Tour De France - When a Plan Comes Together
The Tour De France is currently in the French Alps and this is normally the point where the winner is decided or gives you a better indication who it might be. This year has been very different to all the other races I have watched as in the past attacking the yellow jersey has always happened on the mountain stages of the race.
Two days ago the team Jumbo Visma had a plan to attack the two time champion and the then current holder of the yellow jersey Tadej Pojacar on the flat part of the stage. This was so unusual as this has never been seen before and worked like a dream. Jumbo Visma had three riders attacking Pojacar for over 40 kilometers with attempted break aways which he kept fighting back. The relentless attacks had a price and that was sapping any energy reserves Pojacar had in the tank which left him stranded on the steep mountain pass that was still to come.
Jonas Vingegaard at that point was 39 seconds behind Pojacar in the rankings and managed to turn that into a 2 minute 22 second lead. In all the years I have been watching the race has been won on the steep mountain roads but this time the work done on the flat part of the stage was the beginning of the end.
Team tactics look as though they have won the jersey and the race this year even with 9 stages still to go.
Pojacar is powerful on the mountain stages and the only hope anyone had of beating him had to be a team effort before they hit the mountains. Any hope Pojacar has of winning back the yellow jersey is fading slowly as he has lost a number of team members to covid. Honestly I don't think his team was strong enough anyway to protect him from the constant attacks he has had to endure.
Pojacar is known as the "beast" as he has been the dominant rider over the last two years winning comfortably long before the last stage hitting Paris. His strength is also his weakness as he has been attacking during stages he didn't have to and has burned up too much energy and weakened his team at the same time. The smart move would have been to hold back as this has now come at a price and looks to have cost him the Tour this year.
Being the favorite and wearing yellow comes at a price as you are the target and main threat. In the past we have seen how teams have sat back leaving it up to their strongest riders to attack on the steepest slopes normally failing. The yellow jersey normally has a strong team around them that keeps the pace high and nullifies any threats. Pojacar and his team have overlooked this as the team had never expected this to happen. He is firmly on his own and next year will need a stronger team if he is going to win again.
The team is so overlooked as we always hear about the winner, but the truth is the team helps the winner achieve through the work they endure over the 3 weeks of cycling. Jumbo Visma have a team strong enough for the champion this year even if they don't win the team event overall. They have a mixture of many talented riders who could be leaders in other teams. Ineos have a strong team, but they seem to be all individuals and no one rider strong enough to win the individual title, but strong enough to win the team title.
The next few days will be fascinating to see how and what Pojacar does as he is a fighter and won't take being beaten lightly. We still have the Pyrenees ahead yet somehow think Pojacar is already cooked as without a team he is on his own.
It’s not over yet, but it was awesome to watch, especially with our Belgian wonder Wout Van Aert doing superhuman things.
Yeah not over yet but just don't see any others going to challenge Jumbo Visma as they seem to have the right strategy to pull this one off. Wout has been great and looks to have green tied up.
I still fear Pogacar. Tomorrow he could take the win in Mende, with the boni seconds, and especially the time trial on the second to last day could be dangerous as Pogacar is a monster in TT’s
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AH... the Tour de France passed through St Gervais and Megeve the other day, and my mother, father and sister all happened to be there. They say the atmosphere is electric and the crowd cheer like crazy no matter if it's for the break-away group, the main Peloton, or some poor stragglers at the back trying not to lose even more ground!
It is true what you say about the eventually winner having a strong team! If you watch the mountain stages it is usually like the Yellow jersey has a team of stage coaches pulling him up in their slipstream, with each leader ultimately getting exhausted and falling away for the next one to take over, and the Yellow jersey enjoys some slipstream for most of the climb until only having to do the last part of the day by himself!
You'll remember Bradley Wiggins won when Chris Froom was his second, only for Froom to win the next year? I'm sure you have many other examples if you watch every year? My in-laws just love watching it for the scenery - most of France is stunning, hey?
By the way, Froom actually used to train in Johannesburg before the race season back when he was winning. A friend of mine used to do sports massage for him there. I wonder if any of the top riders come to South Africa now?
I doubt if they come to train here anymore as the roads are shocking lol. I must admit I have a soft spot for France as I used to spend every other weekend in France for over 10 years. I just enjoy the place and the people plus the food ain't bad either.
I learnt to ski and snowboard in the French Alps just above those villages I mentioned. I long to go back one day!
And real cheese! Oh my word!
Not a cheese fan myself but used to love the farmers markets and funny enough used to do grocery shopping on every trip as we lived in the UK. I haven't been back for a while and are long overdue as the norm was once per year or every other year.
Ah, with my Dad... when we go hiking or skiing/snowboarding together, lunch is typically a half each of baguette with a block of cheese and a chunk of salami. We don't even make a sandwich... we just bite a chunk of bread, and then a chunk of cheese or salami to chew together with the bread!
Sounds pretty basic, so it helps that in the French Alpes, the bread, cheese and salami are all incredible!
I used to watch this race, the drama is so engaging.
One thing that amazes me about these riders is the size of their quads! I just did a 5km treadmill run and 15km ride at the gym. I cannot fathom how these athletes ride at such a high intensity for so long
He must have ridiculous core strength to be able to pull out these scores especially in mountainous regions.
I am not really a cycling lover but reading this make me want to witness one. I hope Pojacar bounce back and regain is spot, quitters never win.