a pure elite climber with just one grand tour success, if that’s what you name fifth within the Giro. You have got a former youngest-ever/first-ever Colombian winner of the Tour!! Whose profession went into abeyance after a horror coaching accident. You have got a 22-year-old Spaniard who simply took the very best younger rider honors on the Dauphiné — lately an indication of imminent greatness. So DaniMart, Egan or Carlos Rodriguez… who do you want?
- Enric Mas — Looks as if a man on a profession trajectory which says he may make a Tour podium. Or he simply likes ending fifth and sixth outdoors of the Vuelta, the place he has two second locations. fifth and sixth are his two latest Tour finishes, plus a DNF final yr. He’s additionally been fifth or sixth in all of his stage races main as much as the Dauphiné this yr. So do you imagine the stats or the inference from the Vuelta that he can do extra?
- Some Or Different Yates — Simon heads up the Jayco AlUla squad, the place they will hope he’ll buck his career-long pattern of not doing a lot on the Tour (versus the Vuelta which he gained or the Giro which he narrowly missed out on). Alternatively, his twin brother Adam, who has a number of good Excursions on his resume, is plan B over at UAE, and will arguably sit within the wake of Pogačar’s awesomeness all the way in which to the rostrum. That sounds unlikely however you by no means know.
- Mattias Skjelmose Jensen — Is it time to overreact to a 22-year-old securing the totally unreliable knowledge level of a Tour de Suisse win? Why sure, sure it’s.
What’s the Matti vs Wout Angle?
Ah sure, this once more. It’s been a pair months since we in contrast these two riders, which looks as if an eternity so far as they’re involved. And I’ve some questions on how they are going to do on the Tour de France.
Two years in the past it was an epic showdown, and each riders got here away lined in glory (what else is new?). Mathieu van der Poel opened the scoring by displaying up in a first-class, all-time tribute equipment to his late grandfather, Raymond Poulidor, then went out and gained stage two, taking the maillot jaune as Pou-pou was famously unable to do (rattling you Anquetil!), and turning into (unofficially) the primary rider of the 2021 Tour to shed tears. That was all very shifting, and the Dutchman held yellow all the way in which to stage 7. Van Aert reasserted his place within the hierarchy, nonetheless, departing from his exemplary teamwork on behalf of Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in time to win an Alps stage, a time trial, and the dash into Paris. These guys aren’t regular, in any respect.
Final yr was all Van Aert — profitable one other stage whereas in Yellow, a second stage decked out in inexperienced (which he would maintain), and a 3rd in his Belgian Nationwide Time Trial champions equipment, when Vingegaard sat up and let Van Aert’s main time get away within the remaining ITT. Van der Poel had no reply, dropping out of the Tour in week 2, along with his excuse being that he’d performed the Giro d’Italia, gained the primary stage, held three management jerseys for a number of days, and took dwelling the general combativity award. Fairly weaksauce however what are you able to do? Anyway, he did launch a breakaway on the Col du Granon stage which drew out Van Aert, treating us all to the best ever two-man opening effort (proven above). Or coolest shortly.
Historical past tells us a number of issues: that these two will find yourself preventing over one thing, that Van Aert is a large Tour presence although hindered (if you happen to can name it that) by his group’s general aims, and that you need to by no means wager in opposition to a rested and motivated van der Poel in something lower than an alpine stage. Alpecin Deceuninck have Jasper Philipsen coming off two dash wins in final yr’s race and they’ll want van der Poel to play the dutiful teammate on bunch dash days, which he’s been training as just lately as Sunday on the Baloise Belgium Tour. So guessing at van der Poel’s plans proper now could be sophisticated. However the first two levels round Bilbao and San Sebastian, which comprise sufficient late climbing to place Van Aert within the factors jersey earlier than anybody else even has time to consider it… may nonetheless pit the 2 head-to-head, if vdP can handle to remain in touch with the climbers like Van Aert has mastered. From there it’s anybody’s guess how van der Poel will handle to crowd his manner again onto Van Aert’s nook, however we should always see him attempt.
Jersey Specials Time!
Now that each sport in all places has determined to maximise their cash seize from promoting third, fourth and seventh sports activities group jersey variations, you possibly can count on this yr’s “OMG WE HAVE A SPECIAL TOUR JERSEY” extravaganza to be among the many most in depth thus far.
Bora Hansgrohe 10-year anniversary
Bora got here on as a sponsor to what had been the NetApp-Endura group in 2014, simply in time for the Tour de France, so I suppose that is their tenth journey to l’Hexagone. I spent a variety of trend capital selling their present design as the very best they’ve had and even the very best of the very best in our 5 Incredible Fashions ballot… which went (disastrously) to EF and one in every of their extra garish numbers. Talking of whom, we’re all ready to see what pops from them any second now. Anyway, this isn’t an enchancment from Bora however I don’t object both.
DSM Very Minor Change
Workforce DSM are including circles! to their beforehand rectangular white chest patch on which you will discover their identify. Additionally seems like some type of web site. Not that their web site helps clarify any of it.
Trek-Segafredo is about to turn into Lidl-Trek as of the Tour, so they’re completely due for a brand new equipment, STAT… however nothing has been issued simply but.
Jumbo “Starry Sky Stuffed with Desires”
I don’t suppose I may add something extra to this, besides to say that the constellations appear to be some type of animal dealing with off with what seems like a centaur. I hope to by no means see any of this in my goals.
A really clear, enticing search for the Spanish squad, which doubles as a reminder that we used to have much more icebergs. Talking of which…
The Bahrainian squad are hearkening again to the outdated days when, as an alternative of promoting world-destroying petrochemicals (see Movistar jersey design), the locals received wealthy promoting valuable pearls for westerners to clutch in moments of perceived misery. Sadly, the brand new enterprise of promoting world-destroying petrochemicals (for individuals like me to burn in our automobiles, so yeah) inevitably leaks again on to the jersey, which highlights their newly branded sponsor, Bapco Energies. [Who can go fuck off. As can I and my car.]
Simply going largely pink right here (from the earlier model that had a variety of yellow) to honor new sponsor REMA 1000, a reduction grocery retailer again in Norway. Very old fashioned transfer right here.
That’s all for now, however I’m relying on you positive of us to alert us to any further jerseys that get rolled out within the coming days. Thanks!