Jul 16, 2014

Tour de France Stage 11 Review/Stage 12 Preview

Stage 11 Review

Stage winner: Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol)
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and his team decided the breakaway was not winning this day. But once again Sagan and Cannondale botched the tactics in the finale and Gallopin was the enterprising attacker to take advantage on this day. For Gallopin, this Tour has been a dream so far. He still sits 5th overall (he will fall in the coming days), he spent a day in the yellow jersey and he has a stage win after the being the latest to take advantage of Sagan being unable to finish stages off.

Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Making it look easy so far, Nibali has dominated the race and was in no danger today. Further down the GC, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) lost 1’34” today so it wasn’t necessarily the easy day that Nibali made it appear as Rui Costa was in the top 10 before today’s stage.

Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Another day of disappointment despite extending his points lead. Sagan looks a lot like Sean Kelly right now. In the 90s, Kelly won three green jerseys without winning a stage and Sagan appears headed to a performance like that as he continues to botch the tactics. He either needs to stop getting in these small moves or chase everything himself, even if he’s risking a sprint loss.

King of the Mountains: Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)
A mostly easy day today. Rodriguez had no major points to chase and came in 10 minutes down on the main field. He is conserving energy for another breakaway raid later in the race, likely in the Alps.

White Jersey: Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)
Bardet continues to lead Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) by 46” while Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)  sits 1’38” behind. Kwiatkowski chose to go for the stage win from a four man break instead of time in the competition. Had he worked he likely would have dragged Sagan to the stage win and pried 10-15 seconds off Bardet’s lead.

Tactical Masterclass: Cannondale minus Sagan
Believe it or not, Sagan’s team actually got it right today. It had a man win Sagan to chase Gallopin’s first move with 13 km to go. Had Sagan stayed in the group, there would have been help to chase and the possibility of a Sagan stage win from the sprint (though Giant-Shimano did have secondary sprinter John Degenkolb in the group as well so it was no sure thing). The team got the tactics right, it’s leader just didn’t play his personal cards correctly this day.

Tactical Blunder: Garmin-Sharp
I get not sending someone back to be with leader Andrew Talansky as he struggled to stay in the race and avoid the time cut. Losing two people or more at once is a bad idea. But drilling it on the front while your erstwhile injured leader is struggling is a terrible idea, especially if you have nobody who can finish the stage off for you. And Garmin has nobody to finish right now considering its highest finisher was Tom-Jelte Slagter in 99th place, 14’27” down today. At least Talansky managed to keep himself in the race with a courageous 90 km solo ride while injured though he lost 32 minutes on the day.

Stage 12 - Bourg-En-Bresse - Saint-Etienne

Expectations entering the stage: This looks like another Sagan’s Cannondale team chases the break stage. The pure sprinters may not get over the climbs (though there is a better chance than yesterday with the climbs spread out and the final one having only a 2.9% average gradient despite a long length of nearly 10 km) and Sagan is desperate for a stage win.

Jersey’s in play
  • Yellow Jersey - Listed in case Nibali wants to give it away. Cyril Gautier (Europcar) infiltrated the break on stage 11 hoping that would be the case as he was less than 8 minutes down, but ended up losing 2 minutes. Nibali, even if he wants to will be unlikely to be able to give the jersey away because of Sagan’s need for a stage win.

GC items of note: Back to normal. Only a crash should be affecting anyone on this day, but that was also the case on stage 11 and Rui Costa still lost time.

Stage Pick: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)

Degenkolb is a better sprinter than Sagan and he has the Giant-Shimano/Kittel train at his disposal. He is going well again after being injured earlier in the Tour (won the sprint for second behind Gallopin on stage 11) and he and his team will likely be fresh after Cannondale works all day to bring back the breakaway.

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